The Bible says in Philippians 4:6 that we should focus on whatever is true and of good report - more specifically it says we should think about:
"Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report..."
God's Word also says He will work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
So for Thanksgiving this year, CBN News wanted to look back on a year that's been filled with strife and tragedy, and point to some of the good things God has done in the middle of it all.
In many moments, God has moved sovereignly to change lives and bring hope to a hurting world. In other ways, 2020 has been a year that compelled Christians to leave the bench and get in the game. Here are a few examples:
#1 The Great Quarantine Revival
It's been called "The Great Quarantine Revival." Back in April, more than 100,000 people watching virtual and broadcast events in countries across the world during the week of Good Friday responded to the Gospel and professed faith in Jesus Christ, according to Pulse, the Christian ministry that organized the programming.
Nick Hall, the founder of Pulse, said responses to the Gospel came via international call centers, email, website, and text messages, and are evidence that God has been at work in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We were literally getting smartphone photos from all over the world – from Nigeria to India and China – of families gathering in their living rooms, around 18-inch cathode-ray TVs, laptops, and HD screens watching our services," Hall said. "The doors to our church buildings may have been closed, but the church has not closed. We are living through a Great Quarantine Revival, and I think God is just getting started."
#2 The Return
At the end of September, thousands of Christians gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC for an event called "The Return: National and Global Day of Prayer and Repentance." Author Jonathan Cahn, the co-chair of the event, called it a "solemn assembly" based on 2 Chronicles 7:14 from the Bible:
"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
The event was broadcast and live-streamed on social media sites around the world, including right here on CBN News.
America is a nation that started in covenant with God 400 years ago this year to glorify Him and spread His gospel to the whole world. But the country has spiraled down to legislate immorality, call evil good and good evil, throw God and His commandments out of the schools, and kill its own unborn children.
"We drove God out of our hearts, out of our government, out of our ways, out of laws, out of the education of our children, out of the public squares. Out of our businesses, out of our media, out of our culture, out of our lives. And as we drove Him out, we opened up a vacuum into which came a flood of other gods," Cahn said.
But "The Return" was a powerful day of repentance aimed at changing all of that by returning America to God's ways.
#3 Awaken Nashville
Just after the year began, CBN News reported about a revival that was underway in Tennessee involving 1,000 churches across the Volunteer State. It was a part of "Awaken Tennessee", a 30-day prayer and fasting initiative that launched on Jan. 26 and ran through Feb. 23.
The event was not about any one church or denomination. It was described by Pastor John Butler of the East Rogersville Baptist Church in Rogersville as a concentrated prayer effort across the state for true revival in our churches that triggers an awakening in local communities, the state, and the nation.
"There has been a 50-year history of intense prayer across our region and the last two years we've seen God lead cities of churches together to do prayer walks, crusades, and tent revivals," Sheldon Livesay, East Tennessee coordinator for Awaken Tennessee told CBN News. "Awaken Tennessee seems it has brought that extra Holy Spirit presence through prayer and fasting that we see exploding in church after church."
Butler wanted everyone to know that "it's all God!"
"Know that God seems to move in waves. This has proven to be ever so helpful as we progress through these days of revival. We have witnessed these waves. All of the services have been Spirit-filled yet some are just overpowering and that is what we are seeing," Butler told CBN News.
The Awaken movement led to other powerful moments in 2020, like this one: 'One Nation Under God, and Jesus Is Lord': Online Prayer Event '11-11 Jesus' Intercedes for America, and this one: 'Awaken Tennessee' Wants to Help America Sing Its Way Out of the Darkness with God's 'Amazing Grace'
#4 Christianity Growing in Iran
Also in September, CBN News reported on how Christianity is growing in Iran as its people were abandoning Islam.
Based in the Netherlands, the non-profit Group for Analyzing and Measuring Attitudes in Iran (GAMAAN) questioned 50,000 Iranians, 90 percent of whom live in the country.
The results showed that 1.5 percent of those surveyed identified themselves as Christian. Those numbers suggest there are probably hundreds of thousands of Christians in the Islamic Republic and could quickly be approaching one million.
Mike Ansari of Mohabat TV, a ministry that broadcasts the Gospel into Iran, told CBN News the survey is significant because it lends credence to what mission groups have been saying for years.
Ansari said on CBN's Christian World News program, "One-point-five percent becoming Christian may not seem a big number, but for a country that is closed and persecuted towards Christianity that number is a huge indication of the Gospel growth."
CBN News also introduced you to Dr. Hormoz Shariat, a Muslim and an Iranian by birth, who came to the US and encountered Christ as a student. Since that time, he made it his life's mission to project the gospel into the Muslim world – especially in his home country of Iran.
Today, through his organization "Iran Alive Ministries," Shariat and his team are broadcasting the message of Christ 24/7 across Iran. He explained that the current growth of Christianity in Iran points to a prophetic move of God in the Islamic Republic.
"They're looking, they're looking, they're looking. They're looking at Buddhism, Hinduism, anything except Islam, and when they see Christ, when they share Jesus Christ, they're so attracted. That's why Christianity is growing in Iran," he said.
#5 Worship Leader Sean Feucht's Revival Events Take Gospel Across America
Hearts were filled with the Holy Spirit as tens of thousands of people across the country joined praise leader Sean Feucht and his team in state after state on his nationwide "Let Us Worship" tour.
People of all ages and from different walks of life have gathered at these worship events to receive salvation, be baptized, and entrust their lives to the Lord. Stops on the outdoor gospel outreaches this summer and fall, included revival events in numerous cities across the country, north and south, east and west.
During his stop in Fort Worth, Feucht wrote on Twitter, "A little kid came up to me with big eyes and said 'This is a move of God!' I said YES IT IS!!"
Speaking in a Facebook video about the revival meetings in New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts, Dr. Charles Karuku with International Outreach Church aid described the occasion as a "move of God" after 29 people were baptized Saturday night in NYC, including a whole family. "We had people getting born again. We kept on baptizing people," Karuku added. "We baptized an entire family of five - it was awesome. They all gave their life to Christ and they came to be baptized."
Feucht remained amazed as he traveled across the country to lead thousands in worship and witness miracles. "Every night I ask the Lord while testimonies pour in 'Can this get any better?' and then it just KEEPS GETTING BETTER!," he wrote in an Instagram post. The resistance, sacrifice, weariness are all NOTHING compared when He shows up and saves, heals, and lights our hearts on Fire!"
At Feucht's praise team's appearance on the National Mall at the end of October, more than 35,000 people gathered on the iconic grassy lawn to pray for spiritual awakening and that hearts will turn toward Jesus Christ.
STAY UP TO DATE WITH THE FREE CBN NEWS APP
Click Here Get the App with Special Alerts on Breaking News and Top Stories
During an interview with CBN News, Feucht pointed out that it's so important to pray for all of America's leaders who are faced with difficult decisions that ultimately impact everyone.
Additionally, Feucht says there is a present "resistance" towards Christians in America who simply want to worship our Heavenly Father together, whether in church buildings or in public. He emphasized that the church must continue to gather and pray for our nation.
"I haven't seen this level of persecution or intimidation toward the church," he said. "I think it is really revealing to us of the state of America and we have to rise up and be courageous - standing not only on our First Amendment right and the Constitution but also standing on our biblical mandate in Hebrews 10:25: to not forsake meeting and gathering together.
In September, Feucht released a complete live concert film of the Sacramento, California worship event to social media.
Watch the film below:
#6 Pro-life Christian Judge Confirmed to US Supreme Court
On Sept. 26, President Donald Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
During her White House Rose Garden nomination ceremony, Barrett said her judicial philosophy is the same as Justice Antonin Scalia, her mentor. "I clerked for Justice Scalia more than 20 years ago, but the lessons I learned still resonate. His judicial philosophy is mine, too. A judge must apply the law as written, judges are not policy-makers and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold," she continued.
Barrett became a favorite among conservatives for a couple of reasons. One, she's relatively young at 48 and is a devout Catholic. Two, her past academic record of legal writings suggest an openness to overturning Roe v. Wade.
Exactly one month later on Oct. 26, Judge Barrett became Justice Barrett, after being confirmed by the Senate 52 to 48 along party lines, and was sworn into office an hour later at the White House.
Justice Barrett has made her philosophy clear: She will not legislate from the bench. "Courts have a vital responsibility to the rule of law, which is critical to a free society, but courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life," she said during her confirmation hearings. "The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches, elected by and accountable to the people."
Barrett was a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals since 2017. She is the first mother of school-aged children to become a Supreme Court Justice. She is also only the fifth woman ever to serve. As the mother of a child with special needs, she understands the issues and concerns confronting our nation's most vulnerable people.
Barrett graduated at the top of her class from Notre Dame Law School in Indiana. Her husband, Jesse, is a former federal prosecutor. The South Bend, Indiana couple has seven children, including two adopted from Haiti and a young son with Down syndrome.
#7 Prayer Event Marks 400th Anniversary of Mayflower
Also in October, CBN News told you about a prayer event to mark the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim's landing at Plymouth, Massachusetts, and the sacred covenant with God that this would be a nation to serve Him, love Him, and follow His ways.
Carter Conlon of New York City's Times Square Church led a nationwide call to God on Oct. 6 from the very spot in Plymouth -- Lot #1 -- where the Pilgrims began to build and pray.
A prayer meeting was held from the very house built in 1790 that sits on the portion of ground where the first house in America was built by the Plymouth settlers in 1620. It was live-streamed across the country.
That first winter, those Pilgrims were freezing, starving, and deathly ill, but full of faith. "It was in that house, that in a position of weakness, with half of them having given their lives the first year for the cause of freedom and religious freedom, they prayed," Conlon shared.
"And God promised them 400 years ago, they and their descendants would have that freedom here in what became the Land of the Free. But what did we do with that freedom?"
Conlon pointed out America enslaved an entire race of people. And today American families are broken, abortion is rampant, and the nation is unraveling. "We're going to ask God for forgiveness for what we did as a nation with the freedom God gave us," the New York City pastor explained.
In an essay titled, "What Have We Done With Our Freedom?" Conlon writes, "This is a pivotal moment for America. We're going to pray and we're going to believe that God is going to resurrect this nation again. This prayer meeting is not our idea; this is a God-initiated moment in the history of this nation. The very future of America now depends on our prayers."
READ MORE about America's Faith-Filled Founding:
On This 400th Anniversary, How Faith Fueled the Pilgrims: 'It Was a Church Plant that Founded New England'