National Reformation - Version 2
This is the summary of the sermon I actually preached at the Cornerstone on Sunday, February 12, 2017:
This teaching is based on one idea: The United States is in DESPERATE need of spiritual and moral reformation. As a nation, we have abandoned God and his standard. Franklin Graham says we’re at a moral tipping point, but I think we’ve already tipped. We’re already under God’s judgment and we’re headed for even worse trouble. We need a national reformation.
Do Christians have any part to play in national reformation? Yes we do! The Lord Jesus calls his disciples to be the salt and light of their communities. That is, to shine with good deeds and to live as moral preservative. And most of all, to share Jesus Christ - to share the Gospel that brings light into the nation.
Psalm 12 is a strategy for Christians in America. Psalm 12 tells us four things to do that will lead to national reformation:
A. PRAY - verse 1.
Psalm 12 begins with a desperate cry: “Help, O Lord.” This is King David’s prayer on behalf of his kingdom, Israel; a nation that was collapsing under the weight of its own wickedness. It is a prayer for national reformation by God’s intervention. We should follow David’s strategy for our nation.
Ephesians 6:18 tells us to pray for the church: “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”
Nehemiah 1 is a model of prayer for a nation: “O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, 6 listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! 7 We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.” - Nehemiah 1:5-6
Jeremiah called Israel in exile to pray for the city of Babylon - nation: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” - Jeremiah 29:7
Moral reformation happens after prayer.
B. PRAY HONESTLY - verses 2-4, 8.
King David prayed honestly about his kingdom - Israel, God’s covenant people - called out by God to be holy nation. He describes the symptoms of a nation that has rejected and abandoned God. Israel was in open, arrogant, defiance of the Lord.
"Neighbors lie (EMPTY) to each other, speaking with flattering lips (SMOOTH TALKER) and deceitful (DOUBLE) hearts. 3 May the Lord cut off their flattering lips and silence their boastful tongues. 4 They say, “We will lie to our hearts’ content. Our lips are our own—who can stop us? … 8 even though the wicked strut about, and evil is praised throughout the land.”" - Psalm 12:2-4, 8
So … what would be an honest prayer for America?
Gratitude for the many good things. For the church. For democracy and freedom and prosperity for many and comparative safety, etc.
Grief for the way we break God’s laws and ignore his ways. Honestly admit our national sins. We’re a nation in which it’s acceptable to do what God forbids. Love what God hates. Promote what God judges.
We should not be too proud to admit Psalm 12:1: “The godly are fast disappearing. The faithful have vanished from the earth” - and the nation. Hyperbole - yes, but getting truer every day (even in churches). We are a Romans 1 nation: we have rejected and replaced God and his ways. And he has abandoned us to sexual perversion, violence, injustice, and moral decay (see Romans 1:18-32).
There can be no national reformation until there is nation confession.
C. PRAY EXPECTANTLY - verse 5.
"The Lord replies, “I have seen violence done to the helpless, and I have heard the groans of the poor. Now I will rise up to rescue them, as they have longed for me to do.”"
This tells me that the Lord will answer prayers for national reformation.
Our efforts matter - responsible involvement in the community matters, government matters, legal system matters, citizenship matters. This is the point Paul made to Titus; even under the tyranny of the Roman empire, it was possible to be an responsible and contributing citizen:
“Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good.” Titus 3:1
So, we should participate in making our communities great. We can do so much good. But God can do so much more. When God stands up - evil must fall down: “Now I will rise up to rescue them …”
Our confidence is in the Lord:
“Some nations boast of their chariots and horses, but we boast in the name of the Lord our God. Those nations will fall down and collapse, but we will rise up and stand firm.” - Psalm 20:7-8
When we see the need for national reformation, the most effective action we can take is to pray. We should take the problem to the One who could actually fix things. And then wait with expectation for God to rise up. God’s help is America's hope.
D. PRAY CONFIDENTLY - verse 6.
God’s vision for nations is so beautiful. He wants America to be an Isaiah 58:6-7 nation for everyone, regardless of color, class, or creed. As the church of God on earth, we should all work for and pray for this in our community:
“This is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. 7 Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help." - Isaiah 58:6-7
If we pray for that, it may please the Lord to rise up and when he rises up, we can be confident that:
"The Lord’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over. 7 Therefore, Lord, we know you will protect the oppressed, preserving them forever from this lying generation," - Psalm 12:6-7
Be confident in prayer. THE LORD can change America.
Do not give up on our nation.
Do not excuse the failings of our nation.
Do not expect our nation to fix itself.
BUT EXPECT GOD!
The prayer of 2 Chronicles 7 was originally given for Israel, but its principles remain true for us:
14 "Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land."
God has put Christians here at this time, in this place, to pray. Your calling is to bombard the throne of grace until God visits our nation. We’re going to pray 3 ways:
Pray for God to destroy the evil that dominates so many communities so that love and peace and justice and prosperity can flourish for all.
Pray that Christians would rise up to share the Gospel with renewed boldness. That many would turn from sins to trust in Jesus as Savior and God. Pray for a national spiritual awakening - a wholesale turning to Jesus Christ as Savior and God and the multiplication of more and more healthy, holy, loving, Spirit-filled, Gospel-preaching, salt and light churches everywhere. The greatest, most positive, changes will happen when communities which were dominated by Satan and sin are filled with new believers who love Jesus and follow his teachings. Salt and light will overcome the decay and darkness.
Pray for a beautiful nation that please God. An Isaiah 58 nation. A nation of truth and righteousness.
If we’re really serious about making America great, we will pray and pray and pray with passion and zeal.