The National Day of Prayer and Cinco De Mayo: A Small Victory that Inspired a Nation - Purity 723
Purity 723 05/05/2022
Today’s photo of an snow and ice covered road running alongside an icicle covered outcropping of rock and ice glazed forest underneath a blazing sun and a clear blue sky comes to us from a friend who captured this scene from an undisclosed location in upstate NY back on March 31st. If you are the photographer, and care to enlighten us of of this photo’s location and your identity, we are curious to know both, as our short investigation of the “usual suspects” proved fruitless in revealing it’s origins.
Well, It’s Thursday, America’s National Day of Prayer, and Cinco De Mayo.
I am sharing links regarding both the National Day of Prayer (https://www.nationaldayofprayer.org ) and Cinco De Mayo (https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/cinco-de-mayo) on the blog today for anyone curious to find out what those things are about in detail, but in brief both these things happening today can encourage us while we keep on walking and talking with God on the path of Christian Discipleship.
According to History.com, Cinco De Mayo while a relatively minor holiday in Mexico has “evolved into a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations.
In my observations, it also seems to be a day where people with no Mexican heritage “celebrate the Mexican culture” by eating Mexican food and drinking Mexican alcoholic beverages, like Margaritas and Corona Beer. From where I am sitting the 5th of May resembles a Mexican “St. Patrick’s Day”, where the holiday’s meaning may be overshadowed by the excess of the celebration itself.
Anyway, the holiday – Cinco De Mayo, while not “Mexico’s Independence Day”, like many people wrongly assume, is a celebration of single Mexican victory, of the Battle of Puebla, that happened on May 5th, 1862 where a severely outnumbered Mexican militia dealt an invading French force a surprise loss. Although not a major strategic win in the overall war against the French, the success at the Battle of Puebla on May 5 represented a great symbolic victory for the Mexican government and bolstered the resistance movement. But it wasn’t until 1867, and thanks in part to support from the United States, that France finally withdrew from Mexico.
So what does this have to do with Christian Discipleship? Not much but it can inspire us. That small victory on May the 5th, inspired a nation to fight for their independence against what may have seemed like impossible odds, and in our daily war against sin and the ways of the world, we may feel that there is no point in trying to defeat a besetting sin or to overcome worldly habits that separate us from a close relationship with the Lord.
One of the biggest lies the enemy, the flesh, and world tries to tell Christians is that somethings are just impossible, or that they are just impossible for us personally. While some people can overcome sinful or unhealthy lifestyle choices, this oppressive force of the world the flesh, and the devil will try to convince us that for us, it just is impossible.
That’s a lie. Our faith in Christ has freed us from sin and death and has given us the power to overcome. But we have to make the daily decision to follow the Lord and resist the dark influences that would keep us, or drag us back into, bondage.
Just like a military force will have to train and be disciplined to be victorious, Christians need to be trained in the things of the Lord and be disciplined in our spiritual practices to achieve victory over our former worldly ways and to maintain our freedom in Christ.
Which brings us to The National Day of Prayer.
“The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people to pray for the nation. It was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. Our Task Force is a privately funded organization whose purpose is to encourage participation on the National Day of Prayer. It exists to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, to create appropriate materials, and to mobilize the Christian community to intercede for America’s leaders and its families. The Task Force represents a Judeo-Christian expression of the national observance, based on our understanding that this country was birthed in prayer and in reverence for the God of the Bible.” (https://www.nationaldayofprayer.org/about)
This observance was obviously created by men and women who had deep faith that God hears prayer and will bless them.
My purpose here on the blog and podcast is similar to that the National Day of Prayer, in that I too try “communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer” but it is my conviction that repentance and prayer form the foundation for a lifestyle of Christian Discipleship that is lived out, not just one day, but all days of the year as I have learned and experienced the fact that the fruit of the Spirit that are mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23: that of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control, grow in our lives when we “walk in the Spirit”.
I applaud the efforts of the National Day of Prayer to inspire people to intercede for America’s leaders and families and pray that our prayers this year will cause more people in our society to turn to God, make Jesus their Lord and Savior, and make the decision to be authentic in their Christian faith by choosing to adopt the mentality of a disciple, to make the daily decision to practice the disciplines of our faith and to apply the wisdom of God’s word to all the areas of their lives.
So pray for the leaders and the families in our nation today but also choose to fight the good fight of faith against what may seem like impossible odds by choosing to resist the world, the flesh in the devil on a daily campaign that starts with setting the intention to keep walking and talking with God, leads to successive victories and increasing freedom in Christ, and ends in glory for One who created the world and who invites us to be with Him forever.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
Isaiah 29:19 (NLT2)
19 The humble will be filled with fresh joy from the LORD. The poor will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
Today’s Bible verse points to our relationship with God and how our humbleness is rewarded with joy that comes regardless of our earthly resources or circumstances.
A parallel verse to this sentiment can be seen in;
Matthew 5:3 (NKJV)
3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
How can the poorbe blessed or rejoice? I mean the poor or the poor in spirit are bummin’. They got nothing. Shouldn’t they take Job’s wife’s advice and:
9 … Curse God and die!"
No, and why? Because what we see here on earth is not all there is. While we could look at this world as a hostile environment and if we are poor we could decide to curse the God who made it when we fail to have the abundance that some of our neighbors enjoy. That would be really unwise. If we think the suffering of this bad, the weeping and gnashing of teeth that comes to those who choose to be separated from the Lord is a whole lot worse because the
Matthew 25:41 (NKJV)
41 .. the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:
and those who reject the free gift of life through faith in Jesus Christ, never goes out.
