Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Esther's Clarion Call

"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
James 5:16
(KJV)


Clarion Call 
Definition:
"A strongly expressed demand or request for action"

"Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish."
Esther 4:16

On February 22nd, God called me into a time of intense, intercessory prayer.
I talked about it here and asked you to join me.

Today is day #52, dear friends.
Day. Number. 52.
I never dreamed it would go on this long, 
but, here I am, still interceding.
Still pleading.
Still believing that there is hope in God to turn this nation around...
to hear and answer the heavy requests and to lift the burdens that are upon my heart.

We have seen some results, praise God, and I talk about some of them in detail below.
Some mysteries still remain and keep us seeking after His heart more than ever.

You know, as I have been walking through this "baptism of anguish" that David Wilkerson
describes in this sermon, I have come to realize more than ever before that there truly is a distinct difference between "praying" and "seeking God's face".

If there were not a difference, God would not have required two distinct steps in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

"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."

God mentions FOUR steps that we are to take in order for Him to hear from Heaven,
forgive our sin, and heal our land.

(I was led to delve into this more in the "A Spoiled Church" series.
If you care to read, here are the links...

In this current season of spiritual anguish, God is taking me to new and before-undiscovered
places and depths of both prayer and of seeking His face.

This Scripture is steadily staying on my mind,
"And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:13

God is looking for whole-heartedness in our searching.
The thing that touches His heart, and the time He promises to reveal Himself
is when He sees that we are holding nothing back from Him...
that we desire Him with every fiber of our being...
that we are determined to find Him no matter what or how long it takes.

We, as Christians, love to quote the verse that is found two verses before Jeremiah 29:13.
In recent years, Jeremiah 29:11 has become one of the most popular and most frequently spoken about Bible verses.
I see it everywhere....
on plaques, greeting cards, wallet cards, journals, blog posts, t-shirts, Bible covers,
posters, you name it.
It is absolutely one of my favorites, and I lean heavily upon its truth.
It gives me hope when the enemy paints such black pictures as I look ahead,
and its words sustain me when I am grasping for the promise of a brighter tomorrow.
I absolutely love Jeremiah 29:11.
But, to get the whole picture of what God is saying and in order to not take His message out of context, we need to read the surrounding verses, too.
His children were in bondage, in a land that was not their rightful home.
I cannot imagine how desperate and God-forsaken they felt when they got this message from God.
These words were being spoken to those who were being held captive in a foreign land,
and God promised them in the verse above Jeremiah 29:11 that they would be released from their captivity and brought back home to their native land after 70 years.
He then went on to speak the words we have all come to know and love so well in verse 11,
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, 
thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."
But, that wasn't the end of the story, and, again, we need to keep reading.
Yes, God thought peaceful thoughts about His people, and He wanted to give them the end they had come to expect from Him, but He went on to tell them that in order for His plans to come about, there was something the people had to do.
They had a role and personal responsibility in the unfolding of God's plans for their lives.
Let's read on to verses 12 and 13.
"Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you.
And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart."

There is that distinction between praying and seeking again.

Before their great deliverance could come, the captivated Israelites had to pray,
and they had to seek for God with all their hearts.

Anyone who has been reading these devotions for long at all will know of the weighty burden that I carry for our nation and the current spiritual conditions.
The moral decline, disregard for God's Word, and pervading spirit of anti-God and anti-Christ are realities that lay heavy upon my heart night and day.

I feel like, as Christians, we have a personal responsibility.
Perhaps we have or have not, personally caused or contributed to the debauched state of our nation.
Whether we have or have not is not really relevant, at this point.
Pointing fingers and refusing to take the blame does nothing to remedy the situation.
Every, single one of us will be held accountable for what we do about what is going on.
We can bury our heads in the sand, pretend it is not happening, hit the snooze button, roll over, and go back into our delusional state of spiritual slumber, if that is what we choose to do.
Or we can shake off the apathy, complacency, and downright laziness,
wipe the spiritual sleep out of our eyes, and force ourselves to come wide awake and own our personal responsibility in solving the problem.

God promised that when we go and pray, He will hearken unto us.
He said that we would find Him when we search for Him with all our hearts.

I mentioned above that He is already answering prayer.
Praise God forevermore, we are seeing Him answer prayer.
To provide visible proof that He is hearing and answering,
I'll cite two examples.

