If My People
Heal Our LandPastor Jerry Gillis - September 11, 2016
Before we look at the ills of our land, we need to look at the ills of our heart.
Community Group Study Notes
- Why is it easier for us to identify the ills of our land than it is to confess the ills of our own hearts? Why do we avoid or downplay the latter?
- Read Matthew 7:3-5. What “planks” has God brought to your mind that you need to remove? How can we as a group help one another with these things?
- Close your group time in prayer, asking God to heal our the ills of our hearts as His people.
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. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Our nation is in turmoil. We know our affliction. Great is our sorrow. Disasters, poverty, horrific violence, fear of strangers igniting hatred, obsession with material wealth, fellow humans' bodies sold like property, brothers and sisters enslaved by addiction. We are broken and bleeding. Our land is hurting. Hear us, Lord, and when You hear, forgive. We cry out together: Heal Our Land.
So it's not lost on any of us that fifteen years ago on September 11th, 2001, was one of the worst moments that we have experienced in our nation's history. The sad and evil acts of terrorism and the tragic loss of so many lives who didn't expect for their lives to be taken away so quickly and so ruthlessly on that day.
You know, all of us can probably remember where we were, for those of us who were around to see that. But it's interesting because now in looking back on that time, as students went back to school this past week, the generation of students that just now started high school as high school freshmen will be the first full generation of students that will learn about September 11th, 2001 purely as history. Because they were not born during that time. It almost seems like that's impossible, right, when we look back, for many of us it seems it was really recent. But it wasn't, it was fifteen years ago.
I remember the attack occurred on a Tuesday. I was in a staff meeting at the church I was serving in Florida, not realizing that only a handful of months later I would be here in Buffalo serving at the Chapel. But I remember after the occurrence of this event on that Tuesday, that churches during the course of that week started opening their facilities up for prayer and those types of things, if anybody felt the need to come in and to be able to just pray and to seek God during that time.
And then I also recall that the following Sunday after that Tuesday of the attacks was one of the largest attended Sunday mornings in America in the modern kind of era. People from all over the place were attending gospel preaching churches, evangelical churches during that time frame because they were scared out of their minds. They were wondering what's happening, what's going on in our world, how could something like this be?
And then there were a lot of churches and a lot of religious leaders that were calling our attention to the Scripture itself and many of them, kind of in our national conversation were somewhat focused on one verse, and it was in 2 Chronicles chapter 7 verse number 14 and you probably know the verse. It says this: 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.
Soon after our national conversation was happening along these lines and there was a spiritual conversation going on in our nation as well, soon when the proceeding weeks, the following weeks things started to settle back down a little bit. It was a new normal for sure, we had kind of reset things in our nation because things would never be the same. But people started attending church less and less and less, and getting back to the normal rhythm of their lives, and thinking I guess for those few moments that the crisis had been averted and now was over and now we can move on with just doing what we normally did. So things just reset back to normal, nominal Christianity in western culture.
Now here we are fifteen years later, and we've seen terror that is happening all over the world, not just in the United States. We've seen it in London, and in Brussels and in Paris and in so many other places that we could name, Israel's been facing it for decades and decades. We've been seeing this all over the world and we've even seen it happening in our nation in places like San Bernardino and other places as well.
But inside of our nation there are other things going on that are not necessarily a threat from the outside like the terrorist activity of September 11th, but are internal tensions and internal conflicts that are going on in the nation that we now live in. We're seeing the pains of struggle where there is such a deep and such a broad chasm of trust in government, in media, in institutions, in civil servants and in our own neighborhoods.
This is what we're experiencing now in the context of the United States and as a result there are new conversations that are happening that probably should have happened a long time ago or maybe were started and we didn't want to deal with the uncomfortable reality of all those kinds of conversations. Conversations around race, conversations around privilege, conversations around rights to protest, conversations around systemic injustice, conversations about the direction of our nation. And we're losing some civility in our dialogue as a nation. The conversation is becoming less and less civil and more and more angry. And now in this kind of divided country where there is so much tension, now we're inflaming that by the rhetoric of a presidential election in a divided country. And it makes for us to live in a very interesting time. I haven't seen the rhetoric and the divisiveness so profound in my forty-six years. Some of you may have seen things earlier, this isn't the only time our nation has experienced these types of things. But it's significant, and everybody's aware of it and everybody can feel some of those things.
