2 Chronicles 7:14
“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 I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Are you, like me, weary and restless from all the bad news from around our country and the world? A global pandemic that continues to spread and affect countless lives, with no foreseeing light at the end of the tunnel. Natural disasters that continue to reach down and grip millions, destroying states and communities. Financial disasters that have wiped out and devalued economies. Political fights and arguments that has caused a great chasm and war in our nation. In light of all of this, questions, worry, and fear fill our hearts and minds. You may be thinking to yourself, “how will all this play out?” or “will things ever get better?”
So what are we to do in this difficult and dark season that we are living in? I believe what we need more than anything in our world right now is a spiritual awakening, a revival of the heart across the globe. To be sure, we are in unprecedented and difficult times, but I believe even still God is speaking, moving, and is reaching down to extend mercy to every heart and soul on planet earth.
This is not in any way to belittle our circumstances, or the severity of Covid-19, but once we do find a vaccine, once we do flatten the curve, once we are on the other side of this situation, will we be exactly in the same place spiritually before it came? I believe this uncertain season is a time for the people of faith to turn to God and draw nearer to Him.
The text that has been reoccurring in my mind for the past week has been 2 Chronicles 7:14. We find in chapter 7, the temple has just been established, built by Solomon for the worship of God’s people. For the first time in the nation’s history, God’s people have a place, a building to go to meet with God. And Solomon has built the temple and now is dedicating the temple to the glory of God. In fact, nothing symbolized God’s presence among His people in the Old Testament more than the temple, the earthly dwelling place of God.
And in the middle of this dedication where God’s presence fills the temple, we find a promise in verse 14 marked by two important words: “if” and “then.” “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 I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Notice God didn’t say, “if those people,” but He said “if my people.” This is where it all starts, with God’s people, the church. We are facing a global pandemic and it is a frightening and dark time to say the least. And friends the truth is, God doesn’t want us, the church, to be sitting on the sidelines. To be sheltered inside shaking in fear of what might happen. God is saying to us today that I want my church to stand up and step out in faith and fix their eyes on me.
And if my people who are called by my name will do these four things: “will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways.” Another way to identify these four things would be: humility, prayer, devotion and repentance. The word, humble means to be in submission, to live in a state of surrender. When we humble ourselves, we are literally saying to God, you are in control of my life and I am depending on you. Prayer is simply communicating with the God of the Universe who loves and cares for us! When we pray, we are letting go of control and allowing God to fight for us and work on our behalf. Seeking Jesus’ face means a daily reorienting of our hearts and minds to God, by practicing our spiritual disciplines: prayer, mediation, reading scripture, silence, and so forth. And repentance is taking time to look inward and self-examine our hearts and lives to see if there is any sin in us, confessing our sin, and turning to the grace and mercy of God. All of this will take us being intentional with how we are prioritizing our time, and creating meaningful space to commune with God.
After the “if” we see the promise in the second half of verse 14, “then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Notice the things God promises His people: He will hear them from Heaven, He will forgive their sin, and He will heal their land. Wow, what incredible promises from God. Yes, this is a terrible season where our land is facing death and darkness but we serve a God who is still in the business of speaking light into darkness, order into chaos, and life into death.
Now this “if” is a question for us, as God’s people. What will we do with it? We could be bystanders. We could just sit on the sidelines, watch the news, and wait for the latest breaking update. Friends, know that with the “if” there is a “then” and a promise from God. God is waiting for His people to step up and step out into the “if” today. To humble ourselves, to pray, to seek his face and turn from our wicked ways. And it is important to know that once we do these things, does not mean that God will make the “then” happen instantly, or on our time schedules. God can and does work miracles, but that is not dependent on anything we do, but rather on His great love for us. What promise we have in our text is that even in the midst of darkness and chaos, God is still in control and reaching down to us.
This is the hope of Easter! This journey throughout lent has been full of darkness, loss, and even literal death itself. But what we discover at Calvary and through the cross, is a God full of grace and mercy reaching down to bring light where there is darkness, life where there is death, hope where there is despair and pardon where there is sin. Ultimately, when we look at the cross, we see that God takes the worst circumstances and somehow uses them for greater good. Take comfort in knowing that the story doesn’t end at the cross in death and darkness. And thank God it doesn’t! For three days later, the grave stone was rolled away, and Christ was resurrected bringing victory over death and darkness. Because of the empty tomb and the Risen Christ, we can trust in God’s promises and that He will always come through with His word. “He will hear us from heaven, He will forgive our sin, and He will heal our land.”
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2).
My wonderful church family, let us continue to keep the faith, and lift our eyes to the Maker of heaven and earth. Resurrection is coming!
I hope that this song will be your prayer and bring you hope and strength tonight!
Song: “Hear Us From Heaven” by New Life Worship
Click here to listen
“Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”
I am sure at some point in our lives, we have all experienced uncertain circumstances and situations that has left us in a rock bottom place asking questions such as: Where is God? Does God see my struggle and pain? If God is who He says He is, then why am I suffering? Can God rescue me and make things better? Especially in this uncertain season where we are facing a global pandemic that continues to spread and affect countless lives, with no foreseeing light at the end of the tunnel. For many, if not all of us, life as we know it has been put on pause, for some it has been turned upside down. Schools are closed, graduations postponed, surgeries are being rescheduled, employees are being encouraged to work from home and some even laid off, small business are closing, weddings postponed, and funerals limited to the number in attendance. Social distancing and waiting has become the new norm.
In this unprecedented time, I was confronted just a few days ago with a question while reading different passages of Scripture. This question left me speechless and in much contemplation. On three different occasions, under three sets of circumstances, God asks a question, "Is there anything too hard for Me?"
It’s a profound question the Lord ask. It’s a question that is designed to evoke what one really believes about God, the essence of who He is, and how He is at work in the world. The obvious answer is, “No. Nothing is too hard for you, God.” Any Christian who is a “church goer” and has read the Scriptures would most likely come to this conclusion. However, for one who is hurting under the pain of uncertain and rocky circumstances who can’t possibly see how things can change for the better, the question may be difficult to answer.
The first time the question is asked, God has promised a baby to a woman 90 years of age. We read in Genesis 18:14 “Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son."
Yes, of course, women that age do not have children, but God had promised a son and, God came through with His word, despite their unbelief and own attempts to make the long awaited promise come true. God remained faithful and blessed Sarah and Abraham with a son, Isaac, who became the father of the Jewish people.
The second time the question is asked was when God told Jeremiah to go out and buy property, in spite of the fact that the Nation of Israel was about to be overthrown by the Babylonian’s. In the midst of all the difficulty during exile, and the midst of all the things that Jeremiah faced, a word of hope comes to Jeremiah: "Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah saying, Behold, I am the Lord the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for me" (Jeremiah 32:26-27)? Ultimately, the Lord reveals to Jeremiah and the Nation of Israel that nothing is too hard or big for Him, by rescuing and restoring them back to their homeland to live in peace and safety once again.
The third occasion you will find the question is in the prophetic Book of Zechariah. In the midst of a dark time, where God’s people were scattered east and west, God promised to gather His people and bring them back to Jerusalem, where “they would be His people and He would be their faithful and righteous God” (Zach. 8:8). Zachariah 8:6 tells us, “This is what the LORD of Hosts says: “If this is impossible in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be impossible in My eyes?” declares the LORD of Hosts.”
Each circumstance, as seen above, are different and have their own challenges and obstacles. However, one common theme we see threaded throughout each story is God revealing to His people that there is nothing too hard or big for Him to handle!
And so, in this uncertain time of a global pandemic, along with our own personal circumstances and struggles, we are faced with this same question that God spoke to Abraham, Sarah, Jeremiah and Zachariah: “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?”
What mountains are in your life right now? It may be an illness that keeps you up tossing and turning in bed each night? A marriage that seems to be stagnant and on the rocks? Financial struggles that is causing you to be stressed? A certain job decision that will bring change? An addiction that keeps you chained? Making an important decision that is unclear? A child that is going down the wrong path? A global pandemic that continues to spread and affect hundreds of people a day?
Brothers and sisters, here is the good news, if God can make a way for Jeremiah in a prison, the three Hebrew boys in a fiery furnace, Daniel in a lion’s den, a shepherd boy in the face of a giant, Moses in the grip of Pharaoh and his army, Esther in confronting a King, Noah in the face of a flood, Abraham and Sarah in the face of waiting, Jonah in the belly of a whale, Paul in chains, and Jesus in a dark tomb, don't you think He can make a way for you and me?
It is because of the empty tomb and the resurrected Christ, that there is no promise too hard for God to keep, there is no prayer too hard for God to answer, and there is no problem too hard for God to solve. Always remember that, whatever you are facing today or will face in the future: God is with you, He is for you, and there is nothing too difficult for Him to handle and work for your good!
The following song is timely in this uncertain season that we are in. I pray that it gives you hope and strength in the God who makes a way out of no way!
Way Maker, by: Leeland
Click the link to listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJCV_2H9xD0
Growing up, I was afraid of bad weather, and it would often cause me to have panic attacks. The roaring thunder, flashes of lightening, and whirling winds and heavy down pours of rain caused me to be anxious and afraid. I remember one night in particular, a severe storm rolled in our area with heavy winds and a steady down pour of rain along with frequent flashes of lightening. I started to worry tossing and turning in my bed I could feel that I was about to have a panic attack, so I immediately jumped out of bed and ran straight towards my parent’s room. As I approached their door I began to tippy-toe in their room and tapped on my mom’s shoulder, “Mom, I am afraid, can I sleep with you and Dad?” My loving mother embraced me and pulled me into bed between her and dad reassuring me that I was safe and that everything was going to be okay. My anxiety started to digress and I felt safe, having a peaceful assurance that the storm would eventually pass and I was going to be okay.
Feeling protected, secure and knowing that everything is going to be okay is an affirmation we all want to feel and experience in our daily lives. This is especially true, in times when uncertain circumstances and various seasons make us feel otherwise. When you lose a dear loved one. When you receive an unexpected diagnosis. When bills outweigh the number in your bank account. When a marriage is torn apart. When a natural disaster strikes leaving communities and lives broken and in despair. When an infectious virus spreads and become a worldwide pandemic and abruptly causes life to be turned upside down.
If we are all honest, we can think of a time or two when we have not felt safe and protected wondering if everything is going to be okay. David, one of the great pillars of the faith was no exception to seasons of uncertainty. However, in his questions and times of despair he found and discovered a resting place in the shadow of the Almighty, which he writes about in Psalm 91, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (Ps. 91:1-2).
Take a moment and read all of Psalm 91.
The word “dwell” used in this verse actually means, “to take up permanent residence in.” The psalmist reminds us to stay in God’s presence. And not just when things are bad, or when we are on a spiritual high or just when we feel like it, but take up residence and live in the presence of God. And when we do that, the psalmist says in the latter part of verse 1, we “will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
Shadows by definition are a place of protection or covering, they provide relief from the direct heat of the sun. For example, on a hot summer day at the park when the heat is beating on our backs, the shade is the place in which we run. It diminishes what we actually feel in the intensity of the heat. And the psalmist reminds us that it is the shadow of the Almighty that protects us from the intensity of the heat of the various circumstances of our lives. And what a timely reminder for us, especially in this challenging and strange time in our world, that we never walk alone and have a resting place in the shadow of the Almighty. For it is in the shadow of the Almighty where God embraces us with his perfect peace and reassures us, just like my parents reassured me, “everything is going to be okay.”
To be sure, this does not make our circumstances easier or change the reality of them. No, the pain and hurt we feel and experience is still there. When troubles are bearing down, it’s a struggle at times to keep trudging through it all. Stress, worry and anxiety can seem as stifling as the hot summer sun. And the thing is there are times, maybe unintentionally, in the difficulties of our circumstances, we might strive to survive on our own. And in doing so, we fail to remember that what we need most, God's protection and the comfort of His presence, are right in front of us, calling us to cast all of our cares upon Him.
Think about the place where you are running to find shelter? You see, the truth is that when we choose to rest in the shadow of the Almighty, “we will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday” (Ps. 91:5-6).
In verses 5-6, as quoted above, refers to the Hebrew day that had four equal parts, night (6PM-12AM), day (6AM-12PM), darkness (12AM-6AM), and midday (12 PM-6PM). All of this ultimately points to: God providing constant sovereign protection twenty-four hours a day! What comforting assurance to know!
The psalmist knew this which is why the he could say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent” (Ps. 91:9-13).
This entire chapter of Psalm 91 is filled with the goodness, power and sovereignty of God over His people. Towards the end of the psalm, the psalmist lays out reasons of why we do not have to fear when we rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Hear these promises from God: “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation” (Ps. 91:14-16).
Psalm 91's Promises from God
"I will rescue him/her..."
"I will protect him/her..."
"I will answer him/her..."
"I will be with him/her in trouble..."
"I will deliver him/her..."
“I will honor him/her…”
“I will satisfy him/her….”
“I will show him/her my salvation...”
Wow, what incredible promises for those who choose to rest in the shadow of the Almighty and trust in Him. Brothers and sisters, there is great blessings as we seek after God, and choose to trust and walk in His ways. We may never fully know, on this side of heaven, how He has sheltered us, protected for us, provided for us and saved us.
Psalm 91 is a timely reminder that we are never alone and always under the protection of God’s sovereign hand. We may not always see it, or feel it, we might even fail to remember it’s there at times, or even wonder if God has left us in the heat of hard situations of life. But His protection and presence is real and we can trust that what God says in His word, He will always come through, because “He who has promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23).
In closing, invite you to pray this psalm. In fact, this is a great psalm to pray daily, especially when your words seem to fall short. May you find rest in the shadow of the Almighty God who loves you, who is for you, and works all things together for your good and His glory! “I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (Psalm 91:2).
The following song is extremely powerful and I pray that it draws you closer to God!
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God by: Christy Nockels Click the link below to listen:
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
What brings you comfort when you are suffering or going through stressful and difficult times? Although well-meaning friends may assure you that everything will be all right, the person who truly comforts is the one who puts an arm around your shoulder and says, “I’m familiar with the pain you are feeling, I know it hurts, and I will walk with you all the way.”
The term empathize expresses the compassion of one who does not simply see suffering from the outside, but who enters into the suffering and makes it his or her own. Jesus, our High Priest,
involves Himself in our suffering in this way. The writer of Hebrews writes, “Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26).
Weakness is used in the Bible to describe such things as physical illness, financial need, and any other human limitation. To be sure, Jesus experienced human weariness, confusion, disappointment, and intense sorrow and pain, which we are reminded of during this season of Lent. We can go to Him with everything because He has experienced everything that we have faced, are facing now, or will face in future.
My wife and I recently experienced a miscarriage. Although Jesus, being a man, was never pregnant or ever lost a child in that way, we are comforted by the fact that Jesus is intimately familiar with loss and can empathize with our grief and struggle. In fact, the Bible tells us Jesus wept when he lost some of his closest friends. So, if anyone gets it, it is Jesus, and He understands the heartache, pain, and difficulties we face in the various seasons of our lives. “For this reason Jesus had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:17-18).
The best news of all is that we know how the story ends. It doesn’t end with sorrow and pain at the cross, and thank God it doesn’t. For three days later, when all hope seemed lost, the tombstone was rolled away and Jesus was resurrected bringing life from death, beauty from ashes, hope from despair, and light from darkness. This does not change the reality of our circumstances or make all of our problems go away, but it gives us confident hope and assurance to face each step knowing that we are not alone.
So, as we continue walking with Jesus the long and weary road toward the cross, I invite you to pause for a moment. May you accept the invitation to sit down with Jesus and be still—somewhere away from the noisy crowds of your daily life—and listen, receive, and be filled with hope, satisfaction, assurance, and strength that only He alone can provide. If Jesus asked you, “What’s your greatest weakness or struggle, your deepest pain, right now?” how would you answer? Would you even know how to put your weakness and pain into words, or would you hope he can read your eyes, your posture, your silence? Would you be afraid to speak because you’re not sure what might come out, and you’re not sure if Jesus could handle your anger, your tears, or your fears?
Because of the truth of Jesus Christ, our compassionate High Priest, we can “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” as quoted above. We can approach Him confidently about anything—our needs, concerns, hopes, dreams, and our desires—knowing that He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7) and is working all things together for our good and for His glory (Romans 8:28).
“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
In the hope and victory of Jesus Christ, our High Priest,