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Reflecting the Divine

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:  it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

I Corinthians 13:13 “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

Philippians 2:3-4 “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

Matthew 22:37-40 “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

I recently came across a superb article published in Psychology Today.  “Ethics in a Pandemic Age” was written by Dr. Michael Austin, a professor at the United States Air Force Academy (see link below).  Though it is written from a secular perspective, it contains superb spiritual truths.

Dr. Austin’s thesis is that “it is a cold world where everyone only cleans up the messes they were responsible for making.”  He contends that our proper response to a COVID-19 world characterized by anxiety, fear, and a concern over our own well-being is activity focused on grace, generosity, and gratitude instead of a priority on rigid rules, rights and responsibilities.

None of this discounts the importance of rules, rights, and responsibilities, but Dr. Austin contends that it is better for society if these are not the dominant considerations in our lives.  For our own mental health, and for the mutual benefit of society, we are to exude grace, generosity, and gratitude.

This challenge by Dr. Austin is a perfect recipe for American Christians and American Christian churches in such an age.  It is how our Saviour was victorious in a world characterized by a crisis of sin.  It is how we can demonstrate our distinct worldview that loves God and loves others as our top priorities.  It is the way that we can break the cycle of fear and showcase the characteristics of Christ.  It is a way that we can reflect our loving God’s ability to clean up the messes of humanity that are solely our responsibility.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO LIVE WITH DISTINCTION BY REFLECTING THE DIVINE.  Let us lead our society through the current crisis through divine demonstrations of grace, generosity, and gratitude.

“Ethics in a Pandemic Age” can be found at: 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/ethics-everyone/202003/ethics-in-pandemic-age?fbclid=IwAR1S5aZX4DQDKvKMIvQ-nQlrGXFslJvIizDCd8GY3dz6PtTmPsuWA2nMgOo

Our Finest Hour

Esther 4:13-14 “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 art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Prime Minister Winston Churchill stated the following:

“To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents.  What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”

Esther, like each of us, was created for just such a special moment.  She was directed to faithfully stand up for her people in a way that was uniquely related to her position and fitted to her talents.  She lived up to her finest hour by doing so, and what a tragedy it would have been if she was not prepared for that moment. 

Churchill’s quote applies to us as individuals.  There will be a time for each of us when we are tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing unique to us and fitted to our talents.  Yet, this quote also applies to us collectively as American Christians in 2020, especially through the challenges we are currently facing.  Now is the time for us to rise up to God’s calling in our lives to faithfully live for Him, to reach out to serve others, to resolutely stand for His Word, to fervently seek revival, and to urgently pray for our nation.  This is our special moment and it can be our finest hour.

PLEASE PRAY FOR THE ABILITY TO RISE TO OUR RESPONSIBILITIES IN LIVING FAITHFULLY FOR GOD IN OUR TIME.  We have been sent here for such a time as this.  The Holy Spirit is tapping us on the shoulder and offering us the chance to do a very special thing for this special moment.  May this be our finest hour!

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

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