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Far Better Than the Beginning

Job 42:10 “And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.”

Job 42:12-13 “So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning:  for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses.  He had also seven sons and three daughters.”

Ecclesiastes 7:8 “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”

Job experienced the depths of the human condition.  He faced death, disease, and discouragement.  He endured loneliness, abandonment, and isolation.  Yet, through a life of faithfulness to the Lord and a focus on God, he prevailed.  In fact, he thrived, ending up with twice as much as he had before.

In the first part of 2020, many among us have experienced the depths of the human condition.  Humanity has faced death, disease, and discouragement.  We have endured loneliness, abandonment, and isolation.  Yet, through faithfulness to the Lord and a focus on God, we can prevail. In fact, we can thrive, maybe even ending up with more than we had before.

We must pray along these lines!  We certainly will not get back those loved ones who have perished; neither did Job.  We might not even get back the wealth that has evaporated during these past several months as a result of COVID and our response to it.  Yet, we can receive a spiritual bounty far more valuable than any set of material possessions.  We could see a spiritual revival and renewal in our land that exceeds anything matched in human history.  In that case, the end would be far better than the beginning.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AN AMERICAN REVIVAL AND RENEWAL SO GREAT THAT IT IS UNPRECEDENTED IN HUMAN HISTORY.  The beginning of 2020 has been brutal for humankind.  The miraculous working of God in our land, spurred on by our faithfulness and a heavenly focus, would cause the end to be far better than the beginning.

Goeth Not Out But By Prayer and Fasting

Esther 4:13-17 “Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews.  For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?  Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer, Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.  So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.”

Matthew 17:19-21 “Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?  And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.  Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”

In times of national desperation, Esther called upon the people of God to fast.  In times of spiritual standoff, Jesus called upon the people of God to fast. 

Fasting isn’t a quaint spiritual footnote that is no longer relevant to God’s people today.  It is a fundamental part of Biblical doctrine and an essential part of a spiritual walk that seeks to truly get ahold of God.  It reveals a faith-filled, sacrificial emptying of oneself to make room for the Lord Himself.

In just the examples in the passages above, the combination of prayer and fasting were explained and demonstrated to be powerful tools in the hands of God’s committed followers.  These practices had the power and the potency to transform a nation, empower and embolden leaders, deliver a people, defeat evil, illuminate the path forward, and exalt the righteous.  Prayer and fasting were explained to be able to move mountains, literally and figuratively, and can do so today.

In our time of national desperation, we need our nation transformed, our leaders empowered and emboldened, our people delivered, evil defeated, the path forward illuminated, and the righteous exalted. 

PLEASE FERVENTLY PRAY AND FAST FOR OUR NATION DURING THESE UNCERTAIN TIMES.  In the midst of our challenges, we need God to move the mountains around us.  A miracle in America today goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Please see this previous post for a related thought:

Until These Calamities Be Overpast

Psalm 57:1 “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.”

Psalm 57:4a “My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire”

Psalm 57:7 “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.”

Isaiah 41:29-31 “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.”

A week ago, I had the privilege to virtually attend a well-deserved promotion ceremony of an outstanding military chaplain.  Another senior chaplain gave the closing prayer and referenced Psalm 57.  What a perfect and timely passage of scripture for the day in which we live!

Humanity is in desperate need of peace and comfort.  We feel like our soul is among lions.  We seek a place of shelter until the current calamities are past.  We are faint, we are weary, we have no might on our own, and we are falling and failing. 

Fortunately, we have a God who is all-loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful.  He offers the comfort of a merciful God who can be trusted with our soul and who stands always ready as a source of refuge.  It is up to us to fix our hearts upon Him. 

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO FIX OUR HEARTS UPON THE LORD DURING THESE DIFFICULT DAYS.  His hands are open wide with power and strength.  Affixing our hearts to Him, and encouraging others to do the same, will provide us much needed encouragement until these calamities be overpast.

The Perfect Plan, Purpose and Priority

Jeremiah 33:3 “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”

Ephesians 3:20 “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.”

John 14:3 “And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

I Corinthians 2:9 “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

A large part of the public policy conflict surrounding COVID-19 is a differing philosophy on the purpose and priority of government in a crisis  Many strongly contend that the situation warrants extreme short-term focus, and that public health is to be the dominating priority of government in these times.  Others contend for a broader focus, and that the priority of government should always be the long-term overall well-being of its citizens, including immediate and enduring public health, mental health, social health, economic health, employment health, legal health, and educational health.  These considerations pit factions at all levels against one another.

While government will never get it perfectly right, God always does!  He has laid out a plan and a priority, in accordance with His purpose, that seeks our eternal overall well-being while offering us joy and fulfillment in the short, medium and long terms.  He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think.  He stands ready to answer us and show us great and mighty things which we knoweth not.  He has prepared a glorious place for us with Him for all of eternity.  We can’t even see, hear, dream, or imagine the glorious things that He has in store for us.

PLEASE PRAY FOR PEACE IN GOD’S PERFECT PLAN FOR OUR ETERNAL WELL-BEING AND FOR A DETERMINATION TO SHARE IT WITH A CONFLICTED WORLD.  It is easy to get dismayed by the erratic tug-of-war of our earthly authorities.  Fortunately, our ultimate authority has the perfect plan, the perfect purpose, and the perfect priority as a part of His overwhelming love for us. 

Representing the Sender

II Corinthians 5:20 “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 spells out the standards of diplomacy between independent countries.  It contains a slew of special rights given to those who are officially on diplomatic status in a foreign nation, most notably, the right to what is commonly referred to as diplomatic immunity.  These standards, ratified by nearly every nation on earth, form the foundation of international relations.

The Vienna Convention, though, does not only spell out the special rights of diplomats.  It also outlines their unique responsibilities, the first of which comes from Article 3.  A diplomat is responsible for “representing the sending State in the receiving State.”  This simple provision reminds all in the diplomatic corps that they are to act as representatives at all times and in all ways of the nation that sent them.  They are expected to do so brilliantly, as a model to all who witness them, through good times and especially through challenging times.

We are Ambassadors for Christ, equally responsible for representing the One who sent us to the foreign world around us.  The simple verse of II Corinthians 5:20 reminds all who take on the name of Christ that we are to act as representatives at all times and in all ways of the One who sent us.  We are expected to do so brilliantly, as a model to all who witness us, through good times and especially through challenging times like those we face today.

PLEASE PRAY THAT WE WOULD BE AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST IN A WAY THAT PROPERLY REPRESENTS HIM, ESPECIALLY IN THESE CHALLENGING TIMES.  Are we properly representing the sender?

Please see the following link for a related previous thought:

Ambassadors

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