A Time for Humbling

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” “Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I made confession, saying, ‘O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments. We have not listened. To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, because we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him and have not obeyed [his] voice by walking in his laws. All this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth. The Lord our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and we have not obeyed his voice. O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy. Open your eyes and see our desolations. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your people are called by your name.’” 2 Chronicles 7:14; Daniel 9:3-10,13-14,17-19

In the scriptures, a repeated, yet unnatural and difficult, call during a time of ‘desolation’ is that to humble ourselves, to seek God and repent. We pray instinctively for peace, protection, healing– in other words, for things to get better, easier, safer. But it is not our bent to take time to acknowledge our rebellion and wickedness, our disordered affections and idolatry, our real filth before holy God. As people called by His name and cleansed by Jesus’s blood, we own a secure position of righteousness and can boldly approach His throne of grace. Yet, we are sinners who have too long trifled with the dark disease in our hearts, and justified the calloused habits to which we choose to be blind, but that are an affront to God. (Hebrews 4:16)

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Called by His name! What a privilege, what an identity! But do we sling that name around with cheap grace and haughty self-promotion while hiding disdain and bitterness within? Are we braggarts who puff out our chests with ‘enlightened’ thinking and superior living while putting others down? Where are we displeased with God’s ways and timing and order, and so fashion and worship our own gods instead? Where have we misspent our freedom in Christ to serve self and ease instead of our Redeemer and others? (Exodus 32:1; Isaiah 43:1,4,7; Romans 6:1-4; 14:7-8,20-21; 1 Corinthians 8:1,9; Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 2:16)

Oh God, let Your people not waste this unusual time in our world! Burn bright, expose us so we humble ourselves before You, pray, seek Your face, and repent from our wickedness. Have Your full way with us that, in Your perfect time, refreshing, healing, and revival will come, all to Your magnificent, glorious praise. (Acts 3:19-20)

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