So what I want to do over the next series of weeks is I want to actually turn our attention back to a passage that our nation was paying attention to fifteen years ago that we need to pay attention to today. But in so doing, when I turn us back to 2 Chronicles chapter number 7, I want to do so by looking at how we can take some of those principles and maybe apply them to the situation that we're in right now, but I want to do so with some caveats.
You see, we're going to have and take from this passage of Scripture a number of principles that the New Testament actually reaffirms, that we can look at and embrace and learn to live in. But I also want to offer up some correctives in the way maybe that we view this passage of Scripture, particularly verse number 14. And I'm going to do some of that today.
But I also want a level set for us at the beginning of a series where we're going to spend a number of weeks dealing with this idea of heal our land. I want to spend this moment here just kind of level-setting some expectations. Just so you understand, I am probably going to talk about politics a whole lot less than some of you wish I was. Some of you live for that. I don't live for that. For others of you, I'm going to actually hit on some themes politically that you wished I would say a lot less about. So basically what I'm saying is, the likelihood is that I'll offend everyone. That I'll be an equal-opportunity offender, and in our culture that just looks to be offended all the time, I'm going to satisfy your needs. You may not be clapping later. Just hold your applause.
I'm also just as a level of expectation, I'm probably also not going to look anything like your favorite political news channel's talking head of choice. I'm not going to just spout some company lines from particular talking points that regardless of whether you watch MSNBC or FOX or whatever your choice is, wherever you get your news, from wherever it might be, I'm not just going to be spilling all of that on you. I'm also not going to be telling you who to vote for, and I'm also not going to be developing conspiracy theories around anyone, nor am I going to be talking in apocalyptic tones about if so and so wins the White House we're all going to hell in a hand-basket. No one ever goes to heaven in a hand-basket, by the way. I can't figure out why nobody's ever said that. The reason that I'm not going to be talking in those terms is because I've got too much confidence in the sovereignty of God to be so childish. Now it matters, because anything that happens in our country and those that are in leadership and those kinds of things that effects people and all of those kinds of things and they matter. And we'll get into some of that maybe at a little bit later time.
But in 2 Chronicles where we're going to be today, particularly in chapter 7, what I want us to do is understand a little bit of the context of what's going on and I want you to understand that this is an introductory message to a full series that I'm doing. I'm setting kind of the level here in this message to help us as we move forward.
So, if you're watching online, thank you for watching, if you're away for some reason, if you have a friend that decided that getting down you know, to do something else, or they were out of town, or they're on vacation or whatever it might be, tell them that they need, if they're a part of our church, tell them that they need to watch this message before next Sunday so that they can have a level set of what to expect and where we're going and kind of understand some things, particularly what I'll end with, that we'll understand it well.
But so that we understand the context of 2 Chronicles chapter 7 we need to understand the context of the book. Here's what's going on. King Solomon, who is now in power is going to be building a house for God, we call it a temple. Some refer to it as Solomon's Temple, they referred to it that way because Solomon is the one who built it. It was God's Temple, it was God's house, and Solomon was going to be the one who built it, but it wasn't Solomon's idea to build the temple. That was his father's idea, you remember his father's name? David, right?
In fact, when we see in 2 Samuel chapter 7 listen to what David was kind of contemplating. It says After the king, referring to David, after he was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent. Nathan replied to the king, Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.
And so David had in mind to build for God, a temple, where His glory could be and where the ark of God could rest and, but ultimately for reasons in God's own Sovereignty that He declared to David that we may cover in a couple of weeks, He determined that David would not be the one who would build it. David would provide supplies for the building of it, but David's son Solomon, when he took over as king would do the actual building.
So in 2 Chronicles, chapter 2, chapter 3 and chapter 4 we have kind of a record of Solomon actually building the temple, over-seeing the construction of the temple. When you get to chapter 5 in 2 Chronicles, you find the Ark of the Covenant is finally brought back into the Temple, just as David's desire was, that actually happens. And then when you get to chapter 6 what you see is, is you see this prayer of Solomon asking for the blessing of Israel and asking for the prosperity of Israel now that God's presence is going to dwell in their midst.
