Should we be praying the prayer of Jabez or the prayer of Daniel????
"Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed, nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; in the time of their punishment they shall be cast down," says the LORD.
--- Jeremiah 8:12 (NKJV)
"....You have had a harlot's forehead; you refuse to be ashamed."
--- Jeremiah 3:3b (NKJV)
There are a number of special events noted during the month of May including one known as the National Day of Prayer. This event has high profile coverage at the national level and there are numerous local observances where communities mark the event with clusters of churches coming together.
The theme is rather obvious with an emphasis on praying for the nation, use of phrases such as "God bless America," accompanied by prayers that God will bless the nation. There is the usual slate of well known speakers and there is always an impressive number of government officials in attendance at the Washington DC gathering.
This year some news release information mentioned the fact that one speaker made reference to repentance as a desired course of action. Coinciding with this is the growing popularity along with favorable secular press coverage of a small book titled, "The Prayer of Jabez." It has been a top rated seller for a number of weeks and has been mentioned at different gatherings of Christians. Future plans call for a variety of products to be marketed under theme of the prayer of Jabez for special groups, etc.
There are also reports of stirrings in some churches and lots of activity here and there to the extent that statements are made about "outpourings of the Holy Spirit." And we continue to have the professional TV "ministries" which operate on multi-million dollar budgets and appear to have strong support from the faithful as they appeal for even more money in order to carry out their view of "mission" in reaching a troubled, confused, and chaotic world!
Now then -- where in all this religious activity is there clear evidence of a no pretense, true, and genuine repentance from all known sin taking place? Yes, on such occasions as the National Day of Prayer the word is mentioned, but where is the "proof of the pudding?" Clearly it has not cut into the heart and soul of individuals or the many corporate groups scattered throughout the country! Nor has the reality set in that we as a nation stand at the very brink of judgment at the hands of a holy God Whose appeal to repent of ALL personal and corporate sin has been ignored! It's almost like a sporting event -- we are busy about playing all our little games in life and then we take our "time out" for God and talk "religious talk," and possibly even mention the word "repentance," but then it's quickly back to fun and games.
The exercise of all the religious talk and reading popular books makes us feel good about ourselves but there is no significant change in the country's course of direction as it continues to exhibit a dominant national spirit of defiance and rejection of God's standards for a peaceful, stable, sane, and blessed society.
You think it really isn't all that bad? And that we've got a few problems, but we'll get them worked out in due time? OK, here are just a few things to think about, and for each one, how about providing solid proof that real repentance is taking place and these ungodly destructive problems and practices are rapidly diminishing throughout the republic?
The massive practicing of idolatry!
"For they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. They have committed adultery with their idols, and even sacrificed their sons whom they bore to Me, passing them through the fire, to devour them. Moreover they have done this to Me: they have defiled My sanctuary on the same day and profaned My Sabbaths. For after they had slain their children for their idols, on the same day they came into My sanctuary to profane it; and indeed thus they have done in the midst of My house."
--- Ezekiel 23:37-39 (NKJV)
Like a deadly melanoma it has been spreading over recent decades -- it is the malignant pursuit of things and pleasures which mean much more to the majority of all ages than serious worship, devotion, and commitment to God Who gives to all "life, breath, and all things." (Acts 17:24,25). Even among those who profess to be Christian there seems to be an unwillingness to face up to the fact that we are witnessing the tragic fulfillment of a prediction made by Paul nearly 2,000 years ago when he said that perilous times would come for Christians. The reason for this condition is rather simple -- the prevailing desires would be that people in massive numbers would be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, and lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. (2 Timothy 3:1-5). Just where is the evidence that massive numbers of people of all ages are desiring to abandon their idols? No, these 21st Century idols are not in the forms of grotesque carved images of stone, metal, or wood -- that would be a simple matter -- the 21st Century variety in our republic is invisible, but nonetheless very real in capturing the affections of multitudes! The alien idol invasion is seen most clearly on Sundays as the mighty Creator of the universe has but a small proportion of worshippers in contrast to the majority which is out somewhere zealously pursuing its idols.
"If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the LORD has spoken."
