November 19, 2011

Today’s devotional reading is taken from the book of Nehemiah Chapter 1.

Nehemiah is of the children of Israel who were taken into captivity into Babylon.  He is also the cupbearer of King Artaxerxes.  Now some of his countrymen come to visit him in Babylon and Nehemiah asks them how Israel is doing.  They tell him that the wall around Jerusalem has been destroyed and the gates to the city have been burned with fire.  This news grieved Nehemiah greatly for God’s chosen people have become a reproach and a laughing-stock to the nations in the midst of whom they live (v.v. 1-3).

Notice Nehemiah’s reaction:

“And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven” (v. 4).

Nehemiah prays to God and asks forgiveness for the sins of his people.  He also reminds God of His promise to Israel: that though they had turned their backs on Him, if they would turn back to them and resolve to be obedient to Him, He would forgive them and restore them to their land.

Christians today would do well to follow the example of Nehemiah.  America has also turned its back on God.  God has richly blessed America, and we are the freest people who have ever lived on the face of the earth.  But we have forgotten God’s blessings and have become proud, haughty, and ungrateful.  

God’s judgment thus far has trickled upon this country, and I truly believe that this is because of God’s mercy.  He is giving us every chance of the world to turn back unto Him.  But every day we expose more of our backs to God, and at some point our lease on His grace will expire, and He will judge this sinful nation.  This is a matter of biblical prophecy.

But we can stay God’s hand for a season.  Christians need to stand in the gap and intercede for this nation.  Like Nehemiah, we need to weep and mourn for America and pray that people will begin to turn once again unto God, and that Christians would stop celebrating their own salvation and weep and mourn for their communities.  We need to not only pray for our nation, but for our communities.  Some of the most dangerous communities in America have two or three churches on every corner.  Christians go to church every Sunday merely to glory in their own salvation.  They feel no responsibility or burden for the lost among whom they live.  This ought not to be.

We need to weep and mourn and pray for our country and our communities.  If we do, God has promised to forgive us and restore us:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

The apostle James echoes both sentiments:

“Be afflicted and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up” (James 4:9-10).

Christians, let us lay aside our celebrations for a season.  It is time to weep and mourn for the lost, for our communities, and for America.

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