An elderly man feared his wife was getting hard of hearing. So he called the doctor for a hearing test. The doctor said he could see her in two weeks, but meanwhile, suggested a test to give the doctor an idea of the scope of the problem: “Start 40 feet away and speak in a normal voice to see if she hears you. If not, go to 30 feet, 20 feet, and so on until you get a response." That evening his wife is in the kitchen cooking dinner; he's in the living room, "I'm about 40 feet away, I’ll see if she hears me when I talk."
"Honey, what's for dinner?" He calls. No response.
He moves about 30 feet away. "Honey, what's for dinner?" No response.
He moves to the dining room, 20 feet away and shouts, "What's for dinner?" No response.
On to the kitchen door, only 10 feet away. "HONEY, what's for DINNER??". No response.
So he walks right up behind her and screams: "HONEY, WHAT'S FOR DINNER??!?!"
His wife turns to him a rage and screams.
"CHICKEN, CHICKEN! For the FIFTH TIME, WE'RE HAVING CHICKEN!!!"
When we feel God does not hear our prayers, maybe it’s us who has the hearing problem!
“The healing of our nation….” (from “will heal their land”) that alone is a phrase worthy of consideration. Healing of our nation/world is a picturesque way of describing our brokenness. We are fractured. The need to be healed implies the blood can stop flowing… a tremendous take away from this message may be to think in terms of the need to be restored to wholeness. Rather than dwelling on everything that is wrong, see our nation/world as in need of becoming well.
The healing of the world starts with the people of God, “If my people who are called by my name…” The answer for healing does not begin with the world changing…, but with the people of God turning back to God. Maybe my father’s radio show from decades ago was prophetic: “The Back to God Hour.” This is hard news. This is good news. We can do something to set right the injustices. We can turn back to God. “If my people…
….humble themselves.” No place for arrogance, but admit we are weak, we are sinners, we do not have it all together. I found a great list of ways to put into practice the lifestyle of humility. (The full article is posted at the these notes). As you listen you get a sense of what it means to take on the discipline of humility:
- Routinely confess your sin to God (Luke 18:9-14).
- Acknowledge your sin to others (James 3:2, James 5:16).
- Take wrong patiently (1 Peter 3:8-17).
- Actively submit to authority…the good and the bad (1 Peter 2:18).
- Receive correction and feedback from others graciously (Proverbs 10:17, 12:1).
- Accept a lowly place (Proverbs 25:6,7).
- Purposely associate with people of lower position than you (Luke 7:36-39).
- Choose to serve others (Philippians 1:1, 2 Corinthians 4:5, Matthew 23:11).
- Be quick to forgive (Matthew 18: 21-35).
- Cultivate a grateful heart (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
- Purposefully speak well of others (Ephesians 4:31-32).
- Treat pride as a condition that always necessitates embracing the cross (Luke 9:23).
The healing of our nation/world/your world begins with the people of God going to God in humility… a listening ear. “Pray” “seek” are the next instructions. These are words of purpose. Only those that are seeking and open to hearing the voice of the Lord will hear. Intentional seeking, praying…
The next phrase deals with our sinful nature: “pray and seek… and turn from their wicked ways.” Living the Christian life is not just a good idea, it means to actually become a different person through turning from evil ways… repenting of sins, living a different way. The presence of Christ makes us different than we are without Christ. Our patterns, our lives, our ways. One of the delightful songs of American Christian History is called simple gifts. "Simple Gifts" was written by Elder Joseph in the Shaker community of New England. The core of the song is about turning, repenting, changing. These are the lyrics ( or can be watches on Youtube @ www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLAnuG1340g):
'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.
Turning, turning we count round right… we are a people in process of becoming, asking God to mold us, change us…this is all about repent, turn, confess, repent, change
I can see why 2 Chron. 7:14 is wildly popular to adopt as a way to see healing come to our land…healing begins with us who believe in Jesus Christ, to be humble, to pray, to seek, to invite the Lord Jesus Christ to turn us into new creatures. To let go of our evil ways and be transformed by the renewing of the Spirit of God. The answer for the healing of our land is not to stand on a pedestal and point a finger of judgment at society telling them they need to change, but in humility ask God to change me, to mold me…
I want to enlarge 2 Chron. 7:14 and put into the larger context. When we get discouraged by the state of this mixed up world, wondering where God is, maybe it’s us who has the hearing problem: "CHICKEN, CHICKEN! For the FIFTH TIME, WE'RE HAVING CHICKEN!!!"
The context of this scripture: The temple of Solomon is complete; Solomon stands before the Lord with a monumental prayer of dedication: 2 Chron. 6:12-42. As a side note: I am thrilled it is the King that prays, not the priest of the day. Even back then, turns out more than the priests and pastors had God’s ear. It is a long prayer, a few highlights. Solomon is speaking to God. He offers awesome elements of a prayer that ought to serve us well so we can know how to pray.
- 2 Chron. 6:16, 17 READ: Keep your promise. Let the word of your promise come true. We are always right to focus on God’s promises, because he will always do what he says he will do. God is faithful. He is just. He is a promise keeper.
- 2 Chron. 6:18, a question of amazement: “will God really dwell on earth with humans?” Surely this is a foreshadowing centuries later of the birth of Jesus Christ when God’s answer is a resounding YES.
- 2 Chron. 6:19-21: Hear my prayer, may your eyes be open…” We humans are funny creatures. God is God almighty that can do ANYTHING and our biggest concern is so often about God hearing our prayers ~~ Turns out the bigger problem is are we hearing God Answer! It’s seems to be part of the human condition to beg God to please listen to us, but he has already said he does. /// You are not alone if you feel God is not listening/responding.
