Even though you are reading this from a screen, we are all very familiar with printed books. In fact, we are so familiar that we often take them for granted. There was a time when books were reproduced by hand writing. This was a very tedious and long process. That all changed with the invention of the printing press.
Today (February 3), in 1468, Johannes Gutenberg died. He was the inventor of the printing press. The very first book he printed was the Bible. How great is that! On this day, I am thankful for how God used Johannes Gutenberg to continue to fulfill His promise to preserve His Word to all generations.
Psalm 12:7 “Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, Thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”
As I consider the goodness of God in the midst of 2020, I am amazed. Yes, this year has been difficult, and, no, I do not have my head buried in the sand. I mean it when I say, “God has been good!” He has shown Himself more than able to overcome fear and bring peace. He has proven (again) that He is faithful even when disappointments mount. He has shown Himself to have all power against that which threatens. Allow me to give some specific praise to the Lord.
First, I want to thank the Lord for His salvation. The confident assurance of the forgiveness of all sin and eternal life is a blessing that is beyond compare. God provided this to me when I was twelve years old as I recognized my sinfulness, Christ’s righteousness, and accepted what He did for me at Calvary. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.“
Second, God’s protection has been real both spiritually and physically. I think of all that has happened in 2020. The Lord allowed my wife and me to travel to India and return right before all the lockdowns. He protected us on that trip as well as opened our eyes to the vast need of the Gospel in India. Throughout the year, whether in trips or day to day life, He has granted protection. “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: For thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8) Beyond the physical, there was spiritual protection. I cannot remember a season of life that had more intense spiritual warfare than this year. Yet, God has again proven Himself to be infinitely more powerful than the god of this world—who is a defeated foe. 1 John 4:4 reminds us, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
Third, I have said that whatever brings us closer to God is ultimately a good thing. Well, the challenge of 2020 has been a good thing in this way. God has taught me (is teaching me) the importance of prayer. Prayer is a declaration of dependence upon God. I am learning just how true our Savior’s words were when He said, “Without me ye can do nothing.”
Fourth, God saw fit to challenge me in my faith in a very meaningful and specific way this year. I was at a point where I thought I was going forward in faith, but my thinking and even my words were not faith-filled. I was living in respect of what I could see physically. God used a businessman to rebuke and encourage me in the matter of the fear of the Lord—living in respect of God, His holiness, and His ability. God cannot be put inside a box. He is not confined to work within the guidelines of what I have experienced, what I see, or how I think. Honestly, this is still a learning journey that I am on, but God has specifically worked in my life and I am thankful! I preached a message that flowed out of what God was doing in my heart entitled Those that Fear the Lord.
Fifth, I had been praying for a second vehicle. My family and I were getting by with one vehicle for several years, and it was getting to be very difficult. In September, the Lord answered that prayer specifically and provided a vehicle. This is a tangible thing, but I am thankful for a second vehicle!
Sixth, this year God has helped my son, Jason, with his speech impediment. God used our doctor, speech therapy, and the tireless efforts of my wife to help Jason begin to speak more clearly. It has been a huge blessing to watch him gain confidence as people can understand him as he talks.
Seventh, family is very precious. There have been times this year in the midst of all the chaos that the dinner table has been a place of refreshment. You might wonder how dinner with five littles can be refreshing. There is nothing like the carefree conversation and laughing of children. I thank the Lord for the blessing of family. I thank Him for granting my wife and me young hearts to raise for His glory.
Eighth, I praise the Lord for my wife. This year has drawn us together so much more because this year has drawn us toward our Lord. I cannot express the blessing of a godly wife who continues to follow Christ. I have seen how her Shepherd has led and grown her in her faith and confidence. She is my best friend and my partner in the work of the Lord. I praise the Lord.
Lastly, my church family is an unbelievable blessing to me. This has been a trying year for churches. However, we have experienced the grace of God together. God has used this year to draw us closer together. He has grown our faith. He has lifted us above fear and chaos to walk closer with Him. He has added to our number. He is opening hearts to His working and genuine Christian connection. He is restoring our broken and messy lives. It would be very hard to fully express how I feel, but I would not trade the world for the blessing of being a part of a church family that is growing together in the Lord.
By the President of the United States of America a Proclamation. Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation—for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war—for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed—for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted—for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions—to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually—to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed—to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord—To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us—and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
Recently, I was asked if, as a believer, we could pray too much. This is a good and valid question especially when we would naturally think of our relationship with God to be like our earthly relationships. Can you talk to a person too much? Perhaps. Our relationship with God is different, and so it is good that the Bible gives us some guidance about both the privilege and frequency of prayer. Let’s consider this!
