TEXT: Psalm 33:12
TOPIC: God Bless America
Pastor Bobby Earls, First Baptist Church, Center Point, Alabama
July 5, 2009
(Based upon the sermon “God Bless America” by James Merritt)
Yesterday, July 4, 2009, was without question, one of the most important days on our country’s calendar. As American citizens, freedom has always been a cherished and highly valued commodity for each of us. But as someone has accurately said, “Freedom isn’t free. It costs far more than most Americans will ever know.”
I have a burden today. A burden for our country, for our beloved America with all her cherished freedoms, values and beliefs. And I have a burden this morning concerning this message. More than anything, I want to be a prophetic voice this morning from this pulpit.
In the Bible, when a prophet spoke he more often spoke forth God’s word concerning the spiritual condition of the people of his day and of the country in which he lived. A prophet would at times, also speak a word foretelling the coming consequences of unrepentant sin personally and nationally. Almost always, a prophet of God would declare the certain judgment of God that was sure to fall upon any people who forget God and turn their hearts away from His ways and His word.
Our Biblical text this morning speaks to us with just such a prophetic voice. Stand with me as we read together Psalm 33:12. (ESV)
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!
According to Psalm 33:12, the health of a nation is measured by her GNP - not her Gross National Product, but her Godly National People. In that I am afraid America is woefully lacking.
If I speak with a prophetic voice I would predict that this verse will either be engraved on the hearts and homes of our nation afresh and anew, in the sweeping winds of revival and spiritual awakening, or one day it will be the epitaph on our tombstone. We should pray it will be revival!
From this verse I want to call your attention to three thoughts concerning where our nation has been, where our nation is, and where our nation seems to be going.
First, I am reminded on this occasion of a story I read about a good ole’ Baptist boy who was being bothered by one of these religious groups that are known for going door-to-door in the community. This particular religious group had been bothering this man quite frequently.
Now you need to know that this ole boy was from the South. He was a country boy. He was a veteran of the Marine Corps. He didn't know what to do, so he went to his pastor and said, "How can I get rid of these people?"
His pastor said, "Well, I know these people. They don't believe in saluting the flag. They don't believe in singing the National Anthem. So the next time they come, you just make them pledge allegiance to the flag and sing the National Anthem, and they will go away and leave you alone."
Well this ex-marine got upset. He said, "You mean to tell me they will not salute our flag, and they will not sing the National Anthem of the country I fought for?" He said, "I will take care of them."
He went out and found the biggest U.S. flag he could find and put it on the wall of his home. He found a copy of the National Anthem and taught his family everyone of the verses. He thought to himself, "I will be ready for them next time."
Well he looked out one morning, and sure enough here came a little old lady across the yard with a satchel. He thought to himself, "I'm going to fix you once and for all."
Before she could even knock on the door he opened it, grabbed her by the arm, brought her inside and said, "Stand right over there! I want you to do something before you say a word or open your mouth. First of all we are going to pledge allegiance to the flag." So here was this man, his wife, his children, and this little old lady pledging allegiance to the flag. Then he said, "Now, you are going to sing the National Anthem with my family, and we're going to sing all the verses." They sang all the verses to the National Anthem. She sang right along with them.
That man was so proud of himself. He said, "Now lady, how do you like that?"
She said, "I think it's wonderful. I love my country just like you do." She said, "I will be honest with you, I've been selling Avon for twenty-five years and I've never seen anything like this."
Well, I’ve never seen anything in all my life like what is happening to America today. Let’s begin this morning by looking back at where our country has been and thus, the secret of America’s Greatness.
I. THE SECRET OF AMERICA’S GREATNESS, Psalm 33:12a
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord….
America is living proof that this verse is true. No nation has been more blessed than America because no nation has been more spiritually burdened. Our forefathers knew Psalm 33:12 and they knew it well. From the very beginning of this nation this truth was in the back of their minds and in the bottom of their hearts.
Our text says, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord." The word nation here is a very special word in the Hebrew language. It refers specifically to a foreign nation, to a Gentile nation as opposed to a Jewish nation. Now that was a radical thought in that day. That any nation, even a Gentile nation, would be blessed if it would turn to God as Lord.
Dear friends, I want to tell you today that God will bless the Muslim Nations if they would turn to Him. God will bless Communist China if it will turn to Him or North Korea.
That is exactly what our nation did when it was founded. No nation in history, since Israel herself, was founded with such a noble purpose and such a godly intention.
We are reaping blessings here in America today because of the seed that our forefathers first planted. Did you know that the freedom and the liberty and the wealth and the luxury that we have here in America is here because of our forefathers? One writer said,
"Did we bring the Bible to these shores? Or did it not rather bring us?
The breath of the ancient prophets was in the sails that drove the tiny Mayflower. The hope and faith of ancient poets, kings, and lawgivers were in the hearts of those who first sang the Lord's song in this strange land. From those beginnings until now the Bible has been a teacher to our best men, a rebuke to our worst men, and a noble companion to us all."
Today, the ACLU, the liberals, the humanists, the historical revisionists would like to deny all this. But it is not possible. From our very beginning the threads of government were woven together with the threads of God and His word.
When those blessed pilgrims came over on the Mayflower, they came, in their words, "For the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith."
The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, written in 1639, the first Constitution in the modern sense of the term, drawn up by popular convention and the first to embody the Democratic idea, states in its preamble that the state owes its origin to "the wise disposition of the divine Providence," and that "the Word of God requires an orderly and decent government established according to God," to "maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel."
The Declaration of Independence referring to "...the laws of Nature, and of nature's God..." insist "...that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator, with certain inalienable rights."
Some of the greatest leaders of this nation were firm believers in God and in the Lord Jesus Christ. For instance, George Washington made no secret of his Christian faith. In his general order calling for divine services every Sunday during the Revolutionary War, he said, "To the distinguished character of a Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of a Christian."1
When a stranger came to the Continental Congress and wanted to know which one was George Washington, a friend said, "He is easy to spot. When the Congress begins to pray, Washington will be the tall man who will go to his knees."
Probably the most revered President in our nation's memory is Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln said, "I leave now not knowing when or whether ever I shall return with the task before me greater, than that which rested on the shoulders of Washington." Then he said, "Without the assistance of the Divine Being who attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assurance I cannot fail. Let us all pray that the God of our Fathers may not forsake us now."
No other nation has "In God We Trust" on her currency. No other nation has its legislative bodies opened in prayer by a personal chaplain. No other nation has a National Day of Thanksgiving set aside to express her gratitude to God for His goodness. Our prosperity and our progress has not been due to chance, but to a Sovereign Lord.
In more modern times, President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, "Without God there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first - the most basic - expression of Americanism."
Although many do not realize it and many do not recognize it today there is no denying that the secret of America's greatness was her belief and her faith in God.
Now just as this verse is true, so is its opposite. Blessed is the nation who receives God as Lord, but Psalm 9:17 reminds us that nations that forget God will be cursed and turned into hell. We are beginning to see the bitter fruits of the tree of rejection in this nation. We have outlawed prayer in public schools, legalized abortion, glorified homosexuality, dignified adultery, and magnified immorality.
Just as the Bible proclaimed we have come to the place after 200 plus years of American history where we now call evil good and good evil. Let me give you three great threats we face as a consequence of our forgetting God.
A. The Threat Of Internal Corruption
Arnold Toynbee, the great historian, studied twenty-two civilizations. He said that nineteen of them fell when they reached the level of moral decay that America has fallen into today.
Every day in the United States, 93 Americans die from guns; 16,000 are raped, mugged, or robbed; 274 babies are born exposed to illicit drugs; 2,478 children quit school; the national debt increases by $1.4 billion; Washington paid $80 million to foreign creditors and interest on the debt; 355 U.S. companies declare bankruptcy; and 5,500 Americans lose their jobs."
No wonder William Highland, editor of the quarterly, Foreign Affairs, recently wrote, "The United States has never been less threatened by foreign forces," but "never since the Great Depression has the threat to domestic well-being been greater."2
Do you realize we are living in the nation that has the highest crime rate, the highest divorce rate, and the highest drunkenness rate of any nation on earth? I tell you, the greatest danger to America is America. We have met the enemy and it is us.
B. The Threat Of Infernal Deception
When I look at America and read the headlines of the paper, there is one thing I know. Satan is alive and well in the United States. You can see his handiwork everywhere.
Paul Harvey, the great commentator, once wrote a column entitled, "If I Were the Devil..." Here's what he said:
"If I were the Prince of Darkness I would want to engulf the whole earth in darkness.
I'd have a third of its real estate and four-fifth's of the population. But
I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree. So, I
should set about, however necessary, to take over the United States.
I would begin with a campaign of whisper. With the wisdom of a serpent
I would whisper, "The Bible is a myth." I would convince them that "man created God," instead of the other way around. I'd whisper that "what is bad is good, and what is good is square."
In the years of the young married I would whisper that "work is debasing,
that cocktail parties are good for you. I would caution them not to be "extreme" in religion, in patriotism and moral conduct.
And to the old I would teach to pray, to say after me "Our Father, which
art in Washington..."
