If my people
If My People
If My People
A. memorial Day
B. John Adams “You will never know, how much it cost the present Generation, to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it.
If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it. “
C. Senior Sunday.
My least favorite time of year at church is the political season.
and It’s started early this year.
People are opinionated, loud and angry.
Many claim they know God’s will - who should be elected and who should not.
Every election year, at any given church people get mad and threaten to leave
the church unless the pastor publicly promote their favorite candidate,
endorse their political party, or speak to their pet issue.
Often, in fact most of the time I’m blessed enough to have angry people on both sides!
I don’t look to opinion polls to determine what I preach.
Instead, I spend time in prayer and God’s Word and allow Him to direct me.
I want to share what God has for our LifeGate
not be co-opted into any person’s agenda.
Instead of being divided over politics, we will be united around Jesus!
Still, every election season, people leave the church. I know
that’s hard for you to believe.
I’m not sure America has ever been more divided politically.
Talk radio, television commentators, and the immature, impulsive
use of social media, fictitious forwards and fake news all fan the
flames of anger.
Much of the anger is based in fear and concern
– worried about the direction and state of our nation.
And – there are a lot of reasons to be concerned:
Since abortion became legal in 1973, there have been
more than 60,000,000 abortions in our country. Over
sixty million babies!
Every 10 seconds a child is abused or raped.
More than 4 children die from child abuse and neglect on
a daily basis- over 70% of these children below the age
43% of US children live without their father.
There are nearly 750,000 teen pregnancies a year.
There were over 127,000 reported rapes in 2018.
There were 16,214 murder and manslaughter cases
Church attendance and membership has declined by
The percentage of Americans who profess to be
Christians is at an all-time low.
We have reasons to be concerned!
And, thats without reading the statistics on personal debt, national debt, the decline
of academic standards or political corruption.
It’s too discouraging. America needs help!
So – what’s the answer? What do we do?
Does the church stand by and watch as America slides down
the slippery slope to hell?
Do we start a political party?
Do we picket and petition?
Is the answer Christian TV and talk radio?
Do we solve it with Facebook?
What do we do? When a nation has lost its spiritual
foundation, what should be the response of the church?
It’s not the first time this has happened.
In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel was on a spiritual and political
roller coaster. It seemed to be an endless cycle.
The nation would lose a war and be taken captive. In
response, the people would cry out to God, burn their idols,
destroy the pagan altars and declare that they would only serve
the one true God. God heard their prayers and a time of peace
and prosperity followed.
Then, the people would get comfortable and take their
blessings for granted again.
Morality would decay - sexual sin
inside and outside the church. Worship of the one true God
would fade away.
Idol worship would return.
And – every time,
when they turned from God, Israel was defeated by their
enemies and taken captive again.
Persecuted and oppressed, they returned to God, pleading
for His mercy and for His presence and glory to be restored. God
responded to their prayers and peace and prosperity returned.
Then, once again, they would take the blessing for granted and
repeat the cycle.
Sexual sin, moral decay, spiritual decline, political corruption,
selfish immoral leaders.
Any of that sound familiar?
Enter King Solomon.
People gave sacrificially and Solomon
built an elaborate temple to honor the Lord.
The dedication of the temple was an amazing affair – an outpouring of worship and
Solomon prayed a prayer officially dedicating the
In that prayer, he prayed these words:
“When your people Israel have been defeated by an
enemy because they have sinned against you and when
they turn back and confess your name, praying and making
supplication before you in this temple, then hear from
heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring
them back to the land you gave to them and their fathers.
“When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain
because your people have sinned against you, and when
they pray toward this place and confess your name and turn
from their sin because you have afflicted them, then hear
from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your
people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send
rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance.
“When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or
mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when enemies besiege
them…, whatever disaster or disease may come, and when
a prayer or plea is made by any of your people Israel—each
one aware of his afflictions and pains, and spreading out his
hands toward this temple - then hear from heaven, your
dwelling place. Forgive, and deal with each man according
to all he does, since you know his heart (for you alone know
the hearts of men), so that they will fear you and walk in your
ways all the time they live in the land you gave our fathers.
(2 Chron. 6:24–31 NIV)
It’s interesting. Solomon attributed the challenges that Israel
continually faced not to their enemies but to God’s
When Solomon finished praying, fire flashed down from heaven and burned up the burnt offerings and sacrifices, and the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple. The priests could not enter the Temple of the Lord because the glorious presence of the Lord filled it. When all the people of Israel saw the fire coming down and the glorious presence of the Lord filling the Temple, they fell face down on the ground and worshiped and praised the Lord, saying, “He is good! His faithful love endures forever!”
Lord - let it happen again! That’s what I pray for this place -
that the glory of the Lord will fill this temple - so much so that all
we can do is bow down and give thanks to the Lord. Let His glory
fill this place!
Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before
5 And King Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty-
two thousand head of cattle and a hundred and twenty
thousand sheep and goats.
In today’s money that is $55,000,000 worth of cows
and $24,000,000 worth of sheep.
And, to accomplish that many sacrifices would require twenty sacrifices a minute for ten hours a day for twelve days.
It was a massive, elaborate celebration of
God’s power and presence.
Sometime later, God appeared to Solomon in response to
Here’s what God told Solomon,
I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for
myself as a temple for sacrifices. When I shut up the
heavens so that there is no rain. Or command locusts to
devour the land and send a plague among my people…
Why would God do that? Remember Solomon’s prayer.
Those things occurred because God was judging His people for
It’s very important to note – “God’s people” were being
judged – the people who knew Him and knew what it was to
You are guilty of twisting Scripture if you attempt to
use this passage as an argument against people who don’t know
God says to Solomon, “When My people have strayed from
Me, when the nation has turned to pagan altars and forgotten to
put their trust in Me, when My hand of blessing is removed, this is
what I want you to know and do.”
God’s instructions to a nation in crisis is the promise we
This should be the response of the church in
America to the crisis we face.
This is it – this is how we see real, lasting change in America.
Do you want to see American healed?
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.
That was the answer for Israel then. I believe that is God’s
answer for America now.
Now, I want to slow down and really look at this verse.
Some of you have heard it quoted hundreds of times. I want you
to not only know it, but understand it, and embrace God’s
Remember the goal: our land to be healed.
God says, “For that to happen…”
If my people, who are called by my name…
Who is “My people, called by my name?” That’s us –
Christians, followers of Jesus.
God’s people aren’t a political party, they are the people who love God.
And right off the bat, you may struggle with the God’s words.
The problem isn’t us? It’s them!”
We’ve made the challenges in our country us against them.
But, God is not speaking to the sinners, He’s speaking to the church.
Are you a follower of Jesus? If so, God’s plan for America starts with
Next, God tells you what to do. If you want to see a turn-
around in America, this is the formula. This is the answer.
I’m aware some of you aren’t going to like God’s answer.
You have a different way you want to accomplish this.
God’s answer may be controversial.
This isn’t a popular answer, but it’s the right answer because it’s
God’s answer which is better than your answer.
If my people, who are called by my name will humble
The word used for humble here means “to stop arrogant,
self-focused, sinful behavior and approach God in repentance
with a humble attitude”.
Which leads to the question, how do you humble yourself
How do you humble yourself?
First, acknowledge you don’t have all the answers.
We’ve been way too quick to have all the answers for our sin-sick
We act like we have all the solutions figured out.
If everyone will just do what we say, everything will be fixed.
Christians are often characterized as arrogant know-it-alls.
That’s because that’s how we’ve been acting.
We should apply God’s instructions to our lives before directing anger at
others who aren’t serving Him.
It’s arrogant to think you know how to fix all the problems.
Only God has that answer.
Second, to humble yourself, worship.
Worship acknowledges all authority and power belongs to God.
