WAKE UP CHURCH!

22 May

A few years ago, I was very active with the Lillian Fire Department.  During that time, we encountered many grass fires.  Have you ever been near a fire that was completely out of control?  It can be a scary thing to behold. I watched one fire devour a shed before we could even get to it because the flames were spreading so quickly. Fire is a very scary thing!

The Bible uses fire to describe wickedness.

Isaiah 9:18-20. “For wickedness burns as the fire; It shall devour the briers and thorns, And kindle in the thickets of the forest; They shall mount up like rising smoke. Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts The land is burned up, And the people shall be as fuel for the fire; No man shall spare his brother.”

I have made no secret of the fact that my heart keeps breaking about America.  Events of this past week have only caused it to break more. I see wickedness like a forest fair burning across our nation.

Isaiah had observed a completed degrading and corrupting of the people of Israel. He had seen the people become infected with pride. He saw this result in wickedness spreading like a wildfire across the nation.

I want to look at four situations that were present when God was judging the Israelite nation.   They were there the moment that judgement began.

First, the people were full of pride.  Look at Isaiah 9:9-10

The people “say in pride and arrogance of heart: The bricks have fallen down, But we will rebuild with hewn stones; The sycamores are cut down, But we will replace them with cedars.”

Judgment was coming on the Children of Israel.

Two mistakes had been made on their part.  First, they paid no attention to what caused their problems.  In the second place, they were arrogant in bragging about how they would rebuild. The general attitude would seem to be that they did not need God.

The Bible says

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Prov. 16:18)

The Bible tells us

“God is opposed to the proud.” (I Pet. 5:5 ).

“A man’s pride shall bring him low.” (Prov. 29:23 )

In 1972, it was predicted that Mark Spitz, an American swimmer would win come away from the Olympics with five gold medals. Instead, he returned with none. Most commentators and sports analysts at the time said it was all about his pride.

This nation is full of pride.  We almost have an arrogance about ourselves in comparison to any other nation in the world.  We are so proud we are often blind about things that have happened to us.

Abraham Lincoln said this:

 “We’ve grown in numbers and wealth and power as no other nation has grown…We’ve vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our own hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient…, too proud to pray to the God that made us.” 

Secondly, the nation of Israel was filled internally with confusion.  Look again at verse 16.

 “For those who guide this people are leading them astray; And those who are guided by them are brought to confusion.”  

And then at verse 19.

“No man shall spare his brother.”

We are basically talking about total anarchy.

You don’t think that sounds like a little like where America is headed?

Dr. James Dobson once said “We are involved in nothing less than a civil war of values—a collision between two ways of seeing life. This is not an issue of two alternatives from which to choose, but a life and death struggle. One value system is going to predominate. One is going to rule the country.”

There were warning signs.  When conditions are just right for a forest fire to occur, warning will come from forestry officials. People will be warned against burning their trash, making campfires, etc.

But as you know, people often ignore those warnings and put themselves and everyone at risk.

Look at verse 13.

“For the people do not turn to Him who strikes them, Nor do they seek the Lord of hosts.”

I believe, by and large, we have gotten to the place where we do not heed the warnings of God’s judgment.

If God is consistent, in his dealings with America, the way he has always been consistent throughout history, he will warn us of approaching judgment. In speaking of the end of the age Jesus spoke of the warning signs we should notice. He said, before God judges He will warn of the approaching judgment. Jesus said the times before His second coming would include warnings. He reminds us to keep our eyes on the fig tree, which is Israel. When it begins to blossom you know the end is near. Israel is the historical miracle in world civilization. She had been extinct as a nation for over 1,900 years, ever since Titus and the Roman legions marched into Jerusalem in 70 AD and nearly obliterated the Jewish people, forcing them out of their own country. The people were slaughtered and Israel died as a nation that day. But she was born again in one day. Isaiah predicted it would happen. On May 14, 1948, Israel became a nation again. David Ben Gurion signed the Declaration of Independence. Jesus said when the fig tree buds the kingdom is at hand.

It happened in Nazi Germany. People tried to warn them what was happening. A man named Martin Niemoller tried to warn the people. He saw the warning signs on the horizon. Listen to what he said:

First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t
speak up because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t
speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time there was no
one left to speak up for me.

