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Everything Sad Is Untrue II

John 1:14-17 “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

II John 1:3 “Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.”

As described in last week’s PLUS post, “Everything Sad Is Untrue (a true story)” is a powerful book about Christianity and the nature of our Lord and Saviour. The author, Daniel Nayeri, describes the following about the nature of a true God: 

 “There are gods all over the world who just want you to express yourself. Look inside and find whatever you think you are and that’s all it takes to be good. And there are gods who are so alien to us, with minds so clear, the only thing to do would be to sit at their feet and wait from them to speak, to tell us what is good.
A god who listens is love.
A god who speaks is law.
At their worst, the people who want a god who listens are self-centered. They just want to live in the land of do-as-you-please. And the ones who want a god who speaks are cruel. They just want laws and justice to crush everything.
I don’t have an answer for you. This is the kind of thing you live your whole life thinking about probably.
Love is empty without justice.
Justice is cruel without love …
Oh, and in case it wasn’t obvious, the answer is both.
God should be both.
If a god isn’t, that is no God.”

The Lord God simultaneously and continuously listens and speaks. He is both love and the law. His love is full because He embodies justice. His justice is righteous and gracious because He embodies love. He deals with us in truth and love – in grace and truth.

As believers, we should desire a God who both listens and speaks. We should squint with our eager ears to hear what He has to say, and strain with our importune voices to provide our praise and petitions to Him. And we should recognize the power of a Saviour and real God who is full of grace and truth.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO TRUMPET THE UNIQUE COMBINATION OF CHARACTERISTICS OF OUR JUST AND LOVING GOD. God should be both, and if a god isn’t, then that is no God. Our Lord is both, and so much more!

Everything Sad Is Untrue I

Acts 16:30-31 “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

“Everything Sad Is Untrue (a true story)” by Daniel Nayeri is a true narrative written from the perspective of a 12-year-old refugee boy from Iran living in Oklahoma. It was recognized as a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and NPR. Those periodicals rated it so highly because it is a stunning book about humanity. But, it is also a powerful book about Christianity. 

Daniel’s family were forced to become refugees from Iran because his sister and his mom accepted Christ as their Saviour. Doing so was a capital crime, punishable by death after a guilty verdict in a religious court. And so, before they could be slaughtered for their faith, they left their wealthy lifestyle in Iran to live a humble lifestyle in Oklahoma.

Daniel describes the conversion in this way:

“Sima, my mom, read about him [Christ] and became a Christian too. Not just a regular one, who keeps it in their pocket. She fell in love. She wanted everybody to have what she had, to be free, to realize that in other religions you have rules and codes and obligations to follow to earn good things, but all you had to do with Jesus was believe he was the one who died for you. And she believed.”

He then goes on to describe the ramifications of her relationships with Christ:

“It’s true and it’s more valuable than seven million dollars in gold coins, and thousands of acres of Persian countryside, and ten years of education to get a medical degree, and all your family, and a home, and the best cream puffs of Jolfa, and even maybe your life … If you believe it’s true, that there is a God and He wants you to believe in Him and He sent His Son to die for you – then it has to take over your life. It has to be worth more than everything else, because heaven’s waiting on the other side.”

Young Daniel goes on to say this: “What you believe about the future will change how you live in the present.”

As American Christians today, may we not just keep Christ in our pockets, but instead fall in love with Him. May we want everybody to have what we have. May we value our relationship with Him more than everything else. And, may we allow His truths to truly take over our lives.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO INVEST OURSELVES FULLY IN THE CAUSE OF CHRIST IN OUR LAND. After all, what we believe about the future must change how we live in the present.

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!

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