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Is that true? Are Christians destroying the United States of America? In order to answer the question, I ask that you consider this portion of Scripture found In 2nd Chronicles:
 
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall 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.” —2 Chronicles 7:14
 
Who is God speaking to?
 
If you said ancient Israel, under the reign of King Solomon, almost three thousand years ago, you would be historically correct. This is a specific covenant (contract), to a specific people (Jews), to save a specific nation (Israel), so it is not applicable to the church (Christians).
 
I’m not wholly convinced.
 
First, Christians are God’s people and God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We have been grafted into the vine that is Israel and the church collectively is the Bride of Christ. In regards to America being saved, well that’s not likely to happen; in the end, it is Israel that survives — no mention of the good ‘ol USA in the Bible. However, that does not mean our nation can’t be healed for a period of time, nor does it mean that America can’t be better than it is today. America’s end is inevitable, but her in-betweens are not.
 
Back to 2nd Chronicles
 
Why is America in such a moral mess? I can tell you
that’s it’s not the government’s fault, nor is it the fault of non-believers. “We have met the enemy and they are ours!” it’s the fault of those prideful, non-praying, self-seeking, hypocritical Christians that fill our pews every Sunday! Across the board we ignore God in prayer, we ignore or pervert His word, we turn a blind eye to sin, and although not directly participating in wickedness, we sure enjoy watching it on TV. Dare I mention fornication, abortion, and intoxication?
 
You get the picture.
 
Let’s be clear: this country has been entrusted to those who are called by His name, and be us devout or nominal, we outnumber the God-less folks. Our country’s dismal condition is due to the fact that we have dropped the morality-ball, not them. If there is to be any hope for this nation, Christians must repent — it is the very definition of revival. If this occurs, then there will be a healing. 2 Chronicles 7:14 simply gives us the recipe: humility, prayer, turning from sin and pursuing God.
 
I believe it safe and logical to assume that America is broken because most Christians reject revival. If we want the land revived, we ourselves must first be revived, individually and corporately. And if you are one to say that revival is only a movement of God, I will not argue, but say, “Look around – God is moving!” adding, “were you really waiting for a miraculous sign before you repent, humble yourself, and seek God’s face?” That seems quite faithless to me.
 
Revival begins with humility. God already knows our spiritual condition; He’s just waiting for us to recognize and confess it. Start there. Then pray. Then pour into His word. Then wait and see what God will do.
 
Will God heal our land? We cannot be sure, primarily because we cannot predict how many Christians will respond, but this I do know, if one person is revived, he or she will be healed, and that alone should be sufficient.

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The Ruler asked, “What should I do to inherit eternal life.”

After some back-and-forth, Jesus said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22)

I’ve been studying the life of Lot. You know the story — Lot’s an oppressed, non-influential believer, living in sin-filled Sodom, a city that God is about to reduce to ashes. Two angels stand beside Lot pleading that he leave the city, but Lot hesitates.

Why?
He believes in God and he believes these messengers are angels. I submit to you he was experiencing the same despair as the ‘Rich Young Ruler’ in the Gospel of Luke story. Lot was a ruler of sorts, holding some type of government position in Sodom, and likely had a measurable degree of wealth. Lot was respected in Sodom, that is, as long as he turned a blind eye to sin and corruption, and kept his religion to himself. While Jesus told the Ruler to sell all that he had, in similar fashion two angels told Lot to abandon all that he had. We know what happen to Lot; the angels took him by the hand and plopped him outside the city walls, directing him to walk the rest of the way. We don’t know what the Ruler decided. I’d like to think that he made the proper choice. 
 
We’re a lot like Lot and the Ruler.
 
What if you were told right now to leave it all behind? Don’t consider what you would eventually do, consider what your very first reaction would be. Would there be any hesitation? Would you pause to ask why? Or would you simply turn and start walking, leaving even vehicles behind, carrying only what was on your back? If you’re honest (if I’m honest), we’d probably react just like Lot and the Ruler did: we’d hesitate, seek explanations, and proffer justifications. 
 

Where does that leave all of us?

It’s okay to ask the question; the disciples were wondering the same exact thing. They too were struggling with the notion of being able to walk away from all they had. Could they leave their homes? Their cars? Their cable TV? Well that’s certainly what their question implies. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they ask.