--- Isaiah 58:13,14 (NKJV)
There was a time in the history of this republic in which most commercial, entertainment, and industrial enterprises shut down on Sunday. This was a special day given to worship and rest primarily. Families spent most of the day together in worship and home gatherings. As you are surely aware, things are quite different now. Sunday has become a weekly "holiday" event observed 52 times per year. It should be given a new name -- Funday! Percentages don't tell the whole story when it comes to the numbers of persons in attendance at worship services on a Sunday morning. The tragic reality is that among the limited number who choose to attend worship there are those who just can hardly wait to get out of church for other activities which have a greater appeal than the worship of and devotion to Almighty God! These range all the way from sporting events, picnics, and shopping to fishing, golfing, camping, and taking in the flea market circuit! You have to admit that calls to observe Sunday in a true Sabbath spirit of worship and rest haven't been issued too much have they? The ancient Israelite kingdom of Judah had a serious problem in keeping the Sabbath observed strictly as a day of worship and rest. God called the people to repent of their excessive violations of the Sabbath, but the prophets through whom God issued the call were considered a bunch of fanatics who were not to be taken seriously.
Toleration of anything and everything in the name of "diversity" within the ranks of those professing to be Christian in faith and practice !"
"Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them."
--- Ezekiel 22:26 (NKJV)
Very few it seems are willing to admit it, but we have come to a point where one can believe just about anything and live a lifestyle of most any choice, claim to be a "Christian," and be considered a "brother" or "sister" in the faith! In fact, we practically have the sounding of trumpets and clashing of cymbals in celebrating our "diversity" these days. It matters not that the full authority and integrity of God's special revelation via holy Scripture is questioned, distorted, and frequently denied in terms of what God has done, is doing now, and plans to do in the future as well as His moral laws most clearly spelled out for human conduct and relationships! Very common in this spiritual leprosy crisis is a growing acceptance of the heresy that we are "all the children of God" and everyone will be a future citizen of the Kingdom of God.
For a number of years now there has been a subtle and sometimes not so subtle move on the part of too many "Christian" leaders to reduce Jesus Christ to a common level so that He is on a par with such religious figures as Mohammed, Buddha, and the likes! In this way we will not offend those of other "faiths" in this world by holding Jesus to be exclusive and we then shall be "unified" in all our "diversity."
Another twist to this diversity thing in recent years has been the growing pressure to accept and adore God in a female image form! Hymns are now printed and will be sung in congregations which refer to female identity such as God being "mother" and parts of female anatomy such as the womb and giving birth. Funny thing -- Jesus, Who is God in human form, and Who knows all things, including the end from the very beginning, never suggested that we should change from His practice of referring to God as heavenly Father!
Repent of some of these perverted ideas and teachings? You can't be serious -- that would wreck our diversity "heaven" we're setting up here on earth! So let's hear it again -- sound those trumpets and bang those cymbals one more time!
The promotion of an anti-God value system which is worse than the combined effects of "re-education" camps in totalitarian government systems!
"Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams," says the LORD, "and tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies and by their recklessness. Yet I did not send them or command them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all," says the LORD.
--- Jeremiah 23:32 (NKJV)"For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame; who set their mind on earthly things."
--- Philippians 3:18,19 (NKJV)
The movie, TV, and secular news media industries have significantly contributed to the moral, ethical, and spiritual decline of the republic particularly over the past four decades. This deplorable condition has been further reinforced by decisions handed down by members of an activist judiciary who seem intent on obliterating the name of God and His holy standards from all facets of our society! Anything vulgar, profane, immoral, dishonest, excessively violent, and unholy is held up as the norm and more to be desired than that which is pure, holy, and loving as so clearly revealed by God through His Son, Jesus Christ. In recent years there has been an increased volley of intentional attacks against those values that are at the very core of the Christian faith. Numerous court rulings have also aided in the assault in matters such as prayer, posting of the Ten Commandments, display of Nativity scenes, and mottos such as "In God We Trust!"
An interesting report has been released of surveys involving "journalists" -- you know, those people who always claim to be "balanced" and free of bias in their reporting of news and issues of the day! How about this:
- 86% don't attend a place of worship.
- 90% support the "choice" of killing unborn children.
- 75% support homosexuality.
- 53% approve of adultery.
- 80% support so-called "affirmative action" programs.
- 56% believe the U.S. exploits "third world" countries.
- 80% have never voted for a Republican president.
- yet only 54% of this bunch identify themselves as left of center!
Now suppose you did a similar survey with these issues among the TV and movie entertainment industries' officials and the actors and actresses. What kind of percentages would be tallied -- huh?
An observation by the prophet Jeremiah has particular meaning in this tragedy -- "For My people are foolish, they have not known Me. They are silly children, and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge." (Jeremiah 4:22 - NKJV).
