Praying for America

When praying for this nation, I like to look for precedents in the Scripture. Here is a good example of various situations in biblical cross-references: (https://biblehub.com/2_kings/19-35.htm)

There is nothing to prevent a nation from invading another nation in today’s world. The fear of retaliation with stronger weapons of destruction or simply a greater population of available soldiers has previously been a deterrent to open conflict. But the untamed God is a God of power and indignation at aggression with violence and bloodshed, and He is vitally interested in the affairs of men.

Think about the situation when the Assyrian army had surrounded Jerusalem and the Jews were starving within the walls of their city. The Angel of the Lord came and slew the enemy army. The next morning the Jews were thrilled to plunder the enemy army for food and other necessities (II Kings 19:35; Isaiah 37:36). Think about God’s intervention for Israel in the Six Day War in 1967. God still works in behalf of His praying people, so let’s be motivated to pray earnestly for the survival of our own nation against our enemies. God is certainly able if we are willing to inconvenience ourselves in fasting and intercession. That will involve repentance and confession of our own sins first.

II 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.

Let us not deceive ourselves: we certainly have need to repent of our own wickedness before we ask God to defend us against our enemies!! For example, yesterday in the grocery store, the clerk that waited on me boldly  wore a rainbow mask. Sexual perversion. Do we not need to repent of our sins before asking almighty God to defend us from aggressors?

Exodus 14:13
But Moses told the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the Lord’s salvation, which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again.

2 Chronicles 15:2
So he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.

2 Chronicles 20:6-17 
…16Tomorrow you are to march down against them. You will see them coming up the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley facing the Wilderness of Jeruel. 17You need not fight this battle. Take up your positions, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out and face them tomorrow, for the LORD is with you.’ ”18Then Jehoshaphat bowed face down, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down before the LORD to worship Him.…

2 Chronicles 32:8
With him is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.” So the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

The Old Testament Scriptures tell the stories of various battles in which God delivered the Israelites in different ways that only He was capable of. The nation of Israel was allowed to stand and see the battles won by their Lord, and not by the hand of man. Having God to fight for them was amazing. And while the whole nation was not pure, enough were faithful to their Creator-God that He jealously set the heavenly armies against Israel’s earthly foes.

So it is today. If we, the Lord’s, will turn from our wicked ways, honor and obey Him, we will see His miraculous deliverance from our many enemies. A superficial turning, superficial repentance, superficial obedience will not impress the all-knowing God. But a wholehearted, deep commitment will move Him in our behalf.

Hard Prayers

I’ve thought a lot about my friend’s apparent horror at the way I pray for professing Christians and their leaders as contrasted with those who do not know God. I mentioned to her Ezekiel 9 where God’s judgment began at the front of the temple where the old men sat. The old men represent the great wisdom of the religious system. But the Man with the ink horn also marked the children and the women. Did you know that even a child is known by his ways?

Proverbs 20:11 “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.”

God hears the prayers that echo His own heart  that show oneness with Him. That’s why I pray according to Scripture. Here is a passage that concerns me for my own intercession or lack of it.

Ezekiel 22:30-31 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.

31 Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God.

An intercessor stands between God and the lost or compromised. That’s what Moses did. No wonder God loved Moses dearly! Just one person can make a difference in the life of a nation. That could be you or me! I take that seriously.

Psalm 82:5 [The magistrates and judges] know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in the darkness [of complacent satisfaction]; all the foundations of the earth [the fundamental principles upon which rests the administration of justice] are shaking.

Notice in this passage that the officials chose to not understand! They are satisfied with their darkness, so the support of the law is lacking and society has no solid foundation. This is scary because the lack of discipline or enforcement of law extends from the training of little children all the way to people of authority and responsibility.

Isaiah 26:9-11 My soul yearns for You [O Lord] in the night, yes, my spirit within me seeks You earnestly; for [only] when Your judgments are in the earth will the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God).

10 Though favor is shown to the wicked, yet they do not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness they deal perversely and refuse to see the majesty of the Lord.

11 Though Your hand is lifted high to strike, Lord, they do not see it. Let them see Your zeal for Your people and be ashamed; yes, let the fire reserved for Your enemies consume them.

This last Scripture is graphic. It is plain. Is it not better to experience hardship that brings one to his knees than to enjoy pleasures during life only to be tormented in the lake of fire for eternity????

Matthew 18:8-9 And if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble and sin, cut it off and throw it away from you; it is better (more profitable and wholesome) for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into everlasting fire.

And if your eye causes you to stumble and sin, pluck it out and throw it away from you; it is better (more profitable and wholesome) for you to enter life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the hell (Gehenna) of fire.

This is Jesus’ teaching! He is trying to get His listeners to understand that eternal life is the most important thing in earthly life. Nothing else compares with living this life preparing for the next life, which is eternal! Do people listen? Only when life gets too hard and they need help.

Human mercy does not work God’s ways. Human mercy lacks God’s righteousness – His desire for holiness and purity. And His desire never changes. But He is passionate for those who desire Him with all of their hearts.

Revelation 3:16 So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth!

That word “spew” is actually “vomit” in the original – a very strong word. This is God talking and we had better be afraid of Him and His words. But, as already said, mankind will only listen when he is in a hard place.

I have asked the Holy Spirit if my prayers are too hard and I believe I’ve heard Him assure me that these Scriptures reflect His heart. Jesus loved the world so much He came as a Man to die to pay for mankind’s sin, individual by individual. He will not violate man’s will, but He will try to persuade stony hearts to repent and forsake their iniquities and perversions and turn to Him in a sacred, intimate relationship.

Isolation

Genesis 2:7 Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers

“. . . breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.–The life came not as the result of man’s bodily organization, nor as derived by evolution from any other animal, but as a gift direct from God. And whatever superiority over other animals may be possessed by man comes from the manner in which this living breath was bestowed upon him, and not from his being “a living soul;” for that is common to all alike.”

According to Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

The part in each human that sets him apart from all other biological creatures is his spirit or pneuma. Psychology would call this the psyche. The psyche or spirit of man has a mind, will and emotions that can also connect with God.  

The spirit is capable of possessing knowledge. David declared: “I will give thanks unto you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Wonderful are your works; and that my soul knows right well” (Psa. 139:14).

The spirit can experience emotion. In one of his discourses Job declared that “[his] soul grieved for the needy” (Job 30:25)

Daniel cried that: “My spirit was grieved in the midst of my body” (Daniel 7:15).

Jesus said: “Now is my soul troubled” (John. 12:27) as He neared the time of His crucifixion.  “After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”(John 13:21).

It is an obvious fact that human beings are influenced by their surroundings. Social communication is extremely important for human mental, emotional and physical health. It is an extreme form of cruelty to put criminals in total isolation. In Charles Dickens’ book A Tale of Two Cities, Dr. Manette suffered tragically from the years of isolation he was forced to endure as a political prisoner during the French revolution.

I am providing a Christian perspective of the isolation strategy to shut down the spread of Covid-19 around the world. Far more harm is being done to humanity through isolation than is being done by contagion. Chronic isolation increases stress, and inflammation from chronic stress is increasing health issues such as heart, kidney, liver failures. In addition, springing directly from the enforced isolation of individuals in every society is the enforced closing of places of worship. Politically acceptable social activities are not regarded with such rule of might.

One may observe unquestionably that “psychological” theory is unable to benefit man that fails to consider man’s spirit. In modern humanistic “psychology,” none of these matters are considered, and thus the system is unable to help people who need emotional stability. Humanism sees the universe as consisting solely of matter. As far as they are concerned the soul and spirit of man do not exist because they cannot be measured as matter is.   

Compromise

I’ve been spending time praying for the professing church and its leaders. The Holy Spirit has given me the word compromise as their failure to be an influence in their many communities.

As true believers in Christ, we must accept God’s Word as absolute, inerrant truth. I remember being in a church service where the pastor was required periodically to preach on a particular doctrine that wasn’t popular. He preached a fairly inoffensive message, invited seekers forward, and then sat down, refusing to minister further. Can you imagine my disappointment in this man who was once a fire brand for the Lord?! He was a compromiser. His church is a successful one, build primarily on his personality. How the Lord must weep.

