Friday 26 June 2020

 2 Chronicles 7 v 14

For most of this year Christians have not been able to meet for worship. A lot of Ministers have shown much ingenuity by using technology to its fullness, so being able to maintain however minimal communication.  In doing so, they have touched many more than imagined, and people who previously had no contact and would not have gone near the Church, have now shown an interest. It is therefore of paramount importance when we resume next month, as we have been allowed to meet again, to present a united message based on the teaching of the Apostles as passed down by our Lord Himself, and for God’s sake (literally) stop all the liberal nonsense that has poisoned the true gospel.

A most relevant message at this time would be, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles Chapter 7 14,)

 Here is a God given chance for there to be a renewal where the lost will be found, and the weak would be made strong.  Here is God promising us He will respond if we will answer and fulfil His invitation.  This is such a profound offer we need to consider carefully piece by piece.                      

In 960BC Israel was in moral and spiritual decline with people failing to worship God.  Solomon pleaded with God to forgive the nation of their sins, and God answered that if they humbled themselves, prayed, sought His face and turned from their wicked ways He would heal their land.

As we look and consider life in this country at the present time, it must surely give to all intelligent people grave cause for concern, for we see a nation in moral and spiritual decline where the barriers of decency have been swept away, so that we are left without restraint.  All around us storm clouds are falling on a world so different from what many of us knew.

We have all witnessed the traditional foundations of law and order, social cohesion, morality based on biblical values and teaching, Christian education being given in schools, politicians creating legislation based on Christian principles. Much of those foundations have been destroyed to such an extent that there are now no moral absolutes, all is relative and one does one’s own thing. We are living in an evil world as a casual look at the newspapers point out each day.

What hope does the Bible give us?

God said, ‘if my people who are called by my name’.
This verse is directed to particular people. God’s people are those who worship Him, who accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour, who profess Christ and own up to doing so.  They are people who regularly attend Church to worship Him week by week, not only those who have a nodding acquaintance with Him at Christmas time. Remember, Jesus said ‘I am the only way to God, NO one comes to the Father except through me’

In all our Churches in this country this morning there will be people like you who devotedly come week by week to join in worship. After the service most will return home and probably have little to do with the Church until the following Sunday.  Others may attend a midweek meeting, but even fewer will follow with great interest deeper matters affecting the Church at large.

The majority of people will tell you they believe in God, but it is a tenuous belief which has no credibility. No matter what kind of life a person has led, at the funeral service it is firmly believed the person is going to heaven. God is seen as a benevolent old man, always ready to unconditionally receive us and answer all we ask for.

When you go to visit another country, you need a passport to prove your worthiness as a law abiding person, a health certificate to show you are a fit person, and a booking to confirm a reservation.  In the minds of most people you have no need to prove anything about yourself, God would never send anyone to hell, the only alternative to heaven, and that is right, God never would consign anyone to hell, He lets the person make the choice for him(her)self here on earth. Jesus said to unworthy people, ‘get away from me I never knew you. get away from me you who broke God’s laws’

I hear people expressing regret at falling attendance, which I share, due mainly to illness preventing attendance, dying or frustration.  I take services in quite a number of Churches of mixed denomination, and particularly notice difference from previous visits. The sad point is we are just not attracting the younger generation, or even men and women less than 50 years of age, especially in the case of the Church of England from the middle class of society. This is understandable when you hear some of the preaching.

‘if they will humble themselves’.
Both as a Church and individually there is need for repentance.  As a Church we begin by humbling ourselves by casting ourselves on the mercy of God, and asking for His forgiveness for failing to stand out fully for righteousness.

As individuals, not being proud.  Satan said, ‘I will exalt my throne above God’, and some people want to do the same.  They become obsessed by their own importance and if not given due acknowledgement and granted their way, become disruptive.

All Christians should be pleased to be known as God’s people, whereas there is often a reluctance to identify oneself as a Christian.  Sadly, this is more the case with men who unnecessarily feel embarrassed at doing so.
Ministers in the Church must accept their first duty is to teach God’s Word, as it is written in Scripture, not as they might like it to be written. It is a sad fact that there are those in ministry whose priority is to further their own careers and are more interested in their ‘c.v’ than spreading the gospel, so subscribe to a neutral line.

if my people pray’
Every revival is preceded by prayer. Nehemiah when the Jews returned to their homeland; In Acts when the people listened to the Apostles; the 1904 Welsh revival with Evan Roberts; John Wesley in England; Campbell Morgan in Scotland; Mary Queen of Scots trembled at the preaching of John Knox; the Billy Graham Crusades

Jesus told us to pray without ceasing and gave examples of desperate prayer.  Jesus told us to keep on praying, stating ‘ask, and you will receive.’  
Whilst there are many tasks the Church has to undertake and requires people to help, age or infirmity often prevents some willing folk, but all can serve God by praying for His Church. When Israel was at war and Moses and Aaron were too old to fight, they stood alongside and prayed, and Israel were successful.

