Thursday, July 18, 2013

God is MOST Interested in the Condition of Our Hearts

God is MOST Interested in the Condition of Our Hearts
Rev. Greg Schermerhorn – Written July 6, 2013 – Published July 18, 2013

Particularly around patriotic holidays, we tend to hear references to 2 Chronicles 7:14 tossed around in conversation.  You are likely familiar with this verse, even if you don't know the reference.  It has become quite popular in our culture among many who are seeking political change, as well as, those who are genuinely seeking God's will.  Here is what the verse says:
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)
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, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
We usually hear about prayer in the context of a change in Washington DC, but we never hear about what the verse itself actually says and we never hear about its actual Scriptural context.  For example, when is the last time you heard one of these political activist types talk about confessing their own sin and the sins of our nation before the Lord?  Or have you heard of any political group who is specifically courting Christians through their use of the Bible, to actually hold prayer rallies where they are humbling themselves before God for the purposes of seeking His will, WHATEVER His will might be, regardless of their own personal or group political agenda? 
This brings us to our application today.  God is not interested in our politics.  God is interested in the condition of our hearts.  The condition of our heart determines our politics.  Does this mean that God has no interest in the governmental affairs of mankind?  Absolutely not.  God has ordained government and allows those in power to be there.

The political agenda is not God's agenda.  If you have gotten sucked into to the political fray, I would encourage you to get "unsucked" so you can evaluate the truth of Scripture.  Am I telling you that there is no merit in political activism?  No.  I am telling you that there are greater and more important things at stake than a political agenda.  Please allow me to start with this thought:  God is MOST interested in our hearts.  Our hearts determine our politics.  

It is my contention that America's greatest problem is truly not political in nature, but spiritual.  We will never return to the political structure of our founding if we don't first return to our spiritual roots with the Lord.  America was never great because of its politics.  She was great because of her faith and trust in Almighty God!  The Bible talks about the importance of guarding our hearts.
Proverbs 4:23 (AMP)
Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.

What you allow into your heart, in other words, what you allow into the center of your being, will flow out into the rest of your life!  We know this is true.  We become like the things we surround ourselves with.  We take on the traits of the people we associate with on a regular basis.  We become like the books, magazines, blogs, and other things we read.  Why do you suppose David wrote:
Psalm 119:11 (NKJV)
Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.

We are no different than a computer:  GIGO – Garbage In, Garbage Out!  We must guard our hearts and minds to prevent trash from being deposited there.

A strong America patterned after the plan our founders used is a good thing, right?  I would agree.  But is that the best thing...the way God would have it now???  That is an interesting question.  One for which I have no answer to give you today.  I ask it for this specific reason:  Are you willing to seek God's face?  Literally to seek out His will above all other considerations and accept it regardless of any preconceived ideas you may have?  Do you really want to see the Lord's Prayer enacted literally?  Remember, what it says:
Matthew 6:9b–13 (NKJV)
9b Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

This is not a trick question.  Are you willing to sacrifice your idea of America to have God's will for America?  It's a VALID question that, I think, far too few of us have actually considered. 

Please allow me to put this into an easier context to grasp.  Let's talk about the the refining process and the refiner's fire.  What is the purpose of the refining process?  Its purpose is to remove impurities from metals.  How is it done?  Usually through a process of adding heat, pressure, and a catalyst to separate the material being purified from the impurities imbedded within the material.  

Let's look at gold as an example of the refining process.  Do you know what the number one impurity removed from gold would be?  It is silver.  A mineral that is also very precious, but not nearly as precious as the gold.  In the refiner's fire, God often removes precious things from us to leave us with what is most precious and most important.  Who wouldn't keep silver if given the opportunity?  But will you sacrifice some silver to have more pure gold?  Can we trust God enough to desire His will over our own will?  Can we trust Him enough to refine out the things that may be good to leave us with His best?

I want you to read 2 Chronicles 7:14 in the Amplified Translation:
2 Chronicles 7:14 (AMP)
If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.

When it comes to living out 2 Chronicles 7:14, are we willing to humble ourselves before God and pray to confess our own sins, as well as, the sins of our nation, so that we can be clean before the Lord?  Do we have a broken heart and contrite spirit before God's throne? 
Psalm 51:17 (NKJV)
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.

