Prayer Targets: Key to Winning America; Call2Fall; Tony Perkins; Bakers; Parents; Women Athletes
June 19, 2019
If my people will humble themselves... (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Dear Praying Friends,
Richard Owen Roberts (bio) studied at Gordon, Whitworth, and Fuller Seminary. He pastored churches in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and California before founding International Awakening Ministries. His collection of 9,000 books on historic revivals and awakenings is the heart of the Billy Graham Library at Wheaton College. This is from Roberts' classic, Repentance: The First Word of the Gospel:
Pride builds an impenetrable wall of vast proportions between sinners and God, rendering true repentance both undesirable and impossible. The contrasting subjects of pride and humility are among the most prominent themes in the Bible.
Pride serves as a great barrier between the proud and repentance. There is simply no way for the proud in heart to truly repent. They might make some feeble attempt at it and even satisfy themselves that they have successfully done so, but they will never fool God. Non-discerning persons around them might be unwise enough to accept their claimed repentance as genuine, but it will not be accepted by the Almighty nor regarded as significant by any who have the mind of Christ. Pride is a "barrier sin," and the wall that it erects is not only between the sinner and God but also between the proud sinner and other sinners. Pride guarantees broken relationships that cannot be fixed apart from contrition and humility.
Pride has always been a problem of created beings. It was the sin of the fallen angels. It was the sin of Eve and then of Adam in the garden. It was the sin of Cain when he murdered his brother. It was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah.... It was the sin of the Pharisees and is still the sin of all who reject the Lord Jesus Christ.
Pride was one of the most destructive problems among the kings of Israel and Judah. Pride led to the undoing of Saul (1 Sam 15:17). Pride led David into his great sins of adultery and murder and into a painfully long season of moral and spiritual declension (2 Sam 12:9- 10, 12, 14). Pride got to Solomon and devastated the last years of his reign (1 Kgs 11:1-13). Pride gripped Rehoboam and split God's people into the northern and southern kingdoms (1 Kgs 12:1-15). Pride turned King Ahab into a foolish man (1 Kgs 16:30ff.). Asa did well for years, but then his heart was affected by pride and his reign ended in sadness (2 Chr 16:7-10, 12). Jehoshaphat greatly lessened his good influence because of pride (2 Chr 20:35-37). Joash ended his reign in chaos because of pride (2 Chr 24:17-22). Amaziah's heart became proud in boasting after defeating Edom (2 Chr 25:17-20). Uzziah's heart was lifted up in pride after he became strong, and "he acted corruptly" (2 Chr 26:16ff.). Hezekiah "gave no return" to the Lord for a time "because his heart was proud" (2 Chr 32:24-26). Zedekiah did evil in the sight of the Lord his God and did not humble himself (2 Chr 36:11-13.).
The book of Proverbs lists pride as one of the seven cardinal sins and provides numerous, profoundly consequential proverbs concerning it:
When pride comes, then comes dishonor (11:2a). The Lord will tear down the house of the proud (15:25a). Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; assuredly, he will not be unpunished (16:5).
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling (16:18).
Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely (25:14).
Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him (26:12).
An arrogant man stirs up strife (28:25a).
A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy (29:1).
A man's pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor (29:23).
The sin of pride is one of the marks of the last days. Paul warned Timothy, "But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these" (2 Tim 3:1-5). Did you notice how many of these eighteen marks relate directly to the issue of pride? Have you considered whether you personally bear any of these marks?
It is not difficult to understand why there can be no repentance for the proud. David grasped the issue and stated it succinctly: "The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him. All his thoughts are, 'There is no God'" (Ps 10:4). David expressed the issue tellingly by saying, "For though the LORD is exalted, yet He regards the lowly; but the haughty He knows from afar" (Ps 138:6). If God held the proud in heart only an arm's length from Himself, that could be a mighty great distance when you consider how long the arm of the Lord is! God Himself expresses the matter very explicitly, "No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure" (Ps 101:5b).
Among the many commands that God issues to the proud are these potent words with promise: "Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted" (Matthew 23:12); "Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you" (Jas 4:10); and, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time" (1 Pet 5:6). The exact opposite of this is promised to the proud: "For the LORD of hosts will have a day of reckoning against everyone who is proud and lofty, and against everyone who is lifted up, that he may be abased" (Is 2:12).
