It will go down in history as perhaps mankind’s most bizarre year. Never has the entire globe in unison shut down because of a virus. Restrictions in travel, work, recreation, size of gatherings etc., have ruined businesses, increased the number of suicides and deaths for those with other ailments who cannot be hospitalized, amped fear to unprecedented levels, and created a huge divide in opinion over what should or should not be done. Meanwhile political unrest, rolling waves of violence, storms and disasters add to the cacophony of 2020.
The numbers worldwide continue to rise: 181,377 cases, 7119 deaths, 78,085 recoveries. Worldwide reactions are dramatic: airline flights cancelled, large numbers of quarantined populations, countries with closed borders, bans on gatherings over 250 people, schools closed, colleges reverting to online classes, sports leagues cancelled, plummeting stock markets etc. Behold a pandemic! The cause of this chaos is a virus named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes is called “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).
If you have never read through the Old Testament, I would highly recommend you read the book of Daniel. For one thing, the prophetic material found in the book of Revelation cannot be rightly interpreted without a general knowledge of Daniel’s writing. This small book of 12 chapters is highly organized and by its intricate arrangement reveals how incredibly wise Daniel was. Daniel’s ministry covered the length of the Babylonian exile with his last dated prophecy made around 536 B.C. when he was in his eighties.
Did you know that eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and Lake Maracaibo in northwestern Venezuela have the most lightning in the world? Did you know that in the United States26 people died from lightning strikes in 2015 and that Florida by far is the state most often hit? Incredibly in July and August (the most active months), Colorado averages 5,350 and 4,811 flashes per day with most of them occurring in the Colorado Springs-Denver area. Why you wonder is this important?
Since 2014, what consistently is the third most terrorized country in the world? To find your answer you would want to look up the Global Terrorism Index (GTI). This is produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) based on data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD). This data is collated by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) led by the University of Maryland. As late as 2017, because of persistent Boko Haram and Fulani militant attacks, Nigeria ranks as the third-most terrorized nation. Only Iraq and Afghanistan rank higher in carnage.
I’m convinced that prayerlessness is a major factor when I give into temptation. If I’m tempted and I run to the Lord in prayer immediately my will is altered and I’m fortified to do what I know I ought to do. When I neglect seeking His help every fiendish aspect of rationalization works to my detriment. But even in praying for God’s help to resist evil there is a responsibility on my part to be committed to God’s truth and will. Jerry Bridges notes in The Discipline of Grace, “There’s no point in praying for God’s help in the face of temptation if we haven’t made a commitment to obedience without exception.”
Jim Downing wrote in his book, The Other Side of Infamy, an amazing account of forgiveness. This 104 year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor shared how in 1953 he met Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese commander who led the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and, who after the war, became a Christian. It was exceedingly hard for Jim to forgive Fuchida after losing so many shipmates. But he forgave him because it was the right thing to do.
Matthew 6:12—And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
I love how God blesses us in unexpected ways to reinforce His truth. Today, while writing this devotional, I went downstairs to eat breakfast in the Mobile, Alabama Marriott. I gave the hostess my room number so she could charge me. (Actually, my expenses were covered by the church that invited me to speak.) But she declined to do that. Instead she gave me an extra coupon and insisted that I eat at no cost. God gave me and the church blessing me a reminder that our daily bread was indeed a gift from Him.
Matthew 6:11—Give us today our daily bread.
My parents are living on a farm in Zolfo Springs with my brother Nate and his wife Melissa. Recently, their guard dog Shepherd went missing. Less than a week later, Nate’s longtime companion, Minnie, was hit and killed by a truck on the road outside their home. As my parents were out walking alongside a ditch looking for Minnie, a car stopped and the driver asked what they were looking for. A conversation ensued in which the driver asked about getting permission to fish in the farm. Dad explained that he was the owner and he would agree for Alex and his wife Elisa to fish as long as they were willing to let him share with them about Jesus. They decided that was a fair arrangement and after fishing a couple of times at the pond and catching nice Bass, Alex one afternoon sat down on the farm porch and conversed with Dad about John 3:16. He ended up placing his faith in Jesus.
Matthew 6:10—Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Let’s make a case for the ten greatest empires/kingdoms of all time.
#1. The Roman Empire: Considered preeminent for its sheer power and long-standing influence in military and political systems, art, literature, and religion.
#2. The Mongol Empire: Five times the size of Alexander the Great’s territory, Genghis Khan established a kingdom that stretched from Eastern Europe to China.
#3. The British Empire: Almost a quarter of the earth’s landmass was covered by an empire effective in warfare and trade.