11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All God’s people here send their greetings. 14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. — 2 Cor. 13:11-14 NIV
Rejoice! Isn’t it amazing that after all Paul has gone through and was still going through at this time, that he could say rejoice? Through all the persecutions, beatings, attempts on his life and bearing the burden of wayward people in the churches he had established, Paul was still rejoicing and encouraging others to continue in faithfulness. One of our highest priorities as Christians should be to pray for and encourage others. Compared to what Paul went through and what our brothers and sisters in other countries are going through today, anything we have to suffer through is certainly “a light affliction”. Yet, some of us are so focused on our own problems that we walk around like Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh thinking “Woe is me.”. All of us need more encouragement and more reminding of who we are in Christ Jesus. We need to “zoom out” on our lives and look at the whole panorama that God has given us. The more time we spend focused on Jesus and others, the less time we will have to focus on our own issues. When we take time to fellowship with the Holy Spirit, we find that our spirits are lifted and we can truly rejoice.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.– Phil. 4:4-7
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
49 “The Lord will bring a distant nation against you from the end of the earth, and it will swoop down on you like a vulture. It is a nation whose language you do not understand,50 a fierce and heartless nation that shows no respect for the old and no pity for the young. — Deut 28:49, 50 NLT
Deuteronomy 28 is probably best known for all the blessings that God promises if His people are obedient. If the Israelis obeyed God by keeping His laws and commandments, they would be the most blessed nation on earth. In this chapter, God also explains to them what will happen if they are disobedient. If they fail to keep His commandments and laws, they will be the most cursed nation on earth and will eventually not be a nation at all, but a scattered people. While the law was fulfilled when Jesus gave His life for us on the Cross and was resurrected, He still expects His people to be obedient. God’s commandments in the Old Testaments were not just suggestions and His commands to us to be holy even as He is holy and to love Him above everyone and everything and our neighbors as ourselves are not suggestions. He is the same God, yesterday, today and tomorrow, so we can be sure that if we are not obedient under the new covenant, the same curses will befall us. We may or may not be a “Christian” nation, but we are a nation with millions of Chrisitans living here. We can make a difference if we spend time on our knees before a holy God and petition Him continuously for mercy and grace for our nation. Jesus gave us the example of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8). Let us follow that example in keeping on keeping on with our requests for our nation. God told Abraham that He would not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, if He could find five righteous people there, let us pray that He will show us the same mercy.
10 Is it not you, God, you who have now rejected us and no longer go out with our armies?
11 Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless.
12 With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies. — Psalm 60:10-12 NIV
God had temporarily rejected the nation of Israel because of their continued disobedience and refusal to repent. His rejection of Israel was not total nor permanent because of His covenant to them. As Christians we can be sure that God will always have a remnant of believers to carry on His work. However, God has made no covenant with our nation that requires Him to allow it to stand. It has stood for over two hundred years because of God’s mercy in spite of our rebellion and disobedience. It appears to us that God has rejected us, but it is we who have rejected Him. We, just as Israel, have turned from God to our own wisdom and to humans to help. Human wisdom and human help is worthless. But, it is not too late for us, if we, as a nation, will repent and turn back to God.
As we approach the Thanksgiving season, let us commit, together, to spend three minutes a day praying that our nation will repent, so that God can continue to show us His mercy. Three minutes; one minute praising God for Who He is, one minute thanking God for what He has done, and one minute petitioning God not to withdraw His mercies.
1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior– 1 Timothy 2:1-3 NASB