Monthly Archives: October 2020
Pray for the United States and All Our Leaders, All Over the World.
As citizens of the United States, whether we are natural-born or naturalized, we learn to recite the Pledge of Allegiance:
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
We recite the Pledge, because we believe in the founding principles of our country that are based on the equal standing of every human being before Almighty God and our God-given rights, which are to be protected by a freely elected government that is established by the people in order to be for the people - as stated in our Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
But in these tumultuous times, a spirit of unrest, hatred, and division is attempting to destroy what our Founding Fathers and Mothers built. And yet, because we remain one nation, under God, it is our duty as citizens of the United States that we pray for the healing of our nation. Otherwise, the blessings of liberty and the freedom to practice our religious and spiritual beliefs – whatever they may be – will be taken from us.
It is recorded in all three of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) that Jesus stated very clearly that “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand” (Mark 3:24-25). Therefore, what kind of a spirit is it, that goes against the words of Christ, attempting to divide what God has put together?
Therefore, as Christians it is our duty to pray for the healing of the divisions that are beginning to form in the United States – and in our world. God said, in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Beloved Friends, wherever we are in the world, from whatever nation, as children of God, we are citizens of heaven. And as brothers and sisters who are citizens of heaven, it is our duty to pray according to God’s instructions. As God instructed the young pastor Timothy through the apostle Paul, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
Therefore, I ask you today, to please join us in prayer for our nation, and for every nation. For all our leaders and for every leader on the face of this good Earth. And I ask you today to join us in prayer for all peoples, that all will be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth of salvation through Christ Jesus. Because as the sweet psalmist King David wrote, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers [and sisters] dwell in unity!
And I humbly and sincerely ask you to join us in special prayer for our President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania and their family, for healing, strength, comfort, and wisdom. And for continued health, strength, and wisdom for Vice President Pence and his family. And I ask you to join us in prayer for former Vice President Biden and his wife and family, and Senator Harris and her family, that they will continue to be healthy, and for strength, comfort, and wisdom.
Please pray that whomever is granted the privilege of leading this country in all the levels of government now and in the future will be guided by the word of God, and led by his Holy Spirit to uphold the principles of peace, faith, morality, and equal justice under the law.
“For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
guarding the paths of justice
and watching over the way of his saints.
All scriptures are from the English Standard Version translation.
Beauty for Ashes.
In his book, “Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit,” Henri Nouwen wrote about the experience he had watching a sculptor chiseling away at a large block of stone. As he watched, Nouwen wondered whether the striking of the hammer against the chisel, and the chisel against the stone caused the rock to feel pain. But suddenly, he realized that emerging from the marble was the form of a beautiful dancer. In that moment, Nouwen understood that in the hands of God, everything is grace.
The gospel of Luke tells us that immediately after Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan river, he “…was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil” (4:1:2). Luke went on to write that afterward, again being led by the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth in Galilee, “…and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country” (4:14). When he came into the synagogue on that Sabbath day, Jesus unrolled the scroll of the book of Isaiah before the people, and read:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”
And Jesus said, “’Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’” (Luke 4:18-19, 21).
While Jesus was forty days fasting in the wilderness after his baptism, he was given his assignment by God the Father, through his Holy Spirit. No wonder the enemy chose that time to come against him and tempt him to abandon his mission!
But the prophecy of Isaiah did not stop there, and neither did Christ’s ministry. When we continue to read the words that God gave to the prophet in Isaiah 61, the next part of Jesus’ commission unfolds:
“…to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”
Jesus’ mission to the world is one of transformation, bringing us beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning, comfort for pain, and strength in his Holy Spirit for our weakness in times of trouble.
The prophet Ezekiel wrote of God’s promise to transform our hearts from cold stone to warm flesh, when he wrote, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (36:26).
Like a potter working the clay, and the sculptor wielding hammer and chisel, God forms us and shapes us, making all things new. He transforms us from the inside out from spiritually cold, dead stone into his redeemed people, filled with the breath of his Holy Spirit and the gift of eternal life.
If you are feeling that the mission God has planted in your heart is facing opposition from the enemy, or that the hammer and chisel of transformation are ringing a little too loudly in your ears, fear not, dear Friend! God is at work in you, right now, to bring forth the original purpose he designed specifically for you. Sometimes God’s handiwork feels like trials and testing. But remember, our mission is to allow ourselves to be transformed so that we may glorify his name – and then – give him all the praise as we become his hands and feet sent out into the world to speak his word with boldness and his truth with love. Isaiah saw this when he wrote, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’” (52:7). Jesus demonstrated this to his disciples when he washed their feet at the Last Supper, before his crucifixion (See John 13).
As Henri Nouwen discovered, with God, everything is grace. As we climb the mountains set before us, our steps become beautiful as Jesus transforms our journey from the ashes of mourning to joy and beauty. Because he is with us, we have nothing to fear, and there is no need to rush.
On the road to Emmaus, Luke tells of two of Jesus’ disciples who were walking away from Jerusalem, heartbroken at the tragedy of Jesus’ death. Suddenly, a man appeared on the road, who went with them, revealing to them the mystery of the scriptures from Moses through the prophets. Once they realized that it was Jesus who had been walking with them all along, they proclaimed, “…’Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?’” (24:32). While they walked along the road, they were being transformed by the presence of Jesus and the word of God. They didn’t even realize it, until the moment when they recognized who had been with them all along. The presence of Christ transformed their journey from mourning to joy and from ashes to beauty, while they were walking, until their broken hearts revived and burned with a fresh fire within them.
Beloved Friend, Jesus is doing the same with you. Stay on the straight and narrow road. Just keep moving forward and do not be in a hurry. The God of Transformation is at hand, and he will never leave you nor forsake you, whether he is walking with you on the mountain or in the valley.
Jesus assured his disciples, “… And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). As he was with them, so Christ is with you.
All scriptures are from the English Standard Version translation.