And then when you get to chapter 7 where we will be today, chapter 7 is the formal dedication of the Temple to Yahweh, to the Lord, to God. And in the dedication, it's really interesting if you'll read the beginning part of chapter 7 that we're not going to approach today, but it actually says that fire from God came down from heaven at the dedication of the Temple. And the glory of God filled the Temple sanctuary in such a way that the priests could not even minister there. And it said the glory of God was visible above the Temple as well. So the glory is in the Temple, the glory is above the Temple, and the glory descended from above to below as it came. And we see the manifest presence of God in the Temple of God. It's glorious.
And then after the building of the Temple, and after the Ark of the Covenant is brought into the Temple, and after Solomon prays and then dedicates the Temple, at that time God appears to Solomon at night. It was a habit of God, He often appeared to Solomon at night when you read about Solomon's life. And here's, I want to read the whole context of what transpires, not just verse 14. Listen, beginning in verse number 11, 2 Chronicles 7. It says: "When Solomon had finished the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the Lord and in his own palace, the Lord appeared to him at night and said: I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 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. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there. As for you, if you walk before me faithfully as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, 'You shall never fail to have a successor to rule over Israel.' But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. This temple will become a heap of rubble. All who pass by it will be appalled and say, 'why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?' People will answer, 'Because they have forsaken the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them - that is why he brought all this disaster on them.'"
So I want you to see the context because in verse 14 what we see is sometimes a verse that is taken out to be a theme verse for certain things, whether that's a National Day of Prayer, or whether it's in times of great tragedy, and we pull verse 14 right out of the context and act as if it's a stand-alone sentence. Do you know when it says if my people, that I in "if" is not capitalized. It's not the beginning of a sentence. It has a comma before it. There are actually things happening before this verse that we need to understand.
You see, the reason that I'm telling you this is because it's really important because from this verse, verse 14, people have lifted it out and they have made a use of it that is not actually the use that the Scripture has. We've made use of this verse in trying to basically say that this, if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and see my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I'll hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. That this is God's word to America. No it is not. It is God's word to Israel. And I don't want you to misunderstand this, because I assure you that when God was speaking to Solomon with Israel in view, that there was, Solomon was not thinking about America when God was speaking to him. Just a quick heads up from a dating standpoint. America wasn't around.
It's important for us to understand this, and I'll tell you why. Not because we don't have things to hear from this passage that are pertinent to us today, we do. That's why I'm spending a number of weeks on it. But the reason that I want you to hear this is because if you take this too far out of context, you begin to think something that is not consistent with the way that God would have us to think about it and it's this: That we could actually find ourselves believing that America is somehow God's chosen nation. Let me answer that very quickly. No, it is not. America is not the chosen nation of God. Israel is God's chosen nation in the Scripture. And whenever anyone else is referred to as a chosen nation, it is the church, not a geographical nation. Now this is important for us to understand because we can get sideways, we can get turned around and we can get messed up, because we begin to think of ourselves as Americans like we are the chosen nation, like we are a special privileged people, and it's farthest from what this passage is talking about. This was about Israel.
In fact, this passage if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, this is actually not just some cute little formula for spiritual revival. This was actually point by point response to Solomon's prayer of chapter 6. You see, Solomon prayed a prayer, and then Yahweh answered the prayer. And He said, here is My response to that prayer, Solomon. And He's speaking to Solomon with Israel in view.
And we also need to keep in mind that when we see the word in here, that I'll forgive your sin and heal your land - well, we take that and we mean, o.k., that means a spiritual revival. No, it doesn't. What it means in this passage of Scripture is exactly what it says. It is talking about a physical restoration of the land. Why do I know that? Because if you read verse 13, you know what He's talking about. Verse 13 tells us when I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, when I command locusts to devour the land, or send a plague - if My people...and then He says, I'll heal your land. What's He talking about? A physical restoration of the health and prosperity of the land that they need to live. That's what's being talked about in this passage of Scripture.
Now, I also need to help you understand that the if/then language - if My people, then this. If this, then this. If/then language by God is covenant language. You see, covenant language goes back to Deuteronomy chapter 28 where God determined there would be blessings and there would be cursing. If you do these things you will be blessed, if you do these things you will be cursed. If/then. If/then. This is covenant language, and I can assure you that God's covenant was not with America, it was with Israel. That's why we need to understand the passage that we are looking at with some of these correctives so that we understand how we can get what we want to get out of it.
