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IN MOMENTS LIKE THESE

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작성자 최고관리자 작성일15-12-29 22:33 조회869회 댓글0건

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<2 Chronicles 7: 11-18>

 

 A nightclub that sold alcohol opened for business in a small town.   Soon after, the people of a small church in this town gathered for a prayer service.  They prayed to God for the nightclub to be burned down.  Not long after the prayer service started, a bolt of lightening struck the nightclub.  And the new club burned down to the ground.

 

 But the owner of the nightclub filed a lawsuit against this small church.  He charged that the church congregation’s prayer was responsible for the club’s burning down.  The trial finally took place, with the club owner imputing responsibility to the church and the church denying all culpability.  The judge, upon hearing the argument of both sides, was at loss for words.  “I don’t know who should be responsible for the fire, but it seems like the club owner believes in the power of prayer more than the church congregation.”

 

 Prayer has powers.  If we earnestly offer prayers to God in accordance with God’s will, that prayer will surely be answered.  When facing difficulties and tribulations, nothing works better than a prayer.

 

 In 2 Kings 20, King Hezekiah was dying of disease.  In his dying moment, Hezekiah did not seek some good physicians nor sought some secular remedies to his illness.  Instead, he offered a prayer to God for his life.  Facing the wall, he prayed with all his might.  Weeping bitterly, Hezekiah depended only on God.  By doing so, he was able to extend his life by 15 years.  Prayer saved his life!

 

  In order to detonate a bomb, one need not light the entire bomb.  One needs only to light the fuse and the fuse will take care of the rest.  Likewise, if we light the fuse called prayer, our homes, our church, and our world will change for the better.  By hanging onto the lifeline called prayer, we can live the life of a true Christian.

 

Today’s scripture come to us as King Solomon hears God’s voice upon finishing the construction of God’s temple and palace.  Solomon spends 7 years building God’s temple and 13 years constructing his own palace.  In total, 20 years are spent.  At the end of this long construction period, God appears before Solomon to offer him a promise.

 

 We must concentrate on the words contained in verses 13 and 14 of today’s scripture.  Let’s take a look at verse 13.  When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people.”  In this passage, God is recalling the three national catastrophes that He levied upon the pagan people. 

 

  First, God can shut the doors of heaven and prevent rainfall, resulting in a drought and a dry spell across the lands. 

For those who farm, no rain is tantamount to death.  It truly is a catastrophe that only those who experienced it before can grasp the magnitude of.

 

 ​Second, God can send locusts to devour all crops on land. 

All crops will suffer damage as a result of insects and pests.  This is another crisis that seriously afflicts the livelihood of farmers.  Some people interpret locusts as enemies of Israel who will descend upon them like the darkness of night, plundering, pillaging, and slaying the people of Israel with abandon.  Either way, it is a true catastrophe indeed.    

 

 ​Third, God can allow pestilence to spread to every corner of this world. 

During the Middle Ages, the Bubonic Plague reduced the population of Europe by one-third.  In Korea, contagious diseases such as small pox and cholera took away untold number of lives.  When plague and disease ravage the land, killing great number of people, it too is a national catastrophe and crisis.

 

 In order to explain symbolically the catastrophe and crisis that can afflict the land, God makes reference to drought, pests, and disease.  So the words in verse 13 can be rephrased as “When you are faced with immense catastrophe and crisis that you cannot overcome.”

 

 In such situations, what must Israel do?  What is God telling Solomon to do in moments like these?  Therein lies our interest.

 

  Take a look at verse 14.  If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from the wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”  When faced with national catastrophe or crisis, God is imploring them to do three things.  If they do those three things well, God will hear the wailing prayers of the people of Israel, forgive their sins, and heal their land.  Then what are those three things that God is asking for?

 

  First, depart from the path of the wicked. 

When faced with national crisis, people must part with their evil ways.  They must turn away from the wrong path.  This means complete repentance.  In Hebrew, repentance is ‘metanoia,’ meaning ‘to turn away from.’  If the one who walks towards east learns that he is on the wrong path, he must repent and change the direction of his travel. 

 

 But those who say they have repented and shed tears, yet continues on the same path, have not truly repented.  It looks as if they repented due to momentary display of emotions yet, nothing within them has changed.  True repentance means change in life patterns and habits.  True repentance must bear fruits.  They must be able to discard the eastern path and turn around, embarking on a new journey on the path that goes west.  Then they will have truly repented.

 

  In Samuel 7: 5-11, Prophet Samuel gathers all people of Israel in Mitzvah and conduct a national repentance ceremony.  Israel, upon suffering the humiliation of losing the ark to the Philistines, conducted a large repentance ceremony.  Samuel and all people of Israel offered prayers of repentance while fasting.  As a result, the people of Israel were able to defeat and drive back the people of Philistine without moving even a finger.

