Decadence and Downfall

We’ve been spending a good deal of time in the OT book of Daniel over recent months for our Sunday morning sermons, as we’ve considered how we’re to remain faithful to Jesus whilst living in a culture that is unsympathetic and at times outright hostile to the gospel.

Thanks to Doug for drawing my attention to the recent BBC documentary, Decadence and Downfall: The Shah of Iran’s Ultimate Party, (which can be found online for a limited time here), which outlines events in Iran during 1971 and shows how the then Shah saw himself as a modern-day equivalent of King Cyrus, ruler of the Medes and Persians 2500 year ago.

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Demon possession

Last Sunday morning we looked at Jesus casting a demon out of man in the synagogue in Capernaum (Luke 4:31-37).

Joe Carter lists some details of a new survey that finds a majority of Americans personally believe in the existence of the devil and believe that demons can possess humans here.

It would be interesting to have similar data available for the UK.

Comparisons

If I set the sun beside the moon,

And if I set the land beside the sea, 

And if I set the town beside the country, 

And if I set the man bedside the woman, 

I suppose some fool would talk about one being better.

G.K. Chesterton

(Wilson, Future Men, 18)

Your will be done on earth as in heaven

We’ve been making our way through the prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray on recent Sunday evenings as we come to a close of our consideration of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.  This coming Sunday we’ll be looking at the request, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Although we may have said these words literally hundreds of times, when we stop and think what we are asking for, it’s a huge challenge to our self-centred lives where so often we want our will to be done.  Praying that God’s will be done on earth – here and now in my life, is a prayer for change; for painful, costly change.

In thinking on this, my mind wandered to John Newton’s old Hymn I asked the Lord that I might grow. It’s a great hymn, giving testimony of how God works in us to achieve his will and purpose.

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.

‘Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“‘Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”

Man’s maker was made man

Man’s maker was made man,
that He, Ruler of the stars,
might nurse at His mother’s breast;

that the Bread might hunger,

the Fountain thirst,

the Light sleep,

the Way be tired on its journey;

that the Truth might be accused of false witness,

the Teacher be beaten with whips,

the Foundation be suspended on wood;

that Strength might grow weak;

that the Healer might be wounded;

that Life might die.

– Augustine of Hippo (Sermons 191.1)