Jesus responds with the most gracious, merciful, and loving answer, and frankly, it’s the bedrock of the entire Gospel message: “What is impossible for people is possible with God.” (Luke 18:22-27)

Absolute repentance and complete submission is a little frightening at first. It speaks to perfection, so we naturally shy away from that which we cannot achieve. Jesus knows this too. It’s why He bluntly said, “It’s impossible!” And that’s the whole point. Are we not made strong in our weaknesses? We cannot save ourselves. We are helpless by design! It is when we recognize our imperfect condition that the Perfect One can do the impossible.
 
The angels brought a vacillating Lot out of bondage and he ultimately walked by faith. Jesus brings us out in the same condition and simply asks we do the same.

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I became a police officer in 1981. I came to faith in 1984. Young, stupid, and un-discipled, I eventually fell back into my old, sinful ways. I did not yet understand the spiritual principle regarding holiness — the notion of being set apart for God and endeavoring to make it known, perpetually.
 
I attempted to share my faith, but rapidly succumb to the ridicule of both criminal and coworker. I blame neither for my downward spiral – – the fault was my own. I was like the seed that sprang up quickly and the one that fell among the thorns: shallow roots growing amongst weeds. In other words: I was not growing in my faith and I was not practicing holiness (set-apartness).
 
It reminds me of Lot.
 
Consider one of the most disturbing portions of Scripture:
 
“Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing.” (Genesis 19:8)
 
For centuries scholars have debated why a man would make such a despicable offer. Some have even attempted to defend Lot’s action. The truth be told, the deed is indefensible. We can however surmise that Lot got to this horrendous condition through a lack of spiritual growth and a lack of holiness.
 
Sodom was a vile place, replete with depravity, perversion, and sexual sin. Why Lot chose to live in such a place we may never know, but we can speculate that on day one, week one, or even year one of living in Sodom, Lot would not have offered his daughters up to be raped. However, after 25 years of living there, he was worn down by the continual vice, brutality, and materialism. Two and a half decades of compromise, turning a blind-eye, cowering in fear, and concealing his faith brought Lot to this place. It did not happen overnight. Shallow roots among thorns have little chance.
 
On the other hand, consider Abraham. While not a perfect man, he was a faith-filled man, a man who grew in his knowledge of the Lord and exercised holiness, opting to remain untethered to the world as a nomadic tent dweller. Sodom essentially lay at his doorstep, but he was not of Sodom. He was free to engage with the world on his terms and not on theirs. As a result, he was used mightily by God.
 
As with Lot, God did not abandon me, He rescued me. Like Lot, my salvation was secure because by faith I believed. But in those days, I was not of much use to God. Thankfully our Lord is both gracious and merciful, and remains faithful when we are not. He restores what the locust devours, that is if we allow Him to.
 
Study the word, be in prayer, and be ye holy.

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I got the love of woodworking from my dad. He was not a skilled carpenter by any stretch of the imagination, but he enjoyed making things and I enjoyed making things with him. He would put on some work clothes and then make the announcement:

“I’m going out to the garage to do some work, if anyone wants to help me!”

I always jumped at the opportunity.

It’s not that I was ever much help, but my dad would let me hammer a couple of pieces of scrap wood together, or try my hand at sawing a 2 x 4 in half (no power tools, of course). It was during one of these sessions my dad gave me my first hammer, a hammer I still have today.

I’m so glad that I never missed the signs: his donning of work clothes, the house-wide announcements, or coming home to the sounds of construction coming from the garage. I could have ignored those signs and our father-son relationship would be still be intact (my rejection would not affect dad’s love for me), but at the end of the day, he would be working alone.

So it is with God.

Our Father in Heaven also gives us signs. He doesn’t need us, but He wants us to be a part of what He is doing. Sometimes we’re too busy to notice them and other times we outright ignore them. It doesn’t mean we’re not saved and it does not affect His love for us, but we will have missed a valued chance to work with and learn directly from the Father, and I suspect that saddens Him.

Signs. Look for the signs.

It shall be when these signs come to you,
do for yourself what the occasion requires,
for God is with you.
(1 Samuel 10:7)

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Twenty-plus years ago, I was doing AA and I remember being told that if I hungout in a bar (not to drink), but to minister alcoholics, they would most likely get me drunk before I got them sober. Here was my take away: these battles are best fought on our turf, not theirs.

