The Mercy of the Lord
First Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM
Letís review what weíve seen this week. On Monday, I showed you a whole stack of Scripture verses that showed w/out question that God controls the weather. Several verses specifically mention Godís control of rain. Now, this is up to you- you can believe that rain is controlled by the so-called "Mother Nature", by uncontrollable weather patterns, or by pure chance. Or you can believe what the Bible says. However, itís not just one little verse taken out of context that shows that God controls the weather- there are dozens and dozens of passages. Iím with Job:
Job 5:10 He gives rain on the earth, And sends waters on the fields.
Along with that control, we saw that God uses the weather to achieve His purpose. Weather can be used for blessing or it can be used for chastisement. I used passages from Deuteronomy, 1 Kings, and 2 Chronicles to show God promising rain when His people obey and withholding of that rain when they do not. Here are some of those passages again:
Deuteronomy 11:13-15 'And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, (14) then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. (15) And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled.'
Deuteronomy 11:16-17 Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, (17) lest the LORD's anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the LORD is giving you.
Fortunately, God always provides a path of relief and we can see that in:
2 Chronicles 7:13-14 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, (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 I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
As I pointed out earlier, this passage was originally addressed to the Israelites who were at that time "My people who are called by My name." However, the name Christian means, literally, "Little Christ" and Christians certainly are a group of people who are called by Godís name since Jesus was, himself, God in the flesh. Therefore, today this passage applies to Christians and if Christians turn from their backslidden ways, humble themselves, pray, and seek Godís face anew, He promises to forgive their sin and heal the land.
In what ways have Christians gone astray? Maybe I should rephrase that question to state "In what ways have Christians NOT gone astray?" Remember this passage?
Deuteronomy 11:18-21 "Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. (19) You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. (20) And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, (21) that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth.
I asked you to ask yourself "Have I done these things?" Do you have words of God laid in your heart and in your soul? Do you sing Psalms in your heart or popular music of the day? Do you delight in the word of God or in the latest best selling novel? Do you teach these things to your children or do they learn secular philosophy and evolutionary thought which tries to claim that "God is dead"? Do you send your children off to public school and let all their education occur there, or do you teach your children the things of God "when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up?"
In short, is God first and foremost in your life or is He an afterthought that you pull down when itís convenient? The first commandment, donít forget, is "You shall have no other gods before meÖfor I am a jealous God." Iím positive thereís not a single person on the face of the earth who can honestly answer those questions "yes" with a clear conscience. Frankly, itís amazing that drought is the exception rather than the rule. Itís amazing that Godís wrath doesnít pour down on us constantly instead of occasionally. Fortunately we serve a merciful God who in the words of John in 1 John 1:9 is "faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." However, the first part of that verse says "If we confess our sinsÖ" and you see how that ties in with 2 Chronicles 7:14: "Öif 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 will forgive their sin and heal their land." The first step is to be aware of your sins and the second step is then turn from them.
We have several other places where God promises blessings. Among them:
Zechariah 10:1 Ask the LORD for rain In the time of the latter rain. The LORD will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, Grass in the field for everyone.
Hereís another example of what happens when Godís people repents of their sins:
Isaiah 30:18-23 Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him. (19) For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; You shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; When He hears it, He will answer you. (20) And though the Lord gives you The bread of adversity and the water of affliction, Yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, But your eyes shall see your teachers. (21) Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left. (22) You will also defile the covering of your images of silver, And the ornament of your molded images of gold. You will throw them away as an unclean thing; You will say to them, "Get away!" (23) Then He will give the rain for your seed With which you sow the ground, And bread of the increase of the earth; It will be fat and plentiful. In that day your cattle will feed In large pastures.
James tells us the value of prayer:
James 5:16-18 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (17) Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. (18) And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
Note that James specifically uses the example of Elijah in his example of effectual prayer. Elijah was a sinful man "with a nature like ours", just like you and me, and he prayed that it would not rain. It didnít rain for 3.5 years and then finally Elijah prayed again and the heaven gave rain. We can find this account in 1 Kings 17-18 and if we go there, we discover that it rained not because Elijah willed it, but because God willed it. Hereís the passage:
1 Kings 18:1 And it came to pass after many days that the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, "Go, present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the earth."
The LORD sends Elijah on an act of obedience, telling him "Go, present yourself to Ahab and _I_ will send rain on the earth." What happens then is God destroying the false idols of Baal and Asherah on Mount Carmel. With the idolatry destroyed, this happens:
1 Kings 18:41-45 Then Elijah said to Ahab, "Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain." (42) So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, (43) and said to his servant, "Go up now, look toward the sea." So he went up and looked, and said, "There is nothing." And seven times he said, "Go again." (44) Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, "There is a cloud, as small as a man's hand, rising out of the sea!" So he said, "Go up, say to Ahab, 'Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.' " (45) Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel.
Elijah knows that God has promised to send rain. The false idolatry is destroyed and the people have once again proclaimed "the LORD is God." And with this, Elijah prays, not just once but seven times. And from the cloud which is "as small as a manís hand" comes clouds and wind and a heavy rain and thus the drought is broken. Please, donít miss the importance of the destruction of idolatry and repentance in this message! Without the destruction of idolatry and the peopleís repentance, Elijahís prayer would have been in vain, but now it is effectual prayer.
Now, we should see how this ties in with Jesusí statement in:
Matthew 6:25-33 For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. (33) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
The bottom line here is "your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." I find this foreshadowed in:
Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all.
And there truly is the conclusion. Fear God and keep His commandments. Iíll close with this prayer:
Our great and merciful Father in Heaven, we as individuals and we as a nation have sinned against you. We have put false idols before you and we have set you aside to pursue our fleshly lusts. You are just and righteous in sending us drought as chastisement for our transgressions. I pray, convict us of our sin, turn our hearts away from idols and grant us repentance leading to the truth. Let us fasten our eyes on you and on Jesus, our Mediator and savior. Let us seek your kingdom and your righteousness. If our hearts turn again to you, I ask that you hear my prayer and heal our country with bountiful rain. May your will be done, in Jesusís name, to your glory. Amen.
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