Pray for the persecuted

Posted Apr 5, 2022

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Daily Scripture

During Lent, we are using short videos to share a daily idea (linked to the gospel of Luke) on how to grow spiritually. Watch today’s video. Click here or on the image below:

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Note: We are reading the entire gospel of Luke in the GPS. Some day’s readings are longer than usual. We hope you’ll have an extra cup of coffee, or use your lunch break, and read Luke’s entire story of Jesus.

God’s kingdom: here, and still to fully arrive Luke 17:20 – 18:8

20 Pharisees asked Jesus when God’s kingdom was coming. He replied, “God’s kingdom isn’t coming with signs that are easily noticed. 21 Nor will people say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ Don’t you see? God’s kingdom is already among you.”

22 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “The time will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Human One [or Son of Man], and you won’t see it. 23 People will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Don’t leave or go chasing after them. 24 The Human One [or Son of Man] will appear on his day in the same way that a flash of lightning lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 However, first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

26 “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be during the days of the Human One [or Son of Man]. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying, and being given in marriage until the day Noah entered the ark and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise in the days of Lot, people were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, and building. 29 But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 That’s the way it will be on the day the Human One [or Son of Man] is revealed. 31 On that day, those on the roof, whose possessions are in the house, shouldn’t come down to grab them. Likewise, those in the field shouldn’t turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife! 33 Whoever tries to preserve their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in the same bed: one will be taken and the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding grain together: one will be taken and the other left.” [Scholarly editions of the Greek New Testament do not include 17:36 Two will be in a field: one will be taken and the other left.]

37 The disciples asked, “Where, Lord?”

Jesus said, “The vultures gather wherever there’s a dead body.”

18:1 Jesus was telling them a parable about their need to pray continuously and not to be discouraged. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected people. 3 In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him, asking, ‘Give me justice in this case against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused but finally said to himself, I don’t fear God or respect people, 5 but I will give this widow justice because she keeps bothering me. Otherwise, there will be no end to her coming here and embarrassing me.” 6 The Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 Won’t God provide justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he be slow to help them? 8 I tell you, he will give them justice quickly. But when the Human One [or Son of Man] comes, will he find faithfulness on earth?”

Reflection Questions

When Pharisees asked a speculative question about when (in the future) God’s Kingdom would come, Jesus instead spoke of the need to trust God now to be ready for any trial that might come. Then he told a parable that contrasted God with an unjust human judge. The issue, he said, was not if we can trust God, but whether God can trust us (18:8).

  • In 17:21, Luke used the Greek words entōs humōn, which could mean either that God’s kingdom is “among you” or “within you” (or, perhaps, both). What different significance do you find in the two possible meanings? To what extent does each of them ring true to your experience of living in the Kingdom of God that Jesus preached?
  • In 18:1-8 Jesus used a “how much more” question, as rabbis often did. In effect he asked, “If even an unjust judge will do justice if pressed, how much more can we trust God to do justice?” But, he asked, will I find faithfulness on earth? Can you keep faithfully trusting God to do justice even when there seem to be letdowns or delays? How do you answer Jesus' question about faith?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I have questions about the future in your kingdom. Help me focus on your presence right now among us, and within me, and trust you to take care of the future. Amen.


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GPS Guide

Whether you’re just starting to explore the Christian faith, or you’re a long-time Christian, we want to do everything we can to help you on your journey to know, love and serve God. The GPS (Grow, Pray, Study) Guide provides Scripture and insights to enhance your journey. If you have a question or comment about the GPS Guide, please send it to GPS@cor.org.

Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Church of the Resurrection. He helps lead worship at Leawood's modern worship services, as well as at the West and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.

It’s no secret that we live in a world of strong political opinions right now. I vividly remember one time when I answered a friend’s question on Facebook and was berated by a friend of the friend for posting something he disagreed with. And I know a lot of us have had experiences like that. We’re often judged not only for how much we care, but how we care—and how we don’t. And, I’ll be honest, I’m pretty vocal about politics and social justice—probably more than most of my friends—so this next part is as much for me as anyone else.

So, question for some self-reflection: how often do your moral and political beliefs turn into prayer? How often do we pray for the persecuted? How often do we pray for the safety of those in the Ukraine? How often do we pray for justice and protection for the LGBTQ community, who is facing grave injustice right now? How often do we pray for those who are hit hardest by fluctuations in the economy and can’t afford to weather the storm like many of us?

I have no doubt that a lot of you do. I grew up in a very traditionalist church, so the term “prayer warrior” was one I heard frequently. I always envied those people, because, while I care very much about people in all corners of the globe and turn that into political activism, all too often, my prayer life revolves around me and my world. Maybe it’s a byproduct of my neurodivergent brain that frequently has trouble focusing, or maybe it’s simply a lack of discipline on my part, but I too often find that the reach of my prayers does not have the same reach as my political beliefs.

In church, we hear many stories of people who believe but do not do the good things God requires of them; I find I struggle with the opposite problem. I get caught up in problems and rush to act, but fail to take the time to meditate, pray, and focus on global events so much bigger than me. In short, while I act to try to solve the problems, through inaction, I trust myself more than God to solve these problems. Belief and action are both required for a healthy spiritual life as well as a spiritual response to the problems around us, and one without the other is largely toothless.

Again, I know some of you—probably many of you—start the day on your knees in prayer, focusing on these world events that I sometimes struggle to relate my faith to. This isn’t for you. I’ve always struggled with spending long periods of time in prayer. Too often, my prayer life resembles my Twitter feed: 280 characters or less, and 100% personal opinions. What I ask of you, dear readers, is to learn from my failures. Faith without works is dead, but works without faith can lead to apathy of a different kind.

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