June Devotionals

June 30, 2023

Exiles: 1Peter, part 5

Israel's exile to Babylon might seem far away and disconnected to the life of the Christian,... until we read the book of 1Peter. There we find that Christians have always been exiles in this world. Seeing ourselves through the lens of Israel's Exile helps us respond to the challenges of our time.
Stuart Holman
10 mins
June 29, 2023

Exiles: 1Peter, part 4

Israel's exile to Babylon might seem far away and disconnected to the life of the Christian,... until we read the book of 1Peter. There we find that Christians have always been exiles in this world. Seeing ourselves through the lens of Israel's Exile helps us respond to the challenges of our time.
Stuart Holman
11 mins
June 28, 2023

Exiles: 1Peter, part 3

Israel's exile to Babylon might seem far away and disconnected to the life of the Christian,... until we read the book of 1Peter. There we find that Christians have always been exiles in this world. Seeing ourselves through the lens of Israel's Exile helps us respond to the challenges of our time.
Stuart Holman
12 mins

June Bible Reading Guide

The Exile appears to be the reversal of the Exodus. Previously, Israel left Egypt, freed from slavery, an emerging nation ready to worship God on the way to their promised land. Now, at the beginning of their Exile, Israel leave their land, slaves to a foreign power, a divided nation in disarray, condemned for not worshipping their God. Tragically, God’s promise to Abraham appears to be abandoned. The people of the promise have become a people in chains.

Those who survive the Exile cling together in Babylon. They are left with an extraordinarily large question: how will God fulfil his promises, save his people, and redeem his world now? Consider this question as you read these passages this month.  

God departs the temple

Ezekiel 10

God’s glory departs from the temple. The holy God refuses to stay with a people who have, for so long, deliberately rejected him. This departure of God’s glory is a reversal of the coming of God’s glory to the temple during Solomon’s reign (1 Kings 8:10-11). Israel begins to ask, “Will God ever return to his people?”  

For reflection:
∙What has become of God’s promises to Abraham (Gen 12:1-3) and Moses (Ex 29:45-46)?

The Fall of Jerusalem

2 Chronicles 36

The siege of Jerusalem lasts nearly a year. Many die of starvation, mothers kill their children to eat them. God’s messengers are mocked and scoffed at. And when the armies of Babylon finally enter, they kill indiscriminately, carrying off as prisoners the few that survived.  

For reflection:
∙How does the writer make any sense of this terrible event?

The fall of Jerusalem II

Jeremiah 52

It’s hard to read the last chapter of Jeremiah’s book without noticing the poignancy. After pages and pages of desperate prophecy, we hear of the capture of God’s city. The temple built by Solomon is dismantled, and the people of God are taken into captivity. Yet still Jeremiah ends on a strange note of hope.  

For Reflection:  
∙Which of God’s previous promises to Israel appear to be overthrown in this passage?
∙What basis for hope do the people of God have now?

The Lament of Exile II

Lamentations 1- 5

Lamentations is a poem of mourning for Jerusalem and her people. It’s full of images of death and destruction; its author had seen terrible things and clearly feels the loss palpably. Yet, there is one important feature of Lamentations not to miss – right at the heart of the poem we are told: “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

The Challenge of Exile:

Daniel 1

Daniel and his friends face great pressure to compromise their loyalty to God in the land of exile– but it comes in seductive forms. They decide to make a stand which retains their identity as God’s people, even if now slaves in a foreign land.

For reflection:
∙What are the Babylonian cultural markers imposed upon Daniel and his friends? In what ways do Daniel and his friends define themselves as God’s people?
∙In what ways might the Christian find themselves in an ‘exile’ analogous to that of Daniel?

The Lament of Exile

Psalm 137

The Psalms, just like the prophets, contain many of Israel’s songs and poems of mourning over the exile. The author of Psalm 137 asks the question, “How can we sing the songs of God in exile?” It expresses the crisis of faith and dislocation that the exile caused for Israel. In this psalm, what do we learn the faith of God’s faithful, even under severe trial?

Build houses in Babylon

Jeremiah 29

In contrast to the false prophets who had promised Israel that their exile would be brief, Jeremiah tells Israel to settle into Babylon – to build houses, have children, put down roots, and to work to bless their new city. And yet, Israel still has the calling to be a light to the nations, even in exile.  