All of us are commanded to put away pride. This is mandatory. We cannot hope for mercy if we will not humble ourselves. Repentance is simply impossible for the arrogant.
Readers of 2 Chronicle 7:14 tend to skip over condition #1. God says, "If my people will humble themselves..." We must start there. A Christian for many decades, I have heard very little preaching or teaching on how to humble ourselves. Obviously, our land is not yet healed. Join us on June 30th for Call2Fall when churches, families, and Christian groups will join hearts across America to declare with our actions, "I will answer God's call to fall on my knees in humility and seek His face in repentance so that He might forgive my sins and heal our land." Spread the word!
Pray for Tony Perkins -- FRC President Tony Perkins, who just retired from three years as President of the Council for National Policy (CNP), was elected Monday to serve as Chairman of the bipartisan United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Tony has distinguished himself after being appointed to the Commission by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in May of 2018. In a public announcement, retiring Chairman Dr. Tenzin Dorjee said, "Chair Perkins is an effective leader and an experienced advocate for freedom of religion... Perkins has spoken out on the plight of religious minorities in Iran and of Uighurs in China. He also travelled to Egypt in 2018 where he raised religious freedom concerns with foreign leaders, including King Abdullah II of Jordan and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. As part of USCIRF's Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project, Chair Perkins has adopted Boko Haram-held captive, 16-year-old Nigerian Leah Sharibu, and he was instrumental in securing the freedom of Pastor Andrew Brunson from Turkey."
Tony is a dedicated Christian who has taken a firm stand for life, faith, family and freedom. He has been a champion for religious liberty and sees the "first liberty" as key to the preservation of all of our liberties as Americans. During his 16 years at FRC defending and advancing religious liberty in the U.S., his burden for international religious liberty has grown. President Donald Trump and his views toward religious liberty have provided a window of opportunity to advance religious liberty around the world in a way we have not seen in decades, if ever. This opportunity could not have come at a more critical time. Persecution of religious minorities, especially Christians, has in recent years reached an apex in human history. But with our prayers and God's help, champions like USCIRF Chairman Tony Perkins, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, and the dedicated men and women working with them could change the equation around the world. As we help reduce religious persecution around the world and help liberate those imprisoned for their faith, we will benefit from their grateful prayers and see the laws of sowing and reaping go into effect. Surely God will inject grace into our struggles to preserve religious liberty at home.
- Heavenly Father, the Apostle Paul told the saints at Corinth, "a great door for effective work has opened to me, but there are many who oppose me." May Tony and those laboring with him to advance religious liberty for all peoples be blessed with success far beyond our hopes, and may their adversaries be ashamed. Lord, help us to pray for those subjected to religious tyranny and persecution around the world and in our own land. Liberate men, women, boys, and girls everywhere to be free to choose to follow you without fear of death or the abuse of their families. May we pray for those who rule so that believers might enjoy quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty, and so that the gospel can be preached and people can be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. (Is 9:2-7; 58:6-14; 61:1-3; 1 Cor 16:9; 1 Tim 2:1-8)
Finally, please add these matters to your prayer list: 1)The U.S. Supreme Court chose not to hear the Aaron and Melissa Klein case -- the Oregon Bakers who were forced out of business and required to pay $135,000 for refusing to create a same-sex wedding cake. Instead, they ordered the Oregon court to reconsider the case in the light of the High Court's ruling in Jack Phillips' case. If the Oregon Courts persists in their antagonism against the Kleins, they will have to face the U.S. Supreme Court again. This is a win for religious freedom; 2) In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Christian Baker Jack Phillips and against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for their unconstitutional charges against Phillips for refusing on conscience grounds to create a same-sex wedding cake. Around the same time of the High Court ruling, the Colorado Commission charged Jack again for refusing to bake a cake to celebrate a transgender transition. The Commission subsequently dropped the case, but the individual who filed charges decided to sue Phillips in the civil courts. That case is still in progress and has not been settled; 3) The transgender movement is pressing itself in every way and is in the news across the nation for gaining access to America's public libraries to conduct "Drag Queen Story Hours" for children as young as five years old. But parents are pushing back. Female athletes, too, are pushing back against school administrations and sports authorities that have been allowing men who identify as transgender to participate in women's sports and to win awards and trophies with their unfair advantages (hear experts discuss).
As always, so much more over which to pray. Thank you for praying.