“Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.” ~ Joel 2:12-13
This passage of scripture came to mind as I recalled the events of seventeen years ago and the following days. I remember exactly where I was and what I did on September 11, 2001. I also remember thinking, “I’ll bet church will be packed this Sunday,” and it was. Talking to others, it seems that most people in America went to church on September 16, 2001. It didn’t seem to matter who you were, what your church background was, or even if you hardly ever or even never went to church before.
What an opportunity to share the gospel! What an opportunity to tell people that like the examples of the Nation of Israel in the Old Testament we should take the events of 9/11/01 as a sign from God of what may be to come. Even way back then, as a relatively new baby in Christ, I thought, “God’s REALLY trying to get the attention of America.” I really think that in a large part, God DID get the attention of much of the country on that day. I also think that to a large degree; many pastors blew it on the Sunday following 9/11. I didn’t hear of much talk of repenting of personal and national sins, turning to the Lord, Jesus Christ and studying his Word to see what changes we needed to make as individuals, families, communities and a nation. There was an awful lot of “God bless America’s,” but apparently very, very little, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”
There was a lot of patriotism, good will and help toward others, generosity and other great selfless acts of charity and kindness, but very little turning to God. There’s nothing wrong with loving our country, helping others, wishing them well and more, but the question then is, “what are you doing it for?” Are you doing it to feel good yourself? To hopefully have others see you and praise you for it? Because your neighbor genuinely needs help? A far better motivation is that God desires to work through YOU whether you are rewarded in this world or not. Use those opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. He makes all the difference in the world.
As I was writing this and thinking about our nation and world seventeen years ago and our world today, several passages of scripture came to mind, but I started with one, I’ll end with another and I want to share one here in the middle or thereabouts. From the prophet Isaiah we read:
“Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” ~ Isaiah 29:13-14
I believe that is pretty much all that happened seventeen years ago. From God bless America in nearly every store window, hailed from neighbor to neighbor and even our local, state and national elected officials standing together and praying the same, we’ve come a long way. Unfortunately, it’s all been in the wrong direction.
Now, biblical Christianity is the “problem” in many people’s minds. If we take a solid stand on the Word of God and call out sin as sin, we’re the “problem.” Too many churches are willing to compromise just to appear to get along. Being “politically correct” is more virtuous than being biblical to so many and that’s just sad.
We NEED men and women, even boys and girls to be willing to take a stand for biblical truth. We need to understand that when the masses ridicule, harass, litigate and worse, it’s not our word that they are rejecting, it’s God’s Word. We should be willing to be the man (or woman) standing in the gap (Ezekiel 22:30). We should be the watchman on the wall, sounding the alarm (Ezekiel 33:1-9) to awaken the sleeping citizens to the dangers about to be faced if they go on sleeping.
I know it will not always be easy. There will be difficult times ahead, but I also remember the words of one of our recent guest speakers. He converted from Islam to Christianity and his testimony of that conversion and his life story is powerful! He said that when he finally heard and understood the truth of the gospel, he asked, “If this is true, WHY HAS NO ONE TOLD US?!”
I will leave you with this thought. Though declared by God to Solomon the King of the united nation of Israel, the principle still holds true to any nation or group of people whose God is the God of the Bible. We should pray this for our nation today and always, then go and fulfill the part God has for you to do.
“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