There’s something that’s really lacking in American culture today: shame. We now celebrate the things we used to be ashamed of. Everything is upside down. Right is wrong. Wrong is right.
The Bible says, “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter” (Isaiah 5:20 NLT).
It seems as though no one wants to be held accountable for their actions anymore, because now we’re a nation of victims. It’s never our fault. It’s always somebody else’s fault, and we have no shame over things we do that are wrong.
A July 18, 2018, headline in Teen Vogue read: “Lady Parts Justice League Fights Anti-Abortion Stigma With Humor: Yes, abortion can be funny.” Really? Is that where we are now? “Abortion can be funny”? Taking the life of innocent unborn children is, to some people, funny? That is the culture we’re living in today. It seems as though we keep moving the goal posts, and it gets worse and worse. And just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does.
I think we get cheated by the barrage of social media we’re exposed to every single day. As professor Michael Brown wrote, “From violence-glorifying graphics on the big screen to incessant headlines of perversion on our news feed to the latest appalling video on our cellphone. We have become accustomed to the extreme, to the twisted, to carnage and to gore.”
The Bible warns that we can lose our sensitivity. The Bible warns that you can have your conscience seared. Years ago I was with Billy Graham in Portland, Oregon, where he was holding one of his crusades. It was incredible. On the last night, he made this statement: “Christ can resensitize your conscience.”
That is really true. Christ can resensitize a conscience. If you get jaded, if you get hardened, you need your conscience to be resensitized.
The three hardest words to say are “I have sinned.” The Bible tells us, however, that the prophet Daniel said them: “We have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws” (Daniel 9:5 NLT). Daniel did not excuse himself or point a finger at others. He knew that he was responsible as well.
The word sin not only means to cross the line; it also means to miss the mark. Someone might say, “Well, I’m not sinning in immorality or stealing or lying.” But how about harboring unforgiveness? That’s sin.
Here’s what Jesus said about it: “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:15 NIV). Really what Jesus is saying is that if we understand anything of the forgiveness of God, we of all people should be forgiving. Forgiven people should be forgiving people. If you’re not a forgiving person, then you need to know more about forgiveness.
There are sins of commission, which are breaking laws and committing transgressions. But there are sins of omission, which are not doing what God has called me to do. We need to pray for our forgiveness, but we should pray for others, too.
Daniel said, “I went on praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people, pleading with the Lord my God for Jerusalem, his holy mountain” (verse 20 NLT).
When you see someone who is compromising spiritually or has fallen away, do you talk about it to everyone? How about praying for them? How about interceding for them? One day it could be you. Any of us have the capacity to fall. So we should pray and intercede. We should stand in the gap for them.
The Bible says, “You do not have because you do not ask God” (James 4:2 NIV). It’s time to intercede for others in prayer. There’s a place for praying for your needs. But when is the last time you’ve prayed for someone else, interceding for them?
Have you given up on your marriage? Have you prayed for your husband or your wife, that God would change him or her and change you? Have you given up on your kids? God can turn things around, but we need to pray. God isn’t going to answer a prayer we don’t pray.
Sometimes we pray for something, and the Lord allows a hurdle because he wants us to press in and keep praying. He wants us to keep praying, keep seeking and keep knocking, and then the door will be opened.
Don’t give up so quickly in prayer. Keep praying. In fact, pray a whole lot more. God wants to bless you even more than you want to be blessed. And God isn’t stingy with blessings. The Bible says, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32 NIV). God loves to bless you, and he wants to bless you, but he’s waiting for you to pray.
Daniel went on to say, “As I was praying, Gabriel, whom I had seen in the earlier vision, came swiftly to me at the time of the evening sacrifice. He explained to me, ‘Daniel, I have come here to give you insight and understanding. The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God'” (Daniel 9:21–23 NIV).
Are your prayers heard in heaven? Yes, they are. Why aren’t they all answered quickly? Because God has his timing.
God longs for fellowship, friendship and relationship with each and every one of us. He doesn’t want anything to sever or separate that communication even for a moment. We’re beloved to him.
You’re loved by God. And know this also: Nothing will ever separate you from the love of God – nothing or no one, not our fears for today or our worries for tomorrow. Nothing will separate us from God’s love.