heart of God

The Mark of an Intercessor

God takes special note of those who share in the grief of His heart for the sinful world around them. As in every generation throughout history, there are many things today that vex the souls of God fearing people, just as they did the righteous soul of Lot in his day. (2 Peter 2:4-9) And all the more now as we are being inundated by an unending flood of evil, the news of which, like a deluge, is coming from every corner of the world, streaming day and night through multiple forms of media.
Ezekiel, while in captivity in Babylon, is visited by God and taken in the Spirit to the temple in Jerusalem. There he is shown among other things, God’s preparation to bring judgment on the city. He sees six men appear, each with a deadly weapon in their hands and he sees with them a man clothed in linen with a writing kit at his side. Then he hears God call to the linen clad man and instruct to him to “walk through the streets of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of all who weep and sigh because of the detestable sins being committed in their city.” In startling succession the next two verses contain the instructions given to six other men. They are told to “Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion . . . but do not touch anyone who has the mark.” (Ezekiel 9:5-6 NIV)
What caused God to mark these people for mercy rather than for judgment? We are told that they were weeping and sighing because of the sinfulness of the city.

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The Transcendent Power of the Lord’s Prayer

“Our Father . . . give us . . . forgive us . . .lead us . . .deliver us.”

This past week I was one of approximately 150 unlikely people drawn together by a mutual desire to support the family of a dear saint who suffered an untimely death. At such times there is an understandable awkwardness, in part due to the diversity of those in attendance and the fact that many, although they knew the deceased, do not know one another. When we gathered in the funeral home chapel, and the service proceeded, as is often the case, one could hear a pin drop save for the voice of the pastor conducting the service.

Toward the end of the service, the pastor invited the congregation to stand and join her in the saying the Lord’s Prayer. I must say, given the mix of people in the room, the wide age span, obvious diversity of religious backgrounds and solemnity permeating the room, I did not expect much response – perhaps at best a perfunctory mumbling recitation by a few who knew the prayer and professed a Christian faith. I was genuinely and pleasantly caught off guard. The entire gathering, almost with gusto, prayed the entire prayer from memory without a hitch and the volume and deep resonance of the blended voices filled the room. It was as if the lid of a pressure cooker had been taken off releasing a pent up expression of corporate faith and love. The atmosphere in the room changed with the confession of that timeless prayer. In some mysterious way it bound everyone together in a shared grief for the passing of a loved one and the hope of eternity and the resurrection. It was, at least for me, a holy moment worth treasuring and meditating upon.

Why, in what is increasingly being called a non-Christian culture, does the Lord’s Prayer still have such a wide base appeal and effect? There are probably a number of reasons that could be cited. I will limit my attempts to answer this question to two.

First the Lord’s Prayer reveals some very compelling qualities about the God to whom Jesus was instructing us to pray.

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