Now, all of that said - is there anything this passage of Scripture could say to us in the now? Absolutely! This is God's Word. But it is not - listen to this - it is God's Word about Himself, because America's actually not mentioned anywhere in this passage of Scripture. And just as a heads up - America's actually not mentioned in any passage of Scripture, as much as some apocalyptic minds want to make it out to be. Oh there's an eagle mentioned in there. That's us. What??!! What? Go to class. America's not mentioned in Scripture.
So do you know what we do when we are living in a place that's not mentioned in Scripture? We do what we should always do. We should learn what the Scripture reveals to us about God who is the King and sovereign over every nation. You see, in case you have forgot - and I hope you haven't - this is not a me book. This is a God book. This is a revelation of God. Does it have something to do with me? The implications do, but this is not about me.
Some of us, when we read the Scripture, we only want to read the Scripture for what it says to me. That is the secondary way that you read Scripture. The primary way you read Scripture is what does it say about God? Because only when we know God for how He's revealed Himself can we know who we are in light of that. It's a God book, not a me book.
So there's a few things - and this isn't my major point, actually - but there are a few things that I can tell you real quick out of this passage of Scripture about God that we learn. Here's the first: we learn that God is faithful right out of this passage of Scripture. What am I saying to you? Very quickly - I'm not going to spend a lot of time. I'm just going to give you a couple things real quick. God's faithful. Why do I know that? Because God has established a covenant with His people, and His people have always failed (Israel) - have failed to live up to that covenant. They've failed to live up to the covenant. And do you know what God does? God has every right, is completely justified if He wants to do this with them and He doesn't. Why? Because He's faithful to Himself even when we're faithless.
You know what else I know about this? That tells me that God is merciful and loving. How do I know that? Because God says to His people when this temple is dedicated, he says to Solomon to communicate to Israel that hey, when you go your own way and you do your own thing and you've made a mess of your own lives, if you will turn back to Me, I'll forgive you and I'll change things. This is a merciful and a loving God that's revealed to us in this passage.
You know what else I learned? That God's relational. Why? Because God decides to dwell with His people in this temple. His presence abides in the midst of His people. Do you know that that's always been God's plan? That from the very outset of the creation of humanity when we read in the book of Genesis that what God is doing is He is desiring to walk and to dwell among His people. And then in this fractured, sinful relationship, what God does here is He takes an intermediary step between Eden and between the new creation when He will be among His people, He will be their God and we will be His people - this is an intermediary step. Where God dwells in His temple among His people. Why? Because He's relational. He's not just a distant deity that's looking to just give commands and watch people do stuff. He lives among us and lives with us and wants to be related to us.
Now these are beautiful truths, and the reason they're so beautiful to me is because we get to look at them through New Testament eyes. You see, we could learn just what they learned - all of these things. That God is faithful. That Yahweh is faithful. That He's loving and merciful. That He's relational. But now, with New Testament eyes, we get to see this through the reality of the Gospel. And in Jesus we see all of this about God. It's absolutely beautiful and mind numbing at the same time.
We see the faithfulness of God who promised through Abraham that He was going to rescue the sinful world through Abraham's seed. And He reaffirmed that promise - this faithful God - to David saying, I'm going to raise One up after your own line that is going to be the rescuer of the world, and there's going to be a King that's going to sit on the throne of David and He's going to rule. And even though Israel was faithless and even though we, ladies and gentlemen, are faithless at times, God still shows us His faithfulness.
Do you remember what we read last week in Romans chapter 5 verse 8? It says that God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Why? Because of God's faithfulness to His own promise to us in Jesus.
See, we learn through Jesus that God is faithful. We also learn that He's loving and merciful. Here's why: because Jesus, the Son of God - God with skin on - who was perfect actually gave Himself as a sacrifice for all of us that are sinful and imperfect. Why? So that we could then be made righteous and restored to relationship with God. You want to talk about loving and merciful.
That's why Paul wrote these words in 2 Corinthians chapter 5. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. What a loving and merciful God as revealed in Jesus.
We also know through Jesus how relational God is because Jesus came among us - God with skin on was born of a virgin and moved into the neighborhood. That's why John writes it this way in chapter 1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And then verse 14 says, and the Word because flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. He moved into the neighborhood.
