7/2/2000, Patriotic Sunday, Year B
Exalts a Nation
"Godliness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. (Psalm 14:34, NLT).
"What a joy for the nation whose God is the Lord. The best equipped army cannot save a king. We depend on the Lord alone to save us. In him our heart rejoices, for we are trusting in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone" (Psalm 33: 12, 16, 20, 21, 22, NLT).
As I begin my fourth year I am redoing a lot of things for the fourth time, but this Sunday is my first time to preach on Independence Sunday at this great church. Our family has for many years vacationed during the first week in July, but this year we decided to be here on the Glorious Fourth. The 4th of July has always been a major celebration in our home. Today, with great joy, we celebrate the 4th on the 2nd at 1st.
Although many associate this weekend with skipping worship, you loyalists have assembled yourselves together for our Patriotic Celebration. Surrounded by our Christian and American flags, that are always present in our Sanctuary, we today also sit under a giant flag of the United States that once flew over our nation's capitol. We have sung the National Hymns and have Pledged Allegiance to the Flag, led by W.W.II Sergeant Hugh Edenfield. We have enjoyed Patriotic Music by the Choir and soloists. The sermon motif lifts up one of the many Biblical Truths that has made our nation great in the past, and is the hope of continued freedom in the future: "Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people." (Proverbs 14: 34, KJV).
Our nation has always seen itself as an experiment in freedom and democracy. We call ourselves, "One Nation Under God." Our motto has been, "In God We Trust." We were founded by idealists who sought to form, "A New Israel." We pride ourselves as being, "The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave." America has been a miracle!
Of the fifty six who signed the Declaration of Independence, five were captured by the British, tortured and executed. Twelve had their homes burned. Two lost sons in the Revolutionary War. Another two sons were captured. Nine signers themselves died as a result of battle. Nearly all lost their fortunes in the war. During the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr. noticed that British General Cornwallis had taken over his own home for his headquarters. He urged General George Washington to open fire on his home. The home was destroyed and Nelson died bankrupt. In signing the declaration these men had pledged their "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor," and in most cases they paid the price they pledged.
Another thing about these men, nearly all were members of a Christian Church. They had been reared on the King James Bible. They were aware that no nation is great apart from God. They based this new nation on the old notion that no leader has any power without the Lord. "The best equipped army cannot save a king (President). Atomic bombs, aircraft carriers, ICBMs, or satellite spy cameras cannot save a nation that loses the Lord.
Our political situation seems more tenuous than usual as we face a November 7th election of a new President. The Judeo-Christian ideal of seeking the most Godly and Righteous candidate has become a thing of the past in the minds of many. From the White House to many County Commission Chambers there has been a rash of corruption. It has all been caused by the corrupt persons that we, the people, have elected. In recent years we have gone from being the leader of the free world, to being the leader of the whole world. Other nations think of us as the current Holy Roman Empire; but we have lost our Holy, and are in many places leading others down the road to doom. As last Sunday night's lectionary reading said, "nations that forget God shall depart to Hell." (Psalm 9:17-19).
Economically it might seem that we are living in the best of times: there's a chicken in every pot. Yet, there is a great symptom of fatal disease that has swept our nation and that is a turning from God. Sin has indeed disgraced our nation. Godlessness has blemished our international influence. Other countries have begun to send evangelical missionaries to our shores. Our once great mainline Protestant denominations have lost respect. There is rarely a prophetic voice willing to speak out against corruption in high places.
Is there any hope for our nation? Yes! If we will humble ourselves, acknowledge our evil ways, and return to God, then He will restore our nation. Revival can become a national expression arising out of individuals who repent. We must relearn to depend on the Lord alone to save us. Then, and only then, will his unfailing love surround us again so that we can regain our optimism and hope grounded in God, and not in mammon and military might. He has chosen to bless us in the past, but we must continue to choose to serve Him in each generation. There is no such thing as national eternal security.
We need to return to Him one heart at a time as we examine ourselves and look at how we are living. Our theme must remain, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Then, as a national religious revival begins to take hold of hearts, there will be a whole host of true believers leading the way back to God.
And, it begins with your prayer and mine. Let us recapture the spirit of the signers of the Declaration of Independence as we commit ourselves, and all we have, to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. In today's world, we need to all sign a Declaration of Dependence upon Him. For without Him we can do very little except fail.
Our collective prayer must be, "Let it begin with me, with our church, with our city, and extend to our nation and the entire world." Are we willing to put our lives on the line as did the signers of the Declaration of Independence 224 years ago? If so, restoration of our nation is not beyond the realm of God's possibilities.
a sermon synopsis
by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor