Holidays (Other)

Is 2 Chronicles 7:14 God’s Promise to American Christians Today?

(If you’re participating in the 1&2 Timothy study,
lesson 11 is coming your way on Friday.)

Originally published July 3, 2015ICYWW 2 Chron 7 14

Is 2 Chronicles 7:14 God’s promise to American Christians today?

“if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14

This verse is often quoted as a call to prayer and revival for American Christians, suggesting that if we pray, repent, and humble ourselves, God will turn America around and make it “one nation under God” again. Since it’s 4th of July week, you’ve probably been seeing this verse in your news feeds, but is it really a promise to us today about America?

2ch714
Photo courtesy of Please Convince Me.

Not this particular verse, no. Here’s why:

1. This verse is only part of a sentence (you can tell by the way it starts with a lowercase letter). In order to rightly handle God’s word (2 Timothy 2:15), it’s imperative that we consider a verse’s immediate context as well as the way it fits in with the big picture of the entire Bible. Even adding just verses 13 and 15 shows us that this verse was written about Old Testament Israel, not America. Reading all of chapter 7 sheds even more light on this verse, and if we throw in chapter 6, especially 6:26-31, we can clearly see that 7:14 is part of God’s specific answer to Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple.

2. There are no supporting Scriptures in the New Testament (remember, Believers are in the church era under the new covenant of grace) that imply that if Christians humble themselves and repent that God will give them a nation governed by biblical laws and leaders and that we will have a society that behaves itself, morally. In fact, in the New Testament, in the early church, we see the exact opposite. The more the church prayed, humbled itself, and spread the gospel, the more Rome persecuted Christians. And yet, we never hear of them claiming 2 Chronicles 7:14 as God’s promise to them that He would turn things around if they would only humble themselves and seek His face more. The New Testament, even Jesus Himself, says that we will be persecuted for godly living (John 15:20, Matthew 10:22, 2 Timothy 3:12-13).

3. We can’t claim the promise without claiming the punishment. Look again at verse 13. It specifies that the agricultural hardships of drought, locust infestation, and pestilence are the ones that God promises to heal. It is a promise of literal healing of the land so that crops will grow unharmed, game will be plentiful, and people will be able to eat, not a promise of a metaphorical “healing” of a nation’s immorality.

If we claim that this “healing of the land” applies to us today, then we also have to claim that God will punish our disobedience with those very things He promises to heal (drought, locusts, and pestilence), because that’s what these verses are talking about.

4. The reason this passage sounds like it applies to us is because there are some principles in this verse that do apply to us. How do we know? Because they are supported by other clear and direct Scriptures:

Are we God’s people who are called by His name”? Yes (Acts 11:26)

Should we humble ourselves? Yes (1 Peter 5:6)

Should we pray and seek God’s face? Yes (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Should we turn from any wicked ways we practice? Yes (Acts 3:19)

Will God hear from Heaven if we do these things? Yes (1 John 5:14-15)

Does God promise to heal our land of bad morals or the agricultural problems He has punished our disobedience with if we do these things? No.

Asking God to fulfill His promises and thanking Him for those already fulfilled is a wonderful and worshipful way to pray. But, if we truly want to pray “in the name of Jesus” and pray rightly for God’s will to be done, we must use wisdom, discernment, and the tools God has given us to discover exactly what He has promised us.

For further reading:

Properly Praying the Promises by Michelle Lesley

What is the meaning of 2 Chronicles 7:14? at Got Questions?

The Most Shared Verses in Their Context (2 Chronicles 7:14) at Borrowed Light

Holidays (Other), Politics

Revival: In America We Trust?

(If you’re participating in the 1&2 Timothy study,
lesson 11 is coming your way on Friday.)

Originally published October 28, 2016

revival-america-trustI don’t know about you, but I’ve had it up to here with politics. Any politics. I’m sick of hearing about the candidates, where they stand on the issues, what they’ve done wrong, why we should vote for this one instead of that one or not vote at all, and what celebrities (and everybody else on the planet) think about them. It’s a 24/7 barrage on TV, the radio, social media, and personal conversations. Yes, these issues are important (for the love of my sanity, y’all, please don’t write me comments and e-mails arguing for your candidate or position- I agree these things are important) but I’ve reached my saturation point. It would be great if somebody would capture the Loch Ness monster or find a cure for the common cold or something just so everybody would have something else to talk about for five minutes.

