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Re-Thinking Your Purpose

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

Part 1

(7/8) 236 years ago this week, Thomas Jeffersonís document of a Declaration of Independence was agreed on and 13 States engaged in a war against a superior force and with the obvious help of God, won that independence.

What I wish I had time today to teach you is that I believe that God had a special purpose for America. I believe that I could prove to you that from Columbus to the middle of the 20th century, Godís purpose was that America would be a light to the nations for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christopher Columbus did not set out to find a new trade route to the Indies but to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to people who had never heard it. His diary states that it was the words of Isaiah 49:1, 6 that caused him to believe that God had chosen him for the task. When he arrived on the island, he called it San Salvador or Holy Savior and the first thing He did was erect a cross.

The Pilgrims and the Puritans followed to escape religious persecution and to be able to worship God freely and honor Jesus Christ. Before getting off the Mayflower, the Pilgrims signed a covenant called the Mayflower Compact that they had come for the purpose of advancing the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Glory of God.

As the colonies grew and laws were established those laws were based on the premier law books used for centuries called Blackstoneís Commentaries. These were used by the Supreme Court for over 100 years. Blackstoneís Commentaries were based on the Bible.

Just about every state charter or constitution declares that the state believes and is under the authority of God and the Bible.

Do you know why there is a 3 fold system of government for the balancing of power in our nation? It is based on the Bible as in Isaiah 33:22, "The Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King, He will save us." Do you know what one of the very first things that our first congress did was to purchase 20,000 Bibles to distribute?

It is said that Thomas Jefferson was a Deist or a Unitarian. I donít know, but I do know that in the Declaration of Independence, he makes four references to God who has given us rights and created us to be equal.

It was Benjamin Franklin that scolded congress during a time of impasse because they had not sought Godís help in establishing the constitution and that no session of congress should start without prayer and so established a chaplaincy for the U.S, Congress and Senate.

It was John Jay the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court that said that no one should be elected to a public Office that was not a solid Christian. And, that for 150 years the Supreme Court declared repeatedly that the United States is a Christian nation and always decided in favor of Christianity and the Bible until 1947. Did you know that most of our Ivy League Schools such as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton were started as schools to train people for ministry; that 106 of the first 108 colleges in America were founded on the Christian faith? (pp. 56-57 Red Sky in the Morning)

Did you know that in 1954, Congress added to the words of Abraham Lincolnís Gettysburg Address as, "One Nation Under God," to the Pledge of Allegiance, thereby affirming that we consider ourselves under the authority and therefore accountable to God.

Did you know that it was in 1956 that Congress signed into law that the official Motto of the United States would be, "In God We Trust," though it had been printed on our money for over 100 years?

For 300 years, the Bible and firm reliance on God and Jesus Christ was at the core of our morals and values in the United States and the world knew that the reason that America was successful and grew in wealth and power was because of the faith of our nation that was both public and private. Presidents from Washington to F. D. Roosevelt led our nation to pray and prayed publicly for our nation. The United States replaced England as the center for Missionary outreach to the world. I am not saying that America was perfect, a Civil War and the mistreatment of Native Americans is evidence of that, but the Majority of Americans had respect for the authority of the Creator and His Bible.

But early in the 20th Century, Americanís began to worship other godís. Let me remind you again of the words of 2 Chronicles 7:19-20 and of Daniel Webster, 19 "But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods, and worship them, 20 then I will uproot them from My land which I have given them; and this house which I have sanctified for My name I will cast out of My sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples.

Daniel Webster, "If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper, but if we and our posterity neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity."

We have not chased after imagined deities but we have wholly set our hearts on ideologies and philosophies that are ungodly and we have forsaken our God and Savior and His Bible. There are at least 6 godless philosophies that America now embraces and worships instead of the Lord God, and like Thomas Jefferson, we too should, "Tremble for our Country when we recall that God is a just God and that His Justice can not sleep forever."

1. Humanism Ė The late 19th century saw the rise of new ideas and philosophies from men like Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Frederick Nietzsche, Margaret Sanger and others that basically said we donít need a God and affirm that there is no God and man is the top of the food chain. Two times in the 20th century Philosophers and Educators met and signed manifestos to that end. The result of that has been that if we say there is no God, then we are accountable to on one but ourselves and we can do whatever we deem right, like abortion on demand, same sex marriages, euthanasia, and more. Our laws and constitution has been re-interpreted under the blanket of humanism.

