If My People. . .

The United States of America is standing on the brink. El Nino's recent devastation to almost every state of the Union is only the most recent in an ever growing list of natural disasters that have plagued our nation. And it doesn't look like it's going to be over any time soon.

There is an unfortunate view that many Christians hold -- a view that, on the surface, seems quite sound. This view could be summed up as follows: "If the people of this country don't see the error of their ways and turn to God, we're done for." Responsibility is conveniently placed on "their" shoulders, leaving us Christians as mere, helpless spectators. Surely we can't be held responsible for the decline of the nation!

Let's take a look at what the Word of God has to say about this.

If I shut up heaven so no rain falls, or if I command locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, if My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. -- II Chronicles 7:13-14

So be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you. Come close to God and He will come close to you. [Recognize that you are] sinners, get your soiled hands clean; [realize that you have been disloyal] wavering individuals with divided interests, and purify your hearts [of your spiritual adultery]. [As you draw near to God] be deeply penitent and grieve, even weep [over your disloyalty]. Let your laughter be turned to grief and your mirth to dejection and heartfelt shame [for your sins]. Humble yourselves [feeling very insignificant] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up and make your lives significant]. -- James 4:7-10

What do these two Scriptures tell us?

In II Chronicles we see that if God causes "natural" disasters to plague a land where His people (believers in, and disciples of, Jesus) dwell, God expects His people to be the ones to respond. God is even gracious enough to tell us what He expects of us -- humble ourselves, pray, seek God's face, and turn from our wicked ways. Then He will hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land. Wait a minute! I'm a Christian! I don't have any evil ways!

That's what I thought, until God set me straight. It's really quite simple. Is your life completely yielded to God? Is "self" in control or is the Holy Spirit in control?

There are about a million and a half things that can get in the way of our relationship with God -- attitudes (pride, arrogance, self-pity, greed), possessions, people, you name it!

We need to come before God, humbly, and ask Him to show us those things in our lives which need to be addressed. And in His abundant grace, mercy and love, He will bring these things to light.

Then comes the exciting part! God says that He will hear us, forgive us and heal our land! I think nothing must please the Lord quite as much as when one of His children continually strives to have a meaningful, growing relationship with Him.

James 4:7-10 gives us a wonderful illustration of the same principles we found in II Chronicles. We are to be subject to God. We are to resist the devil. As we turn toward God, He will respond and come close to us.

We are admonished to recognize our spiritual condition (v. 8) and be deeply grieved, even to the point of tears. Our laughter and mirth should become grief, dejection and heartfelt shame because of our sins (v. 9).

We are to humble ourselves before the Lord, knowing that without Him we are nothing. Then, when we are an empty, yielded vessel, God can lift us up in His service.

There is a prayer in the book of Daniel, chapter 9. Although Daniel was square with God, he still prayed that "we" have transgressed. Rather than judge and condemn the people, he included himself as being one of the transgressors. Let this be our attitude as well.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 states, "To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven." Now is the time for the people of God to turn their faces to Him, open their hearts to His gentle touch, and become the willing vessels He desires. Then God will hear us -- and He will heal our land!

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