In the midst of this political fervor, pastors – from those in the national spotlight to those in rural obscurity – are applying theology to the election and current culture. Some of it has been very, very good. Encouraging. Refreshingly biblical. And some of it…well, not so much.

On the “not so much” side, one of the recurring themes I’ve heard from various pulpits is the prediction or expectation that America is going to make a comeback. Brighter days are just around the corner. The cultural morality of the 1950’s might even re-emerge, and we’ll all be able to breathe a sigh of relief that evil and debauchery have left the building.

Then some pastor, somewhere, decided to co-opt the word “revival,” paste it over this concept of America getting its moral act together, and offer the whole package to American Christians as hope.

A turnaround of American culture and morality wouldn’t be a bad thing. Personally, I think it would be great if America would start behaving itself like a courteous, rational adult instead of a pagan, hedonistic teenager. We are 240 years old, after all.

But that is not revival, and it is not where our hope lies.

Let me ask you something: What if America never turns around? What if things continue to get worse, morally, economically, militarily, and culturally until this country eventually implodes into anarchy or becomes a vassal state to a godless nation?

What if God destroys America instead of making her great again? Will your faith be destroyed, too?

Sadly, for many Americans whose faith has become a syncretistic mélange of patriotism and pseudo-Christianity, the answer is yes. How many will lose heart and walk away forever when the “revival” their pastor promised fails to materialize? Uncle Sam is a cruel master and a lousy god.

Real revival is exactly the opposite. It can take place regardless of who wins the election, whether the United States is virtuous or villainous, rich or poor, enslaved or free or wiped off the face of the earth. It can take place even if you’re the only person in the world who wants it.

Biblical revival happens when Christians – thousands or dozens or one – bow the knee to Christ in repentance over their sin, forsake their worldliness, pursue holiness, act on their new-found zeal for evangelism, and live faithfully. It’s found when we stop fretting about who’s sitting in the Oval Office and start focusing on Who’s sitting on the Throne and how we might honor and please Him, regardless of what’s going on in society.

Real revival doesn’t always change the culture. Just ask Noah. Or the righteous remnant of the Old Testament exile. Or the martyrs of the early church. That’s not what it’s for. Revival isn’t supposed to change the world. It’s supposed to change your heart. It’s supposed to change your focus from temporal, elemental things to the Christ who bled and died for your sin.

That’s where our hope is found, sisters.

Not in the White House, but in Christ, regardless of who’s in the White House. Not in a moral society, but in Christ, whether society’s morals are Victorian or heathen. Not in laws and policies and freedoms that suit us, but in Christ.

Our hope is in Christ.

If Hillary wins,
our hope is in Christ.

If Donald wins,
our hope is in Christ.

If America re-emerges as that city on a hill,
our hope is in Christ.

If America runs swiftly toward her demise,
our hope is in Christ.

Our hope is in Christ, dear sisters. Let us never forsake our First Love for something as lowly as love of country, favor of the government, or an upright populace.

Our hope is in Christ.

Politics, Prayer

Throwback Thursday ~ 7 Ways to Pray During the Trump Administration

Originally published January 20, 2017

7-pray-trump

Whether you love it or hate it…

Whether you voted for him or not…

The reality is that Donald Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States today. The election has come and gone. Our part is over.

Or is it?

A lot of people – both those who voted for him and who voted against him – have a lot of concerns about the things Donald Trump might do or say (or Tweet) as President and about the trajectory of the nation over the next four years. Of equal or more concern are some of the actions his opponents have threatened. But does God want Christians sitting around wringing our hands in worry for the duration of the Trump administration?

Nope.

God has told us exactly what He wants us to do with regard to the rulers He has installed in authority over us.

Step 1:

romans-13-1-2

God wants us to remember that He is the one who places leaders in their positions, and we are to trust His decisions and respect and obey our leaders (unless they command us to do or not do something that conflicts with God’s word – we always submit to God and His word first).

