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Humility. Yielding. Surrendering. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Sermon on 28 June 2020 by Pastor Paul Lee

2 Chronicles 7:14 - Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

For the past weeks, we learnt that God is omnipotent and sovereign. He is all powerful and has the authority to heal all sickness according to His sovereign will. We can come to Jesus because He is our great physician. Nothing is impossible to Jesus. How should we come to Jesus to make our requests? How long must we wait for Jesus to answer our prayer? Would Jesus listen to our prayers all the time? The answer can be found in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Do you find this verse familiar? It can be found in our church motto. This verse is important to our church. We need to be constantly reminded of this verse. Since David’s time, he wanted to build a Holy temple for God and saved up resources to build this temple. God told David that his son would build the temple instead. Finally, when Solomon became the king, it took 7 years to build the temple. During the dedication of the temple of God, Solomon gave praise to God and made prayer. Then God’s glory filled the temple and He appeared to Solomon one night and spoke some words to him, which can be found in 2 Chronicles 7:12-22.

2 Chronicles 7:12-22 - “Then one night the Lord appeared to Solomon and said, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this Temple as the place for making sacrifices. At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place. For I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy—a place where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart. “As for you, if you faithfully follow me as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations, then I will establish the throne of your dynasty. For I made this covenant with your father, David, when I said, ‘One of your descendants will always rule over Israel.’ “But if you or your descendants abandon me and disobey the decrees and commands I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods, then I will uproot the people from this land that I have given them. I will reject this Temple that I have made holy to honor my name. I will make it an object of mockery and ridicule among the nations. And though this Temple is impressive now, all who pass by will be appalled. They will ask, ‘Why did the Lord do such terrible things to this land and to this Temple?’ “And the answer will be, ‘Because his people abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and they worshiped other gods instead and bowed down to them. That is why he has brought all these disasters on them.’””

Who is this message for? Although God gave this message to King Solomon, it is meant for all people who belong to God, for those who believe in Jesus Christ and accept Him as Lord and Saviour. This message is for all believers and followers of God. The Lord is our God and we are His heart. He has given us a new heart, a heart of flesh so that His words can dwell in us. He has given us His Holy Spirit to counsel and guide us to walk in His Holy ways. So let’s listen to what God wants to speak to us through these verses.

To receive God's healings and answered prayers, we need to come to God with these 4 actions all the time:

1. Humble ourselves


Humility is so important in our Christian walk. We learnt from James 4:6 that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. If you don’t humble yourself and if your heart is not teachable, we cannot see God and we cannot seek Him. What we see is ourselves and not God. We may often question God, complain against Him, doubt His sovereignty and even His assistance. If we don’t humble ourselves, we cannot pray. We may utter words from our mouth but our hearts will be far for God. Our pride will puff us up so highly that we think that we don’t need Jesus. We think that what we say and do are always right.

Remember the parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18? The Pharisee only focused on his self righteousness but the tax collector focused on God, his unworthiness and his need for God’s mercy. Jesus commended the tax collector’s humility. When we humble ourselves, we are able to see God’s will clearly. Else, we would be cluttered by our own will, thinking that what we do is right and claiming they are from God. When we humble ourselves, we become more receptive to God’s corrections, His words and become more like Christ.

2. Pray


Praying is not just about asking God for blessings. Many people tend to view prayer as bringing our wishlist to God and fulfilling all our wants. This kind of prayer is very self centred as it is about us and not God's will. Praying to God is a form of surrendering to Him because we know that we are lacking and in need of Him so we pray to Him. As we pray, we are seeking His will and not ours. It’s just like the Lord’s prayer has taught us: Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We must know that we are praying to the Almighty God. When we pray to Him, are we seeking the gifts or the giver. Are we seeking the healing or the healer? Are we seeking the blessings or the one who blesses? If we pray to seek for the gifts, healings and blessings, even if you receive them, you will not be truly thankful as your hearts are set on these possessions rather than God Himself. When we pray, it is all about God and Jesus. It is good to remember His goodness and give thanks. If you seek Him, our hearts will be filled with compassion and burden to intercede and pray for others for their needs and salvation. When we pray for ourselves, we pray for God to strengthen us so that we can walk close to Him. When we pray and request healing from God, we pray in faith that He has a power to heal and at the same time, we wait patiently in His time and will. Never stop to pray. We pray unceasingly. When we are weak, we know that we need to depend on God who is Almighty and strong. Praying helps us to connect with God and brings us closer to Him. Don’t run away from God. Come to Him in constant prayer.

3. Seek God’s face


Let’s find out what it means for God’s face to shine upon us.

Numbers 6:24-26 - “‘May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.’”

Psalm 80:3, 7, 19 - “Turn us again to yourself, O God. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved.”

From these 2 passages, having God’s face to shine upon is to have favour of God upon us. When God’s face shines upon us, we will have blessings, protection, grace, peace and salvation. When we seek God's face, we are seeking His favour upon us and wanting to please Him.

Deuteronomy 31:17-18 - “Then my anger will blaze forth against them. I will abandon them, hiding my face from them, and they will be devoured. Terrible trouble will come down on them, and on that day they will say, ‘These disasters have come down on us because God is no longer among us!’ At that time I will hide my face from them on account of all the evil they commit by worshiping other gods.”

Do we want God’s favour to be upon us? Then let’s seek His face by pleasing Him in drawing close to Him and obey His words.

4. Turn from our wicked ways


God is holy and just. We cannot have communion with God if we are wicked and evil. The only way to come close to God is to repent. Do you remember the first message of John the Baptist and Lord Jesus when they first started their ministry on Earth? It's about repentance. That is the key to return to God. Who do we choose, God or sin? You must recognise that God yearns to be with us and it is our sins that separate us from drawing close to Him who is holy. We must know that sin is no longer in us as Christ has paid the price by dying on the cross for our sins. Christ has made us right with God. But it doesn’t end there. We must constantly draw close to God by walking uprightly in His ways. We are not perfect and we are vulnerable in falling into temptations. Never assume that because we are serving the Lord, we will not fall. Many pastors and leaders could fall into temptations and drift away from God.

James 1:13-15 - “And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.”

King David and Peter - they are God fearing followers and leaders went through times when they fell into temptations and sin against God. But once they realised that they have sinned against God, they immediately repented and returned to God. When we have sinned against God, we have to humble ourselves before Him immediately. Repent and return to Him. He is faithful and He forgives. At the same time, let us not go back to the same old sinful ways again. By doing this, we are not treasuring the grace of God upon us and this will cause us to drift away from Him more and more. There was once a woman caught in adultery being brought by the scribes and pharisees to Jesus. She was not eventually condemned by the accuser and Jesus said to her, neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more. Likewise to us, we should not return to our past sins. Jesus also called us to watch and pray, lest we enter into temptation. The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. So let’s always start our day with prayer to pray continually and give thanks to God.

If we humble ourselves and seek and pray to God and seek His face and turn from our wicked ways, which can be found in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

3 Promises from God:

1. God will hear from heaven


God doesn’t listen to anyone who calls upon His name and prays. God doesn’t hear the cry of the wicked. But He will hear the prayer of the humble and repentance of hearts. God will listen to our prayers. He will answer our prayers in His times. We can have the assurance that He will listen to our prayers as He loves us and cares for us.

Psalm 10:17-18 - “Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them. You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so mere people can no longer terrify them.”

If we humble ourselves, pray, seek God's face and turn from our wicked will, God will hear from heaven. Let’s have faith and confidence in God's words. He will listen to our humble and earnest cry.

2. God will forgive our sin


God who is holy and just wants to draw close to us. He has created us to be perfect in His sight but because of our sin, it has separated us from God. We, who have sin, cannot enter into God's presence else we will be consumed and destroyed. Because of our sin, we have been cast out of His presence where His presence has eternal peace.

Ezekiel 33:11 - “As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live. Turn! Turn from your wickedness, O people of Israel! Why should you die?”

When God said that He will forgive our sins, how great is this message? God wants to restore our relationship back with Him. He wants us to have a close intimacy and fellowship with Him. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, He has paid the debt for our sins on the cross. On the cross, our sins, past, present or future are forgiven. This is done with great compassion and mercy so that we are no longer cast out of His presence. God loves us and wants us to dwell in His presence when there is peace and security. Let’s treasure this great promise from God that He will forgive our sins. When we realised that we have sinned against Him, let’s come quickly and humbly with a broken heart to ask for His forgiveness and repent. God will forgive.

3. God will heal our land


Israel was chosen by God to be set apart to glorify His name. God kept His covenant with the Israelites through the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He watched over them and led them into the promiseland and blessed them richly. Israel soon forgot about God’s goodness and went into idolatry and all sorts of evil which displeased God. Despite God’s grace of sending holy prophets to remind, warn and guide people back to God, the Israelites' hearts remained hardened and they continued their corrupt practices. God allowed the neighbouring countries to conquer and destroy Israelites. In the land there was famine and unrest due to the sins of Israelites. All these happened so that the people can humble themselves and repent and change from their wicked ways to return to Him. Likewise for us, when we humble ourselves, pray, seek God's face and turn from our wicked ways, God will hear from heaven and heal our land. God will restore and heal our health. He will heal and restore our relationship with our family, our broken hearts. It is His nature and desire to want us to heal. We can clearly see it in the life of Jesus. He came to earth to save, heal and forgive. God's love is shared to all. He will prosper us in accordance to His will.

To sum up, let’s read this verse again.

2 Chronicles 7:14 - Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

This is not a one time off event. This is a lifetime process. We need to always remain humble, pray, seek God and have a repentant heart. This verse is not only applicable to our generation but generations to come. Hence, we need to live a life of good testimony glorifying Jesus and to teach our children and their children so that they will not forget about God or depart from His ways. We thank God for His message to us today. Do we have the humility to surrender to His words? Do we have the faith to trust in His words? Let’s seek His face, wanting His favour upon us as we seek to do His will by obeying His words. Let’s also search our hearts for any area that we realise we have sinned against God. Don’t run away from Him. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit and God's living words to wash us and transform us.

Amen.

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