Example #1 of answered prayer
Governor Pat McCrory in NC called a special session of the General Assembly 
for the sole purpose of overthrowing the dangerous "bathroom bill",
that would have allowed men and boys who "identify themselves as women and girls" 
to walk into women's and girls' restrooms, showers, and locker rooms, freely and at will.
Because of his stand for right and what is just plain common sense, 
and because HB 2 was passed into law to protect the precious children and women of NC,
Governor McCrory is being bombarded with much persecution
and backlash from those who support and have promoted this evil agenda.
Why not take a moment to write a note of support and thanks to Governor McCrory by clicking HERE and to Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest by clicking HERE?
These men are an answer to our prayers.
God, please bless them abundantly, pour out Your protection, love, and kindness upon them,
and keep them and their families safe and strong in You.

Please keep Governor McCrory in your prayers, as he has been battling a viral infection for the past four weeks.
I cannot even imagine the level of stress he has been under,
and we all know how profoundly stress can affect one's health.
Pray that he will continue to stand firm and not cower to the pressure of those who are bullying him.
Pray that he will win the lawsuit being waged against him.
Pray that GOD'S Word will continue to be defended in NC.
There are many prayer vigils being held in NC for Governor McCrory and NC's leaders.
It is a beautiful thing to behold.
You can keep up with them HERE.

Example #2 of answered prayer
Governor Phil Bryant in MS signed HB 1523 into law, 
so that Christians and pastors will be protected in the state of Mississippi.
Praise God for this huge victory for His people.
This is a major answer to prayer, and how grateful I am that God is raising up men in government 
who will not back down from doing what is right, even when the price for standing firm is higher than it has ever been in our Christian nation.
Why not drop Governor Bryant a note of profound thanks and support by clicking HERE?
Please keep Governor Phil Bryant in your prayers that God will keep him strong,
regardless what opposition he may face.

(On a sad side-note, Nathan Deal, the governor of GA, had a similar opportunity to protect Christian pastors in GA, after HB 757 unanimously passed the GA House (161-0), then went on to pass the Senate by 38-14.
Though this bill was passed by such an overwhelming margin in both the House and the Senate, 
Governor Deal chose to override the will of the people and leaders of GA and to succumb to the bullying of big business instead.
He made the choice to veto the law, thus leaving Christians and pastors in GA unprotected by man's law, but, praise God, man's law and protection will never trump His.)

There are prayers that we are seeing answered in our personal lives, also,
and for each one, we praise God from the bottom of our hearts.

How long will this intercession last?
When, if ever, will my heart feel relieved of this burden?
I cannot say.
I can't understand or predict God's plan.
He is in control.
My role is to be obedient.
To keep praying.
To persevere.

I admit, there have been nights throughout the course of these 52 days, that I have been utterly exhausted, and it has literally taken everything I had in me to fervently pray.
In the course of this, many things have happened in our lives that have made the continuation of this endeavor difficult, including the death of my dear Uncle John and the subsequent long-distance travel to and from his funeral.
In order to remain faithful to this call, we have prayed in some unlikely, somewhat unorthodox places!
At one point, God added an ongoing burden to add fasting during particular time periods.
In Mark 9:29, Jesus said, "This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting."
There are just certain burdens that are that heavy to move.
There are just certain mountains that are that big to shift.

I want to be faithful to Him and whatever it is that He is requiring of me.
Though I have been a prayer warrior for many years,
the spiritual warfare in which I am now engaged far surpasses all previous battles.

Sometimes, I feel like I was born way past my time.
My old-fashioned ideas and anguish over unGodliness is so completely out of sync with what is "accepted" in today's world.
I feel like I should have been born in the early 1900's, in the 1800's, or before.
Why now, when things are so opposite the way I believe?
Then, I think of Esther and how God strategically placed her in a position and time 
for the sole purpose of interceding for her people.

Perhaps you and I, as Esther in her day, were brought to the kingdom 
for such a time as this.
(Esther 4:14)

We have no control over when we are born.
God had a plan in place for each one of us when He allowed us to be conceived in our mothers' wombs.
He makes no mistakes.

Esther's purpose was to call for fasting and prayer,
to enter into the throne room of the King,
and to present an urgent petition to him for the saving of her people.

She did so at great personal risk.
No one was to approach the king's throne, without having been formally invited.
The cause of saving her people was greater than Esther's fear.
"If I perish, I perish", she said.

Do you see the correlation....between Esther....and us?

Dear Lord, help us to be faithful to our charge.
Esther's torch has been passed to us.
Will we find strength enough to carry it?

This is not an exaggeration, nor am I being overly-dramatic.
My heart is broken...and heavily burdened, because morality is in ruins.
Our nation is in great peril.
God's people are being persecuted, demonized, and ostracized on American soil.
Need I remind you again that likely the most crucial presidential election in the history of the United States of America is happening in around 7 months?
And lest we forget, let me reiterate once more that the person elected to be our next president
will more than likely choose up to 3, maybe even 4, lifetime-appointed Supreme Court Justices.

Names of presidential candidates cast aside, 
the most important thing you and I can do right now is pray and seek God's face like never before.

