20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Last week was declared a National Day of Prayer for our country due to the coronavirus. We were summoned by our President to pray, as a world-wide plague had reached our land. Therefore, we prayed. With many safety measures, we gathered as a small church, only a handful of people, in a large building to pray. The hymns and scripture readings were interspersed with prayer for our country considering the current crisis, followed by a sermon.
Last Sunday, we prayed for our country and the world. The focus was upon what to pray for. When calamity strikes, knowing that nothing happens apart from God’s control. A call to national prayer always includes a measure of self-examination. As this plague is world-wide, does God have a controversy with us? A national call to prayer, always is a call to repentance, a confession of sin, both private and national, and an imploring God for His grace and mercy. As many in our world give little thought to God, it is incumbent for the Christian community, to step in the gap and pray for their neighbors and themselves. Prayer changes things, because it seeks the aid of One who can bring about change when what we face seems overwhelming.
At the heart of last week’s message was a text from the Old Testament.
13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. (2 Chronicles 7:13–15)
This is what the LORD said to King Solomon after he prayed to the LORD at the dedication of the temple, which he built in Jerusalem. A couple of matters should be pointed out in this response by the LORD. Drought, locusts, and plagues are said to be sent by Him. They are sent, according to this passage, because of wickedness. However, the LORD will listen to the prayers of the truly repentant. He will forgive and heal their land.
Therefore, when we are called to pray in the event of a crisis, obviously, we are to pray for our leaders that they would make calm, wise decisions, and set in motion prudent actions. With respect to the coronavirus, we are to pray for the stamina, strength, and safety for the care givers (doctors, nurses, those exposed to the virus due to their essential services, grocery store clerks, post office clerks and letter carriers, etc.). We should pray for comfort for loved ones of the sick, healing for those infected, and comfort for those who morn. However, above all we need to lift our hearts in prayer to Almighty God for His mercy and grace, for we are all sinners.
We must never forget the record of Israel being judged by God in the Old Testament. Their situation and sins mirror that of the present world. They were affluent. We are affluent. Many honored the LORD with their lips. They were a religious people, yet their hearts were on other gods, such as: money, pleasure, the good life. God was given little thought as they lived their everyday life. Wickedness such as sexual immorality, lying, theft, injustice was found. The LORD sent His prophets to warn them of the woes associated with wickedness. These sins reached a certain level and God said in effect, “Enough, is enough,” and He brought his corrective judgment upon His people, severe measures for an intractable people.
Last week we mentioned one more caveat. When God brings a crisis into a land as a wake-up call, those who die are not greater sinners than others who survive. There will be those who have stayed the course and have been faithful to and truly love God. Our days are numbered. As we all had a day of birth, we will all have a day when we die. However, even the most devout, those who truly love God and care for others are all sinners. We all have plenty to confess. God can say in love, “You are forgiven, but I am taking you home.” This life is not all there is. The call to repentance must first be found in our own hearts. The turning to God in a Christians heart must result in a greater resolve to live for the LORD.
When the farmer plows up a deep furrow in the hardened ground to prepare for planting, he is said to be improving the ground. There will be good that will come out of this crisis, because the LORD is in it. May the LORD revive His people and help our neighbors who do not know Him.
Today, we go deeper into the topic of calling upon God in a crisis. Why do we cry out to God? We do so because we believe that He is sovereign over the universe, and He has the power to change things. Last week we focused upon what to pray for. This week we will tell why it is we pray. The bottom line is our faith in an all-powerful God.
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Our message is from Ephesians 20,21.