“Here are recorded the names of Americans who gave their lives in the service of their country and who sleep in unknown graves. This is their memorial. The whole earth is their sepulcher, comrades in arms whose resting place is known only to God.” —Inscription at the Garden of the Missing, American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-mer, above Omaha Beach, Normandy
A Rabbi once said, “Reading Scripture is the highest form of prayer because that’s when God does all the talking.” Here is a Scripture that prays gloriously—the Word of God praising its Author. Join in…
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” —Paul, to the Ephesians 1:3–6
Old Spurgeon said something that sounded a lot like Ravi Zacharias. Maybe he said it once, too, and it’s no less true…
“How calm, how resigned, sometimes how triumphant, how ecstatic, is the frame of mind of the departing believer! I never heard one of them regret that he was a Christian. In times when men sift what they have done and believed, and when they tell no lies—for the naked truth comes up before them—I have heard them glory in belonging to Christ and in resting in him; but I have never heard them regret that they did so.” —C. H. Spurgeon
Thank you, Lord for Ravi. Glory.
We have more reasons than we know to give thanks to God. Here is another. Let’s pray…
Master of the World,
it is not on the basis of our righteousness
that we lay our requests before Your presence,
but because of Your great mercies.
— The Siddur (Jewish Prayer Book)
Among the great prayers given to mankind—every word is a perfect, every phrase a dance—it will leave you breathless in the joy of the God Who loves you. I dare you not to smile.
O Lord, you have searched me
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O Lord.
You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.
If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord,
and abhor those who rise up against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
In a desert? King David was many times, and this is what he prayed. Let’s join in…
O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
—King David, Psalm 63:1–8
Ah, so good!
A world of conspiracies is no match for the King of all kings. Time to pray…
How great is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you,
which you bestow in the sight of men
on those who take refuge in you.
In the shelter of your presence you hide them
from the intrigues of men;
in your dwelling you keep them safe
from accusing tongues.
Praise be to the Lord,
for he showed his wonderful love to me
when I was in a besieged city.
In my alarm I said,
“I am cut off from your sight!”
Yet you heard my cry for mercy
when I called to you for help.
Love the Lord, all his saints!
The Lord preserves the faithful,
but the proud he pays back in full.
Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the Lord.
So Be It, Lord.
If there was ever a reason to pray, here’s a good one—especially now. Pray for your Pastor—they’re under enormous pressure to do the right thing for their flock in a time of great uncertainty—where the best information contradicts, making errors inevitable and regret inescapable. No wonder Paul added to his list of sufferings, “Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” Check this out…
97% of pastors have been falsely accused or hurt by their trusted friends
70% of pastors battle with depression
7,000 churches will close each year
1,500 pastors quit each month
10% will retire a pastor
80% of pastors feel discouraged
94% of pastor’s families feel the pressure of the ministry
78% of pastors have no close friends
90% of pastors report working 55-75 hours per week.
Pray for your Pastor.*
*By Victor Marx
It’s quite easy for Americans to take a short-term, microscopic view of current events as related to Biblical end times prophecy, but that’s really not how the Bible was written. Middle Easterners just don’t and didn’t think like us. We specialize on the minutia, which Bill Moyers pointed out decades ago: “Americans know everything about the last 24 hours, a little about the last 24 years and almost nothing about the past 24 centuries.” That’s us, and when it comes to end times prophecy, our concentration on the minutia leads us to conclude the kind of things being touted on social media about the Mark of the Beast.
The people of the Bible who received the Word of the Lord and wrote it down—every last one of them—saw the world in vast terms: of millennia, empires coming and going and continents on the move over vast periods of time—of eternity past to eternity future. This is how the Bible was written. In other words, they had a ‘fish-eye-lens’ view of the world and the things that God was doing that worked well enough for many, many generations to wait for a deliverer in Egypt and for the coming of the Messiah, and still hold onto their faith. This vast view is still true of almost everyone living today east of Turkey. We, in our short-term view of history and life (which usually carries over into the way we look at Biblical events), feeds the ‘prophetic’ assertions of various pastors, Christian bloggers and news sources and the immediacy-driven hunger of the social media masses. This is why the people of the Bible seemed so patient and meditative when “the Word of the Lord came to them”—there was always a bigger picture being painted.
This Covid-19 thing is a real eye-opener—it’s a wakeup call of true Biblical proportions of how relatively easy it will be for the antichrist to enrapture the world and introduce his agenda. But it’s also just another springboard for spiritual opportunists to ply short-sighted radical assertions that amp-up the emotions of the masses without really teaching them anything of value about Jesus and His first coming. This is the true essence of our message and walk. Being ready wasn’t a command to get busy speculating about the minutia of what the ‘mark’ may be, but what we are to be and to do while we await His return (Matt. 24:42-25:46). I’m starting to get callouses on my forehead from the fruitless, fear-driven speculations on Facebook that will be passé in a couple years or less, when the next wave of speculations will no doubt hit and everything will be ‘revised’ without apologies. The Lord has constantly provoked His church to serve, shine and use diligently what He’s given us to invest as we see the day approaching. That’s our great opportunity.
Concerning the Mark of the Beast, here’s a ‘fish-eye-lens’ take on it that I videoed in Ephesus, if you want to watch (~15:00).
If God is God, the one great thing I can do with my day surrender as it begins. Let’s pray…
I am no longer my own, but Yours.
Put me to what You will, rank me with whom You will;
Put me to doing, put me to suffering;
Let me be employed for You or laid aside for You;
Let me be exalted for You, or brought low for You;
Let me be full, let me be empty;
Let me have all things, let me have nothing;
I freely and heartily yield all things to Your pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
You are mine, and I am Yours.
So be it.
—The Methodist Covenant Prayer