“…If My People…”

(Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash )

…if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:14)

Many years ago, this Bible verse was given to the church to pray through and consider what God might be saying to the congregation and the community.

In 2020, this verse was once again brought to the attention of the church, with a feeling that there was still “unfinished business” between us and God. Throughout that year and now into 2021, we have been reflecting on this verse again, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns, and all that we have been faced with as a church and as part of God’s world.

For 5 weeks in April and May, the whole church is invited to join together in a process of listening to what God has for us as individuals and as a community – what we should do and who we should be – as we go into the future with him.

A letter was sent to everyone associated with the church in mid-April, a copy of which is available here.

This verse has also been inspiring Christians across the world to pray. The 24-7 Prayer movement have joined forces with other Christians in forming UNITE714 (www.unite714.com), producing a Prayer Guide and other materials to help us pray together for our world.

As a church, we have been through a 5-week series looking at aspects of the verse through the lens of related Bible readings. Our 5 weeks covered these passages:

  • 2 Chronicles 7:11-22
  • John 13:1-17
  • Matthew 14:22-33
  • John 21:1-14
  • Luke 15:11-32

But even this wasn’t enough to plumb the depths of what God is wanting to say to us through this verse. Struck by the dual-promise of God to forgive sins and heal the land, we spent the 4 weeks of June looking at different aspects of healing in relation to forgiveness:

  • Healing the land – community
  • Healing the land – environment
  • Healing the land – family
  • Healing the land – politics

Comments, Reflections and Responses

Comments, reflections and responses are invited from anyone within the church – email 714@clarebaptistchurch.org.uk,  phone/text/WhatsApp 07949454626 or use the form here.

Moderated comments will be shown below.

Elvena D (04/07/21)
Wow, were you as overwhelmed as I when you heard the outcome of the gift day? How we were blessed by God’s mighty hand. I danced around my bungalow singing loudly in my shaky voice to a favourite CD in praise to our dear Lord. I think he enjoyed the joyful noise! My excitement keeps growing as I realise this is only the beginning.
We are looking to the future as we ease out of lockdown and the questions on all our lips are similar it seems… “What will church look like in the future? Will it be exactly as it was before? Will things change?”
Perhaps, in part we are looking for the comfort of familiarity, while also realising we have found new ways through COVID. Where, for example, would we have been without modern technology?
I cannot imagine what the last year and a half would have been like if we had not been able to gather together to worship through Zoom … and deliveries taken to those who did not have the facility of internet. Also the wonderful idea of ringing the next person on the church directory so that no-one need feel alone and anyone needing help could be supported.
So as we move forward are we open minded to embrace the future at Clare Baptist Church? Could it be that we crave familiarity rather than fully trusting Jesus? Could it be that we slip into feeling self-satisfied with the result of the gift day?
We have just experienced God powerfully at work in our midst as we came together as one fellowship humbly praying as we sought His face. So we need to continue as one fellowship with the recognition that every one of us is of equal value to God and to each other whether we lead from the front or sit in the congregation, whether we will lead a group or make the tea, whether we are young and fit or old and frail. All our worship matters to Him.
The voice of God continues to speak to us through 2 Chronicles 7:14…
“…if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land.”
He is asking us all, my people, not just some, to continue to respond as a whole unit, not as fragmented bits, One people together who love to “worship Jesus and make Him known”. We are the body of Christ together. Will we all take our part in obedience to the scripture? If we do we will see the Lords mighty hand again at Clare Baptist Church as He unfolds the future….for He promises He “will heal our land”.
How exciting is that…..then we can trust Him for the future and however it will look.
So as the ball has been placed firmly in our court….may we, you and I, all of us, find abundant joy and anticipation as we continue to humbly pray and earnestly seek His face. Amen.

Jenny W (04/06/21)
This is to do with the environment

I’d like to tell you about a rainbow – not just any rainbow, this one was special. Last year, at the beginning of May, we were sitting outside having breakfast. It was a sunny day and I was wearing sun glasses. Looking casually up towards the sun, I was amazed to see a circular rainbow that completely surrounded it, not a halo, much, much further away from the sun than that, a complete large, colourful circle.
We gazed at it in awe and delight, and later did some research on rainbows round the sun. Predictably there was the scientific explanation, ice crystals in the upper atmosphere and so on, but reading a little further came another meaning.
God was sending a message, first telling of changes to come,  but also a warning:
Take care of the beautiful planet that has been given to you. Look after the environment or it’s very existence will be in danger. About this time, in the midst of the pandemic, climate change messages on the news increased in fervour and suddenly we were being begged to be more responsible.
Last week I, and some of my family went to Felixstowe for the day. Sitting outside having coffee in a cafe, we looked up and there was another sun circle. We talked about it, pointed, exclaimed and took photographs. No-one else noticed. How could they not see it?
I wonder now. Are we doing all we can to treasure our amazing, God- given planet?
Have we all seen the rainbow?

John B (30/05/21)
I was drawn to James 4 this week. A very challenging passage about Christian living and the challenges of being a Christian – our hopes, desires and motives.
A few things stand out for me here, in verse 6 is ‘But he gives us more grace.’ and then goes on to say “God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble”.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.
Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up.
We have seen amazing blessing in Church in recent weeks and a real excitement, it is really important that we continue to seek God as a church, to humble ourselves and to pray! Lets open the church to weekly prayer, an opportunity to meet God there and also an opportunity to encourage each other on our journey together.

Elvena D (16/05/21)
The following was shared at a Special Church Meeting on Monday 10th May 2021:
I had become increasingly excited and challenged that God has drawn us to 2 Chronicles 7:14 at the same time as we are looking to undertake the kitchen refurbishment and replace tech equipment.
These feelings have only intensified, and cemented themselves more in my heart, as Paul has preached to us over the last three Sundays expanding on the text.
The two arising at the same time present us with a wonderful opportunity of worship….to humble ourselves…seek His face…and prayerfully lay our gifts on His altar.
I think it is important to note these updates are of necessity, rather than luxury, if we are to continue to “worship and make Him known” in as wide a way as possible.
The kitchen update speaks for itself as it is needed to be in line with Health and Safety regulations. The tech will not only be used for our worship, but also, as we move increasingly into this modern age, I am sure will be used to share the gospel through Bible courses, videos, youth work etc. etc.
All this work comes at a price. The cost will be our responsibility, an active commitment to provide what is needed for the use of the Lord’s work here where He has placed us to serve Him. As we place our offerings before Him we will be expressing to Jesus the depth of our love…..and demonstrating to the community the respect and dedication we feel He deserves.
It won’t be about how much an individual or couple can give in comparison with one another but rather a coming together before the Lord as Clare Baptist Church to give back to Him out of what He has already given to us. God has shown us in His word that the widow’s mite was as valuable as the offerings of those who could give much more. As we all give something together we make a whole.
If we truly seek His face and humble ourselves before Him before placing our prayerful offerings on His altar then we can wait expectantly on the Lord.
Our part is being prepared as one fellowship together to ‘put our money where our mouth is’…….to say “Lord I give back to you what I believe you are asking of me”

Alban SA (12/05/21)
For me as I’ve read through the passage and explored what it means, it seems that the beginning part of Chapter 7 is important context for the passage and for us at Clare Baptist. Verse 11-12 says ‘When Solomon had finished the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the Lord and in his own palace, the Lord appeared to him at night and said…’. God is speaking to Solomon at the end of a project building a temple of worship to God, the project finishes, then God speaks. Could God be saying that we are moving in to a new season. We’ve spent time, money and effort on building (which is incredibly important and necessary), but now let’s step back and go to our knees in prayer for people to fill the building with. As we finish all we have in mind to do with our building (for now), let’s listen to God speak. Could this be the end of one season and the start of a new where we pray for an outpouring of God’s spirit to heal our land?

Elsa D (09/05/21)
The passage that seemed so relevant to us was Haggai Chapter 2.
Speaking of those with memories of the glory of the old Temple in Jerusalem who saw the new Temple and felt it was a poor thing by comparison, he says thing like this: Who of you left saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it seem to you like nothing?
“Be strong, all you people,” declares the Lord, “Work, for I am with you… my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear!”
“I will fill this house with Glory… the silver and the gold is mine… the Glory of this house will be greater than the former house….”
Now he begins to refer to the coming of God’s Son who will build a very different house and so I felt that if we take the words of Jenny and Rita seriously then with Jesus we will experience what Jesus longs to do in Clare Baptist Church.

John B (02/05/21)
This passage is a template for a contract and a process of negotiation. If you do this, then I will give you that. I do believe that this passage has been laid on Clare Baptist Church and like with so many churches this is relevant to our live as a Church.
If; we seek God’s face and in response turn from our wicked ways
then; God will hear our voice and will heal our land
For me, this is us patiently seeking God in prayer and allow him to guide us in what we are doing. I am sure the God had a plan for each of us in Clare Baptist Church which he is hoping we will seek him to find our what that plan is and how we go about doing it.
I was reading Matthew 21 this morning and the two parables in there, the parable of the two sons and the parable of the tenants. In these passages Jesus is talking about people responding to God.

Paul G (20/04/21)
At the Prayer Meeting this evening, I became aware of the phrase “Beware the Queen of Sheba” – shortly after the Temple was dedicated and God had spoken to Solomon, the Queen of Sheba and the many other wives that Solomon married started to distract him, and therefore the people, from God, ultimately ending in the division of Israel and Judah and the exile. I felt that God is warning us that we will face opposition during this time, and not to be too despondent if we fail – after all, Solomon was meant to be the wisest of Kings. God’s grace is sufficient

A Church Member (16/04/21)
The picture I had was a child sitting on the floor whilst the father stood above. The child played with their toys and the father watched, and although there was protection and love there was little interaction, in the picture the child suddenly stopped playing and looked up at the father and raising its arms to be held.
I felt but of course could be wrong that the church were the child and the father was God. We’ve not been doing anything wrong as such but our eyes have been at ground level, love has been there and always will be but with our eyes fixed and arms raised we will experience his embrace.
A sense of anything is possible held in his arms and, as a child is carried, we could then only go with him in his plan.