Saturday, July 11, 2015

The King's Table

Tonight (Saturday the 11th) at 6pm at Celebration Church & Outreach Ministry I will deliver a message entitled The King's Table (#KingsTable).  It is based on the story of a young descendant of Saul named Mephibosheth who became the recipient of King David's kindness (2 Samuel 9:1-12).

It is a story whose themes transcend time and place.  The story of Mephibosheth points to the God who takes us from a place of loss, hunger, and lack of hope to a place at His table, reserved for us since the beginning of time.  We were created to dine at the table of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Sometimes we are deceived into thinking that we don't belong at His table.  We see all the good things that have been prepared for us as well as others at the table who appear better than us, and our hearts shrink.  "I don't belong at this table," we think to ourselves.  When no one is looking, we slip away to another table that feels more comfortable but for all the wrong reasons. Comfort and familiarity are sensations that are not always reliable.  We are prone to cling to destructive relationships, habits and situations for no other reason than the comfort and familiarity they provide us.

Tonight we will invite people, who have not yet taken their place at The King's Table, to do so.  We will also worship the God who restores those things that have been taken from us (another theme in the story of Mephibosheth).  All this will conclude with the celebration of Baptism.

You can join us in person or Live Stream (  Hope to sit with you at The King's Table.

Ex nihilo,

R.J. Rhoden

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Hezekiah's Prayer

In 2 Kings 19 a prayer of Hezekiah is recorded.  As the Assyrians openly mocked God and threatened an imminent siege of Jerusalem, Hezekiah, with his advisors and the people pressing him for direction, pushes the pause button and goes into prayer.  Upon receiving the latest report from the Assyrians, Hezekiah "went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord (v14)."

The best time to pray is when it feels like there is no time to pray.  Spiritual maturity is often counter intuitive to human instinct.  Pressure moments drive us to act quickly and pray later, but Hezekiah did the opposite.  He prayed first and acted second.  In so doing, he kept in pace with God's plan of action rather than his own. If he had not paused to spend time in prayer, Hezekiah might have missed the prophet Isaiah's message that was in route to him (v20).

Hezekiah's prayer was not profound.  It didn't contain lofty or nifty phrases that would set it apart from any prayer we might offer.  It was not long or wordy; it was actually right on point.  After giving brief glory and honor to God ("...You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth.  You have made heaven and earth...(v15)"), he asks God for help.  "Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God...Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God(vv16-19)."

On this side of eternity, we will never fully understand why it is necessary to pray. Logically, one would assume that God does not need to be asked to do anything, especially that which is obvious. God's people are in trouble; therefore, God should come to their rescue.  Right?  It is difficult not to have such a conclusion from our human perspective.

Hezekiah's prayer does not give us an answer to our theological questions about prayer, but his actions model for us the practice of spiritual maturity.  Hezekiah enters prayerfully into a posture of dependence and appeal to the living God that mystically unites humanity and divinity.  Prayer is a type of foreshadowing, small deposit, of that which will come in eternity when we are in continual union and fellowship with God.  When we pray now, we are participating in a brief glimpse of the eternal, continual joy that awaits us - being forever with God.

Prayer works because God works.  We place our trust in Him to act according to His perfect and sovereign Will "so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that [He] alone, Lord, is God." And the best time to pray is when it feels like there is no time to pray.  In those moments, we actualize and prioritize our faith in a very tangible way.  We say to those around us, "Give me some time to take this before the living God."

Ex nihilo,

R.J. Rhoden