Worship acknowledges Creator God has the answers, not His humble
creation. When we lift our hands, or bow our knees to God, we
humble ourselves before Him.
There’s been a resurgence of worship in America. Radio
stations play worship songs. People attend worship concerts.
But true, pure worship doesn’t require a big name artist or
impressive musicians. Worship isn’t just singing a song and
calling it good. It isn’t just checking off the box after a “Connect
With God” service.
Worship is a lifestyle. Louie Giglio writes,
“Worship is our response, both personal and corporate, to God—for who
He is and what He has done, expressed in and by the things we
say and the way we live.”
Worship is how we respond to God
with our lives – our actions, our words, our sacrifice. It’s a choice,
a decision that leads to humility.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble
themselves and pray and seek My face…
Not only are we to humble ourselves and worship.
“pray and seek My face.”
Remember – the end of this verse is
“I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land.”
God’s formula for healing America, God’s answer, is for you and me to pray.
That seems too simple doesn’t it?
It’s the last thing we want to do.
We seek answers through politics instead of prayer.
If we can just elect the right people, and enact the right laws, then
America will be healed.
But, when you really think about it, that doesn’t make sense.
It’s not a political problem, it’s a spiritual problem.
Why would you think a political answer can ever solve a spiritual problem?
Let me ask you – if we elect someone as president who
believes exactly as we believe, and every official, federal, state
and local all believe like us, would that solve the problems in
Imagine we got all the laws right – from zoning laws to tax
codes to immigration policy to crime bills – exactly the way we
think it should be.
Would that usher in the kingdom of God?
Would the hearts of the parents to be turned toward their
Would all marriages become models of faithful love?
Would greed and pride be legislated out of existence?
Would that solve the problems of sexual immorality, anger,
violence, suicide and addiction?
Of course not.
no human system has the ability to change the heart.
Now, before you send your angry emails – listen to me very
I’m for Christians in politics – at every level.
I look forward to one of our students as mayor of our city,
governor of our state, our senator, even president of the
When they get there, they better send an entourage on Air
Force One to pick up their pastor.
I’m for Christians in national, state and local politics.
I’m for Christians in television, newspapers, and radio.
I’m for that. I want our students to aspire to leadership in
every segment of society.
If you are in politics – great! I’m excited you are involved in politics.
We should be involved.
But, never mistake involvement for God’s answer.
I count political leaders in our community as my friends.
The Sheriff was married in our church.
We have Democrats and Republicans who worship with us.
We have school board members, city and county officials and Police officers. I’m proud to they are my friends
I love America. I love our leaders.
But my hope for the future, and my hope for the world is not in them.
I put my trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
God may, and I hope will, use some of these men and women to bring healing to our land.
God may, and I hope will, use Americans to bring healing to the world.
But, understand this, healing is found in Jesus Christ alone.
He is the hope of the world.
My citizenship is heaven first, this world second.
So, if politics isn’t the answer, maybe the answer is
petitions and picketing.
Maybe we need to picket every place that is guilty of sin and petition against everyone we can think of.
Maybe we need more memes or “Share if you support” posts on
Facebook. Maybe you need to forward more messages.
Would that solve it? Would that heal our land?
Of course not – no human system has the ability to change the heart.
We try lots of answers – angry emails, accusatory posts,
politics, picketing, petitions, ranting and raving, anger and
We try all those things instead of prayer.
When we do, we are fighting the battle according to the playbook of the
enemy, instead of following God’s instructions.
God’s answer is clearly revealed in Scripture.
But Christians in America aren’t doing it. Why?
Because prayer takes time and humility.
People want instant answers, but God has called us to pray.
We try to control things since God isn’t doing it on our timetable.
Even as God tells us to humble ourselves, we push our ideas and opinions forward.
Prayer is much more difficult than sharing another angry post.
Prayer takes focus and effort.
Prayer puts the emphasis on God instead of on you.
Prayer doesn’t gain social media followers.
There’s no glory in prayer.
