Theme: Prayers for our country

Readings: Psalm 98, Haggai 2:1-9, 2 Thess. 2:13-17

Psalm 98 This Psalm is known as an enthronement Psalm (other examples are Psalms 93, 95-99). The enthronement Psalms celebrate God as King over all humanity and in fact over all of creation (95:1, 96:1, 97:1). Our Psalm 98 carries on with this theme (v. 1), the responses of the people to the presence of God are expressed in their worship (vs. 4-6); even nature must add its own music and “roar” in praise (vs. 7-9)!

Why are we called to enthrone God is this way?

Well the answer lies in reading (vs.1-3) and (vs. 9) together as these verses frame the message of the Psalmist for us. We worship a God who is above all things and who deserves all praise, and who is in authority over all – and who will return in righteous judgement (vs. 9).

Does this Psalm help you in where you find yourself, in your life, now?

Does this Psalm influence the way you see the natural world, and how you see other people?

Does it challenge you about your way or your style of worship? What is acceptable worship?

Haggai 2: 1-9 Haggai is referred to as a minor prophet, not because he is unimportant, but because we don’t have a lot of material from him, and we don’t know all that much about his life. He probably returned from exile in Babylon (536 B.C.) and began his work in (520 B.C) during the reign of King Darius (1:1). The temple built by King Solomon (1 Kings 7:13-51) needed to be restored and in many ways rebuilt as it had been damaged and fallen into ruin. The Hebrews were disheartened and were giving up on their faith. Haggai knew that the state of the temple building reflected the state of the Hebrew people’s relationship with God. Look for the repetition of the phrase “be strong” and then see how they are connected to the command “and work” (2:4). When this work is completed, God will return with earth shattering power and glory (2:6-7) and peace will come (2:9c).

Do we need to “rebuild” the place of worship in our community and in our country?

If so, how do we do this (see 1Corinthians 3:16-17 as a clue for your answer)?

2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

There are times in the life of a congregation when things get a little “shaken up” perhaps due to a teaching or an event that happens within the community that the church needs to deal with. Wider afield we, as a country, have recently gone through confusing, and at times, frightening events that have manifested in our politics (e.g. in Parliament and the Constitutional Court), in the burning of schools (Vuyani) and on the campus grounds of our Universities, and the racist hate speech on social media platforms. Events that might leave us as Christians, at times, in doubt as to how to respond! Remember too, as Christians we are not to live in fear – but all too often – we are afraid (see 2 Timothy 1:7)!

How should we respond? Well, the Apostle Paul encouraged a church trapped in confusion to stand firm (vs. 15).

What does that mean? Take encouragement from (vs. 13-14) and personalise the message here (i.e. “you” are loved, “you” are chosen, the Holy Spirit is at work in “your” life).

Does this style of reading these verses make them come alive for you? Why? The verses that are most important are (16, 17); in (vs. 17) take time to reflect on what Paul means, and ask the Lord to guide you in that way this week.