To avoid the shame of compromise we must hold God’s Word as His sacred  Word.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

If we say we are Christians then we must be Christ-followers and committed to obedience. Obedience will at times require risking relationships. There are no wishy-washy Christ-followers. Remember Peter in his struggles to follow Jesus?  Peter was a sincere follower and Jesus knew that, so He reached out to Peter a number of times in compassion and gentleness. Sometimes I feel like Peter, but the Holy Spirit is longsuffering and faithful to those who truly hunger and thirst after Jesus.

John 14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.  

2 John 1:6a And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments;

God’s Word is not to be compromised for any reason or for anyone. Jesus says one of the reasons man compromises God’s word is, he is ashamed of it. 

In Mark 8:38 Jesus said, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” 

In Roget’s Thesaurus, to compromise is to tempt Providence. In the online free dictionary.com to compromise is the weakening or reduction of one’s principles. It may be a compromise of morality that reduces the quality or value or degree of something such as one’s ideals.

Placing one’s desires and those of others ahead of the Word of God is compromise and an offense to God.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths”  

1 Peter 3:15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

We are commanded not only to remain faithful to the Word but to defend it and correct those who are in opposition to it. It may feel like you are talking to a stone, but the Holy Spirit can bring your words to that unbeliever’s memory  later, just when he needs them.

2 Timothy 2:24-25 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents  with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,

Have you noticed that individuals with integrity are highly respected. I once went to buy a mattress but didn’t get paid for several days. The owner of the shop brought me the mattress the next day, not waiting for my payday to come. Why? Because he knew he would get his money.

Another time I filed for financial help but eventually I canceled. My apartment administrator asked why I canceled and I explained that I couldn’t lie about the little bits of money that came to me. It made more paper work for the government office that oversaw my finances and they complained, so I canceled the extra income. The apartment administrator was surprised and commented that he didn’t know anyone that careful about telling a lie. Being a Christian brings responsibility and accountability. My administrator doesn’t care for Christians but he does respect me. Being a Christian costs; sometimes it costs a lot. But knowing peace and shelter in Jesus is worth the cost.

Ezekiel’s Vision

Chapter 9 of Ezekiel has been a part of my Bible knowledge from my teen years as a young intercessor. I’d like to share some of what caught my attention even in my early teens.

First of all, notice that the person who marked the foreheads of those who sighed and cried for the sins of God’s people was dressed in linen. Generally, linen represented holiness, so this person must have been Jesus. Jesus has knowledge of everything we think and do.

Secondly, notice where God told the man clothed in linen to begin. At the sanctuary. God even told him to defile the court of the temple. The old men, the elders, who sat there were the first to be marked. Young and old, men and women; even children (Prov. 20:11) were to be judged by their response to the wickedness of the culture and of the temple.

God said the land was full of bloodshed and perversity. Perversity is the quality of being morally wrong in principle or practice. Their filthiness was sickening to God the Creator. Those who shed innocent blood and committed perversity told each other, “God doesn’t see what we are doing, and He doesn’t care.” But God does see and He does care, so He declared that He would return their filthiness on their own heads.

Ezekiel was distressed that his people were being judged and he pleaded with God for mercy, but God had seen enough and refused to allow the perversity to continue.

I believe we are at this place in our own society and we are in danger of God’s righteous judgement. But His judgement will begin with the elders of today’s church. With Ezekiel, my heart weeps for my people.

Ezekiel 9. 1. Then He called out in my hearing with a loud voice, saying, “Let those who have charge over the city draw near, each with a deadly weapon in his hand.” 2 And suddenly six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his battle-ax in his hand. One man among them was clothed with linen and had a writer’s inkhorn at his side. They went in and stood beside the bronze altar.

3 Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side; 4 and the Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”

5 To the others He said in my hearing, “Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. 6 Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the temple. 7 Then He said to them, “Defile the temple, and fill the courts with the slain. Go out!” And they went out and killed in the city.

8 So it was, that while they were killing them, I was left alone; and I fell on my face and cried out, and said, “Ah, Lord God! Will You destroy all the remnant of Israel in pouring out Your fury on Jerusalem?”

9 Then He said to me, “The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great, and the land is full of bloodshed, and the city full of perversity; for they say, ‘The Lord has forsaken the land, and the Lord does not see!’ 10 And as for Me also, My eye will neither spare, nor will I have pity, but I will recompense their deeds on their own head.

11 Just then, the man clothed with linen, who had the inkhorn at his side, reported back and said, “I have done as You commanded me.”