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2nd Timothy
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« on: May 30, 2005, 07:23:33 AM »

America: Under God or Under Judgment?


    We think about our heavenly Father in many ways. We often see Him as loving, gentle, kind, gracious, forgiving, and holy. These characteristics are a great encouragement to us, especially in times of trouble. There is a central defining characteristic of God, however, that we often overlook or flat-out ignore: ours is a God of judgment.
    This is far less encouraging because God’s judgment forces us to examine the issue of our own accountability for our actions. You see, the Lord cannot ignore sin. Therefore, when an individual—or a nation—carries on in continual, unrepentant sin, God brings forth His hand of judgment. So, we must face the question, Are we now living under God’s blessing, or under His judgment?


Read Deuteronomy 8:11-20
    Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. It shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the Lord your God.


    We talked at length in the previous lesson about America’s current crossroads. Now, we must move into a much more serious issue: Are we as a nation still standing under God’s blessings or has God now released His judgment upon America?
    Take a moment to read the entire text of today’s focal Scripture passage, Deuteronomy 8:11-20. In this passage, we see an important principle. When we direct our steps based on His Word, He will continually bless, watch over, guide, and protect us with His mighty hand. However, when you and I choose to turn away from God and His divine principles, then we can expect His hand of judgment. God says that there will be a time of accountability for our actions.
    Would God rather judge us than bless us? No! Scripture is clear that God takes no pleasure in judging people who turn away from Him. Ezekiel 33:11 reveals, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live.”
    What is striking about this particular passage is that the Lord is speaking not to an individual, but to the entire nation of Israel. He is essentially saying, “Why, Israel, have you turned away from me after I have blessed you for so long?” God would rather see us turn back to Him than have us call down His judgment. However, He makes it quite clear in His Word: if a nation ignores the Word of the Lord, then He will strike it down. (Deuteronomy 8:20)



    We see this often with the biblical accounts of the nation of Israel. They seemed to be stuck in a regrettable cycle: the Lord would bless them, then they would eventually turn away from Him, then He would send His judgment, then they would come back to Him, and He would restore His blessing. After a while, they would get comfortable, stray from Him again and restart this whole cycle.
    With this in mind, think about America for a moment. We were founded on biblical principles—not as a “Christian nation,” but as a nation established under the principles found in Scripture. We then experienced unprecedented years of growth and blessing on a global scale. Then, we got comfortable and began excluding God from important areas of civic life. Now, we see daily horrors that make us question whether or not God still has his hand of blessing on our nation. Does this downward spiral resemble the recurring cycle of Israel’s disobedience? Yes!
    I believe that God has protected and blessed us this long because He wants to achieve two specific purposes through our country. First, He wants to demonstrate to the world the great success that can be found in a nation governed by its own people, rooted in liberty. Second, God desires to use this nation as a type of “base camp” to spread His Good News all over the world. The tremendous success of American-sent missionaries testifies to God’s grand design for our evangelistic crusades.
    However, He will not continue to bless us if we move ourselves out from under God. If the nation is not “under God,” then what is it under? Self-motivation? Self-interest? Prosperity? Power? No, if a nation is not “under God,” then you can be sure of one thing: it is under judgment.


Think about the condition of America at this point in history. Would you say that we act as though we are truly “one nation, under God,” as the Pledge of Allegiance states? Why or why not?


    What must the condition of a nation be in order for God to act in this way? I want you to think about four different behaviors that characterize a nation under God’s judgment. First, the culture of the land is steeped in moral depravity. This doesn’t mean that everyone is depraved, but simply a large percentage of the population.
    By “depravity,” I mean that their actions have become perverted or crooked. This is seen when the culture itself has no shame and openly acts to remove God from society. Scripture testifies to this principle in the life of Israel. In Isaiah 3:1-14, we see the Lord’s indictment against the nation. What was their offense? Verse 8 shows that they had “stumbled” and “fallen” by rebelling against the presence of the Lord. Verse 9 takes the matter further, by stating plainly that they felt no remorse for their actions. We read, “The expression of their faces bears witness against them, and they display their sin like Sodom; they do not even conceal it.” The result of this behavior is made plain at the end of verse 9, “Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves.”
    Consider this timely passage from Isaiah 5:20, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Do you see this happening in America today? How often are we now called upon by the world to accept as “good” those things we know from Scripture are evil? Too often!


Note a few things in recent history that have been handed down to you as “good,” but you knew in your heart were “evil.” What was your response? Were you pressured to accept the idea or behavior?

continued
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« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2005, 07:24:10 AM »

