Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Knee time

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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.
16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.
--2 Chronicles 7:14-16 (The Message)

I began this series of entries from 2 Chronicles chapter 7 last week before the election. I see so many parallels between Israel and the United States. And I know that I'm not the first or the last person to draw these parallels. It's a type and shadow.

God tells Solomon the same thing He has told His people since He first spoke to Adam in Eden. "Listen to me, follow my instructions, and your life will be simple and blessed. But if you ignore me, if you forgo my commandments and seek after wordly pleasures, your life will be filled with terrors, calamity, illness, war."

I almost need to take a step back to write this. I feel so much right now that I am unclear as to where I should start, how far I should go, and where I should end.

At this point, Israel was in a pretty good standing with God. Solomon, although not a perfect king, was a great ruler and had a deep faith in and relationship with God. He was king for one simple reason: God had promised his father, David, that if he remained in God's way, his line would be seated on the throne. Solomon himself had done nothing to earn his seat. His father had secured it for him. Solomon remained a powerful king because of the choices he made once he was anointed.

That is so much like our relationship with our Father. We have been given a seat, a place in eternity with the Father, not because of anything we have done, but because of what our Father has done. Our Father bought our place in heaven with the sacred blood of His child, Jesus Christ. We can certainly mess that up. We can back slide. We can deny God of His power. But we can not earn our place in heaven. We just can't. All we can do is disable ourselves from getting there.

Even so, God had a desire to be with His children Israel. Time after time, they went their own ways. They sought unions and marriages with peoples who served false gods. They turned their back on God and griped about their position. "There's nothing to eat! Not more manna! Can't we just go back to Egypt, at least we had onions and leeks to eat there!" And they fell from God's favor.

For a time.

The Israelite history is a circuitous one. The children of Israel would repent, would re-establish the law as the norm for their lives and government, and then something would happen to test them, and they walked away from God. And God knew their hearts. He knew what it would take to awaken their souls and bring them back to Him. Perhaps His punishments seem harsh to us. Can you imagine how they seemed to the Israelites?

But always, God has given them, us, another chance. But if my people, who are called by name, will 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.

Our country is called by the name of God. It was founded upon the principals of religious freedom, one nation under God. The cornerstone of our Constitution and Bill of Rights are biblical truths. We are Israel, we are His children, called by his name. But we have not humbled ourselves. We have not prayed and sought God. We have not turned from our wicked ways. And we live in a broken, troubled world because of it.

How do I know this? I know this because a man was elected today who will legalize partial birth abortion. I know this because many states are voting to redefine marriage as a union between members of the same sex. I know this because it is offensive for my child to say a blessing over lunch in the public school. I know this because our country is hated by countries of other faiths. We serve greed and the "redistribution of wealth." We award business leaders who practice high-risk tactics while tax money is being used to bail these businesses out. I know this because we wonder if it should be okay for a critically-ill person to ask a doctor for lethal doses of drugs.

Our country has turned away from God. I venture to say that today many people went to the polls and voted for "change" without looking at what cost they were going to pay. And it reminds me of the beginning of the darkest periods of the Israelites' history--the periods when they were oppressed by other nations, when their kings were power hungry, and when the blessing of God was removed from their nation.

There are two things that give me peace at this moment, perhaps three.
1. Even in the periods of history when Israel as a nation turned from God, He protected the minority of His people who remained faithful to Him.
2. So long as we are alive and standing, we still have the ability to get down on our knees and pray, seek His face, and be delivered and receive His blessing again.
3. God has promised to listen when we finally get "it" and turn back to Him whole-heartedly.

It is "KNEE TIME" in our country today. We are entering a period that would terrify me if I did not know the Word of the Lord. I know that God still is there. I know that God will still listen. I will hear from heaven. God will hear us when we call on Him.

I think of Jeremiah and Isaiah and the other Old Testament prophets. They must have been highly unpopular in their day. Can you imagine telling the leader of a mighty nation that his country and his people, including himself, would be delivered into the hands of Babylon? I wouldn't want that job. And yet, I feel some of that burden today.

In the United States, we have watered down what it means to be a Christian. We say a nice little prayer at an altar call, we put bumper stickers on our cars with the "Jesus fishy" on it, and if we're really good Christians, we join a small group Bible study and perhaps put our children in private Christian schools. In some ways, we walk the walk. But we fail so miserably in other ways.

I have a pre-teen daughter. I love her with more love than I could dream of. I want her to wait until she is married to have sex. And yet, even in the "church" community, it is not uncommon to hear of lowered standards. "Everyone does it anyway, you might as well plan that she will too."

Excuse me?!? God created marriage and sex to be mutually inclusive. Can you have sex before marriage? Sure, but don't count on a blessing coming out of it! And that is exactly what I've taught my daughter. AIDS? HIV? Sin! Birth control? It's called abstinence! If you aren't married, and you don't want to have a baby, you don't participate in sexual activity. This isn't a radical thought process! This is the way God designed it for our best interest.

This is only one example of the "dumbing down" of our faith in the United States. If you vote for a political candidate who will support further abortion rights and claim to believe the Bible is the infallible word of God, something just doesn't jive.

I heard today that Evangelicals in the United States were/are disillusioned with the Bush administration. Why? He is a human, imperfect like them. And they believe that by voting en masse for the opposite end of the spectrum is going to help restore their illusion? See the key here is this...it's all an illusion.

Our country has wandered so far away from its Christian roots, it's almost hard to believe that there were any to start with. What our country needs is change, but not Mr. Obama's marxist, socialized government-style of Kool-aid change. Our country needs revival.

My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.

I believe God chose our country to be what it was. It was to be a place where we could seek Him, serve Him, worship Him, free of the encumbrances of the government. And yet today, our country is exactly the opposite. But we have His promise to us, just as He promised Israel that when we seek Him, when we repent, when we pray, He will listen. And then He will heal our land.

We need more knee time. Don't settle for the lines that you are being sold. Don't accept anything less than what God has for you and for our country. Pray for revival to sweep our land. Pray for the restoration of a mighty country "one nation under God". Pray that we will again become "indivisible".

Whatever you do, PRAY.

Father, you continue to lay this upon my heart. I believe we are entering into a dark period in our country's history. And yet, we have chosen this path. We have turned from you and your promises to us. I cannot be change for everyone. But I can continue to write what you lay upon my heart without fear of being offensive knowing that my desire is to bless you and to do your will. And I will continue to come to you in prayer, in repentance, and seek your face, your will for my life. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

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