For Reflection:
∙How might the Jewish Exiles manage the tension of ‘settling’ in Babylon, while retaining their identity as the people of God?  

The complexity of the book of Jeremiah is helpfully explained in the video below.

Hope in Exile:

The Promise of a Suffering Servant-King in Isaiah 40-66

Isaiah 1-39 is written to warn Judah of the coming Exile, concluding with the final judgment upon Hezekiah’s successors. Isaiah 40-66 is different in tone and addressed to the people of the exile, promising a new work of God on their behalf. Throughout these later chapters, a promised ‘suffering servant’ comes into view– sometimes appearing to be a renewed Israel, sometimes appearing to be an individual representing Israel. Read the following excerpts to build a ‘profile’ for this Promised One: Isaiah 42:1-9; 49:1-6; 50:4-9; 52:13-53:12.

Bible in a year

June Prayer

Our focus for prayer for the month of June is the ministry of the International Justice Mission. IJM is a Christian organization that works to end modern slavery, exploitation and abuse. In many countries people in power prey upon children, women and men made vulnerable through poverty. IJM works with local communities to strengthen justice systems, rescue and restore victims, bring criminals to justice and advocate for protection and safety for everyone. Learn more at www.ijm.org

Week 1

Africa & Europe: Praise God for the launch of the Global Survivor Network chapter in Uganda which will strengthen our work with survivors as they plan opportunities to share their stories to bring change in the community. Pray for the overall work with survivors of sexual violence and domestic violence, specifically that we can find a good partner in the church for provision of shelter care for those in need who might be fleeing an unsafe home. We also pray that we can find partners to work with on the livelihood component of survivor groups, as providing survivors with the means to earn an income is incredibly helpful in reducing dependency on an abusive partner.

Latin America: Praise God for the participation of IJM Bolivia in Open Your Eyes, a national campaign to raise awareness about sexual violence. During the campaign, we joined efforts with other civil organizations and shared in the local news about the initiatives that IJM offers to victims of violence. We shared about Grupo Fénix (an IJM survivor network chapter) and AVES & PROBOS (a network of professionals that offer psychological and legal support to victims). Please pray that God will open new opportunities to share our initiatives locally and nationally.

South Asia: Pray for our ongoing search for new grassroots NGOs to join as partners in our work. Our mission of protecting people in poverty from human trafficking in South Asia will only be successful with the wisdom, insight and collaboration of these local experts. Pray we can make the right connections and find creative new ways to work together on rescue, restoration and strengthening justice systems.

Asia Pacific: Please pray for plea bargaining breakthroughs in multiple upcoming cases involving the online sexual exploitation of children. Pray that each of these young survivors is spared from testifying in court at the risk of re-traumatization. We ask for God’s protection over the hearts and minds of these children, and for justice to be realized in each case.

IJM Global Office & Partners: Praise God for a moment of reflection as staff took time to remember what God has done and to pray for what He will do in the years to come. What is impressed upon us after witnessing decades of countless miracles is that we lack the imagination for the full greatness of what will come as an answer to our prayers. Hallelujah.  

Week 2

Africa & Europe: Please pray for the survivors of human trafficking in Europe whom our IJM Romania team is serving. They need protection, wisdom and strength as they pursue justice, regain control of their lives, discover and chase their dreams and follow new paths in life. Pray for our team as they devote their time to supporting these men and women to recover from the abuse they’ve experienced.

Latin America: Praise God for a visit that survivors of the Global Survivor Network chapter in Guatemala paid to the Victim’s Institute. The visit helped survivors get familiar with the legal and psychological assistance offered by the Institute to victims and survivors of violence against women and children. The survivors also had the opportunity to share their experience as users of the Criminal Justice System, as well as their suggestions for improvements on services for victims. Please pray that this initiative can result in dignifying services for survivors and better access for women and children to justice.

South Asia: Praise God for a new chapter of the Global Survivor Network that just launched in a major source state for human trafficking. IJM and our partners have helped thousands of children, women and men return home to this state after being abused in other places. Today, they have launched an empowering survivor association to support one another and advocate for their needs. They already have over 1000 members! Pray for success as they get started and begin impacting their community.

