A Nation in Need of Prayer

Posted on Jul 6, 2016 in Sermons

Sermon: July 3, 2016
A Nation in Need of Prayer
Galatians 1:1-12 (SV), et al.

 
In the fifteenth chapter of Isaiah God offered up this warning through his prophet: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness.” (IS 5:20) Some 500 years later the apostle Paul offered up a similar warning in his second letter to his protégé Timothy when he wrote: “The time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead they will gather around them teachers who will say what they want to hear; they will turn away from truth.” (2 TIM. 4:3-4)

The price Israel paid for not taking heed to Isaiah’s warning was severe. Their land was virtually destroyed, multitudes of their people were killed, and the ones left alive were carried off into captivity in a foreign land. If only they had paid attention to God’s word!

So what do these verses and this historical event have to do with us? Simply this: There are a great many voices in our world, in our country today – some even in the church – who for the sake of “fairness” or political correctness, or whatever their cause may be, who are indeed calling right wrong and wrong right as it regards any number of various socio-political and moral issues! I don’t think it’s necessary to name any of them, I’ll leave that to your own conscience, but the list is fairly extensive. And I believe that there will eventually be a severe price to be paid for these misconceptions of right and wrong, unless something changes. Indeed, we may have already begun to pay the price.

Jesus said: “Do not think I have come into the world to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. Until heaven and earth disappear, not the least stroke of a pen will by any means disappear from the Law. ” (MT 5:17) In the context of the gospel message, other words that Jesus spoke, and the entirety of the Bible – I understand these words to say (among other things) – that though Jesus came into the world to seek sinners, save sinners, to love sinners, to show compassion to sinners – nevertheless, a sin by any other name is still a sin! God’s word still stands!

Jesus is the way of deliverance, from both the power of and punishment for sin, but Jesus never endorsed sin! (See Paul, Romans 6)Jesus never said a sin is not a sin! He never called right wrong and wrong right!

Folks, let me tell you something – I don’t make up the rules about what’s morally right and wrong! You don’t make up the rules about what’s morally right and wrong! And, I’m sure, much to their surprise, neither do our political leaders in Washington! Only God Almighty has the authority and wisdom and righteousness to tell us what is morally right and wrong! Ultimately, we will not be judged by nine people in long black robes, but by one person dressed in a pure white robe.

Last month we observed Memorial Day; the day on which we traditionally remember, with deep and well deserved appreciation, the men and women who sacrificed their lives for the freedoms and moral values of this amazing and unique nation. Tomorrow we will celebrate the 4th of July, again remembering the values upon which this nation was founded; many of which we seem to be in great danger of losing.

If you were reading the quotes that were posted on the screen while Melissa was singing her solo, you can only conclude – despite what many in government and education and even in the church are saying today – that the men who founded our nation were, for the most part, Christian men; and the principles upon which this nation was founded were Christian principles. Where and how have we gone astray?

Listen to some of their words: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.” (Patrick Henry – “liberty or death!”) “To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.” (George Washington.) “The general principles on which the Fathers achieved independence, were the only principles on which that assembly could unite. And these principles are the general principles of Christianity.” (John Adams) “I believe in one God, the creator of the universe.” (Benjamin Franklin)

How many of these quotes are being taught in our schools today? Being spoken of by our political leaders?

Talking about Memorial Day – As I was preparing the slide presentation that we used that morning; looking at the images of the rows and rows of white crosses; images of our brave men and women who for 240 years have courageously, with patriotism and conviction, been willing to step forward and lay their lives on the line – for not only our freedom, but for our principles, ideals, and values – I began to weep; to cry uncontrollably thinking about how our nation has digressed.

Our founding fathers and mothers, those of the generations who have gone before us, would barely recognize us anymore! I hope that I don’t offend anyone, but I believe that anyone who will not recognize and acknowledge that we have diminished morally as a nation, and in other ways as well, has their head buried in the sand, or they’re in denial. So what can we do about it?

Well, I am not suggesting that we disobey the laws of the land, or rise up and start a revolution – though the latter is exactly what our founding fathers did! Jesus made it clear that we are to obey the civil laws, even if we don’t agree with them. But he also demonstrated that we have every right, indeed a responsibility, to speak out against what is wrong. And I’m not suggesting that we should disrespect or discriminate against people of other faiths simply because they are of another faith! Our nation was established on religious freedom!

And I’m not suggesting that we act in anger or hatred toward those are calling right wrong and wrong right – Jesus died for them too! So what can we do?

As I see it, as Christians, we have two options regarding this matter. One, we should be unintimidated to acknowledge and speak out against what is wrong – as defined by the Bible, by 2000 years of Christian tradition, by the principles and values upon which this nation was founded – not as defined by our own feelings or inclinations, or by political correctness, or by whether our voter registration card has a D or an R on it!

You might be interested in a couple of paragraphs from the United Methodist Book of Discipline, regarding Our Social Principles: ¶ 164, article B Political Responsibility – “The church [that’s you and me] should continually exert a strong ethical/moral influence upon the state…” (P) Article C Church and State Relations – “The rightful and vital separation of church and state… should NOT be misconstrued as the abolition of all religious expression from public life.” Folks, we have a moral obligation to speak out against what we know to be wrong – if by no other means than when we step into the voting booth!

But we have a second option. One which is potentially (?) more powerful than anything else we could do; and one which every single one of us can exercise every day. In 2 Chronicles we find these words: “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 I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (1 CHR 7:14) Friends, I believe that our land needs some serious healing! What do you think?

You know, in a way I am calling us to a revolution of sorts – a revolution of prayer! We need to rise up by falling to our knees! We need to be in fervent and continuous prayer for our nation, for our political and civic leaders, and for the Church. We need to humbly acknowledge and ask forgiveness for our collective sins; and ask God to deliver us collectively, as a nation, from evil. Our one true hope for deliverance, as individuals and as a nation, is in God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! Amen? Amen!