For God and Country

Posted: November 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

god-country-11a

2014 Election Sermon

Proverbs 14:34; Proverbs 29:2

If you’ve been to get your mail this week there is one thing that is clear…

Elections are upon us!!!

As I talked to one man at the PO this week he said, “I’ll be so glad when this election thing is over so that these people will stop filling my box with expensive pieces of paper that I just throw in the garbage.”

And I understand what he means… to an extent.  I am tired of getting three and four fliers in the mail every day… but mostly because I have already determined who I am voting for and their efforts are not going to persuade me differently.

But unfortunately, for many Americans and perhaps even for some of you, this is not the case.  They, and perhaps you, are tired of your mail boxes being filled with these political fliers because you given up hope and you don’t care anymore.  What’s the use?  My vote doesn’t make a difference anyhow?

Well, I beg to differ.  And this morning I want to encourage you that you should care.  That it is not your “right” as an American citizen to care and to vote… but that it is your DUTY as a professing believer to vote in any and every election.

Let me share with you the two chief passages of Scripture that drive me in my sermon today.  Both are found in the book of wisdom, Proverbs.

The first is found in Proverbs 14:34,

Proverbs 14:34 (ESV) — 34 Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.

So, according to the wisdom afforded us in God’s Word, if we desire a nation that is exalted and great and prosperous it must be a nation that is righteous… and that will only happen if, first, its people are righteous (so there is a call to us to consider ourselves and repent) and secondly, it will only be exalted, great and prosperous if its leaders are, likewise, righteous.  And this is where, in our great nation, the gift of “by the people, for the people” comes into effect, and we choose our leaders by the election process.

The United States of America has become a reproach because we are no longer righteous! And that’s bad news.  You and I groan at the condition of our nation.  It breaks our hearts to know where we once came from and to see where we are now.  I want to share with you how this has happened, how we now groan, when we think about the condition of our nation.  This is where my other text from Proverbs comes in.  It is found in chapter 29, verse 2.

Proverbs 29:2 (ESV) — 2 When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.

Solomon is talking, particular, about those in authority.  The language used here is specifically talking about rulers, about government, about those in positions of authority over a nation.

We groan because the wicked rule.  From our county seats… commissioners, county clerks, prosecuting attorneys, judges, representatives, senators, governors… right on up to the national level… we groan because the wicked rule.

Want to know how to fix it?  Here’s how… the first thing is “repent.”  We put the wicked into office… either by our vote or by our not voting.

Did you know that there are roughly 90 million devoted Christians in the USA?  Did you also know that only 51 million of those actually voted in the 2012 general elections!!!  What about the other 39 million?  Did you know that out of that 39 million roughly 24 million aren’t even registered to vote?  Are you in those statistics?  If you are… shame on you, you are shirking a God given duty!!!

Church, that is outright sinful!!!!  But, there is good news…  That can, and will change, if we will heed the charge of God to Solomon:

2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV) — 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.

There is no doubt about it…

We have much to repent from, and much work to do to see God restore the United States of America to its prior blessed state.  But hard work is OK… in fact hard work is good.

Proverbs 16:3 (ESV) — 3 Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.

Did you hear what Solomon said?  Commit your WORK… not your wishes, not your hopes, not your desires (although those things may be true also) Solomon says to commit your work to the Lord and your plans (in this purview, our nation changed) will be established.  The principle found here is that work committed to the Lord does accomplish things here, a fact that is not true in the afterlife.  Solomon tells us that in Ecclesiastes…

Ecclesiastes 9:10 (ESV) — 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol [the grave], to which you are going.

So let us work hard now to restore the United States to the God fearing nation it once was.  But it will be hard work!

Founding father Thomas Paine said that we should expect as much if we want to continue to enjoy the blessings of liberty.  He said, in his book “The American Crisis”…

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” – Thomas Paine (The Crisis, September 12, 1777.)

I believe there is great spiritual truth behind Thomas Paine’s statement!

