Tag Archives: power

Power

Psalm 29

We seem to have had more than our fair share of storms in recent weeks.  They serve as a reminder of the awesome power of nature in its rawness.

This Psalm points us to the power of God – an awesome power.  Though whilst we feel powerless against the storm, we are reminded that God in his power, gives us his strength and his peace.

Psalm 29 (CEV)

(A psalm by David.)

The Voice of the Lord in a Storm

29 All of you angels in heaven,
    honor the glory and power
    of the Lord!
Honor the wonderful name
    of the Lord,
    and worship the Lord
    most holy and glorious.

The voice of the Lord
    echoes over the oceans.
The glorious Lord God
thunders
    above the roar
    of the raging sea,
    and his voice is mighty
    and marvelous.
The voice of the Lord
    destroys the cedar trees;
    the Lord shatters cedars
    on Mount Lebanon.
God makes Mount Lebanon
    skip like a calf
    and Mount Hermon
    jump like a wild ox.

The voice of the Lord
makes lightning flash
    and the desert tremble.
And because of the Lord,
    the desert near Kadesh
    shivers and shakes.

The voice of the Lord
makes deer give birth
    before their time.
Forests are stripped of leaves,
    and the temple is filled
    with shouts of praise.

10 The Lord rules on his throne,
    king of the flood forever.
11 Pray that our Lord
will make us strong
    and give us peace.

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Power and Responsibility

Long before Spiderman, Franklind D Rosevelt and Winston Churchill, Voltaire said,

With great power comes great responsibility,

He saw the abuse of power and privilege of those in power, whilst the poor and less privileged suffered.  It disturbed him, and he had to say something.

Similar to Jeremiah…

Jeremiah 23:1-6 (CEV)

A Message of Hope

The Lord said:

23 You leaders of my people are like shepherds that kill and scatter the sheep. You were supposed to take care of my people, but instead you chased them away. So now I’ll really take care of you, and believe me, you will pay for your crimes!

I will bring the rest of my people home from the lands where I have scattered them, and they will grow into a mighty nation. I promise to choose leaders who will care for them like real shepherds. All of my people will be there, and they will never again be frightened.

Someday I will appoint
an honest king
    from the family of David,
a king who will be wise
    and rule with justice.
As long as he is king,
Israel will have peace,
    and Judah will be safe.
The name of this king will be
    “The Lord Gives Justice.”

This passage is called “A Message of Hope”.  To the leaders it is anything but.

They have been given the responsibility of looking after the people, tending them, caring for them, protecting them.  Yet they have done anything but.  Rather than tending those they have responsibility for, they have scattered them.  They have failed in their responsibility, having been more interested in the power.  For that they will have to take responsibility, to be held to account for what they have not done – and what they have done wrongly.  Because God cares about these things.

But for those who have been let down, there is a message of hope.

People may have let you down, particularly the leaders who have responsibility to care for you, but God doesn’t.  He promises a time when you will no longer be frightened.  One day there will be honesty and justice – when God returns to rule.

I can’t help thinking this passage has so much to say to our current society.  Successive leaders in government and elsewhere have let down those they were meant to care for.  They have been more interested in the power than the responsibility.  One only has to watch any interview between politicians, of any party.  All sides have become more concerned by scoring points and hearing the sound of their own voices than offering us any positive solutions – and I speak as someone who has long stood up for the responsibility of using our vote to make a difference.

Meanwhile, many are frightened – for their future, their homes, their health, their life…

We don’t want to hear you shouting, we want to hear a sensible and practical solution, whoever you are.  Dont’ tell us what they’ve done wrong and gloat in it, tell us what you are going to do to make it right.  Or if you don’t know, then ask those who do – AND LISTEN.

Oh, I seem to have become very ranty on here… 🙂 Oh well, I think God was quite cross with these leaders in Jeremiah’s day.  Because God cares about these things.

However, before we become all self-righteous and pointing the finger at ‘them’, what about me?

When have I let people down?  Failed to listen?  Sent people scattering?  Been more interested in any power I have than any responsibility I should show?

Because God is looking at me too…  And God cares about these things.

I love this hymn.  It may feature many times in the next few weeks, because however weary we are of waiting, God promises that he is on his way to sort things out.  It’s one of those hymns that keeps me going.

Thank you Lord
for your promises,
your hope.
That you will return
to sort the world out,
you will restore justice,
take away fear,
bring peace and safety.