I present to you a clarion call, dear friends.
I implore you to pray...to intercede on behalf of our nation,
our precious children, our families, and the generations following after us.
I ask you to consider adding fasting to your prayers, as God leads.

Prayer is our most powerful weapon in the war against evil.
We must wield it...boldly, unashamedly, and courageously.
God is looking for those who will stand in the gap...as Esther stood.
"And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none."
Ezekiel 22:30

May it not be said, in our time, that God found NONE who would do what it takes to make up the hedge and stand in the gap before Him for this land that He should not destroy it!

Mom and Dad gave me the middle name of Esther...
perhaps that is why I have always felt such a connection to her
and her story has always challenged me so much.

May I rise to her challenge and ever live up to my name!
Will you join me?
To read other similar posts, click the following links:
A Praying Mother's Reward
What If I Don't Pray?

32 comments:

  1. Amen! Another well written and heartfelt post Cheryl. We have that evil "bathroom bill" here in Washington state. There have already been cases of men using it for perverted causes. We live in terrible and evil times, but God will prevail. Thank you for your thoughts and thorough study.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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    1. Thank you so much, sweet friend! I am SO sorry you are having to deal with these awful things in your area. Surely God must weep as He looks down upon the awful state of our nation. May He bless and protect His people and help us to pray as never before. I so appreciate your love, friendship, encouragement, and support.

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  2. Love your passion, Cheryl. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't pray for our nation. My heart breaks for the country that forgot its miracle existence. "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord". May all the hearts be turned to Him and may He break the grip of the ememy's strangle hold on the media that spews his poison.

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    1. Amen, and amen, brother! YES, may God intervene and open people's eyes to the lies of the enemy being spewed through the media. Let us keep praying as never before! Thank you for standing firm and for being such a support and encouragement!

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  3. Praise God for your much needed intercession and the answers you are seeing!

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    1. Yes, dear friend, praise God forevermore! I know He is hearing and His great heart is moved by the cries of His people! May He bless you for your support and kind comments.

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  4. Cheryl, what an excellent post sharing your heart! I will continue to lift up these issues as well as your sweet family to our Lord in prayer. Many blessings to you!

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    1. Thank you ever so much, dear Beth. What a blessing and encouragement you are to me! God bless you abundantly.

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  5. "He is in control.
    My role is to be obedient.
    To keep praying.
    To persevere."

    Well said, Cheryl. Let us pray that we always focus on Him.

    God bless you and yours.

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    1. Yes, may our focus always stay upon Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith! He is our only hope. Thank you so much for stopping by and for your kind support, Victor!

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  6. Hi Cheryl! I think God must think so much of you, he asks you to do so much for him. I'm sorry you feel so out of step and tired. But you know, if it's God who is calling you to your prayer, he will provide the grace you need, I just know it. It's wonderful that you see progress, and the movement of the Spirit, what a comfort that is.

    I have always admired the brave Esther of the bible, and I think it's a great name to have. She inspires everyone, and perhaps her namesakes even more.
    Blessings,
    Ceil

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    1. Oh, your precious words are so very comforting to my heart! Thank you ever so much for being here...for being such a support along this blogging journey and for your unfailing encouragement to me. God bless you abundantly!

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  7. Cheryl, you are a watchman on the city wall. You always have such a heart for the (sorry) state of our nation, and you do a great job of warning us to be on guard against the forces that seek to destroy it. Prayer is a mighty weapon, and few people I know *sound the clarion* as well as you do!

    I hear a bell ringing loud and clear
    Its message is Truth, for all to hear
    Listen to the call, and answer its pealing
    For our nation is in need of deep, deep healing.

    Just a time as this...yes.

    GOD BLESS!

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    1. Dear Sharon! THANK YOU ever so much for your precious, kind words and support. You have touched my heart so deeply. I love the poem you composed, and it is oh SO true! God bless you, dear friend, and just reward you over and over for the blessing you consistently are to me.

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    1. Thank you, sweet friend. I am praying for you, too. Sending you much love and many blessings!

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  9. Dear Cheryl, I must say that you, my friend, are an amazing prayer warrior!
    I appreciate your commitment to the things that need prayer attention, and for always sharing your heart with us on such matters. The Lord is certainly using you in a great and mighty way.
    For such a time as this, we must be on our knees for our nation.
    Oh that we would humble ourselves before God almighty and seek His face in the midst of all that takes place on a daily basis and bend the knee before His throne, turn from our wicked ways believing in our Great and Mighty God to do marvelous works.
    May all we do be to God's glory for He is worthy.

    The Lord bless you~~
    Debbie

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    1. Thank you so much for your sweet encouragement, Debbie. It truly blesses me so much. YES, dear friend, we must be on our knees for our nation! Oh, that God would turn the hearts of many towards Him during this election cycle, and that we would seek HIM as our only hope. There isn't a politician anywhere who can fix the rampant sin problem so prevalent across our land. God is waiting with open arms to forgive us and to heal our land, but we must take those four steps back to Him. God bless you abundantly for sharing this vision and burden!

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  10. You are amazing. You are right. Esther's torch has been passed on to us. Sometimes I forget the responsibility that we are left with, but thankful for God's wisdom and grace along the way

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    1. Thank you, dear friend. You are right, it is easy to forget that we each have a personal responsibility in turning our hearts back towards God and seeking Him like never before. He is our only hope! I am so grateful for your sweet visit and encouragement and support! God bless you abundantly for carrying this burden and doing your part.

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  11. Oh dear Cheryl, the burden that the Lord is allowing you to feel is indeed about to birth something great in you and your precious family... the Lord never calls us to such a place as this without a mighty bringing forth and birthing of His plan in your lives. I am praying that the Lord will give you strength and perseverance for what He has called you to do. Fasting, praying, and interceding before the Lord is indeed like being "launched" as the Lord showed you earlier in the year... there is a travail, a time of great preparation and work that goes into anything being launched. Whatever it is the Lord has called you to... I look forward to seeing how He brings it forth! I will continue to hold your dear family up in prayer, believing with you that the presence and mercy of the Lord will be with you every step of the way! Much love to you today dear Cheryl!

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    1. Your precious words of encouragement are so dear to my heart. How we need to encourage one another in this journey called life and in the individual missions God calls us to! So many times you have stopped by here or emailed me or sent such precious gifts that have come at the precise right time...when I am weakest, God always sends reinforcement and gives grace to carry on. I truly believe Zion never travails without God bringing forth something wonderful, so I look forward to seeing the answer to these prayers! Sending you much love and gratitude for all you do and are!

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  12. Prayers are so so powerful...we can't survive without prayer.

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    1. No, you are so right, BJ! In the words of one of my dear, precious mother's favorite songs, "what should we do without Jesus?" He is the Rock upon which we build and stand and are supported in this life, and prayer is our access to His presence! What a Savior!

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  13. Thank you for your passion for praying for our Country! May more people choose to repent and pray and seek God's face. I too am praying that people will turn back to God.

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    1. Thank you so much, Abbi, for praying and for carrying this burden and for your sweet visit and comment! It truly meant so much to me. May the dear Lord bless you abundantly!

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  14. May God continue to bless you and your stand for righteousness in this land. Our prayers do matter, for our words in a prayer are alive and powerful. Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

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    1. Thank you, Hazel. I appreciate your encouragement! God bless you. ;)

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  15. Your passion and love for your country is palpable and inspiring. Our election is on May and as early as now, everything seems crazy. I wish it would end well.

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    1. Me, too, dear friend. I do trust it will all end well....we must keep praying. I cannot begin to tell you how much your sweet comments meant to me. Thank you ever so much for your dear encouragement. You are a blessing to me! God bless you, in return.

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  16. Dearest Cheryl, As I finished reading your post, I simply whispered, "Wow!" O how you are such a blessing to the Lord, how you stand up and fight for His name, and by your incredible testimony and example, how you encourage us all to get on our knees and pray.

    I was quite taken by your statement, "that we desire Him with every fiber of our being...
    that we are determined to find Him no matter what or how long it takes." It really resonated with me when I can feel hopeless in certain prayer situations, that I am not to give up praying, but pray even harder.

    I was convicted, because I am that person who has not been faithfully storming the gates of Heaven for our nation.

    Your connection of the times we are in to that of Esther and her call to prayer were so insightful and inspiring. You, my friend, are inspiring.

    O how blessed I am to call you friend, but most especially blessed to have your example in my life, "my iron" to sharpen me so that God is glorified.

    I know He is so pleased with you Cheryl and that when that great day comes, you will indeed hear, "Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the Joy of the Lord."

    Blessings to you sweet friend.

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    1. Oh, Karen! My heart is so touched and deeply moved by your dear words! I can't thank you enough for your support, encouragement, support, and prayers. You are such a dear blessing to me. To hear the words, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of the Lord" coming from Jesus' own mouth and being spoken to me....oh, the very thought of it overwhelms and overtakes me. I cannot imagine how it will feel to hear those gates click behind my heels and to know that I am with Him forever, without end. He means absolutely everything to me, and just to see His precious face would make it all worthwhile. Thank you SO much for all you said here...I needed this encouragement more than you know, and surely the dear Holy Spirit spoke right through you to my heart. Love and appreciate you, sweet friend.

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