Effectual Fervent Prayer

James 5:13-16 “Is any among you afflicted?  let him pray.  Is any merry?  let him sing psalms.  Is any sick among you?  let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:  And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.  Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.  The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

II Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

I Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”

Only about a month ago, in what seems like a different lifetime on different planet, I went to one of my favorite barbeque restaurants for a sit-down meal.  Mission BBQ serves outstanding food and provides a patriotic environment that stresses love of country and support for the military and first responders.  I must have never been there at noon, because I discovered a unique daily ritual at that time that surprised and pleased me.  When the clock strikes twelve, they stop serving food, they turn on the U.S. National Anthem, the customers rise, and the staff and customers all face the flag in the center of the room and pay tribute to our nation.  It was a striking scene of pride and patriotism.

If a restaurant will take a few minutes daily to demonstrate love of country at lunchtime, how much the more should Christians demonstrate love of God and country daily by praying faithfully and fervently for our nation and her leaders … at lunchtime or during another dedicated time on your schedule.  That is exactly what the PLUS Ministry is all about, and it is needed now more than ever.  It is part of our responsibility to help heal the unhealthy and save the sick.  It is part of a worship-filled spirit that prays without ceasing.  It is a fundamental component of the recipe for revival.  If Christians would faithfully do so, it would be a striking scene of pride, patriotism, praise, and piety.

PLEASE DEDICATE YOURSELF TO DAILY, FAITHFUL, FERVENT PRAYER FOR OUR NATION AND FOR OUR LEADERS.  The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much!

Biblically Literate

II Timothy 3:16-17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Job 23:12 “Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.”

“Call Sign Chaos” is a masterful leadership book from the former Secretary of Defense, General Jim Mattis.  In it, he shares powerful words about the importance of functional literacy:

“Reading is an honor and a gift from a warrior or historian who – a decade or a thousand decades ago – set aside time to write.  He distilled a lifetime of campaigning in order to have a ‘conversation’ with you.  We have been fighting on this planet for ten thousand years; it would be idiotic and unethical to not take advantage of such accumulated experiences.  If you haven’t read hundreds of books, you are functionally illiterate, and you will be incompetent, because your personal experiences alone aren’t broad enough to sustain you.  Any commander who claims he is ‘too busy to read’ is going to fill body bags with his troops as he learns the hard way.”

Yes, General Mattis calls you idiotic, incompetent and functionally illiterate if you are not well read, especially if the lives of others are in your hands.

God delivered to us His perfect Word.  It is profitable for what to believe, what not to believe, how to live, and how to not live.  It is specifically designed to thoroughly furnish all of us based on the infallible Word of God that distills an eternity of wisdom into a single book.  The lives and eternities of those around us are in our hands.

Job was left diseased and destitute by the attacks of Satan.  He was surrounded by death and discouragement.  Job would have never been able to handle the chaos around him without the reassuring strength provided by God’s Word.  Job was Biblically literate, and it made all the difference in the face of the panic and pessimism that swirled around him.

PLEASE PRAY FOR A REFOCUS ON THE READING AND STUDYING OF GOD’S WORD IN THE MIDST OF THE PANIC AND PESSIMISM THAT IS SWIRLING AROUND US.  May Christians be Biblically literate to help the hopelessness of humanity.

Challenges Into Opportunities

Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Genesis 50:20 “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”

Hebrews 11:1-2 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  For by it the elders obtained a good report.”

Last week the Washington Post published a great article on the Great Plague of London and its impact on Isaac Newton (see link below).  The plague forced Newton to return home to study on his own as Cambridge University closed from August 1665 until April 1667 as a part of a public health quarantine that lasted almost two years.  He saw the opportunity in this challenge and developed the foundation of his theories on calculus, optics, and gravity during this time away.  Newton changed the world as a result of his extended period of social distancing.

