Ep.074: The Second Beginning.

Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”. 

Today, we look at the Gospel of John.

The Book of John starts at the same place as the Book of Genesis: back in the beginning. Genesis says, “In the  beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” John says, “In the beginning was the word. . . Through him all things were created.”

 In Genesis when God started speaking, his first words were: “Let there be light.”  In John when God sent his word into the world, it says, “In him was life and that life was the light of every human.”  Twice, God sent his light into the darkness..

And when God sends light into darkness, things happen!  At creation, the darkness of chaos surrendered to the light of God. In John’s Gospel we expect a similar result. When God sent Jesus as light of the world, human darkness should be swept away and human chaos should surrender to the light and life of God. 

But that did not happen. John says, “Christ the true light came into the world, but the world did not know him. He came to his own and his own did not receive him.” God sent Jesus to light up the world, but the world just shrugged and continued in darkness. 

What went wrong? Did God’s word lose its power somewhere between Creation and Christ? When God sent Christ, was he too weak to turn on the light in a way that would get noticed? The new beginning in John’s gospel suddenly feels like a bad Hollywood sequel. The original movie was great. but the best thing about sequel was munching on popcorn. 

John explores this problem in his gospel. He tells stories about people who met Jesus, but they thought the new light was just a bad reflection, or they thought Jesus was just darkness in disguise. But John also tells stories about people who saw and responded to the new light.  

Let’s pray.

Our father, we rejoice in the light of each new day. It reminds of that first day when you said,  “Let there be light.” But we wonder why the light of Christ does not transform our lives. Why are there so many dark corners the light doesn’t find? Why do our character flaws and habits not change in all our years of being Christians? As John said, The light has come into our darkness, but the darkness does not understand it. “Christ came to his own and they did not receive him. But to those who did receive him, he gave the right to become children of God” (Jn 1:12). Yes Jesus, we receive you again. We receive your light. Light up our lives with your presence, expose our darkness and drive it away. May today be our day of new creation and new light.

Amen. 

I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”. 

Ep.020: A Plague on Your House

Hi, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.

Today we consider the story of Moses leading the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt.  Moses started by asking Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, to let the people go. But Pharaoh wasn’t about to release his slave labor force. That’s like asking Walmart to dismiss its clerks and shelf stockers, and run the store with just the management. Not going to happen.

So Moses had a wee contest with Pharaoh, in which Moses called down plagues on Egypt to convince Pharaoh to free the Israelite slaves. Pharaoh wasn’t impressed with the first two plagues because his magicians could so something similar. But Pharaoh found the plagues annoying, so he asked Moses to pray to the Lord to get rid of them.

After plague #2, Pharaoh said, “Pray to the Lord to take away the frogs, and I will let your people go.”   

After the plague of flies, he said, “I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the Lord your God in the wilderness, but you must not go very far. Now pray for me.”

After the plague of thunderstorms with lightning and hail, Pharaoh said, “Pray to the Lord, for we have had enough.”

And after plague #8, the locusts, he said, “Forgive my sin once more and pray for me.”

I like his prayer after the locusts. “Forgive my sin once more and pray for me.”  Amen to that! That’s a prayer for you and for me. After each plague, Pharaoh promised to let the Israelites go, but as soon as God lifted the plague, Pharaoh changed his mind.  What would it take to get Pharaoh to keep his promises and to set the people free? What finally worked was when Moses created a path through the Red Sea on which the Israelites escaped to safety. And when Pharaoh’s army followed, the path disappeared, the sea came in, and the army drowned.

Let’s take a look at Pharaoh’s philosophy of prayer and see if it has some lessons for us. Here’s how the Pharaoh philosophy of prayer operates: God tells you to do something, you decide you don’t really want to do it. God makes your life difficult, you ask someone to pray for you. And amazingly, the prayer works. Your life becomes easier, your troubles go away, and you forget about God. . . until God sends more troubles to get your attention and you say, “Oh, yeah! That’s what I was supposed to do. Maybe I’ll do it this time.” So you pray for relief from your new troubles, your prayer gets answered, things get better, and you settle back into your comfort zone of ignoring God.

So here are two lessons from Pharaoh’s philosophy of prayer:

1.    Be sure to pray when your life is falling apart. That’s what prayer is for.

2.    But remember to keep your promises when times are good. That’s what prayer is about too!

Dear God, teach us to pray and obey when times are good and when times are bad. May our paths lead us through the Red Sea to the wilderness where you meet us. And save us from our enemies who pursue us to bring us back into slavery.

Thank you for listening.

I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with me”.

Appendix:  The 10 plagues and Pharaoh’s responses.

  1. Nile to blood
  2. Frogs                 Pray to the Lord
  3. Gnats or lice
  4. Flies                Pray for me
  5. Livestock
  6. Boils
  7. Thunderstorm – Hail        Pray to the Lord for we have had enough
  8. Locusts            Forgive my sin once more and pray for me
  9. Darkness for 3 days
  10. Firstborn            Go, and bless me.
  11. The Finale: Path through the Red Sea