That’s why those who may be poor, but who humble themselves and make Jesus the Lord of their lives, can have joy from the Lord and Rejoice in the Holy One of Israel because they know that the Lord is with them always and that the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
With that knowledge, and a close personal relationship with God, our circumstances, no matter how meager they may be, can not keep us from experiencing the joy that the Lord has for those who walk in the Spirit and who will one day experience the ultimate glory of heaven itself when they see God face to face.
Through faith in Christ, we are rich in mercy and in grace and with those commodities we can afford what we need here on earth and store our treasures to be fully realized in heaven,
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”.
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase John Pipers’ books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $5.00.
“If They Persecuted Me, They Will Also Persecute You”
Lest we think that this risk-taking life was unique to Paul, he made it a point to tell young Christians that they would meet unspecified troubles. After establishing new churches on his first missionary journey, he returned some months later “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). When he wrote to the young Thessalonian church, he expressed concern that they might have been shaken by their afflictions and said to them, “You yourselves know that we have been destined for this [that is, for these afflictions]” (1 Thessalonians 3:3). In other words, the Christian life is a call to risk.
Jesus had made this clear. He said, for example, in Luke 21:16, “You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death.” The key word here is some. “Some of you they will put to death.” This word puts the earthly life of the disciples in great uncertainty. Not all will die for the cause of Christ. But not all will live either. Some will die. And some will live. This is what I mean by risk. It is the will of God that we be uncertain about how life on this earth will turn out for us. And therefore it is the will of the Lord that we take risks for the cause of God.
Life was hard for Jesus, and he said it would be hard for his followers. “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). So Peter warned the churches of Asia that mistreatment would be normal. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:12–14).
To Become a Christian Was to Risk Your Life
The first three centuries of the Christian church set the pattern of growth under threat. Stephen Neill, in his History of Christian Missions, wrote, “Undoubtedly, Christians under the Roman Empire had no legal right to existence, and were liable to the utmost stringency of the law.… Every Christian knew that sooner or later he might have to testify to his faith at the cost of his life.” Might. There’s the risk. It was always there. Maybe we will be killed for being Christians. Maybe we won’t. It is a risk. That was normal. And to become a Christian under those circumstances was right.
In fact, it was the Christ-exalting love that the Christians showed in spite of risk that stunned the pagan world. The Roman Emperor Julian (a.d. 332–363) wanted to breathe new life into the ancient pagan religion but saw more and more people drawn to Christianity. He wrote with frustration against these “atheists” (who did not believe in the Roman gods, but in Christ):
Atheism [i.e., Christian faith] has been specially advanced through the loving service rendered to strangers, and through their care for the burial of the dead. It is a scandal there is not a single Jew who is a beggar, and that the godless Galileans care not only for their own poor but for ours as well; while those who belong to us look in vain for the help that we should render them.
It is costly to follow Christ. There is risk everywhere. But, as we saw in Chapter 3, this very risk is the means by which the value of Christ shines more brightly.
How to Waste Forty Years and Thousands of Lives
But what happens when the people of God do not escape from the beguiling enchantment of security? What happens if they try to live their lives in the mirage of safety? The answer is wasted lives. Do you remember the time it happened?
It had been less than three years since the people of Israel came out of Egypt by the power of God. Now they were on the borders of the Promised Land. The Lord said to Moses, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel” (Numbers 13:2). So Moses sent Caleb, Joshua, and ten other men. After forty days they returned with a huge cluster of grapes hung on a pole between two men. Caleb issued the hope-filled call to his people: “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30). But the others said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are” (v. 31).
Caleb was unable to explode the myth of safety. The people were gripped by the beguiling enchantment of security—the notion that there is a sheltered way of life apart from the path of God-exalting obedience. They murmured against Moses and Aaron and decided to go back to Egypt—the great mirage of safety.
Joshua tried to free them from their stupor.
The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them. (Numbers 14:7–9)
But not even Joshua could explode the myth of safety. The people were drunk in a dreamworld of security. And they tried to stone Caleb and Joshua. The result was thousands of wasted lives and wasted years. It was clearly wrong not to take the risk of battling the giants in the land of Canaan. Oh, how much is wasted when we do not risk for the cause of God!
What About You?
Risk is right. And the reason is not because God promises success to all our ventures in his cause. There is no promise that every effort for the cause of God will succeed, at least not in the short run. John the Baptist risked calling King Herod an adulterer when he divorced his own wife in order to take his brother’s wife. For this John got his head chopped off. And he had done right to risk his life for the cause of God and truth. Jesus had no criticism for him, only the highest praise (Matthew 11:11).
Paul risked going up to Jerusalem to complete his ministry to the poor. He was beaten and thrown in prison for two years and then shipped off to Rome and executed there two years later. And he did right to risk his life for the cause of Christ. How many graves are there in Africa and Asia because thousands of young missionaries were freed by the power of the Holy Spirit from the enchantment of security and then risked their lives to make much of Christ among the unreached peoples of the world!
And now what about you? Are you caught in the enchantment of security, paralyzed from taking any risks for the cause of God? Or have you been freed by the power of the Holy Spirit from the mirage of Egyptian safety and comfort? Do you men ever say with Joab, “For the sake of the name, I’ll try it! And may the Lord do what seems good to him”? Do you women ever say with Esther, “For the sake of Christ, I’ll try it! And if I perish, I perish”?
Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship