America’s Blueprint For Blessing
America’s Blueprint For Blessing
America Was Blessed From The Beginning!
Tomorrow is July 4th. It is the day that we celebrate the signing of our nation’s Declaration of Independence. It is the day that our forefather’s declared that we would no longer serve the tyrant King George III. People forget however that even though our forefathers declared independence, that our great country would have to fight and struggle to actually achieve true freedom. We call that struggle the Revolutionary War. Thousands of men gave their lives to sever ties from Great Britain and provide us today with the freedoms that we enjoy. Countless others, men and women alike, have fought and died protecting these freedoms. Tomorrow we celebrate that great sacrifice.
I often wonder what our forefathers would think about the America of today. I wonder if they would be pleased with what we have become. Many of these men were believers in Christ. I would dare say that all the signers of the Declaration of Independence were spiritual men who recognized the mighty hand of God in the circumstances of the birth of the United States. Just listen to some of their thoughts on God, Jesus, and the Bible:
"While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian."
Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company: I mean hell.
John Quincy Adams
The hope of a Christian is inseparable from his faith. Whoever believes in the Divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures must hope that the religion of Jesus shall prevail throughout the earth. Never since the foundation of the world have the prospects of mankind been more encouraging to that hope than they appear to be at the present time. And may the associated distribution of the Bible proceed and prosper till the Lord shall have made “bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God”
Congress, U.S. House Judiciary Committee, 1854
Had the people, during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle... In this age, there can be no substitute for Christianity... That was the religion of the founders of the republic and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants.
Friends, the list goes on and on and on. The founders of this great country laid for its bedrock the foundational truths found in Holy Scripture.
So, I wonder what they would think today. We seem to have backed off what we once believed. Our nation seems to be less under God than ever before. For those of us who love our God and love this country, we are frustrated. We have a right to be frustrated.
This has happened before by the way. No not to us but to God’s own people. This morning we will be reading form Micah 6:8. If you read the entire book of Micah and specifically chapter 6 you will see the story of a wayward and reckless people. Like us, they had the foundation of God’s truths but they willfully rebelled against God’s authority over their lives. Because of this rebellion, they found themselves in all sorts of trouble.
Micah 6 involves an imaginary conversation between the Lord and Israel. In verses 1-5 the Lord introduces His case against the disobedient people of Israel. Verses 6-7 record Israel’s response as a series of questions beginning with, “With what shall I come to the Lord?” (Micah 6:6).
Essentially, the people of Israel are broken and busted. They realize that their country is a mess and in need of direction and forgiveness. So, collectively they ask what they can do to make it right. Should they sacrifice thousands of rams? Should they sacrifice their children?
Verse 8 contains God’s answer to the children of Israel. God does not require empty sacrifices. He does not want out empty worship. God gives them the blueprint for fixing and restoring their nation. God says that He did not need or desire their religious rites, sacrifices, or oblations. Instead, the Lord sought Israel’s justice, mercy, and humility.
Let’s read that Scripture together today.
Micah 6:8 ESV
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
God’s Blueprint For A Wayward Nation
“He has told you, O man, what is good…”
Over the past several weeks and months, there has been news stories about impending cyber security attacks to the United States. These threats have come from outside the United States. These stories generate a lot of news and fear among the American people. Did you know that our country receives numerous attacks on our power grids every day. Every day a new attack happens and it is not from outside the country, rather it is inside the country. Who are these terrorists? Squirrels. That’s right, squirrels routinely attack our nation’s power grids and threaten to disable entire cities. In 2016 squirrels have accounted for 623 attacks. 623 times squirrels have shut down local power grids.
We often think that we will have to battle some outside invader. Perhaps you have considered what the downfall of America will be. Will be another country? Will it be a terrorist organization? Friend, I think that our country has greater threats found right here inside our boarders. I believe that we could crumble right here from within if we are not careful. I believe that we already have cracks in the foundation and it we are not quick to repair what is breaking, our country could be at risk.
So, Israel is asking, “how do we fix this”. “God, we know we messed up, where can we go from here to get this all straightened out?” To me this entire conversation sounds like a child speaking to a parent right? We have had similar conversations with our children. Perhaps your child has said to you the very same words.
As parents, you probably come back with “well I told you…”. You remind your child that you told them a long time ago where the line was before they ever crossed it. You remind the child of the standard that they broke.
God does the exact same thing here. God reminds them that He has already told them what is good. God’s will for them is not a mystery. It is rooted in His Word and Covenant. If the people of Israel really want to make things right, start by going back to what He has already told them. Go back to His Word.
Friends, imagine how different our country would look if we really read and practiced the words of Jesus.
Instead we have removed God’s Word from just about every public venue. There is no Bible in school. There are law suits from atheist groups to remove “In God We Trust” and “One Nation Under God” from our monies and national pledge. Recently the government has begun targeting U.S. Military Chaplains for praying in the name Jesus Christ. Our government has thumbed it’s nose at the Biblical interpretation of marriage in favor of it’s own corrupted design of marriage.
Friends we are living in dangerous times where God’s Word is at war with our governmental system. I am worried that we are heading in a direction of destruction and it we do not remember quickly the foundation that our nation was founded upon, we will be having a similar discussion with God that his people had with Him so long ago.
We need to remember God’s Word.
We need to protect God’s Word.
We need to practice God’s Word.
I believe that if we return to God’s Word and remember the commands of God that our country can return to peace and prosperity.
Deuteronomy 8:11 NLT
"But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the LORD your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today.
God’s Blueprint For A Wayward Nation
“but to do justice…”
What does it mean to act justly? What does it mean to love justice? What Micah means is that we should be living with a sense of right and wrong. Where do we find our values for right and wrong? God’s Word. It means that we must protect the innocent. We must look out for those who cannot look out for themselves.
Imagine how our country would be different if we acted under the moral authority of God. Imagine how different we would be if we protected the innocent.
Our country in the last year alone aborted more than a million unborn children. We have millions more in the foster system and thousands who are awaiting foster care. We have half a million orphans in our country who need homes.
When I say the word react, we think that if we do nothing then we are not reacting. No. We are reacting when we do nothing. It is a negative reaction. It is apathy in our faith. It is having a callous hard heart that is not feeling the pain around us and pretending that the world is ok.
To do justice means that we pick up the broken hurting people in our world and we try to meet their needs in a Christlike way.
To do justice means that instead of throwing stones at sinners we lovingly and kindly meet their needs so that they can discover the identity of their Savior and our Lord Jesus Christ.
It means that when we see pain, we try to fix it. When we see hurting we step in and say “not on my watch”.
My family was not here this past Sunday. We were traveling. On the way back home we stopped at the Love’s gas station that is right between Mobile and Montgomery. My wife was in the restroom and overheard a woman crying. She was riding a Megabus and the bus driver had left her. The bus had her id, her purse and money, and her cloths. She was crying and had no idea what she was going to do. My wife talked to me as we were getting in the car and asked me what we needed to do. My response, pray for her. That’s right, pray for her. Thats nice right.
My wife made me stop the car, she pulled out every ounce of money in her wallet went back into the restroom where she found this crying, confused woman and gave her the cash. She prayed for her. When she came back to the car, do you know what my reaction was? I couldn’t believe that she did that. She gave all of our money to a stranger. I was indignant.
Then, it hit me. My wife was the living embodiment of loving justice. She saw hurt and she reacted to fix it. She saw pain and tried to be a remedy. She became a rescuer.
I was the opposite. I was heartless. I was lazy. I was self centered.
Friends, we need to act justly. We need to live rightly and uphold the dignity of others.
It reminds me of the words found in James 1:27.
James 1:27 ESV
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
God’s Blueprint For A Wayward Nation
“and to love kindness…”
Illustration: Telling the Inventor How It Works
In 1969, in a science lab in New Jersey, Canadian physicist Willard Boyle and his colleagues invented the concept of an electronic eye. Using their knowledge of mathematics and the behaviour of light they provided the science behind digital cameras known as a charged-coupled device or CCD. The CCD technology revolutionized photography, as light could now be captured electronically instead of on film. CCD technology is used on the Hubble telescope and the Mars Lunar probe. It was Boyle's invention that allowed us to see the surface of Mars for the first time. In 2009 Boyle was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics.
