Prayer Targets: City upon a Hill, Israel, Middle East; IRS & Churches; House to Sue President; More
July 31, 2014
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. John 15:13-14
Dear Praying Friends,
On January 25, 1974, California Governor Ronald Reagan delivered his famous "City upon a Hill" speech. John Winthrop, future Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, had penned the phrase that echoes Matthew 5:16 on the Arabella, sailing across the Atlantic with the wave of English Puritan Christians in 1630. His Model of Christian Charity set forth the principles and spirit by which citizens of "New England" were to live. Winthrop outlined a society built upon a covenant with God, the rule of law administered with justice and mercy, and God's promised blessings of life, liberty and prosperity. Winthrop wrote:
First, in regard of the more near bond of marriage between Him and us, wherein He hath taken us to be His, after a most strict and peculiar manner, which will make Him the more jealous of our love and obedience. So [as he told Israel] therefore will I punish you for your transgressions.
Secondly, because the Lord will be sanctified in them that come near Him. We know that many corrupted the service of the Lord [and were punished - some swiftly, some more slowly].
Thirdly, when God gives a special commission He looks to have it strictly observed in every article... [Saul failed to keep his commission and lost the Kingdom]...
Thus stands the cause between God and us. We are entered into covenant with Him for this work.... He will expect a strict performance of the articles contained in it; but if we shall neglect the observation of these... dissembling with our God ... [if we] embrace this present world and prosecute our carnal intentions, seeking great things for ourselves... the Lord will surely break out in wrath against us, and... make us know the price of the breach of such a covenant.
Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck, and to provide for our posterity, is to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end, we must be knit together, in this work, as one man. [If we do this] The Lord will be our God, and delight to dwell among us... and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways ... we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work... and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God... Beloved, there is now set before us life and death, good and evil... Therefore let us choose life, that we and our seed may live, by obeying His voice and cleaving to Him, for He is our life and our prosperity (Colonial Gov. John Winthrop, A Model of Christian Charity, 1630).
I have always believed that there was some divine plan that placed this great continent between two oceans to be sought out by those possessed of an abiding love of freedom and a special kind of courage... John Winthrop said, "We will be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. . . ." We cannot escape our destiny, nor should we try to do so... Into the hands of America God has placed the destinies of an afflicted mankind." We are indeed, and we are today, the last best hope of man on earth (Gov. Ronald Reagan (CA), The City upon a Hill, 1974).
America's broken covenant with God, our retreat from the vibrant Christian life and witness, our retreat from citizenship responsibilities that determine who will decide and what direction of our nation will take, have led to the greatest crisis in our churches, nation and world we've seen in our lifetime. Rev. Richard Owen Roberts gives us answers in his address, Something Must Be Done, delivered at FRC on Tuesday. I urge you to watch the video online. Afterwards, Roberts prayed that God would help us be willing to lay down our lives in prayer for the Church and our nation. See the Webcast message here and forward the link to others!
Israel/Middle East - Bible-believing Christians are watching the Obama administration's interactions with Israel with trepidation, knowing God's covenant is in force and our government actions for or against Israel will bring blessings or curses to our own nation. He charges us to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" promising "they shall prosper that love thee (Psalm 122:3)." Many fear the administration does not share the same heartfelt commitment to Israel as the majority of Americans. The FAA grounded American commercial jets from flying to Israel just as Secretary John Kerry was pressuring Israel to declare a unilateral cease-fire and promising $47 million in U.S. "humanitarian aid" to Gaza. This terrorist group uses its own people as human shields in a strategy to deter Israel and win world sympathy by blaming them for the human carnage. Surrounded by nations that hate them and facing growing anti-Semitism around the world, including inside the U.S., our continued, unwavering support for Israel is vital.
Meanwhile, ISIS continues its slaughter of Christians and other dissidents (as well as the destruction of holy sites) in Iraq and Syria. The UN extended Iran's deadline to come to terms over its nuclear plan for four more months and access to millions more in cash; Congress begins recess tomorrow and will not return until after Labor Day (see Senate Res.; FAA halts Israel Flights; As Israel needs, Obama Leads From Behind; Iranian Bomb Advancing; Hamas Leader Projects Victory; No Ceasefire without End to Israeli Siege; Overview of War; Running Live Updates on Israeli Operation; ISIS Beheadings; Iran Deadline, Cash Extended).
- May God give Israel's leaders wisdom and may the U.S. stand by her. May the world reject the deceptive anti-Israel narrative, and root out anti-Semitism. May Israel's military permanently disarm Hamas and destroy its strongholds, equipment and secret tunnels, with minimal injury to civilians on both sides! May God work miracles of peace to end this war (Gen 12:1-3; 17:7-8; Josh 1:6-1 Chr 22:32-33; Neh 4:14; Ext 9:1 ff).
IRS To Monitor Churches - For six years, the IRS has ducked a legal challenge Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) hopes will lead to a Supreme Court ruling that invalidates an anti-First Amendment law that has intimidated pastors across America from speaking out on political issues from their pulpits and in the public square. The 1954 "Johnson Amendment" to the IRS code has legally discouraged the churches from fulfilling their duty to preach whole truth from God's word as it pertains to important matters, particularly political candidates and public policy. Under the IRS code, a church can potentially lose its tax-exempt status for supporting or opposing a political candidate or spending more than a nominal part of its income to lobby on a public policy issue. This measure is a plain violation of the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and religion. Now, the atheist Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) has won a settlement against the IRS for failing to monitor churches for violations. The IRS has agreed to a settlement promising to begin monitoring churches. The FFRF argued that their complaints to the IRS about churches involved in politics were being ignored. Meanwhile, the IRS is under a moratorium from conducting investigations due to its improper targeting of conservative groups. Tony Perkins is 2014 Chairman of ADF's Pulpit Freedom Sunday initiative. Each year since 2008, a growing number of pastors (now in the thousands) have stood up against the Johnson Amendment by recording their own election sermons and sending copies to the IRS. Many courageous American pastors refuse to be denied the freedoms multiplied thousands of Americans have given their lifeblood to win and preserve (see IRS Agreement; Taxman vs. the Preacher; About Pulpit Freedom Sunday; More evidence against the IRS; From Tony Perkins, National Chairman).
- May God work all this together to ensure that American legal code upholds the Bill of Rights and attempts to prevent Christians from practicing their faith are restrained (Ex 3:9-10; Dt 26:6-9; 1 Sam 8:8-18; Is 58:6; Gal 5:1).
Finally, more issues for prayer: the military remains confused in matters of religious liberty; a House resolution passed yesterday authorizes a lawsuit against President Obama for multiple abuses of executive power; The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, introduced by Congressman Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) and Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) will restore rights of conscience to child welfare providers in jurisdictions where same-sex "marriage" has been legalized and adoption agencies have been forced to place adoptive children in families without a mother and father or chosen to close. As always, thanks for praying!