April 4, 2020

Franklin Family Special


When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 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 I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.

– 2 Chronicles 7:13-16


“If my people, who are called by my name”—this is the go-to scripture in times of famine and war. In times of uncertainty, we as believers have turned to this scripture over and over again: Humble yourself. Pray. Seek the face of God. Repent. And we know God will hear our prayers.


However, what we need to open our eyes to today is not verse 14, it is the condition that activates this promise: “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people …” (v. 13 emphasis added).


We are living in the very moment that God promises to hear us from heaven.


God didn’t send this new form of coronavirus. On the contrary, I believe God is in the business of holding things back. Like he held back the red sea, He holds back disaster, plague, terrorism and even pandemics. If He didn’t hold them back, how much more would we see? How much worse would it be? But there comes a time when He “shuts up the heavens” and allows devastation to take its course. Now we humble ourselves and seek His face, and He will hear our prayers.


We’ve been here before. It’s not the first time our nation has faced panic and fear—God has brought us through before, and He’ll bring us through again! This is not the end. No one is diminishing the severity of what we are facing, but it’s not the end of the world. It may be the catalyst for a great change in our world; only time will tell. But without question, it is a wake-up call. It is a reality check. It is a reminder that our vapor of life is a gift.


Psalm 91:9-10 says, “If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home.” God’s presence will keep you. His presence will sustain you and give you the strength to keep pressing through in this tumultuous time.


It’s not too late! Not for America, not for the world … not for you. IF you humble yourself and pray, God will come near to you.


I believe in the precautions we are taking to protect society and ourselves. I believe there is a real need to flatten the curve and stop the rapid spread of this deadly disease. I believe that’s exactly what the enemy has been trying to do to the spread of faith for years. If the enemy can shut us up, hold us back, and keep us from sharing the contagious joy of Christ, he will succeed in flattening faith.


Now is the time to create a spiritual momentum that becomes contagious! As we shore-up in our homes and invite the presence of God into our everyday lives like we have not in so long, it’s an opportunity to stir our faith and solidarity like never before. We may not be coming together in person, not in our buildings, but the church IS uniting like never before! We are coming together in prayer, in fasting, in communion, and most importantly, we are coming together in our homes, with our families.


Time is of the essence. Let this time of social distancing create Holy intimacy. As we remove ourselves from every day distractions, make time for spiritual interaction. Bring God into your home. Perhaps our home is the temple He was speaking of when He said, “I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever.” While we do our part to flatten the curve of the spread of this disease, let us share our hope and spark a contagious movement of faith like we’ve never seen.


It looks bad now, but God won’t leave it like it is. Get back to the purpose for which you were chosen. Don’t be consumed by fear and doubt. Rather start a fire of faith and hope.


I’m reminded of this quote from General Patton who served in World War II:


“I am not a brave man … the truth is, I am an utter craven coward. I have never been within the sound of gunshot or in sight of battle in my whole life that I wasn't so scared that I had sweat in the palms of my hands."


We are not immune to fear or reason. And no one expects us to be ignorant of the risk. But nonetheless—faith. We face the future with sweaty palms, hope in our hearts, a prayer on our lips, and courage that tomorrow will be better than today. God has not forgotten us. As a matter of fact, He instructed us for this very day: humble yourself and pray and seek HIS face and turn from your wicked ways, then HE will hear from heaven, and HE will forgive your sin and will heal your land.


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