Thursday, May 23

H-P-S-T

Scripture: 2 Chronicles 6-7, Psalm 135, Romans 4

2 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, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  

Observation

This famous verse has been quoted out of context so often that most people know the verse but not the context.  After Solomon dedicated the temple, God appears to him and gives this promise, and a warning.  

The promise: God has heard his prayer and chosen this place to “put His name there” (God’s presence).  If God sends drought or locust or pestilence, “if my people…”. This is a promise that God will hear us when we truly seek Him, even if we’ve been away. (v. 12-18)

The warning: but if we turn away from God, forsake Him and pursue other gods, then certain and terrible judgment will fall.  (v. 19-22)

Application

We are God’s people, called by His name (Christians)—we belong to Him and are identified as His.  So while this promise was given to Solomon and Israel, I think it’s certainly applicable to us today.  (One obvious difference: Israel was a theocracy, a nation ruled by God; we—the US—are not.  This verse is often applied to our nation; I’m not sure that’s a fair application.  But we can apply it to us, God’s people, followers of Jesus.)

This is a classic “if…then” promise.  If we do, then God does.  

If we humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked ways—that’s our part.

Then God will hear our prayers, forgive our sin, and heal our land (us)—that’s God’s part.  

I know that God wants this posture from me. He wants me to be humble, to pray, to seek His face, and turn from my sins.  

      • Am I humbling myself before God?  Or am I proud, living on my own, without reference to Him?  One of the ways I humble myself is in prayer.  Prayer is an implicit humility—I am acknowledging that I’m not God, He is, and I need His help.  Humble yourself.
      • Am I praying?  Am I having an on-going conversation with God?  I often find myself thinking, but not praying; having a conversation with myself, but not with God.  In prayer, I seek Him and His help and realign myself to Him.n.  Pray.
      • Am I seeking God’s face?  Am I looking for Him in every part of my busy day, like one scans the crowd at an airport, looking for the face of a friend or lover.  To seek God’s face implies a desire and effort to be close to Him, face-to-face.  Am I doing that?  Seek God’s face.
      • Am I turning from sins?  Our emphasis on God’s grace and love has led some people to believe that God doesn’t care about our sin, so they don’t need to worry about it either.  But God does care and wants us to turn from our sins for our sake.  You can’t follow Jesus and stay where you are.  Change is required.  Turn from your sin.

Prayer: Lord, I want to live every day with this four-fold posture: humble, praying, seeking your face, turning from sin toward You.  H-P-S-T: It’s all about being close to You—and that’s what I want.