So it is with saving the spiritually lost -going into the lions den is dangerous. Having said that, if we’re thrown into a pit, we can trust Jesus to bring us through the trial, but to enter them voluntarily, without the prompting or annoiting of the Holy Spirit is to risk getting eaten alive.

Lot the Righteous.

The Bible tells us Lot was a righteous man, but as a full-time resident of Sodom, his soul was vexed day-to-day by their unlawful deeds. What affect did that have on Lot? The Genesis account implies that Lot was not very influential in his ministry to the Sodomites – God sent two angels into the city, and after 25 years of Lot’s ministry, or lack thereof, they could not even find ten righteous people.

Why is that?

It would seem that Lot, although a Godly man, conformed to, or was broken by, a filthy world and thus lost his light and saltiness. Perhaps God’s will, and Lot’s ministry, would have been better served if he stayed in a tent on the outskirts of town, making occasional visits or better yet, inviting the lost to his dwelling as they ventured beyond the city walls. Just a thought on my part, but clearly establishing his roots in Sodom wasn’t working out too well

It bears repeating…

Many are called to such a ministry, but let’s be very clear on the issue: they are affective because they were compelled by God to do so. Lot did not have such a calling on his life, at least the Bible does not record one, nor does it record any fruit from such a calling.

As it pertains to life in general, I’ve always taught my children that if they ‘hangout’ in a barbershop, eventually they will get a haircut. The axiom holds true for those who have been set-apart for Kingdom purposes. We’re called to be in the world, maintaining holiness in unholy places, living as aliens, not denizens, among natural men.

This takeaway is clear:

“…[B]y the mercies of God…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
(Romans 12:1-2)

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As much as we might want to identify with people (friends or family) in the unbelieving world, they will never fully accept us unless we abandon or compromise our faith. If and when we do exercise our spiritual values, it brings conviction, and they often distance themselves or disown us entirely. In thinking we can find common ground through compromise, we are the ones who are fooled.

Lot is our example.

In Genesis 19, he begs for the lives of two angels quartered inside his home, “Please, my brothers,” he begged, “don’t do such a wicked thing.”

“Stand back!” they shouted. “This fellow (Lot) came to town as an outsider (an alien), and now he’s acting like our judge! We’ll treat you far worse than those other men!”
(Genesis 19:7 + 9)

Lot calls them brothers, thinking them his friends, but they call him an alien.

So it is when we are friends with the world in a compromising manner. When that moment of clarity comes and we attempt to regain our spiritual footing, we will be summarily rejected. Truth be told, we ARE aliens and we should never pretend we are something other than that.

“Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy…I warn you as ‘temporary residents and foreigners’ (aliens) to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.” (1 Peter 2:10-12)

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“(Jesus) personally carried our sins in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By His wounds you are healed.”
(1 Peter 2:24)
This promise of healing is like our promise of salvation, in that we receive both this side of Heaven by faith, knowing that the transaction will be actuated in Heaven upon our arrival. All the while we grasp that we are not healed or saved yet, but the promise of both is so sure, we can claim both with certainty. We’ve been dragged and secured into God’s lifeboat, but we’ve yet to come ashore. Our inheritance has been written into His will, we’ve seen it with our own eyes, and it was probated, i.e., it has been tested and found to be true, by Christ’s resurrection from the grave. This healing is promised and it is permanent.
Another Healing
God also heals our bodies this side of heaven, but these healings are not promised, nor are they permanent. They are not promised and for reasons not fully understood by the church, they aren’t for everybody. God chooses to heal or not heal this side of Heaven to bring Himself honor, glory, and praise, and as a sign that may draw non-believers to Christ for the purpose salvation, keeping in mind that God will also use the strong, faithful testimony of the unhealed saint to get His glory! Regardless, all of these miraculous healings are not permanent. Those who receive them will eventually lose them to declining health and/or death.
So while we’re encouraged to pray for healing for our earth-bound bodies, and often receive them, we must emphasize the importance of the permanent and promised healing that’s to come in Heaven, especially to the unchurched and unsaved souls we encounter. Let us be compelled to share this critical information lest we sow seeds of discouragement to a lost soul who was not healed as he or she had expected. These same folks need the Gospel more than they need short-term wellness.
“But (Jesus) was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

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In order to define ‘perfect love‘ we need to ask the right questions, but If we’re starting off with, What is perfect love?” rather than, Who is perfect love?” we are on the wrong track and may come to an errant conclusion.
 
“Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but PERFECT LOVE casts out fear: because fear hath torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:15-18, emphasis mine)
 
Perfect Love
 
Perfect love is Jesus. When we grasp this, the burden is no longer upon the Christian to reject fear, but rather to yield to the only One who can cast fear out, Jesus Christ. Our passage also says ‘fear has torment,’ in other words, those living in fear are tortured by it. Think about that: there are Christians in our midst being tortured not by men, but by emotion.
 
In contrast we see the images of Christians actually being tortured; heads being violently tortremoved, bodies drowned in cages, tossed off building tops, or burned alive. These videos often show us characteristics that one would not typically associate with fear, but reveal a calm and peace that surpasses all natural understanding that can only be attributed to God’s indwelling presence. There is no doubt a burden involved with these horrific events, but I submit to you it is a light burden because of Jesus, the Perfect Love that casts out tormenting fear.
 
“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30)
 
Christianity is Hard
 
There are of course Christians who struggle with the notion of yielding to Jesus in order that He can cast out fear. Perhaps many of us wrestle with it to one degree or the other, myself included. However, those who struggle with the doctrine, but then pronounce, “Being a Christian is hard!” have crossed a triple line: they’re distrusting God, adding to the Bible, and calling God a liar. In a word, it is blasphemy.  This sort of blasphemy won’t keep you out of Heaven, but it will make your Christian walk miserable.
 
“All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son.” (1 John 5:10)
 
Choose to Trust
 
Rather than making the erroneous and discouraging remark [that] being a Christian is hard, choose to take God at his word.
 
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
 
If you are tempted to fear, or are facing any temptation, trust God that He will show up at the precise moment of your need and reveal to you the way to escape, remembering that your ability lies not in your flesh, but in the Perfect Love, Jesus Christ, who dwells within you.

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Job 14:1-6 and Psalm 139:16 teach us that God has determined and numbered our days before we were born. In other words, God knows exactly when we’re going to die, which begs the question, “Is there anything we can do to change or prolong that date?”
 
I believe there is and I’m slightly dogmatic about it because God has said that if we walk in obedience and keep His decrees and commands, He will give us a long life (1 Kings 3:14) and if we honor our parents, we may live long in the land (Ex 20:12). When we consider that God is omniscient, knowing the beginning from the end, we can trust that He has factored in our obedience, or lack thereof, before He chiseled our obit day in stone.
 
Taking it a step further I believe we can prolong our lives if we stop smoking, doing drugs, and abusing alcohol, and start exercising, eating right, and taking care of our bodies, because God, again knowing all future events, has factored in both our harmful and beneficial behaviors, before we were born. That is to say, our favorable activities and obedience to God are not merely things that may improve the quality of life in the time we have been allotted, but rather things that God has considered in determining the length of our lives.

Of course we must also remember that God considers things we know nothing about that may result in a long or short life, and Godly obedience and healthy living are not the sole factors that decide how long we live.

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When we are sharing the Gospel we must include the Law in our conversations. Our listeners need to see their guilt, their helplessness, their depth of sin, their opposition to God, and their only solution in Christ Jesus. They also need to know the consequences of their sin, but we will leave that for another post.
 
The Law and it’s Purpose
 
1) GUILT: “The law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God.” (Romans 3:19)
 
2) HELPLESSNESS: “For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.” (Romans 3:20)
 
3) ANTI-GOD: “Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God.” (1 John 3:4)
 
4) SIN-FILLED: “Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin.”(Romans 7:7a)
 
5) SOLUTION: “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:24)
 
Do not make the mistake of sharing a squeaky-clean Gospel – merely saying that Jesus died for our sin is not enough. People need to know what sin is, accept their guilt, learn the consequences, recognize their inability to do anything about it, and acknowledge that Jesus is their only solution for their sin problem. I have seen data that shows that when we omit this information, 80% to 90% of people who received Jesus eventually reject Him and return to their sinful ways.

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