December 02, 2016
The Bible is not just written for our inspiration and comfort. It is given to model for us what we are to do and be. To instruct us in effective living and ministry.
The Bible tells us about the prophet, Daniel, who found himself in a culture and season that parallels ours in many respects. The example in Daniel, Chapter 9, gives us the only medical protocol that will heal our land.
READ YOUR BIBLE
I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. (Daniel 9:2)
Daniel’s powerful and effective response to the national need was driven by his Bible reading. It informed him, corrected him, and equipped him to accurately assess and react to what was happening around him.
This is exactly what the Bible is designed to do. It is God-breathed and ""profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness so the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work"" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
In other words, if you don't voraciously and prayerfully read your Bible, you will not find the path of life nor be adequate to assess what is happening around you. And you will make costly mistakes in your judgments.
Are you reading your Bible every day, carefully and deeply listening to God's word to you and those around you?
GIVE SOLEMN ATTENTION TO THE LORD
So I gave attention the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. (9:3)
We give much attention to the news, to the world's opinion about our situation. But our greatest concern should be to get in a posture to hear what God says regarding the world. We must seek Him.
And, we must not seek quick answers, but Him alone. The answer is not mere plans, but a robust, real-time relationship with the One-Who-Is-Everything.
It is hard for us to grasp how much the Father loves His children, the Groom loves His Bride, and the Spirit loves His Body. God longs for us to come back to Him in passionate intimacy. When was the last time you fasted and prayed for nothing but Him? To return to your first love?
Are you seeking Him?
I prayed to the Lord my God ... (9:4)
God desires us to cry out to Him. Pray is an admission of need and the foundational expression of humility. Proud people don't pray because they foolishly believe they can handle life by themselves. Why turn to the Creator?
God has designed prayer and His Word as His means of connection and communion with Him. If you are not using these means, you are not connected. If you are not connected to Him, you will not only be of no help to others, but you may be in danger of working at cross-purposes with God Himself.
Are you praying fervently, without ceasing?
CONFESS OUR SINS
I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed ... we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments ... we have not listened to Your servants the prophets (9:4-12)
Like Nehemiah in his great prayer for the nation in Nehemiah 1, who admitted that ""both I and my fathers have sinned,"" Daniel lays the blame for the judgment that has come squarely where it should be.
God had graciously provided for His people and they had rebelled against Him. It was just that simple. And our situation is exactly the same. God knows we must come to this understanding, and confession is the agreement with God about His evaluation.
Read Daniel 9:4-12 carefully in your Bible. Dissect it and you will see the way in which we are to name our sins in prayer and confess not only our personal sins, but the iniquities of our nation.
Are you confessing?
UNDERSTAND AND ACKNOWLEDGE GOD'S JUDGMENT
As is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth. Therefore, the Lord has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the Lord our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice. (9:13-14)
We rarely get this. God is a God of perfect love and His judgment to His people is an expression of that love. Like pain to the human body, it is His means to show us that what we are doing is harmful and that we need to make immediate and deliberate adjustments.
His judgment is all around us, seeking to bring us to our senses, but we evaluate it differently. We don't make the connection between what is happening and the judgment of God. If our assessment is not right our responses will never be right.
Are you properly evaluating the current events around you and helping others to do the same?
All this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth. (9:13)
There should be one response when we realize we have sinned: turning. This is repentance. It is a Spirit-wrought change of mind about our direction and a Spirit-empowered turning back to the Lord and His direction.
If we recognize our sin and God’s judgment, but fail to repent, it has done nothing but make us more culpable.
Are you repenting and helping others turn also?
CRY OUT FOR MERCY, FOR THE SAKE OF GOD'S GLORY
So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplications, and for Your sake, O Lord, let Your face shine on Your desolate sanctuary. O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name. (9:18-19)
Only God can save us, but He can save us. He is waiting for a humble, desperate cry. He always responds to the united, repentant pleas of His children and sends the reviving we need.
And we must cry out for the right purpose. We should be motivated by what our rebellion is doing to God’s impeccable name. We must cry out not merely for our own sake or comfort, but so God can be seen and worshiped for the great God that He is.
Are you crying out for revival, for God's sake?
Look at Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Peter and Paul, and, of course most deeply, at Jesus. What each of them did in their day is the prescription and protocol we must follow for our national disease. There is no other.
We must aggressively do the work of the church every day without fail. But if we are concerned for the larger picture of God's kingdom, we must use the means of grace that God has eternally designed, as Daniel did. We must humbly cry out … and we must do it now.
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