Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Monday, July 03, 2006

My Country 'Tis of Thee

My Country Tis of Thee

The United States of America is 230 years old today. That's a long time for a nation to remain free. But, when you look at our history in the context of world history America is just a CHILD among the nations. Egypt, China, Rome, Greece all make America's history seem so short. Consider what a brief time we've really been here as a nation. When Thomas Jefferson died, Abraham Lincoln was a young man of 17. When Lincoln was assassinated, Woodrow Wilson was a boy of 8. By the time he died Ronald Reagan was a boy of 12.

There you have it. The lives of four men can take you all the way back to the beginning of our country, 230 years ago. We are so young. And yet we stand tall among these nations because of the principles on which we were established: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

Thus states the Declaration of Independence, which we celebrate today. And do not let anyone fool you. Freedom ought and needs be celebrated. I celebrate this week with you the freedoms which God has blessed this great nations of ours. Our freedom is from God. We like to think we have a lot to do with our freedom—we call it “My Country”, but this country and Freedom were God’s idea first.

1. My Country—
a. We call it “my country” because we’re proud of it. We call it my country because we’re possessive and protective of it. You and I didn’t make this country—God did. As much credit as we give to our Founding Fathers, no nation is built, no nation collapses without the express directive of God. Jeremiah 18:7—“If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, 8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. 9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.”

b. God is greater than any Nation. It is planted or Uprooted at His command.

c. My country is a nation that God has built up and planted. He has blessed it with freedom more than just politically or speech—Freedom of Conscience before God and Faith. The United States is really the first nation where Religious Liberty (as opposed to Tolerance) was made a rule. You do realize there’s a difference. Tolerance is about gaining Permission and being Put Up With. Liberty is about the Recognition of a Right that the Government cannot deny.

d. We are a blessed nation, but We stand or fall by whether we do evil in His sight. Not what we think is good, not what we think is evil.

e. What we think doesn’t matter, what we think is right or wrong, good or evil is not the standard of truth. It is God’s opinion that matters. Even our nation will answer to Him.

f. Yet I am thankful that God is a God of mercy—for if we are warned, and I believe we have been warned, and we repent, then God will show mercy. This country, though we say it’s “My Country” really need to understand that it is His Country.

g. Another indicator of that is the fact that You didn’t pick this country for yourself—God Did. Acts 17:26-28—“From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”

h. We are where we are by God’s design and choosing. We are when we are by God’s choosing. There is something about you and I that are needed in this place in the United States of America at this time. We have a role to fulfill people, and it’s not our agenda that matters, but His.

i. You may not have been born here, but you are here—through whatever means, God has brought you—He has brought you so you may seek Him and find Him in ways that may not have been possible at home.

j. The greatest reason all of us are a part of the Greatest Nation, in this moment is so we will seek God, desire for Him reach out for Him. And to influence others to do the same. The promise is that when we do, we will find that He was there all along with arms open wide waiting for us.

k. America has been and is a blessed nation because it has been a nation that, though not perfect, has sought God. The Providence and Work of God was a dominating reality in the mind’s of our founders. It is a nation that has sent out more money, more people, more resources than any other so other nations might be able to hear about the saving power of Jesus Christ. So long as we as a people and as a nation are exalting the name of Jesus, God will not be far from us.

l. Our heritage as a godly nation is in jeopardy . we are still one of the greatest missions Sending nations—but now other nations are sending their missionaries here and finding resistant hearts.

m. Our condition is shown to be worse when we try to tell kids when they can and cannot pray, can and cannot have a bible study, when the 10 Commandments are more offensive to our courts than child pornography, when morality and marriage is anything goes, and people of faith are seen as just as dangerous or just as immoral than terrorists.

n. This nation’s heritage is built upon the foundation of all men being “endowed by their Creator”, and yet more and more we dismissing the reality of a Creator and are falling into the trap Paul warns of in Romans 1:23 when we knowingly exchange “the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.” We are worshipping the created more than the Creator—we are elevating ourselves and ignoring Him, making an idol out of humanity. That sounds like evil in His sight to me.

o. Jeremiah asks a very relevant question to the nation that is deliberately doing this. Jeremiah 2:11—“Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But my people have exchanged their Glory for worthless idols. 12 Be appalled at this, O heavens, and shudder with great horror," declares the LORD.”—vs. 19 goes on and says—“Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the LORD your God and have no awe of me," declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty.”

p. Do we have any awe of God anymore? Sure, you in this room may—but even we struggle understanding God for who He really is.

q. America and all nations exist to seek God and worship Him
r. That’s why in Revelation 7, John was able to see a “great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.”

s. You and I exist to seek God—we exist to Advance His Kingdom and His Name all across the earth. Force never accomplishes what changed hearts can. That happens through people sharing their faith—many of them today happen to be in the military, sharing their faith in Christ as they build schools, restore power, build roads. We have a responsibility to change hearts here in Macomb. When we are living who we should be as the people of God, then the nation God has made will be changed.

t. More than we want this to be “My Country”, we should want, we need it to truly be “His Country”; making ‘Tis of Thee a true statement.

2. ‘Tis of Thee
a. All that we are, all that we Celebrate this 4th of July, is “Of Thee”, because of Thee, has it’s origins “of Thee” and all that we do as a nation is “for Thee, “

b. We exist by His Grace—Our Godly Heritage is a testimony to this truth. We are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights.

c. We survive by His Power—we must remember that Divine Protection exists in Righteousness. America can be Judged like any other Nation—nations receive their blessings here and now. If Israel was judged by failure to follow His ways, how much more will America if we continue to reject and distance ourselves from Him.

d. We Have a Glorious Future—when we turn to Him. I believe that although some of our most difficult and trying times are ahead, I also believe that more of our best days are ahead of us.

e. The best days will come when we are Healed in Worship & Humility—2 Chron 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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

f. Don’t complain about the ills of Washington and the need of healing there when we have more than enough ills right down the street more than enough healing from drunkenness, gambling, addictions, immorality.

g. Rejoice and celebrate on Tuesday that it is His Country—by Him, For Him—we just have the privilege of being placed right here, right now. In order to truly fulfill our purpose, our great nation truly Needs Thee Every Hour.

h. We are a sweet land of liberty because others before us, and right now have died to win it. God is the author of any liberty, any freedom, our freedom here was first birthed in the mind of God b/c He sought our freedom on the Cross. If any message should ring from the mountain sides, it should be the promise of Freedom in Christ. Psalm 33:12—“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance

1 comment:

Phil said...

I have thought a lot about your sermon Sunday (this blog entry). It certainly was right on target for our country for this time.

A couple of thoughts: Your statement "when the 10 Commandments are more offensive to our courts than child pornography" seems a little hyperbolic, but maybe there are rulings I'm not aware of. I especially liked your point "f" about "don't complain about government" etc. God's promise to heal was directed at us: "If MY people who are called by MY NAME" etc. He doesn't ask the Godless to shape up before turning to Him. Very thought-provoking (and at times convicting) sermon. Thank you.