Then I'd get organized. I'd educate authors in how to make lurid literature
exciting so that anything else would appear dull, uninteresting. I'd threaten TV with dirtier movies and vice versa. I'd peddle narcotics to whom I could. I'd sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. I'd tranquilize the rest with pills.
If I were the Devil I would encourage schools to refine young intellects, but neglect to discipline emotions; let those run wild.
I'd designate an atheist to front for me before the highest courts and I'd get
preachers to say, "She's right."
I'd infiltrate unions and urge more loathing, less work. Idle hands usually work for me. With flattery and promises of power I would get the courts to vote against God in favor of pornography.
Thus I would evict God from the courthouse, from the schoolhouse, then from the House of Congress. Then in his own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and defy science. That way men would become smart enough to control them.
If I were Satan I'd make the symbol of Easter an egg...and the symbol of Christmas a bottle....
If I were the Devil I'd take from those who have, and give to those who wanted until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. Then my police state would force everybody back to work. Then I could separate families putting children in unicamps.
If I were Satan I'd just keep on doing what I am doing, and the whole world would go to hell as sure as the Devil."
He wrote that over twenty-five years ago, but it sounds as up-to-date as the morning newspaper.
C. The Threat Of Eternal Destruction
The God whom we claim to trust is also the God we had better learn to fear. Because God is not only our greatest hope, He is our biggest threat.
We have put God in a position where He has to judge us if He is going to maintain his character and his holiness. Otherwise, as Billy Graham said, "If He doesn't judge us, He owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology."
III. The Solution To America's Guilt
There is an answer to America's dilemma. There is a solution to America's problem. But it is not what the politicians say it is. It is not what the newspapers claim it to be. It is certainly not what the TV pundits are trying to peddle.
There are some who say that government is the answer. Well I want to say that government, without God, becomes a part of the problem. My friend, if you think that Congress can solve the problems of this nation, you had better think again.
When Edward Everett Hale was the chaplain of the U. S. Senate, someone asked him if he prayed for the Senators.
He said, "No, I look at the Senators, and pray for the nation."
About sixty years ago this nation was told that government can do anything and everything that needs to be done. We were sold the lie that the great father in Washington should be God, and that this country should bow down and worship at the shrine of legislation. Sixty years ago this nation allowed her politicians to weave the threads of a social welfare state into a web that has entrapped this nation to this very day. We were told, "If you will give the government the power, the government will give you anything you want, and anything you need." We have raised up a generation who, unlike Patrick Henry, who said, "Give me liberty or give me death," just says, "Give me."
Well I want to remind you of something former President Gerald Ford said. He said, "Any government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have." If we have proven anything at all, we have proven exactly what Thomas Jefferson said, "The government that governs least, governs best."
There are some who say that gold, that is, money is the answer to our problems. We have politicians now who are telling us that taxes can solve any problem that we have. In fact, we are being told that more taxes and higher taxes are the only way out of the financial mess that we are in.
We are told that the only way to balance the budget in government is to raise taxes. The only problem with that is, according to a recent study, for every dollar of added taxes that a government takes in, it will find the way to spend an additional $1.58.
What we need to understand is that there can be no financial solution to a spiritual and a moral problem. Woodrow Wilson's last words to the American people were these: "Our civilization cannot survive materially unless it is redeemed spiritually.
If Government is not our solution and gold is not our solution, then what is? It is not a what, but a who. God is our only solution to our problem in America today!
I want to tell you the greatest enemy to America is not the communist who would like to destroy our free enterprise system. It is not the socialist who would like to take away our right to private property. I tell you the greatest threat to America is the humanist, and the atheist, and the secularist who would like to wipe the name of God from the memories of our minds, the halls of our schools, the pages of our books, and the morals of our lives.
John Witherspoon was one of the earliest presidents of Princeton University, known at the time as the College of New Jersey. He said, and I quote: "...he is the best friend to American liberty, who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down on profanity and immorality of every kind. Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy to his country."
You may be familiar with the story of Abraham Lincoln who was sitting in the Oval Office of the White House during one of the darkest days of the Civil War. His Secretary of War said, "I do not believe there is anything to worry about. God is on our side." Abraham Lincoln turned around in his chair and said, "Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my great concern is to be on God's side."
Our prayer had better be that we, as a nation, get back on the side of God. For only then can God bless America.
FOOTNOTES FOR SERMON:
"GOD BLESS AMERICA"
1) The Light and the Glory, Peter Marshall, p. 323.
2) U.S. News & World Report, June 17, 1991, p. 68.
3) Inspiring Quotations, compiled by Albert M. Wells, Jr., p.