Friday, December 22, 2017

God, Help Me Not to Be the Prostitute

Here's the journal of my quiet time today. It's important for Christian disciples to seek to maintain a regular quiet time with God on as many days a week as they can swing. It's also important that we let God call the tune, set the agenda, and give us our marching orders through quiet time. I try to keep these in minds each day when I meet with God.

To see how I keep quiet time, read here.
Look: “One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.’” (Revelation 17:1-2) 
In spite of many efforts to complicate Revelation, the message here is simple. The seven bowls of wrath that John has seen in his heavenly vision constitute the full (hence their number, seven) consequences of unrepented sin. Sin known to us that hasn’t been confessed and covered by the grace of God given in Christ to those who believe in Christ will lead to eternal separation from God and the life that only God can give. 
Throughout the Old Testament and in the New Testament, idolatry is portrayed as adultery, unfaithfulness to God. The first commandment tells us, “You shall have no other gods.” To violate any of God’s commandments in the moral law (the Ten Commandments and those commands that elaborate on them) is to commit idolatry because, in violating any of God’s commands, we hold our own judgments or own desires, we hold ourselves, to be more important than God. 
Listen: Here, I think, we see an adulteress whose adultery and adulterous influence over others may be subtle, deceiving people into thinking that what they believe in or lure others into believing in, is actually of God and righteous and reflective of God’s will.
Sly politicians, like every American president from Reagan to Trump, Republican and Democratic, dress their politics, to one extent or another, in godly language, invoking the name of God and the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, for their political agendas. But to adulterate our faith in Christ with earthly political, social, financial, or personal agendas is to worship our agendas and to leave Christ in the dust. To do that will inevitably lead us to death, separation from God, the life-giver. 
Many social and political systems, philosophies of life, and ways of living are built on the notion that those systems and not God Himself are preeminent. And even well-meaning people who think of themselves as Christians fall for this prostitute and betray Christ: They conflate their own opinions, interests, or desires with God. When these systems deliver the goodies of this world--military victories, financial well-being, a sense of supremacy, often at the expense of others--we risk becoming “intoxicated with the wine of [the prostitute’s] adulteries.” 
We risk becoming devotees of the system, the philosophy, the desire, the self. When this happens, wrath will follow...if not in this life, certainly in the life to come. We will condemn ourselves absent repentant belief in Jesus Christ: “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (Jesus in John 3:17-18) 
Belief in Jesus is not intellectual assent. Belief in Jesus is the commitment to trust in and follow Him and not the world every day, the commitment to ask Jesus to help us believe in Him (Mark 9:24). Belief in Jesus is surrender to Him.
Respond: Alert me, Lord, to the ways in which I aduterate my faith in You. 
Help me not to play the prostitute for any earthly thing that offers to give me comfort or boost me in the eyes of myself or others, but help me to rely only on You as revealed in the Servant King Jesus. 
Help me not to follow You with any expectation other than that, in doing so, You will make me new each day, alter my desires, and give me eternity with You as an undeserved gift. 
Help me to be focused on doing Your will and giving You glory, not my own, because Your will is always in my eternal best interest. 
Help me to pray for and respect those in authority; but help me to put my trust in Jesus Christ alone. 
Help to work for the salary I’m given; but help me to not prostitute my faith or integrity for my own selfish pleasure or advancement. 
Help me to love my country; but help me to remember that You are eternally more important than my country or any country. 
Help me not to be prostitute, loving You alone as my God and Savior. 
Help me to be angry at injustice. 
Help me to speak up for the weak, the despised, the neglected, the poor, the put-upon. 
Help me to be angry at Satan and the ways in which he imprisons people. 
Help me to be bold and loving in sharing the good news of Jesus with others. In Jesus’ name. 
Today, help me to resist the temptation to desire or take anything more than I absolutely need to live; You are and You provide my daily bread. 
In Jesus’ name, by the power of the Holy Spirit, grant these things, I pray, Father. Amen
[I'm pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]

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