2 Chronicles 7:14, “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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (NIV)
Solomon’s temple was finally complete. The work of 70,000 laborers, 80,000 stone cutters, and 3,600 foremen—finished. Pure gold covered parts of the interior. Precious inlaid stones sparkled. The Ark of the Covenant inhabited the Holy of Holies. Only the presence of God was missing. So Solomon prays, “…Arise, O LORD God, to Your resting place…” (2 Chronicles 6:41 NKJV). And how did God respond? “When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.” (2 Chronicles 7:1 NKJV). The people fell on their faces declaring, “…For He is good, For His mercy endures forever.” (2 Chronicles 7:3 NKJV). Then, after 15 days of celebration Solomon retreated to his palace.
BUT GOD WASN’T FINISHED SPEAKING!
God knows our tendency to forget His blessings and go our own way. And often times we get so caught up in what God did that we act as though He can’t and won’t do anything else. But God had so much more in store! But in order for Him to release it, there were some conditions that had to be met. And these conditions still remain today. And that word “Condition” is defined as “to set prior requirements on (something) BEFORE it can occur.” Its Latin Origin “Condicion” which means “Agreement”, comes from its root “Condicere” which means “To Agree Upon.” In other words, God was ready to do some great things for His people, HOWEVER, they had to agree with Him on the set requirements He put in place BEFORE they could attain the greater blessings! And what was His Set Requirements?
1.. “If MY PEOPLE, who are called by MY NAME.” – We must turn from Self-Promotion to God-Promotion. God makes it clear from the start, you are “…MY PEOPLE…” and you are called by “…MY NAME.” However, somehow we’ve managed to high-jack God’s Church From Him! We’ve made all the programs, protocols, banquets, anniversaries, services, and the like about US…NOT HIM! But the 2 very important requirements for us to always remember is that it’s not about us, nor is it about our names! The Bible makes it clear: “If you look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-12 MSG) And that’s the hard pill to swallow that the church keeps choking on: IT’S NOT ABOUT US OR OUR NAME! The first thing we need to get back to is FOCUS! And not on US, but on HIM!
2.. “Will HUMBLE THEMSELVES and pray.” – We must turn from Self-Reliance to God-Reliance. I love the fact that Humility comes BEFORE Prayer! In fact, I believe we would pray much differently, and effectively if we entered prayer in Humility first! Unfortunately, however, as a church, we’ve become very pompous, entitled, prideful, egotistical, and arrogant. We have 5-layer embroidered robes, rings the size of our fists, crosses bigger than the one Jesus hung on, and pulpit chairs that look like they belong in the throne room of God. Jesus had an inner circle of 3, yet we have an entourage of 30. Our hidden agenda and personal itinerary (masked as our motto and vision) is engraved on the building, our picture is in the vestibule, our names are always called, applauded and receive standing ovations that God doesn’t even get on Communion Sunday when it is His very blood and body in which we partake of that saved our lives. When did the church lose her humility? The Bible says: “Living as becomes you] with complete lowliness of mind (HUMILITY) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another.” (Ephesians 4:2 AMP); “Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of HUMILITY (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves].” (Philippians 2:3 AMP); “…What matters is not your outer appearance – the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes – but your inner disposition. Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in…” (1 Peter 3:1-6 MSG). Church, before we get back to Prayer, let us first get back to Humility!
3.. “And seek MY FACE.” – We must turn from Self-Direction to God-Direction. Which makes me wonder, when exactly did we start to treat God like a genie in a bottle? We like to rub Him with phony praise, and eloquent prayers so He pops out the bottle and performs just for us. But when did we get so caught up in His Hand that we forgot about His Face, in the first place? The Bible says: “The Lord bless you and watch, guard, and keep you; The Lord make His FACE to shine upon and enlighten you and be gracious (kind, merciful, and giving favor) to you; The Lord lift up His [approving] COUNTENANCE upon you and give you peace (tranquility of heart and life continually)” (Numbers 6:24-26 AMP). The Message Bible says it like this: “God bless you and keep you, God smile on you and gift you, God look you full in the FACE and make you prosper.” (MSG). I’m amazed that this blessing speaks of the Lords FACE: “…shining…enlightening…being gracious, kind, merciful, favorable…approving countenance…peace…tranquility…smiling…gifting…and prosperity…” and all of it focuses on HIS FACE…NOT HIS HAND, yet His Children only seek…His Hand! Before you enter prayer with your long to-do-list for God, all of the blessings you need bestowed, the miracles you need performed, the debts you need cancelled, the sickness you need healed, the monies you need deposited in your bank account within the next 15 minutes, how about you try instead to enter in prayer with Worship?! NOT entering in hoping that God makes it Worth Your While! No, just enter in with Worship. The word “Worship” is defined as “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity; great admiration or devotion.” Its Old English Origin literally means “worthiness or acknowledgement of worth.” But the BIBLE defines it better! Revelation 4:10, reads, “At the same time the twenty-four elders knelt down before the One sitting on the throne. And as they WORSHIPED the One Who lives forever, they placed their crowns in front of the throne…” (CEV). That word “Worship” is “Proskuneo” (pros-koo-neh-oh) and it’s from the words “Pros” meaning “Toward” and “Kuneo” meaning “To Kiss.” And unlike the Pope, the Lord has not asked us to kiss the ring on his hand…but to kiss His Face…IN WORSHIP! Our worship is how we show the value of the Lords worth to us! Listen, while so many are waiting for the Lord to hand them Prosperity from His Hand, the Blessing of Numbers 6 informs us that Prosperity comes from His Face! Remember: Seek HIS FACE!
4.. “And TURN from their wicked ways.” We must turn from Self-Indulgence to Self-Examination. I love the word “Turn” because it’s defined as “to move into a different position, especially so as to face or move in the opposite direction.” And that word “Opposite” has its Latin Origin “Oppositus”, from the root “Opponere”, and means “To Be Set Against.” Now, regardless to popular belief, saying you’ve turned from the old to the new, and actually showing evidence of it are two totally different things! Because to “Turn” requires Action! It’s to move into a different position and face the direct opposite direction and to set yourself against, or to become an enemy of your former standing. In essence, if you were used to going South, you now go North, if you were used to going West, you now go East! When you become a new creature, you don’t return to your old crap! You turn, you change direction! The Bible says: “Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 AMP); “We were buried therefore with Him by the baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious [power] of the Father, so we too might [habitually] live and behave in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4 AMP); “Bring forth fruit that is consistent with repentance [let your lives prove your change of heart.” (Matthew 3:8 AMP). Church, we’ve talked about changing and turning long enough, now is the time to actually do it! Why? Because the Bible warns: “So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17 AMP); “But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth].” (James 1:22 AMP). In a nutshell: Today is your day to make a Turn for the better!
And after all of that what happens next? Well, the Bible says: “THEN”!
“…THEN will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land!” I love the word “Then” because it’s defined as “After This or After That“! So after WE, THE CHURCH, fulfill the pre-conditions of God……”THEN” Happens!
People of God, the turn-around this country needs, is dependent on if and when WE make the decision to turn back to God! The change doesn’t happen when unbelievers turn to God, but GOD said, “IF MY PEOPLE…CALLED BY MY NAME.” Birthing a significant, effective, change for the better has always begun with GOD’S PEOPLE.
“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. THEN there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4 NKJV) And things were NEVER the same!
If there is going to be a National turn around, it has to begin with “MY PEOPLE…CALLED BY MY NAME.”
And when you look at the 3-fold blessing that God will bestow it makes you wonder, what are we waiting for?!
- “…THEN will I hear from heaven…”;
- “…and will forgive their sin…”;
- “… and will heal their land!”
And all we have to do, as God’s people, called by His name, is to obey the Set Requirements:
- Humble Ourselves;
- Seek His Face; and
- Turn From Our Wicked Ways…
‘THEN’…AFTER THAT…God Promises to Hear From Heaven; Forgive Sin and Heal the Land! I reiterate, CHURCH, what are we waiting for?
Other translations of the text read like this:
“If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” (AMP);
“if My people who are called by My name put away their pride and pray, and look for My face, and turn from their sinful ways, then I will hear from heaven. I will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (NLV);
“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” (NLT).
But I think the one I love most is this version: “If my own people will humbly pray and turn back to me and stop sinning, then I will answer them from heaven. I will forgive them and make their land fertile once again.” (CEV).
It amazes me that we often think of the “The World” and “Unbelievers” as the problem to why there’s sin, no forgiveness and no healing. But GOD says, “…IF MY OWN PEOPLE…TURN BACK TO ME AND STOP SINNING…”
CHURCH, HE’S TALKING TO US! THE WORLD AND UNBELIEVERS ARE NOT THE PROBLEM, WE ARE! IF WE DARE TO GET BACK TO GOD AND THE WAYS OF GODLINESS, AND STOP ABUSING GRACE WHILE WE CONTINUE TO SIN, GOD WILL HEAR, FORGIVE AND HEAL! AND THE ONLY THING HOLDING UP THE PROCESS IS A PRAYERLESS CHURCH! WE ARE HIS PEOPLE, WE ARE HIS CHILDREN, WE HAVE THE ADDITIONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR BEING SALT AND LIGHT AS WELL!
