Sunday, January 6, 2008

from Psalm 145 and a newspaper

It's Sunday morning and I am back from teaching a Bible study on Psalm 145. And I just read a Baptist Press article on the spiritual changes at the Louisiana State Penitentiary.


I celebrate your name God; you are my king.
Let me celebrate your glory always, forever.
You are great and mighty, loving and majestic, just and righteous.
You have been praised through the generations,
up to me,
let me continue your praises and pass them on to the future.
I want to praise you and make your glorious wonders known.
I want to share with joy the amazing nature of your works.
Let all your people praise you; let all the earth sing with joy for you.

Your greatness is beyond measure, more than any human mind can understand.
Let us place our trust in you because you are greater than any power.
I see so much I don't understand in the world;
in those cases, I must place my trust in your understanding,
in your greatness and goodness, in your unstoppable plan.

Before time, you planned creation; you planned to make your glory known.
You made Adam and planned to give him Eve.
And you planned to rescue them from their sin.
You have always had a chosen people.
You chose Abraham and gave him a nation.
You worked in the life of Job; you showed your power through his faith.
You chose Moses to bring your people out of Egypt.
You chose to carry them through the desert into the Promised Land.
You chose to save Daniel when he said death was little to him because he had you. And you made your greatness known to the king through your work.
You chose Jonah to carry your message to Nineveh; you were patient and loving with Jonah as he fled in the opposite direction. You were patient and loving with all the people of Nineveh; you warned them and heard their repentance.
You showed Jonah and all your people that you desire mercy more than sacrifice (Hosea 6:6)
Let your people, in view of your mercy, worship you by offering their bodies as a living sacrifice. Transform us show that we may know you (Ro 12:1).

From the beginning, from the sin of Adam, you promised salvation to your chosen people.
You gave us Immanuel.
You gave us a child who was human and God.
He lived the life we cannot live and died in our place.
But, you didn't leave him to rot in the grave.
His body did not see decay.
You raised Jesus from the grave and raised all your people with him.

You took us, a rebellious, unfaithful people, and you brought us to you.
You went out in search of your sheep.
You welcomed back those Prodigal children who flaunted their independence in ignorance.
You saved me, and I cannot help but be amazed.
You are truly more awesome, more glorious, more loving, more forgiving, more just, more righteous, more powerful, more wise than me.
I put myself in your control; I am your humble and joyful servant.
Help me to submit when my flesh wants to rebel.

May your praise be part of my life that the world would see you in me.
May I be a city on a hill, a lamp on a stand, so the world sees your glory.
Give me strength and boldness to proudly, faithfully, continually, effectively tell the world of your greatness.
Put in me a desire to share your wonders.
And send out harvesters into the field because the harvest is plentiful.

Father, I thank you for the great testimony of the missionaries in my life.
I thank you for their courage to go into dangerous locations.
Their faithfulness in following you, and your faithfulness is saving people through their work is a testimony for me to see.
I pray for M is Asia, who brings your name to the Muslim people. I pray for those who have come to know you through her ministry. Bless them and make them fruitful.
I praise you and your saints who have made the JESUS film available in 1,004 languages, truly bringing your good news to the ends of the earth. Be with those who are working to translate it into even more languages. Be with those who take the film and your good news out among the nations. Bring people from every nation to know you through this project and through the work of your church around the world.
I pray for Ionel who has faithfully served in various locations, but now lacks the funds to continue in his current ministry. I pray that you would meet his needs because there is nothing that stands in your way.
I thank you for the great testimony of George Muller who lived his life to show you can be trusted. You met his needs when he silently prayed to only you. Time after time, you met the needs of the children in his care. Time after time, you put in place answers to prayers before he even made them. You truly are a God who sees our needs even before we see our own needs.

Father, you are gracious and compassionate to your people.
May we be a blessing to you; and may we be a blessing to your world as we tell about you.
Your kingdom will last forever. Hallelujah.

You are a great help to those who suffer; you raise up those who bow down.
Father, I praise you for the work you have done in Angola, through your servant Warden Cain.
How great a testimony to your fame it is when an entire prison, the worst prison in our nation, becomes a place where you are known above all.

Truly, you set the captives free--not from the razor wires that encamp them, but from the spiritual darkness that enslaves them. Murderers and rapists turn their lives to you and become missionaries for you! Like in the life of Paul, you show that the most awful sins can be covered by the blood of Jesus. And you show that in Christ, we are all one. We were all sinners, we were all murderers in your eyes; for he who breaks one law breaks them all. You demand perfection. Nothing unclean can enter heaven and we were all unclean. Yet, while we were dead in our sins, you saved us. Through our faith in Jesus, we are saved, so that none can boast. It is you and you alone that deserves all the praise and glory and honor. You are our king and savior. You are our hope.

