In this Issue:
** Facing Judgment
** Wives Support Group
** Our Facebook Page
** Newsletter Archives
** Mike Genung’s Books
** More Reading
** Final Words
By Mike Genung
The Lord sends a message against Jacob, and it falls on Israel. And all the people know it, that is, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria, asserting in pride and in arrogance of heart: “The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with smooth stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.” Therefore the Lord raises against them adversaries from Rezin and spurs their enemies on…
After the Israel of Isaiah’s day rebelled from God, the Lord tried to draw them back with messages of repentance and rebuke through his prophets. When the people didn’t listen, God responded by removing His protection and allowing the Syrians to attack Israel. The Syrians ravaged the land, but withdrew, so the Israelites still had a chance to respond to God.
Tragically, Israel hardened their hearts and fell further into sin every time God disciplined them. Eventually God’s judgment fell and it was over; Israel was taken into captivity.
In Isaiah 9, Israel has received a warning, and the Syrians have laid waste to parts of the land. Instead of responding in repentance, Israel hardens their hearts, saying, “Okay God, so you knocked our walls down. We’re going to build bigger and stronger ones.”
In his book The Harbinger, Jonathan Cahn shows that immediately after the twin towers of the World Trade center fell September 2011, the senate majority leader of the U.S. quoted Isaiah 9:10. While he meant “we will rebuild with smooth stones” as words of encouragement to his audience, those words were spoken from a heart of rebellion in Scripture. What happened on September 11 mirrored Isaiah 9: a nation in rebellion against God has its protection removed; a breach is exposed, the enemy attacks, and a statement of rebellion is made against God: “We’ll do it on our own God; we don’t need You.”
Cahn points out that several years later, the democratic nominee for vice president again quoted Isaiah 9:10. Another striking fact he brings to light is that the terrorists were descendants of the Syrians of Isaiah’s day. Cahn reveals more “coincidences” that show God’s discipline of the U.S. mirrors that which occurred in Israel, including the 2008 financial meltdown, which also hit in September, seven years after the twin towers were attacked.
Like the Israel of Isaiah’s day, the U.S. has responded to each hit by sinking further into sin and depravity. Gay marriage in legal in many states, and the doors for legalize pot have opened. Sexual sin is rampant in and out of the church. The national debt has ballooned. Our country is spiraling downhill at an increasing rate.
Cahn’s book opened my eyes to the fact that the U.S. is on the fast track to judgment. Add in the truth that the U.S. isn’t a player in end time events in the Bible, which we’re in now, and the writing is on the wall. Note that Cahn isn’t another nut job predicting the end of the world on a certain date; he just lined up current events with Scripture and nailed it.
How should a church that knows its nation is on the path to judgment respond? What should we do?
We have the answers in God’s word; the issue is whether we’re willing to move beyond talking and take action.
God tells us what to do in 2 Chronicles 7:12-15:
Then the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Humbling, prayer, seeking God, and turning from sin. These are the steps God provides those who would turn their nation from judgment.
Notice what’s not in those 4 pieces: teaching. Not preaching a sermon on 2 Chronicles 7:14, nor doing an exegetical study on every word in the Greek. Why do I mention this?
Many in the American church are stuck in their head. We’re addicted to getting the right teaching, lining up our theology, and then doing nothing. The U.S. has some of the world’s greatest teachers and seminaries, yet the country is rapidly nearing the point of no return. What’s missing? I think God’s word gives us the answer; we’re not humbling ourselves, praying, seeking God, or turning from our sin. We’re hearers who delude themselves (James 1:22). We know what to do, but we don’t do it.
Let’s look at the four pieces required for restoration in 2 Chronicles 7:14, starting with prayer:
And He (Jesus) said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a robber’s den.”
Many Christians complain about how prayer was kicked out of public schools in 1962, but it also has little place in most churches. We spend Sundays teaching and worshipping, both of which are commanded in Scripture, but we spend no time in prayer, other than with a swift “Oh God please bless our service.”
If there’s a prayer meeting on Wednesday night, few show up.
