If My People (7/3/16)

Posted by on Jul 9, 2016 in Sermons | 1 comment

It’s July 3rd and tomorrow we’ll turn to our traditions of hot dogs, parades, and fireworks to celebrate the birth of our country.  So how do we prepare for this? 

God has given us a roadmap in 2 Chronicles that shows us how to be true “patriots” who seek the healing of our land.  God is calling “His People” to constantly turn to God in humble prayer, to seek His face, and to change.  IF we grow in our relationship by doing these things, God will “heal our land.”

 

The following recording is from the 11:00 service.  Click on the play button, then scroll down to follow along…

 

Our scripture reading was from Deuteronomy 6:6-9.  Open the below drop down box to follow along.  The New King James Version is shown…

2 Chronicles 7:12-22

12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice.

13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people,

14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.

16 For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.

17 As for you, if you walk before Me as your father David walked, and do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments,

18 then I will establish the throne of your kingdom, as I covenanted with David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man as ruler in Israel.’

19 “But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods, and worship them,

20 then I will uproot them from My land which I have given them; and this house which I have sanctified for My name I will cast out of My sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples.

21 “And as for this house, which is exalted, everyone who passes by it will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and this house?’

22 Then they will answer, ‘Because they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and embraced other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore He has brought all this calamity on them.'”

 

Preacher’s Dilemma

Tomorrow is the  Fourth of July!  The Sunday before Independence  Day!  What’s a preacher supposed to preach on this Sunday?  There’s a temptation and  even expectation to “Wave the Flag”…to proclaim the greatness of our country.  But on this day of worship we aren’t called to “Wave old Glory”… we’re called to Proclaim Jesus Christ.

450px-The_Prayer_at_Valley_Forge_by_Arnold_Friberg

In our country there is an overlap of the two.  There’s  pressure from “revisionists” which keeps pushing God out of our history. “Separation of church and state” was meant to keep the government out of the affairs of the church, not the church out of the affairs of the government.

Documents such as the Deceleration of Independence, Constitution, and other writings of the Founding Fathers clearly refer to Godly principles and the role of God in creating this country.  This country was founded for freedom of religion, and it was founded on Godly principles.

 

 

In April of 1970, as the world was captured by the plight of Apollo 13, and as the spaceship was about to try the risky maneuver of slingshotting around the moon, President Nixon called on the nation to pray.   Not just a cliche statement of “thoughts and prayers,” but a heartfelt call to the nation to earnestly pray for the safety of these three men.

Could a president do that today without meeting resistance?

Lincoln prayed at 4AM and spent an hour in Bible reading and prayer… Adams expressed a reliance on God…  Would our country embrace that of our leaders today?

 

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways,

then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

 

…My People

In this passage, God is not calling on the politicians to pray.  He’s not calling for legal action.    Instead of political activists, God calls His people to be His people.  God has always had “His People.”  In the Old Testament, they began as the children of Israel.  In the New  Testament, through adoption, His people are  known as “Followers of the Way,” or Christians.  WE are God’s people.  This passage is speaking to US.

God isn’t calling us to protest.  He’s calling us to pray.

 

 

…Pray

The founder of the Methodist Church is quoted as saying…

Nothing of eternal value happens apart from prayer.

-John Wesley

Prayer is a key, not a rabbit’s foot!

To develop a relationship with someone you’ve got to talk with them.  Do you maybe just text them twice a year (…Easter and Christmas)???  Not just talk TO them, but talk WITH them.  Engage in honest meaningful conversation.  Share the things that concern you.  Ask for their support and help.  Welcome their opinion and input.

Prayer is the avenue of communication that God has established.

 

…Humble Themselves

We tend  to have an adversity to humility. We don’t like to humble ourselves.  If you have any doubts about that, just imagine the experience of driving.  For those of us who live in New Jersey, we have an especially “non-humbling” bank of experiences to consider.

But Jesus constantly humbled Himself.

 

 

…Turn from Wicked Ways

That means, I did something wrong.  But if we feel we don’t have anything to repent of,  we don’t need salvation.  And, we don’t need a Savior.  We can do it on our own… so we think…

Our Founding Fathers were willing to admit they were wrong.  They were willing to say “I’m sorry”.

In a few minutes we’ll celebrate the Lord’s Supper.  There’s something about coming together, gathering around the altar rail, and confessing sin.  This isn’t just an empty ritual we do once a month.  We’re constantly getting “dirty.”  At some time since the last communion, we’ve all “probably” sinned (“by thought word and deed” as our ritual says).  To keep our relationship with God growing, we constantly need to “come clean.”

If you don’t think that anything you ever do is wrong, then you won’t feel the need to repent.

 

 

…Seek My Face

Laws don’t change people’s hearts.  How many laws did the Pharisees have on the books?  But Jesus said “you’re weighing my people down.”  Shortly after the Columbine  shooting, a town hall was held.  A reporter with a mic  roamed the room asking for comments from attendees.  One of the attendees was Franklin Graham, son of the famous evangelist Billy Graham.  Rev. Graham commented that “I respect what’s being said, but until we change the human heart, nothing is going to change.

 

Where do we seek answers in the face of tragedy?  Where do we turn during the mountaintops when things are going well?  Romans 12:1-2 tells us…

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.

 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,

but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.     NIV

The heart is the control center.

If we’re going to know God’s will and experience the highs and lows in His embrace, we need to recognize that we must consciously “fight the pattern of the world.”  Seeing God doesn’t happen on autopilot.  Left alone on “autopilot” our tendency is towards the hype and emotion of an issue.  We must continually and consciously seek His face and  allow God to “transform us by renewing our mind.”

Until God’s people, seek His face, humble themselves (He’s talking to us!), bad things will continue and may even escalate.

 

…Then

I will hear from heaven

I will forgive their sins

I will heal their land.

It doesn’t’ matter if every politician turns to God, He says “if MY PEOPLE turn to Me.”  If God’s people got over silly differences and got together and called to Him in prayer, God would pour out his blessing on this nation and the world.

 

Return to God’s Purposes

God has shed His grace on our country.  But if you really read history, you’ll see (whether it’s the revolution, or World War 1, or – especially- World War 2), God intervened.

We had no business winning those wars.  We weren’t set to go up against Germany OR Japan, let alone both.  But in many battles throughout our history, there was strange explainable weather phenomena that just suddenly took place.  Take a look at Ten Surprising Ways Weather Has Changed History.  Throughout human history, God uses the weather to get His will across.

Without the hand of almighty God there wouldn’t be a US of A.  God set us aside for a specific purpose.

We need to get back to God’s purpose.  Our better days are ahead of us, but only if we humble ourselves, turn from our wicked ways, and pray.

 

 


Quiz Time!

As you reflect on what you’ve just heard/read, give this quiz a try.  If you don’t understand an answer (or if you disagree with the “correct” answer, post a comment)…

 

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One Comment

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  1. Jane Pape

    Today I listened to the July 3rd sermon again; with what is going on in our world today, week, month and so on; this was spot on.
    Pastor Jim thank you for your dedication to PUMC and the insite’s we need to hear and re hear.

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