Happy Birthday America!
Happy Birthday America!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA! You will be 225 years old this Wednesday. That’s a long time for a nation to remain free. But, when you take the long, historical view, you’re just a CHILD among the nations. Egypt, China, Japan, Rome, or Greece—they all had much longer histories, not so free.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA! You have a rich, spiritual history that continues to influence us today.
§ My County, ‘Tis of Thee was written by a Baptist minister, Samuel Francis Smith.
§ The Pledge of Allegience was written in 1892 by a Baptist minister, Francis Bellamy.
§ The words “In God We Trust” are traced to the efforts of Rev. W.R. Watkinson.
§ Rev. John Witherspoon, a Presbyterian minister was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA! You’re entire history has spanned only 4 generations. When Thomas Jefferson died, Abraham Lincoln was a young man of 17. When Lincoln was assassinated, Woodrow Wilson was a boy of 8. By the time the nation mourned the death of President Wilson, Ronald Reagan was a boy of 12.
But even though you have a short history, God has richly blessed you. You are the RICHEST nation in the world. Your natural resources are still the greatest of all nations.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA! You have learned your lessons well.
§ Began by breaking free from British shackles
§ Survived a civil war that nearly cost you your national soul.
§ Fought and won against two foreign enemies on soil not your own
§ Stood against aggression in Korea and Viet Nam
§ Kicked some desert sand in the face of a two-bit dictator in the Middle East
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA! You are a great nation with a great history. When you were very young, the famous French political philosopher, Alexis deToucqueville visited your shores to learn the secret which enabled a handful of people to defeat the mighty British Empire.
He traveled across your vast land from shore to shore, looking for greatness in your harbors and rivers, your fertile fields and boundless forests. He studied your schools, your military, your Congress, your Constitution—but still he could not find the secret. It was not until he went into your churches and heard your pulpits “aflame with righteousness” that he found the answer. When he returned to Europe, he wrote this warning: “America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA! You are great because you are good! You are good because you are still opening your doors to those of other lands, remembering that you are made up of those who came to these shores searching for freedom and opportunity.
You are great because you are still the most GENEROUS of all nations—giving untold millions in aid to 3rd-world countries—sending our missionaries to feed the hungry and starving souls of our world.
You are great because you allow your fellows the freedom to choose Who and where they WORSHIP.
You are great because you still take the side of the LITTLE GUYS against the bullies of this world.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA! You have learned that greatness is not measured in silver and gold, rivers and forests, or even in bombs and missiles. Greatness is an inner quality found in what we ARE rather than what we POSSESS.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA! The noble lady in New York harbor stands proudly with her flame lifted up for all to see—a gift from the French, she still inspires even those of us who were born here.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA! Your flag waves proudly in the free air—a symbol of all that makes you great. Whether at a ball game, political rally, concert, or worship service, she still sends a chill up and down our spine.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA! Your currency still carries the motto, “IN GOD WE TRUST.” May we learn to transfer this motto from our coins to our hearts!
May I suggest to you as we prepare to celebrate “Independence Day” that no nation on earth will long endure that does not depend on God. How can we transfer this motto on our coins and get it into our hearts? I think the answer lies in Psalm 33. I see some principles that we would do well to observe if we are to survive as a free people, blessed of God.
1. Reverence for God
Look at verse 18: “But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him (who hold Him in awe; who respect and revere Him; who see Him as the Holy One, high and lifted up).”
The word “fear” in the Bible means “to tremble.” It is used in connection with 3 experiences:
(1) To tremble with the thought of being punished by a holy God for our sins.
(2) To tremble at the sight of the mighty acts of God.
(3) To tremble with joy at the knowledge that people were being saved.
Our nation desperately needs more respect, more reverence for God. Prov.15:16 says, “Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble.”
Today, in our American culture, we have crossed the line from disrespect to outright blasphemy! God’s holiness is mocked. It is open season on the character of God. For example, movies and plays depicting Jesus as a homosexual.
Even our churches are often filled with a lack of reverence. Is there no place that is sacred? I’ve been in some churches where you can’t tell the difference between them and a bowling alley!
Who is this God that we say we trust in?
§ The Man upstairs?
§ The Big guy in the sky?
The Bible says He is the Holy One—El Shaddi (Almighty One)—Alpha and Omega—Creator of the Universe—Everlasting Father—Rock of Ages.
Jude reverenced God. He closed his short letter with these powerful words: “To the only God and Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forever more! Amen.”
Did you know that native Americans did not swear oaths or take the name of God in vain until Europeans introduced it to them? They did not have this kind of vocabulary in their language. But the French and English taught them how to curse in God’s name.
The Hebrews would not even pronounce the name of their God, but in our culture it is common for folks to drag God’s name through the mud. For example, the phrase, “Oh my God” is used constantly by pagans and Christians.
A high school girl wrote the following letter to a friend:
I attended your church yesterday. Although you had invited me, you were not there. I looked for you, hoping to sit with you. I sat alone. A stranger, I wanted to sit near the back of the church but those rows were all packed with regular attenders. An usher took me to the front. I felt as though I was on parade.
During the singing of the hymns I was surprised to note that some of the church people weren’t singing. Between their sighs and yawns, they just stared into space. Three of the kids that I had respected on campus were whispering to one another throughout the whole service. Another girl was giggling. I really didn’t expect that in your church. The pastor’s sermon was very interesting, although some members of the choir didn’t seem to think so. They looked bored and restless. One kept smiling at someone in the congregation. There were several people who left and then came back during the sermon. I thought, “How rude!” I could hear the constant shuffling of feet and doors opening and closing. The pastor spoke about the reality of faith. The message got to me and I made up my mind to speak to someone about it after the service. But utter chaos reigned after the benediction. I said good morning to one couple, but their response was less than cordial. I looked for some teens with whom I could discuss the sermon, but they were all huddled in a corner talking about the newest music group. My parents don’t go to church. I came alone yesterday hoping to find a place to truly worship and feel some love. I’m sorry, but I didn’t find it in your church. I won’t be back.
If reverence for God is to return to our nation it will have to start with God’s people!
A second principle that will help us to internalize this motto, “IN GOD WE TRUST” is …
2. Dependence Upon God’s Power
Look at verse 21: “In Him our hearts rejoice for we trust in His holy name.”
America needs to remember Hezekiah’s position and prayer. God’s people faced dire circumstances. They were being held under seige by King Sennacherib of Assyria. The enemy had already seized all the major fortified cities of Judah and the Assyrians were now putting heavy pressure on Jerusalem, the capital city.
Each day, one of Sennacherib’s generals stood outside the city walls, yelling insults toward Hezekiah, toward God, and toward God’s people. When King Hezekiah heard what was going on, he tore his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth as signs of both his heart rendering grief and his humility before God. Then Hezekiah went into the house of the Lord to pray. His prayer is found in II Kings 19. He began his prayer by praising God:
II Ki 19:15-19
15 And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD: "O LORD, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.
16 Give ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God.
17 "It is true, O LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands.
18 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by men’s hands.
19 Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God."
Isn’t that a marvelous picture? With the devil beating on his door, Hezekiah paused to praise the Lord and testify of His awesome power before asking Him for help.
Hezekiah sent for the prophet Isaiah, hoping that he would have a word from the Lord. He did. Its recorded in Isaiah 37:6,7:
6 Isaiah said to them, "Tell your master, ’This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard-- those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.
7 Listen! I am going to put a spirit in him so that when he hears a certain report, he will return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword.’"
Shortly after this, Sennacherib mysteriously received word that Babylon was in rebellion. He abandoned his siege of Jerusalem and headed his army homeward. But God wasn’t finished with him. Nobody blasphemes Almighty God and gets away with it for long. Verse 36 of Isaiah 37 tells us that the angel of the Lord visited the camp of the Assyrians and killed 185,000. Sennacherib returned home defeated, where he was eventually murdered by his own sons. Hezekiah and the people of God won a great victory because they depended on God.
May America do the same. We have 2 formidable enemies. One is internal and one is external. Right now we are living at a relatively peaceful time. However, our internal enemy is slowly eroding our national righteousness. The U.S. is #1 in the world in:
§ Violent crime
§ Teen pregnancies (industrial world)
§ Illegal drug use
We need to look beyond science and technology. We need to pray for a turning to God—a spiritual awakening.
2 Chr 7:14
14 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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Illus.: “The Human Fly” (pp.18,19, A Treasury of Inspirational Illustrations, Earl C. Willer)
Some years ago, a so-called “human fly” went to Los Angeles. It was announced that on a certain day he would climb up the face of one of the large department store buildings. Thousands gathered to watch him perform this seemingly impossible feat. Slowly and carefully he made his way upward, now clinging to a jutting brick, again to a cornice. Up and up he went. At last he was near the top. He was seen to feel to right and left and above his head for something firm enough to support his weight. And soon he seemed to spy what looked like a gray bit of stone or discolored brick protruding from the smooth wall. He reached for it but it was just beyond him. He ventured all and leaped for it. But before the horrified eyes of the spectators, fell to the ground and was broken to pieces. In his dead hand was found a spider’s web! He had mistaken it for a stone.
What a lesson for those who will only stop and think. While human efforts are to be used and opportunities accepted and challenges met, it is equally true that no one knows, understands, or has meaning to his life if he ignores the only solid “Rock” that one can find—the God-man, Christ Jesus. We as a people need to stop grasping for things that are unstable and anchor ourselves to the God who has our destiny in His hands.
The last principle I want to share with you is found in verses 18, 20, and 22 of Psalm 33. They urge us to…
3. Hope in His Unfailing Love
18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
20 We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.
The word “hope” means “to cast one’s cares on another.” In this case it means that we should throw ourselves upon the unfailing love of God. Many of our nation’s problems can be traced to a lack of hope.
Poor people often turn to crime because they don’t see any way out—they’ve lost hope.
Depressed folks turn to drugs, alcohol, and suicide because they have no one or thing to turn to.
BUT THE BIBLE IS A BOOK OF HOPE! The Gospel is Good News. Psalm 43:5: “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”
Luke 4:18: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.”
Hope is the oxygen of the soul; its object is the Lord and His unfailing love.
Illus.: “The General’s Prayer”
During the dark days of the American Revolution, when the Continental Army had experienced several setbacks, a farmer who lived near the battlefield approached Washington’s camp unheard. Suddenly his ears caught an earnest voice raised in agonizing prayer. On coming nearer he saw it was the great General, down on his knees in the snow, his cheeks wet with tears. He was asking God for assistance and guidance. The farmer crept away and returned home. He said to his family, “Its going to be all right. We are going to win!” “What makes you think so?” his wife asked. “Well,” said the farmer, “I heard General Washington pray out in the woods today—such fervent prayer I have never heard. And God will surely hear and answer that kind of praying.”
And the farmer was right! It happened because Washington put his hope in God
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA! Keep the candles of your birthday cake of freedom burning bright.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA! May your 340,000 churches continue to offer hope and salvation to the lost and downtrodden. May they serve as moral and spiritual oases in a desert of unrighteousness.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA! May your eagle, the symbol of power, strength, and independence remember that even she is a creation of God.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA! May your citizens forsake their independent spirit enough to look to the Lord God Almighty for the inner freedom that only He can give.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA! May the motto found on all your coins, “IN GOD WE TRUST” be forever emblazoned on the hearts and minds of Your people.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!