Can we expect the aformentioned groups to actually repent, truly turn to God with the whole heart, ask for mercy, and fully abandon the promoting of values that are diametrically opposed to God's holy standards for human behavior and relationships? Most likely the response would be a sneer on the face and a "Not a #@%**##@^ chance!" coming out of the mouth!
Rampant sexual immorality in numerous expressions!
"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!."
--- Isaiah 5:20 (NKJV)
"How shall I pardon you for this? Your children have forsaken Me and sworn by those that are not gods. When I had fed them to the full, then they committed adultery and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses. They were like well-fed lusty stallions; every one neighed after his neighbor's wife. Shall I not punish them for these things?" says the LORD. "And shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?"
--- Jeremiah 5:7-9 (NKJV)
"Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due."
--- Romans 1:24-27 (NKJV)
The republic has been progressively sinking deeper into the quagmire of fornication, adultery, and sodomy plus perverted sexual abuse of children and youth on a scale unlike anything comparable in its previous history. In recent years the sodomite/lesbian connection (no pun intended on that!) has effectively forced capitulation of politicians, educators, business executives, and church leaders in growing numbers so that the nation is being transformed into a 21st Century version of Sodom and Gomorrah!
The movie and TV industries have reaped millions of dollars under the guise of "entertainment" as sexual immorality in its many repulsive expressions has become a standard diet for all ages. And then questions are raised as to why our young are in the business of "making babies" and faithfully practicing the sexual standards which have been preached to them by the companies whose business is to entertain and amuse us. Added to this potent mixture is the pornography business which provides graphic details as to how to express yourself sexually with anybody or a number of anybodys at any time. And if another person isn't available, you can always find an animal to satisfy those raging hormones!
An added wrinkle in just the past few years has been that in which a number of major corporations have changed their "policies" and are setting in place health care coverage for domestic "partners" of employees! As you look at the final line in this matter and the fine print is assessed, it comes down to this -- the major corporations and businesses choosing to take this step are putting their stamp of approval on sexual immorality in all its various expressions and are willing to pay the cost of whatever consequences may take place -- babies born out of wedlock, STD's, AIDs, or whatever!
Just where are the clarion calls to turn from our sexual immorality and perversions in their many expressions? It's one thing for big name speakers at a national observance on prayer for the country to mention something about repentance, and quite another to get brutally honest and spell out detailed specifics as to what's going on by way of individual and corporate wickedness -- the kind of wickedness which God condemns and from which He demands total repentance or else we will face His undiluted wrath in judgment!
The gangrene of greed!
"But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."
--- 1 Timothy 6:9,10 (NKJV)
"Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten.Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days."
--- James 5:1-3 (NKJV)
The problem is of epidemic proportions when it comes to personal greed and to what actions persons will resort in an effort to accumulate money. Those efforts may be by legal or illegal means! The problem becomes one of pandemic proportions when it comes to collective and corporate greed.
As of this writing gasoline prices have greatly increased as have prices of fuels used for home heating. And then comes a report that Exxon had a 5 billion dollar profit for the first quarter of 2001, which was a 44 % increase over a year ago! As you might expect, there was a lot of fancy dancing going on with tongues about "shortages," "supply," and "demand" stuff in the feeble effort to justify such increases. But no one seemed to be able to explain that if gas was in such short supply, then why were gas stations not hanging out signs that the tanks were empty? People seemed to be driving about as much as ever, and the volume of sales seemed to be about the same as ever, but someone was making a killing in profits from all this talk about "shortages" -- a rerun of the 1970's conspiracy perhaps??? Yes, I admit it -- I'm a full blown skeptic when it comes to certain rich and powerful individuals and corporations trying to justify their obscene profits! I smell a stinky odor which is best identified by the name of greed!
Exxon is not the only culprit on the greed bandwagon. Other corporations have taken advantage of certain situations because of the type of business they are in to really stick it to the consumer financially. Those involved in health care and pharmaceuticals would be great examples -- you know, the so called "costs" far outpace the annual cost of living percentages -- something rotten here too, wouldn't you think? Could it be something called greed?
And then there are those streamlining and "down sizing" procedures in the name of "cost cutting" that give the axe to the poor guy at the bottom of the ladder who thought his job was secure because of years of service he had given. And some middle level people have been hit with the same axe as well. But the CEO's and their buddies at the top of the ladder still get their increases, stock options, and a whole big package of perks!
And lest we forget -- a majority of politicians have demonstrated this unattractive streak in depraved human nature by their insatiable greed for more tax money, especially at federal and state levels! The evidence is clear from how they personally have profited with outlandish salaries, perks, and retirment benefits that would make a two bit dictator envious. But also is the all consuming unholy desire to spend your money and mine, at which rate it won't be long until we work half the year just to meet all tax obligations -- the day now is around May 3rd as of 2001! Yes, some reluctantly went along with a piddly tax cut -- the original as proposed by Bush & Cheney was pretty well hacked up -- but don't worry, they'll be back and ever plotting new ways to get our money! Remember -- it's something called greed that drives them! And if there are any who try to justify the present tax rate, or they speak of a few tax breaks occasionally, simply ask why that May 3 date has not retreated, nor has the date ever retreated on the calendar!
Much more could be said, but you get the picture don't you? There are a lot of horror stories out there about what greed is doing as it eats away at the innards of the republic. By the way, who has time to seriously ponder a story told by Jesus about a guy defined as a "rich fool" in Luke 12:15-21? Repent of greed and abandon the money "god?" The prospects don't look promising on this one, due mainly to the fact that little has been mentioned about the gangrene of greed and its devastating impact on our culture!
The ongoing destruction of well over 1 million (as many as 1.3) unborn children a year!
"For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt, then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever."
--- Jeremiah 7:5-7 (NKJV)
Unborn Babies Killed
since Roe vs. Wade
If you take about 60 to 90 seconds to watch the little number cruncher above, you will see the rate at which the number has been steadily increasing since the abominable practice became a "constitutional right" back in 1973. Where are the cries of protest and why no nation wide call coming from an overwhelming majority of church and government leaders of the urgent need to quickly repent of this abomination described in God's revelation as the "shedding of innocent blood?" Apart from a few voices that are mainly written off as being extreme "right wing" fanatics, and with help from the secular media such persons are grouped into the category of those who bomb abortion clinics and shoot abortionists, there isn't much by way of an urgency sounding forth that this cultural practice is totally unacceptable to the God Whom we claim with empty words to "trust!"
The Christian epidemic of "gradualism!"
"Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples; Ephraim is a cake unturned. Aliens have devoured his strength, but he does not know it; yes, gray hairs are here and there on him, yet he does not know it."
--- Hosea 7:8,9 (NKJV)
It has been noted that Christians can easily become the victims of what some define as "gradualism." This is simply a condition that takes place over a prolonged period of time with changes occurring so gradually that they are hardly noticed, if at all! Use your imagination for a moment -- suppose our long departed grandparents and great-grandparents, who were dedicated God fearing people in their times and had been actively involved in their churches, were resurrected and brought into our churches today? What might their reactions be -- that is, if they didn't die of shock first and we hadn't had a chance to hear a single word from them as to what their responses were as they were confronted with the many "changes" that have taken place within the ranks of professing Christianity since their day! Compromise and a gradual acceptance of questionable beliefs and practices overlaid with a Laodicean lukewarm and self satisfied approach to faith and responsibility puts us into about the same predicament as the people of Ephraim mentioned above! And it happened so slowly -- kind of makes us like the frog in the pan of cool water with the heat turned up -- he doesn't even realize his demise is near as the temperature slowly rises and he is boiled to death without even a feeble protest! Repent? What do you mean? What have we done that is wrong? Everything is just the same as it has always been -- OR IS IT???
At this point in time many, including a number of secular minded persons, are very excited about the prayer of Jabez which was previously mentioned at the beginning of these comments. Further, many also testify to praying the words of this prayer each day and how they have been greatly blessed. This is not intended to deny the experience of these persons whatsoever. If they are being truly blessed, and the prayer has meaning for them, well and good!
However, in light of the moral, ethical, and spiritual crises presently engulfing the U.S. republic, would it be more appropriate and certainly a bit more honest to have a similar zeal in praying the prayer of Daniel as recorded in Daniel 9? And if a sufficient number of individuals, government and church officials, church members who profess to be Christian, and corporate groups pray the prayer with sincerity, making the necessary changes called for, might God relent and withhold His judgment as He did in the case of Nineveh at the time of Jonah?
"It is time for You to act, O LORD, For they have regarded Your law as void. Therefore I love Your commandments More than gold, yes, than fine gold! Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way. "
--- Psalm 119:126-128 (NKJV)
"Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts. I did not sit in the assembly of the mockers, nor did I rejoice; I sat alone because of Your hand, for You have filled me with indignation."
--- Jeremiah 15:16,17 (NKJV)
by Clayton D. Harriger, Retired
Elder in Full Connection
Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference
The United Methodist Church
and presently pastor of
Gipsy Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
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