Experiencing God’s Blessing In My Country
Text: Psalms 33:12-22
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. Psalms 33:12
Introduction: "The Stove"
An engineer, a psychologist, and a theologian were hunting in the wilderness of northern Canada. Suddenly, the temperature dropped and a furious snowstorm was upon them. They came across an isolated cabin, far removed from any town. The hunters had heard that the locals in the area were quite hospitable, so they knocked on the door to ask permission to rest.
No one answered their knocks, but they discovered the cabin was unlocked and they entered. It was a simple place ... 2 rooms with a minimum of furniture and household equipment. Nothing was unusual about the cabin except the stove. It was large, pot-bellied, and made of cast-iron. What was strange about it was its location ... it was suspended in midair by wires attached to the ceiling beams.
"Fascinating," said the psychologist. "It is obvious that this lonely trapper, isolated from humanity, has elevated this stove so that he can curl up under it and vicariously experience a return to the womb."
"Nonsense!" replied the engineer. "The man is practicing the laws of thermodynamics. By elevating his stove, he has discovered a way to distribute heat more evenly throughout the cabin."
"With all due respect," interrupted the theologian, "I'm sure that hanging his stove from the ceiling has religious meaning. Fire LIFTED UP has been a religious symbol for centuries."
The three debated the point for several hours without resolving the issue. When the trapper finally
returned, they immediately asked him why he had hung his heavy pot-bellied stove from the ceiling.
His answer was succinct. "Had plenty of wire, not much stove pipe."
Some things have a simple answer and there is no need to go looking for a more complicated one. This upcoming week we will celebrate the 243rd birthday of the United States of America. It stands today as it has for many years as the richest, most prosperous and most powerful nation on earth. Many people in our present time don’t understand what made America great. Like the men looking at the stove they try to posit all manner of theories about the unparalleled blessings and prosperity of the United States of America. They are willing to believe anything to explain how a nation could rise from nothing to prominence in only a few hundred years. But there is a simple answer, our nation’s greatness and prosperity is due to the blessing of God and that blessing was experienced because ours was a nation founded on His word and truths.
The United States of American is unique in that it alone is a Gentile country founded upon the principles of God's Word and a belief that God governs in the affairs of men and nations. We are a people carved out of the wilderness to create a place for the free worship of the Almighty. It has been this founding, and the subsequent revivals which returned us a nation to that foundation, that has been the major reason for the prosperity and blessings in our country.
The evidence of this truth is as plain as letting history speak and this morning if you will bear with me, that is what we will do.
Let me begin with some history that is there for all to plainly, like the hymn, “America, My Country Tis of Thee.” It was written by Baptist pastor, Samuel Francis Smith in 1831 and served as our nation anthem until the Star Spangled Banner was officially selected by congress in 1931
The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by another Baptist minister, Francis Bellamy, in 1954 the words, “under God” were added by congress.
The national motto, "In God We Trust," which we can read on all of our coins, is traced to the efforts of the yet another pastor, W. R. Watkinson of Ridleyville, Pennsylvania. He wrote a letter of concern, to the Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P Chase, on November 13, 1861. Seven days later Mr. Chase, who was later, 6th chief justice of the Supreme Court, and had been a senator from Ohio, wrote to James Pollock, thd director of the U.S. Mint as follows: "No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins. Will you cause a device to be prepared without delay with a motto expressing in the finest and tersest words possible, this national recognition.”
Turn with me to Psalm 33. This Psalm is one of several “national psalms” in the book. It also is a hymn a song praising God for his blessing on the nation of Israel. Like our national hymns, America the Beautiful, My Country ‘Tis of Thee, God Bless America or Battle Hymn of the Republic, it is a song that acknowledges Jehovah’s blessing upon the nation who looks to Him as their God.
The Past Psalms 33:12
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.
Our Country’s Past
Now let’s turn to some history that is not as apparent as they songs we sing on the 4th of July or the coins we carry in our pockets, but it is a history that shows without a doubt that in our past we were a Christian nation.
November 3, 1620 - King James I grants the Charter of the Plymouth council.
"In the hope thereby to advance the enlargement of the Christian religion, to the glory of God Almighty."
November 11, 1620 - The Pilgrims sign the Mayflower Compact aboard the Mayflower, in Plymouth harbor.
"In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord, King James, by the Grace of God, of England, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith,
Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia; do by these presents, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid; And by Virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the General good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. -Anno Domini, 1620."
During The Revolutionary War
The Continental Congress issued a call to all citizens to fast, pray and confess their sin that the Lord might bless the land.
"And it is recommended to Christians of all denominations, to assemble for public worship, and to abstain from servile labor and recreation on said day.” - 1775
At least 50 out of the 55 men who framed the Constitution of the United States were professing Christians. (M.E. Bradford, A Worthy Company, Plymouth Rock Foundation, 1982).
Benjamin Franklin, at the Constitutional Convention
I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: "that God governs in the affairs of man." And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?
We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in the political building no better than the builders of Babel; we shall be divided by our little, partial local interests; our projects will be confounded; and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a byword down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing government by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war or conquest.
I therefore beg leave to move that, henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberation be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business.
(Historical note: the convention was then adjourned for three days of prayer, Bible reading and special church meetings, following which the Constitution was discussed and adopted.)
James Madison (primary architect of the Constitution)
We have staked the future of government not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions on the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.
The Supreme Court
First chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, the Honorable John Jay, who had also served as governor of New York. He wrote:
"Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty ... of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers." --1816.
In 1892, Justice David Brewer, writing for the majority in the case of the Church of the Holy Trinity vs. the United States, said this:
"This is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation ... We find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth ... that this is a Christian nation. --1892
George Washington, Inaugural Address
No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency . . . We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained.
(Historical note: Washington added the pledge, "So help me God," to his inaugural oath. He then kissed the Bible to affirm his submission to the King of Kings.)
John Adams, our first vice president and second president, wrote:
"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." --1798
Thomas Jefferson, our third president, main author of the Declaration of Independence and one of the framers of the Constitution:
"Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God?" -1781
Our sixth president, John Quincy Adams, said this:
"Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the Foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity?" -The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.” -1837
“It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”
"Unless the great God who assisted [President Washington], shall be with me and aid me, I must fail. But if the same omniscient mind, and Almighty arm, that directed and protected him, shall guide and support me, I shall not fail ... Let us pray that the God of our fathers may not forsake us now." --1861
20th Century Presidents,
Here are the words of Woodrow Wilson, our 28th president and governor of New Jersey: "America was born a Christian nation. America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of the Holy Scripture." - 1911
Calvin Coolidge, our 30th president, said this about America's founding fathers:
"They were intent upon establishing a Christian commonwealth in accordance with the principle of self-government. They were an inspired body of men. It has been said that God sifted the nations that He might send choice grain into the wilderness ... Who can fail to see it in the hand of Destiny? Who can doubt that it has been guided by a Divine Providence?" --1923
In the midst of WWII, Franklin Roosevelt prayed this prayer over national radio on D-Day, June 6, 1944, as our troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, France:
"Almighty God ... with Thy blessing we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogance. Lead us to the saving of our country. Thy will be done, Almighty God. Amen." --1944
Observations of Alexis de Tocqueville,
Alexis de Tocqueville, was a French aristocrat who toured America in the 1830’s to find the reason for its success, while his own country had been plunged into the chaos and anarchy of the French Revolution, even though both countries had throw off the authority of a King. Here are some of his observations.
In the United States, the sovereign authority is religious...there is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility and of its conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.
In the United States, the influence of religion is not confined to the manners, but it extends to the intelligence of the people.... Christianity, therefore, reigns without obstacle, by universal consent... Alexis de Tocqueville 1830’s
I have to add on more observation by Tocqueville. He said, “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” (He must have been watching the last debate.)