- The next paragraphs of 2 Chron. 6:22-39 all begin with the word “When…” as Solomon outlines situations in which we need God to intervene… When anyone wrongs their neighbor…When defeated by the enemy… When there is no rain… When we are at war… When we sin against you…. in each case the need is for God to dwell among us, setting wrongs right, forgiving the people, coming alongside people, teaching, instructing… A sidenote, I love the request of Solomon in 2 Chron. 6:32-33 in which Solomon asks God to listen to foreigners who come to the temple. God is not the God of the Jewish people alone, but for all who call on the name of God.
God answers Solomon’s Prayer! READ 2 Chron. 7:1. God always answers prayer. The question: do we hear Him? "CHICKEN, CHICKEN! For the FIFTH TIME, WE'RE HAVING CHICKEN!!!" God speaks to Solomon, as a warning: I hear your prayer but there will be times you will think I am not listening. This is what 2 Chron. 7:14 is all about. Listen to the verses that lead up to 7:14. READ 2 Chron. 7:11-12. “I have heard your prayer.” God always hears our prayers. ALWAYS. Then he chooses how to respond.
2 Chron. 7:13 is the warning that there are times you will think God is not listening. READ. WHEN…Solomon earlier had his list of When’s. Now it is God’s turn. WHEN these things happen. When bad things happen. When the land/your life is in ruins… The response is for the people of God to clean out their ears so they can hear. READ 2 Chron. 7:14. When these bad things happen, the people of God need to clean out their ears, humility, forgiveness…
God always hears our prayers. Through humility, through turning, turning till we come out right, through seeking Him, then we will hear. “I hear your prayers” God says, and when you are able to hear my voice, then the result is 2 Chron. 7:15 READ.
I had a P.E. teacher named Bob Plotts. At the beginning of each quarter as he was outlining the activities and the class he always said, “Each of you has an A in the class, unless you prove to me you don’t deserve it.” I think God is saying something like that to us: I hear your prayers, the answer is before you unless you choose to not listen. God’s promise is that he will always hear our prayers. May our ears be open to hear His answer.
Below is an article referenced in the message for further consideration of what it means to take on a life of humility
Twelve Way to Humble Yourself by Janet Chismar, BillyGraham.org
- Routinely confess your sin to God (Luke 18:9-14). All of us sin and fall short of the glory of God. However, too few of us have a routine practice of rigorous self-honesty examination. Weekly, even daily, review of our hearts and behaviors, coupled with confession to God, is an essential practice of humility.
- Acknowledge your sin to others (James 3:2, James 5:16). Humility before God is not complete unless there is also humility before man. A true test of our willingness to humble ourselves is willingness to share with others the weaknesses we confess to God. Wisdom, however, dictates that we do so with others that we trust.
- Take wrong patiently (1 Peter 3:8-17). When something is unjust we want to react and rectify it. However, patiently responding to the unjust accusations and actions of others demonstrates our strength of godly character and provides an opportunity to put on humility
- Actively submit to authority…the good and the bad (1 Peter 2:18). Our culture does not value submission; rather it promotes individualism. How purposely and actively do you work on submission to those whom God has placed as authorities in your life? Doing so is a good way to humble yourself.
- Receive correction and feedback from others graciously (Proverbs 10:17, 12:1). In the Phoenix area, a local East valley pastor was noted for graciously receiving any negative feedback or correction offered. He would simply say “thank you for caring enough to share that with me, I will pray about it and get back to you.” Look for the kernel of truth in what people offer you, even if it comes from a dubious source. Always pray, “Lord, what are you trying to show me through this?”
- Accept a lowly place (Proverbs 25:6,7). If you find yourself wanting to sit at the head table, wanting others to recognize your contribution or become offended when others are honored or chosen, then pride is present. Purpose to support others being recognized, rather than you. Accept and look for the lowly place; it is the place of humility.
- Purposely associate with people of lower state than you (Luke 7:36-39). Jesus was derided by the Pharisees for socializing with the poor and those of lowly state. Our culture is very status conscious and people naturally want to socialize upward. Resist the temptation of being partial to those with status or wealth.
- Choose to serve others (Philippians 1:1, 2 Corinthians 4:5, Matthew 23:11). When we serve others, we are serving God’s purposes in their lives. Doing so reduces our focus on ourselves and builds the Kingdom of God. When serving another costs us nothing, we should question whether it is really servanthood.
- Be quick to forgive (Matthew 18: 21-35). Forgiveness is possibly one of the greatest acts of humility we can do. To forgive is to acknowledge a wrong that has been done us and also to further release our right of repayment for the wrong. Forgiveness is denial of self. Forgiveness is not insisting on our way and our justice.
- Cultivate a grateful heart (1 Thessalonians 5:18). The more we develop an attitude of gratitude for the gift of salvation and life He has given us, the more true our perspective of self. A grateful heart is a humble heart.
- Purpose to speak well of others (Ephesians 4:31-32). Saying negative things about others puts them “one down” and us “one up.” Speaking well of others edifies them and builds them up. Make sure, however, that what you say is not intended as flattery.
- Treat pride as a condition that always necessitates embracing the cross (Luke 9:23). It is our nature to be proud and it is God’s nature in us that brings humility. Committing to a lifestyle of daily dying to ourselves and living through Him is the foundation for true humility