The story is told of two ladies who prayed for many months for a revival to come to their town, and eventually a Billy Graham Crusade was held close by causing many to find their Saviour.

‘If my people will seek my face’.
God wants us to turn to Him to answer our needs and create a relationship with Him.  We have to realise we have to be dependent on Him for all things, not seeking intellectual answers or our own solutions.

Too often we find God’s help is the last we seek. We have to learn to seek His will in all situations. God’s people accept that life’s problems can only be solved by divine intervention.

if my people will turn from their wicked ways’
God expects us to put Him first in our lives, but we can relegate Him.  First there is a slipping away from attending Church, followed by a lack of Bible reading.

God says there are certain things I don’t want you to do. God says certain behaviour is sinful, but some disagree and try to justify disobeying by saying times have changed and society accepts such behaviour. Things which were once unacceptable now become acceptable.  We turn to worldly things and become uninterested in Christian teaching. The conscience which once gave warning doesn’t seem to work anymore. There is a need to root out ways which are unworthy of us as Christians

The Church has failed to speak out on moral issues.  Too often the attitude seems to be ‘we can’t beat them so let us join them’ and we compromise.  The Church must speak out in condemnation against what passes for acceptable behaviour and is contrary to that laid out in the Bible.

The Church should be such a prominent voice in society that it can influence, and stop politicians from promoting behaviour expressly forbidden in Scripture.  It should be the leader in moral issues, not just another (reluctant)follower.

This apprehension was proved well founded when I read of the Church upholding and approving what is unequivocally described as sinful in the Bible. It was with a mixture of alarm, despair, astonishment and frankly disgust, that I read of the then Archbishop of York calling for Synod to reject a motion which stated there was ‘a need for the Bible to inform our understanding of the common good’; in other words rejecting the authority of the Bible. There was also the case of Bishops, the senior Officers of the Church, supporting motions which were in direct contradiction of the Bible’s teaching; in other words what God has called us to follow.
Then we had the Archbishop of York stated he could not sleep at night when he thought of therapy being offered to people who wanted to change from their homosexuality, even though it was their decision to do so. He didn’t seem to be disturbed when they went in the opposite direction.

Now we have an Archbishop of York who is reported to have told a Vicar if he wanted to follow the biblical teaching on sexuality, there was no place for him in the Church.

If we cannot get clergy believing, supporting and living according to the Bible, we cannot expect God to bless and add to the Church. Remember, the Bible states it is God who builds up the Church  It is frustrating to hear senior clerics from Archbishop downwards calling for the abandonment of Scripture to avoid upsetting people who have different views. In the Consecration of Bishops and the Ordination of Clergy we all vow to faithfully teach only what is in Scripture and will banish all false doctrine.

Our nation is in the rebellious state it is in because the Bible has lost its influence. Whereas it was taught in schools and colleges, it is now seen as hate literature by the State’s examiners who want to eradicate any biblical term, and would rather have taught explicit sexual education, which is NOT an exaggeration. Even Church Sunday schools come under scrutiny. We have gone farther away from God's Word than we should ever have done.
The nation will get back to the Bible when the Church does so and repents for tossing aside the Bible, also stops being selective in what it preaches.
 This nation has fallen into great evil, and much of the blame for this is that the Church stopped setting standards and values of Scripture, allowing the nation to become disconnected from the Word of God. I am asked what does the Church believe, and if truthful I have to say I don’t know, but I do know what it should believe.
When the Church allowed a Conservative government, (in name only) under David Cameron to begin introducing legislation, which prior to his election falsely claimed he would not do, in sharp contrast to the teaching of the Bible, and which was exacerbated by making legislation which virtually stopped people from protesting for fear of being accused of hate crimes, the slide began. We owed it to the nation to be opposed in the strongest terms, but there was neither the will nor courage, only complete silence
A Court encouraged by such legislation, actually ruled that verses from the Bible, the very Word of God, could be considered to have contravened the law. The persons quoting were heavily fined, but fortunately common sense was shown by an Appeals Court. The Church never uttered a word in protest, especially when women and young girls were placed in danger because of it.
The answer to the crisis of our times is submission to the Word of God. We need to repent and go back and retake God's Word as our objective, which we have so hastily and wantonly cast aside

I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
God has given a promise so all of us need to have a passion for revival and we are poor Christians if we do not feel concern for the Church in this nation. 

God's warning to the nation of Israel is also God's warning to His church today.  - He is speaking not to the nation as a whole, but to the people of God.

Politicians, academics, social workers have all failed society miserably causing a mindset that sees virtually anything is permissible as long as it leads to a peaceful political life, whereas ordinary people know there is so much wrong.  I do not intend to go into those things; they have all been spelled out in other postings on this blog.

Revival only begins with God’s people, but with the power of God becomes so strong it soon affects society.  We know God answers prayer and the promise of this verse is that if we do the things God has asked of us, He will surely respond.

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