Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Spoiled Church - Part One

"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
(KJV)
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NOTE:
In light of the current state and condition of our nation,
God has laid a heaviness upon my spirit that cannot be ignored.
Today's post, begins A NEW SERIES to be continued here at Homespun Devotions,
as God leads and inspires.
Lord willing, I will keep writing on this subject matter, until I feel I have fulfilled God's will in it.
I will know...when the burden lifts.
I sincerely long for your prayers.
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Anyone who is blessed with any spiritual discernment at all
can look around and see that we are in one bonafide mess.
So, if our nation...our world....is in a mess, why did I entitle this post, "A Spoiled Church", you ask?

It is because I believe there is a huge correlation between the two.

I once heard someone say, "As goes the nation, so goes the church."
I very strongly disagree with this statement.
I believe the opposite is true.
It is my belief that,
"As goes the church, so the nation will follow."
(Please read this post, if you care to explore the burden on my heart in more detail.)

God is our only hope.
The sooner we identify this,
acknowledge this,
and admit this,
the better off we all will be.

I feel sure that, at some point in your Christian life, you have read today's verse.
If you are like me, you have read it more times than you can remember,
and you have heard it preached more times than you can recall.
Perhaps the magnitude of its impact has sort of lost its "aha" factor to you by now.

That is what happens when we become so used to hearing something.
The keenness of its edge becomes more dull,
and God's intention for its words ever being spoken into existence is lost a little bit more each time it is repeated.

So, I ask you, dear friend, to humor me for the amount of time it takes you to read this post.
I want you to try your utmost to pretend that this Scripture is brand new to you...
that you have never read or heard 2 Chronicles 7:14 before.
That it has somehow been lost or never found...until this moment,
when you came across it and realized the depths of its meaning.

I want you to pretend, for just a few moments,
that the law of God, along with the book of 2 Chronicles, has been hidden for a long time.
I would like for us to pretend that we have only now discovered it...
sort of like what happened to the man I want to introduce you to.

To "meet" him, let's go together on an imaginary journey, shall we?
A journey sort of like entering into John Avery Whittaker's "Imagination Station".
Are you familiar?
If you have never listened to Adventures in Odyssey, you have truly missed out on a treat.  
It is one of Zach's favorite things to do during his free time,
and he is currently on a quest to collect every, single episode on CD.
I can't even put into words how much I highly recommend it.  
You can listen to episodes online for FREE by clicking here.

Okay, so are you buckled in?
Let's plug our little adventure in and program it to take us to Judah
to somewhere around the year 622 BC.
Let's walk to the Royal Palace and meet the current king.
His name is Josiah.

Before we focus entirely upon him, though, lets explore a little bit of his history first,
shall we?

We find that King Josiah comes from a colorful, checkered lineage, 
made up of both extremely good and extremely evil ancestors.
His great-grandfather, Hezekiah, was a righteous man who followed God with all his heart.
He is the man I wrote about here, a Godly king who was a welcome reprieve from the evil or halfway-evil men who had ruled over Judah for a long time.
Hezekiah is also the man who, when stricken with a fatal disease, 
turned his face towards the wall and cried out to God, 
longing for healing and extended life and reminding God of the righteous life he had lived.
God heard that cry, healed his body, and added 15 additional years to Hezekiah's life. 
During those added, bonus 15 years of life, Hezekiah fathered a child by his wife Hephzibah.
whom they named Mannaseh.
The quote "be careful what you wish for..." comes to mind here, as that son, born sometime during the third year of Hezekiah's extra, bonus 15 years on earth, turned out to be 
one of the most evil-to-the-core, wicked-without-restraints Hebrew kings of all time.
Manasseh did the complete and total opposite of his Godly father, King Hezekiah.
He reconstructed the heathen altars of Baal that Hezekiah had obliterated,
he set up pagan altars that were used to worship the sun, moon, and stars in the courts of the temple of the Lord,
he participated in consulting sorcerers, 
he murdered innocent people,
he even sacrificed his own children.
This wicked, wicked man did finally come to his senses and turn back to the one, true God,
but only after he had done extreme damage,
and was afterwards overthrown by the Assyrians and taken into exile.
Fast forward to Mannaseh's son, Amon, Josiah's father, who replicated the bad example set before
him by his father, Mannaseh, and ended up following in his evil footsteps.
Upon Amon's assassination, his son, Josiah, became king at the age of 8 years old.

Fast forward to the 18th year of Josiah's reign, when he was 26,
and we find him on an entirely different path from his father, Amon,
and his grand-father, Manasseh.
Josiah's mindset and reign more resembled that of his great-grandfather, Hezekiah,
and he ordered the high priest, Hilkiah, to renovate the Temple and purge it of the pagan and heathen influences that Manasseh and Amon had allowed to infiltrate it.

One day, Josiah sent his secretary, Shaphan, to the temple of the Lord to pay a visit to Hilkiah, in order to take care of some financial business concerning the work on the Temple.

When Shaphan reached Hilkiah, he fulfilled the business of his errand,
and then he was met with this astounding news from the high priest.

"I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the LORD." 
2 Kings 22:8

With all due reverence, I wish I could insert several exclamation points at the end of this sentence.
Hilkiah, the high priest, while working on the Temple, had unearthed the Book of GOD'S Law!!!!!
The current generation had only heard of it.
They had never seen it.

How had something so vital, so necessary, so pertinent to life itself, become hidden?
Was it because of neglect?
(That is another entirely different burden on my heart and will have to be possibly explored at another time.)
Some believe the Law of God had been hidden for 75-80 years!!
This would have included the evil reigns of Manasseh and Amon.

Hilkiah gave the Book of the Law to Shaphan,
and Shaphan brought it to King Josiah.

"Hilkiah, the priest, has given me a book" Shaphan said to the king,
and he began to read it aloud.

When King Josiah heard the words of the Book of the Law, he began to tear his clothes!!!
Sheer panic, gripping terror, and overwhelming fear washed over him.

Those quickening words!
They invoked Godly sorrow in King Josiah,
as he realized the seriousness of the situation in front of him.
Why?
Because he instantly thought of the present state and conditions of his country,
as he remembered the awful sins of his father, Amon, and his grandfather, Manasseh.
No doubt, he cringed to hear of the punishment and wrath of God that was sure to fall,
in response to their gross sins and disobedience.

I say the words from the Book of the Law invoked Godly sorrow in King Josiah,
because Godly sorrow brings about true repentance.
Godly sorrow compels one to confess sin, forsake it, and do a complete turnaround...
without regret of having made that turnaround.

"For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of..."
2 Corinthians 7:10

The instant the realization of conditions became clear to Josiah,
he immediately began to take action, calling five men together and ordering them to,
"Go ye, inquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us."
2 Kings 22:13

King Josiah sent the five men to the prophetess, Huldah, to commune with her,
to confirm the validity of his concerns,
and to know the mind of the Lord.

The message she sent back to King Josiah was not an encouraging one.
She verified and reaffirmed the Word of the Lord, and this was her exact words.

"Tell the man who sent you to me,
This is what the LORD says:
I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people,
according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read.
Because they have forsaken Me and burned incense to other gods and aroused My anger by all the idols their hands have made, My anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.
Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD,
This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard:
Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people--that they would become a curse and be laid waste--and because you tore your robes and wept in My presence, I also have heard you, declares the LORD.Therefore I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.
So they took her answer back to the king."
2 Kings 22:15-20

As soon as Josiah heard this dreaded news, he immediately sprang into action.

"Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem.
He went up to the temple of the LORD with the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets--all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the LORD.

The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD--to follow the LORD and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book.
Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.

Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did--with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses."
2 Kings 23:1-4,25

Okay, so now, I want us to push the fast forward button to modern day...
to our current conditions and situation...here in America....
and yes, in our world, at large.

And I want us to pretend that we have just uncovered the Bible.
That the Word of God has been hidden for the past 75-80 years, and that we are a people unenlightened and unaware of what we should do or how God wants us to conduct ourselves and live our lives.
I realize, when I ask you to do this, that this scenario could not be farther from the truth,
for we are one of the most spiritually-enlightened, Biblical truth-saturated generations that have ever lived. 

But, please humor me and make believe, if you will, that we begin to read the Bible's Divinely-inspired words for the very first time, as Shaphan and Josiah did that day,
and that, as we read, the full realization of our current conditions settles over our freshly-awoken,
long-lethargic senses.
Imagine the panic and terror arising in our hearts, because, for the very first time,
 we are fully aware of the blatancy and degree of our sin and how deeply we have offended our Creator God.
We awake to the reality that His wrath is hovering....
it feels like a big, black, dark, threatening cloud....
almost unleashed...
near to bursting.
We perceive His judgment...so close we can almost touch it.
Surely, destruction is imminent and unavoidable.
A feeling of utter hopelessness envelops, as we hang our heads in the deepest sense of shame.

But, wait!
As we read, we stumble across the possibility of a remedy!!!
An antidote for our gross sins!!
A chance of mercy in the midst of our deplorable state...
right there...written on white...in black letters...in that last part of 2 Chronicles 7:14...
where God says,
"...then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

YES!
That's what we want, right?
Audience with God.
Forgiveness of sin.
Healing.
Sound good to you?
Sure sounds good to me!

Somehow, in our quest to find hope, we completely skim over the first part of that verse...
that part before God says "then"...the part that maps out the playbook for us to reach the goal we seek.
In our "prosperity-gospel" generation, where blessings are generously pronounced,
but somehow God's prerequisites to and conditions for those blessings are manipulatively omitted,
we have a tendency to do that, you know.

We just want to cut to the chase and go straight to the good stuff God promises to give us,
never-minding the things He demands of us in order to receive those kinds of blessings.

We read those words...the things that God says He will do for us...at the end of 2 Chronicles 7:14.
They settle deep.
It appears that redemption is possible!!!!!!

Hope burns within us!
There still might be a way to turn this thing around!

Up until now, we've been on the same page as King Josiah.

But, this, my friend is where we and King Josiah part ways.

Because as we read that verse again, in its entirety...including those four things mentioned at the beginning of the verse....the truth begins to don on us that the miracle remedy we seek,
is going to require something that we, the modern church, seem to know little to nothing about.
We find that in order to ever get back in God's favor,
in order to fix our problem,
we will have to take a path that is, for the most part, foreign and unfamiliar to us.
The very idea makes us squirm.
It distresses us.
We don't like it.

For, lo and behold, the remedy to correct our problem is going to largely and predominantly involve
the SACRIFICE of SELF.
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Stay tuned for Part Two of "A Spoiled Church"!!!
Coming soon, Lord willing!!!

30 comments:

  1. Awakening post that should be read by many. May God reached more hearts to repent. Really scaring nowadays where God is being set aside and few people care..

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    1. Oh, dear sister! It breaks my heart. We MUST pray hard and stand firm for Christ. So thankful for your encouragement and support here. God bless you! :)

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  2. Your words are true. I am praying for repentance and revival in the Church.

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    1. YES! That is a wonderful way to pray. I believe God is working, and He is sending a stirring among His people. Let us be strong and of a good courage. :) Thank you for stopping by, Carol. God bless you.

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  3. Thanks for starting this series. It's something that so much of us need to read. Thanks for always sharing such applicable scripture. It's so true that we are so much further then we have ever been before. It's easy to get sidetracked by all the darkness, but LIGHT always shines!

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    1. YES, praise His name! His light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot put it out! Such a wonderful, encouraging thought. God bless you so much for stopping by and leaving encouragement behind. :)

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  4. Your words did indeed take me right back into the palace as I observed the reigns of Judah's kings. And, you were so successful in capturing the emotions of Josiah, and the nation, as they once again became re-acquainted with the holy Word of God - and chose to dedicate themselves to obeying it.

    Sacrifice of self - not a popular mindset these days, is it? We are a people who like to "do our own thing." I was reminded of these words in the book of Judges: "Everyone did what was right in his own eyes."

    But then, the Truth lies in Proverbs 21:2, NIV: "A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart."

    The ONLY solution to a nation or a heart gone astray is a RETURN to the *first things* - and the most important first thing is obedience to the Someone Who was, Who is, and is to come.

    Great series, looking forward to what God lays on your heart.

    GOD BLESS.

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    1. Yes, dear Lord, help us to return! If only we would all seek Him in one accord and meet the conditions He requires, we could see the revival we so long to see. It is going to take much change and perseverance, but God has the strength we need. So grateful for your sweet visit and encouragement. God bless you. :)

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  5. This post is soo insightful on the events that are turning out nation. The minority has been very vocal and we as the church have sat back and said that it could never be but it is time to stand up for our church and our nation. We have been soo blessed as a nation because of our belief in God so it behooves us to continue that to stay under the grace of God. A much needed post. Visiting from The Beauty of His Grip.

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    1. Amen, Rebecca!!!! Thank you so much for your support and comments. I totally agree with all you said. God bless you!!! :)

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  6. Yep, I agree, so goes our churches so goes our nation. We are certainly living in an a world where everyone wants to do what is right in their own eyes, forgetting what is right in the eyes of the Lord. Good post sister.

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    1. Oh, you are SO right, Betty! How very true! I was just thinking of that verse earlier when I was writing Part Two of this series. Right in our own eyes is not a safe guide for any of us. God helps us all, and God bless you. :)

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  7. Some wonder how one king could be so Godly and rule well, and his heir would be just the opposite and rule with evil and wickedness. The simple answer was who was caring for these children of the King, and teaching them? Usually it was servant women captured from an evil nation. Naturally they taught the kings children exactly what they knew so it was logical that when the heir came into power they knew little or nothing about the true God. Their parents had left the raising of their children to others. As we pray each Wednesday over our city, the focus has been for us first to repent asking forgiveness for ourselves, then to repent and ask forgiveness for the sins of the people in this city. Jesus told us that whose ever sins we remit, they shall be remitted. Then we pray a prophesy over out city for blessing, tender hearts to receive truth and to receive the true Gospel. We have authority to do this, because we as Christians have been declared Kings and Priests according to the scriptures. Thank you for sharing your timely post with us here at Tell Me a Story.

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    1. Yes, it is so hard to understand how Manasseh could be so evil, when he had such a Godly father. It just goes to show that we all have our own mind, and we have to work out our own salvation, regardless what our ancestors did or did not do. God help us all, Hazel. We are in perilous times, but God is still among His people. I love what you are doing for your city. Positive change will definitely be the fruits of your labors. God bless you. :)

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  8. Your storybook way of telling of Josiah was vivid.
    Your connection between it and the present was sobering.
    You are so right.
    It's all about what we, God's people, do about this.

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    1. Thank you ever so much, Laura. Your dear encouragement is such a blessing to me. God bless you, sweet friend. :)

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  9. Thought-provoking stuff. I'm glad I linked up next to you at #TellHisStory.

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    1. Thank you so very much, Kristin. I'm glad you did, too. It was so nice to see you had visited today. :) God bless you!

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  10. Cheryl, This was such a well-written, well-though-out, God-centered, Word-centered post!

    I loved how you broke down the story of Hezekiah and ultimately Josiah to bring us fully into the story so that we could appreciate your "fast-forward" to put ourselves in their position.

    I was always so struck by that Bible story, entering into Josiah's dismay at discovering the Book of the Law and realizing how far from it they were. Your connection of that story with the world today was profound!

    I confess that I even find myself reading the 2 Chronicles verse by rote where it has "lost it's meaning". Thank you for the reminder that change begins with me.

    I'm so glad I visited today. Such a blessing!

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    1. Karen, I can't thank you enough for your dear words of encouragement. They truly meant SO much! You are such a dear blessing to me...both by your visits here and by my visits to your blog. Thank you for standing for truth. May God bless you!!

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  11. Excellent post. And in the end it always comes down to the resurfacing of the original sin; the love of self... Yes, only in humility and less selfishness can we find our way Home. I pray our country does just that.

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    1. Yes, I pray that it does, too, brother. God is surely our only hope, and He will help us as we do our part. Thank you so much for your visit and encouragement. God bless you!!

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  12. Thank you so much Cheryl for sharing this excellently written and extremely timely post with us at Good Morning Mondays. The sacrifice of self will be something that will be hard to do, the God of self is so important that we would rather listen to our own ideas than to immerse ourselves into the word of God and His plans for us. I look forward to the next post, and I am encouraged to know that there are others who hearts are breaking with the way of the world. Blessings to you my friend. PS. Our older children listened to Adventures in Odyssey but I had forgotten about it.

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    1. Oh, dear friend! It IS so heartbreaking. I so appreciate your encouraging words and your stand for truth. I'm glad your children enjoyed Adventures in Odyssey. We all enjoy it around here! So wholesome and encouraging! May the Lord bless you and keep you and your family in His care! :)

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  13. Oh dear Cheryl, what a beautifully written post, and your words that take us into the very heart of the moment with Josiah are so powerful! Indeed, your conclusion at the end of the post is something our flesh does not want to hear, but really, it is the only way! Jesus told us that unless we are willing to pick up our cross and follow Him, we are not worthy of Him! I pray the Lord continues to bless your writing as you pour out the message that the Lord is giving to you! Praying that many hear, heed, and obey! Much love in Christ, my dear friend!

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    1. Thank you so very much for your precious encouragement and words today! They truly blessed me more than you will ever know. I agree with every, single thing you said. I cannot ever express how much I appreciate your prayers and support. Sending you much love and many hugs across the miles, sweet friend! :) God bless you always.

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  14. This is a hard lesson. We like the kind, loving God who gives us nice things but like to skim over the discipline and justice which is part of the God we worship.

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    1. You are so right! God IS love, but He absolutely judges sin. We have become a people who like to skim over it, as you said. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here. Your visit was a blessing!

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  15. Very good word, sis. I don't know where you hang your church hat but it sounds pretty Apostolic to me. I was just thinking the other day after reading Luke chapter 3 where it says that Jesus could do no good works there (in his home town) because they thought of him as just the carpenters son, that we indeed have become a spoiled generation. We have become so accustomed to living this so called Christian life and just going through the motions that we have demoted the Almighty God to just another average, everyday guy. I have to say that I have been guilty of it myself at times (I really hate admitting that, but it's true)...Taking God for granted, not really appreciating who, what and with what power and authority he is and has. It's time to get our flesh under subjection and have true revival in our soul and a true reverence toward the Almighty. Indeed it is time for we Christians to humble ourselves, pray and turn from our wicked ways so that the Lord God will once again turn his face toward us, forgive our sin and heal our land. Thank you sis for listening to God's voice and writing this series. It's a word we all need to hear! I just found you through the link party at Imparting Grace and will be reading part 2 and 3 immediately. I can't want to see what else God has to say!!!

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    1. Wow, Sheila! I am just so humbled and blessed by your precious words! I am so thankful you stopped by and left such sweet encouragement behind. It was SO nice to "meet" you today. God bless you abundantly!!!

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