What if the leader is immoral or ungodly? Well consider that when the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to pen these words, Paul was living under the rule of Nero, and I think you’ll have your answer. In so far as we are biblically able, Christians are to obey those in authority over us.

Step 2:

1-ti-2-1-2

God wants us to pray for all people, but He draws our focus to praying for “kings and all who are in high positions.” Why?

  • “That we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”
    Consider the persecution the first century (and every subsequent century to the present day) church faced: Christians fed to lions, immolated, beheaded, quartered, family members tortured, and more. We’re to ask God for the government to allow us to quietly live in peace and pursue godliness.
  • “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,” 1 Timothy 2:3 goes on to say. It is good for us to pray for our leaders simply because it is pleasing to God. When you get right down to it, do we really need any other reason to obey God?
  • Because God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” says 1 Timothy 2:4. Even though God doesn’t have to give us a reason to obey Him about praying for our leaders, He chooses to reveal something to us about His nature and character by explaining why He wants us to do so. God’s heart is for all people to know Christ as Savior – including our rulers. God wants to save them because He loves them as individuals made in His image, but He also wants to save them so they will be godly rulers and – bringing us full circle to 1 Timothy 2:2 – so that God’s people will be able to lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

So now that we know that God wants us to pray for our President and others “who are in high positions,” and why God wants us to pray for them, what are some of the things we can pray for during the Trump administration?

1. Pray for God to save our unsaved leaders

Lip service to God does not a regenerated believer make. Many people claim to be Christians yet have never repented of their sin and placed their faith in Christ. The Bible is clear that those who consistently live in unrepentant sin are not saved. Don’t listen so much to what our leaders say about God, rather watch what they do. If he walks like a heathen and quacks like a heathen, pray for God to save him.

2. Pray for the daily walk of our saved leaders

Can you imagine how hard it must be to live a godly life as one of the few Christians in the political arena? For our leaders who not only talk the talk but are striving to walk the walk, pray that God will give them ample time in His word, in prayer, and in church. Pray that He will enable them to resist temptation to sin. Pray that they will walk uprightly in their day to day lives. Pray that they will seek to honor God in their work and decisions. Pray that God will give them boldness and open doors to share the gospel with others.

3. Pray that God will move all of our leaders to make right decisions

Even if they make those right decisions for the wrong reasons. Even if they meant their decisions for evil. Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lordhe turns it wherever he will.” Pray that God will turn our leaders’ hearts to make right decisions.

4. Pray against governmental intrusion and persecution in the lives of Christians

Unfortunately, over the past several years we’ve seen the beginnings of persecution against Christians in the U.S. Christians have been fired and lost their businesses for refusing to provide services for homosexual weddings. Christians are having to comply with government mandates regarding transgender issues and abortion. The government has interfered with private parenting decisions made by Christians. Pray that God would move our leaders to back off and allow Christians to “lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

5. Pray for the church

It’s very likely that we are in the last days of freedom of religion in the United States. Pray that God would continue to bless the church with that constitutional right. And while we still have it, pray that pastors would boldly preach Christ and Him crucified. Pray that Christians would faithfully love, serve, and attend their churches every week. Pray that the church would properly disciple Christians to live as lights for Christ in the world. Pray that we would send out unprecedented numbers of missionaries. Pray that we will work the works of Him who sent us while it is day; for night is coming, when no one can work.

6. Pray that Christians will share the gospel

This country will not be changed by leaders and legislation. It will only be changed by the Lord. The United States will only become a godly nation if the majority of the people of this nation have had their hearts changed by the gospel. Pray (again, while we are still free to do so) that God will light a fire under those of us who know Him to unabashedly share the gospel everywhere we go, with everyone we meet.

7. Pray that God would protect this nation

From our enemies and from ourselves.

Take some time to pray for our leaders and our country
today and every day.

If you’d like, add your prayer below in the comments.

Politics

Throwback Thursday ~ Revival: In America We Trust?