Man, we learn that God is faithful and He's loving and merciful and He's relational. These are wonderful truths from this passage of Scripture that we learn about God. And in Jesus, we see all of them come to be. And in the coming weeks, what we're going to do is we're going to look at some of the principals of this passage of Scripture and how the New Testament reaffirms some of those things for us to maybe be able to grab a handle on it.
But before we get there, today, I want to just stop in one spot. You know in verse 14 - at the very beginning of it - it says what? If what? This is class participation here - if what? My people who are called by what? If My people who are called by My Name. It's instructive for us, ladies and gentlemen, that God begins with His people.
You know, there were pagan nations all around Israel. God could have started by talking about the woes and the ills and the sickness and the violence and the messiness of all the rest of the place, but God begins with His people. If My people who are called by My Name - that's where He starts. And even though what He's referring to here in this text is He's referring specifically to Israel - make no mistake about it - He's speaking to Solomon in view of Israel - My people is referring to Israel. But there is a larger context when we begin to open up the New Testament. Because in the New Testament we begin to see something that I think is going to be helpful for us - that God begins with His own people.
Why is this important for us? Here's why. You might want to jot this down: Because before we look at the ills of our land, we need to look at the ills of our heart. Before we start looking around at the ills of our land, we need to begin as the people of God looking at the ills of our hearts.
Now, the reason that I tell you that is because even though this was true of Israel in that time, it's also true when we see some examples of it for the Church - God's people in the New Testament. When Peter was writing to those who were persecuted, he was writing from Rome as one who was persecuted and he was writing to people who were being persecuted in the Roman Empire. Listen to what Peter said in 1 Peter chapter 4: For it is time for judgment to begin with God's household; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the Gospel of God?
You see, when Peter is writing this, he's talking about a judgment that's coming on the people of God from unbelievers that are persecuting them. And he says, hey - I know this is bad, but this is going to be a purifying and a refining type of judgment that you're experiencing from all these unbelievers. And, oh by the way, I know you're my children, and I know they're doing some bad things to you, but don't misunderstand. If you think your persecution's bad, what do you think it's going to look like for those who disobey the Gospel of God? So this is what he says. But make no mistake, He's beginning - as Peter relates - God is beginning with His own in this context.
I mean, let's be real, right? When my kids were young, when I went through the grocery store, I didn't walk around looking for somebody else's kid to spank. As tempted as I was, I didn't do it. Why? Because I've got to deal with my own kids. You have to deal with your own children. This is how God deals with us.
And in fact, when you begin to read in Paul's writing to the letter at Corinth - first one - and he talks about the idea of the Lord's Supper, and he talks about how there are people getting sick and affirm because they're treating it with such disdain that they're missing out on what's going on. Listen to how Paul phrases what he says in 1 Corinthians 11. He says, if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world. In other words, God's dealing with His kids first.
Hebrews chapter 12 talks about the same thing, right? It says have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son." Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined - and everyone undergoes discipline - then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.
In other words, here's what he's saying: I deal with my own. I'm dealing with my kids. So we're taking this principle from 2 Chronicles chapter 7, and we're seeing that before we start looking at and commenting on the ills of our world, that we as His people may need to look at the ills of our own heart.
You see, it's interesting because even when you begin to read in the book of Revelation, which I taught in 8 weeks a year and a half ago, you look at the book of Revelation, it starts talking about things that are to come - well do you know how that book starts? Yeah, in chapter 1 there's a vision of God, right? You see a vision of Jesus, but then do you know what chapter 2 and chapter 3 are addressed to? The Church. Need to repent. You need to come back to Me. You need to walk holy. Even in the revelation of what's to come, God deals with His own first. See this is important for us to be able to grab hold of.
By the way, on an individual level, Jesus helped us to understand this already, didn't He? In the Sermon on the Mount? Matthew chapter 7, notice what it says. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."
Now Jesus is saying this to us - He's not saying that we never have the right to try and take a speck out of a brother's eye. What he's saying is if you have got a sequoia sticking out of your face, you'll never be able to see what you're doing and you'll knock them over in the process. That's why we have to ask this question: Are we, as the people of God, prepared to look at ourselves first?
