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Pray for the Peace of Israel and the Blessing of America

We celebrated 245 years as an independent nation this July 4.

Sadly, it has become controversial to express gratitude for the blessings of our country. Marxists are using Critical Race Theory to cast the United States as an evil oppressor nation that is racist to its core and undeserving of any honor or success.

Without a doubt, racists should repent. They denigrate people made in God’s image and provide fuel for the fires of destruction now being kindled by the Marxists. On the other hand, those who assert that all white people are racists should also repent. They are falsely accusing millions of people and sowing hateful and dangerous divisions.

Fortunately, many citizens of our nation can still see both the successes and the failures of our nation. We know that our mistakes as a country do not cancel our mission to protect and promote liberty. We are willing to acknowledge our nation’s sometimes tragic errors, but we also insist that our successes be celebrated.

We still believe in the high ideals that define our greatest aspirations, ideals that should guide us in the future: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, a reasonable expectation of privacy, fair treatment from our legal system.

We believe that all people are created equal, not the same, that we are created by God, that our fundamental rights are God-given and not government-given. Our government is not the source of our rights, but it should be the protector of our rights.

We also carry a sense of loyalty toward other freedom-loving nations in our world, like Israel. We believe that the State of Israel has a right to exist and a right to defend herself from the violent attacks and hostile plots of her surrounding neighbor states.

Followers of Jesus have an even deeper connection with Israel. God chose Abraham to be the ancestor not only of the Jews, but of Jesus Christ our Savior. The Bible tells us that God promised to make Abraham’s descendants into a great nation and to give them the land of Israel.

After rebelling against the Roman Empire in the first century, Jews were expelled from the Promised Land and scattered to the four corners of the civilized world. This did not take God by surprise. The promises in his written word were unequivocal. He would gather his chosen people from the nations and return them to their homeland.

Decades passed and Jews remained scattered to the nations. Centuries came and went, and Jews lived only in Gentile lands. Almost two millennia passed and still God’s promise to return Abraham’s descendants to the land of Israel was yet to be fulfilled.

Many students of Scripture concluded that God’s promise to gather the people of Israel and reestablish them in the Promised Land could not be taken literally. They interpreted God’s promise as merely a figurative expression. After all, a literal fulfillment would be impossible. It would take a miracle.

Then, in the early decades of the twentieth century, Jews began returning to the Beautiful Land. They went by the tens of thousands, leaving behind their homes and businesses and all that they had built in Gentile nations for countless generations. They went not to visit the land of Israel but to make their lives and their futures there.

In 1948, world leaders officially recognized the State of Israel, the homeland for God’s chosen people, the fulfillment of God’s ancient promise, a miracle!

Five nations surrounding the fledgling State of Israel, all much larger and more powerful, immediately joined together and attacked in an all-out effort to destroy Israel. In a stunning turn of events, Israel prevailed.

Ugly hatred against the Jewish state burned relentlessly. In 1967, the enemies of Israel made ready to attack again. In a war that lasted only six days, God gave Israel victory. Moreover, the modern state more than doubled in size! A third time, the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the enemies of God’s people tried to push Israel into the sea. A third time God gave Israel the victory.

As it is, many people today hate Israel. Like all nations, the people of Israel have made mistakes. But we can see through the failures of people and recognize the hand of God at work. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Closer to home, many now hate America. But we can recognize the failures of our nation without forgetting the blessings of God on the U.S.A. We pray for the favor of Almighty God on our nation!

May God bless the United States of America,

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Prayer For A Nation

God makes a promise about prayer in 2 Chronicles:

. . . and (if) my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, then I myself will hear from the heavens, forgive their sin, and heal their land. (7:14)

The Lord is speaking to King Solomon. At the dedication of the new temple in Jerusalem Solomon prayed publicly and asked God to always answer the prayers offered at the temple.

Thirteen years later God is finally answering Solomon’s request. That’s a long delay but hearing from God is worth the wait!

To understand God’s answer to Solomon we must move back one verse. God tells Solomon, “When I stop the rain or send locusts to devour the land or if I send a pestilence, and my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray” etc.

God’s promise is about those times when he uses natural disasters to soften hard hearts and bend stiff necks. Extreme weather is now blamed on man-made global warming (or “climate change”). Nevertheless, God is still the master of nature and the Bible clearly says that he sometimes employs nature to get our attention (see Exodus 9).

Of course, every bad storm is not a judgment from God. Jesus used a storm on the Sea of Galilee to demonstrate his divine authority by commanding the wind and the waves to stop. He made no mention of any national sin.

The point is this: When God’s people disobey him and deserve his judgment, God offers a pathway to return to his favor.

First, God’s people must humble themselves. Genuine humility starts with attitude and stirs action. The Israelites often humbled themselves by fasting. Skipping meals was a way to demonstrate that they were contrite.

Next, God’s people must pray. When combined, prayer and fasting are powerful. By fasting and praying God’s people demonstrate their desire to connect with God.

In addition, God’s people must seek his face, that is, his personal presence. Seeking requires time and effort. When God’s people gather for combined prayer and fasting the purpose is to experience God’s powerful, personal presence.

