A Meditation on Romans 15: 30

Kevin J Youngblood
 

“I beg you, brothers and sisters, through our Lord, Jesus the Messiah, and through the love of the Spirit, to strive hard with me in your prayers to God on my behalf . . .” (Romans 15:30)

When I was a boy, I remember we often sang the hymn “There is a Balm in Gilead.” A line from that hymn has stuck with me through the years and I have often thought about it. The line is “If you cannot preach like Peter, if you cannot pray like Paul . . .” As a boy, I always wondered why Paul was singled out for his prayer life. Now, as an adult, having read all of Paul’s writings, I think I understand why. Paul had a most remarkable theology of prayer – the kind of theology that can only emerge from experience, from the determined and ceaseless practice of prayer.

This is not only evident in the obvious places, the places where Paul writes down his prayers at the beginning of his letters, or the places where Paul is explicitly teaching on prayer. It is also evident in the unexpected places, the places where Paul’s profundity catches us of guard and by surprise, such as in his laundry lists of pedestrian commands and instructions at the close of his letters.


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A Meditation on Psalm 31

Kevin J Youngblood
 

Blessed be the Lord,

for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me

when I was in a besieged city.

22 I had said in my alarm,

“I am cut off from your sight.”

But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy

when I cried to you for help.

(Psalm 31:21-22)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about besieged cities. Two in particular have been on my mind: Jerusalem and Mariupol. Mariupol, of course, has recently been in the news due to its near total destruction at the hands of the Russian military. Jerusalem’s siege and destruction is on my mind because I am currently writing a commentary on Lamentations. So it caught my attention when reading Psalm 31 that the psalmist endured the experience of living in a besieged city. I assume the psalmist is referring to Sennacherib’s (in)famous siege of Jerusalem in 701 BC that ended with YHWH’s miraculous intervention and Sennacherib’s retreat.

I wonder whether certain insights would ever dawn on us were we never “besieged.”


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A Meditation on Matthew 24

Kevin J Youngblood
 

Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. (Matthew 24:23-28)

I don’t know if you have noticed it or not, but Christ has been cloned. Not just once or twice, mind you, but cloned myriads of times.


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A Meditation on Deuteronomy 3 : 18-20

Kevin J Youngblood
 

18 “And I commanded you at that time, saying, ‘The Lord your God has given you this land to possess. All your men of valor shall cross over armed before your brothers, the people of Israel. 19 Only your wives, your little ones, and your livestock (I know that you have much livestock) shall remain in the cities that I have given you, 20 until the Lord gives rest to your brothers, as to you, and they also occupy the land that the Lord your God gives them beyond the Jordan. Then each of you may return to his possession which I have given you.’ (Deuteronomy 3:18 – 20)

Nobody rests until everybody rests. This just about sums up Moses’ instructions to the trans-Jordan tribes whose inheritance was distributed and settled well before the other nine-and-a-half tribes. Israel had not even crossed the Jordan yet. Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh had requested and been granted lush grasslands east of the Jordan gorge. I prefer not to speculate what their motives were, but I can see how some might suspect that they were hoping to get out of the ugly business of encroaching on Canaanite territory and confronting a corrupt culture. Who needs the headache, not to mention the bad press, of trying to overturn sinful systems of oppression to make way for God’s just and equitable kingdom?


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A Meditation on Psalm 18

Kevin J Youngblood
 

 He brought me out into a broad place;

he rescued me, because he delighted in me.

(Psalm 18:19)

At the end of a rather detailed description of a near death experience from which God delivered him, David concludes with the words “he brought me into a broad place.” It occurred to me as I read these words this morning that this probably strikes most modern readers as an odd conclusion to such a passionate, majestic outburst of praise for a remarkable, last minute divine rescue. In fact, it can seem down right anticlimactic, especially for an agoraphobe. What is so special about YHWH’s deliverance culminating in a wide, open space?


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A Meditation on Romans 2 : 12-16

Kevin J Youngblood
 

For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:12-16)

Ever since Martin Luther, a number of Christians have sensed a conflict between Paul and James regarding the place of good works in the Christian life. Often pitting Romans and Galatians against James and vice versa Christians have divided into various camps over the issue of how to understand the relationship between grace, faith, and works.


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