Tag Archives: repentance

National Day of Prayer 2016

In these particularly dark times, we, as a Nation and a People, face myriad existential threats. Our nation is under attack from within and without. The great American Experiment – that Shining City on a Hill which offered the American Dream and acted as a bulwark against tyranny – is vanishing before our eyes.

We all need God’s help!

National Day of Prayer 2016

But before we beseech God for His providence, we must seek individual and corporate renewal. We must look inward and upward, emulating the prophet Ezra (9:6), who said, “O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens.”

King David is a splendid, godly example for us. After his grievous sins of adultery and murder, David cried out to God and implored Him, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10).

None of us has clean hands. No, not one.

In 1863, responding to a request from the U.S. Senate, President Lincoln proclaimed “a day National prayer and humiliation.”

Lincoln perfectly set the stage, proclaiming (emphasis added), “And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”

Lincoln could have been describing this very present day, writing, “But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”

The prophet Daniel was of a similar mindset (chapter 9), praying, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments.”

Daniel, who was a righteous man, nonetheless identified with the sins of his people, saying, “O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You.”

Daniel continued, “Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him.”

Daniel’s heartfelt outpouring of repentance and request for mercy ended with these words: “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”

May we all implore our Father in heaven to cleanse and renew us; to hear, forgive, listen and act.

[This year’s National Day of Prayer is on May 5, 2016.]

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Life at the Cross!

An instrument of cruel death was used by God to bring life to all.

The Easter season celebrates the fulfillment of Jesus’ most beloved words in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Life at the Cross

Jesus fulfills those words at the cross. There, he paid the penalty for all of our sins (1 Pet. 3:18, Rom. 6:8, Heb. 9:28). And it is there where we find Him to receive the gift of everlasting life (Rom. 6:23). It is a free gift when we repent in faith.

Jesus actually predicted the manner of His death in the words preceding his great promise. In John 3:14-15, we read: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Notice that verses 15 and 16 end with almost identical words. Why? Because Jesus was drawing a parallel between a spectacular Old Testament event (which prefigured the salvation which would be provided at the cross) with Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

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As recorded in Numbers 21:4-9, the ancient Israelites rebelled against God in the wilderness. God punished them with “fiery serpents who bit them, killing many. After the people repented, God provided a means of salvation:

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.’ So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.”

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In similar fashion, whenever anyone who has sinned looks at Jesus  in repentance and faith, they shall live.

Speaking to the crowd, Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32). The next verse expressly states, “This He said, signifying by what death He would die.”

Just as Moses lifted up a bronze serpent on a pole to save all those who looked at it, God lifted up Jesus on a cross to save all those who put their faith in Him.

Let us all turn to Jesus, who beckons us with arms wide open, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28).

HOPE in Dark Times

As we remember the shock and terror of 9/11 – and consider the state of the world and of America today – let us not lose hope.

HopeInDarkTimes

As we look upon the world scene, chaos reigns in much of the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and Central and South America. Tyrannical regimes and terrorist states around the world are expanding their spheres of influence and employing their power for evil purposes.

In America, we are experiencing perils considered unthinkable just a decade ago, from unbridled immigration and race riots to Islamic jihad and domestic terrorism. The White House has become tyrannical and the judiciary is making laws. People who regard America as fundamentally flawed are in power and those who deny American exceptionalism have the loudest (and most heard) voices. The Church writ large is yielding to the world, endorsing homosexuality and promoting narcissism. Identity politics and political correctness have seized our political and cultural institutions.

Nevertheless, God is still on His throne. The supreme ruler of the universe – by whose providence America was founded and to whom America owes credit for her greatness – remains sovereign in the affairs of men. Our Father is faithful to His people and He hears their cries. His promises are sure.

Scripture is replete with assurances from our Creator and Redeemer. Psalm 147:11 declares, “the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”

In Romans 15:13, the apostle Paul offers a succinct prayer for God’s people: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Let us abound in hope.

You Were There

Let me share two songs with you (YouTube videos hyperlinked).

Avalon’s You Were There reminds us of God’s omnipresence. God is everywhere and has always been there in key moments in history. He was there, giving David the courage to slay Goliath “when the hardest fight seemed so out of reach.” He was there, showing Abraham that He “had bigger plans” and provided a sacrifice to substitute for Abraham’s son, Isaac.

And God was there, “during history’s darkest hour,” when He gave His only begotten Son, that we might have eternal life with Him (John 3:16).

God “alone [can] keep the universe from crumbling into dust.” And He can keep our lives from falling apart.

You Raise Me Up

Selah’s You Raise Me Up points to the One who lifts us up when we are weary and overwhelmed. God lifts us up to the mountaintops and empowers us to “walk on stormy seas.” Indeed, our strength derives from the One who rules in majesty: “I am strong, when I am on your shoulders. You raise me up to more than I can be.”

Perhaps not so surprisingly, it is in those moments that our hearts are “filled with wonder” and we get glimpses of eternity.

We now face challenges which can appear insurmountable. We know our own frailty and our own powerlessness in certain circumstances. It is in times like these that despair can fall upon us. But it is at those very times when we must most remember to whom we should turn.

We live in dark times, times where it seems that evil has been unleashed from hell, yet our hope resides in one person – Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Light of the World, entered our world to pierce the darkness, to conquer death, and to redeem humanity. Jesus conquered Satan and death. Nothing is impossible for Him.

Let us keep our eyes on Him as we struggle for what is right and true in this life.

National Day of Prayer 2015

As we watch the world being engulfed by flames and our nation wracked with countless crises, it is good to remember that our God is sovereign, He reigns supreme, and nothing escapes His notice.

Our Founders were men of God who trusted in His Providence,[1] and we would be fools not to do the same.

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In an interview a few years ago about the National Day of Prayer, scholar David Barton was asked why it is important to pray for America and her people. He answered:

“First, because God tells us to (1 Timothy 2:1-4), and it is important that we obey Him (John 14:15, Acts 5:32).”

“Second, because God answers prayer (Matthew 21:22, John 14:13-14).”

“Third, God honors prayer and turns His attention to those who pray. He takes note of people who pray and His ear remains open to them (such as in 2 Chronicles 7:14).”

“Fourth, prayer not only gives God a vehicle by which He can respond and answer prayers but prayer also changes those who pray, for praying helps us to be God-conscious, and when we are God-conscious as individuals, our behavior is different than if we rarely think about God (Romans 1:28).”

“I think that George Washington incorporated many of these elements when he explained why he called the nation’s first federal day of prayer. According to President Washington, “’It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.’”

Some Scriptures on Prayer

“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.” – Psalm 145:18-19

“The Lord is far from the wicked: but he hears the prayer of the righteous.” – Proverbs 15:29

“…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” – Ephesians 6:18

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;” – Colossians 4:2

“Pray without ceasing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.  Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.” – James 5:16-18

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

Some Quotes on Prayer

“Prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan.” – John Bunyan

“Prayer – secret, fervent, believing prayer – lies at the root of all personal godliness.” – Williams Carey

“Prayer is the acid test of devotion.” – Samuel Chadwick

“Prayer is an effort of will.” – Oswald Chambers

“Our prayer and God’s mercy are like two buckets in a well; while one ascends, the other descends.” – Arthur Hopkins

“The fewer the words the better prayer.” – Martin Luther

“Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue. Gods voice in response to mine is its most essential part.” – Andrew Murray

“Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.” – Corrie Ten Boom

Endnotes:

[1]               See “CPAC: America’s Christian Heritage Denied” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-8E.