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The Possibility of Perishing

Esther 4:14-16 “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? 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.”

Daniel 3:16-18 “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”

Isaiah 6:8 “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.”

Esther 4:14b is the theme of the PLUS ministry – “who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” It provides a powerful reminder to us today, like it did to Esther when Mordecai challenged her. Each of us have been sent here specifically by God to fulfill His unique purposes in our time and in our place. In the context of PLUS, it means that we have been directed to represent Christ in our land, serving Him for our good and His glory, and striving to return Him to the center of our lives, our communities, and our society. It challenges Christians to pray to change our national spirit so that the Lord can change our national direction.

With all the attention on verse 14, I never properly lingered on the power of verse 16. Convicted by Mordecai’s words, Esther sets forth a plan to implement her unique role in her time and her place. She is convinced that she is doing the right thing via her bold and faith-filled stand, but in verse 16 she acknowledges the risk and that the results are left up to God. Undeterred, she takes the large step of faith regardless of the potential consequences. Faithfully and not fatalistically, she walks into the unknown, boldly acknowledging: “and if I perish, I perish.”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego respond in a similar way, implementing their unique role in their time and their place. They are convinced that they are doing the right thing via their bold and faith-filled stand, but in verse 18 they acknowledge the risk and that the results are left up to God. Undeterred, they take a large step of faith regardless of the potential consequences. Faithfully and not fatalistically, they walk into the unknown, boldly acknowledging: “but if not … we will not serve thy gods.”

We need American Christians to follow this path today, believers who stand up and speak out. We have been placed here with unique roles in our time and our place. We must do the right thing via a bold and faith-filled stand in our situations while acknowledging the risk and that the results are left up to God. Undeterred, we must take large steps of faith regardless of the potential consequences. Faithfully and not fatalistically, we must walk into the unknown, boldly accepting the challenges through words of faith like Isaiah: “Here am I, send me.”

PLEASE PRAY THAT AMERICAN CHRISTIANS WOULD TAKE LARGE STEPS OF FAITH, UNDETERRED BY THE POTENTIAL CONSEQUENCES. We live in a time where our reputations and our livelihoods are at risk if we stand up and speak out for what is right. The possibility of perishing lurks around every corner and as the result of each decision. In spite of that risk, may we serve God boldly and faithfully.

Because of Our Importunity

Luke 11:1, 8-10 “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples … I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.  And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

Philippians 4:6 “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Genesis 32:26 “And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.”

There are eternal ramifications to our prayer life. This important truth applies to our prayers about our individual situations, our families, our friends, our churches, our workplaces, our schools, our communities, our states and our nation! Any victory is a direct manifestation of God’s power, but we must never forget that He is moved by our importunity. And, the victories we do experience in certain situations should powerfully remind us of our need for persistent prayer in other situations.

God calls for us to let our requests be known unto Him. He directs us to come boldly unto His throne of grace. He tells us to ask, seek and knock. And the results, in His perfect timing, are for our asks to result in gifts, our seeking to result in finding, and our knocking to result in opening. Yet, it may not happen immediately or easily. It may mean that we have to wrestle with Him without letting go.

Implementing importunity means to be persistent to the point of annoyance. It means that we are not to stop. It means that we are to ask, and seek, and knock and wrestle until He blesses us in accordance with His will.

Sometimes it may require us to pray faithfully and fervently for days, or maybe weeks, or maybe months, or maybe years. Maybe it will require us to pray faithfully for 49 years. But, God tells us that because of our opportunity, He will rise up and give to us. The important circumstances in our lives are certainly worth such prayer. So are the various situations in our families, with our friends, in our churches, in our workplaces, in our schools, in our communities, and in our states. So is the situation in our nation!

PLEASE PRAY FAITHFULLY AND FERVENTLY FOR OUR NATION … DO SO WITH IMPORTUNITY! As we pray, we are wrestling with eternal ramifications. In doing so, we can expect to see God’s power as a direct manifestation of our importunity.

ADMIN: There will not be a PLUS post next weekend, but please continue to faithfully and fervently pray for revival in our land. Pray with importunity!

Lead to Serve

Matthew 20:25-28 “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Matthew 8:5-7 “And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.”

Generals Robert Armfield and Bruce Fister recently published an outstanding leadership book entitled “Lead to Serve and Serve to Lead.” This Christ-centered book is full of relevant and practical leadership insights written by these two successful military practitioners of leadership within the special operations community and in the local church. Their description of leadership is creative, capturing, and convicting: “leadership is a calling to serve, help others be the best they can be, raise up other leaders, and share the vision written on your heart.” As the title of the book suggests, leadership is all about service and a servant-mindset is the foundation of sound leadership. These leaders were centurions – leaders of hundreds of men and women who operated in the toughest of circumstances. Like the centurion who selflessly came to Jesus to humbly ask for healing for a sickly servant, their focus has rightfully been on others.

The four aspects of leadership described by Armfield and Fister are challenging reminders of the proper emphasis of impactful leaders; leadership is a calling to serve those around you, help others become the best possible version of themselves, develop leaders who can similarly serve, and share a vision for a better future.