I am currently reading a book titled “The Chaplains and Clergy of the Revolution” written in 1884.  It is a fascinating record of the impact that pastors had on our country as they considered their God-given liberties and freedoms and how to properly and righteously engage a King and parliament that was given to tyranny and oppression of the American colonies.  All of the sermons summarized in the book have been fascinating.  But one, in particular, caught my attention.  So, I found a copy of the transcript online and sat down to read it.  The pastor’s name was Gad Hitchcock.  He was a pastor of a church in Pembroke, which at the time was in the Massachusetts Bay Province.

He was chosen to preach an Election Day sermon just months after the Boston Tea Party.  His sermon was preached before the cowardly Governor Thomas Gage, the House of Representatives, and His Majesty’s Counsel.  In his sermon he set forth the role of government as prescribed in the Scriptures, he prescribed the qualities that must be present in a man who might be considered for office, and the responsibilities of those men once they were elected.  It was a brave and strong sermon… 56 printed pages that were then distributed among the people.

I will only share a few lines with you instead of the 56 pages!  Can I get an amen?

I want to share with you the three characteristics that Pastor Gad Hitchcock said were imperative for any man considered for office to possess:

He said that there were three things that any man considered for ruler/magistrate must demonstrate…

  1. Superior Knowledge – be at no loss how to conduct themselves, which way to turn in difficult situations.
  2. A Public Spirit – compassionate regard for mankind (their constituents)
  3. Religion

And then he went on to say:

THIS is the best foundation of the confidence of the people; if they fear God, it may be expected they will regard man. Vice narrows the mind and bars the exertions of a public spirit; but religion dilates and strengthens the former, and gives free course to the operations of the latter.

BY religion I would be understood to intend more than a bare belief of the divine existence and perfections— The heathen world by a proper use of their reason may attain to this, because that which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God hath shewed it unto them.

BUT what I intend by religion is, a belief of the truth as it is in Jesus, and a temper and conduct conformable to it.

But he didn’t stop there.  He went on…

IT is the wisdom of Christian states, to have Christian magistrates, and as far as may be, such as have imbibed the spirit of the gospel, and are actuated in their high station, by the principles it inspires.

Then he went on to say why it would not be good to choose men who were only of “good character” not placing their faith in Jesus Christ.  He said, they…

“may have a regard to the civil interest of mankind, and do many worthy deeds for society; it must also be allowed that they are not so likely, as those of Christian principles, to be nursing fathers to the church of Christ, which, agreeable to ancient prophecy, magistrates, under the present dispensation of the divine grace, are obliged to be. NOR will they be so much concerned to learn from the sacred oracles, for the guidance of public measures, what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.

WHEN a people have rulers set over them, of a religious character on the gospel plan—who own and submit to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, who are sanctified by the divine spirit and grace, and, in a good measure, purified from those corrupt principles which too often work in the human heart, they have reason to expect the presence and blessing of God will be with them, and that things will go well in the state.

So, when we are considering who we should elect to office there are three things we need to consider. 1) Do they possess not only a good intellect, but the common sense to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, how it needs to be done?  2) Do they possess a love and compassion and care for those over whom they will govern? 3) Are they a Christian… not just a good man (or woman) but a follower of Christ, are they open and vocal about it?  Does their life reflect what their lips profess?

Sound like an impossible task?  Hard, but not impossible and it is our duty to do so!!!

In the words of Voddie Bachaum… although speaking to a different matter, I find it just as suitable and practical for this arena…

“If you can’t find one… make one!!!”

We must start demanding that our elected officials be men and women of Christian character.  It is absolutely essential to the preservation of our nation.  Our founding fathers knew it.  John Adams, in his memoires wrote…

“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.” – John Adams (The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States)

Our government was never designed to be governed by an unscuppled people or to govern an unscruppled people.  In fact, did you know that it is impossible to be a patriot and leave God and morality out of the picture!

