Last year for Independence Day our church choir sang a patriotic cantata titled “This Is My America” (By: Steve and Jennifer Hall, Bibletruthmusic.com). Several other churches across the nation sang the same cantata on that day. Several choirs from various neighboring states also gathered together to do a combined performance, along with a weekend of old-fashioned tent-revival type preaching. The focus was on national repentance before God, and praying for our troubled and ailing nation.
I am not ashamed to say I love America and know how honored and blessed I am to have been born here. I have made it a point to be an informed citizen and voter, one who sends e-mails and makes calls to state and US congressional leaders, and speaks out about the wrongs. But while learning this cantata and practicing it for several weeks, I was troubled in my spirit about it. One reason for that is because I have loved the USA so much, my passion and fervor for her was every bit as encompassing as my passion for the Lord. I had previously wrestled under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, that we Americans tend to have our Christianity so deeply intertwined with our Patriotism that we’ve nearly merged the two and begun to forget where one ends and the other begins. I had to step back and go before the Lord in prayer to help me extricate one from the other and put them in their proper order of priority and place. There is a danger of our righteous indignation over what’s happening to this nation, becoming an idol. There is something very wrong as Christians, if we have zeal for saving a nation, but not for saving the lost. Jesus didn’t die to save America.
All our blessings have been privileges. I was having trouble with this demanding of our “rights”. The Constitution and Bill of Rights as our forefathers wrote them, have proven to be the best framework upon which any nation has ever been founded, ever. It worked. It was a smashing success as long as we followed it. The basis was that we had been endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. All men. Everywhere. But these were not mans’ ideas. The principles this nation was built upon were from God Himself.
That leads me to the other reason I was troubled in doing this Cantata. Because the underlying purpose in this undertaking, by the pastors who initiated it (it was several years in the planning), was to seek God’s blessing for America again. I have mourned, prayed, and fasted personally in repentance for America, and still I am so grieved at our sinfulness, that I was having a really hard time “looking God in the eye” with a straight face and having the unmitigated gall to ask Him to bless us, after all the blessings we have already so heedlessly squandered.
Do I believe America is experiencing judgment right now? Not necessarily. But I do know from my own sinful past, that when we choose to go our way and follow our sinful inclinations, God will let us do so, but we forfeit His protecting hand over us for as long as we persist in that pursuit.
It’s a fine mess we find ourselves in.
Can we in good conscience, ask for His blessing at this point? I was, a year ago, inclined suppose that depends on the tenderness of your individual conscience. But I have come to realize that is not, at all, the determining factor. I think my study of the Old Testament over these past few months has something to do with that. I “watched” anew, as Israel went astray over and over, and read of God’s grace and mercy, so undeserved and unmerited. When Jesus said forgive seventy times seven, God had already set that example for us. Is repentance a key ingredient? Yes. Because of another principle established in the Bible, and that is, “Don’t throw your pearls before swine”. The value of precious jewels is lost on a pig!
And I fear that the value of what we had and are throwing away with both hands, is lost on a lot of Americans.
The unfathomable wonderful news is this: God’s mercy and compassion and longsuffering are greater than our capacity to take them for granted.
I picked up this months “Sword of the Lord” newspaper at church last night and read the article which was the inspiration for this post. Dr. Shelton Smith had somewhat to say on the question, in his article entitled “Can God Bless Our Country Once Again?” His simple, believing answer was an incredulous and unequivocal “Of course He can! Absolutely, positively, He can!”
He went on to say that “the full flood of Heaven’s blessing can come only when God’s conditions are met“.
These are the conditions Dr. Smith enumerated:
Recognition of God. Give Him place! Listen to what He says and follow it!
Realization of our sinful state. We are sinners, weak and unable on our own, to be what we ought to be! (Know our place)*
Regeneration. That’s salvation. It’s neither religion nor reform!
Righteousness. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light”–I Pet. 2:9 (This speaks to Christians in America and our responsibility to honor God. If we do so as individuals, we do so as a nation)*
Reconciliation. You cannot stay at odds with God and expect His blessing to be flooded upon you.
Revival. If my people, which are called by my name, shall 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.–II Chron. 7:14
Now, to be honest with you, that last verse was one of the reasons I struggled with the cantata. It was the verse the whole conference and “This is My America” rally were predicated upon. But it is written to the nation of Israel in scripture. God has a covenant with Israel. There is no such covenant with America.
However, through out scripture, God tells us He is no respecter of persons, is the same today, yesterday and forever, and clearly establishes spiritual laws. So even though America is not Israel, the principle still applies. It applies to nations the same as to individual people.
When we repent, (that is to have a change of thinking, to stop believing what we want to about ourselves–that we are good people and fine the way we are–and instead believe what God says about us in His word: All have sinned. AND, when we stop believing whatever we want to believe about God, and instead believe what He tells us about Himself in His word), then God can bless us again. If we know who God really is, instead of scrappling together a version of “god” of our own imagination, then we will fear him. Not in a cowering, cringing way, just the way a child “fears” the ire and wrath of a loving but firm parent. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom–Prov. 9:10 The beginning! No matter how “wise” we think we are as a person or as a nation, we have not even begun to have wisdom if there is no fear of the Lord in us. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man–Romans 1:22-23a
Dr. Smith concludes His article with these inspirational words:
We Must Not!
We must not surrender to the enemy!
We must not become monastic and hide ourselves from view!
We must not be intimidated and fearful!
We must not be discouraged and disillusioned!
We must not be sidetracked by the myriad of clamoring voices!
We must not give up, back off, or cave in!
We must not quit until the trumpet sounds!
But we Must!
Therefore, in pursuit of God’s anointing and His blessing upon us,
We must be at our posts of duty early and late.
We must herald the truth of God’s Word fully and fervently!
We must stand up in our hostile world to be counted for the Saviour.
We must build strong local churches all across the nation!
We must train our people to walk with God, serve Him daily and to win souls.
We must delight ourselves in obedience and give ourselves in sacrifice wholeheartedly.
We must keep ourselves in position for the blessing to be poured out to us day by day by day.
******(End of Dr. Smith’s article content)
Let me ask you something. Have you ever given a dog a bath, or washed the hair of a squirming toddler? You can’t pour the water over them from 20 feet away. You have to be over them. They have to be under the stream of water you are pouring.
If we want God’s blessing, we have to be UNDER GOD. Just like that dusty old Pledge of Alliance says. Well, what do you know!