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Saturday, June 27, 2015

This past week...a prayerful response....

The events of the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage this past week has not only made the news, but spurred a flurry of commentary. Many Christian leaders have shared some insight into a biblical response and given the amount of reactionary rhetoric that has also filled the headlines, I pray that more deep earnest thought will be shared.

For the past several decades the classic worldview that had been previous assumed to be held in the United States was in transition toward the relativity of postmodernism: that is among other things, that truth is relative and there are no moral absolutes. What we are experiencing now are the first fruits of the implications of such a worldview in operation. These certainly won’t be the last and as the tentacles of sin reach out to test their new found strength, one can be certain that those who hold to biblical standards will be in their sights.

I have joined many other in grieving these past few days, and would like to share my heart. To do so, I would first like to share what I read from the hand of Dr. James Taylor, Senior Pastor at Christ’s Church of Norman, Oklahoma, and then some passages of Scripture that have become even more meaning in recent days. I would end with a prayer of confession for believers. Prayerfully follow this to the end, and I would ask that you join me in prayer. –Thank you. My faith and confidence in not in human governments, but in God Almighty who is still in control and Ruler over all. Regardless what we may face in the future, we can trust His love, mercy, and grace.

Most people know the story of Jonah: he was a prophet whom God told to go to Nineveh and preach a message of repentance. Nineveh was the capitol of Assyria which was located 550 miles Northeast of Israel. But Jonah decides he would go to Tarshish, which was 2,500 miles to the Northwest. Jonah is a renegade preacher who does not want to do what God called him to do. In his rebellion, he is tossed overboard of a ship and is swallowed by a big fish. He was there three days and three nights and was regurgitated on to dry land.

After Jonah goes on the first submarine ride in history, he agrees to do what God asked him to do. Jonah goes to Nineveh and preaches to the city, and in one day the entire city repents. Jonah 3:5-9 reads:

“Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, ‘In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flocks taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. 8’ But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. ‘Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.’”

Notice this about the people of Nineveh. Conversion changed the political environment of Nineveh. It didn’t happen because they made better laws, hired more policemen, or provided more arms for the people to reduce the violence. The violence was removed because the people met a living God. The thing that changes people and brings about peace to an environment is when men repent before a living God. Nineveh still had the same King, the same Congress, the same Supreme Court, and the same city Council. The difference now was there was a heart transformation, and that translated into actions and behavior. That is the only thing that will help America change. When the people of America, leaders of America, and Supreme Court Justices of America encounter the Living God who has the power to forgive, and to transform our hearts, then we will see a new America. It doesn’t matter who is in public office; it matters if their hearts are committed to the Living God. {Dr. James Taylor, Senior Pastor at Christ’s Church of Norman 

Now let’s look at a common thread of the following passages from Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Isaiah.  I believe they are key in part to a biblical response to recent events.

Daniel 9:4-19 New International Version (NIV)
4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.

7 “Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. 8 We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. 9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you. ... 15 “Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. 16 Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.

17 “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”

Ezra 9:10-15 New International Version (NIV)
10 “But now, our God, what can we say after this? For we have forsaken the commands 11 you gave through your servants the prophets when you said: ‘The land you are entering to possess is a land polluted by the corruption of its peoples. By their detestable practices they have filled it with their impurity from one end to the other. 12 Therefore, do not give your daughters in marriage to their sons or take their daughters for your sons. Do not seek a treaty of friendship with them at any time, that you may be strong and eat the good things of the land and leave it to your children as an everlasting inheritance.’

13 “What has happened to us is a result of our evil deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins deserved and have given us a remnant like this. 14 Shall we then break your commands again and intermarry with the peoples who commit such detestable practices? Would you not be angry enough with us to destroy us, leaving us no remnant or survivor? 15 Lord, the God of Israel, you are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence.”

Nehemiah 1:5-9 New International Version (NIV)
5 Then I said: “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.

8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’

Isaiah 6:3- International Version (NIV)
3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;  the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

After all this week I have wanted to scream and condemn for the lack of moral leadership, and as citizens of this nation we do have a obligation to be responsible members of the society as long as it does not conflict with the laws of God. However, God brought back to my heart and mind the passages I have just shared. I have come to the conclusion that my first response must be to fall on my face before God in prayer. So that is what I am doing now. I would invite all that would to join me:

Oh Loving Heavenly Father, Creator and Lord, You in Your love and mercy allowed us to have the forgiveness of sin and to know You through the death and resurrection of Your Holy Son, Jesus; oh God, please hear the confession of your servant. We, Your people, Your church, the Bride of Christ has sinned. 
  We have failed to seek You with our whole hearts. 
  Our hearts have sought after positions and possessions more than You. 
  Spiritual leadership in our churches have fallen to moral failure. 
   We have broken the covenant to keep our eyes pure and our conversation edifying. 
   We have forgotten from how lost we were. 
   We have used the resources You provided to reach a lost world and lavished on that which will not last. 
   We have failed to be the salt and light that You called us to be. 
   We are not worthy of Your love, Your mercy, Your grace, and Your forgiveness. 
   You have not given us what we deserve.  But even so, O Righteous and Loving Lord, please forgive our sin. Restore Your church, Oh God, to Your purpose and plan. Help us, Oh God, in these days as persecution increases to be filled with Your Spirit, power and love. Father, we claim the promise of your Word that “ 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 I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” So, Father, we humble ourselves and pray and seek Your face and turn from our wicked ways. Please, God, heal our land for Your honor and glory.

In the Name of Jesus,


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