God is our Father When we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are born again. We are born into the family of God. This is something that the world and satan cannot steal from us. It is as certain and secure as our biological connection with our earthly parents. 1 John 3:1–2 tells us, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” According to Romans 8:16 “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” The Holy Spirit indwells the believer constantly witnessing the fact that we belong to God as His children.
Our Sonship (or Daughtership) Gives us the Right to Pray As a child of God we have the privilege to come into His presence and ask anything of Him. This is a privilege the non-believer does not have. Hebrews 4:16 urges in this way. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” We are to go into the presence of our Father without any hesitation—boldly. This is only possible because of our restored relationship with Him through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. Romans 8:15 tenderly informs us that we can talk to our Heavenly Father as our daddy. “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” Abba is the Aramaic equivalent of daddy. It is very personal! Don’t let Satan rob you of the joy of talking constantly with your heavenly daddy.
Ceaseless Prayer is the Desire of our Father As our Heavenly Father, God commands us to always be in communication with Him. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing.” We are told in the following verse that in our prayer we are to always be grateful because this is the desire of our Father. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Ceaseless prayer from a heart of thanksgiving speaks of an open conversation that never ends. It is a conversation that begins as we wake up, continues as we get ready for the day, as we work, as we eat, as we travel, as we relax, and as we go to bed. While this does not mean we are on our knees or bowed in prayer the whole day, it does mean we have an ongoing conversation with our Father throughout the day. This is His desire. He created us for a relationship with Him. Sin ruined it, and Christ restored it at the cross!
Prayer Declares our Dependence When we pray and seek our Father constantly, we are declaring that we need Him. Jesus demonstrated this while He was on earth. Jesus spent much time in prayer. In fact, He spent all night in prayer before He chose His 12 disciples. “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12) He spent hours in prayer during the night before He was betrayed and arrested in Gethsemane. “And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39)
So, can a child of God pray too much? That answer is “No!” Pray on! Keep talking to your Father. Share your every concern! Tell Him your deepest fear and anxiety. Verbally give Him your smallest and largest burdens. He wants to hear from you. By the way, it is satan who wants to make you feel like you are bothering your Father. Don’t listen to him…he is never up to any good!
Have you stopped to consider lately that God loves you? He really does! He loves you just as much as He loves anyone else. In fact, the Bible tells us that God is love. We can understand true love because of the example of God. Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God demonstrated love through the cross of Calvary. There is no greater display of love in all the world than that which was seen at Calvary. Jesus affirmed this when He said to us “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) I pray that you heart will be encouraged by the love of God for you personally. We do not deserve His love, but O how blessed we are to be loved by God!
On April 17, 1952, President Harry Truman signed a bill proclaiming the National Day of Prayer into law in the United States. President Reagan amended the law in 1988, designating the first Thursday of May each year as the National Day of Prayer.
It is wonderful to have such a day on our national calendar. If there was ever a time that we needed to pray, it is now. However, many will pray and I fear that we will pray with a wrong motive. Let’s consider it for a moment so we can pray properly.
Do we pray today because we desire to hold onto America as we know it or want it to be? Do we pray because we want prosperity? Do we pray because we are afraid? Do we pray because we want the coronavirus to go away? Do we pray because we want convenience? Is prayer just a way for us to get what we want? Is prayer about us maintaining a level of comfort?
Throughout the Bible, men like Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Habakkuk along many others prayed to God for their nations to return to God from their sin. They prayed for revival, for a great awakening to who God was and what He expected of them.
Solomon sought God in prayer on behalf of a sinful nation. He asked God to forgive them at the time they would humbly return to Him. God answered Him with the words, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Isaiah humbly admitted His own sin along with the sin of His nation when he realized the holiness of God. When confession was made, God cleansed and commissioned him. The account of this is stirring! “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: The whole earth is full of his glory. 4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. 6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. 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. (Isaiah 6:1-8)
Jeremiah wept over the sin and waywardness of his nation. His broken and humble heart is revealed in Jeremiah 13:15–17. “Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the Lord hath spoken. 16 Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness. 17 But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock is carried away captive.”
Habakkuk prayed earnestly and humbly in the midst of injustice and pending chastening from the hand of the Lord, “O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, In the midst of the years make known; In wrath remember mercy.” (Habakkuk 3:2)
Friends, today is a national day of prayer and how we need to pray. Presently, our nation desires deliverance, but not the Deliverer. We need Him so desperately! If you are a child of God, would you pray? Would you set aside desire for ease and comfort and pray humbly and fervently? Would you confess your sin and the sin of our nation like Isaiah? Would you pray for our nation to return to our holy God?