Friday, 3 September 2021

Title: “Our Father need not be nagged”
By: Ps Cheng Cheung

Luke 18: 1-8

Luke 18: 7 And will not God surely see to it that justice is done to His chosen ones who cry out to Him day and night, and will He delay toward them?

I have for a long time had difficulty with those verses relating to the need to pray and thereafter, our prayers being answered. And things have not been made easier by the pandemic. Since March 2020, when a routine set in (movement restrictions, SOPs, daily covid numbers, job losses, and lately, political uncertainty, etc., etc.) our prayers have centred around all these for the last seventeen months. I would not blame anyone if the questions ”When will it stop? Is God listening?” arose in one’s mind. These have come up in mine as well, from time to time.

Doesn’t God’s word say God will answer? Of course, I realise now a major issue is the importance of reading God’s word in context and also to use a good translation. These things matter.

I say, ”I realise now” to my shame. I should have, long ago, but one is never too old to learn.

Luke 18: 1 in the NKJ reads ” Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart”

What had the subject matter been in the latter part of Luke 17, the previous chapter? The Kingdom of God. When Christ returns the Kingdom of God will be revealed in its full power and glory. But Jesus pulled no punches. He warned the people that prior to the ushering in of God’s Kingdom, evil will flourish, and God’s people will know suffering and persecution. We may not experience that in Malaysia, but in recent days, many hotspots in the world have surfaced, and Christians are facing injustice, mistreatment and even threats to their lives and martyrdom.

I often wonder how I would have responded if I had been there to hear Jesus’ description of what to expect in the last days. Would I have been in despair? Would I have wanted to bail out? And indeed, how would I respond if my family and I are Afghan Christians living in Kabul today?

So, Jesus now pulled them (the disciples) aside. His formula, in the face of persecution and rejection is clear and simple: You always ought to pray and not lose heart. One commentator even said: “ ’always ought to pray’ doesn’t say it quite strongly enough. Prayer is not something we are permitted to do if we please. The word should be translated ‘must.’ ‘you m͟u͟s͟t͟ a͟l͟w͟a͟y͟s͟ p͟r͟a͟y͟ and not lose heart.’ ” He stresses.

The second half of the narrative starts with this appeal to our common sense, almost like saying ”Did you hear what the unjust / unrighteous / authoritarian judge said? Rest assured, your Heavenly Father is nothing like that.” He does not need to be nagged or badgered or manipulated into answering our prayers.

To add to our assurance, Jesus asks two rhetorical questions:
“Won’t God give justice?” YES!
“Will He delay long?” NO!

And the wonderfully comforting word the Lord Jesus uses to describe us is we are His ”chosen.” The elect, children of the Father, partnering with Him to carry out His purposes on earth. Will we pray persistently to that end? The ultimate question posed ”Will He find faith on earth?” is not about whether believers will fail, but w͟h͟e͟t͟h͟e͟r͟ o͟r͟ n͟o͟t͟ t͟h͟e͟y͟ w͟i͟l͟l͟ f͟a͟i͟l͟ t͟o͟ p͟r͟a͟y͟.

My Prayer today

Heavenly Father, I confess the recent local political and global upheavals have driven me close to the brink. God, help me turn my eyes on Jesus.

Strengthen my resolve to pray and help me understand what it means to cry out day and night to You. Draw me closer to You and may hurts and disappointments cause me to keep calling out to You in prayer.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

每日灵粮
星期五,2021年9月3日
标题:我们的天父不需要被唠叨
作者:张祯祥传道
翻译:陈月妃姐妹

路加福音18:1-8
路加福音18:7神的选民、昼夜呼吁他、他纵然为他们忍了多时、岂不终久给他们伸冤么。

很长一段时间以来,我一直很难理解那些关于需要祷告及祷告后得到回应的经文。然而,这次的疫情并没有让事情变得更容易。自2020年3月以来,当这些常规(行动管制令、标准作业程序、每日新冠病毒感染人数、失业以及最近的政治不确定性等)开始实施后,我们在过去的 17 个月里一直围绕着这些事情祈祷。如果一个人的脑海中浮现这样的问题“什么时候停止?”?“上帝是否在聆听?”,我并不会责怪他。因为这也经常出现在我的身上。

圣经里不是说上帝会应允吗?当然,我现在意识到一个主要的问题就是阅读上帝话语时,看其上下文并使用优秀的翻译本的重要性。这是至关重要的。

我很羞愧地说,“我现在意识到了”。我其实早该知道,但一个人永远不会因为太老而无法学习。

NKJ版本中的路加福音18;1如此写道:“耶稣设一个比喻、是要人常常祷告、不可灰心.”

前一章–路加福音 17 章后半部的主题是什么?上帝的国度。当基督再来时,上帝的国将显出它全部的能力和荣耀。但耶稣毫无保留的警告人们,在上帝的国度到来之前,邪恶会盛行,上帝的子民会经历苦难和迫害。我们在马来西亚可能没有经历过这种情况,但最近几天,世界上出现了许多焦点议题,基督徒面临着不公义、苛待,甚至生命和殉难的威胁。

我常常想,如果我在那里听耶稣描述在末世会发生的事情时,我会如何反应。我会绝望吗?我会想逃离吗?事实上,如果我和我的家人都是生活在喀布尔的阿富汗基督徒,我会如何应对?

所以,耶稣现在把他们(门徒)拉到一边。面对迫害和弃绝,祂的方程式是明确而简单的:你应该常常祷告,不可灰心。一位解经家甚至说:“常常祷告”说得还不够强烈。这个词应该翻译成“必须”。“你必须要常常祷告、不可灰心。”他如此强调。

故事的后半部分是这样的,几乎就像在说“你听到那不公正/不公义/专制的法官说了什么吗?”?请放心,你的天父不是这样的。”祂不需要被烦扰、缠磨或操纵来回应我们的祈祷。

为了增加我们的信心,耶稣提出了两个反问:
“难道上帝不会伸张正义吗?”会的!
“祂会耽搁很久吗?”不!

主耶稣用来描述我们的奇妙安慰的词语是,我们是祂的“选民”。选民,是天父的儿女,与祂同工,在地上成就祂的旨意。我们会为此坚持不懈地祈祷吗?最终的问题不是信徒是否会失败,而是信徒会否停止祷告。

我今日的祷告:天父,我承认最近的地方政治和全球动荡已经把我逼到了崩溃的边缘。神啊,求你帮助我注目耶稣。坚定我祷告的决心,帮助我明白昼夜向你呼求的意义。让我亲近你,让这些伤害和失望使到我能在祷告中不断呼求你,奉耶稣的名。阿门。