I love the American spirit, our national fervor. I consider myself very patriotic and thankful for the many blessings our Mighty God has poured out on us as a nation. I also realize that we are in grave danger. When I reflect that our God is not only merciful, but He is just and gives all people freedom of choice, my heart breaks for us as a nation. The “good ‘ole American spirit” cannot save us. Only God can.

I remember Daniel, having found out the judgment proclaimed against Jerusalem, praying and fasting before God. (See Daniel 9) He poured out his heart before the Almighty and God answered him.

What was in his heart?

I believe he was exhibiting the spirit of contrition. He humbled himself before God, crying out for mercy for his sins and for the sins of his people. This wasn’t a “God bless Israel!” moment, this was true heartfelt prayer. His heart was breaking for what his people had done – and for what he had done.

It can be so tempting to say “they are doing such and such, but I’m not” or “they aren’t honoring God or choosing Him.” It can be so easy to see the mote in the other person’s eye. And yes, there are many things we may not have done – maybe we haven’t murdered babies, celebrated immorality, or funded human trafficking by looking at explicit websites.

But, we are not without sin (1 John 1:8). Jesus explained that the laws of God not only apply to our actions but to our hearts (Matthew 5-7). Yes, He will help us to overcome sin and be forever free from it, but until that time, we also have sinned.

Daniel repented for his sins. His heart pleaded before God for forgiveness for himself and for his people. He was contrite – this wasn’t just lip service. God looks at the heart. If Daniel was sanctimoniously fulfilling a ritual duty or self-righteously condemning his people before God, do you think God would have sent Gabriel to answer him and reveal truth? (See Luke 18:9-14) I think of Daniel as a righteous man, yet he repented.

What is in my heart?

I may not have done many of the awful deeds that fill our headlines, but I have my own sins to be brokenhearted for having committed. Is my heart broken for my sins? Am I contrite over what I have done?

Why don’t we hear the sounds of revival ringing through the land? Why does our nation seem to be slipping faster and faster away from God?

Are we heartbroken over what we have done?

I remember after the tragedy of 9/11, hearing the “God bless America’s” and the sounds of patriotic fervor echoing through the church, through the news channels, through the people.

I don’t remember hearing, “God, we are so sorry! Truly we have earned this! We know that You are a merciful yet just God – forgive us!”

To be clear, there were some (God always has a remnant of His faithful). I remember a famous prayer that was brought again to the public arena during the period following 9/11. It spoke of our nation killing innocent babies and calling it choice, of our nation worshipping other gods, and endorsing perversion, etc.

But did we change? Is that why He hasn’t stepped in to heal our land? What is in our hearts?

Are our hearts broken for our sins? Or do we just need God to fix this and then we will be on our merry way?

By God’s mercy, my heart IS contrite and broken for this nation. I believe God will hear us, if we search for Him with all our hearts. (Jeremiah 29:13) Daniel repented not just for his sins, but for the sins of his people. And God heard him. (Isaiah 66:2, Psalm 34:18)

God has said:

“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Isaiah 57:15

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Psalm 51:17

Our hearts are required. This isn’t lip-service time.

What is in your heart?

— B. Payne





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