Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"LGBTQ … and the love of God …"

Sometimes I want to scream … and I'm sure I'm not the only one.   I want to scream, "Stop lying to people.  Stop perverting the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Stop twisting God's Word to make it say what you and others want it to say.  Don't use the very words that God gave and that have the power to bring life, to sentence people to death by leaving them in their sinful state before a holy God!  Stop telling people that God's love is "all-inclusive," that God loves everybody, no matter what they believe or even IF they believe."  But while I want to scream, I know that those who need to hear aren't listening, don't want to listen and … without God's Spirit, will continue to refuse to listen.  So my only recourse is to continue to speak God's truth and to OFFER God's love to those who have been given ears to hear by His Spirit, all the while praying that God will use His Word to bring some, or even one, out of their spiritual darkness and into His marvelous light.

I read a newspaper article recently that was written by a "gay Christian."  In it he claims that he wants to "recapture the gospel" from those who have made the debate about homosexuality the central issue of Christianity.  He says that those who speak out against homosexuality are hindering people from hearing the good news of God's all-inclusive love in Jesus.  We have, according to him, let people know what we are against, but not what we are FOR.  He states that those who refuse to welcome LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual, questioning … or queer) people into the church are making the church look uninviting to those who are not "straight" and that only by opening our arms to all people can we really understand and express the true gospel which is good news for all people.

There is so much that is wrong with what he says that I scarcely know where to begin, and what is even worse is that many people in the church are agreeing with him.  I have heard people say, "Well we all sin and we should accept anyone who comes with the same grace God has given to us."  But wait, it is indeed true that we all sin, but you're missing the point that is being made by the LGBTQ lobby.  They are saying that homosexual or bisexual behavior is NOT sin …  Don't miss this.  And as sad as that is, there are those in the church who believe that such behavior IS sin, along with other heterosexual sins, BUT, that we must love and welcome those who ARE LGBTQ … learning to understand each other better and to live together by ignoring what the Bible declares to be sin.  We'll just talk about God's love.  We need to be "welcoming AND AFFIRMING."

What's wrong with that?  What's wrong is that the Bible that all these people seem to like to quote says that confession of our sin, repentance - a heartfelt sorrow for sin that causes us to desire to turn from it - and faith in Jesus Christ are necessary in order to receive God's forgiveness and to be received into His eternal kingdom … to be saved from His wrath and judgment.  The Bible reveals that while God OFFERS His love to all, ONLY those who come to Him through the narrow gate RECEIVE His love and grace and enter into His kingdom.  Though offered to all, God's redeeming love is NOT "all-inclusive."  It never has been.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16".  And John goes on to write, "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.  Whoever believes is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son" (John 3:17-18).

So don't "gay Christians" believe in Jesus?  Well, what does it mean to "believe" in Jesus?  I can't question what you or anyone else believes, any more than you can question what I believe.  However, what each of us believes can and must be judged by the Word of God.  What you or I believe is only "right" if it matches what God's Word teaches.  To "believe" IN Jesus means to know who He is and what He has done for His children, His sheep.  To believe in Jesus does not mean simply to believe that there was an historical man named Jesus who died on a cross 2,000 years ago … or even that He rose from the dead.  To "believe in Jesus" means to know that your sin was laid on Jesus and that He suffered God's wrath and judgment against it.  And to believe in Jesus means that His perfect righteousness has been credited to your account by God's grace through the instrument of faith (a gift of God).  And to believe in Jesus means that you acknowledge Him as Lord and seek to live according to the truth that HE has revealed by HIS Spirit in HIS Word.

There are undoubtedly some "gay Christians" who believe in Jesus and who struggle with their sexuality because they know it is sin to act on the feelings they have and which some may have had as long as they can remember.  ALL who are seeking God's redeeming love must be and are welcomed by the true Church, by believers who understand God's grace because we all need it.  But what we cannot do is "affirm" sin.  God does not allow us to say that what He says is sin is now OK.  When I speak against homosexuality and other sexual immorality it is not to condemn people but to point them to repentance, forgiveness and life in Jesus Christ.  I need that myself!  I need to repent, I need God's forgiveness and I need the life of Christ.  By God's grace I have received Jesus Christ as Savior and confess Him as my Lord.  Now, what HE says is my guide, and when I sin, which I still do, I am convicted by His Spirit to confess my sin, to seek His forgiveness and to rely on His power to continue the work He has begun in me until it is complete, conforming me to His image.  While it is true that some who claim to be Christians and who may know about Jesus spend their time condemning others to make themselves feel better, there are many followers of Jesus who are FOR grace and forgiveness.  We are AGAINST sin because it not only enslaves people in this life, but for those who have not been called to repentance and who have not been born again by the Spirit of God, sin leads to eternal death!  We are FOR LIFE!!

I would agree with those who say that some have made the church uninviting by continually pointing out God's just judgment against sin and by singling out one sin or another (and homosexuality has been an "easy" target), without offering the solution.  God's grace and love have been buried under a mountain of condemnation by some.  Yet, doing the reverse and claiming that God's love is blind, or that what God calls sin is no longer sin because we decided it is not, does people no good when they finally meet the Judge of all men.  Those who claimed to know Jesus but judged and condemned others will face His wrath … but those who cried out that their sin was NOT really sin, in spite of what God's Word says, will be condemned right along with them.  You see, GOD is always right … and He judges fairly and impartially.

Romans 1-3 makes it clear that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:10).  And "the wages of sin is death"  (Romans 6:23) … while "the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).  People like the man who wrote the article I read are trying their best to lump all those who claim to be Christians into one mold and condemn all of us as guilty of not showing God's grace and love.  He has never met me or the congregation I serve.  All people are welcomed to worship with us and to fellowship with us.  What none of us are allowed to do is ignore the sin in our lives … sin we all still struggle with.  Together we approach God's throne of grace and confess our sins, knowing that "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9).  That is the hope of the Gospel and that is what we are "for."

My desire to "scream" turns into a deep sorrow and grief for those who are being misled by the lies of those who say they care about LGBTQ people.  God says, "If anyone is IN Christ he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come" (II Corinthians 5:17).  Leaving people with an identity defined by their old nature of sin is not good news.  What I and others in the body of Christ who love God and who love people are FOR is the truth that Jesus sets believers free from the guilt AND power of sin.  God's grace doesn't just cover up sin, it delivers the captive!  As I have written before, in Christ there is no such thing as a "homosexual," simply a person who struggles with same-sex attraction.  While I understand that this is all tied together with companionship, love, marriage, benefits, "rights," etc., the bottom line is God's redeeming love in Christ.  His love is offered to all, but must be received by a faith that includes repentance and confession.  A "faith" that does not confess what the Bible calls sin and that has no desire to turn from sin is not a faith produced by the Holy Spirit.  It is not "saving faith" and it leaves people in their bondage.  God's Word is clear:  "Repent and believe!"

I pray that more Christians will love people enough to tell the truth … God's truth.  Jesus said, "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free!"  May those of us who have been rescued throw God's lifeline to those who are drowning in the sea of sin and help them find firm ground on which to stand at the foot of the cross!

Monday, October 21, 2013

"Catholic, Christian, Religion and Jesus ... "

"Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart.  Anyone who does not believe God has made Him out to be a liar, because He has not believed the testimony God has given about His Son.  And this is the testimony:  God has GIVEN US eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may KNOW that you have eternal life" (I John 5:10-13).

It's Monday morning and my mind is going in a hundred different directions.  As a pastor I think back over yesterday's worship and the message God led me to bring from His Word to His people, and I pray that God will bring forth fruit for His glory in the lives of all who heard the Gospel of God's grace in Jesus Christ.  I think of some of the things that I know are going on in the lives of the people of Lighthouse, people I love and care for.  I pray for wisdom, for strength, for endurance and perseverance, and I pray for opportunities to share the love and grace of Jesus with others, at home, at work, at school and elsewhere ... "being ready always to give an answer to everyone who asks the reason for the hope that we have"  (I Peter 3:15).

Then I look ahead and see what meetings are scheduled for the week and contacts I need to make and begin to consider the passage before me for the message next Sunday.  Like everyone else, there is a lot to think about.  But as I think and pray and work, there is often a nagging feeling that arises within me that I am not doing enough to proclaim the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by all the possible means available to me.  More and more often there is the conviction that people are being deceived and I feel helpless to do anything about it ... except to keep doing what I'm doing - proclaiming the truth of God's Word concerning Jesus and the way of salvation.

