IF MY PEOPLE
Thistletown Baptist Church
August 24, 2008
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2 Chron. 7:13, 14 (ESV)
When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
The context of II Chronicles 7:14
Solomon’s prayer of dedication of the temple, the dedication itself, and then a private visit from God regarding God’s dealings with the nation of Israel.
To understand verse 14 we must understand the verse that precedes it.
God disciplines His people. This is a truth taught all through the Scriptures. Drought, disease, … may not always be the hand of judgement from God. Our unemployment, sickness, … are not necessarily God smacking us around – but they could be. God does discipline His people.
If … then I shall hear and answer…
Whatever is to follow that word “if” is a condition that must be met if God is going to answer prayer. I cannot think of a single promise for answered prayer that does not have a condition attached to it. Just a few examples:
Psalm 9:10-12 (ESV)
And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
 Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion!
Tell among the peoples his deeds!
 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;
he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.
Psalm 34:15-16 (ESV)
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
Psalm 37:4 (ESV)
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 50:14-15 (ESV)
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and perform your vows to the Most High,
 and call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
Psalm 66:18 (ESV)
If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
Matthew 7:7-11 (ESV)
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! [How do we know what a good thing is? See Luke 11:13 (ESV) If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”]
John 14:13-14 (ESV)
Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
John 15:7 (ESV)
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
James 5:16 (ESV)
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
1 Peter 3:7 (ESV)
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
1 John 3:22 (ESV)
and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
We dare not think that God is some cosmic Sugar Daddy who jumps to our wishes. It is abundantly true that we can give nothing to God and that everything that we have is a gift from Him. We supply Him with nothing that He lacks for He lacks nothing. But we must also know this – God does not honour disobedience, unfaithfulness, ignorance of His Word, prayerlessness, lovelessness, quenching of the Spirit … . And He loves His people too much to let them go on their wayward paths. So He disciplines. And the disciplines send us back to Him for rescue. And God does rescue. But if we ask God for help from trouble and all we want is His blessings but are not broken hearted over our sin – God will not honour that.
Well, how sad is this? God’s people can get themselves in a state where they are proud, prayerless, and not be seeking God’s face and not turning from their sin. This is a classic definition of backsliding
This is what happened to David when he committed adultery with Bathsheba.
This is what happened to Abraham when he disbelieved God and took matters into his own hands and had a child by Hagar – and never heard a word from God for thirteen years.
This is the church at Ephesus in losing its first love
This is the church of Pergamum who had people who sinned like Balaam who enjoyed making others sin against God – how wicked is that?
This is the church at Thyatira who tolerated a teacher in their church who taught sexual immorality.
This is the church at Sardis that had the reputation of life (money, numbers, excitement, fame …) but were dead.
This is the church at Laodicea that was useless for any good purpose, while believing that they were rich and needing nothing.
This is the church at Rome when Paul says to them
Romans 13:11-14 (ESV)
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.  The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Who is included in “my people”? Anyone who really knows God. Leaders are not exempt from “my people”. In fact, throughout the Scriptures it is most often the leaders whom God has the most problems with. All of Malachi is directed to the spiritual leaders of Mal’s day. Ezekiel and Jeremiah and Isaiah and Hosea and some of the other prophets all had calls for repentance and judgement upon the religious leaders of the day.
Jesus had more words of condemnation for the religious leaders than for anyone else.
Paul constantly warned the churches he wrote, about false teachers.
James tells us that teachers will be judged more harshly.
Dear ones – when I preach to you about the need for revival, never think that I am excluding me and the other elders and all those in positions of leadership and teaching in the church. We are the people of God and this is directed to all of us especially those with spiritual authority in the church.
“My people” includes all the people of God –
Who are called by My Name
Dear ones let us not lose this. It is the glory of God that is at stake here. We bear the Name of Christ. We are called “Christians”. We represent Christ to our families and communities. Our sin, our lifestyle, our behaviour at school at work at home – it all goes back to tell people the kind of God we have. And the question we need to be asking ourselves is this – “What picture do I give, do we give, to others about what our God is like?” We do not allow the world’s ideas tell us how we are going to behave as a church – but we do live in such a way that we can say to the world – Christ has made us holy. He has mad us joyful. He has made us repentant. He has made us loving. He has made us new creatures in Christ.
Pride – the essence of all sin.
We will never get revival without humility. Hear Peter:
1 Peter 5:5 (ESV)
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Here is humility – We will never come to God and say “revive them” – That is the opposite of humility. We can only come and say “Revive us. Revive me.” See
Joshua 7:11 (ESV)
Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings.
Ezra 9:6 (ESV) saying:”O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens.
