Reading Hezekiah’s prayer in Isaiah 37 this morning … Rabshakeh, sent by Sennacherib the king of Syria, has mocked Israel and written-off Yahweh as just another god. Hezekiah begins his prayer with a declaration of praise to the Almighty Creator — a beautifully eloquent “hallowed be Thy Name!” He then urgently petitions Yahweh to hear the mockery of Sennacherib and to respond with salvation for Israel. Then the whole earth will know that Yahweh is like none of the so called gods of the kingdoms that have fallen to Sennacherib — Yahweh is God alone!
We live in a world that oppressively grows ever-more pagan and anti-Christ. Especially disturbing is the dismissal and mockery of God by declaring good to be evil and evil to be good. We see this as the worship of self rears its ugly head in so many ways — from unforgiveness and bitterness to the murder of inconvenient human life and celebration of immorality. I find my heart crying out for justice. Indeed, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the outrage and anger I feel — and it’s strangely mixed with sorrow for those being deceived and destroyed.
It’s so easy to get waylaid by these emotions — to be distracted from what a righteous response should be. Hezekiah kept the right perspective, praying for God’s glory and only proper recognition. How can we accomplish this in our lives?
In Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia, he declares something that is both an encouragement and an exhortation: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” (Gal. 6:7) We need to hear this — loud and clear! Our God can and does and will eternally defend His honor quite well, thank you! Vengeance is His for He alone can execute justice with mercy and love.
Be exhorted! If we sow in spite and hatred and vengeance, we will reap the bitter fruit of our own sin — and that is exactly what the enemy of our souls is hoping for! Sowing to the flesh is a demonstration of the god we serve. We must sow to the Spirit and reap eternal life. This is spiritual warfare and the battles cannot be waged in the flesh alone. Yes, we must do all we can to seek justice and mercy … in the gentle and humble walk of Holy Love as He fills us.
Be encouraged! Judgment has already been pronounced upon the forces of darkness — “lo, his doom is sure!” And hope is held out at the Cross of Jesus, in His precious Blood, for all those who are lost and deceived … yes, and for all of us who are His, our hope is glorious and eternal!
Such a cacophony of voices crowds the world theater — all vying for the mind and heart and soul of mankind — espousing innumerable versions of every possible rationale for redefining sin as anything but sin — excusing, practicing, normalizing, and even celebrating it (Rom. 1:26-32) — often in the name of diversity and inclusion. This is not new (Isa. 5:20-21); yet the selfish demands of scoffers (2 Pet. 3:2-3; Jude 17-18) are increasingly brazen and amplified by manifold media.
Innate attraction or desire is germane to a discussion of Holy living only from the perspective of that which may need to be overcome by the power of the indwelling Spirit of God. So a man or woman is born with innate desires that God has declared to be sinful — innateness in no way alters or diminishes sinfulness; if anything, it’s to be expected (Jer. 17:9-10). Unequivocally, sin is to be repented of and its desires put to death, not entertained and practiced (John 8:11; Rom. 6; 8:13; Gal. 6:7-8).
Whether an LGBTQ individual appears to be living a happy, peaceful life or perhaps even what appears to be a Christian lifestyle, as some claim, by whatever standard may be chosen, is entirely irrelevant. Any individual choosing to willfully continue in sinful behavior is tragically deceived, woefully ignorant, and/or arrogantly rebellious. Quite literally, this is pandemonium — the oppression of many demons seeking the utter destruction of all that God created good and all that Jesus came to redeem. Sickeningly, far too many who bear the name of Christ are among the deceived and some willingly so. Yes, this is spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:12).
If you do not know Jesus, the Son of God, as your Lord and Almighty God as your Father, repent — confess your sins — receive forgiveness — be made clean and whole by the Spirit and the Word.
Christian brothers and sisters — pray without ceasing! Stand courageously and contend for the faith! Love not the world, but do the will of God!
Father God, have mercy!
Lord Jesus, have mercy!
Holy Spirit, convict with power!
Come quickly, Lord Jesus, come!
Kurt Tucholsky, a German-Jewish writer of the early 20th century, once said, “A country is not only what it does – it is also what it puts up with, what it tolerates.” History tells us how corrupt, God-less leadership along with an indifferent, deluded, and/or ignorant populous led Germany to the reign of Hitler, Nazism, and the Holocaust.
I can’t help but then think, what has America become already?
We have our corrupt, God-less leaders.
We have our indifferent, deluded, and/or ignorant populous.
We have our -isms.
We have our holocaust—57 million murdered babies and counting since 1973.
What will America become?
Of even greater and eternal consequence is the sad reality that this speaks to the Church as well … what have we become already?
We have our corrupt leaders who only serve and worship the god of this world, teaching what appeases their own conscience, appeals to the flesh, and draws a crowd—or at least doesn’t offend too many. Bonhoeffer, in The Cost of Discipleship, states “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”
We have our indifferent, deluded, and/or ignorant populous that has no knowledge of being born-again in Christ Jesus or being sanctified and transformed in the Word and Spirit. What passes for Christianity is comfortable for them—makes them feel good or at least better about themselves. Yet, Almighty God will have nothing to do with what they offer as service or worship. Cain had his own ideas about worship and found them unacceptable to God. Nadab and Abihu offered unauthorized/illicit fire in worship of God and were killed on the spot. Jesus tells of those who will stand before the throne of judgment declaring their great works in His name, only to discover that He never knew them. Similarly, He tells of those who, whether in religious piety or pure self-interest, failed to lovingly care for their neighbors and find themselves banished into eternal punishment.
We have our -isms … and factions and divisions and cults and, ultimately, there will be the apostate church.
We know what will become of all humanity for God declares the end from the beginning in His Word. The eternal question, then is, what will become of me? Where is my citizenship? Is the Kingdom of God the Kingdom of my Father in Heaven? Does God know me as His child?
If my citizenship is where it belongs, then my King has made my mission clear. “[Y]ou shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31) “[T]he hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” (John 4:23)
In understanding how my citizenship is to be lived out, I hear Paul’s admonition to the churches of Ephesus. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 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” (Eph. 6:10-18)
I found myself blessed and exhorted by a devotional from Greg Laurie yesterday regarding the misguided human efforts of too many Christians today. How desperately we need to return to preaching the Word and earnestly, sincerely praying without ceasing! (1 Thess 5:17, ESV) The Christian (and likewise the church) who doesn’t pray isn’t pursuing God … isn’t knowing God … is like a body dying and disconnected from life-support. Greg raised the example of the response of the church when James was executed and Peter was thrown in prison … “earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.” (Acts 12:5) Politics, protests, boycotting, and such are not even mentioned … because we battle not against flesh and blood. (Eph 6:12) Our battles must begin and end and be executed in the arena of spiritual warfare … along with all the armor of God, we must pray! (Eph 6:13-18) Indeed, when the Word and/or the Spirit move us to action in the physical realm, then we must humbly, lovingly, and boldly obey (James 4:17); but not without being prepared for the real battle which is spiritual.