The All Important Things
Recently the reminder of just how powerful cultural influence can be has been the topic of many messages ringing in my ear. It's so true. We're simply inundated by the sway of how things are to be done all about us. It may be the things that we are encouraged to value such as relationships, careers, superior educations, material possessions, or even one's own self esteem.
Granted Christians are instructed to be a people of an excellent spirit, and aspire to receive the choice gifts given by our Heavenly Father. However, these things come about in a manner superior to anything that culture has taught us. These are the "all important things" of the Spirit of the Living God.
How easy it is to be swept away in the arena of working to prepare for those "better opportunities" for our children. Or, maybe it's being sure that we've labored long enough and satisfied the recommendations of the financial broker attending to our retirement years. As important as these issues and so many others are, we must remember what is "all important."
While well refined avenues in our culture can be vehicles used to bless us and bring a certain measure of comfort and pleasure to our lives, it's essential to realize that this blessing only comes because of the loving favor of an all wise Heavenly Father. We should remember in our professional planning that "not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called." (I Cor.1:26) The moment we begin to rely upon "the arm of the flesh,"( II Chron. 32:8) we're on shaky ground.
This world we must step out into each day will dictate a direction all its own. As the children of God, we "must examine ourselves to see whether we be in the faith." (II Cor. 13:5) On Whom should I lean and rely? In Whom do I confidently trust? If Wall Street closes and there are no jobs for the college grads, He's still God, our Deliverer. The worst case scenario one can render is nothing too difficult for Him. Do we know Him today? Is He our "All Important One?"
One of my favorite passages by the moment, by the hour, by the step or by the day is:
Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."
"God bless America"
"We have been recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown; but we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own." ~ Abraham Lincoln, March 30th, 1863.
It is hard, if not impossible for us to understand the atmosphere of our nation when our 16th President uttered these words, yet they still seem very relevant to us as a people today. I think we can see and hear in the words of Mr. Lincoln the frustration of a nation realizing and experiencing the effects and actions of sinful men. One difference today may be that the current generation may not be seeing or experiencing the effects and actions of our sinful culture to the extent that is resting upon the 16 President as he speaks these words.
I still hear much of the words "God bless America" it rings over our TV and media outlets and rest upon our bumper stickers and T-Shirts. But do we feel the weight that Mr. Lincoln felt? Those words "God bless America" still rings across our land, yet our sin remains without the weight of guilt that brings repentance. It was the Grace of God that allowed Mr. Lincoln to be able to see and feel the nations depravity. It was the Gospel being present in this land that brought through the Holy Spirit the conviction that brings repentance. Out of this repentance and the difficulty of war many believed and were saved. It is possible with some indications that Mr. Lincoln's own heart was regenerated to believe the Gospel through the means of this war by the Grace of God.
Slowly read Mr. Lincoln's quote again and take a few moments to ponders his thoughts; why would the President of a nation speak thus? How could his eye's see, and heart feel with such spiritual knowledge? Must not his mind first have been impressed with the Gospel and illuminated by the Spirit of God? Can you now begin to see the importance of the Gospel and it's affect upon our nation? Can you try to imagine the reasoning of Mr. Lincoln and his response to the war and the future of our country had he had no Gospel, no understanding of God and repentance, no understanding of Grace upon the affects of sinful men?
It was the Gospel that preserved through the Providence of God this nation and it's future, it was the Gospel that delivered it to us today. Not the so called gospel that is preached mostly over our media today, telling us all is well, prosperity and wealth is the plan, just say the prayer after me and fix all your problems. No, all is not well, prosperity and wealth is of this world and temporary, and praying a prayer without regeneration fixes nothing, only makes the heart harder. It is the Gospel of Grace that reveals the depravity of man and convinces him of his sin and brings him to repentance. It must be our pray for this nation that God will once again grant to us such repentance.
Rev. Dr. J. H. Thronwell was one among those who brought the Gospel to this land. He proclaimed in a sermon preached at the church that met in the U.S. Capitol building on December 9, 1854.
"And is it strange that I should tremble in being called to declare the word of the Lord to such an audience? I do tremble – not for myself; not for my own name, or character, or fame; God forbid that such unworthy considerations should enter here. My only apprehension is that I may give a wrong touch to the ark of God; that I may fail to speak those words in season, which, taking advantage of the interest naturally awakened by the scene, may contribute to guide the confused emotions, and vague and indefinite impressions it suggests, into the channels of salutary thought. . . .
It is at all times solemn to appear before God; it is almost awful to do so with protestations of extraordinary penitence – professions of extraordinary reverence. Above all things, He requires truth in the inward parts; and if we would not insult him today, and forfeit all the blessings which we hope to gain, let us see to it that our hearts are in unison with the language and worship of our lips. . . .