Forgive me Lord
the times I have failed
in my responsibilities,
let down those I care for,
scattered those I should hold tight,
and been more interested in power.

I pray
for all those in positions of responsibility.
May they seek to serve,
to care,
to bring justice
and peace,
that all may live lives
free from fear
and despair.
Grant to them wisdom,
integrity
and the strength to serve.

May we all
seek responsibility
and not power.

God v Money

We’ve all heard the tales of someone looking after someones beloved hamster/goldfish or other small pet and it dying whilst they are doing so, followed by a frantic search to find an identical one so no one knows and there is no distress caused.  Apocryphal or not, it plays to our fears of something going wrong on our watch.

When you are looking after something for someone else you have a responsibility to care for it.

Luke 16:1-13

A Dishonest Manager

16 Jesus said to his disciples:

A rich man once had a manager to take care of his business. But he was told that his manager was wasting money. So the rich man called him in and said, “What is this I hear about you? Tell me what you have done! You are no longer going to work for me.”

The manager said to himself, “What shall I do now that my master is going to fire me? I can’t dig ditches, and I’m ashamed to beg. I know what I’ll do, so that people will welcome me into their homes after I’ve lost my job.”

Then one by one he called in the people who were in debt to his master. He asked the first one, “How much do you owe my master?”

“A hundred barrels of olive oil,” the man answered.

So the manager said, “Take your bill and sit down and quickly write ‘fifty’.”

The manager asked someone else who was in debt to his master, “How much do you owe?”

“A thousand bushels of wheat,” the man replied.

The manager said, “Take your bill and write ‘eight hundred’.”

The master praised his dishonest manager for looking out for himself so well. That’s how it is! The people of this world look out for themselves better than the people who belong to the light.

My disciples, I tell you to use wicked wealth to make friends for yourselves. Then when it is gone, you will be welcomed into an eternal home. 10 Anyone who can be trusted in little matters can also be trusted in important matters. But anyone who is dishonest in little matters will be dishonest in important matters. 11 If you cannot be trusted with this wicked wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? 12 And if you cannot be trusted with what belongs to someone else, who will give you something that will be your own? 13 You cannot be the slave of two masters. You will like one more than the other or be more loyal to one than to the other. You cannot serve God and money.

So a rich man hires a manager to care for his wealth.  He gets to hear that the manager has been wasting his money, not looking after it with care and diligence.  So much so that he decides he is going to sack him.  The manager panics, pictures what he might have to do to earn a living now, how his standard of living will drop, and his social status with it.  He decides he needs a few friends out there, so starts letting people pay back a fraction of what they owe to settle their bill.

Then the story takes a surprising twist as the rich man praises the manager for looking out for himself.  There is admiration for his tactics.  This seems quite odd, a strange practice to be commending, and Jesus seems to be agreeing with it.  Which seems at odds with his final statement.  All quite confusing.

So I looked for help:

William Barclay entitles this passage

A Bad Man’s Good Example

and brands it a “story about as choice a set of rascals as one could meet anywhere”.  Light is shed on the good the manager did, in that at least the he managed to get some money out of those who had chosen not to pay up on their debts.  These were not innocents, but people not paying their rent.  Maybe he was taking off the levy he had put on for himself, and getting his boss’s money back without his own cut?

What this story does is highlights the all-round problems money can cause, or more accurately the problems our use of money can cause.

So we are reminded that possessions and money are not in themselves Bad Things, but how we use them can be.  What we have should be used to serve God, and not the other way round.  How we use our money says a lot about where our priorities lie. Do we use if for power, self-indulgence or as a resource to help others?  There is nothing wrong with having money, there can be everything wrong in what we do with it.  Conversely, of course, not having money can cause huge problems.  That is why it is incumbent on those who do have money to do the right thing with it.

It also asks the question of where our emphasis is?  Do we put as much effort into our faith as we do our garden, our golf handicap, polishing our car, shopping or earning more money?

Whatever else we do for work or pleasure, serving God should be our 24/7 occupation.  Our other activities should come from that.

We have a responsibility to care for and use well what God has entrusted to us.

Lord,
I acknowledge that everything I have is yours,
I have nothing that you haven’t given to me first.
Help me not to cling to what I have,
but to use it
as you require.
May everything I have be at your disposal
– not just money and possessions,
but my time,
my energy,
my skills.

Lord,may everything I do
be grounded in you.
May you be my focus
that informs the rest of my life,
may I give from all you have given to me,
and serve you alone

Eileen has some interesting points to make on this over at A Reflex Anglican