I told you, I'm level setting for the entire series and this is important for us because for many in the Church we've gotten too big for ourselves and we're too hypocritical with our moral authority, and we want the world to listen to everything that we have to say. We want the world to hear our voice but our lives are speaking too loudly for them to hear what we have to say.
I mean we want to lecture the world around this political season - as Evangelical Christians - we want to lecture the world on family values but we have a porn and a divorce and an adultery problem in the Church. We want to lecture the world on the division that's happening in our country, but as Dr. King said you could still roll up at 11 o'clock on a Sunday morning in most places in the United States and still see it as the most segregated hour in America. We want to lecture the world on the grace of Jesus, but the tone that we take and the words that we use when we become keyboard cowboys online - venom - and we expect the world listen to us talk about grace.
Back in May of 2013 there were some really bad tornadoes that came through Moore, Oklahoma. You guys remember that? Just tore the place up - I mean leveled the town basically. And so there were some country artists led by Blake Sheldon, because he's from Oklahoma, that decided to do a benefit concert for the place, which was a wonderful thing to do. People had just lost homes, lost everything they had and what struck me was - because I thought about it then - but what struck me was the name of this benefit concert. Here's what it was called: Healing in the Heartland.
That's a good word for us today. I'll tell you why. Because if we're prepared to look at ourselves, maybe what God can do with His own sons and daughters is He can begin to provide some healing in our heartland so that we might be agents of healing in our homeland. This is what we're level setting. Before we start looking at the ills of the world, we need to be willing to look at the ills of our hearts.
So what I want you to do this week is - the bulletin that you received when you came in has a day by day reading. Some of you use that, some of you have never seen it before but it's there. I want you to go day by day from that and I want you to meditate in those passages of Scripture because what we're going to need to be as a people is prepared to let God speak to us. Before we start taking on the ills of our world, we need to let Him take on some things in our own hearts.
And I'll tell you this - I've been asking God to do that in my own heart. And He showed me some things that I'm not happy about. I can't believe that, Pastor. My expectation is for you to be perfect. Then your expectation is nuts.
We've got to be in a position, ladies and gentlemen, that we're willing to look here, because God will speak to His people and He will correct His people and He will point out things to His people as a good Father and out of love but so that we will look more like Jesus. Because we've got a mission as the people of God and that mission has to do with the healing of our homeland that can only be given through the grace of Jesus. But if people are seeing us instead of seeing us look like and resemble and speak like and think like Jesus, we are not living out the mission that God has called us to. This is why this is so desperately important for us all.
So would you commit to that this week? Prepare your hearts so that God may speak to us, because before we look at the ills of the world, we want to look at the ills of our heart. Let's bow our heads together.
Here's the great news for those of you that are here. We're almost gone, but here's the great news. The great news is that the sin that has wracked your heart, it's maybe caused you great distress, that if you're here and you've never just turned that over to God and put your faith and belief in Jesus as the sinless One who died in your place to satisfy the justice of God so that you could be forgiven and reconciled to God - this is the day for that. If God's knocking on your heart's door, this is that day for that.
And so when we dismiss in just a moment, right across the Atrium there's a place called the Fireside Room - you can see it clearly marked. There's some pastors in there, some other friends that are in there, some prayer partners - they'd love to spend just a moment with you to talk about what it means to enter into a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus. They'd love to be able to do that. There will be no more important decision you'll ever make in your life because it's a surrender of you. It's basically you trading in all of you for all that He is. What a great, great thing.
For those of us maybe that say we follow Jesus and we have been transformed and born from above, my hope is that we'll be willing to look at ourselves long enough to let our good Father speak to us and reshape us more into the image of His Son. So Father, we trust You to do that because what the world needs is not more of me. The world needs more of You. And in whatever degree that I don't reflect the life, the truth and the grace of Jesus, I'm putting a dimmer on the light of the glory of God for the world. Father, we as your people want to be used by you in this world but we know that sometimes You have to shape us, correct us, call us into the Light so that You can transform us into our authentic selves - selves that are being made in living in the obedience of life to the Lord Jesus Christ. So, Father, help us to do that. We trust You because our nation needs You. Lord, your people need You. May we never forget our desperate need of You, Lord Jesus. Speak to our hearts as we progress through this time. We pray by the power of Your Spirit in the name of Jesus. Amen.
God bless you guys. Have a great rest of the week.