2. Relativism Ė From humanism and the belief that there is no God and man is the center of the universe has come relativism. During the 60ís and 70ís we heard and said things like, "Itís your thing do what you want to do," and, "do your own thing." This is the belief that there is no such thing as absolute truth. There is no Bible from which a constant and firm truth can be derived. Truth it is believed is evolving. What may be true for you may not be true for me. What you may see as right and wrong, I may not see as right and wrong. For you lying may be wrong, but for me, if it helps or protects me it is not wrong. You may consider cheating as wrong, but if it helps me, it is not wrong. You may consider fornication wrong, but if two people consent even if they are not married to each other, it is not wrong. Today, most of Americans (75%) do not believe in absolute truth, they embrace relativism.

3. Materialism Ė America has embraced the belief that money and things result in happiness. And, that as Americans we are entitled to things. Americans once earned and saved to attain what they sought. Now with our belief in entitlement and a piece of plastic we donít have to wait. We no longer think in terms of bottom line price but how much our payments will be a month. Our greed for more stuff, has made us a debtor nation. We now rely on greed to pay our bills with most states offering lotteries to finance the government. Even religionists use greed to attract people saying that God wants people to be healthy and wealthy and are promising prosperity in exchange for giving to their ministries.

4. Hedonism Ė Hedonism is the pursuit of pleasure. I have the right to be happy. Therefore, whatever I want to make me happy is what I pursue. I ignore my vows if another person makes me happy, I leave my children, if my job makes me happy. Even in our churches we want comedians, music that that moves us, and feel good sermons, to make us happy. We donít want to hear about sin and judgment or hell anymore. We come to church to feel good not to learn how to be holy.

5. Narcissism Ė This is the love of self. America used to be about God and Country and now we are about self. We sue at the drop of a hat. Our mantra is, "What about me, what about my rights, what about what I want." Do we not even see this in churches when we choose churches not on what we can do to serve God, but what to these churches offer me? We still squabble over whether we should sing older hymns with piano and organ or contemporary praise songs sung to guitars and drums. Its about what I want, not about glorifying God.

6. Pluralism Ė 9-11-2001 had the exact opposite affect on America that many, including myself, thought it would have. Many of us thought it would cause more Americans to turn to God through Jesus Christ, but it did not, instead, we said we have to be more tolerant of all religions and respect them all as the same. No one should say that he or she has the only truth. Military and Political chaplains are asked to no longer pray in Jesusí name for that may be offensive to others.

These are the isms that we now worship; they are the gods of many in America.

I believe it is possible that the Lord God has been trying to get the attention of the nation with one natural disaster after another in order to call us back to Holiness and to the purpose for which He has blessed us so much in America. The Fires, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and even the extreme heat we have experienced and the drought conditions that is threatening our nationís corn crop. Listen to what He did during the time of Isaiah and Amos, (contemporaries) in Amos 4:6-13.

"Also I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, And lack of bread in all your places; Yet you have not returned to Me,"

Says the LORD.7 "I also withheld rain from you, When there were still three months to the harvest. I made it rain on one city, I withheld rain from another city. One part was rained upon, And where it did not rain the part withered.

So two or three cities wandered to another city to drink water, But they were not satisfied; Yet you have not returned to Me,"

Says the LORD. "I blasted you with blight and mildew. When your gardens increased, Your vineyards, Your fig trees, And your olive trees, The locust devoured them; Yet you have not returned to Me," Says the LORD. "I sent among you a plague after the manner of Egypt;

Your young men I killed with a sword, Along with your captive horses; I made the stench of your camps come up into your nostrils; Yet you have not returned to Me," Says the LORD.

11 "I overthrew some of you, As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, And you were like a firebrand plucked from the burning; Yet you have not returned to Me," Says the LORD.

12 "Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; Because I will do this to you, Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!"

13 For behold, He who forms mountains, And creates the wind, Who declares to man what his[a] thought is, And makes the morning darkness, Who treads the high places of the earthóThe LORD God of hosts is His name.

Psalm 11:3 asks the question, "If the Foundation is destroyed, what can the righteous do?" I am convinced that America is in deep trouble and the only way to avoid the inevitable justice of God is for the People of God to become what they have been intended to be; that is, Salt and Light. The hope of America rests in the hearts, the homes, and the holiness of Godís people.

