Monday, March 4 2024 - 6:04 PM

Sharing Scripture — February 3, 2024

Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land

 

For use: January 28 – February 3, 2024
Texts: Psalm 22:1; 69:1-3; 73:1-20; 77; 79:5-13; 88:3-12; 1 Peter 1:17

 

How would you react to learning the leaders of your church gave their blessings for launching a violent war?

Orthodox Ukrainians faced this dilemma when Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, backed the invasion of Ukraine, promising that the sacrifice of the Russian soldiers would wash away their sins.

In fact, many religious leaders from around the globe condemn Kirill for acting out of nationalist loyalty rather than on behalf of God. Meanwhile, millions of Ukrainians continue reaching out to God, seeking peace and an end to the violence. And yet the war rages on. Where is God in the midst of the violence? The deaths of children, elderly, mothers and fathers, families, livestock, devoted followers of the Lord? Did God abandon them?

The cries of the Ukrainians, Israelis and Palestinians, the poor, oppressed and afflicted echo in Habakkuk 1:1-4. The prophet asks why the wicked succeed, the innocent suffer, injustice prevails, violence reigns, and all the while God ignores Israel’s supplications.

God’s response to the distressed plea is fascinating. In Habakkuk 1:5-11, God postpones the salvation of the Israelites, and even warns that a worse, more evil, more immoral reign of terror is yet to come.

Not exactly the pep talk Habakkuk wanted. What a bleak and hopeless outlook!

It’s easy to imagine the distraught prophet uttering a cry similar to that of David recorded in Psalm 22:1 (NIV): “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?”

Yet, Habakkuk – like the Psalmists – ultimately concludes by changing his tune, choosing to trust in God Who doesn’t exactly promise deliverance from persecution in this world, but does ask that believers live by faithfulness (Habakkuk 2:4), which in itself will be enough. Evildoers will meet judgment some day, if not now.

Rather than demanding that day be expediated and explanations for God’s seeming absence be given, true believers should trust that God is always in control.

 

For Reflection

 

Connecting: How do you stay faithful and/or find comfort when it seems God ignores your pleas/allows tragedy to strike?

Sharing: Review Matthew 22:15-22Romans 13:1-10Acts 5:28-291 Peter 2:13-14Titus 3:11 Timothy 2:1-4, and Daniel 4:17. How can we pair such Scriptures with government powers which engage in corruption and enact violence?

  1. Evil governmental powers are a result of humanity’s rebellion, a natural product of exercising our free will
  2. While violence and corruption are morally wrong, those laws which are not morally wrong – even if they contradict our personal opinions – should be observed
  3. Those passages were written regarding specific rulers and no longer apply
  4. We can disagree with a ruler but remember that God works all things for good for those who hold the faith
  5. Every person is made in the image of God and therefore has goodness within
  6. Other:

Applying: With your small group or a peer, brainstorm ways to avoid getting swept up in the negatively-charged political conversations taking place within your own circles. How could the tensions of those talks be defused?

Valuing: Journal your reflections on how the Psalmists react to turmoil, persecution, and grief. Where is God in those passages? Prayerfully consider how the Psalmists’ responses can be a guide in your own struggles.

~ Stefani Leeper


As One Who Serves

 

Our newest resource, As One Who Serves: Perspectives on Adventist Mission & Ministry to Members, Families, and Communities is now available!

Much has been written about how the ministries of the Seventh-day Adventist Church can be more effective. There is a continued need for new approaches to ministry, guided by new and rigorous research. This volume honors the contributions of Monte Sahlin, who has dedicated his career to ministry and research spanning more than fifty years. The research, tributes, and other information presented in this book were each submitted by those who worked closely with Monte Sahlin during his career or were strongly influenced by his research, his many books, articles, presentations and blog posts and focuses on areas where Monte Sahlin has made significant related contributions:

  • Pastoral Ministry, Evangelism and Church Growth
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  • Compassion Ministries – Social Action and Community Services
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  • Family Ministry, You and Young Adults

This book is organized around important topics offering new and important insights for those in ministry within the Seventh-day Adventist Church, highlighting recent research and inspiring continued scholarship.

You can obtain this special volume in paperback or for Kindle by visiting Amazon.

PS: While you’re fighting the cold weather and sipping at a tasty hot beverage, Center for Creative Ministry would LOVE to be your indoor companion. Not only will we provide you uplifting resources such as iFollow and Amazing Transformations in Christ, but we also provide spiritual food like Sharing Scripture, and denomination-related reports and statistics.

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