“Whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow yet with a sure hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the holy scriptures and proven by all history that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord, and in so much as we know that by his divine law nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown; but we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. It behooves us then to humble ourselves before the offended power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”
-A proclamation by the president, March 30, 1863, Our Presidents and Their Prayers
Abraham Lincoln proclaimed this 156 years ago. What might he proclaim today if he were president? What national sins would he call us to confess?
Recently, my friend Mark Stanifer invited me to join him in a blog series sharing thoughts about life through the lens of baseball. Of course I said yes.
So this is going to be a nine-post series, you know, because there are nine innings in a game. But I have to confess, I’m getting you into the game late. Why? Because two posts have already been published.
So for those who don’t like getting to the game late, bear with me. Here is a link to “inning one” that Mark posted last week. Tomorrow, I’ll post “inning two,” which was posted on Sunday.
Feel free to subscribe to Mark’s blog, and you’ll see these upon publication as Mark posts them each Sunday. I will try to do better to keep you “in the game” a little better for the remaining seven innings.
There are definitely times when we need to be still and silent before God. None of those times are when there is known sin separating us from Him. David says when he didn’t acknowledge his sin to God it impacted his body-“my bones wasted away.” Not good.
In our efforts to be healthy, we usually address diet and exercise. That entails being honest with our doctors or trainers about our choices which may be leading us away from good health. When we come clean, we show we are serious about getting healthier. David’s response to realizing his silence was not good was to “make a clean breast of my failures to God.”(verse 5, the Message)
We can’t ignore the truth that silence about our sins creates self-inflicted pain. If we want to protect our bones, our first step is to not be stubborn mules but to be honest confessors.(verses 9-11)
Confession: n. 1. Confessing. 2. A thing confessed, a statement of one’s wrongdoing. 3. A declaration of one’s religious beliefs or one’s principles, a confession of faith
Yesterday morning in my prayer time I had some confessing to do. The main item I remember needing to confess was passing judgment on someone the day before. As I voiced those words the lyrics to Kari Jobe’s song came to mind. In prayer and in this song the work of confessing both happen but come from different places. This proved worth some meditation.
In our natural state, we are bent toward wrongdoing like passing judgment. As Christians, when we are in tune with the Holy Spirit, He lets us know pretty quickly when we do wrong. Then we have a choice. Will we admit the wrongdoing? Will we go beyond a confession to God and share any other needed confessions to wronged people? Will we take the opportunity to taste the unholiness of our natural bend in order to pursue the holiness of a supernatural bend provided by God?
To more permanently adjust our bend, maybe we should routinely declare our beliefs. Why?
- Because they remind us of our frailties
- Because they remind us of our need
- Because they remind us of God’s provision
- Because they keep us on the right road
- Because they establish the boundary between right and wrong, good and evil
- Because they feed our souls
- Because they keep us in agreement with God and others
A confession of the cross is probably the best place to start. Rather than a maybe it should be a must.
This is a good thing to say, to admit, and to do it often.
The link above is to a recording of the song the FBCBradenton choir did this morning in church. And here’s why I say God is smarter than I am.
This song, Mercy Tree, was slated to be done before or on Easter. We weren’t ready at that point, so we rescheduled it for today. In my head, it seemed like it could come across as a little too late, repetitive, whatever. And even at rehearsal Wednesday night, I still wasn’t sure we should do it. But God showed up this morning.
Not only did He get the glory through this song, but unbeknownst to me, it spoke to our guest speaker and went right along with his message.
So thank you, God. You are more than amazing. Always on time. Infinitely smarter.
I’m reading “It Ain’t Over till It’s Over” by R.T. Kendall. In chapter 1, he references the story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar.
At Sarah’s suggestion, Abraham slept with her handmaid, Hagar, in an effort to make things happen-to make good God’s promise to him. All that was needed, they reasoned, was that the baby be male.
This wording made me think about something for the first time. What was the nine months before Hagar gave birth like for all three of these people? And then, when it was a boy, what was their reaction toward God?
- During the nine months, “Did we do the right thing?” After the birth, “I guess so. Thank you, God!”
- During the nine months, “What if it’s a girl?” After the birth, “God, I shouldn’t have doubted you.”
- During the nine months, “Was this God’s direction or our manipulation?” After the birth, “I guess it doesn’t really matter.”
It wasn’t until 13 years later that they knew they had been wrong. How could this have been avoided? How can we avoid the same path, years of wrong? Suggestions:
- Major decisions must be rooted in peace from time spent with God.
- Be honest with yourself and God. If you’ve come up with the decision out of weariness or impatience, confess that to God before moving in that direction.
- Admit often to God that you trust in His ways and His thoughts, even though you don’t always see or understand them.
- “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” – check this decision in where it ranks in God’s priorities for your life.
- Be ready and “quick to the draw” to own any wrong steps you take. Get back on the path ASAP.