It's not as though God has not made the way clear.  Jesus Himself said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).  As the apostles (the "sent ones") went out preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they called people to repent and believe:  "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved" (Acts 16:31).  To the Romans, Paul wrote, "We maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law" (Romans 4:28) and to the Galatians, "We know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.  So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified" (Galatians 2:15-16).

The true message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, revealed throughout God's Word, is that God's gift of eternal life must be received by faith in Jesus Christ ... period.  "It is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).  God sent Jesus as the payment (the "atoning sacrifice") for our sins.  The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross satisfied God's justice.  He took our place.  My sins were laid on Him and by faith in Jesus God credits Jesus' perfect righteousness to my account (Romans 4 and II Corinthians 5:18-21). "The wages of sin is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).  There is no other Gospel.  "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes:  first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.  For in the Gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last ..." (Romans 1:16-17).  Good works, be they "religious works" or any other kind of good deed, earn us nothing.  We are saved from God's judgment against our sin by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.  That is the message of the Gospel found in God's unchanging Word.

But that is NOT the message being preached by so many today ... and people are being deceived by the millions.  The passage that I quoted at the beginning of this blog, from I John 5:10-13, weighs heavily on my mind and heart, along with the whole testimony of God's Word.  The "testimony" of the Holy Spirit in the heart of every true believer is this:  "God has GIVEN us eternal life, and this life is in His Son."   Therefore, every true believer can and should KNOW that they HAVE eternal life ... NO DOUBTS!  Did you hear what John wrote in verse 10?  "Anyone who does not believe God has made Him out to be a liar, because He has not believed the testimony God has given about His Son."

God says that Jesus paid the perfect sacrifice for all who will believe.  Even the popular verse, John 3:16, declares, "God so loved the world that He GAVE His one and only Son; that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life!"  Every person who believes that Jesus suffered and died on the cross to bear God's judgment against their sins, and who is then moved by the Holy Spirit to confess Jesus as their only Savior and the Lord of their life IS SAVED!  God's testimony points to the sufficiency of Jesus to accomplish what only He could do:  satisfy the justice of God.  As true man and true God He was the perfect "Lamb" and all who believe HAVE BEEN redeemed by His blood, once and for all.  Now, NOTHING can separate me from my Father's love ... not even death!  (Romans 8:37-39).

So, why do people listen to anything else ... to any other message?  Having proclaimed this Gospel to so many, Paul wrote to the Galatians, "Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!  As we have already said, so now I say again:  If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!" (Galatians 1:8-9).  Then he adds, "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?  Or am I trying to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10).  There is ONE true Gospel:  Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, suffered God's judgment in the place of sinful man on the cross, and whoever believes in Him ... whoever trusts totally and completely in the sacrifice of Jesus as the ONLY thing that brings forgiveness and life to those who believe ... these, and ONLY these are saved.

So why do people listen to anything else?  Deception.  I titled this post "Catholic, Christian, Religion and Jesus ..." because so many people around the world equate being "Christian" with being "Catholic."  The "Religion" section of our local newspaper in Grand Rapids, Michigan, this week had four or five articles about the Catholic Church, Catholics or the Pope, one on Buddhism and another on Jews.  Once in a while there is something about another  "Christian" church, but the goal is clearly to place all religious thought of any kind together under one umbrella:  "religion."  Sadly, most people are OK with this, whether they are Catholic or Jews or "Christians" ...  but no true Christian should approve of being lumped together with those who "preach another gospel."  And that's what is happening.

It's nothing new.  The Popes and the Catholic Church have been preaching for centuries that while Jesus died for our sins, it is only through participation in the sacraments and other rites of the "church" that one can hope to be saved.  Even then, most people will have to pass through the "fires" of purgatory and will pass into heaven only by receiving merits from the saints or through the prayers and gifts of others to the church.  This is "another gospel" and it should be condemned.  Others in the "church" are preaching that God loves everybody and even those who don't know Jesus or believe in Jesus or confess Jesus will still be saved.  This is "another gospel" and it should be condemned.  Talking about Jesus and believing Jesus lived a long time ago is NOT "believing" in Jesus.  Those who say it is "good enough" are preaching "another gospel" and it should be condemned.

But who dares say such a thing?  Am I condemning Catholics?  Am I condemning others who are preaching "about" Jesus?  I am not condemning anyone ... GOD says they are condemned who teach any other message that is contrary to the true Gospel and God will judge those who BELIEVE any other message than the true Gospel.  "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?  Or am I trying to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10).  Much of the "Christian" church today is preaching a different gospel, a gospel of prosperity, or a social gospel that declares that our main task is meeting people's physical needs (we are to do that, too, but people need to HEAR the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in order to have forgiveness, hope and peace with God that brings true and lasting HOPE!).

I have heard preacher after preacher interviewed and asked, "Are you saying that those who do not believe in Jesus Christ will go to hell?"  And I have witnessed one after another give a politically correct answer:  "Well, it's not for me to judge" ... or "It's my job just to tell people about Jesus and God will sort all of that out" or  ... "  Are we not called to declare God's truth and to warn people of the coming judgment of God?  If we see people being deceived, are we not called to love them enough to tell them the truth, and THEN to leave it in God's hands?  It is unbelief that condemns people ... and that includes believing the wrong things about Jesus and about God and His love and His grace and His holiness and His justice.  Belief in "something" and yes, even belief in some "Jesus" who lived a long time ago will not save you.  FAITH is TRUST based on knowledge and it brings certainty!

More and more people are being deceived through what most consider to be the "Christian" church.  I was told last week that someone who used to attend Lighthouse was going somewhere else because they preferred a more "upbeat, feel-good" (their words) message.  I thought about that yesterday as I preached from Romans 4 that God in His grace has "credited righteousness" to those who believe in Jesus.  If you want to feel good, this is the most awesome message ever known to man:  God sees me as perfect, as righteous in His sight through faith in Jesus Christ!!  What is so great about being told that you have to keep on trying to be a "better Christian" in order to get right with God?  What is so great about thinking that all religions have "some" truth, but that none of them are completely true?  Since you need a lifeline, don't you want one that you are SURE will hold you?

Which takes us back to I John 5:10-13.  The testimony in the heart of every true believer is this:  "God has GIVEN me eternal life.  I believe in Jesus Christ.  He is my Savior and my Lord.  He suffered and died for ME, and by God's grace I receive Him as my Mediator, through whom I have access to the very presence of my Father in heaven.  I KNOW I am saved.  I KNOW God is with me now, and I KNOW I have eternal life ... because GOD says so."  Remember, anyone who does not believe God's testimony is calling HIM a liar!

Are YOU calling God a liar today?  Are you declaring that faith in Jesus isn't enough?  True believers will live lives of thanksgiving to God that include worship, prayer, study and service, to the glory of God, but they will do this because God has given them a new heart and a new mind and a new will and their desire is to serve Jesus.  They will know that nothing they do can add to what Jesus has done in their place and they will trust totally, completely in the finished work of Christ on the cross ... period.  Deception comes in many packages.  In the first thirty to forty years following Jesus' ascension into heaven the true believers were being bombarded with false teaching, so the apostles warned them:  "Such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.  And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.  It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.  Their end will be what their actions deserve" (II Corinthians 11:13-15).

Deception is deception because it is not obvious to most.  It deceives because people do not know the truth and so cannot compare the lies they are being told with the truth of God's Word.  The Apostle Paul wrote of the coming of the Antichrist in II Thessalonians 2:9-10:  "The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing.  They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved."  The TRUTH is found only in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news of salvation by grace through faith.  Nothing more ... nothing less ... my hope is sure and certain because my hope is in the shed blood of the perfect Lamb of God.  "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1).

Are YOU sure today?  Whether you claim to be Catholic, Christian or go by some other label, do you believe in Jesus?  That means, do you believe that He suffered and died in your place and that by God's grace, through faith, HIS perfect righteousness has been credited to your account and you stand before God clothed in that beautiful garment of Christ's making?  If THAT is your confession, then you must KNOW today that you are one of God's children and you will live a life of thanksgiving for His GIFT of love every day, knowing He is with you and that if your life should end today, you will enter into His marvelous and glorious presence, without fear and with great joy!  We have many people coming to Lighthouse from a lot of different backgrounds.  When they come we tell them that the ONLY identity they have as a believe is in Christ Jesus.  No other label is necessary ... no other label matters.  "I trust in Jesus Christ alone for my salvation and I know that I am His by grace through faith."

Jesus said that His sheep hear HIS voice (through the Gospel) and that not one of His sheep would be lost.  Jesus always tells the truth!  So let me finish with the benediction from Jude, where he calls believers to "contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints" because false teachers had already slipped in among them.  He closes with these words:  "To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy - to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!  Amen" (Jude 24-25).

Saturday, October 12, 2013

"The present demise of the United States of America - from a Biblical perspective ..."

"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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."  - II Chronicles 7:14

These words are often used to offer hope to those who believe that only the one true God can turn our nation, or any nation, from its self-destructive ways.  While not wanting to be pessimistic, hearing the truth is necessary if we are going to find a real solution to the problems facing our nation and, indeed, the world.  In our present financial crisis (again), it has been rightly said by those in our own government and in the governments around the world, that if the United States were to default, not to pay its bills, the economic consequences would be almost instantaneously felt worldwide.  Like never before in the history of the world, the nations of the world are tied together through trade and economic policies that have ripple effects through every nation on earth.  But what about the words of II Chronicles 7:14?

Let me point out a few key words from that verse:  First of all, the word "if."  This is a conditional promise based on the actions of those to whom God is speaking.  Secondly, God is speaking to those who are rightly called "MY people."  This promise is given to those who have the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob on them.  Thirdly, these people must humble themselves AND pray AND seek God's face AND turn from their wicked ways.  God is not saying, "Pick one or two" and I'll see what I can do.  These words were spoken specifically to Israel when the twelve tribes were still one nation under King Solomon.  They were spoken to a people who were the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and who bore the name of their God, who had made His covenant with them and them alone, out of all the nations of the earth.

So did the people do it?  Did they call on God and humble themselves and seek His face (draw near to Him in worship) and turn from their wicked ways?  NO!  The nation was divided under Solomon's son, Rehoboam, and in less than 250 years the nation of Israel was no more, though the descendants of Abraham continued through the line of Judah.  Even those to whom these words were spoken directly did not respond to God's call and their land and their people were destroyed.  The "if" is a big little word.  Still, there are those today who claim this promise for the United States, even in our present circumstances.

Truthfully, these words and the promise they bring do not apply to America or to any other nation on earth today.  In fact, they are at best a "placebo," a "pretend cure" for the real problems facing us as a people and as a nation.  A placebo makes you THINK things will be OK, while the disease only progresses and ultimately leads to more serious consequences and even death.  Well-meaning people are led to believe that they can sit in their homes and their churches and pray and claim God's promise for their nation and perhaps all will be well in the end.  It is a false hope and it is used by some as a substitute that distracts people from getting up off their knees and actually DOING what God has called HIS people to do.  Prayer is PART of our calling - but not our whole calling!

I'm a pastor and I believe prayer has power because God has promised to hear ... but not just any prayer.  The Almighty God has given access to His throne only to those who confess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.  Jesus told His disciples to ask in His name.  God tells those who are His children through faith in Jesus Christ to pray, to ask, to seek and to find.  He tells us to pray for our leaders and all those in authority over us ... not that they would do what WE want, but that they would so what GOD wants:  TURN from their wicked ways and live!  We so often selfishly pray for things that would have a positive impact on our own lives without thinking of the spiritual welfare of those who are spiritually dead, blind and ignorant of the truth.  In our nation today it all seems to revolve around MONEY!!

Frankly, I'm tired of hearing about the Tea Party, or any other political group ... not because I disagree with some or even most of the things they are standing up for, but because it is simply another political movement seeking to do things for all the wrong reasons.  We have taken the true God out of politics, out of our schools and even out of our churches (SOME churches).  Any "god" will do.  But the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will not give His glory to another.  The task of true believers, true Christians, those who come to God, our Creator, through Jesus Christ, the "Seed of Abraham," is to point people to God, to make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey whatever HE has commanded in His Word, the Bible.  Our involvement in politics ought to be with the desire to proclaim HIS Name.  Anything less is a distraction.  It is our task to point out the truths of God's Word, whether people listen or not.  Instead, even those who claim to be Christians fail to mention the Bible or the true God because they are either embarrassed, ashamed or intimidated.  We have given up so much ground that we have settled for fighting insignificant battles that leave our nation floundering in unbelief and facing the judgment of the God whom most people have scorned.

