Tuesday, August 8, 2017

[Pray for our Land] Thoughts on a big day in Parliament

Thoughts on a big day in Parliament

12 Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
"He won't call me to account"?
14 But you, O God, do see trouble and grief;
you consider it to take it in hand.
The victim commits himself to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.      (Psalms10:12-14)

Today our parliament faces big decisions...

Our country faces big challenges.

  • Violence and Crime are escalating
  • Corruption and abuse of power are the order of the day.
  • 27% of our working class are unemployed
  • Our children face challenges in every sphere of life.
  • Fake news and controversies are used to distract us from the real issues
  • The hope and optimism of our rainbow nation is on an ever-diminishing ebb.
  • We live in a VUCA world (VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity)

Regardless of the outcome of today's events in parliament, we have to recognise that our foundation and hope at times like this can never be in a person, party, or philosophy.

Our hope must be in God.

This is not always easy.
I want to leave a few thoughts with you from Psalm 10 - a song written by an unknown psalm-writer wrestling with the times he is living in. (The whole psalm is at the end of this email)

He starts off with his struggle:
1 Why, O LORD, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

This is something we all wrestle with - we wish God would come in and sort things out, but God is at work - not always in the ways we expect or would like, but He is at work.

I recently read an article that suggested that in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) world emotions rule the day and not rationality and common sense. The analysts are arguing that the surprising election results in America and the Brexit decision were "backlash" decisions driven by disillusionment and frustration. These kind of emotions threaten the psalmist's heart too, but he takes his concerns to God and so although the Psalm is a lament, it is addressed to God instead of walking away from God.

And so the Psalmist "unloads" to God describing the impact and reality of evil:
2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
who are caught in the schemes he devises.
3 He boasts of the cravings of his heart;
he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD.
4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him;
in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
5 His ways are always prosperous;
he is haughty and your laws are far from him;
he sneers at all his enemies.

We have seen plenty of this arrogance in public figures who have claimed they will be in power until the Second Coming and have laughed in the face of appropriate criticism.

After continuing to describe the arrogance of the wicked and the victimisation of the helpless, the Psalmist prays:
12 Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
"He won't call me to account"?
14 But you, O God, do see trouble and grief;
you consider it to take it in hand.
The victim commits himself to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked and evil man;
call him to account for his wickedness
that would not be found out.

On 22nd of April, Christians all over South Africa gathered in Bloemfontein and in local settings to plead with God for our land. Since then there have been significant court pronouncements and the leaking of emails that have revealed the mechanics of the corruption we have faced. There have been wide implications and the reality of media manipulation has become clear too.

There are many positive steps that have been achieved. Regardless of the outcome of today's events, we cannot put our trust in human processes, but in the power of God.

The Psalmist concludes:
16 The LORD is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
17 You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.

Today is just another step in the process of facing the wickedness that threatens our land. But let's not put our faith in parliament's decisions. If the vote of no-confidence fails there is work to do. If it succeeds, there is still work to do.

Let's keep earthly rulers in perspective: They, the "man, who is of the earth" will be brought to a place where they can "terrify no more."

Our task is to remember that the Lord is King.
It is the afflicted, the oppressed and the fatherless who are on the King's agenda.
When we neglect them, we are no better than the wicked.
Our task as believers is to trust God, to pray fervently and to radically do good:
- See all people as beloved in the eyes of God
- Lift up the poor and helpless wherever and whenever you can
- Don't be overcome with evil but overcome evil with good. Rom.12:21

Please bow your head right now and join me in a moment of prayer for our nation....
"Lord, you see the trouble our nation is in.
You hear the cries of Your people.
We pray for ALL our leaders today
And for Your guidance in the outcome of today's complex issues.
We pray for our land which is Your land and for its people.
We pray for leaders in politics, economics, media, social and church settings.
We pray for the angry and frustrated.
We pray for the desperate and the helpless.
We pray for justice and righteousness to flourish.
And then....
Help me to be part of the solution and not the problem.
Show me where I can make a practical difference.
Deal with me where I may be hard-hearted to my fellow human.
Give me Your heart for the afflicted and oppressed.
Help me overcome my fears and excuses.
Show me how I can be the difference in our land.
Lord hear our prayer.
Amen."

With much love,
Theo

              PSALM 10
1 Why, O LORD, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
who are caught in the schemes he devises.
3 He boasts of the cravings of his heart;
he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD.
4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him;
in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
5 His ways are always prosperous;
he is haughty and your laws are far from him;
he sneers at all his enemies.
6 He says to himself, "Nothing will shake me;
I'll always be happy and never have trouble."
7 His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats;
trouble and evil are under his tongue.
8 He lies in wait near the villages;
from ambush he murders the innocent,
watching in secret for his victims.
9 He lies in wait like a lion in cover;
he lies in wait to catch the helpless;
he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
10 His victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under his strength.
11 He says to himself, "God has forgotten;
he covers his face and never sees."

12 Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
"He won't call me to account"?
14 But you, O God, do see trouble and grief;
you consider it to take it in hand.
The victim commits himself to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked and evil man;
call him to account for his wickedness
that would not be found out.

16 The LORD is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
17 You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.



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