I AM AN AMERICAN! I SHALL LOVE THIS NATION IN THE NAME OF THE LORD
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
4 JULY 1993
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
1 Corinthians 11:23-32
Revelation 19:11, 15
Preparation Verse: (Psalm 33:12)
12. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.
Today is the 217th birthday of these United States, a Nation that was brought forth in liberty, with freedom and justice for all, a Nation serving its people under God.
Or at least that was the intent of those who put together the documents that declared us to be such a Nation, or was it?
It may have been an ideal, a goal, but at the time some of the signatories "owned" slaves, and continued to do so.
Even as our nation was forming, we forgot about some of these basic principles.
For in the beginning we persecuted the Indians who were here many, many years before us.
And if that were not bad enough, we continued to add to our guilt before God by enslaving the Black People, as if they were not entitled to the same rights and freedoms as everyone else.
Perhaps the reason for this is that only 5% of our population were true Christians at the time of our Nation's formation, even though much of our literature might lead us to think otherwise.
Or, perhaps, many of the people, then, and many more, today, don't really want to extend the ideals that they want to others, as God would have us do.
We really need to think about this.
So, this morning, I want you to join me in a celebration of our Nation's birthday in music and the Word, that we all can say, "I am an American! I shall love this Nation in the name of the Lord."
And as we sing our first hymn, My Country, 'Tis of Thee, remember what we are saying: that my country this country is of You, my Lord. It is a gift from God.
Hymn: My Country, 'Tis of Thee
Look at the words we just sang, beginning with the last verse:
Our fathers' God, to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing:
It is to God we sing, for the liberty we have is from Him, because He formulated the true way of liberty: that we love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul, and with all our might; and that we love our neighbors as ourselves. (Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18)
We also need to remember that if we truly love God, we will also love and care for the whole of His creation; including without exception, all other humans, all the other animals, and the would in which we all live.
And continuing with the last verse of this hymn,
Long may our land be bright
With freedom's holy light;
These United States will not be a bright light to us, or to the world around us, unless that light is the bright and holy light of the Lord from heaven.
It's as Isaiah said, in 2:5, to the nation of Israel that was turning more and more from the ways of the Lord.
5. Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.
Come all of you who love this land, let us also walk in the light of the Lord, so that nothing will ever happen to our freedom.
How do we keep this light bright on our pathways and in our land? It is as the psalmist says in Psalm 119:105.
105. Thy word is a lamp to my feet,
And a light to my path.
Thus, these words, which are the basis of our next hymn, should also become a patriotic song; for it is the word of God that should be the basis of everything we do and say in and about this great land of ours.
Hymn: Thy Word
Can you feel the word of God working within you to give you understanding?
Doesn't the understanding obtained from God's word shed light upon the everyday problems we face?
Of course it does, if we utilize it.
But before we stray too far, there is still more we should see in the words of the hymn, My Country, 'Tis of Thee. Let's look at the last part of the last verse:
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King!
We elect our local and national leaders to run the affairs of our land, but God must still be our and their King; for it is by His might, and not ours, that this land will be protected from both physical and spiritual harm.
We seriously need to ask ourselves if we are living in the will of God when we bully other nations, and brutalize billions upon billions of farmed and other animals.
We must remember what we are told in Ephesians 6:12:
12. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
By the grace of God, we are the strongest nation in the world; yet, we often forget this fact and where our true enemy is, and we resort to the use of physical weapons against flesh and blood.
Nearly 2,500 years ago in Jerusalem the people were struggling to reestablish themselves and their city and nation following their captivity in Babylon. And during that time there were many forces threatening their security.
Zerubbabel, the common ancestor shared by both family lines leading from David to Jesus, as recorded by Matthew and Luke, was a leader in Jerusalem. One night an angel came to the prophet Zechariah to talk about Zerubbabel's struggle, and with a message for him.
