Fabulous?! REALLY?!?!

Deuteronomy 8:7-19
July 3, 2016

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to the state of our nation these days, I’m very discouraged.  It seems as if every day our country moves further and further away from the Christian principles on which it was founded.

As I was thinking about today’s message, I saw this sign on State Route 9, and I thought . . . really?  We really look fabulous?!?!?  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I don’t think we look too good!

Consider our presidential race, Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton, and honestly, I don’t like either one.  Neither one has done anything to earn my trust.  The more I read about them, the less I like.

When I look at polls, that sentiment is true for Americans.  No presidential candidates have been more disliked and mistrusted.  We don’t trust the people who are running for president.  That’s a sad, sad message for our country.

Add to that the fact that most Republicans and Democrats do not get along and vote against one another, even if they are not so much in disagreement.  Our country is at a crossroads.  I fear for our nation.

Tomorrow is the 240th Anniversary of our country.  Now…I know some people would stop me at this point and dispute whether or not our nation was actually founded with Christian principles — but the fact is, the United States had VERY Christian origins.  Let me give you a few quick U.S. History facts ~

On May 17, 1776, the U.S. Congress appointed a day of fasting and prayer for the colonies, so that they might by sincere repentance, “…appease God’s righteous displeasure, and through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain His pardon and His forgiveness.”

John Adams, the 2nd President of the United States, said, “Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.  For democracy to work, the majority of the people have to be religious and moral at their core, or it falls apart.”

On February 11, 1861, speaking in Springfield, IL, Abraham Lincoln held his Bible and said, “In regard to this great Book, I have but to say it is the best gift God has given to man.  All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated to us through this Book.  But for It, we would not know right from wrong.”

In 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt said: “After a week of perplexing problems, it does so rest my soul to come into the house of the Lord and to sing and to mean it, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.’  My great joy and great glory in occupying this exalted position as president of the nation is that I am enabled to preach the practical moralities of the Bible to my fellow countrymen and to hold up Christ as the Hope and Savior of the world?”

I could go on — but my point is to help us see how very much things have changed in the United States – – – and – – not for the good.

Wilder Publications published copies of the Constitution and reprints of the Declaration of Independence.  The problem is that they place a warning label on them, saying ~

This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today.  Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and interpersonal relations have changed since this book was written before allowing them to read this classic work.

What they’re really saying is “When this was written, they really didn’t know what they were talking about, so take it with a grain of salt.”  The warning label offended more people than the documents.

How about this – – – in 2010 – – the school board in Provincetown, Massachusetts approved a policy making condoms available for students.  The age limit?  6 year olds were able to receive them for free.  The ruling required that school officials keep it confidential so parents would never know if their child requested any.  I don’t know about you, but this shows how far we’ve fallen.

Then there are stories of students being chastised by teachers because they believe our world was created by God.  It’s no wonder so many parents are sacrificing to make it possible for their kids to go to private Christian schools these days.

Understand this folks – – – I do not always like what the Bible says about sin! Because the Bible convicts me of my own personal sin, I would like to do away with certain sections of the Bible, out of my own person convenience and conscience — —

HOWEVER, I cannot do that!  I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and I must adhere to the words of God, not the abridged words of Michael Deutsch, because I don’t like the way God’s Word condemns my sinfulness!

I could continue citing depressing news like this but you see what I mean.  The sad and unavoidable truth is America has changed.  What are we to do about that?  As Christians, how should we respond to a culture that embraces evil as good and perversity as freedom?  This week as I prepared for my message I read about Alexis de Tocqueville.  He was a famous French political philosopher, who toured our nation in the mid 19th century.  His purpose – – – uncover the secret of our greatness.

After traveling from town to town, talking to people, and asking questions, he wrote this –
“I sought for America’s greatness.  I found it not in her fields and forests.  

I found it not in her mines and factories.  I found it not in her Congress and great tribunals.

It was only when I entered her CHURCHES and heard her pulpits thundering against sin and preaching righteousness that I discovered the secret of her greatness.

America is great because America is good.  If America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

He was a very wise man.  Now listen to a couple of other things he said about our country.  He added these statement as well ~  “everybody feels the evil, but no one has courage or energy enough to seek the cure.”