Ezra 9:10 (ESV) “And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken your commandments,
Ezra 9:13 (ESV) And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, seeing that you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserved and have given us such a remnant as this,
Ezra 9:15 (ESV) O LORD the God of Israel, you are just, for we are left a remnant that has escaped, as it is today. Behold, we are before you in our guilt, for none can stand before you because of this.”
Daniel 9:15 (ESV) And now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
Is it possible to pray proudly? The Pharisees did – Matthew 6:5-6 (ESV)
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
How is your prayer life? If you dare say “couldn’t be better” or some such thing then you are in big trouble. Eg. RMD “Id have prayed more.”
Dear ones, we need to pray. We need to pray without ceasing and we need to pray alone and we need to pray together and we need to not let God until He blesses us.
Seek my face
Chase after God. Dear ones – are you chasing after God? Revival is not a matter of simply stopping sin. Revival is finding something better than sin to chase after, something better than sin to seek. We do not pray just to get out of a pickle. We do not pray just to get some goodies form God. God is not saying here that we need to just start talking to Him. He is saying – “chase after me”
Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV) You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart,
Turn from their wicked ways
But will we get up off our knees and go right back to our old ways?
To do anything less when we come to God is to not truly come to God at all.
Proverbs 1:28-30 (ESV)
Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
 Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
 would have none of my counsel
and despised all my reproof,
Isaiah 58:2 (ESV)
Yet they seek me daily
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they delight to draw near to God.
(Note the context of Isaiah 58)
Then I will hear from heaven
This is stunning. God calls to individual believers and churches and declares a mercy that is absolutely mind boggling when He says – “It is not too late for you. If you come back, even after ignoring me for a while, even though you have disobeyed me, even though you have forgotten me and lived like I did not exist – all the while going to church, and serving in ministry, and talking about the sins of the “world”. It is a great wickedness – but if you come back I will hear, and I will forgive and I will heal .. . And dear ones make no mistake – no Christian will be untouched by such a call of mercy and love and tenderness. This is simply a great testimony to an incomprehensible mercy.
I will forgive
This is the cross. Our sins are forgiven, not because of our great repentance, but because of His great work of sacrifice on the cross. We can humble ourselves and pray and seek his face and turn from our wicked ways for the rest of our lives, but if Christ has not died for us and risen from the dead it is all for nothing. This is why the Old Covenant needed to be replaced. It could not do what needed to be done.
I will heal their land
All this talk this a.m. and now God says He will make Canada or whatever country people are from – truly Christian? This is not what we should get out of this. The land of Israel was the land God had given them to be His people, obeying His laws, and having Him as their Ruler. This text is not a promise about national revival. It is about revival of the people of God. And “our land” is the place where God dwells, where God is the Ruler, where God is the Head of the government – our hearts and our assembly as the people of God. This is talking about the church.
But how will we come to God the way that He says we must. How can we become truly humble and truly repentant and truly seeking His face? How shall we stop that addiction to pornography? How will we stop that gossipy tongue, that lack of interest in the things of God, that boredom with the Scriptures …? How shall we really make progress in being more like Christ?
The marks of the church as we find them in Acts 2:42 – the word, the fellowship of the saints, prayer and proper observance of the Lord’s Supper. That is what we have been looking at these past weeks. Two weeks ago – love one another as I have loved you – that is commitment to the fellowship and when we are committed to the Fellowship properly we will have a strength to overcome sin in our lives because we are not doing it alone
James 5:16-20 (ESV)
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.  Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back,  let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
Hebrews 3:12-13 (ESV)
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.  But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
Last week – commitment to the Apostles’ doctrine – having the Word of God dwell in us richly.
Psalm 1:1-6 (ESV)
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
Dear ones – you want to stop being like the world (in whatever way you are)? Do you think this church would look different, feel different, better if everyone of us – pastor, elders, SS teachers … delighted in the Word of God and meditated on it day and night? Do you think it would be a stronger church, a more vibrant church, a more alive church
Psalm 119:11 (ESV)
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:111 (ESV)
Your testimonies are my heritage forever,
for they are the joy of my heart.
2 Tim. 3:16-17 (ESV)
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
And all of that by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:12-17 (ESV)
So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.  For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Galatians 5:15-26 (ESV)
But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.  Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,  idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,  envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Dear child of God. We are possessed by a power that created the world and it is God’s will that we put it to work in us for the purposes of declaring His worth in the world.
Ephes. 1:19 (ESV)
and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might
Ephes. 3:14-19 (ESV)
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,  from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,  that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith-that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Dear ones this is what we need. This is what we must have. And God has said He will grant it to us. And He will.
Let us pray