Let's listen in on this conversation as recorded in Zechariah 4:1-7:
1. Then the angel who was speaking with me returned, and roused me as a man who is awakened from his sleep.
2. And he said to me, "What do you see?" And I said, "I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps on it with seven spouts belonging to each of the lamps which are on the top of it;
3. also two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on its left side."
4. Then I answered and said to the angel who was speaking with me saying, "What are these, my lord?"
5. So the angel who was speaking with me answered and said to me, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord."
Perhaps, we too, are wondering in the same way.
6. Then he answered and said to me, "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts.
7. What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of Grace, grace to it!
The lamp represents the light of wisdom, and its flame the power of the Holy Spirit. The olive trees represent peace, and the mountain, the enemies of God. And the top stone, who Zerubbabel will bring forth, is Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, to whom we should shout, "Glory!"
If we truly are Americans, and truly love this country in the name of the Lord, then we must weigh our actions a lot more closely; for from our actions, nationally, it does not appear that we are hearing the true message.
Perhaps we do need to hear the stones break their silence, before we begin to really sing to God and to our country! (Luke 19:39-40)
39. And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to Him, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples."
40. And He answered and said, "I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!"
But there is a battle before us, and we must prepare for it. Let us hear how, in part, as we sing Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Hymn: Battle Hymn of the Republic.
As we look at the first verse of this hymn, do you know what battle the Lord will be fighting for us?
It is not the physical wars we have been fighting now, or in the past, and unfortunately in the future, but it refers to God's judgment upon the ungodly when Jesus returns.
Listen to what we are told in Revelation 19:11:
11. And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war.
This is who Julia Howe saw coming when she wrote this hymn.
What about the Lord's sword and the grapes of wrath?
Note Revelation 19:15:
15. And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.
The sword the Lord uses is His Word, and He has given His Word to us, that we would use it with the power of the Holy Spirit.
This doesn't mean to pick out selective verses to try to justify our sinful ways, but to speak forth God's creation and heavenly intent, much in the way Jesus did in the Sermon on the Mount.
And the grapes are the people who have the wrath of God upon them, at the time of His return not now.
It is not our job to tread this wine press; it is the Lord Jesus Christ's job. To Him belongs the Glory.
Can we see with the same vision that Julia Howe did?
Can we see the Lord's return beyond the present strife in the world?
Have we lit watch-fires of the Lord's light to help us see into the darkness?
Have we built Him an altar in our hearts?
Can we read the Lord's righteous sentence of judgment?
Do we understand that the Lord will never sound retreat, or go back on His word?
Do we truly feel the sifting out of our own hearts, as He sifts the hearts of others before His judgment seat?
Is our soul truly ready to answer Him, and are our feet truly ready to run jubilantly?
Do we realize why Christ was born across the sea?
Do we realize it was for you and me: that we would be transfigured as He was before His disciples after He rose from the dead?
Do we realize He died to make us holy?
Are we really living as holy people?
Are we living to keep freedom in this land for all, whether human or non-human, in the name of the Lord, as he Himself directs us?
Are we marching on in the truth of the Lord?
I really pray so, for this is what it takes to be a true American.
This is what it takes to have a nation under God.
This is what it means to love this country.
This is what it takes to have God shed His grace on these United States.
And none of this has anything to do with flag waving.
Let us sing of what we have, lest we forget and lose what we have.
Hymn: America, the Beautiful
The Lord's Supper:
1 Corinthians 11:23-32
23. For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread;
24. and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, "This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
25. In the same way He took the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."
26. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.
27. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.
28. But let a man [and woman] examine himself [or herself], and so let him [or her] eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
29. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly.
30. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.
31. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we should not be judged.
32. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord in order that we may not be condemned along with the world.
So, as we close this service and sing The Lord's Prayer, let us combine in our hearts and souls the Gift of Jesus Christ and God's heavenly will for the way we should be living here on earth.
Hymn Response: The Lord's Prayer
Your Comments are welcome
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