Asia Pacific: Please join us in praying for an upcoming panel discussion on the topic of "Child Protection in the Digital Age." This forum will provide the opportunity to engage in a conversation on the challenges, innovations and effective practices that uphold the best interest of children in the digital age. Please pray for wisdom for the panelists and for a great turnout for the virtual event!

IJM Global Office & Partners: Praise God for the creation of Canada’s Modern Slavery Act! This new law (formerly known as Bill S211 - Fighting Forced Labour and Child Labour Act) will enable Canadian corporations to be effective actors in addressing forced and child labour. They will be required to investigate their supply chains to ensure no forced or child labour is present, take action to end it if they find abuses in their supply chains, and report on their findings. We pray that this Act will hasten the spread of justice around the globe!  

Week 3

Africa & Europe: Join us in praying for the Ghana team as they plan for upcoming months. This summer, the Ghana staff will host several groups of IJM donors, partners and staff members who will visit the office to learn more about the work of IJM on Lake Volta. Please pray for smooth logistics in the planning process, rest for the Ghana team and for all those who will be travelling to and around Ghana.

Latin America: Praise God for the opportunity to collaborate on an event hosted for members of the survivor network "My Story Matters," the Victim’s Institute and the Public’s Ministry of Guatemala. The visit allowed members of the survivor network to get familiar with the services offered by state entities to victims and survivors of violence, as well as create a space for dialogue on how to improve these services. Please pray that these survivors will continue to have a voice regarding the design and implementation of services that address their needs.

South Asia: Pray for a group of 10 survivors recently rescued from six years of forced labour in road construction. They were constantly moved around to different worksites and left to live in flimsy tin-sheet huts with minimal food, water or privacy. IJM’s partner discovered their case and worked with the government to rescue them, and now the survivors are beginning to resettle at home and process their trauma. Please pray for our partner’s wisdom and grace to comfort these 10 survivors and get them the support they need in this crucial period.

Asia Pacific: Praise God for the Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC) Program’s first academic peer-reviewed paper. "Online sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines: A scoping review" has been published in the Children and Youth Services journal, an international, multidisciplinary journal on vulnerable children and the systems designed to support them. Praise God for this opportunity to build IJM’s credibility with international research partners.

IJM Global Office & Partners: Please pray for our global teams as they begin collaborating on our biggest campaign of the year. The global year-end campaign provides an opportunity to tell the story of a brave survivor through video, story and design in new and unique ways. Join us in praying for the chosen survivor as we tell her story, and for smooth logistics for the project team as they start creating the campaign.

Week 4

Africa & Europe: Pray for the country of Sudan where escalating conflict has caused hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands have already fled to neighboring countries. Pray for peace in Sudan as well as the wider region which has been affected by growing numbers of refugees, severe drought and food shortages.

Latin America: Praise God for the opportunity to organize and lead a round table collaboration with the Colombian Ministry of Justice, and civil and international organizations. During this event, participants discussed the challenges faced by Colombian women and children to see justice when they have been victims of violence. This is a great step towards strengthening the Colombian justice system for vulnerable populations. Please pray that God will work in the hearts of government officials so they can make decisions that will increase protection for women and children.

South Asia: Pray for our teams undergoing program design for their next year of work.This can be a complicated (but fun) process to decide which activities we should prioritize and which stakeholders we should pursue. Pray for God’s wisdom and discernment to make smart decisions and for creativity and excitement for the year ahead. Above all, pray for God’s blessing over our plans so that we can protect the most people possible from human trafficking this next year.

Asia Pacific: Praise God for justice in a forced labour case in Thailand. A factory owner pleaded guilty to all charges and has agreed to pay compensation to the individuals who were forced to work. Please continue to join us in prayer for strength and wisdom for the survivors, IJM staff and partners in the fight for justice!

IJM Global Office & Partners: Praise God for a successful close to our work in 2022! The final results have been gathered and finalized for IJM’s work around the globe in 2022, and we are grateful to share the ways God has moved through the work of IJM and its partners. Let’s pray for even more individuals rescued, relieved and trained in 2023!

Want to grow further in prayer?

Eugene Peterson, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction”.

Since Eugene Peterson wrote this spiritual formation classic more than forty years ago, hundreds of thousands of Christians have been inspired by its call to deeper discipleship. Our society is still obsessed with quick fixes. But Peterson's time-tested prescription for discipleship remains the same-a long obedience in the same direction.
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