Finally, God’s people must turn from their evil ways. No amount of fasting, praying and seeking will solve the problem if God’s people defiantly persist in disobeying his commands.

To simply turn from evil ways without turning to God would also be short of the goal. The objective is always to enjoy God and his favor.

God promises to hear from heaven despite the chasm between him and his people. God will then forgive their sin and heal their land, both spiritual and physical restoration. He is Lord of the visible and the invisible, of individuals and of nations.

As followers of Jesus we are God’s people now and we share in this wonderful promise about prayer. So let’s humbly seek the Lord in prayer, turning from sin to him. God will hear and restore.

May God always hear from heaven and visit us with his healing presence,

Brother Richard

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How Can We Be Alert In Prayer?

Does your mind wander when you pray?

Praying alone in a quiet place can be a relaxing activity. In fact, it can be easy to doze off. When Jesus prayed in Gethsemane the night before his arrest, he asked his disciples to watch and pray with him.  They fell asleep . . . 3 times.

Being informed can make us alert. What if Jesus’ disciples had known that an angry mob with torches and clubs was coming to take Jesus away by force? I doubt if they would have fallen asleep!

The Bible urges us to be alert in prayer: “With every kind of prayer and petition, pray in the Spirit at all times; and to get this done, be alert by using all perseverance and prayer for all believers, and for me, that a word will be given to me when I open my mouth to boldly make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:18-19).

Persistent prayer for all believers is one way to stay alert in prayer.  Pray for all Christians everywhere, those you know and don’t know, those you like and don’t like, those in your local church and not, those in your denomination and not, those in your country or culture and not. That’s a tall order!

There are tens of millions of Christians around the world, we cannot know each one personally. Instead, we must learn what we can about believers in faraway places so that we can pray for them.

God’s Spirit may stir in us a special interest for certain communities or circumstances. For instance, we may have a special compassion for persecuted believers.

Then it says, “and for me,” that is, pray for me. In addition to praying for all believers everywhere, we should also pray for individual believers we know personally.

But what about people who have not yet been saved? Shouldn’t we pray for them?

When Jesus saw crowds of folks looking like sheep without a shepherd, he had compassion on them. He urged his followers to pray to God, not for the lost sheep, but for believers to do the gospel work.

In the instruction above, the writer asks his readers to pray that he will be bold in making known the mystery of the gospel. A mystery in the Bible is not something that is difficult to understand. It’s something impossible to know until it is revealed. The gospel is the revelation about Jesus, that he died and rose again so that we can be forgiven and have eternal life.

The best prayer for lost people is prayer for saved people to be bold and share the gospel. We need prayer for boldness to witness because our natural disposition is to keep quiet about the gospel. Telling others about Jesus requires the inspiration of God’s Spirit.

Pray for God to give you the same concern for others that Jesus has. Compassion for others will keep you alert in prayer.

May the God’s Spirit inspire us to share in his great harvest,

Brother Richard Foster

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What To Do With All These People?

What do you see when you look at the crowds of people in the world? Jesus sees men and women who are harassed and downcast, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36).

Too many people lack solid spiritual leadership in their lives. Like sheep among wolves they wander helplessly in a world full of danger and deception. Many fall prey to false beliefs and false hopes which lead them astray, often to disastrous results.

Jesus is moved by a deep sense of compassion when he sees the multitudes, knowing that they are in need of a shepherd. They need spiritual guidance from someone who is caring and competent.

When Jesus looks at the crowds in this world he also sees a great harvest, souls ready to be cultivated for eternal life. But he warns that workers are lacking (Matthew 9:37).

Harvest is a time filled with joy, especially in a year when fields have produced a bountiful yield. But that time of celebration can end in sadness if the fruit of the field is not harvested in a timely manner. Without workers the crops will fall to the ground and rot.

Jesus assures us that souls are ripe for a spiritual harvest. The time is now. Tomorrow may be too late. The joy of harvesting lost souls for eternal life is grand. The loss of waiting too long is tragic.

Jesus is God. He can do the impossible. He can send his angels to bring in the harvest. He is the Good Shepherd. He can find and save the lost sheep. He can guide and bless the flock.

But Jesus does something that may seem terribly risky to us. He calls on his followers to join in the task of harvesting souls, finding and caring for those who are lost. In fact, he entrusts the job to them . . . to us.

How can we possibly carry out this difficult job of harvesting precious souls? The task is ponderous. The barriers to success are overwhelming. We are unqualified and weak. Where can we find the power and wisdom necessary for such awesome work?

Jesus urges us first to pray. Pray to the Lord of the harvest that he will send workers into his harvest, Jesus tells us (Matthew 9:38). Prayer is our lifeline to God’s throne of grace and mercy. Here we find the vision and the vigor to act with confidence and to succeed.

Be advised, however, that as we pray it may turn out that we are the workers we are praying for! Prayer puts us in touch with the heart of the Lord, a compassionate heart that sees the crowds and steps forward to teach, preach and heal. God calls us to share his heart and to be his hands.

Pray for the Lord to send workers into his harvest, Jesus says. Many generations of believers have answered this call and share in the joy of the harvest. Let’s be faithful in our generation and join them in the task and in the triumph.

May the God’s Spirit inspire us to share in his great harvest,

Brother Richard Foster

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