Great Plains Daily Devotional for 8/13/2020

Today please be in prayer for

Junction City: Korean UMC
Flint Hills District
Lebo Olivet UMC
Flint Hills District
Manhattan: College Avenue UMC
Flint Hills District
Manhattan: First UMC
Flint Hills District

Today's Lectionary Text

Zechariah 9:11-14

As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
    I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope;
    today I declare that I will restore to you double.
For I have bent Judah as my bow;
    I have made Ephraim its arrow.
I will arouse your sons, O Zion,
    against your sons, O Greece,
    and wield you like a warrior’s sword.

Then the Lord will appear over them,
    and his arrow go forth like lightning;
the Lord God will sound the trumpet
    and march forth in the whirlwinds of the south.

Today's Devotional

My heart has been hurting so badly considering injustice issues happening around our country and the globe. In my home country of Zimbabwe, the government recently imprisoned a renowned journalist, Hopewell Chinono, for exposing corruption and all the government ills within his line of sight. The journalist was abducted from his home and jailed. His application for bail was totally denied last week. Well, I prayed in tears and wished justice could rain like water upon the imprisoned journalist. How could he be denied bail? So unfair! One might think I am lamenting from a biased perspective or political affiliation. It is a huge capitalized “NO.” I am lamenting because of injustices happened not only to this journalist but to other journalists around the world. You may recall late 2018, Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S.-based journalist and critic of the Saudi Arabia's government, was not just imprisoned but murdered. There has been worldwide condemnation of these unfair practices, appeals to these governments to right their wrongs. Research can show us a list of hundreds, perhaps thousands around the world.  

The Holy Spirit dropped this divine assurance to all prisoners from the prophet Zechariah:  

11 As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, 
  I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit. 
12 Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; 
  even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.  

The prophet perceived the encounters of shackles and imprisonment of prisoners bound by sicknesses, COVID-19 of his day, injustices, iniquities, exilic unsettlements. The prophetic word is always soothing in difficult times. Here, the prophet Zechariah specifically pointed to freedom from the waterless pit. Prisoners in ancient times were often kept in dry wells or pits, like Joseph was before he was sold to the Ishmaelites. The exiles of Israel, pictured as being in a dry well of captivity, suffering, and despair, will be freed because of the unbreakable covenant with God.  

According to the scripture, Israel was to live again. We can all testify to that as God’s children. Regardless of our waterless pits, COVID-19 and all its affliction, humiliations, sufferings, emptiness of life on earth, God has already freed us from all negatives through the death and shedding of blood on the cross. Therefore, freedom is godly and covenanted and guaranteed through Jesus’ resurrection. For the longest time, the prisoners were hopeful about their freedom. We too are hopeful for our freedom in Jesus Christ.  

Hope is an interesting phenomenon because is indeed not tangible. In my own Christian walk, I have come to cherish and rely so much especially in dire situations. I have learned that to have hope, one must have faith. God empowered Zechariah with the word: “Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope.” Prisoners of hope do not live in despair or discouragement. Prisoners of hope remain resilient in any life situation. They are prayerful, optimistic, and focused on their God. Even though life might have seemed unpredictable and dim, hope remained a powerful weapon to Israelites in their plights.  

Hope does not disappoint us in any life situations. Christians of our day are prisoners of hope. God is our fortress, a present help in all the injustices, infirmities experienced, the deaths around us, the school openings, and church challenges through the attack of the COVID-19. Eventually at God’s word, Christians shall be freed from the calamities of the day. 

Therefore, as prisoners of hope challenged from all life fronts in this decade, we should not lose hope. Hope keeps us alive. We hold to the prophetic word as prisoners of sicknesses, deaths, unemployment, injustices, discrimination, and faithlessness. The covenant through Calvary sets us free from all these attacks. The assurance to prisoners of hope is powerful and encouraging!  

12 Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; 
  even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you

Assuredly I pray for the journalist under chains believing God’s word. Amen.  

--Rev. Ever V. Mudambanuki 
United Church of Bennington/Solomon Yoked Parish 

Prayer for Reflection

O God of prisoners of hope, we come to you in our desperation. We have been chained by all sicknesses, deaths, injustices of our day. Help us to return to our fortress where we can find peace, freedom, and rest. Amen.  


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