“You are the SALT of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste (its strength, its quality), how can its saltiness be restored? It is not good for anything any longer but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men. You are the LIGHT of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16 AMP).
We Have to Start Impacting the World, Instead of Letting the World Impart Into Us! Remember: Their Change Depends On Our Change! So Let’s Determine Today to Change and Get Back to Being a Nation of God’s People, Who PRAY! Why? Because…
“God appeared to Solomon that very night and said, “I ACCEPT YOUR PRAYER; yes, I have chosen this place as a temple for sacrifice, a house of worship. If I ever shut off the supply of rain from the skies or order the locusts to eat the crops or send a plague on my people, and my people, my God-defined people, respond by humbling themselves, PRAYING, seeking my presence, and turning their backs on their wicked lives, I’ll be there ready for you: I’ll listen from heaven, forgive their sins, and restore their land to health. From now on I’m alert day and night to the PRAYERS offered at this place. Believe me, I’ve chosen and sanctified this Temple that you have built: My Name is stamped on it forever; my eyes are on it and my heart in it always. As for you, if you live in my presence as your father David lived, pure in heart and action, living the life I’ve set out for you, attentively obedient to my guidance and judgments, then I’ll back your kingly rule over Israel—make it a sure thing on a sure foundation. The same covenant guarantee I gave to David your father I’m giving to you, namely, ‘You can count on always having a descendant on Israel’s throne.’” (7:12-18 MSG)
Isn’t it Absolutely Amazing the Things God Will Do, If Only His People Would Simply PRAY?
“Desperate and soul-stirring prayers result in answers. When God is sought in desperation, He responds.” (Jim Cymbala)
“I think Christians fail so often to get answers to their prayers because they do not wait long enough on God.” (E.M. Bounds)
“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the One who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” (Max Lucado)
“When you pray, your prayers are heard by the same God who answered Moses’ prayer for water in the desert; the God who gave Abraham and His barren wife a son; and the God who made the slave Joseph second in power only to Pharaoh. Nothing is impossible for God when you pray and believe for His answer to come.” (Francis Chan)
“We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense.” (Oswald Chambers)
“Prayer is not a ‘spare wheel’ that you pull out when in trouble, but it is a ‘steering wheel’ that directs the right path throughout.” (Author Unknown)
“Prayer: The most powerful weapon against trials. The most effective medicine against sickness. The most valuable gift to someone you love.” (Author Unknown)
“It’s not the body’s posture but the heart’s attitude that counts when we pray.” (Billy Graham)
“Sometimes the answer to prayer is not that it changes life, but that it changes you.” (James Dillet Freeman)
“Time spent in prayer is never wasted.” (Francis Fenelon)
“Prayer is simply a two-way conversation between you and God.” (Billy Graham)
“Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night.” (George Herbert)
“We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” (Oswald Chambers)
“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” (Martin Luther)
“Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God.” (Mother Teresa)
“Prayer is not just for times of trouble.” (Thomas S. Monson)
“Prayer is a shield to the soul.” (John Bunyan)
“The value of consistent prayer is not that He will hear us, but that we will hear Him.” (William McGill)
“The greatest tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer but unoffered prayer.” (F.B. Meyer)
“If the only prayer you ever say is ‘thank you’, that will be enough.” (Eckhart Tolle)
“Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.” (Corrie Ten Boom)
“The Word of God is the food by which prayer is nourished and made strong.” (E.M. Bounds)
“God doesn’t move in your life when you struggle, He moves when you pray.”(Author Unknown)
“The more praying there is in the world, the better the world will be.” (E.M. Bounds)
“Prayer is a strong wall and fortress of the church.” (Martin Luther)
“We can do nothing without prayer.” (E.M. Bounds)
“We cannot properly understand Scripture without prayer, and we cannot know how to pray without studying Scripture.” (Becka Goings)
“When you’ve scheduled a time to pray remember this: You have a real appointment with the King of the Universe.” (Author Unknown)
“Prayers outlive the lives of those who uttered them; outlive a generation, outlive an age, outlive a world.” (E.M. Bounds)
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