When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness.

WOW!!!  I think de Tocqueville was right in at least inferring that the secret to keeping America great in a Biblical sense lies in the hands of Christians like you and me.  We need to heed de Tocqueville’s words because when we hear depressing headlines – – –

We tend to blame our president, our congress or our judicial system.  We also blame Hollywood, the liberal media and our education system.  When we don’t learn from the past, we are going to make the same mistakes.  When we lose courage to fight the evil, evil wins.

But God’s Word tells us healing the nation so that we remain a great tool in God’s kingdom — is the responsibility of God’s people, like you and me.  Fixing things isn’t the president’s job — or congress’ job.  It’s our job.

There’s a great Old Testament passage about healing.  In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God said, 14 If My people who are called by My name HUMBLE themselves, and PRAY and SEEK My face and TURN from their wicked ways,

then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.

That’s really our call!  Of course, the writer of 2 Chronicles starts out with a really ugly word!  IF!  If is a huge word.  If we would do this . . . but we don’t want to do it.  It takes work, it takes sacrifice, it takes submission, it means we give up control and some of the rights we think and assume we have.

Remember who’s people we are!  We are God’s people, we have God’s name!  We are called to HUMBLE ourselves, PRAY and SEEK God’s Grace, TURN from our wickedness . . . THEN and only THEN will God hear and act!

But understand . . . this was all expected.  Say what?  I’m going to read a very long passage of scripture.  That does not mean tune me out.  Tune me in.  Listen to what Moses said before the people entered the Promised Land of Israel – – –

7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills,

8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey,

9 a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper.

10 And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.

This is a great promise from God.  It’s almost as if He’s talking about the United States.  We have so much.  But then Moses gives the people a very somber warning.  This is what he says next – –

11 Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His rules and His statutes, which I command you today,

12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them,

13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied,

14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery,

15 who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock,

16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end.

17 Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’

18 You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may confirm His covenant that He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

19 And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish.

20 Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.

Did you hear that warning ~ ~ “Beware — lest, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them . . . and your silver and your gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, then your heart becomes proud, and you forget the Lord your God.”

TODAY, do we have reason to be concerned about this warning?  Do we sound like some of those people Moses was referring to?  Are you living the good life, but are not giving God His due.  Maybe you’re not serving Him, you’re not giving financially, you’re not praying, reading the Bible, you’re living the carefree – disobedient life.

And in essence you’re saying “God, I dare you to smite me!  I don’t think You have it in you!  You’re spineless, you created the world . . . maybe . . . you aren’t always there for me, so I really don’t think I will be there for You!”  That’s our world.  We have no real fear of God.  We’ve made Him impotent.

History has made it abundantly clear that not only nations, but also individuals, need to heed that warning.  The greatness of a nation is not measured by its military power, technological advancements, or national wealth.  Our character is what we will be measured by.  It’s not how much money, it’s what we believe in and what we do about it.

In the end, our real freedom comes in Christ!!

So when we stand back and look at this land of the free we begin to wonder, “Is there any real freedom anywhere?”

But thank God, as Christians, we have a greater freedom than any constitution can grant us.  We have the freedom that is offered in Christ Jesus.

There is a word for freedom in the N.T. It is the word, “redemption.” “Redemption” means “to be set free.” It means that we have been bought with a price, that we have been freed of our bondage, and now we are really free.

In Paul’s letter to Titus he tells us we’ve been set free from the bondage of sin.
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,

12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,

13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works.  — Titus 2:11-14

So, as we celebrate the birth of our nation, pray that our country might have a new birth of freedom; not a freedom from God, which always leads to evil — but rather a freedom built upon God and His commandments.

Pray for those running for political office this November.  Pray for their souls.  Pray that they would truly embrace a relationship with Jesus Christ in a manner which transforms their lives and ultimately transforms our nation.  So we could have a people and a land which is healed.

Lastly, may each one of us, as individuals, reaffirm our dependence upon God so that, looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith — Hebrews 12:2

We might experience the freedom He gives not only from worry, doubt and fear, but also from all those sins which do ‘so easily come upon us.’

Then, as did the founding Fathers of our country, we will find in Him our life, liberty, and true happiness.

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