A few years after the original invention of CCD technology, Boyle walked into a store to purchase a new digital camera based on his invention. During the visit, the salesman tried to explain the intricacies of the digital camera, but stopped, feeling it was too complicated for his customer to understand. According to one long-time friend, Boyle was normally a humble man, but on this occasion he was taken aback by the salesman's arrogance and disrespect. So Boyle bluntly replied: "No need to explain. I invented it." When the salesman didn't believe him, Boyle told the salesman to type "Willard S. Boyle" into his computer and see for himself. A Nikon representative in the store heard the exchange and immediately came over to have his photograph taken with the famous inventor.
At times we almost act like that impatient salesman in our relationship with God. We tell God how life works or how we think it should work. But God simply and confidently responds, "No need to explain. I invented life."
In my final year at Samford I wrote my senior thesis on one Hebrew word…that word was hesed. Hesed when translated to English literally means loving kindness. It means to have a loyal love. My paper was about 75 pages long and I was still not adequately able to describe what this word really meant. Essentially, God expected His people to love and be loyal to Him. He also expected them to love and respect on another.
I am a pretty simple person. I have a hard time keeping up with everything that is going on in our country. However, I do see division. I see hate on the rise. I see today more than ever people angry. I see hurt people. I have a saying that hurt people hurt people and that is definitely happening today.
Friends, I believe that if we love others the way we should be loving God, our world…our country would be so much better.
We have lost the fine art of loving people. All people. Even people that are different than us. Even people that we don’t like. People that have lifestyles that we find morally representable. We love people like us, but we seem to have stopped loving and caring about sinners.
Jesus addressed this some 2000 years ago when He talked about loving our enemies.
Matthew 5:43-48 ESV
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Friends, if the only people we love are like ourselves, what credit is that to us or our faith. It is so much for us to love those who we might find our enemies.
Why? Why must we love these people? Why should we care about these sinners?
I Corinthians 9:19-23 ESV
19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
We love so that people can be won. Hate never won anyone to anything but love did. Love does.
Friends, have you forgotten that we are all sinners. We are all lost. Without the grace of Jesus, we are all dead in our sin and bound for hell. Jesus saved us and we are the recipient of that grace.
God’s Blueprint For A Wayward Nation
“and to walk humbly with your God?”
The other day I was walking with Jett. I put my hand down so that he could hold my hand. I wanted to walk together with him. He looked up and said no. He wanted to walk on his own. It is sad when people want to walk alone. That means that whatever life throws at them, they are on their own. I stopped and took Jett’s hand even though he didn’t want to hold mine.
So we started walking together.
Jett started walking slowly. When he walked behind me, it was hard for me to keep my eye on him. I gently pulled him up to where I was but he kept lagging behind. You see, Jett wanted to stop and sit but Jett had told me that he wanted to go somewhere. I knew that where he wanted to go was much better than what he was temporarily interested in. He was going to miss out if I let him lag behind.
So, just as I was pulling Jett along trying to help him get to the place he wanted to go, Jett starts trying to outrun me. My eye was on him now but if he got out ahead of me, he could get hurt. He could stumble or fall. He could run into traffic. So, I gently pulled him back so that we could walk together.
If Jett walked with me, he would get to where he wanted to go and have my protection along the way. He had to walk WITH me.
No, Jett was not walking me, but walking with me. Sometimes I think that Jett thinks he knows what is best for him. One day, he will humble himself and know that his Father loves him and wants whats best for him.
Friend, what if we humbly walked with God. Recognizing that He knows more about us and about life than we do. Knowing that if we lag behind we will miss out on HIs plan and knowing if we run ahead we could run into pain and heartache. Yet, if we walk with Him, we will walk into blessing and we will walk with His protection.
“Walk humbly” is a description of the heart’s attitude toward God. God’s people depend on Him rather than their own abilities (Micah 2:3). Instead of taking pride in what we bring to God, we humbly recognize that no amount of personal sacrifice can replace a heart committed to justice and love. Israel’s rhetorical questions had a three-part progression, and verse 8 contains a similar progression. The response of a godly heart is outward (do justice), inward (love mercy), and upward (walk humbly).
It reminds me of Jesus’ words found in Mark 12:30-31…
Mark 12:30-31 ESV
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
God Bless America!