We must re-think our purpose. Why did God create you? Why did God send Jesus to save you and leave you here? Why did God allow you to be born here or to immigrate to America? It is because He wants you to glorify Him on purpose.

Listen to me, the hope of America is not in any elected official, nor is it in our military, nor is it in our natural resources, it is in the hands of the people of God. The Greek text literally reads that, you and you alone are the salt of the earth and you and you alone are the light of the world. It doesnít say, "You should be the salt and the light," but, "You are the salt and light," While we know that the hope of anyone is Jesus Christ, what He Himself is saying that You and you alone are the means of communicating that. While we will go into greater detail and finish this next text next week, letís begin today by understanding what He was saying. The primary purpose for both salt and light is influence. Salt in a salt shaker has no influence. Salt on potato chips, fries, or pop corn influences the flavor. Salt on wounds may sting, but it also aids in healing. Without ice, or refrigeration, or vacuum canning, the only way to preserve meat is by coating it with salt. What Jesus our Lord is saying here is that the world is rotting, decaying, and the only way to keep it from being a total loss is your influence. The world is similar to the Genesis 6:5 when God says that, "every intent of the thoughts of menís hearts was only evil continuously."

Light, as well, is all about influence, light is necessary to see, itís as simple as that. Without light, people stumble in darkness. Jesus is saying that unless the world, unless America sees your light, it will stumble in darkness. Satan and sin and self centeredness has blinded people to the truth about God, about themselves, and about their futures, and the only way they will be able to see is if your light is shining. You are the only salt, and you are the only light.

Letís close our time today by considering how we can be salt and light. How can we influence our country and/or our world? How can we be instrumental in bringing a revival to America? The answer is what we have looked at these last weeks.

  • It begins with personal and community repentance (3:2; 4:17). Life isnít all about me; itís about the glory of God and the good of others. Itís about following Jesus Christ. We change our mind about what it is we should be pursuing in the time we have left this side of death or the return of the King. Repentance should lead us to intentional living; that our lives no longer belong to ourselves but to the one who died to redeem us and to forgive us, and to adopt us for eternity.
  • That repentance should lead us to realize that as Americanís we have received the grace of God not because we have deserved it but because of His mercy and grace He has given it to us. We would be bankrupt apart from His grace.
  • We mourn and weep for what our sins and the sins of our nation have resulted in, and the judgment of God that will be inevitable and which our children and grandchildren will face unless there is a return to God.
  • Knowing what we are apart from God should lead us to seek Godís will, and to live Godís way in every area of our lives. We determine that we will follow Him. Like Deut. 10:12-13, "And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?" This is what it means to be meek.
  • This drives us to hunger for God and His righteous easy in our lives and our community. It drives us to seek to know Him personally, and intimately, to know His commands, His will and to know the right way to live and to treat others.
  • Hungering to know God and His righteousness results in showing mercy to friends, strangers, even enemies. It sees the hurting, the hopeless, the lost and the least of these in our communities and in the world and it moves us to want to do something to help, as it led William Booth to start the Salvation Army, Charles Colson to start Prison Fellowship, Bill and Bob to start Alcoholics Anonymous, God has intended for His people to be people of compassion, grace and mercy. We now believe that it is the governmentís job to provide programs of mercy. When Godís people show mercy, and give of their time, talents and treasures, in a society where selfishness is the norm, they know that there is something to this Christianity.
  • Our Light shines when our mercy is accompanied by pure motives. When the world sees that our mercy is not about what we will get back in money, fame, power, etc., but how people will be blessed and God will be honored.
  • Our light will shine and evil will be retarded when we are being peace makers, not strife causers. Our goal is to bring people to peace with God through Jesus Christ and to show kindness and pray for those who are contrary to Christ.
  • And when all of this, results in unjust persecution, and it will, we respond with grace to glorify God, the world will know that there is something to following Jesus. Jesus said that men will see and will glorify God. You see your faith is not a private matter. You can not love God and not exemplify that in every area of your life. Politicians can not separate church and state and neither can you. Their faith must determine their politics and your faith must determine everything you do in life.

You are the only salt of the earth. You are the only light. The hope of America lies within the people of God who having experienced His grace, return to living their lives for the purpose that God intended. It must begin with you and me.

Are you ready to repent and to return to living a life that is set apart for the Glory of God and the good of others?

Do you need to repent and receive Jesus for forgiveness and new life?

Part 2 - "The Keeper of the Spring"

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman