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Blessed Is The Nation!

2 Chronicles 7:14

Have you given thought to what our country means to us.
Listen as your country speaks to you.

"I am the United States of America.
My birth certificate is dated July 4, 1776.
I was conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition
that all men are created equal in the sight of God.
I am the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

I am freedom for all men.
The blood of the world runs in my veins.
I am over 200 million living people, and the voice of other millions
who have courageously died for the freedom for which I stand and which I still make possible.

I am a fabulous country of many things and many people.
I am the orange groves of Florida, the wheat fields of Kansas,
the coal mines of Pennsylvania, the oil fields of Texas,
the dairy-lands of Minnesota, the rolling hills and fertile fields of Arkansas.

I am Coney Island, Atlantic City, Wall Street, Hollywood and Disney World.
I am the Statue of Liberty, Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.
I am the badlands of Dakota, the bluegrass of Kentucky and the redwoods of California.
I am Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon and the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am sleepy, rustic villages and surging, roaring cities,
verdant valleys and fruitful plains, magnificent mountains, sandy beaches, and dry dusty deserts.

I am 3 million square miles, 5 million farms, 10 million small businesses.
I am 200,000 schools and colleges, and 300,000 churches.

I am a letter to a senator, a ballot in an election, the roar of a crowd in the stadium,
the whimper of a baby in a crib.

I am Billy Graham in Madison Square Garden, a minister in a small country church,
the voice of a choir in a cathedral.

I am Paul Revere's, "The British are coming!"
I am Patrick Henry's, "Give me liberty or give me death!"
I am William Jennings Bryan's, "You shall not crucify mankind on a cross of gold!"
I am Franklin Roosevelt's, "We have nothing to fear, but fear itself!"

I am John Kennedy's, "Ask not what your country can do for you,
but what you can do for your country!"

I am Washington in prayer at Valley Forge, Lincoln in sorrow at Gettysburg,
Lee in defeat at Appomattox, George Custer in death at the Little Big Horn,
and Douglas MacArthur returning to Manila.

I am Bunker Hill and the Alamo, the Monitor and the Merrimac,
the Jeep, the Sherman tank, the Red Cross and the U.S.0.

I am Betsy Ross and her needle, Babe Ruth and his bat,
Will Rogers and his humor, Kate Smith and her "God Bless America."

I am the defender of freedom.
In answer to its call, I have left my heroic dead In Flanders Field
and Anzio Beach, at Pearl Harbor and Corregidor,
on Guadalcanal and Okinawa, in Korea, Vietnam, and In Desert Storm.

I am the citadel of freedom, and freedom is my breath and my blood.
Without it, I would die!
May I always possess the integrity, courage and strength to keep myself unshackled,
and to remain a beacon of hope to all men everywhere.

I am the American flag... 13 stripes to remind all of my humble beginnings,
and 50 white stars on a field of blue,
speaking eloquently of individual liberty and national sovereignty,
as captured in those immortal words of Lincoln, "The Union... at any price!"

If you have ever known the sensation of seeing me unfurled over a stronghold of evil,
stormed in the cause of right, or waving proudly in the breeze in a foreign land
to the exciting sound of "Retreat" or "Taps,"
then you know why men are willing to follow me and to die -- for the preservation of the American Dream
of a free government of the people, by the people, and for the people,"

That was our country speaking.

Does your heart beat with pride at those words, "My Country?"
It should!
It is only by the grace of God that we were born here and not in some oppressed country.

It is our country "under God."

What wonderful words!
Those words set the pulse pounding, the blood racing, and the heart thumping!
Those words stir the mind, swell the heart, thrill the soul!

If we would let those words burned themselves into our hearts and minds,
it would make a real difference to our country.
Those words can span the generation gap, the credibility gap,
and the communication gap.

Those words can bring healing and harmony between Democrats and Republicans,
liberals and conservatives, business and labor, blacks and whites, and with people of all races.

