June 30, 2014

Independence Day 2014



Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. John 3:19

Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. 1 John 3:13

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4


-        Last year, the president of Chick-fil-A stated he believes marriage should be between a man and a woman.

-        The mayor of Chicago, Rohm Emmanuel, called that hate speech and said Chick-fil-A would not receive business permits for any new restaurants in Chicago.

-        President Obama, using his daughter as hypothetical example, has said he supports abortion because no one should be punished with a baby because of what he calls a mistake.

-        We’ve all heard the recent news stories about increasing official opposition to evangelical Christianity in the United States military. One Army training course calls evangelical Christians an extremist group.

-        Many believe the United States is no longer a nation that subscribes to Christian values.

-        But as we approach American Independence Day later this week, I want us to remember that Christian principles are basis for our form of government & founding fathers’ vision for moral and ethical values.

-        Nation first settled by people wanting religious freedom.

-        The pilgrims, Plymouth Rock, established New England colony.

-        Mayflower Compact 1620: “In the name of God, amen. Having undertaken for the glory of God and for the advancement of the Christian faith, we do solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, covenant and combine ourselves together…We came here for the glory of God and for the advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

-        1643, more settlers, New England Confederation, 1st written constitution in America: “Whereas we all came into these parts with one and the same end and aim, namely to advance the kingdom of our lord Jesus Christ, and to enjoy the liberties of the gospel in purity and peace…”

-        Century & a half later, First Continental Congress unable to agree. Ben Franklin rose to speak: “Gentlemen, if it is true that not one single petal frfom any flower falls to the ground without escaping Go’s attention, will the distress of this nation go unheeded? Let us therefore determine to seek His face.”

-        All 56 went to prayer and seek the wisdom of God in the wording of the Declaration of Independence.

-        Patrick Henry: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not on religion but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

-        John Quincy Adams in 1821: “From the time of the Declaration of Independence, the American people were bound by the laws of God and the laws of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which they all acknowledge at the root of their conduct. We all came together to obey the word of God.”

-        Jefferson often is quoted as advocating a wall of separation between church and state. But today only part of his statement usually gets quoted. The entire quotation: “The 1st amendment has created a wall of separation between church and state, but that wall is a one directional wall; it keeps the government from running the church, but it makes sure that Christian principles will always stay in government.

-        Declaration of Indep.—human beings “entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

-        Inalienable rights (inherently bestowed rights from God the Creator)—freedom of thought and action, freedom to pursue happiness; that is, to pursue occupations and be successful & freedom from the bonds of class distinctions.

-        From the beginning, government & God connected; Christian values

-        1830s, when the republican form of government was struggling in France, French government assigned a diplomat, Alexis de Tocqueville, to travel in U.S. & determine why the government in the U.S. worked so well.

-        De Tocqueville described in his 2-vol. work, Democracy in America, that American values were at the heart of America’s success. He wrote: “America is great because America is good. If America ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”

-        He added that U.S. followed Romans 13—leadership that promoted good and punished evil.

-        Today…

-        2 Americas…richer/poor…continuing racial division…culture that does not value the sanctity of life and kills more than a million of its unborn today for convenience and birth control…a culture flirting with euthanasia…leaders who seem to put their own political interests above the interests of the people.

-        Influence of strong and wealthy—20 lobbyists for every Senator and Representative, plus 100,000 lobbyists support staff. They control hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign contributions.

-        And if you want to find a local church in the U.S. that promotes promiscuous and homosexual behavior…well, there’s a website for that called gaychurch.org.

-        And our nation’s leadership—in Congress, the Presidency, and the Judiciary, regularly support these trends.

-        By contrast, I want to speak today about our Lord’s views of qualities of leaders…

I.      Example of ancient Israel

A.  Culture unjust, governors do evil and not good, people oppressed

B.   Many prophets sent—government must be just

1.    Message: nation should be characterized by justice

2.    Hosea (ref to leaders): “Now they sin more and more and have made for themselves molded images, idols of silver” (13:2)

3.    Amos: “Behold I am weighted down by you, yet you have not returned to me” (2:13, 4:6); For the transgressions of Israel, I will not turn away its punishment” (2:6).

4.    Micah: “The faithful have been swept from the land;” (7:2); and “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (6:8).

5.    Ezekiel put it simply, “Then I saw she—that is Judah—was defiled” (23:13).

6.    Micah adds, “Listen, you leaders of Jacob, you rulers of Israel. Should you not embrace justice, you who hate good and love evil?” (3:1-2).

C.   Harsh words from the prophets for a nation that had turned away from its God.

1.    And God judged Judah and Israel in His mercy preserving a remnant that exists to this day

D.  That brings me to a question…What is God’s will for a nation that was established to follow Him?

II.God’s will for our nation and its leadership

A.  Rightousness

1.    Proverbs 29:2— “When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.”

2.    Proverbs 14:34—“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people.”

3.    Proverbs 16:12—“It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness; for a throne is established by righteousness.”

4.    Righteousness means a government that focuses less on political expendiencies and more on morality and ethics.

B.   Wisdom

1.    Proverbs 8:12-13—“ “I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion. To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.

2.    Wisdom isn’t just knowledge…but knowledge plus judgment plus moral and ethical good. Wisdom hates what is evil.

C.   Honesty

1.    Proverbs 17:7—“ Eloquent lips are unsuited to a godless fool—how much worse lying lips to a ruler!”

2.    God says honesty is a basic characteristic of any ruler.

D.  Advocate for the weak and the poor

1.    Proverbs 31:8-9—“ Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

2.    A just government advocates for all its citizens, including those who have no power…the poor, the needy, the weak, the handicapped…a just government defends those who cannot defend themselves, including the unborn.

Conclusion

1 Timothy 2:1-4—

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

1.    Respect leaders and pray for their salvation
2.    Pray that they will live and lead with humility and godliness
3.    Pray that God will reveal His will to them and give them the wisdom to follow


God's ideal for our nation's leadership is not that they be politically astute, not that they possess superior knowledge and high IQ, and not that they have the highest credentials from the best universities . . . God's ideal is that any nation's leadership will turn to him and reflect His character and wisdom.