4 Then the king said to me, “What is your request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. - Nehemiah 2:4 (WEB)
Here in the United States we have truly been blessed by God. One blessing is the right to vote. Nehemiah was the cup bearer to King Artaxerxes, of Persia. When he had to ask the king for a request, the first thing he did was to pray. With an election coming next month, it is important for us to pray before we act. So often we go into important events without prayer.
Nehemiah knew what was in his heart, yet he still prayed before acting. As we, here in the United States, go to vote, let us ask God to give us the guidance that is needed for us to cast our vote in ways that will bring about God's will and kingdom.
28 They were all filled with wrath in the synagogue, as they heard these things. 29 They rose up, threw him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill that their city was built on, that they might throw him off the cliff. 30 But he, passing through the middle of them, went his way.
- Luke 4:28-30 (WEB)
I was reading a story on the web (https://www.livescience.com/jesus-home-nazareth-discoveries.html) where an archaeologist, digging in Nazareth, has found evidence that the people of that city were anti-Roman. That should not be surprising to anyone, who has read the New Testament. The point of the story though was that the people of Nazareth saw Jesus' ministry as pro-Roman, that is why they tried to throw him off the cliff! Jesus did help all who came to him for assistance, including Romans (Matthew 8:5-13, Luke 7:1-10) and turned away no one who came to him in faith. This did make Him unpopular with many in His day.
I have been wondering what Jesus would make of the protests going on today. I could see Him leading a Black Lives Matter protest and calling on anarchist and white supremacist to follow Him (He did have a tax collector AND a Zealot following Him as part of His twelve disciples). He would not have put up with the looting and violence (see Luke 22:51) that we see today, but called on all to be just in all that they do.
Jesus could pass through an angry mob unhurt. As followers of Christ we are called to do justice and show mercy, even when the mobs want to throw us off the cliff. We can not use mob tactics to fight the mob, but we too must walk through each crisis to show the true way of God, by following where Jesus leads.
4 [“] He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more. The first things have passed away.” - Revelation 21:4 (WEB)
If you what to do things right, you need to do them in the right order. You need to build the foundation of the house first, before you try to paint it. You need to learn to read before you can study to be a school teacher. First you learn to walk before running in your first marathon.
God's plan is the same way, we must take the “things” as they come. Before a new heaven and a new earth can come about, we must deal with the first “things.” Though God's creation was very good (read Genesis 1:31), Adam's sin upset God's plan, Adam did not follow what God had wanted him to do. Yet God did not give up on Adam or us, but had a plan for us in place, His Son Jesus Christ. Christ had to come first to do away with mourning, pain and death. This is the order of “things” and if we stay with God's plan (following Jesus) we will see the new and great “things” that God has in store for each of us.
“1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven ...” - Ecclesiastes 3:1 (WEB)
In 1965 the Byrds, released a song called “Turn!, Turn!, Turn!” written by folk artist Pete Seeger. Most of the song is from the 3rd chapter of Ecclesiastes and was a number 1 hit on the Billboard charts, of December 4, 1965. It was a worldwide hit and has become a classic folk song. According to the website Wikipedia, it holds the record of the US number 1 hit with the oldest lyrics.
God's words still have the power to move and shape people. With the summer season here, let us spread God's word with renewed strength and delight, as we enjoy the season God has for us.
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose. - Romans 8:28 (WEB)
Just north of Bath there is a wheat field, and after the weekend that we had almost 6 inches of rain, that field was flooded, by the Illinois River. At least 10 acres of wheat was now completely under water, and I am no farmer, but I think that is not a good thing. Do you know what the farmer did with that field? He took his bass boat out into it and went FISHING! He was going to get something out of that field, even if it was a few bass and crappie.
God too can turn what looks like a disaster to us, into a blessing. I do not know what God is doing with this pandemic, but I do know it is something good, He has done it before. When the future looked black with Jesus' death on a cross, He turned it into good with His resurrection on Easter morning. I can't wait to see what good He will do during this time of challenge.