God’s Plan for Our National Health
2 Chronicles 7:12-7:14 (NIV, NIRV, TNIV, KJV)
God’s Plan for Our Health
Part 2 - Our National Health
2 Chronicles 7:12-14
Sermon by Rick Crandall
McClendon Baptist Church - June 29, 2008
*We are about to celebrate the 232nd birthday of our country. This is a good time to focus on the health of our nation, and what we can do about it.
*So please open your Bibles to 2 Chron 7:12-14. The background here is the dedication of Solomon’s temple. In chapter 5 they brought the Ark of the Covenant to its place and began to praise the Lord. Then the temple was filled with a cloud and so much of God’s glory that the priests had to suspend their work for a time. The dedication lasted seven days with prayers, praise and a sacrifice that included 120,000 sheep. Then after the people were sent home, God spoke to Solomon in vs. 12-14:
12. Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: "I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice.
13. "When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people,
14. "if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
*That’s a promise we need to hear today as America faces some huge problems. Gas is $4 a gallon, and may go up before it goes down. The stock market is in the tank. And though there has been a wonderful improvement in the situation in Iraq, we still face radical Islamists who would love to see our country go up in smoke.
*Here at home, traditional Christian values are ridiculed and under constant attack from liberal judges and legislators. Last month, four judges on the California Supreme Court overturned the will of the voters and legalized gay marriage. This was a terrible decision in the eyes of God. Does saying that mean I am a homophobe who hates homosexuals? -- Quite the contrary. Bible-believing Christians should love homosexuals. We should love them enough to tell them the truth. We should love them enough to tell them that homosexuality is a sin, because God says it is a sin. -- But also tell them that we are all sinners, and that God loved us enough to die for our sins. We should love them enough to tell them that God will forgive their sins and save anyone who will turn to Him and trust in Jesus. But when it comes to homosexuality or any other sin: We can never say something is right, if God says it’s wrong.
*Dennis Prager has a must-read column on the gay marriage verdict in California. Here are some key parts:
*If this verdict stands, society as we have known it will change. The California Supreme Court and its millions of supporters are playing with fire. And it will eventually burn future generations in ways we can only begin to imagine.
*Outside of the privacy of their homes, young girls will be discouraged from imagining one day marrying their prince charming. To do so would be declared "heterosexist," morally equivalent to racist. Rather, they will be told to imagine a prince or a princess. Schoolbooks will not be allowed to describe marriage in male-female ways alone. Little girls will be asked by other girls and by teachers if they want one day to marry a man or a woman. Any advocacy of man-woman marriage alone will be regarded morally as hate speech, and shortly thereafter it will be deemed so in law. Companies that advertise engagement rings will have to show a man putting a ring on a man’s finger -- if they show only women fingers, they will be boycotted just as a company having racist ads would be now. Films that only show man-woman married couples will be regarded as antisocial and as morally irresponsible as films that show people smoking have become. Traditional Jews and Christians -- (i.e. those who believe in a divine scripture) -- will be marginalized. Anyone who advocates marriage between a man and a woman will be morally regarded the same as racist. And soon it will be a hate crime. (1)
*Do you think these radical things can’t happen? Church, I have to tell you that it already is happening. Jon & Elaine Huguenin are Christians who own a small photography shop in New Mexico. Last April the New Mexico Human Rights Commission ordered them to pay $6,600 to Vanessa Willock.
*Vanessa had asked the Huguenins to photograph a same-sex “commitment ceremony” she wanted to have with her partner. Elaine Huguenin declined because her Christian beliefs do not support homosexuality. Vanessa took that rejection to the New Mexico Human Rights Commission which found that the photography shop discriminated against her because of her sexual orientation, in violation of the New Mexico Human Rights Act. Thankfully, the Alliance Defense Fund is appealing the decision for Jon and Elaine. (2)
*This is just the tip of the iceberg. We could talk for hours about the problems we face. Is there anything we can do? What can we do to help our country? God says, “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 will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Here are 5 things we can do to help our country.
1. First: Give God credit for our blessings.
*With all of our problems, I truly believe we are still the best country in the world. We have freed more people; we have helped more people than any nation in history. We are by far more free and prosperous than most people in the world.
*Listen to this testimony from our daughter Becky. It’s about a new friend she met on her mission trip to Africa:
Suzanne lives in Johannesburg, and served as our tour guide throughout our mission trip to Lesotho. One day, I decided to ask Suzanne her honest opinion of Americans, since she had spent last summer working at a camp near Philadelphia. I never expected the response she gave. Without hesitation, Suzanne stated that the first thing that she noticed about America was the lack of barbed wire and iron fences. It was the freedom she felt as she walked around our country that stood out the most to her – not freedom in the traditional sense that we think of as Americans. -- But rather the freedom to live without constant fear.
As we continued to talk, Suzanne told me that she fears for her life on a daily basis. Not only that, but she fears for her family’s safety. Although she lives a middle-to-upper-class area of Johannesburg -- one that seemed to be the “nice part of town” to me, crime and civil unrest are constant reminders of the world in which she lives.
*Suzanne later sent a text message to Becky that said, “O why couldn’t I have been born in America?”
*Suzanne and her boyfriend have committed to stay right where they are, because they are devoted Christians, and God has given them a passion to reach the people of Africa. God is also helping Suzanne to overcome her fears, but -- “O why couldn’t I have been born in America?”
*We are truly, truly blessed! -- But we have to realize that God is the source of our blessings. God says, “My people need to humble themselves.” We need to remember that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). As Paul asked the Christians in Corinth, “What do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you glory as if you had not received it?” (1 Cor 4:7)
*We need to humble ourselves before God. There is no way this nation could have even been started without Divine intervention. Consider the final battle of the American Revolution at Yorktown. The weather was good, -- except during two vital periods. On the night Washington began digging approach trenches, a soldier recorded that "we were favored by Providence with a night of extreme darkness" and by a gentle rain that muffled the sound of digging. Then, near the end of the siege, Cornwallis attempted a breakout by ferrying his best troops across the York River at night. Halfway through the operation, "the weather… changed to a most violent storm of wind and rain" that drove the barges down river and left Cornwallis’ forces divided and scattered. The adverse turn of the weather completely disrupted the attempted breakout," and Cornwallis surrendered the next day. (3)
*Tradition says that after the British surrender, the defeated Redcoats departed to the sounds of the song, “The World Turned Upside Down:”
--“If ponies rode men and grass ate cows,
--And cats were chased into holes by the mouse . . .
--If summer were spring and the other way round,
--Then all the world would be upside down.” (4)
*They were blown away by the fact that the greatest army of the greatest empire in the world had been defeated by a rag-tag army of Americans. It never could have happened without the remarkable help of Almighty God.
2. We must give God credit for our blessings. -- And answer God’s call to pray. God says: “If My people who are called by My name will pray...”
*Never underestimate the power of prayer. In Jeremiah 33:3, God says, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” God answers prayer!
*Gen. Dwight Eisenhower saw great proof 64 years ago. On June 6th, 1944, the Allies were ready to launch the key invasion of WW II on the beaches of Normandy in France. But the weather was terrible over the English Channel, and there was a serious debate about whether to postpone the invasion. The tides and moon wouldn’t be right again until July.
*Eisenhower said, “Such a postponement is too bitter to contemplate. I am quite positive, we must give the order.” The invasion was launched and victory was won.
*Ten years later, Eisenhower spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast. He told of praying the night before the invasion. And he heard a voice from above which said, “The weather is for your protection. -- Launch tomorrow.” The bad weather put the Germans off-guard. They did not expect the attack. (5)
*Victory came again through the help of Almighty God. -- So never give up on prayer.
3. We must answer God’s call to pray. -- And remember God’s desire to be close. God says, “If My people who are called by My name will seek My face...”
*The Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ is here right now. And Jesus has promised us that if we seek Him -- we will find Him. But what does it mean to seek the face of God?
1-First of all, it’s about leaving. When we go on this spiritual journey to seek the Lord, there are some things we are going to leave behind. Old ways, priorities and habits need to be left behind.
2-Seeking God’s face is also about love. We seek the Lord because we love Him. And we ought to love Jesus! We ought to love Him, because He loves us beyond measure! -- He proved that when He died on the cross for us.
3-Seeking God’s face is also about closeness -- the closeness of relationship. We all have a comfort zone around us, and we are usually very uncomfortable getting close to someone’s face, unless we know them very well. So, this is an invitation to know Jesus Christ in a close-up, personal kind of way.
4-Seeking God’s face is also about cleanness. I don’t want to get close to someone’s face without being fresh and clean -- that’s why I carry breath mints.
5- Seeking God’s face is also about our desire. In Jeremiah 29:13 God said, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” And in Matt 6:33 Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” How much passion and desire do you have to seek God?
*Our 4th President, James Madison was one of the key leaders at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Many provisions in our Constitution came through his wisdom and deep Christian faith. But Madison worried that he tended to get carried away during debate. So, he asked a fellow Virginian to sit by his side and pull his coattails if he seemed to get too excited.
*After one highly passionate speech, Madison sat down. He was nearly exhausted, and he complained to his friend for not pulling on his coat. The friend responded, “I would just as soon have laid a finger on lightning!” (6)
*Madison had great passion for our country and our freedom. We need that kind of passion for God! -- Passion enough to seek Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We must have passion to seek God’s face, because God wants to be much, much closer to us.
4. Remember God’s desire to be close. -- And turn away from your corruption. God says, “If My people who are called by My name will turn from their wicked ways...”
*We all need to turn away from bad actions and attitudes. Christians, we need to admit our sinful ways, confess our sins to God and repent. The first word Jesus ever preached was “repent!” “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt 4:17)
*Paul Decker tells us that repentance means we have a necessary change of mind. Our views change. Our values and goals change. The way we live changes. Repentance means that we turn away from sin and turn to God. (7)
*Gordon MacDonald once said, “Repentance is not basically a religious word. It comes from a culture where people were essentially nomadic and lived in a world with no maps or street signs. It’s easy to get lost walking through the desert. You become aware that the country side is strange. You finally say to yourself, ‘I’m going in the wrong direction.’ That’s the first act of repentance. The second act of repentance is to go in an alternate direction. (8)
*Go in the right direction. What direction are you headed in today? We are never standing still. All of us are either getting better -- or worse. Take a good look at your life this morning and turn away from every known sin. Turn toward the Lord and all of His goodness. God will surely help us to turn our lives over to Him.
5. We must turn away from our corruption. -- And trust in the cross of Jesus Christ.
*There is no way we can solve the problems we face in our own strength. But this has always been true. In Psalm 33 God’s Word says:
12. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, And the people whom He has chosen as His own inheritance.
16. No king is saved by the multitude of an army; A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.
17. A horse is a vain hope for safety; Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength.
18. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy,
19. To deliver their soul from death, And to keep them alive in famine.
20. Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.
*We cannot trust in our own goodness, strength and smarts. We must trust in someone bigger than us. We must trust in the Lord. God says, “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 will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
*God has already done the most important thing He could ever do to forgive our sin and heal our land. Jesus Christ came into our world and died on the cross for our sins. Three days later Jesus rose from the dead -- proving that He has the power to help all who will trust in Him. So trust Jesus Christ. Trust Him enough to humble your heart before Him. Trust Him enough to pray. Trust Him enough to seek His face. Trust Him enough to turn from your wicked ways.
*Christians, if we will do these things, we will not only bless ourselves. We will bless our families, our church, our community, and our nation. And if you have never turned to Jesus, open your heart and receive Jesus Christ today as your Savior and Lord. He will forgive all of your sins and give His everlasting life to you. We have got to trust in something greater than ourselves.
(BluefishTV video clip: Iraq: A Soldier’s Story of Faith) (2 min 47 sec)
*Did you hear what Pvt. Josh Cavasos said? “That night was the changing-point in my life. And in the midst of being shot at, and in the midst of watching people being killed, and in the midst of things I don’t think I can ever bring myself to talk about, I remembered one fact: Christ is in me as I am in Him. And nothing can separate us from the love of God.”
*Let today be the changing-point in your life. As Capt. Chris Plekenpol said, “Where else do you go? Where else do you turn to? We have got to trust in something greater than ourselves.” (9)
*Put your trust in Jesus Christ.
(1) Excerpt from: CALIFORNIA DECISION WILL RADICALLY CHANGE SOCIETY by Dennis Prager - Tuesday, May 20, 2008
(2) Christian photogs penalized for refusing ’gay’ ceremony - State slams couple with $6,600 fine for violating anti-discrimination law - Posted: April 11, 2008 - 11:30 pm Eastern - WorldNetDaily
(3) The Weather Factor! By Douglas S. Winnail - http://www.lcg.org/cgi-bin/tw/magazine/tw-mag.cgi?category=Magazine33&item=1104261795
(4) Colonial Williamsburg audio
(5) original source unknown
(6) Source David Holwick: Internet: Http://capo.org/kmsc/comprims.html - AUTHOR: Rev. George Grant - 11/16/98
(7) SermonCentral sermon “A Dream Come True” by Paul Decker - Matt 4:12-17 - 2/27/00
(8) SermonCentral sermon “REVIVAL” by Gerald Flury - 2 Chron 7:14
(9) BluefishTV video clip: Iraq: A Soldier’s Story of Faith (2 min 47 sec)