Those words could end the public insults, which some of our highest elected officials
have hurled at each other... insults which have been a source of disappointment and apprehension
to those who look to America as the only place in the world where freemen stand firmly together,
and where personal differences are sublimated in the love of God and country.

"My country... under God!"

What does that mean?

It means that we have this land, this flag, this government as a gift from the Great God Almighty.

It means that this country did not become "the land of the free and the home of the brave"
by blind fate or a happy set of coincidences, but that a wise and benevolent God was hovering over us
from the very hour of conception... and long before.

When Columbus discovered this land, he took a cross in his own hands,
planted it upon the new soil, fell upon his knees, and, kissing the earth,
took possession of this continent for God.

Faith in God hung the lanterns on the prowl of the "Mayflower"
as it chartered the treacherous Atlantic.
That frail vessel was laden with deathless destiny:
the pioneers of a powerful nation... the heralds of new freedoms...
the trailblazers of a new epoch in human history.

Later, during those difficult, but decisive days of the Revolution
when a handful of common people won their freedom from a mighty world empire,
through the crucible of a Civil War, through two World Wars and a number of other wars,
through a great panic and a ravishing depression,
through a period of moral decay and perilous civil strife,
none but the fool could fail to see the hand of a Sovereign God upon this golden land of the noble free.

We can truly sing, "America, America, God shed His grace on thee!"
So say it with pride... "I am born free, as free as the wind blows" , and then add the prayer:
"Long may our land be bright, with freedom's holy light: protect us by Thy might, great God, our King!"

Today, America faces a danger point.
That danger point lies in the loss of much of the pristine purity,
rugged honesty, stern simplicity, militant courage,
and Christian ideals that have made our country great.

We must confess with troubled heart that America has forgotten God.
She is rolling in luxuries, reveling in excesses,
rollicking in pleasure, reeling in drunkenness, revolting in morals, and rotting in sin.

Our nation is perfumed with an aroma of religion and culture,
and aroma that too many times turns out to be the weak and sickly smell of spiritual formaldehyde,
disguising the deadly decay of a society that could be on its last legs.

What can we expect of a society in which passions are riderless horses;
in which there is a desolation of decency;
in which love has become a jungle emotion,
lust is exalted to lordship,
sin elevated to sovereignty,
hell substituted for heaven,
Satan worshipped as a saint,
and man magnified above his Maker?

Today, the bleak winds of destiny are howling in protest to the way we are living.

One cannot keep from asking the question: "Where is America headed?"

Will the great American Dream become a nightmare?
Are we witnessing the decline and fall of the American Empire?
God forbid!

All America recognizes the dilemma and is desperately seeking a way out.
It is sheer folly to suppose that the strength and security of America
lies in its vast economic resources... industrial prowess...
scientific ingenuity -- diplomatic skill or military might.

The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.
Our real defense as a nation rests in the spiritual convictions, character and commitment of our citizens.

David discovered that fact and declared:
"Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God."

Many years ago, a noted Frenchman came to America to search for the secret of her greatness.

This is what he wrote:

"I sought for the greatness and genius of America
in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there.

I sought for the greatness and genius of America
in her fertile fields and boundless forests, and it was not there.
I sought for the greatness and genius of America
in her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there.

I sought for the greatness and genius of America
in her public school system and her institutions of learning, and it was not there.

I sought for the greatness and genius of America
in her democratic Congress and her matchless constitution, and it was not there.

Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness
did I understand the secret of her genius and power.

America is great because America is good,
and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."

What a discerning statement!
America may never have been that good, but the observation is certainly true.

"What makes a nation great?
Not serried ranks and flags unfurled,
Not armored ships that gird the world,
Not cattle on a thousand hills,
Not sages wise, nor schools, nor laws,
Not boasted deeds in freedom's cause --
All these may be, and yet the state
In the eye of God be far from great.

