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What Is America?
Jeremiah 8: 4-6
All that is happening around us is forcing us to rediscover the meanings in the significance of the things
that make America different from other nations.
I believe that America is seen as the hope of those who are weary of war, and who are heartsick and hungry.
- What is it that makes our country different?
- What is it that draws people from other nations to our shores?
What is America?
We cannot answer that fully, unless we understand the past.
Our nation is a covenant nation.
It is the only surviving nation on earth that had its origins in the determination of the founding fathers to establish a settlement,
"To the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith."
That was what William Bradford and George Carver had in mind beneath the swinging lantern in the cabin of the Mayflower,
when they signed a solemn declaration, which established the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Religious liberty to worship God according to the dictates of one's own conscience and equal opportunity
- They had come from the Old World and were seeking refuge in the new.
- They had come from famine and from wars and threats of wars.
- They sought a new life in a new land.
for all men are the twin pillars of the American hope.
A covenant nation is one that recognizes its dependence upon God and its responsibility toward God.
That is how America was born.
God was recognized as the source of human rights.
The Declaration of Independence says so.
A covenant nation is one which recognizes that God and His purposes stand over and above the nation.
The highest role a nation can play is to reflect God's righteousness in national policy.
That freedom to which they were striving had to be fought for.
- That is what Bradford and Carver certainly intended.
- That is what Roger Williams sought, when he set up his settlement in Providence Rhode Island.
- That is what William Penn was striving after in Pennsylvania.
- That is what they wanted in Maryland, when in 1649, the Maryland Act of Toleration set it down in writing.
- That is what Thomas Jefferson was striving after when he wrote the Declaration of Independence.
You can trace it from Bunker Hill and from Lexington and Concord down through Valley Forge.
These free men, who had burlap wrapped around their feet, as they marched through the snow;
who carefully hoarded their gunpowder and clutched their muskets under their tattered uniforms
to keep them dry -- they fought for the rights of free men.
They made the first down payment.
Other payments have been made in France, Africa, Italy, Germany, and Iwo Jima and at Guadalcanal
-- in Korea and Vietnam -- in Desert Storm -- and in peacekeeping missions all over the world.
The founding fathers sought freedom -- not from law but freedom in law.
Freedom is not the right to do as one pleases, but the opportunity to please to do what is right.
These are things that we need to reconsider today for our standard of values is out of focus.
- It is not freedom from government, but freedom in government.
- It is not freedom from speech, but freedom in speech.
- It is not freedom from the press, but freedom in the press.
- It is not freedom from religion, but freedom in religion.
No nation on earth has more laws, and yet, more lawlessness than this nation.
There is a current philosophy -- that if you don't like a law, then there is no obligation to keep it.
Any philosophy which makes the will of the people its norm for morality and righteousness is a false philosophy.
Our government is in constant danger of being controlled by corrupt party machines, and by cynical, ruthless,
self-seeking lovers of power.
This fact should challenge every true patriot, and summon all who love America to roll up their sleeves
and make this nation once again a "government of the people, by the people and for the people."
We are enjoying the greatest freedom the world has ever known.
This is a freedom that staggers all who will consider it.
Surely, there can be no greater freedom than that!
- We are free to ignore the very things that others died to provide.
- We are free to give up the right to worship God in our own way.
- We are free to set aside, as of no consequence, the church's open door.
- We are free to let the Bible gather dust.
- We are free to neglect the liberties we have inherited.
Religious liberty stands first in the Bill of Rights.
It is most essential for it is the foundation of all the other freedoms.
Take that away, and eventually, all of our freedoms crumble.
The plea of the church today is not that people should call upon God to bless our nation.
God has abundantly blessed our nation.
Our message must be that we should return to God, and then, we will be blessed.
The blessing of peace is not a product of politics; it is a fruit of righteousness.
God's order is always righteousness and peace, not peace and righteousness.
The Bible has been telling us that for centuries.
When will we ever learn?
We desperately need to return to a government by principles, rather than by politics.
Where do you see the principles in the lives of our legislators?
God's word for America today is 2 Chronicles 7: 14.
- Peace is not made by compromise.
- Peace does not grow out of expediency.
- Peace is a product of the blacksmith's forge -- hammered out on the anvil of sacrifice and suffering
-- healed in the fires of devotion to righteousness -- tempered in the oil of mercy and goodness
-- peace is costly!
- Peace can only be attained through God.
We should be inspired by the courageous and sacrificial actions of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence.
They really didn't sign it on the 4th of July.
They only voted to sign it.
Then, they had to get out of town because they had become traitors.
They signed it a month later on August 2.
A price of 500 pounds -- a small fortune in those days -- was placed on the heads of John Hancock and John Adams.
The names of those heroic Americans were not made public for six months, in the hope that they could return home,
establish refuge, and escape the ravages of the Crown.
But some of them had a long way to travel -- all the way from New Hampshire to Georgia.
And some of them never got back during all the years of the war.
One who lived in New Jersey discovered when he returned home that his wife and some of his children
had already been seized by the British and thrown into a dungeon.
They had pledged to give their "lives" and their "fortunes," if necessary,
in support of their declaration.
Many of them lost both; most lost one or the other.
The four New Yorkers, who signed were all wealthy.
Two of them had large fleets of ocean-sailing vessels.
They lost everything, and all four died in sad circumstances.
They had pledged their "sacred honor" and not a man wavered.
They were true to their commitment, and their examples have been a shining light for numerous men and women
who have followed in their train.
We believe in America!
We have been humbled by our national sins and perplexed by our internal disturbances.
- We believe in her system of government.
Imperfect as she is, her Bill of Rights guarantees to every person the right to his personal conscience
and privacy in his own affairs.
It guarantees to every person the right of trial by jury -- admitting immediately, that at best, such procedures
are performed by human beings.
There are inevitably occasions of miscarriages of justice.
We cherish the economic principle of free enterprise, granting each person the privilege of earning
the necessities for himself and his family.
We cherish the freedom of speech and of the press, which is so uniquely, American.
- We believe in the people of America.
We are not all angels; neither are we all culprits.
As a large and great nation, we have many misguided and irresponsible people within our ranks;
but the ideals of the majority continue to sustain the upright and inspire the young.
- We believe in the God of America.
We believe that our God is an international God.
His love reaches beyond the boundaries of all the nations of the earth.
We believe that God is a God of moral justice and judgment.
We believe that our greatest problems are fundamentally spiritual, and that the source of our help is in God.
But we believe our cause is just and that adequate resources are within our reach.
The sacrifices become truly significant, when we properly appreciate the privilege of being an American.
Remember, peace begins with persons.
It has always been that way.
It becomes national, only as it becomes a climate of reality among persons.
There can be no peace in hearts of persons until their life has been redemptively related to the Prince of Peace -- Jesus Christ!
- How can there be peace between nations until there is peace between respective states?
- How can there be peace in the states before there is peace in the cities?
- How can there be peace in the cities until there is peace in our communities?
- How can there be peace in our communities until there is peace in our homes, in our schools, and in our churches?
- How can there be peace until there is peace in the individual hearts of people?
Edward Everett Hale voiced the commitment needed today:
"I am but one.
But I am one.
I can not do everything.
But I can do something.
What I can do, I ought to do,
And by the grace of God, I will do!"
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at email@example.com