Friday, May 06, 2016

National Day of Prayer

Yesterday was the 'National Day of Prayer'.  Pauline Goff, the local director for this effort, graciously asked me to speak at this noon-day event.  It was an honor and was the first time in my life that I had been asked to do speak at such an event.  As I prayed about the message, I became struck about the nature and depth of the struggles in America.  It is sad but extremely true that we are in a battle for faith as the culture in the USA (like so many before) have now seemingly decided that 'we know better than God'.  But with the national mood like it is, we also have a 'civil' battle for these United States of America.  Hopefully, I will follow up this blog with one about the ongoing Presidential 'free-for-all' which we are enduring.  Sadly, unless something drastic happens in the next 6 months, casting a vote for a person of faith will not be possible.  But I'll save this discussion for an ensuing post.  Suffice to say, that the National Day of Prayer must become our "Wake-up Call."
What follows is the script from which my remarks at the NDOP were formed.  My heart-cry, my hope, and my prayer is that God will "HEAL OUR LAND" because HIS PEOPLE respond in the way which God has told us.
For those who don't know...the time slot for this message was 6-8 minutes and (for those who won't believe it) I stayed within the time frame. 😀 Grace.

Don’t Miss the Alarm
(National Day of Prayer address, Lucedale 2016)
Jerry Watts
2 Chronicles 7:13-14
·       I begin with a question, “How many of you have ever slept through an alarm or alarm clock?”  When you do this, it messes up your day, your schedule, & may impact the lives of others.
·       Today, the “National Day of Prayer” is indeed an alarm.  It is a “Wake-up” call.  In fact, the chosen scripture for this year, Isaiah 58:1, identifies this day as such (“Cry (or shout) aloud; do not hold back, lift up (or raise) your voice like a trumpet.”  In other words, sound an alarm and ‘wake up’. 
·       Our country, culture, communities, and churches are all on a downward spiral and the issues are too many to name.  From the Presidential race (who would have thought?) to laws, courts, morals, and more, we find ourselves in a moral freefall from which we don’t seem to be able to recover.  We simply will not legislate our way out of this dilemma.  We stand here today because we recognize that our best is simply not good enough, we need reinforcements, we need help.
·       One of the most familiar verses of the Bible for times such as this is 2 Chronicles 7:14. (Quote) Folks, this last statement is why we are here today, we want our land healed!!  Don’t miss this: the only way for our land to be healed is for our sin to be forgiven, and the only way for our sin to be forgiven is for us to be heard from heaven, and the only way for us to be heard from heaven is to turn from OUR wicked ways, seek God’s face, and pray from a humble, broken, & contrite heart.
·       Many who know this verse from God’s Holy word do not know the setting in which these words were spoken nor do they know what came just before or just after these words.  God spoke these words to King Solomon in response to the King’s prayer for God’ blessing.
·       While many know verse 14, few know verse 13.  God is still speaking and He said, “When I shut up the heavens so that there is NO RAIN, or command the locust to devour the land, send pestilence among my people.”  This startles many people as they cannot imagine a reason why God would to these horrible things to HIS PEOPLE.  Yet a study of the history of God’s people & a look at Solomon’s prayer reminds us that God will respond when His people are disobedient.
·       It seems to this country boy that the very reason our country is on the decline stems from our disobedience to God.  We have cast Him out of almost every place imaginable and just perhaps, He has shut up the heavens and not allow the raining down of His blessings on us like we once enjoyed, perhaps He has sent the locust of immorality, and the pestilence of affluence on us.  Just perhaps we are living in verse 13.
·       If so, this is bad news but it is also good news.  The bad news is that perhaps we have run from God, built a barrier of our own arrogance between Him and us (God resists the proud), and in large measure rejected His truth as absolute to the point that He has shut up the doors of blessing and sent the locust and pestilence in the land. 

·       The good news is this:  We are in the perfect place to hear the alarm and move from verse 13 to verse 14.  It begins with “God’s People” – with the right attitude (humble), the right approach (pray), the right aim (God’s face), and the right action (turn from our ways that God calls wicked).  If we approach God in this way, He will hear (don’t you like to be heard when you speak), He will forgive (while most people don’t care to admit it, being forgiven is a deep desire), and HE WILL HEAL OUR LAND.  This is my dream, my hope, & my prayer.  Our land is so scarred and marred with the effects of sin.  God goes on in verse 15 to say in effect, “If you guys will pray like this, my eyes and ears are open in this place for you.”  As I sit, my heart prayer is that we will not sleep through this alarm.  Please take this pray with you to your car, your job, your house, and your people.  May we wake up and call on God to show up.  Amen.

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