Originally published October 28, 2016

revival-america-trustI don’t know about you, but I’ve had it up to here with politics. Any politics. I’m sick of hearing about the candidates, where they stand on the issues, what they’ve done wrong, why we should vote for this one instead of that one or not vote at all, and what celebrities (and everybody else on the planet) think about them. It’s a 24/7 barrage on TV, the radio, social media, and personal conversations. Yes, these issues are important (for the love of my sanity, y’all, please don’t write me comments and e-mails arguing for your candidate or position- I agree these things are important) but I’ve reached my saturation point. It would be great if somebody would capture the Loch Ness monster or find a cure for the common cold or something just so everybody would have something else to talk about for five minutes.

In the midst of this political fervor, pastors – from those in the national spotlight to those in rural obscurity – are applying theology to the election and current culture. Some of it has been very, very good. Encouraging. Refreshingly biblical. And some of it…well, not so much.

On the “not so much” side, one of the recurring themes I’ve heard from various pulpits is the prediction or expectation that America is going to make a comeback. Brighter days are just around the corner. The cultural morality of the 1950’s might even re-emerge, and we’ll all be able to breathe a sigh of relief that evil and debauchery have left the building.

Then some pastor, somewhere, decided to co-opt the word “revival,” paste it over this concept of America getting its moral act together, and offer the whole package to American Christians as hope.

A turnaround of American culture and morality wouldn’t be a bad thing. Personally, I think it would be great if America would start behaving itself like a courteous, rational adult instead of a pagan, hedonistic teenager. We are 240 years old, after all.

But that is not revival, and it is not where our hope lies.

Let me ask you something: What if America never turns around? What if things continue to get worse, morally, economically, militarily, and culturally until this country eventually implodes into anarchy or becomes a vassal state to a godless nation?

What if God destroys America instead of making her great again? Will your faith be destroyed, too?

Sadly, for many Americans whose faith has become a syncretistic mélange of patriotism and pseudo-Christianity, the answer is yes. How many will lose heart and walk away forever when the “revival” their pastor promised fails to materialize? Uncle Sam is a cruel master and a lousy god.

Real revival is exactly the opposite. It can take place regardless of who wins the election, whether the United States is virtuous or villainous, rich or poor, enslaved or free or wiped off the face of the earth. It can take place even if you’re the only person in the world who wants it.

Biblical revival happens when Christians – thousands or dozens or one – bow the knee to Christ in repentance over their sin, forsake their worldliness, pursue holiness, act on their new-found zeal for evangelism, and live faithfully. It’s found when we stop fretting about who’s sitting in the Oval Office and start focusing on Who’s sitting on the Throne and how we might honor and please Him, regardless of what’s going on in society.

Real revival doesn’t always change the culture. Just ask Noah. Or the righteous remnant of the Old Testament exile. Or the martyrs of the early church. That’s not what it’s for. Revival isn’t supposed to change the world. It’s supposed to change your heart. It’s supposed to change your focus from temporal, elemental things to the Christ who bled and died for your sin.

That’s where our hope is found, sisters.

Not in the White House, but in Christ, regardless of who’s in the White House. Not in a moral society, but in Christ, whether society’s morals are Victorian or heathen. Not in laws and policies and freedoms that suit us, but in Christ.

Our hope is in Christ.

If Hillary wins,
our hope is in Christ.

If Donald wins,
our hope is in Christ.

If America re-emerges as that city on a hill,
our hope is in Christ.

If America runs swiftly toward her demise,
our hope is in Christ.

Our hope is in Christ, dear sisters. Let us never forsake our First Love for something as lowly as love of country, favor of the government, or an upright populace.

Our hope is in Christ.

Politics, Prayer

7 Ways to Pray During the Trump Administration

7-pray-trump

Whether you love it or hate it…

Whether you voted for him or not…

The reality is that Donald Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States today. The election has come and gone. Our part is over.

Or is it?

A lot of people – both those who voted for him and who voted against him – have a lot of concerns about the things Donald Trump might do or say (or Tweet) as President and about the trajectory of the nation over the next four years. Of equal or more concern are some of the actions his opponents have threatened. But does God want Christians sitting around wringing our hands in worry for the duration of the Trump administration?

Nope.

God has told us exactly what He wants us to do with regard to the rulers He has installed in authority over us.

Step 1:

romans-13-1-2

God wants us to remember that He is the one who places leaders in their positions, and we are to trust His decisions and respect and obey our leaders (unless they command us to do or not do something that conflicts with God’s word – we always submit to God and His word first).

What if the leader is immoral or ungodly? Well consider that when the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to pen these words, Paul was living under the rule of Nero, and I think you’ll have your answer. In so far as we are biblically able, Christians are to obey those in authority over us.

Step 2:

1-ti-2-1-2

God wants us to pray for all people, but He draws our focus to praying for “kings and all who are in high positions.” Why?

  • “That we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”
    Consider the persecution the first century (and every subsequent century to the present day) church faced: Christians fed to lions, immolated, beheaded, quartered, family members tortured, and more. We’re to ask God for the government to allow us to quietly live in peace and pursue godliness.
  • “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,” 1 Timothy 2:3 goes on to say. It is good for us to pray for our leaders simply because it is pleasing to God. When you get right down to it, do we really need any other reason to obey God?
  • Because God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” says 1 Timothy 2:4. Even though God doesn’t have to give us a reason to obey Him about praying for our leaders, He chooses to reveal something to us about His nature and character by explaining why He wants us to do so. God’s heart is for all people to know Christ as Savior – including our rulers. God wants to save them because He loves them as individuals made in His image, but He also wants to save them so they will be godly rulers and – bringing us full circle to 1 Timothy 2:2 – so that God’s people will be able to lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

So now that we know that God wants us to pray for our President and others “who are in high positions,” and why God wants us to pray for them, what are some of the things we can pray for during the Trump administration?

1. Pray for God to save our unsaved leaders

Lip service to God does not a regenerated believer make. Many people claim to be Christians yet have never repented of their sin and placed their faith in Christ. The Bible is clear that those who consistently live in unrepentant sin are not saved. Don’t listen so much to what our leaders say about God, rather watch what they do. If he walks like a heathen and quacks like a heathen, pray for God to save him.

2. Pray for the daily walk of our saved leaders

Can you imagine how hard it must be to live a godly life as one of the few Christians in the political arena? For our leaders who not only talk the talk but are striving to walk the walk, pray that God will give them ample time in His word, in prayer, and in church. Pray that He will enable them to resist temptation to sin. Pray that they will walk uprightly in their day to day lives. Pray that they will seek to honor God in their work and decisions. Pray that God will give them boldness and open doors to share the gospel with others.

3. Pray that God will move all of our leaders to make right decisions

Even if they make those right decisions for the wrong reasons. Even if they meant their decisions for evil. Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lordhe turns it wherever he will.” Pray that God will turn our leaders’ hearts to make right decisions.

4. Pray against governmental intrusion and persecution in the lives of Christians

Unfortunately, over the past several years we’ve seen the beginnings of persecution against Christians in the U.S. Christians have been fired and lost their businesses for refusing to provide services for homosexual weddings. Christians are having to comply with government mandates regarding transgender issues and abortion. The government has interfered with private parenting decisions made by Christians. Pray that God would move our leaders to back off and allow Christians to “lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

5. Pray for the church

It’s very likely that we are in the last days of freedom of religion in the United States. Pray that God would continue to bless the church with that constitutional right. And while we still have it, pray that pastors would boldly preach Christ and Him crucified. Pray that Christians would faithfully love, serve, and attend their churches every week. Pray that the church would properly disciple Christians to live as lights for Christ in the world. Pray that we would send out unprecedented numbers of missionaries. Pray that we will work the works of Him who sent us while it is day; for night is coming, when no one can work.

6. Pray that Christians will share the gospel

This country will not be changed by leaders and legislation. It will only be changed by the Lord. The United States will only become a godly nation if the majority of the people of this nation have had their hearts changed by the gospel. Pray (again, while we are still free to do so) that God will light a fire under those of us who know Him to unabashedly share the gospel everywhere we go, with everyone we meet.

7. Pray that God would protect this nation

From our enemies and from ourselves.

Take some time to pray for our leaders and our country
today and every day.

If you’d like, add your prayer below in the comments.