If Not You Then Who?
If My people, which are called by My name, shall 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. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name. (Daniel 9:18–19)
Benjamin Harrison, the twenty-third president of the United States, once observed, “It is out of the Word of God that a system has come to make life sweet.” He followed up with a crucial question, “If you blot out of your statute books, your Constitution, [and] your family life, all that is taken from the sacred Book, what would there be left to bind society together?”
The answer is clear. Skepticism about God is rampant, prayer has been violently kicked out of schools, the Ten Commandments have become suggestions, adultery has skyrocketed, sexual immorality has become the norm, and over 50 million legal abortions have been performed. America’s values have declined more in the last century than in all past historical eras combined.
How do we find our way back to God?
Man’s lawlessness is nothing new to our Creator. In the Old Testament, the Israelites, God’s chosen people, repeatedly turned their backs on Him. Every time they did so, He took His blessing away and they felt the consequences of their own sin—their lives became unmanageable, they lost battles, were enslaved, suffered death and disease, or found themselves wandering in the desert. Inevitably, they would tire of their consequences, and God would raise up a godly leader or prophet to confront them with their sin and encourage them to repent. Every time they heeded the prompting of God, humbled themselves, and sought His forgiveness, He immediately forgave them of their sin, took them back into His fold, and loved them as though they never left.
In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God promises us that if we humble ourselves, pray, and turn from our wicked ways, He will hear and heal our land. While we may not be prophets or leaders able to reach the nation on a grand scale, we all have an area of influence…and it begins with us. As believers, we have the responsibility to daily to confess any sins and ask God how He’d like to use us to reach others with the truth of the gospel. As the body of Christ, we are His hands and feet, the action behind God’s will. Will you answer the call of God? If not you, then who?
The answer is clear. Skepticism about God is rampant, prayer has been violently kicked out of schools, the Ten Commandments have become suggestions, adultery has skyrocketed, sexual
The Plumb Line
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance. (Psalm 33:12)
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people. (Proverbs 14:34)
In a 1950 speech before a conference on law enforcement issues, Harry Truman, our nation’s thirty-third president, said:
“The fundamental basis of this nation’s law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and Saint Matthew, from Isaiah and Saint Paul.… If we don’t have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the State.”
Like a builder using a square, a level, or a plumb line, our nation needs the Word of God to keep us level and on a straight path. As the Great Builder, God tells us, “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic. I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line” (Isaiah 28:16–17 niv). This is a promise of an unshakeable kingdom, with none other than Jesus as the “precious cornerstone.” (See Mark 12:10; Acts 4:11; Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:6–8.)
God has set a standard for our lives in His Word. It is the plumb line against which we determine right and wrong. He does not negotiate His laws, nor will He change them with the whims of culture. While our flesh nature may want us to believe that God overlooks or tolerates our sins out of love, that’s simply not true. His holy, righteous love calls for justice. Only the blood of Christ, paid for by His death on the cross, is adequate compensation for our sin and makes us righteous before God.
All believers are called to be holy. This does not mean we will be perfect, but when we love God, we will seek to obey Him. Are you willing to examine your life to see where you fall short of His plumb line and confess that to Him as sin?
If you haven’t received Jesus’s free gift of salvation and want to find freedom and peace with God, please visit: https://www.authorlesliemontgomery.com/find-peace-with-god.
Lean Not on Your Own Understanding
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.(Hebrews 11:6)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5–6)
In July 1787, the Constitutional Convention had been meeting for five weeks in Philadelphia. The fifty-five delegates from twelve states were at an impasse. Benjamin Franklin, then eighty-one years old, realized their problem and made an effort to do something about it. Addressing Continental President Arthur St. Clair and the rest of the delegation, he said:
“In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the contest with [Great] Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for the Divine Protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard; and they were graciously answered. All of us, who were engaged in the struggle, must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend?… The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel; we shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a byword down to future ages. … I therefore beg leave to move, that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.”
The first Constitutional Congress eventually implemented Franklin’s suggestion in April 1789. After much debate, the delegates finally realized their own self-proclaimed wisdom was preventing them from knowing God’s.
Take a moment and consider different areas of your life—home, work, church, or school—where there may be conflicts or decisions you’re trying to figure out on your own. Call on God and surrender to His wisdom and will. As our Founding Fathers realized, He is faithful to those who diligently seek Him.
Having an Attitude of Gratitude
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:15–17)
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18)
The Continental Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain on July 2, 1776. John Adams, our nation’s second president, wrote to his wife, Abigail, that he thought the day would be celebrated for generations as “the great anniversary Festival.” He added:
“It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. — I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States.… Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”
It took two days for the Continental Congress to hammer out the details for the Declaration of Independence. This document was approved on July 4—what we now celebrate as Independence Day, with bonfires, bells, fireworks, backyard barbecues, and gatherings of family, friends, and neighbors.
But how many still celebrate the Fourth of July as a time of thanksgiving to God?
The declaration itself proclaims, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.…” Note that the founding fathers attributed these rights not to themselves, or the new nation, but to their Creator.
In the closing paragraph, they declared they were “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions” and were firmly relying on “the protection of divine Providence.”
Let us remember to fill our hearts with gratitude and thankfulness toward God for blessing us with this nation, which despite its problems remains a beacon of hope to the world.
Who Do You Run To?
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. (Psalm 6:2)
Praise the Lord.… He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:1, 3)
I woke up abruptly just after midnight recently when my eight-year-old’s cold feet pressed against my thigh. He was lying sideways in my bed, sleeping soundly. I later learned that he’d gotten scared and sought refuge in my bed. Who we run to first when we feel fear, pain, or frustration says a lot about who and where we put our faith.
I endured extensive abuse as a child and was an unbeliever for the first twenty-five years of my life. As an adult, I ran to a variety of sources to find relief from my pain, including secular counseling, self-help books, various religions, addictions, reckless behavior, and more. While some of those attempts brought temporary relief, I was never able to acquire permanent reprieve. Essentially, they were merely bandages for my wounds, ripped off every time something triggered a memory from my past. Then the wounds would again open and ooze out the poison that was slowly killing me and hurting those around me. I needed a cure, which the world did not have.
President Ronald Reagan declared it was “the Year of the Bible” in 1983. He explained:
“Within the covers of that single Book are all the answers to all the problems that face us today, if we’d only look there. ‘The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.’ [Isaiah 40:8 erv.] I hope Americans will read and study the Bible in 1983. It’s my firm belief that the enduring values, as I say, presented in its pages have a great meaning for each of us and for our nation. The Bible can touch our hearts, order our minds, refresh our souls.”
I learned the truth of President Reagan’s words on November 2, 1992. As I read the Bible, which I still do every day, I found the healing I’d always wanted. The difference between the healing of the world and God’s healing is that His is complete and leaves no scars. In the Bible, you find truths about you, your life, God, and His will for you that you will not find elsewhere.
“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 niv)
Yes, we can lean on other people when we are in need of support and encouragement, but we must learn to spiritually default to God and His Word first and foremost. There, we will find wisdom and guidance for us, our families, our communities, and our nation.