A fourth condition was a progressive wickedness. Notice verse 18. “For wickedness burns as the fire; It shall devour the briers and thorns, And kindle in the thickets of the forest; They shall mount up like rising smoke”.

When I was in high school, my friends and I would go backpacking every year. My made it my responsibility every morning to start the fire. I would take dried grass, twigs, and paper for our kindling. Once I got those items burning, I would move to sticks and progressively move to larger items until we were able to place logs on the fire.

In 1947, sociologist and historian Dr. Carle Zimmerman studied the deterioration and ultimate disintegration of various cultures. He found that in each society the disintegration of the culture was preceded by the disintegration of the family. He discovered 11 common elements that were always present. Let me mention five of those eleven common elements:
1) An increase in rapid, easy and “faultless” divorce.
2) Fewer children, and less respect for parents and parenthood.
3) A break down of most inhibitions against adultery.
4) The rapid rise and spread of juvenile delinquency.
5) Common acceptance of all forms of sexual perversion.

Sound familiar? Divorce happens at the same rate as marriage these days.  Sometimes even faster.  Adultery has become so commonplace.   And now, I can’t take my children into some stores for fear of who they might run into in the bathroom!

What can we do?
First, we can pray and ask God to send revival.

Illustration: In January 1996 Rev. Joe Wright prayed a prayer in the Kansas Senate that should stir us. It should stir us to pray. This prayer inflamed many liberals but it was the truth. Listen to his prayer.
“Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, ‘Woe to those who call evil good’, but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We confess that,

We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word
and called it Pluralism;
We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism;
We have endorsed perversion and called it alternative lifestyle;
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery;
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare;
We have killed our unborn and called it choice;
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable;
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem;
We have abused power and called it politics;
We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition;
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression;
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us, Oh, God and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent; to direct us to the center of Your will and to openly ask these things in the name of your Son, the living Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen

2. We can get involved in reshaping our nation.

A man by the name of Richard Hogue said something about our involvement that we need to pay attention to.
“If our country survives—and I realize that’s a big IF—it will be because there is an awakening in the lives of committed Christians across our nation who finally begin to realize that it is not only their opportunity but also their absolute responsibility to be intricately involved in the political process of our country and to use that involvement to turn this nation once again to the Lord.

For much too long we have allowed our government to grow father and farther away from the direction that God has always demanded our nation take. At the same time we have yielded the control of our country to a godless, secular, humanistic philosophy that has absolutely sapped the strength and spiritual vitality America has always had. Never before, in the history of Christendom, have so many believers been willing to forfeit their liberty and freedom without even putting up a struggle. (Richard Hogue as quoted in America, Return to God; edited by Thomas Wang; p. 127)

But here is what we cannot do: sit still.

Enough is enough, church!

Enough with the whining and lamenting. Enough with the pontificating and postulating.

It’s time to rise up!  We need to be praying . We need to be voting! We need to be writing legislators. We need to be speaking out!

We don’t need to do it in hate! We don’t need to do it with an attitude that does not reflect Jesus. But please remember that Jesus did not just sit there and passively watch things happen and shake His head. He was one who stood up to the leadership of the world. He was one who let His voice be heard.

And we must do the same.  We must quit worrying that people may be offend by hearing the truth of the Word of God!  The Gospel is offensive!   Nobody likes hearing that we are sinners according to Romans 3:23. Nobody likes hearing that there is nothing we can do about it (we are too self-sufficient for that, or so we think). But the truth of the matter is this, we need Jesus!

And right now, He needs us!  And the world needs to hear about Him.

And the time for namby pamby wimpy Christianity has to come to a stop!

I am resolved no longer to linger,
Charmed by the world’s delight,
Things that are higher, things that are nobler,
These have allured my sight

  • I am resolved to go to the Savior,
    Leaving my sin and strife;
    He is the true One, He is the just One,
    He hath the words of life.
  • I am resolved to follow the Savior,
    Faithful and true each day;
    Heed what He sayeth, do what He willeth,
    He is the living Way.
  • I am resolved to enter the kingdom,
    Leaving the paths of sin;
    Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me,
    Still will I enter in.
  • I am resolved, and who will go with me?
    Come, friends, without delay;
    Taught by the Bible, led by the Spirit,
    We’ll walk the heav’nly way.

 

 

 

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