Showing posts with label forgiveness in God. Show all posts
Showing posts with label forgiveness in God. Show all posts

August 19, 2013

Prayer removes obstacles

Background: Taken out of context, the story of Jesus’ cursing the fig tree sounds harsh, but reading the whole chapter of Mark 11 puts that incident into perspective.

Jesus had set His face toward Jerusalem, knowing this began the journey toward the cross. As He rode into town on a donkey, people laid a path of palm branches and their own cloaks, shouting, “Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD!”

After entering the Temple and looking around, Jesus and His followers went back to Bethany for the night. As they headed toward the Temple again the next morning, Jesus saw a fig tree already in leaf, which indicated fruit but none existed. Not only did this become an obstacle to His hunger, the tree had become showy, rather than fruitful, and so He said, “No one will ever eat fruit from you again.”

Jesus then entered the Temple and drove out money-changers and merchants whose booths blocked people from getting through the area to worship. Quoting scripture, Jesus explained, “My house shall be called a house of prayer!” But the showy booths had turned the Temple into something else, making obstacles for people who had come for genuine worship. Those people found what they came for, however, as Jesus stayed to teach, and they hung onto His words.

That night as Jesus and His followers started back to Bethany, they saw what had happened to the fig tree. Called out for showiness that belied fruitlessness, the tree had withered to its roots! When the disciples commented, Jesus responded with this vital word on prayer:

Have faith in God!
I tell you truly
if you say to this mountain,
‘Be plucked up and thrown into the sea,’
and do not doubt in your heart
but believe
God can
remove obstacles of any size,
it shall happen as you say.

And so I say,
ask in prayer,
and you will receive.

And whenever you take a stand
in prayer,
forgive whatever you have
against anyone,
and your Father Who Is
in heaven
will also forgive you
your trespasses,
but if you don’t forgive others,
that will become an
to your Father’s forgiving you.

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. Prayer-a-phrased poem comes from today’s Daily Bible Reading in Mark 11:22-26.


July 1, 2013

Stephen prays for his murderers

Background: As the early church greatly grew, people from diverse backgrounds had to find ways to connect with the Body of Christ. Since Jesus and the Apostles belonged to the Jewish faith, the church began as part of the Temple and local synagogues, which meant that the early Christians had to discern whether to keep Jewish rituals, customs, and traditions or openly welcome peoples from the Hellenist (Greek) community.

God made it clear that all peoples who accepted Jesus as their Savior were to be included in the Body of Christ. Nevertheless, Christians from the Greek community felt they weren’t being given as much as Jewish Christians, so they complained to the Apostles in Jerusalem.

Wisely, the Apostles advised the Hellenist Christians to select seven Spirit-filled men with good reputations to be in charge of food distributions and other acts of service. Stephen, one of the seven, had so much wisdom and power that he caught much attention, including negative attention that jealousy brings. With false witnesses ready to speak against him, Stephen was seized, charged falsely, and called before the High Priest to defend himself, even though his name and position indicate he came from the Hellenists.

Regardless, Stephen knew the Torah well. Beginning with Abraham, whom he called his father in the faith, Stephen proceeded to show how the Law and the Prophets pointed to Jesus as the Messiah. He did not stop there, however, but went on to accuse his accusers of killing “the Righteous One.”

This did not go over too well! When the council heard these words, they became enraged:

And, Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, saw into Heaven.
He saw the Glory of God.
He saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
And he said, Behold!
I see Heaven opened!
I see the Son of Man
at the right hand of God.

And the men cried out with a loud voice
and they stopped up their ears
and they rushed toward Stephen
as one,
and they cast him out of the city,
and they cast their coats and their cloaks
toward a young man named Saul,
and they stoned Stephen to death,
but before he died,
Stephen cried out:
“LORD Jesus, receive my spirit!”

And Stephen fell to his knees
and, in a loud voice, said:
“Oh, LORD, please
do not hold this sin against them.”

And that day,
Saul approved
of the way Stephen was treated.

And that day,
persecution began
to sway the people one way or another,
scattering all – but the Apostles –
in Judea and Samaria

like seeds sown,
like new seeds sown.

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler prayer-a-phrased today’s Daily Bible Reading in Acts 7:54:60-8:1.