George Washington led this country through what was known as the “The Age of Revolution” – there was the French revolution, the Russian revolution, the Greek revolution, and the Italian revolution.  The whole world was in turmoil… and George Washington watched this and this is what he said,

“Of all the disposition and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.  In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars.” (George Washington – In His Farewell Address to the United States in 1796.)

You cannot be a patriot and leave religion and morality out of the picture.  The Reverend John Knox Witherspoon, signer of the Declaration said this about the patriot…

“He is the best friend to American liberty who is the most sincere and active in promoting pure and undefiled religion… Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy to his country.” – John Witherspoon (The Works of the Reverend John Witherspoon.)

We have a duty to be a religious and moral people if we want to call ourselves patriots!!!

Church, we must do what is right where our country is concerned.  We must vote for men and women that demonstrate the three characteristics that Gad Hitchcock laid forth over 240 years ago.

  • Do they possess not only a good intellect, but the common sense to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, how it needs to be done?
  • Do they possess a love and compassion and care for those over whom they will govern?
  • Are they a Christian… not just a good man (or woman) but a follower of Christ, are they open and vocal about it? Does their life reflect what their lips profess?

You might ask, “But what if there are no candidates that possess those three characteristics?”

That’s a good question.  Let me answer it with a couple of questions of my own.

First, who is sovereignly in control of Kings and countries?  Who directs that paths of man?

Yes, God (Daniel 2:21; 4:17; 5:20; Job 12:18; Ps. 75:7)

Who commands that we, as Christians, should always do what is right, like we are doing for Him? Yup!  God (Col 3:17; 1 Corinthians 10:31)

Where does it tell us in the Scriptures to choose one of two paths because it is the lesser of the two evils?  You’re right… NO WHERE.  Cannot find it in God’s Word!!!

Church there are a couple of things we have got to start/stop doing.  We have got to stop voting for the lesser of two evils!   “But, but, but,” if we don’t vote for “him/her” the other, more evil guy/gal will win.  Or, “If you vote for that person (the best one to vote for) it will only take a vote away from the lesser of the two evils.”

Again… God is in control.  He wants you to do what is right in His eyes… not in yours.  He wants you to TRUST HIM (oh… ever heard that before?), do what is right, leaving the results up to Him.

Remember Proverbs 3:5-6 (the Primer family life theme)?

Proverbs 3:5–6 (ESV) — 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

It is good for us to remember our responsibilities in all areas of life.  Unfortunately for many Christians, we forget our responsibilities when it comes to our God-given duty to the nation that He has given us to protect and defend.

Here’s a short video from historian David Barton to remind us about our responsibilities:

I want to close by exposing one very important truth that we need to take with us as we leave here today and consider the election polls on Tuesday… and that is the truth that every Christian vote counts.  I want to make a vivid illustration that will stick with you

I have asked my son, Jim, to assist me in making this illustration “pop” in your minds.  Ok Jim… you’ll probably want to remove your boots for this.  Good.  Now, step into this little kiddie pool.  There.  Now, stand right there in the center.  Church, what I have here in my hand is a medicine dropper.  I am going to let one little drop of water out of this dropper right on Jim’s head.  There you go.  WOW!!  That made a huge difference, didn’t it?  Jim, do you feel soaked to the bone?  No?  Don’t even feel the least bit wet do you?  No, didn’t think so.

So, the kids and I did a little math.  You see, that little drop represents your vote as a devoted Christian.  There are roughly how many devoted in the US today?  That’s right, about 90 million.  Guess how many “drops” there are in this bucket filled with two gallons of water (hold bucket of water up)?  There are approx. 94,720 drops these two gallons. [Slowly pour the water over Jim’s head].  Huh!  Wow!  Hey Jim… do you feel wet now?