Father, I pray that the missionaries sent out from Angola, two by two, will change prisons around Louisiana. I pray that the truth that you change hearts, even the hearts of the most hardened criminals, would spread through the justice system. I pray that prisons around the nation would open their doors to you and your missionaries. I pray for the new seminary program in Mississippi State Penitentiary. May it bring you even more glory.

And I ask you to awaken in your people a thirst for righteousness and justice, that we would demand integrity in our justice system. I am thankful for the work of Project Innocence and so many people who have worked to right so many wrongs in our legal system. If only your people would rise up and demand accountability and truth, fairness and justice in our legal system. We are active in some political causes, but your people largely ignore injustices in our society. Forgive us this sin. Instill in us a love for the innocent--yes, we must fight for the innocent who are not yet born--but let us also fight for the innocent who languish in prison. It was a group of pastors who wrote a newspaper article condemning Martin Luther King Jr as he sat in a Birmingham Jail. Too often, your people forget the truth in your justice. Let us not ignore, anymore, the undeniable reality that countless people languish in jail for crimes they did not commit, and they have been forgotting by society. And let us not forget that while they may be countless to us, they are each known by you. Be with them and help them know that you are with those who are oppressed; bring them to rest in you and find their freedom in you regardless of the confines around them.

I also bring before you the needs of my friends who ask for the prayers of your saints.

Bless Nancy and bring her good through the medical tests she is undergoing.

Bless Jennifer and I in our building of our new home. Show us your faithfulness to meet our needs. Help us use our home for your glory, and no matter what, we first and foremost ask that your will be done.

Bless Jennifer's mother Debra, who will have surgery on her foot on the 24th. Heal her of the troubles she has had for so long. Show her that you truly are great--you can meet our needs--and that you are also compassionate.

Bless Frank and Rhonda. Bring Frank home safe. Bless their marriage as it can be difficult to spend so much time apart and then be brought back together. Let Rhonda demonstrate you through her relationship with her husband. Let her life be a testimony to you. Open Frank's eyes to you and save him. Again I pray that you would bless Frank's work in Iraq. He has spent so much of himself helping to bring safety to that nation; he has worked so hard to give the leaders of Iraq the skills they need to lead their nation in justice and safety. He wants desperately to see his work be successful. Give him success, but also help him know that it is not through his own strength, but through you that everything is accomplished (Dt 8).

Bless the Yungmann's as they make decisions that face them. Meet their needs and give them wisdom.

Bless the teachers who are working hard to prepare students. Bless them as they work toward the FCAT, but keep in their minds that teaching is not about the test, but about giving students the chance to reach their potential and fulfill the gifts and talents you have given them. May families come together with parents encouraging their children to learn and grow. May students come to school prepared and desiring to learn.

I know so many students come from broken families, families with few resources, or places with a host of other problems. But, you are above all these problems and can meet any challenge we face because you cannot be challenged by anything. Restore families, build our communities. Put it in the hearts of your people to share their resources with those who have less so that students can have the clothes they need, the food they need, the encouragement they need to grow in wisdom and stature. And may Christian teachers make an unmistakable difference in the lives of children as they model your love, grace, compassion, truth and glory to their students and colleagues. May your glory shine in the love your people show to others.

Be with Melanie White in this horrible time for her and her family. I cannot imagine the trials they face with this disease. I ask first that you would heal her. Show your glory, that you still do miracles. But, most importantly, your will be done; whatever happens, make your glory known; show yourself to be greater than any human trial, any disease. We follow your words in James 5:14 that those who are sick should ask your people to pray to you. Raise Melanie up according to your plan and wisdom.

In the same way, we pray for the family of Scott Harvey. Be with them in their time of sorrow. Comfort them. Show your compassion. And use this time to show your glory and bring your good news to any among that family who do not know you.

And be with the family of Danny Norris. They go through a very different course of suffering, but you understand their needs as well. You have a plan for their lives. Comfort them and bring them rest in you.

I pray for the salvation of Mark. Reach into his heart, take out his heart of stone, put in a heart of flesh. Write your word on his heart and save him. And I pray for the unspoken needs of Steve, as well. You know all our needs, and you work all things for our good.

You are a God who saves people. I ask you to show grace and bring salvation to my parents. Open their minds and hearts to you. Let me be a witness to them for you, but also bring other saints into their lives to share your glory. And I ask you to grant your grace and salvation to Jennifer's brother Nick. Show him you love him; show him the greatness of your goodness.

Father, I praise you for hearing my call to you. I praise you for your strength to answer prayer and your concern to give us all we need. May your name be shown great. May you be glorified. Your will be done.

And I ask all this in the name of Jesus.


No comments: