I have a wonderful example of putting into practice what I have been writing about the past week for 10 Days. A friend requested prayer to be more Christlike and not to judge some believers who were acting in a fleshly way, and then prayed this: “I think how can they call themselves Christians and do those things; then I think, how can I call myself a Christian when I look down on them.” Amen! This is precisely how I want us to think and respond to those around us whether they be believers or unbelievers or people in the news. We take the log out of our own eye and humble ourselves.
Last month in one of my messages we saw how Nehemiah humbled himself and prayed upon hearing the bad news that the Jews in Jerusalem were in disgrace and the walls were still torn down. Though a righteous man, he identified himself with his people and confessed the sins of the nation, crying to God: “hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you… We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.” (Nehemiah 1:6-7, NIV)
We can and should pray in this manner ourselves. What bothers you about the state of our city, the state of our nation? Pray about it. Confess what is wrong and specifically ask the Lord to change it or heal it. Repent yourself where you need to. God heard Nehemiah’s cry and gave him favor from the king to go and repair the walls of Jerusalem. God hears our cries.
Here is a passage that Paul wrote to Timothy (3:1-5, ESV) about the sinful state of their society: “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…” Not much has changed in 2000 years!
Lovers of self and lovers of money. These two go hand in hand. The New Living Translation states it, “for people will love only themselves and their money”. Loving money makes us selfish, anxious and stingy. Jesus said you cannot serve God and money. Yet the love of money is so strong in our society and also afflicts us and God’s church.
“Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” Pleasure appeals to our flesh and can begin to take the place of God in our lives as we begin to make having pleasure our main goal in life. I would like to add “lovers of comfort” to this list. I realize how much I enjoy being comfortable, whether lounging on comfortable furniture watching a game, or not wanting to be bothered with the problems of others when I feel like relaxing. I want to be a lover of Jesus and others–saved to serve!
Please take some time to pray over these passages and cry out to the Lord alone or with others. James encouraged us that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (5:16)
Father, we see how far we as Americans have fallen from You. We love money and self. We love our pleasures more than we love You. This makes us sad! Please give us hearts to repent and to turn back to You. Let us feel the weight of our sinful ways and our need for a Savior. Let there be an awakening that turns many lives to Jesus and obeying His commands. We need you. Let Your Kingdom come and Your will be done in America! Amen.
Crying out with you,