Jesus Himself described and demonstrated the perfect example of leading to serve and serving to lead. Though He was chief among all of us, He came not to be ministered unto, but to minster. He came not to be served, but to serve. As a result, His greatness was manifested in His monumental impact.

Christ made the ultimate impact because He selflessly served, shaped souls, sourced servant leaders, and shared a sustained vision. And He does so today through His life and eternity-changing sacrifice, His living Word and His indwelling Spirit.

PLEASE PRAY THAT AMERICAN CHRISTIANS WOULD BE THE LEADERS THAT CHRIST HAS CALLED US TO BE AND THAT SOCIETY NEEDS US TO BE. We must lead to serve and serve to lead to maximize our impact for Him!

The Heritage of Noble Ancestry II

Joshua 1:7-9 “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

On June 29th, the world lost a true hero. On that day, Hershel “Woody” Williams slipped off into eternity and we lost the last remaining Congressional Medal of Honor recipient from World War II. Woody’s medal citation should be an inspiration to all of us:

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Demolition Sergeant serving with the First Battalion, Twenty-First Marines, Third Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Island, 23 February 1945. Quick to volunteer his services when our tanks were maneuvering vainly to open a lane for the infantry through the network of reinforced concrete pillboxes, buried mines and black, volcanic sands, Corporal Williams daringly went forward alone to attempt the reduction of devastating machine-gun fire from the unyielding positions. Covered only by four riflemen, he fought desperately for four hours under terrific enemy small-arms fire and repeatedly returned to his own lines to prepare demolition charges and obtain serviced flame throwers, struggling back, frequently to the rear of hostile emplacements, to wipe out one position after another. On one occasion he daringly mounted a pillbox to insert the nozzle of his flame thrower through the air vent, kill the occupants and silence the gun; on another he grimly charged enemy riflemen who attempted to stop him with bayonets and destroyed them with a burst of flame from his weapon. His unyielding determination and extraordinary heroism in the face of ruthless enemy resistance were directly instrumental in neutralizing one of the most fanatically defended Japanese strong points encountered by his regiment and aided in enabling his company to reach its objective. Corporal Williams’ aggressive fighting spirit and valiant devotion to duty throughout this fiercely contested action sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

When Woody returned home from World War II, he didn’t stop serving. He fought figurative battles throughout the remainder of his life in the Marine Corps Reserve and the Veterans Administration, and through service to Gold Star Families, as the 35-year Chaplain of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, and through preaching the Word of God. He faithfully served people, his country, and his magnificent Lord and Saviour. And he did so with faith, dedication, strength and courage.

Last week’s PLUS post was about the heritage of our noble ancestry (https://prayatlunch.us/the-heritage-of-noble-ancestry/). In it, my closing line was the following: “May we honor and build upon the powerful heritage of our noble ancestry.” If you are struggling to find a personification of our noble ancestry, please direct your gaze to Woody Williams. There you will find strength and courage so that you can better serve people, our country, and our magnificent Lord and Saviour.

PLEASE PRAY THAT AMERICAN CHRISTIANS WOULD SERVE WITH STRENGTH AND COURAGE AS WE ARE MOTIVATED BY THE POWERFUL HERITAGE OF OUR NOBLE ANCESTRY.

The Heritage of Noble Ancestry

Psalm 33:12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.”

Hebrews 11:1-3 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were made of things which do appear.”

As we come to the end of the July 4th week, it is important to look back on the source of our freedom and the core of our national strength. Eighty years ago, as world war ravaged the planet and as young Americans were deployed in heavy combat in every corner of the globe, Pastor Lynd Esch wrote these powerful thoughts about our Godly heritage while providing a stern warning if we were to ever wander from our firm foundation (from “Strength for Service”):

“One of the really great heritages of the American people is the heritage of noble ancestry. It is with a spirit of just pride that we point to their achievements in the growth and development of our democracy. They blazed a new trail in the wilderness; this was done, not only with their axes as they carved roadways across the continent from the eastern seaboard to the Pacific Ocean, but also with their freedom-loving minds. They blazed a new trail with mind and heart as they laid the firm foundation for our ‘land of the free and home of the brave.’

We must never lose sight of the fact that these men whom we honor were enabled to do great deeds because they had great faith. Their faith was in God. Belief in a God of justice and righteousness, a God of mercy and love, moved them to heroic deeds in the cause of freedom and liberty.

If we would preserve, extend, and perpetuate the ideals for which our fathers gave their all, then we too must be inspired by faith in their God. If the day should ever come when we should lose our fathers’ God, if enough of the people of our land should definitely turn aside from His teaching, then we would we also lose our own and our children’s freedom. May the God of our fathers inspire our lives to loyal service in protecting their ideals for those who shall come after us.”

We must be moved to heroic deeds for the cause of freedom and liberty today. If we are to preserve, extend, and perpetuate the ideals for which our fathers gave their all, then we too must be inspired by a faith in their God and His principles of justice, righteousness, love and mercy.

PLEASE PRAY FOR TODAY’S AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO DO GREAT DEEDS BECAUSE WE EMPLOY GREAT FAITH. May the God of our fathers inspire loyal service in protecting our nation’s ideals for those who come after us. May we honor and build upon the powerful heritage of our noble ancestry.

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