Church… that is only representative of 94,720 devoted Christian votes.  Any guesses how many more buckets I’d have to pour over Jim’s head to get to 90 million?  Just a wee bit more than…

949 MORE BUCKETS

You see, one vote does matter… when coupled with all the other one drops!  It sure made a difference to Jim!!!! J

Let’s Pray!

human_suffering_wide

As a pastor I find myself consistently involved with people that are dealing with difficulty.  Most recently my heart has been drawn to that of human suffering. I’m in the process of reading a book titled “God’s Healing for Life’s Losses.” by Robert W. Kellemen. Here’s a quick excerpt from the introduction:

“There is no human experience which cannot be put on the anvil of a lively relationship with God and man, and battered into a meaningful shape.”

The important thing to remember is that although suffering, loss, hurt, sorrow, and grief are all unavoidable, a lively relationship with God and His people can and will make something creatively meaningful out of what is unavoidable. It all starts with trusting God. “Trust is vital,” the author says, “because suffering is inevitable. How do we find hope when we’re hurting? Through trust.” I am finding that no matter what area of life I am dealing with, whether it’s suffering, parenting, finances, friendship, marriage, or the myriad of other things we deal with, trusting God is at the front of every single one.

image

“Growth in personal holiness is largely determined by our progress in self-discipline. Without this foundational discipline, there can be no advancement in grace. Before other disciplines can be administered, whether in the home, business, or church, there first must be self-discipline.”

In the never ending battle of mortifying the flesh, this article by Pastor Steve Lawson puts in perspective where this “self-discipline” comes from.

I encourage you to check it out!

Self-Discipline by Steve Lawson

image

“Christians, you hold in your hands that gospel which will send peace around the globe—that gospel of God that can enlighten all nations, alleviate every sorrow, comfort every mourner, and change the outlook of every kingdom and tribe. Nor can you be inactive or undecided. Every time this great question is presented to you, in whatever form, it calls on you to act.”

http://ref.ly/o/takeheart/227119 via the Logos Bible Android app.

And act we must… To the glory of God! 

May Jesus Christ be Praised

Posted: March 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

image

I’m reading Revelation 5:13 http://ref.ly/Re5.13 via @Logos

“And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” “ – Rev 5:13

May Jesus Christ be praised in your hearts today!

If truly a Christian… It will show up in the way you live, it will change you.  God will transform you; from his rebellious creation to His loving child.  If you are His it will be noticeable. 

Words from preacher Albert Barnes:

“What is religion? It intends the subjugation of our natural propensities, the overcoming of our evil passions, the purification of our corrupt” hearts, the discipline of wayward and rebellious minds. It demands that chastened and serious feeling should take the place of frivolity; prayer, the place of thoughtlessness; the love of God, the place of the love of fashion; and delight in devotion, the place of delight in amusement and ostentation. The nature of godliness is to stamp our lives in letters indelible, legible to all.”

– Albert Barnes

When we are “read” what are people reading?

Thoughts for today!

http://ref.ly/o/takeheart/224094 via the Logos Bible Android app.

OK… so, having a blog of my own was a cool idea, right? I mean, what better way to express my thoughts and get them out there? Somehow, my conception of a good idea and then getting it done have been on the extreme opposite ends of the blog spectrum. Easy to set up and get established and extremely difficult to maintain.

block_crop380w

You see… I really do not like to write. Oh, I had high aspirations… but high aspirations take conviction and determination and sheer grit to do. And… keeping up a blog, obviously wasn’t high on my “things I’m really dedicated to get done” list. Truthfully, I’d much rather sit down with a person over a cup of coffee and have a conversation. That’s my “cup o’ Joe”! But, I still feel the need (more recognize the value) to practice writing and get better at it. So, would you excuse me as I talk to myself for a bit? Thanks!

“So, here’s the deal self. Push yourself to write a little bit now and again. And none of this two years in between posts stuff. Realize that you don’t have to “rock the world” with the depth and weight of your thoughts… just write. Write about the stuff that is important to you. Write about what you love. Write about what you are passionate about. Don’t stress over regularity or who’s reading your blog. It doesn’t matter… you are writing to practice writing. OK? Deal? Deal.”

Well, here it goes. A restart perhaps? A jump start maybe? The desire hasn’t changed. Just need to place writing higher on the priority list.