Humble, Pray, Seek and Turn

2 Chronicles 7:11-14 ESV

“Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king’s house. All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the Lord and in his own house he successfully accomplished. Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him:

“’I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name 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.’”

Today the house of the Lord is the body of Christ, comprised of all of us who have genuinely put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior. We are the temple of God. God dwells within us. We are the church. The church is not a building. It is not man-made – not the real church. We, the people, are the living stones of this spiritual building, with Christ Jesus as our chief cornerstone. He is the builder of this church, this house of God.

So, the place God has now chosen for himself as a house of sacrifice to our Lord is not a physical place. Thus, a church building is not God’s house. We do not enter into God’s presence when we walk inside a building. We are in God’s presence all the time, if the Holy Spirit of God lives within us, by God’s grace, through God-given faith in Jesus Christ. Thus, where we gather together is not holy ground. There is nothing sacred about a physical location. And, Jerusalem is no longer the “Holy City.” We are! (Gal. 4).

So, the place God has now chosen for himself as a house of sacrifice to our Lord is human hearts and lives. And, the sacrifice he has chosen for us is that we die with him to sin, that we be transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and that we now walk (live our lives) according to the Spirit of God, who is alive and at work within our hearts to conform us to the likeness of Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

But, this new life in Christ is not easy street. It isn’t that we are “saved” and then one day we get to go to heaven. It is a life of dying with Christ to sin that we might live to Christ and to his righteousness. It is a life of sacrifice, and it is a life of suffering, for we must die daily to sin. And, so our Lord brings or allows suffering to come into our lives to purify our hearts, to prune us, to discipline us, to make us holy, and to make us like Jesus.

And, if we are wandering away from him, and if we are not listening to him, but we are following after the ways of the flesh, instead, and if we are caught up in the ways of this world, then he may allow things to come into our lives to get our attention, and to lead us back to him. For, honestly, sometimes that is what it takes to turn hearts back to the Lord who have drifted away from their pure devotion to him (See Rev. 2-3, for example).

So, when these hard times come, which they will, then we, as the people of God, need to turn our hearts back to God. We need to repent of any known sins in our lives, turning away from them, and we need to turn to follow Jesus Christ with our lives, to walk in his ways and in obedience to his commands. Then, our Lord will heal us spiritually, and he will renew us and restore us to himself. But, don’t wait until the hard times come. Do it now!

2 Chronicles 7:15-18 ESV

“’Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time. And as for you, if you will walk before me as David your father walked, doing according to all that I have commanded you and keeping my statutes and my rules, then I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father, saying, “You shall not lack a man to rule Israel.”’”

If our prayers are not in line with God, and/or if our lives are not in line with God’s will for our lives, our prayers may be hindered. For, if we ask of God with selfish motives, that we may spend what we get on our own selfish pleasures, then we do not receive from God. And, husbands must live with their wives in an understanding way, showing honor to them, so that their prayers may not be hindered (Jas. 1:5-7; Jas. 4:3; 1 Pet. 3:7).

But, if we repent of our sins, and we turn to follow our Lord in obedience to his ways, then he will hear our prayers. And, if we ask of him according to his will, and if we abide in Christ, and his Words abide in us, and thus we bear much fruit for his eternal kingdom, then we can ask of him whatever we wish and it will be done to us, because we are asking according to the will and the desires of God (1 Jn. 5:14-15; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Jn. 15:1-11).

Also, the New Testament scriptures stress obedience to the Lord’s commands over and over again for us who are his followers. For, to love God is to obey him. If we do not obey him, we do not love him, and we do not know him. We must walk according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh, too, if we want to have eternal life with God (Jn. 8:51; Jn. 14:23-24; Rom. 6:16; Heb. 5:9; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; 1 Jn. 3:24; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17).

2 Chronicles 7:19-22 ESV

“’But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will pluck you up from my land that I have given you, and this house that I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples.’”

“’And at this house, which was exalted, everyone passing by will be astonished and say, “Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?” Then they will say, “Because they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore, he has brought all this disaster on them.”’”

Revelation 2 to 3 spells this out for the church today. Five out of seven of the churches addressed in these passages had things against them that would lead the Lord to bring judgment on them if they did not repent. And, I find it particularly interesting that the book of Revelation was and still is Jesus’ message to his church. It is written to the church, not to the world.

And, beginning in these two chapters we have declarations of both good works and wrongdoing on the part of these congregations, which I believe represent aspects of the church, as a whole, for all time. And, it ends with the letter to the Laodicean church, which is a fair description of America’s church, overall, today, though not of every person or every congregation.

And, following these letters to the church, taken from this whole letter of Revelation to the Lord’s church, given to us by Jesus Christ, is a description of the judgments of God, which are against not just the world, but which are against his people, too (Rev. 2-3). And, through these judgments, God purifies his church, the saints of God, to make them ready to meet him.

And, I believe we are already facing some of these judgments in the world, and here in America, too, and for the same reasons God said he was going to send judgments on his church which was not living in accord to his will and ways, but which was wandering from him, and which was adopting the ways of the flesh and of the world.

And, I believe, too, that the world is going to look on in amazement, and they are going to see these judgments of God against his fallen people, and it is indeed because his church abandoned their Lord, and they laid hold of other gods and worshiped them and served them. This definitely describes the church in the USA, overall, but again not of every person or of every congregation.

But, it is my hope, and I believe the scriptures teach this, that through judgment God is going to revive his people, and he is going to bring them back to himself, and that he will purify them and get them ready for their wedding day with him (Rev. 19:6-8; Heb. 12:3-11; Rev. 2-3).

There’s a Stirring

By Annie Herring

There’s a stirring deep within me
Could it be my time has come
When I’ll see my gracious savior face to face when all is done
Is that his voice I am hearing?
‘Come away, my precious one’
Is he calling me?

I will rise up, rise up
And bow down
And lay my crown
At his wounded feet

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