Imagine you’re in London during World War Two. The Germans are bombing London into oblivion, and you’re in church. As the bombs go off all around you; what are you going to do? I’d have everyone in that church on their knees, praying their brains out until the bombing stopped. We wouldn’t talk about prayer, we’d pray. This is the attitude we need to take.
Here are two more pictures of what a church that is a house of prayer looks like:
These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers
So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
My pastor, who teaches God’s word verse by verse and esteems it highly, said: “Satan laughs when we have a Bible study but he trembles when we pray.” If this is so then we need to start rocking our world with prayer. Throughout Scripture there are many stories where God changed circumstances by prayer alone.
What this means for us today is that we should make prayer as big a priority Sunday morning as teaching and worship. Prayer should get a third of the time, as would worship and prayer. We’re a nation that’s facing judgment, and we desperately need to humble ourselves by getting on our knees and petitioning the Lord to bring repentance and healing.
We also need to up the ante in our personal prayer time. Reading the Bible is the easy part of our quiet time. Prayer takes sustained effort, focus, and concentration. It’s also where the connection and the power are sparked in our relationship with God.
Let’s look at the first piece of 2 Chronicles 7:14; humility (you’ll see why I took prayer before humility in a moment). Have you ever noticed that when someone like the guy from Duck Dynasty or the president of Chikfila gets attacked by those outside the church, that many in the church start freaking out about how bad the outside world is, yet, if you say something like “75% of our youth are leaving the church at age 18,” or, ”60% of Christian men are masturbating to porn and families are being destroyed right and left and we should do something,” that the church goes silent? Why is that? It’s almost as if there’s a stupor over the church when it comes to facing our sin. We do great at pointing out how depraved the world is (what did we expect them to do, pat us on the back for calling sin what it is?) but when it comes to facing our need for repentance the chatter disappears.
For the church to humble itself, we must start by facing and confessing the truth. The divorce rate is as bad inside the church as out. Marriages and families are being destroyed by of sexual sin because we won’t deal with it or even talk about it. Many of us are leading lives that are choked with the internet and social media, sexual and other sins, smart phones and electronic communication, material things, and other distractions. We can be more influenced by the world than the other way around. Many are chasing the American Dream and wasting their lives at every age; I see men and women in their 60’s and 70’s who have bought into the lie that “I’ve retired, got my nest egg, and can spend my final years playing” instead of investing their time and resources in the things that count for eternity.
We’re not going to get to the repentance part of 2 Chronicles 7:14 unless we know what we need to repent of, and we won’t know what we need to repent of unless we take a hard look under the hood. That will take humility and courage. It will humble us to realize that we’re broken and in desperate need of the grace of God.
The third piece is the call to “seek God’s face.”
Seeking God involves setting everything else aside to go after Him, including our list of wants and needs. We take our focus off of ourselves, others, and our circumstances, and place it solely on Him. We ask Him to reveal Himself to us, speak to us, and convict us of our sin and expose the things that are between us and Him.
We want His will, His ways, and His love. We want to be so wrapped up in Him that everything else fades in significance. A man or woman who’s soaked in the presence of God is one who’s one step away from a breakthrough from bondage to sin. They come alive and are willing to obey Him with less regard to the cost. Confessing and releasing sins like porn, anger, or pride becomes easier because now we’re filled with the joy of the Lord.
Focused, intentional time seeking God was the key that set me free from the bondage to sexual sin. When I found the God I was looking for in the false comfort of sexual sin, He forever changed my life; I went from an empty head Christian to one who was filled with the joy of knowing God.
I often try to encourage people to seek God alone at a retreat somewhere, and the responses vary. Most hesitate. “Ohhh, ahhh, I’ll pray about it.” I know what’s going on because I’ve fought the same battles: they’re too busy, it would be a “waste of time” to seek God alone, or, “what if He doesn’t show up?”
A lot of us are faking it in our Christian walk because we’re really not close to God. We know how to say the right words and can “do good things for God,” but inside we’re empty. Or in bondage to sin. I can tell you from experience that every time I’ve sought God alone that He’s showed up. People who are love with Him are those He can use for His purposes.
I believe seeking God is a critical part of the healing process because the Lord restores relationships when His people go after Him; which is what 2 Chronicles 7:14 is about.