The answer ... the only answer, is calling people to Jesus Christ and back to God's Word.  THAT is what we should be doing, WHILE we are praying.  When those in the church fail to believe God's Word or to preach about the cross, where Jesus suffered the wrath of God to reconcile all who believe to our Father in heaven, then the rest doesn't really matter.  The demise of the United States is not future - though things will get worse ... it is a present reality.  Our leaders are acting like two-year-olds and it is embarrassing and shameful.  "I said I won't negotiate, so we're just talking."  They treat a growing financial crisis as so much leverage to get re-elected and they govern by the polls rather than by conviction.  And let's be fair, many preachers and teachers in the church, and Christians at large, do the same thing.  Whatever is convenient, whatever won't make waves, whatever is best for ME ... that's what I'll do.  Is THIS the way Jesus called His disciples to live?

What CAN we do?  Preach the Word!  Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  When the early believers were persecuted and scattered, they "preached the Word wherever they went" (Acts 8:4).  First, you need to learn what the Word says.  We are watching a DVD series by Russ Miller, founder of Creation, Evolution and Science Ministries, in our Education Hour and it is sad that most people even in the church today believe in some kind of evolution or have settled for "Intelligent Design" and the majority of those who claim to be Christians do NOT believe the Bible to be the very Word of God.  Yet we pray some prayer and think Almighty God is going to heal our nation because of some promise given to Israel 3,000 years ago.

The principle of that promise is true:  If those who are truly God's people by faith in Jesus Christ will humble themselves, confessing their sin and turning from it to commit their lives to Christ, God will heal "their land" - their territory ... beginning with their marriages, their families and their churches, and perhaps expanding to their communities, their schools, and who knows from there.  Politicians talk about a "grass roots movement."  We need a grass roots movement of true believers, a "remnant" if you will, to proclaim the truth of God's Word and of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Our energy should be devoted to HIS cause:  "Your name and your renown, O LORD, are the desire of our hearts" (Isaiah 26:8).

Will WE turn our nation around?  No!!  Only God can do that.  And it must begin with YOU!  Don't think you can "throw up a prayer to the guy upstairs" and the God who created the universe will say, "Oh, thank you for asking.  I'll get right on that."  Humble yourself, seek HIM, turn from sin and watch God heal YOU, your marriage, your family, your church family and other relationships.  Be the salt of the earth and the light of the world right where you are.  Imagine what COULD happen if all the Christians in even one community gathered to worship, to pray, to love, to serve, to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to their neighbors.  If you aren't willing to do that in your own home or your own church or your own community, how can you in good conscience ask God to do that in our nation??

It's time to stop talking and start doing.  It's time to add to our prayers the actions that reveal hearts that are committed to Christ and to making the one true God known to those around us.  Evangelism is not a four-letter word, it is the calling of every true believer.  "They preached the Word wherever they went."  Let's be about our Father's business.  Whether you are a preacher or a politician or a teacher or a farmer or a wife and mother, or a husband and father or a youth or young adult, or a senior citizen ... if you are a true believer in the Christ you have a calling to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ, to live in obedience to His Word and to call others out of darkness to behold His marvelous light and the freedom that only HE can give.  Half-hearted devotion is no devotion at all.

There's a new heaven and a new earth in the future.  We who believe in Jesus and who are His disciples are citizens of His kingdom, by grace through faith.  He has given us a job to do, whether you are here in the United States or in any other nation around the world.  You are His ambassador, an alien and a stranger in this world.  Don't be distracted from your primary task as His disciple.  Build your own house upon the ROCK and then help others to do the same.  There's a big storm coming and only those who build on a firm foundation will stand.  "No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ" (I Corinthians 3:11).  Whatever we may accomplish, whatever good we may do, may HIS Name be praised!!