Do we seek God's will with a true craving, a true desire to know it and fulfill it?
Matthew 7:7–8 (NKJV)
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 he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

When we humble ourselves before God and pray to Him seeking His face and His will, the Lord promises to hear us from Heaven.  As it says in Psalm 40:1:
Psalm 40:1 (NKJV)
I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry.

As the rest of 2 Chronicles 7:14 goes, so goes Psalm 40:2:
Psalm 40:2 (NKJV)
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps.
If God weren't interested in our hearts, He would not have sent Jesus to save the souls of mankind.  There would be no John 3:16:
John 3:16 (NKJV)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Let's look at 2 Chronicles 7:14 again:
2 Chronicles 7:14 (AMP)
If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.

Now that the Lord has addressed His concern for our heart's condition in the first half of 2 Chronicles 7:14, He is now willing to hear us from Heaven, to forgive our sins, and heal our land.  This is a tremendous verse, but it is a single verse that is part of a much larger context.  I would encourage you to read the context surrounding the Lord's words to Solomon so that you can grasp the impact and importance of why God said the things that He said.  You can gain a good perspective of the context by starting your reading at 2 Chronicles 5:11 and reading through 7:22.  This is the story of the dedication of the Temple Solomon built for the Lord in Jerusalem, Solomon's prayer to the Lord before the people, and God's response to Solomon.  God wants a personal relationship with you and with me.  All that is required is a heart relationship with Him by receiving salvation though the finished work of Jesus!
God's paramount concern for you and for me is the condition of our heart.  Do we, in our hearts know His Son, Jesus, as our Savior?  All of history has been focused upon that question.  All of the Bible has pointed toward God's supreme interest in each of our hearts.  Don't you think we should also be interested in them too?  That is why Jesus' last words before He ascended into Heaven concerned telling others about the Gospel...looking out for their heart condition!
Matthew 28:19–20 (NKJV)
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Knowing Jesus as YOUR Savior is as easy as A-B-C!
A-Admit you are a sinner.  Repent and turn away from your sin.
Acts 3:19 (NKJV)
19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

B-Believe that Jesus is the Son of God and receive God’s gift of forgiveness from sin.
Romans 5:8 (NKJV)
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

C-Confess your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior.
Romans 10:9–10, 13 (NKJV)
9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Stand on the TRUTH as Truth

Stand on the TRUTH as Truth
Rev. Greg Schermerhorn – July 17, 2013

"Sometimes Christians have had to rethink the priorities of the Gospel in the light of experience"-Rt. Rev. Nicholas Holtam, the Bishop of Salisbury – What a fool!  Since when do we judge God's priorities by our own experiences?  Truth IS NOT RELATIVE and cannot be discarded when it no longer suits us.  Rev. Holtam's statement was made in reference to homosexual marriage and the continued blocking of the homosexual lifestyle.  He likened the current state of affairs for homosexuals as equal to those who endured slavery in centuries past.  It is no wonder that Dr. Francis Schaeffer decried the falling away of the mainline Christian denominations as the "failure to stand upon truth as truth."  David Platt, author of Radical and Radical Together, said in an article last week: "We have set our minds on the things of the flesh, which is hostile to God, and we exchange God's Word for our experience."  ln other words, we exchange the immutable truth for a lie, the eternal for the temporary.  Romans 1:20-32 speaks to this issue and other related issues.  The rejection of God and truth has consequences.

Adam and Eve Driven From Eden
I ran across the article quoting the Rt. Rev. Holtam and could not remain silent because he is supposed to be a man of God.  He should stand upon the truth of God's Word, not try to twist it to suit his or society's whim.  I am significantly more interested in the TRUTH than in single issues like homosexuality because if you are willing to stand on the TRUTH, the issues will fall into line in their proper place and context.  I don't often call out a man (or woman), but I stand by my earlier comment that the Rt. Rev. Holtam is a fool who is leading people away from the Lord by preaching something other than His Word.  I would call on him to be more interested in what God thinks than what his constituency thinks. Remember Jesus' words of caution in Matthew 10:28 (NKJV) "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
Rt. Rev. Nicholas Holtam article:  'Reinterpret your Bible': Bishop bashes gay marriage opponents

Rev. David Platt Article:  In 'sex-crazed culture,' Bible makes 'no exceptions'