April 8, 2020

Well, guys, how are ya all doing; how are you dealing with this forced “Sabbath” rest?

I do not know about you, but I am finding it a significant challenge to change my ways! This isn’t easy, trying to exercise faith, when I want to “fix”. I have been both programed and rewarded by my parents, coaches and bosses, to be “full tilt” toward success in whatever endeavor I undertake.

Plus, it has been both materially rewarding and emotionally gratifying to cross the finish line of a “job”, successfully. I love winning and the success and the trophies it brings. Therefore it seems so wrong to sit, to “rest” and “wait” on anything – ooops – shhh – don’t tell anyone, this is our secret – even the Lord…

But wait I must. First He told me to (I spoke about that a couple of weeks ago; Psalm 46:10). Second, the Government said to. And third, every time I violate the “prohibition” I have been confounded by the environment and found on the losing end of an effort, which just produces both frustration and anger.

So here I am. It’s April 6th and the world is still shut down, BUT the windows of heaven are open!

Therefore, I want to continue our meditation on the highest privilege on earth; to commune with the Living, All Powerful, Sovereign Lord of the universe – in prayer and biblical meditation.

Indeed men, look up with me, do you see? Those windows are open. They are open to the prayers of the saints, as they rise silently but certainly to the One sitting on the Throne, Who’s appearance reflects the splendor of jasper and sardius, Who is arched by a rainbow and before Him, a sea of glass, like crystal, before which is a host in heaven proclaiming ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty’… Revelation 5

This is the One who invites our prayers, listens, cares and responds; according to His will. What a privilege to seek him in humble prayer.

It is to that very point, the issue of humble prayer; I want to address my thoughts today.

Last week I ended my devotional comments with these words…

…I invite you to join me, in humble prayer for our brethren in the church, and for all those whom God has yet to see come to Him in repentance and faith.

A few paragraphs ahead of that concluding “invitation” I referenced an important “revival “passage; 2 Chronicles 7:14, with these words…

Jeremiah never got to see a national revival – but he maintained a personal one; and it saved his life. His nation never “turned from their evil ways” (2 Chronicles 7:14). Instead he saw his country destroyed by a foreign adversary, her people die from starvation, war and disease.

The full text and context of that verse is as follows…

Then the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, 14 and 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, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.. Verses 12-14

You may ask, “Cote’, what is so darn important or so bad, that you feel the need to keep hammering this issue of prayer, especially humble prayer”. It’s simply this, men. Not just the country but the entire world, that “God so loved” is in trouble. Worst of all, God’s people are part of the problem.

And the problem is a lack of guilt; a godly sorrow.

There I said it. We are guilty of the same thing God’s first group of chosen people were – unfaithfulness. And to make matters worse than our faith forbears (the Jews) is that we are not just “chosen”, as they were, we are more blessed because of our faith in Jesus, we are called a “holy, royal, priesthood” AND the very “BODY OF CHRIST” – think of it! We are supposed to be HIM, here!

So, what kind of people should we be and what behavior should we display? Well, we’ve fallen short of our high calling. At least I have. Which is why I confessed, in the paragraphs above, my struggle with yielding to God. This I know, when I ignore God’s clear commands and operate in independence (or defiance) of Him, I lose – lose sight of the goal, lose the victory, lose my fellowship with Him; lose joy, peace and hope.

And I am concerned that as a body of believers, we’ve operated in independence, even defiance of God’s clear commands and directives, that He must no use the most severe of calamities to finally get our attentions… and He must. His character, promises and warnings demand it. Because we’ve sought our own avenues of success and satisfaction, far from His “way, truth and life” an insipid result has occurred (without even realizing it); we’ve become idolaters and adulterers. We did the same thing our faith forefathers, the Jews did – we’ve sought the worlds enticements, offerings and ideologies for life, rather than His. And it has broken God’s heart.

Think not? Then consider this. First a dictionary definition, Then Google’s commentary – which is “right on”!

i·dol·a·try /īˈdälətrē/noun.

#1. idol worship, idolatrism, fetishism, icon worship, paganism, ungodliness. the worship of idols
#2. extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone.

EX:”we must not allow our idolatry of art to obscure issues of political significance”

Google: Modern day idolatry is alive and well. Anything that you love, treasure, prioritize, identify with, or look to for need fulfillment outside of God, can be acting as an idol in your heart and life.

And that is adulterous – switching affections and commitments from the one you’re betrothed to, for another; for an outsider.

Now here is the important point. I want you to hear from me – God isn’t judging the world right now; not yet. God sent Jesus to save the world but the world’s rejection of Jesus solidifies its judgment, but its actualization comes later (RV 20:11-15). Honest, Jesus even said so.

For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him…He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:17, 18)

If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world…He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. (John 12:47)

No, God’s isn’t judging the world, yet, He is judging us, first – just as He promised and Peter recorded…

 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? 19 Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a

Why? Because He wants our attention, our hearts, that is why. But instead, through our idolatry and indifference, we have broken His heart. – – – – – Go ahead and reflect on that. We, his bride, have broken His everlasting loving heart. We’ve been unfaithful and hurt Him. I know, because He said so before and it’s echoing in my heart right now…

I will leave a remnant, for you will have those who escaped the sword among the nations when you are scattered among the countries. Then those of you who escape will remember Me among the nations to which they will be carried captive, how I have been hurt by their adulterous hearts which turned away from Me, and by their eyes which played the harlot after their idols; and they will loathe themselves in their own sight for the evils which they have committed, for all their abominations. 10 Then they will know that I am the Lord; I have not said in vain that I would inflict this disaster on them.” Ezekiel 6:8-10

Let me wrap this up, this way. If you have any sense of conviction that this forced Sabbath, this world wide lockdown has anything to do with God’s will, then I ask you to consider if that “will” is because we, believers, have abandoned Him, “our first love”, turning to flirt and cavort with the ways of the world – various forms of idolatry, various degrees of indifference???

“…and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.” Exodus 32:6

If any of that resonates with you, then I have good, but HARD news. We need to seek Him just as He told Solomon, now how we want to. We need to seek him not only with prayer but with a new attitude of contrition as we pray. God calls this, calls us to “humble themselves”. He isn’t listening to shallow, uninspired prayer, as He sits on His throne. He is listening to the passionate plea of those who recognize their severe need, while rejecting and renouncing their sin. There is a “sorrow that leads to repentance”, Paul says (2 Corinthians 7:10), a proper guilt born from the conviction, of the Holy Spirit. Do we have that?

…when He (The Helper – The Holy Spirit) comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; John 16:8

NEWS FLASH: The world IS NOT going to be saved, so all this bravado and bluster, this PRIDE, that says we can overcome, is just more idolatry. Its man focused, with maybe a weak prayer sprinkled over the boast. The motto “we are stronger together” is a lie, if the “together” excludes God and His Holy will. If this “togetherness” isn’t bowing humbly at The Throne of the Almighty, then it’s no prayer at all, but a mantra; a false hope!

No the solution is still, revival – of God’s people. We need to see our sin, confess them, and lay before God our humble petition of “help me, Lord. I don’t deserve it but I plead your mercy to heal my sinful heart and make it wholly yours again. I know you love me and now, surrendered to you, I say again, as your bride, I do love you too. Father, please turn your anger away, forgive me, heal the land, for you are our only HOPE. I pray in Jesus name”.

This is a “Hard Hope”, but it’s our only Hope!