Wise leaders talk about the opportunities that come with every challenge.  The Bible is packed with figures who turned challenges into opportunities, with Jesus’ resurrection from a brutal death on the cross as the most powerful and striking.  Joseph, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Daniel, Esther, Rahab, Peter, Paul and many others used the challenges of their days as opportunities to change the world – through faith.

None of this diminishes the struggles that we face in the midst of challenges – the COVID-19 challenge or a myriad of others that characterize a substantial part of our lives.  Yet, each of these challenges offers an opportunity to change our world.  May we seize these opportunities through faith, instead of squandering them, in a way that honors God and expands His kingdom.

PLEASE PRAY FOR CHRISTIANS WORLDWIDE TO TURN OUR MAJOR CHALLENGES INTO OPPORTUNITIES.  May we obtain a good report for the time and the opportunity that God has given us in the midst of our challenges.

Link to the Washington Post Article:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2020/03/12/during-pandemic-isaac-newton-had-work-home-too-he-used-time-wisely/

Picture from National Geographic

Rest to the Heavy Laden

II Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke unto you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:  and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden in light.”

Coronavirus panic has impacted the world’s population.  Humanity is on edge.  The COVID-19 pandemic has raised fears to a fevered pitch (with no pun intended).  People are rightfully uneasy and concerned in the absence of a clear way forward while facing unprecedented global uncertainty about their health and well-being.  Policy makers across the globe are scrambling to calm the masses and create safety, while stores are running out of stock and patience is running low. 

People are fearful and heavy laden.  They are looking for rest in their spirits and peace in their souls.

Christians don’t have the vaccine to the virus, but we do have a counter to the concern and an antidote to the anxiety.  We have the means to prevent the panic, soothe the spooked, and calm the chaos.

Christ wants to bear our weighty burdens.  He offers rest unto our souls.  He looks to replace fear with power, love and sound minds. 

As we represent Him in a world characterized by the heaviest of burdens, may we be extra sensitive to those who are looking for peace-providing answers.  May we live through His power, exude His love, and exhibit sound minds.  These characteristics will stand in sharp contrast to a world that is feeling weak, abandoned, and frantic. 

PLEASE PRAY FOR THE SAFETY OF HUMANITY AND THE UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPRESS CHRIST’S PEACE TO A PANICKED POPULATION.  The Lord desires to give rest to a heavy laden humanity.

Confounding the Wise

I Corinthians 1:27-31 “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:  That no flesh should glory in his presence.  But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:  That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

My wife and I have perpetual disagreement over which scientist is the most impactful in history – Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein (we are geeky, I know).  My wife is an Einstein gal, and I am a Newton guy.  Einstein is well known for his ground-breaking work in relativity and quantum mechanics while Newton is renowned for his foundational work in classical mechanics and calculus.  Clearly, I’m right.

We recently came across some information about Einstein that partially swayed my wife towards my position, and that illustrates an important spiritual truth.  In spite of his academic brilliance, Einstein’s personal life was filled with challenges.  His first marriage ended in divorce after he lived apart from his wife for several years.  This first marriage ultimately crumbled as a result of his adulterous relationship with his cousin.  In fact, Einstein married his second wife Elsa only months after his first divorce.  Elsa was Einstein’s first cousin on their mom’s side (their moms were sisters), and Einstein’s second cousin on their dad’s side (their dads were first cousins).  In fact, she was born Elsa Einstein and only had a different last name at the time of their marriage because she had kept the last name of her first husband (who was not her cousin).  Yikes!  Academic brilliance does not translate into spiritual or relational discernment. 

There are people around us who are wise and mighty according to the world’s standards.  Their wisdom and might can intimidate us and conceal their deep spiritual gaps.  Yet, their greatest need remains the wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption that can only come from the Lord through Christ.  Only in Him should we glory.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO PROPERLY PRIOIRITIZE THE CHARACTERISTICS THAT CAN ONLY COME FROM THE LORD.  The foolish things of the world confound the wise, and we need to serve God by helping to illuminate the real source of wisdom … even to those who appear wise and mighty.

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