BLACK FRIDAYS

Today is called “Black Friday” – the kickstart to the Christmas holiday shopping season. It’s a day of unbelievable bargains and best-of-the-year offers. However you’re shopping, this is the day when deal hunting gets popped into high gear. And have I got a deal for you !!

We’ll get to that in a moment, but first – welcome to “Mornings with Bishop Robert” — thanks for joining me on the top spot on the internet for coffee with a cleric.

But Black Friday wasn’t always a good thing. The first commercial use of the term was in 1869, when two investors tried to buy as much gold as possible, driving up the price artificially, and then selling at the higher price. To put a stop to their plan to corner the gold market, President Grant released more gold into the economy. But, his plan backfired. He inadvertently triggered an economic crash. The stock market dropped 20%, all foreign trade stopped, and the bottom fell out of corn and wheat prices. It was a disaster of massive proportions, and the name “Black Friday” was born.

Many years later, during the late 1950s and early 1960s, the term was resurrected when the Philadelphia Police Department used it to refer to the day between Thanksgiving and the annual Army-Navy game. Huge crowds of football fans besieged the city the Friday before the big game, requiring an incredible amount of overtime by law enforcement to control the influx and maintain some semblance of order in stores, restaurants and such with what was a naturally unruly crowd to begin with. Police hated it, hence Black Friday II.

You may have been told that Black Friday marked the day when retailers finally began to turn a profit, because of how accountants used different color inks in a company’s books — red for negative earnings, and black for positive earnings. Retailers invented that idea in the late 1980’s to try and remove the stigma and drive shopping sprees with once-a-year bargains. But insane bargains bring out insane greed and behavior. 17 deaths and 125 serious injuries have resulted from melees and outright attacks as people literally fought over and died for limited stock of high-demand items. I’m not counting events like the guy who happened to have a heart attack while shopping at Walmart in 2018; that’s tragic, but not the point I’m making. I’m talking about things like being shot, stabbed, pepper sprayed and trampled. So, that’s three “Black Fridays” so far, but we’re not done.

Today’s verse says GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS, and I’ll bet you’re scratching your head wondering how we’re going to make THIS transition.

The blackest of Black Friday events didn’t occur in a Target or Walmart. It didn’t happen in London, Belfast, Boston or Los Angeles. The original Black Friday occurred on a hillside outside of Jerusalem as Jesus gave His life on the cross. Things looked utterly black at the end of the day when Jesus Christ was crucified. It looked completely hopeless. The disciples were scattered and scared. The Romans appeared to be in control. The body of Jesus was laying in a tomb and growing cold with death. For all intents and purposes it appeared that the enemy had won. THAT was a very Black Friday.

Sometimes our lives look black, too. They can appear overwhelming with health crises, financial challenges, work issues, relationship drama, depression, addictions and a hundred and one other things. In this rat race we call life, sometimes it looks like the rats are winning. But the cross unlocked the pathway to the crown. Jesus paying the price for our sin opened the door for our freedom, redemption and restoration. The original Black Friday got turned inside out by His resurrection. It looked like Jesus had lost every chance of victory, but that was NOT the case at all. The resurrection was the event that changed everything. The cross made the bargain of a lifetime available to you and me.

IT STILL DOES. The battles still rage because the enemy is still stupid. He is trying to gain the final upper hand. The enemy of our souls will continue to fight until his final defeat. Therefore, so must the Army of God. Our battle cry is GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS.

Here are the great offers we need to be grabbing up today. We need to be asking Him to FILL US with His Spirit, with His gifts, with His power, and with His grace. Like all warriors in a battle, we need a re-supply of ammunition, food and water. God will CONSTANTLY re-supply us as we seek Him, because GREAT IS HIS FAITHFULNESS.

Here’s an encouraging word to the battle-weary. Get connected to your re-supply provision. More faith!! More courage!! More grace!! Don’t allow the discouragement attacks of the enemy to stop you from praying. When you are attacked by the enemy, DEFEND! Then bring a counter attack !!!!! When you feel like praying less and giving up – PRAY MORE !!!! Bring the battle back to the enemy and advance the cause of victory.

The battle of the ages didn’t end on that first, fateful Black Friday afternoon. Christ’s death and resurrection opened the way for Him to fill you with His Spirit. Now you are the weapon! Your prayers, your fasting, your intercession, your specific ministry — these are all only TOOLS that God uses through your obedience. But YOU are the weapon. When entering government facilities in Israel, armed guards ask, “Do you have a weapon?” My answer to this question was always the same. “I am the weapon.” Sometimes it would bring a smile to their face, at other times not so much. But it was true nonetheless. The MOST difficult battles require a focused and disciplined use of EVERY AVAILABLE WEAPON – and YOU are one His weapon of choice. So ENGAGE!!!

Jesus offers us the bargain of a lifetime every day of the year – the FREE GIFT of forgiveness, faith and a love beyond comprehension. No coupon or special app necessary. Now THAT’s a Black Friday offer to die for. Talk about a deal you don’t want to miss.

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