That land is great which knows the Lord,
Whose songs are guided by His Word;
Where justice rules 'twixt man and man,
Where love controls in art and plan;
Where, breathing in his native air,
Each soul finds joy in praise and prayer --
Thus may our country, good and great,
Be God's delight... man's best estate."

The one sure foundation on which our nation must stand is faith in God,
His Holy Word, and those great truths that will never die.

The story is told about the Minot Lighthouse keeper.
A fearful storm broke out over the lighthouse one day.
Word spread quickly that it had gone down.

The next day, the old keeper was seen on the streets of Boston.

One of his friends said,
"We heard that the lighthouse was wrecked in the storm yesterday."

He replied, "The storm was the most severe I have ever known.
The thunders were the loudest, the lightnings were the fiercest,
and the waves were the heaviest, but she never shook."

Truly, "The foundation of God standeth sure."

"A mighty Fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing;
Our helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing."

Pericles built a civilization upon culture, and it failed.
Caesar built a civilization upon power, and it failed.
Our forefathers founded this nation upon the Christian faith,
and it will live so long as the Lord is our God.

The Pilgrim Fathers left a land where they were persecuted
to find a land where every man, through countless ages,
would have the right to worship God in his own way.
When the strong and stalwart champions of a new order landed at Plymouth Rock,
they knelt upon the shore and dedicated this country to God.

In the early colonies the first public building to be erected was a church house,
and the first public exercise was the worship of God.

When the Constitutional Convention met at Philadelphia to organize the nation and write a constitution,
Benjamin Franklin called on the members of the Convention
to fall upon their knees and pray for divine wisdom.

When George Washington was inaugurated as our first President,
he held the Bible in his hands, pressed his lips to it,
then turned his face toward heaven and said, "I swear, so help me God."

Each of the coins in our pockets bear the inscription, "In God we trust."

The same principle of dependence upon God is embodied in our National Anthem:

"Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land,
Praise the Power that hath made and reserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just;
And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave."

Where did all these concepts come from?

Let us be honest!
Democracy, as we know it in America, is derived from New Testament Christianity.
The truth of the matter is that our delectable freedom
is the direct result of a lofty and invincible religious spirit.

We cannot understand America unless we first understand that.
If the dynamics of American democracy ever vanish from this land,
it will be because we are no longer Christian.

The words of the Psalmist are more important to us today than ever before.

"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people
whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.
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."

"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."

To whom am I speaking?
I am talking to myself and to every individual citizen.
I am thinking in terms of the nation, but the nation means you and me.

We must remember that America is no stronger than you are strong!
America is no purer than you are pure!
America is no more godly than you are godly!

The unyielding truth of history is that God blesses the nation that blesses Him.

"Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people."

That is the sweeping judgment of Scripture.
We are a nation of sinners.
Our philosophy is one of godlessness.
Our faith is in our material assets.
Our attitude is a cynical, critical, and contemptuous one
toward anything which is good, pure, or holy.

We are forgetting the lessons of history.
Sin separates a nation from God!
Sin separates this nation from God!

But we are not without hope.

We must place a crimson cross and a open tomb and a glowing sky
in the foreground of this dark background of sin that plagues America.

God says to America:

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord:
though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

We must return to the faith of our Fathers.
We must get on our knees in humility and prayer, in contrition and confession,
in repentance and the forsaking of sin.

We must go back to the cross, where the incarnate Son of God was cursed,
condemned, and crucified for our sins.

The crisis is acute!
The danger is imminent!
Time is running out.

Something miraculous must happen in the heart and soul of America... now,
before it is too late.
America must get right with God.

The nation that was born in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, must be born again.

The choice is clear.
It is repent or perish.
It is revival or ruin.
It is Christ or chaos.

America -- which way?

This sermon has been adapted from a sermon by Russell J. Clearman.
This was delivered at the Pastor's Conference at The Southern Baptist Convention in 1976.
Thank God for this powerful message.