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Psalm 17:1-7, 15
Drama, Despair and Disaster (almost) 080211
Imagine you had a machine that clanged, made grinding sounds, and forever seemed immanently to collapse and injure people whenever you desperately needed it to work! I have actually had some such rust colored pieces of junk on my farm and tried to use them for years.
In America we have been watching such a machine on the news for several months, Steadily and slowly this machine kept getting louder. And the threats of imminent disaster and harm have overshadowed the cries of the poor from around the world—refugees in Africa, drought in the southern US, refugees all over the world fleeing from hunger, war and terror.
This metaphor frames my disheartedness over the United States government and it antics this past few months. These are expected to end today with a vote on the debt ceiling bringing some closure.
The problem is of course not with the government, or any government; with these people or any people. The problem (as I see it) is that I can not yet preach like Peter who in Acts 2: 37 “37Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart….” Spiritually, all of us who are Christians need to be able to preach like this, and spiritually, cut to the heart of humanity. Our government’s hard heart is our hard heart; the government’s inability to decide is our inability to decide what to do and say and preach about Jesus.
Pray for the voice of God to make all Christians preachers like Peter—to talk directly to the heart of humanity, and therefore, Pray for Peace.
1Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry; give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.
2From you let my vindication come; let your eyes see the right.
3If you try my heart, if you visit me by night, if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me; my mouth does not transgress.
4As for what others do, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent.
5My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.
6I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me, hear my words.
7Wondrously show your steadfast love, O savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.
15As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.
3Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom, 4instructing them, “Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: Thus says your servant Jacob, ‘I have lived with Laban as an alien, and stayed until now; 5and I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, male and female slaves; and I have sent to tell my lord, in order that I may find favor in your sight.’“ 6The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” 7Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people that were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two companies, 8thinking, “If Esau comes to the one company and destroys it, then the company that is left will escape.”
9And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your kindred, and I will do you good,’ 10I am not worthy of the least of all the steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan; and now I have become two companies. 11Deliver me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I am afraid of him; he may come and kill us all, the mothers with the children. 12Yet you have said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted because of their number.’“
13So he spent that night there, and from what he had with him he took a present for his brother Esau, 14two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15thirty milch camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16These he delivered into the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass on ahead of me, and put a space between drove and drove.” 17He instructed the foremost, “When Esau my brother meets you, and asks you, ‘To whom do you belong? Where are you going? And whose are these ahead of you?’ 18then you shall say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob; they are a present sent to my lord Esau; and moreover he is behind us.’“ 19He likewise instructed the second and the third and all who followed the droves, “You shall say the same thing to Esau when you meet him, 20and you shall say, ‘Moreover your servant Jacob is behind us.’“ For he thought, “I may appease him with the present that goes ahead of me, and afterwards I shall see his face; perhaps he will accept me.” 21So the present passed on ahead of him; and he himself spent that night in the camp.
37Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” 40And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.
42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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