But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. – Romans 3:21-22
“Do you have everything you need?” That’s a pretty typical question, isn’t it? A parent asks their child that question as they head off to the first day of high school, or as they get into the car to head to college. That question is directed to a co-worker as they head off for a meeting or business trip. New parents might ask each other that question as they take the new baby on some adventure.
Or our conscience might ask each of us that question as we ponder our eternal destiny.
Do we have everything we need? Well, let’s remember that God’s standard to enter heaven is absolute perfection, complete righteousness. And you and I have fallen woefully short of that standard.
But Jesus didn’t come to this earth because we were good people. He came because we were sinners who needed to be saved. And Jesus did exactly what we needed him to do: he saved us.
Yes, he died for you, thereby paying for your sins, but he also lived for you. He lived the perfect, human life which you need in order to enter heaven. And in wonderful grace, God gives YOU credit for the life which JESUS led. In other words, as God looks at you, he sees you as perfect, because that’s what God has declared you to be through Jesus.
“Do you have everything you need?” When it comes to the most important question of all – whether we have all that we need to enter heaven – the answer is a resounding “Yes!” through Jesus our Savior.
Prayer: O Holy Spirit, I praise you that through the gospel you have given me Jesus’ perfection. Assure me that I have all that I need to enter heaven, because of Jesus’ work in my place. Amen.
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. – 2 Chronicles 7:14
Now you’re going to get it!” These are some of most satisfying words one child in a family can say to another.
It might be because of mud dragged in onto the carpet, or it might be the goldfish bowl now turned upside down next to something wiggling on the floor. Whatever it is, the wrath of Mom is about to descend upon someone. While the guilty party tries to sneak away, the announcer of doom is gleefully pointing him out.
Sadly, there is a tendency for adults to do the same thing when the wrath of God is on the horizon.
Our verse speaks of a land with wicked ways – a land that needs healing. It is the voice of God calling for humility, for prayer, and for repentance. It first called out to Israelites in the Promised Land. Its echoes have now reached America.
Who would deny that America needs healing? It isn’t just the lawbreakers that defy the commands of the Holy One. It’s also the lawmakers.
Our enemies point with glee to the swamp of immorality that Americans live in. Loveless homes, marriage-less parents, and lawless crowds are becoming the norm. Homosexuality is being accepted and defended by the Supreme Court. As in the time of the Old Testament Judges, the description is: “And everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
But God also has eyes, and he does not like what he sees. Once it was sung about America, “God shed his grace on thee!” It still is true. But the special blessing of God is not something he owes us; it is not something he has promised forever. Grace is always undeserved, and grace can be rejected. The consequences of rejection are horrendous.
So the temptation might come to us to say: “Those godless, wicked people who live in this country are going to get it! They better humble themselves, and pray, and turn away from that wickedness.” We might even say it with glee.
But, God is not speaking to those godless people; he is speaking to his own people. He is talking to us. We are the people “called by his name.”
The healing of America begins with us. The Lord of the Nations does not hear the prayers of God-rejecters. He listens for the voices of his beloved people. He looks for humility. He waits for us to look to him, alone, for hope and healing.
A strong America, a healed America, is not brought about if the economy or national defense is strong. Only one if carries weight. Only one if is offered.
The answer to the healing of America begins with the phrase, “If my people…”
Prayer: Holy Lord God, we turn to you with repentant and humble hearts. We know that our lives are not free from sin. We admit that too often we look somewhere else for answers to life, when we should be looking to you. Deal with us in mercy, and continue to allow our beloved county to prosper in ways that are good and God pleasing. Heal our land so that generations yet to come may be able to sing of America, “God shed his grace on thee!” Amen.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” – Matthew 10:29-30
Does God really love me? Is he really concerned about my problems? Does he really hear my prayers? These questions tend to grow when the seeds of doubt and distress are planted, and when they are fully grown, they produce fear. I’m afraid when sickness comes. I’m afraid when problems arise. I’m even more afraid when death threatens.
The answer to my doubts and fears is clear, but I may not always remember it. This is why I need to listen to God’s promises, to trust his will for my life, and to rely on what God has done for me in Jesus.
A good starting point is when Jesus teaches his disciples about his abiding love. What is amazing is that he uses such a simple picture. Sparrows are plentiful, and they have seemingly little value. Still Jesus uses his Father’s care for these tiny creatures as evidence of his abiding love. Think of it. Not one escapes God’s loving oversight. Not one is uncounted. Not one is uncared for.
Jesus uses this picture to remind me how precious I am to God. He further adds that every hair on my head is numbered, and not one falls without his knowledge. This is the intimate assurance I need. There is no doubt Jesus has an abiding love for me, but if any doubt lingers still in my heart, then I go to his cross. There I see an even clearer display of his abiding love.
At the cross I see everything Jesus did for me. My guilt, my sorrow, my punishment – all that was needed to free me from sin, death, and the devil – Jesus endured in my place. In his life, his death and his resurrection as my Substitute, Jesus displays his abiding love. Through faith I see his love is pure, limitless, and mine.
It is because of Jesus’ abiding love that I can trust him and rely on his care. It is also why I don’t have to be afraid.
Prayer: O blessed Jesus, how great is your mercy. How deep is your compassion. How amazing is your love. By means of your abiding love you rule over all things for my benefit. By the same love you also answer my doubts and remove my fears. I rejoice in you, my Savior. Amen.