 

 When we discard evil within ourselves and walk the path of repentance, God will help us.  Do you have a problem in your life today?  Do you have worries that cannot be solved by human power?  Are your homes or businesses faced with crisis?  Does a national crisis drive us towards fear?  In moments like these, when we seek solutions to our problems and crisis, we must first depart from evil.  We must confess all sins we have committed and repent.  Only then will God extend His hand of salvation!

  

Second, become humble. 

 Be lower.  Be destroyed.  Be eroded.  I must start dying.  Only then will God advent among us.  If my ego is alive, if my arrogance pierce the sky, then God will never advent among us.  Only when I lower myself and become humble will God enter my heart.

 

  In Matthew 16: 24, Jesus states, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”  In order to become God’s disciple, we must deny ourselves.  Then pick up the cross of humility and tribulation and follow in the path of the Lord.

 

 By being crucified Himself, Jesus saved us all.  If He did not die on the cross, we would never have been rescued from sins and death.  Only when Jesus died were we saved.  Therefore, in John 12: 34, Jesus states, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”  Jesus became the one grain of wheat that fell and died in the ground and as a result, the entire humanity was able to gain path to salvation.

 

 Do you desire solutions to your troubles?  Do you seek escape from crisis?  Lower yourselves!  Become humble!  Start dying!  Then your problems will go away.  Then you will be able to escape from crisis.

 

  On top of tall mountains, we can often see large trees that were struck down by lightening.  Little trees can survive because the big trees were struck down by lightening.  Therefore, God tells the big trees ones that can easily become arrogant to die first.  Only then will the many small trees survive.  In our homes, when the head of family the fathers and the mothers die, the family flourishes.  In our church, when its head the pastor, the elders, and the deacons dies, the congregation flourishes. 

 

 Do you have a problem today?  A crisis?  In moments like these, become humble!  Then God will miraculously come to your aid.

 

 Third, pray and pray for the face of God. 

 Prayer is like a power generator for those who believe.  All strength and power comes from this generator.  Why do people not pray?  It is because they are arrogant.  They have something to rely on a hidden card and they do not feel the need to pray.  Whether it may be their abilities, their experiences, their intellects, or such, they do not feel the need to lean on God.  Someone even went as far as to define prayer as “act of dependency by the powerless on the almighty.” 

 

 If you can do all things by yourselves, then you probably do not need to pray.  But do you have problems that you cannot solve with your own abilities?  Did crisis pay you a visit?  Do you feel that you are powerless, that you are eternally lacking?  In moments like these, pray!  Ask for God!  Then God will listen to your prayers.

 

 Susan Sheridan, a professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana once studied the remains of those who lived in a monastery near Jerusalem around 5th century.  She studied, in excruciating detail, some 6,000 pieces of remains found under the basement of St. Stephen’s Monastery.  Her studies discovered some commonalties among the Byzantine monks.  For example, they were very stout and received good nutrition from their diet, and average life expectancy was around 40 years. 

   

 But all of them had bad knees.  Almost all monks suffered extensive damages to their kneecaps, leg bones, and heel bones.  This shows that they were devout people of prayer who prayed endlessly.  So Professor Sheridan confessed that she discovered the one case of the occupational stresses of people who pray for a living.  For those who prayed, even their remains attested to their devotions!

 

 John Knox once stated that ‘one person who prays is stronger than a nation that does not pray.’  The devil’s favorites are Christians who do not pray and churches that no longer emit the sounds of prayer.  The devil’s fears are Christians who pray and a church that prays.  So the devil fears one person who prays over legions of masses who do not pray!

  

 When faced with troubles, we must pray.  When faced with a crisis, we must pray.  Only prayer gives us the intellect and wisdom to solve our problems.  Only prayer bestows upon us the power to solve our problems.

 

 1 Kings 16: 11 tells us, “Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face evermore!”  Jesus teaches us in Matthew 7: 7, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”  Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5: 17, “Pray without rest.”  Listen to these words today!  And let’s pray with all our might.

 

  Do you have any troubles today?  Any crisis?  Humbly kneel before the Lord and pray to Him.  When we do so, the words in Acts 58: 9 and John 15: 7 will be realized. 

 

 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’”   If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”

 

 God told Solomon first to depart from evil when a national crisis, like famine, pests, or disease, sweep through Israel.  God told Solomon to be low, dead, and humble.  Then He told Solomon to pray to God and look for Him.  If they did so, then God promised that He would hear their prayers from heaven, forgive their sins, and heal their land.  What does this mean?  All problems will be solved and all crises will disappear.

 

 Today, our nation stands on a crossroad, to decide whether to go to war or not.  Many among us, for one reason or another, face difficulties.  What should we do in a moments like these?  We must depart from evil!  Become humble!  And kneel and pray to God!

 

 Then God will listen to our prayers.  He will cleanse us of our sins.  Then He will heal our broken hearts, broken homes, ailing society, and malfunctioning nation.  Amen.

 

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