Transition: Only a fool would claim that our nation was not founded as a Christian nation, upon the principles and precepts of God’s word and Biblical morality. No we were not a theocracy, but the laws and principles that governed our nation and guided our citizens was derived from God law and grace. But the past is the past and that same book that guided our foundation has much to say about our present and the power that is needed to continue the blessing of God.
The Power Psalm 33:13-17
The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works. There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.
A Country’s Power
This Psalm tells us that the only hope we or any other nation has is in God’s power. It is God that sees from heaven, it is God that see the sons of men and all the inhabitants of earth. The king or the nation cannot be saved by a great army or great strength but only by an acknowledgment of the power of God.
As a nation, what do we put our trust in today? Our initiative, education, resources, freedom, rights, our military power, or our incredible wealth?
All these things and anything else that you might add, could be lost in a moment, just as the World Trade Center fell, or Pearl Harbor was attacked. In only a seeming moment the USA could be nothing more than a footnote of history. Our greatness and blessings cannot be trusted to be secured our own power or those blessing will cease.
We Believed that God Saw and that God Blessed
I once asked my liberal American History college professor, "What made American prosper?" He thought for a moment and then said, "It was the Puritan Work Ethic,”
So, what is that? What is the Puritan Work Ethic? Simply put, it is the belief that God rewards and blesses those who obey and follow Him, therefore we work hard and live morally because we believe God will bless the labor of our hands and punish our sin. That is the Puritan Work Ethic, a belief in God’s judgment and reward.
In this nation, we have always believed that if we cease to trust in Him then we will cease to be blessed, we will cease to be great.
Thomas Jefferson put it this way, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.”
Illustration: God foresees and can remove any nation of the earth.
If you should think that God is only concerned with the nation of Israel and not the other nations of the earth, consider Nebuchadnezzar's vision of the worlds most powerful nations, as interpreted by
Daniel 2:31-35 Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
Transition: The national psalm 33 continues now with a promise to that nation and its people, that will continue to trust in God.
The Promise Psalm 33:18-22
Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name. Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.
A Country’s People
A nation is made up of people, both it leaders and its citizens. God does not bless a land mass or a continent, He blesses people.
That blessing will only when we as individuals acknowledge and trust God. Believing that only He can truly bless us and our nation. If our nation has begun to see the blessing of God removed, it is because we as the people of this nation have forgotten God.
Do you know God?
It is not our history that will save us. It is not our acknowledgement of our heritage. It is not our military power or government. It is only our personal belief and commitment to Him now that offers any hope.
If we don't know Him as individuals and if we don’t follow His principles as a nation, then even the most powerful nation that has ever existed on this earth will not be enough to shield us when God’s blessing are withdrawn.
We are great because of Him and we are nothing without Him. We have hope because of Him, we are hopeless without Him. We have strength with Him, we are helpless without Him. We have a past with Him, but without Him we will have no future.
Illustration: Jesus and the rich man whose barns were filled
Luke 12:16-21 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
Conclusion: My Politics – John Newton
My politics! From the letters of John Newton, 1778
The whole system of my politics is summed up in this one verse, "The Lord reigns! Let the nations tremble!" Psalm 99:1
The times look awfully dark indeed; and as the clouds grow thicker, the stupidity of the nation seems proportionally to increase. If the Lord had not a remnant here, I would have very formidable apprehensions. But He loves His redeemed children; some are sighing and mourning before Him, and I am sure He hears their sighs, and sees their tears. I trust there is mercy in store for us at the bottom; but I expect a shaking time before things get into a right channel, before we are humbled, and are taught to give Him the glory.
The state of the nation, the state of the churches, both are deplorable! Those who should be praying, are disputing and fighting among themselves! Alas! how many professors are more concerned for the mistakes of government, than for their own sins!
Yet still I can say, "Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns!" Revelation 19:6
I can’t control whether the Lord God Almight reigns in our nation in this time of denying and turning away from God, but I can control whether He reigns in my life, my heart and my soul. Can you say, when it comes to just your life, “Hallelujah, For the Lord God Almighty reigns in me?”