Your ego doesn’t get fed in prayer.
Prayer doesn’t make you look powerful or important.
Prayer is a strength of our church.
But, all too often we are tempted to turn to politics instead of prayer.
So, try this - every time you are tempted to post something political on Facebook,
post a prayer instead.
And - not a “God get that liar” prayer.
Post a genuine prayer for unity and God’s purpose for our country.
There’s a reason God said to humble ourselves before we pray.
If we don’t get humble and acknowledge we don’t have the
answers, we will never turn to Him in prayer. If we want our land
healed, it starts with humbling ourselves, seeking his face and
Is prayer a priority in your life?
Every election cycle, you see people proudly displaying their
“I voted” stickers - wearing them all day, even posting pictures on
social media. I think voting is wonderful - it’s an awesome
privilege and a fundamental right - but what if we were as proud of
praying for America as we are of voting?
I want to help you.
We’ve given you a stack of “I’m Praying” stickers today.
Use these stickers throughout 2020 as a reminder:
Prayer is the key to the change you are trying to vote into existence.
And, they’ll be a
great conversation starter! I can’t think of a better week to wear
…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble
themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their
Now, it really gets tough.
We are quick to point out the sins of society and slow to point out sins inside the church.
There’s something wrong with the church today.
The divorce rate in the church is essentially the same as
outside the church.
Just as many struggle with pornography and sexual
We tolerate the three G’s – greed, gossip and gluttony and
pretend they are not sin, because we enjoy them to much.
We see Christian leaders on every level with their sins
paraded before a cynical society.
To avoid offending people, the church sacrifices it’s moral
authority. Standards are lowered and holiness is diminished
in an attempt to build and keep a crowd.
To turn from our wicked ways means to change
direction. It’s a course correction, a new path, the opposite way.
If we are going to clean up America, let’s start with the church.
If we really want God to heal our land, we must first get
to the place we acknowledge our own need for spiritual healing.
If we are going to see revival in America, it must start in the
It’s time for a turn-around.
I long for the day we get as excited about worshipping God
as we do at a concert or a football game.
When church attendance matters more than sleeping in,
going to the lake, or catching up on homework. I’m
disturbed by the fact that 2/3 of our church misses more
than half the time. I pray church becomes a priority again.
I long for the day when prayer is more important than the
latest thing to stream on Netflix.
When the church lives with a high standard of sexual purity,
different than the world we claim to be trying to save.
I long to see marriages holy and strong, and committed to
I long to Our habits different from the world.
God, heal our land, and God start right here!
It’s easy to get excited about the “church” needing to turn
from its wicked ways.
But, let’s get personal – it starts with you and me.
God said, “If my people”.
That’s you. That’s me.
Consider the verse this way.
…if Jeremy Elliott, who is called by my name, will humble himself
and pray and seek my face and turn from his wicked ways,
then will I hear from heaven and will forgive his sin and will
heal his land.
That’s a little more difficult. I’m not going to identify your
wicked ways. You know. You know the areas of your life where
you aren’t following Him and fully pleasing Him. Make that verse
personal. Ask yourself, what do I need to change? What areas
of my life are not pleasing to God?
…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble
themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their
If we will do that, what will happen?
In response, God says:
…then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and
will heal their land.
Isn’t that interesting? Our worship, prayer and repentance
leads to God forgiving us. Then, when we stand before Him,
humble and forgiven, acknowledging that all power, all authority
and all answers are in Him, look what happens!
The goal –
what we’ve been hoping for, and what we’ve been trying to accomplish
on our own - God will heal our land.
That’s what I want. I know that’s what you want.
Desire isn’t the issue. The questions is – are we willing to follow God’s plan?
Are you willing to follow God’s plan?
Do we want to see America healed so much that we are
willing to humble ourselves, worship, repent and pray?
Are you willing?
…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble
themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their
wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive
their sin and will heal their land.
That promise was originally given to Israel. But, I believe
that promise is also true for us today.
If God’s people will do this and pray this way, our land will be healed.
We can’t vote revival into existence.
That’s never happened and never will.
But, we can pray revival into existence!
That’s the promise we claim. As you came in you were given a card so you can add it to your promises. If you didn’t get a card last week, make sure to pick one up \in
We are learning promises.
Now, let me finish the story.
The sad reality of Second Chronicles 7:14 is that it didn’t happen.
God gave his people a direct promise.
Even with that promise, God’s people continued in their wicked ways.
And the result was God’s judgment on the land and on the people.
They were conquered by enemies and
the very temple that once was filled by the glory of God was
JALEN you ran away last week so you bedda be up here to
Jerry Lee Lewis the h*** outta this thing
Am I predicting that for America? I’m not God. I can’t tell
you what’s ahead for this country. (1861-1865)(those i called on to pray)
I can tell you that it’s time for
God’s people to follow God’s instructions and see God’s plan
II Chron. 7:14 …if my people, who are called by my name, will
humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn
from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will
forgive their sin and will heal their land.
My heart is broken today. Its broken because we
fear when we send our children to school.
My heart’s broken because the country I love is deeply
My heart’s broken because the church has been portray as
angry and all too often that’s true.
broken because we have forgotten the
assignment of Jesus to be salt and light - to draw people to
broken because those of us who claim to be
followers of Jesus aren’t living, giving or acting like it.
My heart’s broken because I fear what God had to do to get
Israel to repent is what He will have to do to get us to repent
That will not be judgment reserved for those people
that will be judgment against His people - us.
The ball’s in our court.
That’s intimidating and exciting.
We can turn our nation around. We can see all the changes we are hoping and praying for.
It starts with God’s church.
The challenge for each of us is -
will you be and do what he has asked you to be and do.
Will you humble yourself, pray, turn from your wicked ways
and seek God’s face?
It’s time for God’s church to be united -
not around a political candidate or party
but around the cross of Jesus.
The hope for us and the hope for our world is Jesus.
God, we humble ourselves before you today. We admit we don’t
have all the answers. We don’t know Lord, because we’ve tried a lot
of stuff and nothing’s worked.
Lord we ask you to forgive us for our sin.
Forgive us for prioritizing other things before you.
Forgive us for bowing down to the false gods of convenience,
materialism, impurity and greed.
Forgive us God. Forgive your people. Forgive your church we
pray. We humble ourselves and ask for your forgiveness.
Forgive us Lord for our lazy approach to you.
Forgive us Lord for our arrogance.
Forgive us for thinking we have the answers and forgive us for
assigning the answers to elected officials instead of doing what
you called us to do.
We humble ourselves and ask for your forgiveness in Jesus’
We obey your command collectively and individually. Forgive us
Lord. Forgive me Lord.
Then, we pray - forgiven and humble before you, that you will
hear from Heaven and heal our land.
We pray for America today. In a time when there seems no way we
can come together, we pray that your Holy Spirit will unite us.
We pray for peace in Jesus’ name.
We pray for peace in Congress.
We pray for peace with our leaders.
We pray for peace on the streets and peace in the pews and
peace in the schools.
We pray for marriages to be restored. We repent of sexual sin and
we pray that our nation will be turned from immorality and turn to you.
We ask you to do what only you can do.
Our hope is not in a political party, who we can elect or what
we can legislate. Our hope is in you Almighty God, for it’s you and
only you that can bring revival in this nation.
We cry out Lord. We cry out to you.
We ask one more time - let your glory fill this place. Let people
see something different and be drawn to you. It wouldn’t be our words
or actions, but the glory of God. Let your glory fill this house - and
your glory fill us and go with us and be through us.
We pray for your glory in texas. We pray for your glory in
the United States.
we don’t just pray for this country, but we pray your will be
done in this world.
Let the name of Jesus be glorified and your purpose be known.
In the name of Jesus, we cry out to you. We cry out for America. We