    The Bible also shows us the end result of this yearning to be apart from God. Romans 1:28-29 describes this situation: “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness.” This passage continues by describing the nature of the depraved person. Do these characteristics sound familiar? My friend, America is in danger of completely handing over all control to those who, as Scripture describes, are “being filled with all unrighteousness” (Romans 1:29). We must take the initiative to bring our country back in line with God’s Word.
    Second, a nation deserves God’s judgment when its leadership refuses to listen to the Lord. What happens when a nation’s leaders ignore God? Deuteronomy 8:19-20 makes this perfectly clear: “It shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the Lord your God.”
    The principle here is obvious: when we ignore God, He will act to bring us back in line. This passage talks of going “after other gods.” When we put anything—any person, possession, ideology, etc.—in front of the Lord, we are guilty of bowing to another “god.” That is, our attention and energies are going toward the wrong object. This principle is equally true for individuals and for entire nations.
    When people of influence depart from the truths of Scripture, it is a serious matter. Why? It is because they are not only calling judgment upon themselves, they are also leading other people in rebellion towards God. Now, because we in America are represented in government by elected officials, we have a strong voice regarding their actions. If the individuals who represent you are not truly representing your thoughts, beliefs, and intentions, then it is up to you to let them know. These men and women are ultimately accountable to God, but they are also accountable to you to do the job you selected them to do. If they are failing you, then you have every right to make your displeasure known.


    Third, a nation deserves God’s judgment when rights are taken away from those who are in the right. This principle comes directly from the words of Isaiah, who describes wicked leaders as those “who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away the rights of those who are in the right” (Isaiah 5:23). This is a great challenge to all of us, as we have all been faced with unprincipled leaders who do not work for the people’s good, but for their own. These men and women may simply lay aside what is best for the country and instead emphasize their own personal agendas or programs.
    Listen to me carefully. Do you realize that five people in America can dominate and control what you can or cannot do? You may be thinking of the President, Vice President, and so on down the line, but you would be incorrect. The truth is, it only takes five people to remove the Ten Commandments. It only takes five people to remove prayer from school. It only takes five people to legalize abortion. I’m talking about the Supreme Court Justices. Yes, there are nine total Justices, but it only takes five of them to pass a majority vote. Therefore, five of these people have tremendous influence on your own day-to-day life.
    Thomas Jefferson himself feared where this dependence on the Court could lead. He commented, “To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all Constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy” (Letter from Jefferson to William Jarvis, September 28, 1820). An “oligarchy” is a government directed by a small group. In Jefferson’s estimation, the Supreme Court could become such a system of government if left unchecked.
    Do you see how important it is that we pay attention to what is going on in our nation and among our leaders? Your rights and powers as an American citizen are in danger—do not allow anyone to take away your right to be right.


  Fourth, a nation deserves God’s judgment when the people forget God. This is such a serious indictment, and yet it is one that we cannot afford to ignore. When we say “forget,” we are referring to the deliberate, willful removal of God from every part of one’s life and thoughts. We all know people like this, people who do not want to talk about God, think about spiritual things, or have their way of life impacted by any sense of biblical morality.
    What does it look like when a nation collectively forgets God? Well, when I think of this scenario, I always think about the first chapter of the book of Exodus. There, we see that an entire generation grew up having no memory at all of Joseph. The result was that the Egyptians had no respect or esteem for the Hebrews, an attitude that almost destroyed the Hebrew nation.
    Today, we can identify three indications that we are forgetting God. The first indication is that we as a nation are turning away from the basic principles of Scripture. The second indication is that we as a nation no longer consider the principles of Scripture when making decisions. We are content to make decisions—both individual and national choices—without any counsel from the Bible. We just make them according to what we prefer—our preference rather than principle, as we discussed in the previous lesson. The third indication is that we as a nation are discrediting the Word of God and attempting to silence the people of God.
    It breaks my heart to give this description of America, but as I’ve said, we must be honest about the situation. America is at a crossroads. What will it take to preserve this nation? It begins in the church. It begins with God’s people falling on their knees in all humility and confessing their sinfulness. Then, it continues with men and women genuinely asking God, “Lord, what would You have me do?” And, finally, God will step in and preserve our nation when we as believers in Christ Jesus stand up, speak out, and take advantage of the privileges we have to express our views in a godly fashion. Let your representatives know your concerns. Let them know you are holding them accountable for the job they are doing. You just may be surprised what happens when the people of God stand up and become the public men and women that God has called us to be.


Take a moment to consider what a nation under God’s judgment might expect. Then, carefully read Psalm 78:4-33. What does this psalm say about the expectations for a nation under judgment? What does it say to you specifically?



    And Father, we truly want to be “one nation under God.” Because we know that if we are not under God, then we are certainly under God’s judgment. That is not where you want us, and it is not where we as Christians want to be. Lord, empower those of us who are believers to rise up with one voice, demanding that our nation remember you. We don’t want You to be forgotten by our society. We love You and we praise You, and it is in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, that we pray, Amen.

end part 2
« Last Edit: May 30, 2005, 07:38:46 AM by 2nd Timothy » Logged

Tim

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« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2005, 10:21:09 AM »

2T,

Amen, brother it is almost as though I wrote that myself as those are the very thoughts that I have been having. What a better time than this for this wonderful sermon than the time that we are remembering those who fought and died for such a country as we have had, One Nation Under God.



 
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Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2005, 10:32:07 AM »

PR, agreed.  I think this is why this sermon stood out to me.


I will try to to complete posting the other 2 throughout the day.

Grace and Peace!
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« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2005, 01:20:28 PM »

2nd Timothy,

Another AMEN Brother! Thanks for sharing this with us.
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