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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” NIV Solomon’s temple was finally complete. The work of 70,000 laborers, 80,000 stone cutters, and 3,600 foremen—finished. Pure gold covered parts of the interior. Precious inlaid stones sparkled. The Ark of the Covenant inhabited the Holy of Holies. Only the presence of God was missing. So Solomon prays, “…Arise, O LORD God, to Your resting place…” (2 Chronicles 6:41 NKJV). And how did God respond? “When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.” (2 Chronicles 7:1 NKJV). The people fell on their faces declaring, “…For He is good, For His mercy endures forever.” (2 Chronicles 7:3 NKJV). Then, after 15 days of celebration, Solomon retreated to his palace. BUT GOD WASN’T FINISHED SPEAKING! God knows our tendency to forget His blessings and go our own way. And often times we get so caught up in what God did, that we act as though He can’t and won’t do anything else. But God had so much more in store. However, in order for Him to release it, there were some conditions that had to be met. And these conditions still remain today. And that word “Condition” is defined as “to set prior requirements on (something) BEFORE it can occur “To Agree Upon.” In other words, God was ready to do some great things for His people, HOWEVER, they had to agree with Him on the set requirements He put in place BEFORE they could attain the greater blessings! And what was His Set Requirements? God said:
- “If MY PEOPLE, who are called by MY NAME...” – People of God, we must turn from Self-Promotion to God-Promotion. God makes it clear from the start, you are “…MY PEOPLE…” and you are called by “…MY NAME.” And yet, somehow we’ve still managed to high-jack God’s Church From Him! We’ve made all the programs, protocols, banquets, anniversaries, services, conference, convocations and the like about US…NOT HIM! But the 2 very important requirements for us to always remember is that it’s Not about us, nor is it about our names! Listen to what the Bible says, “If you look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-12 MSG) And that’s the hard pill to swallow that the church keeps choking on: IT’S NOT ABOUT US OR OUR NAME! The first thing we need to get back to is FOCUS! And not on US, but on HIM! It is never about the Messengers of God, just His Message, and making sure it gets delivered, without delay, detour or distraction. It is still His Church, we are still His People, called by His Name. No more Self-Promotion...just God-Promotion, ONLY!
- “Will HUMBLE THEMSELVES and PRAY...” – People of God, we must turn from Self-Reliance to God-Reliance. I love the fact that Humility comes BEFORE Prayer! In fact, I believe we would pray much differently, and effectively if we entered prayer in Humility first! Unfortunately, however, as a church, we’ve become very pompous, entitled, prideful, egotistical, and arrogant. We have 5-layered embroidered robes, rings the size of our fists, crosses bigger than the one Jesus hung on, and pulpit chairs that look like they belong in the Palace of Queen Elizabeth. Jesus had an inner circle of 3, yet we have an entourage of 30. Our hidden agenda and personal itinerary (which we often mask as our motto and vision) is engraved on the building, our picture is in the vestibule, our names are always called, applauded and receive standing ovations that God doesn’t even get on Communion Sunday when it is His very blood and body in which we partake of that saved our lives. When did the church lose her humility? The Bible says, “Living as becomes you] with complete lowliness of mind (HUMILITY) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another.” (Ephesians 4:2 AMP); “Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of HUMILITY (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves].” (Philippians 2:3 AMP); “…What matters is not your outer appearance – the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes – but your inner disposition. Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in…” (1 Peter 3:1-6 MSG). Church, before we get back to Prayer, let us first get back to Humility!
- “And seek MY FACE...” – People of God, we must turn from Self-Direction to God-Direction. Which makes me wonder, when exactly did we start to treat God like a genie in a bottle? We like to rub Him with phony praise, and eloquent prayers so He pops out the bottle and performs just for us. But when did we get so caught up in His Hand that we forgot about His Face? The Bible says, “The Lord bless you and watch, guard, and keep you; The Lord make His FACE to shine upon and enlighten you and be gracious (kind, merciful, and giving favor) to you; The Lord lift up His [approving] COUNTENANCE upon you and give you peace (tranquility of heart and life continually)” (Numbers 6:24-26 AMP). The Message Bible says it like this: “God bless you and keep you, God smile on you and gift you, God look you full in the FACE and make you prosper.” (MSG). I’m amazed that this blessing speaks of the Lords FACE “…shining…enlightening…being gracious, kind, merciful, favorable…approving countenance…peace…tranquility…smiling…gifting…and prosperity…” and all of it focuses on HIS FACE…NOT HIS HAND! Before you enter prayer with your long to-do-list for God, all of the blessings you need bestowed, the miracles you need performed, the debts you need cancelled, the sickness you need healed, the monies you need deposited in your bank account within the next 15 minutes, how about you try instead to enter in prayer with Worship?! NOT entering in hoping that God makes it Worth Your While! The word “Worship” is defined as “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity; great admiration or devotion.” Its Old English Origin literally means “worthiness or acknowledgement of worth.” But the BIBLE defines it better! Revelation 4:10, reads, “At the same time the twenty-four elders knelt down before the One sitting on the throne. And as they WORSHIPED the One Who lives forever, they placed their crowns in front of the throne…” (CEV). That word “Worship” is “Proskuneo” (pros-koo-neh-oh) and it’s from the words “Pros” meaning “Toward” and “Kuneo” meaning “To Kiss.” And unlike the Pope, the Lord has not asked us to kiss His Hand…but to kiss His Face…IN WORSHIP! Listen, while so many are waiting for the Lord to hand them Prosperity from His Hand, the Blessing of Numbers 6 informs us that Prosperity comes from His Face! Remember: Seek HIS FACE
- “And TURN from their wicked ways...” People of God, we must turn from Self-Indulgence to Self-Examination. I love the word “Turn” because it’s defined as “to move into a different position, especially so as to face or move in the opposite direction.” And that word “Opposite” has its Latin Origin “Oppositus”, from the root “Opponere”, and means “To Be Set Against.” Now, regardless to popular belief, saying you’ve turned from the old to the new, and actually showing evidence of it are two totally different things! Because to “Turn” requires Action! It’s to move into a different position and face the direct opposite direction and to set yourself against, or to become an enemy of your former standing. In essence, if you were used to going South, you now go North, if you were used to going West, you now go East! When you become a new creature, you don’t return to your old crap! The Bible says, “Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 AMP); “We were buried therefore with Him by the baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious [power] of the Father, so we too might [habitually] live and behave in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4 AMP); “Bring forth fruit that is consistent with repentance [let your lives prove your change of heart.” (Matthew 3:8 AMP). Church, we’ve talked about changing and turning long enough, now is the time to do it! “So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17 AMP); “But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth].” (James 1:22 AMP). In a nutshell: Today is your day to make a Turn for the better!