I have selected for the occasion the words contained in the 26th chapter of Isaiah, 9th verse: “For when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.'"
I think Scripture speaks well of the state in which we find Mr. Lincoln earlier, Rev. Thronwell continues;
"The judgments to which the prophet refers are those visitations of Providence which are evidently expressive of the Divine displeasure, and because they are universally regarded as the penal inflictions of a Judge or Ruler, they have received the appellation of the test. The conviction is a part of our nature, and no sophistry can eradicate it, that the sufferings to which sentient beings are exposed are either directly or remotely the consequences of sin. . . .
We cannot, without theism, deny, that, as the connection between the finite and the infinite is that of personal will, all the events which constitute the course of nature or the history of the world are the appointments of God. There are no powers, whether physical or otherwise, but those which are ordained of Him. Secondary causes or general laws are only expressions for that uniformity and order which He originally established and constantly maintains. . . .
Conscience reminds us that we are guilty, and consequently worthy of death; and hence those representations of afflictive Providences, which resolve them into God’s displeasure on account of sin, are the very voice of nature. They cannot be set aside without setting aside the belief in Providence, or setting aside design and purpose as characteristic of a personal God. We feel these judgments to be just, and we see that they have a natural tendency to stigmatize transgression and to preserve the innocent, by a salutary fear, in their integrity. . . .
The doctrine is his: That sin is the cause of all suffering and pain. None would ever be visited with any species of calamity unless they were guilty. . . .
All that we can conclude with absolute certainty is the necessity of repentance. Judgments are a call, a loud and solemn call, to the inhabitants of the world to learn righteousness, and are addressed to others as well as the victims themselves. Except ye, the spectators of those woes, except YE repent, ye shall all likewise perish. The great lesson, and it is a lesson to all alike, is that there is sin, and that God hates it, but how much sin there is, and how aggravated, it is presumption to conclude. . . .
she [the State] has resorted to no carnal expedients, to no mere prudential policy, as the means of averting future calamities – she has not consulted diviners or physicians – she has gone directly to Him whose prerogative it is to kill and to make alive – she has spread her cause before His throne, and in humility and penitence has implored Him to put up the sword into its scabbard, to let it rest and be still. . . .
Repentance must begin in every man’s own soul, and the first care which the solemnities of this day imposes upon every one of you, is to see to it, that his own heart is right with God. Nothing will or can be done effectually, unless it is done in the spirit of personal and individual repentance. Your sins may have contributed to provoke these judgments of the Almighty. You are a citizen of the commonwealth, a member of her legislative councils. Are you, or are you not, an enemy to God by wicked works? Have you kissed the Son – have you been redeemed by the blood of the cross?
Depend upon it, that the personal character of those who are placed in authority, have much to do, from the very nature of moral government, with the prosperity of the State. The rulers are the representatives of the land, and in God’s word no more tremendous judgment is threatened against any people than the sending among them of ignorant, debauched and wicked counselors. Manasseh’s sins drenched Jerusalem in blood, and Ahab’s idolatry made the heavens as brass and the earth as iron. No man can say to what extent his own personal transgressions enter as an ingredient into that cup of trembling which God administers to guilty nations. . . .
Virtue is power, and vice is weakness, and every corrupt Senator, every debauched counselor, every wicked man, is like a crumbling stone in the foundation of an edifice. . . .
All sin is, therefore, essentially weakness and misery – all virtue essentially power and happiness. To make a great people, you must make a pure people, and every man must begin with himself. To the extent of his depravity, he is an element of weakness in the State; and if all were corrupt and reprobate, there would be speedy anarchy and dissolution. Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. . . .
The government of this country does not proceed upon the maxim that the will of the people is the will of God, and its arrangements have not been made with a reference to the end, that their will may be simply ascertained. . . .
The will of the people should be done only when the people will what is right, and then primarily not because they will it, but because it is right. Great deference should be paid to their opinions, because general consent is a presumption of reason and truth. . . ."
It is a misconception in our society today that our representatives in government are supposed to ascertain what the majority of the people want and then deliver it. That is nothing more than a pure Democracy of which our Founders avoided at all cost. The people we elect are to ascertain what is right and do it because it is right, even if the majority of the people object. Our politicians are far and in-between who have this strength of character.
I think this may be so because the Preacher of the Gospel are far and in-between who are willing to declare to this nation the consequences of it sin. I have already mentioned that it was the Gospel that has delivered this nation to us today and preserved in past calamities. If it is to continue as a nation, it will be the Gospel that does it. Nations rise and nations fall all at the Providence and hand of God. God does not bless America because it is America, because we are special. NO, we are a sinful nation in need of God's Grace, and except we repent, we shall like wise perish.
You can read this entire sermon at Wallbuilders at the following link:
May the Grace of God be upon each of you,