The fourth piece we’re given in 2 Chronicles 7:14 is to “turn from our wicked ways.”
Acts 19:17-19 shows us what repentance looks like:
And fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified. Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.
True repentance involves confessing sin, especially hidden ones, and severing all ties with it.
While some of us will have a hard time with the confession, my experience has been that the severing part has been the hardest. After immersing ourselves in a sin, whether lust, pride, bitterness, or complaining, it becomes a part of who we are. To sever it means a part of us must die.
A lot of men back off from repentance from sexual sin when it comes to dying. They’re don’t really want to let go of it so they hold on to little compromises, including sexual fantasy, watching movies they shouldn’t (“Hey, it’s only R-rated, not a porn movie”), or “just one look every once in a while won’t hurt.”
The picture God gives us in Acts 19 is of a church saying “no more compromise,” to the point where they’re willing to confess their sins and burn their stash in public. That’s what I call radical, and it’s what we need to do to make our choice to turn away from sin final.
I’m concerned that we’re going to keep doing church the way we’ve always done it, the culture will continue to free fall into sin, and God’s hammer will drop. Hard. Then, when we’re sorting through the rubble, we’ll wish we would have taken the actions of 2nd Chronicles 7:14. We’ll wish we would have prayed like it was World War Two, sought God, and repented.
I believe prayer is the key to making 2 Chronicles 7:14 a reality; we’re going to need a lot of it to break through “the way we’ve always done church” mentality, the stupor, apathy… and our pride.
The best place for us to start is by getting on our knees, and asking God to move the church to taking the actions of 2 Chronicles 7:14.
We know what to do. The question is whether we’ll do it.
Wives Support and Prayer Group
For wives who are hurting from their husband’s porn addiction or adultery, we offer a weekly prayer group for support and encouragement. Women are encouraged to share what they’re going through and receive prayer for ongoing needs. The group is also open to women who are engaged and/or are considering marriage. Our ladies prayer group meets by conference call once a week. If you’d like to be a part, please reply to this newsletter and request more information.
Our Facebook Page
We’ve had a Facebook page since the summer of last year, which is updated often with new posts.
If you have a Facebook account, please be sure to stop by and Like our page so you can receive the updates and get in on the conversation.
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You can read this and previous editions of the Blazing Grace Newsletter online at the archives.
February 2014: A Question and An Announcement
January 2014: The First 90 Days
December 2013: Do You Want to be Free?
November 2013: When God and His Word Are All You Have
October 2013: To Live the Christian Life to the Fullest Requires…
September 2013: God Shines Through the Cracks
August 2013: How God Brought New Life to My Marriage
July 2013: What Porn is Doing to Us
June 2013: Which One Will You Serve?
May 2013: What Defines You?
April 2013: 15 Principles for Freedom
March 2013: I Believe; Help My Unbelief!
February 2013: Adultery
January 2013: Speak, Lord, Your Servant is Listening
December 2012: Healing the Wounds of Rejection
November 2012: A Look at Grace
October 2012: When Someone Shares their Sin
September 2012: Willpower Doesn’t Work
August 2012: Look Who’s One of the Porn Industry’s Biggest Customers
July 2012: For Those Who are Control Freaks (and Don’t Want to Be)
June 2012: Blazing Grace on a Sunday Morning
Mike Genung’s Books
The Road to Grace; Finding True Freedom from the Bondage of Sexual Addiction is Mike Genung’s book on breaking free from sexual addiction.
Topics covered include:
* Biblical tools for overcoming sexual temptation.
* Healing from shame.
* How to stop a masturbation habit.
* Dealing with the core issues that drive sexual sin.
* Understanding and receiving the love of God in the heart.
* Healing for Wives
* How to restore a marriage that’s been broken by sexual sin and/or adultery.
The Road to Grace is used in support groups, and provides plenty of material for discussion.
100 Days on the Road to Grace; a Devotional for the Sexually Broken, is a new book that came out last summer.
For more information and to purchase, visit www.roadtograce.net
But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
Blazing Grace’s purpose is to minister to the sexually broken, encourage believers to draw closer to God, and encourage the church to effectively deal with the porn epidemic.
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May God’s grace abound to you.
All material copyright 2014 Mike Genung