(8/29) I want to read to you this morning from Deut. 8. While I know that you know that this is referring to Israel and their journey into the land promised to Abraham, it could just as easily describe the United States of America. My heart is convinced that we have done exactly what God warned Israel not
to do. I want to remind you that while not everyone who came to America was bent on making it a Christian nation, many did.
This is from a document drawn up by the pilgrims on the Mayflower and is known as the Mayflower Compact. November, 1620.
"In the Name of God Almighty, we whose names are underwritten . . . having undertaken for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, . . . a voyage to plan the first colony in northern Virginia (they were in Mass.); do by these present, solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one
another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politick . . ."
Three truths those on board the Mayflower believed
- They believed the new nation would glorify God.
- They believed the new nation would extend Christianity.
- They believed their authority was from God.
150 years later Thomas Jefferson and the colonial leaders influenced by what is known as the Great Awakening and the preaching of men like Jonathon Edwards, John Wesley and George Whitfield, penned these words.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.
Four Christian "Self-Evident Truths" our founding fathers believed.
a. They believed in a Creator.
b. They believed that God created them in His own image.
c. They believed in supernatural acts, i.e. that a supernatural Being began this universe and is responsible for giving them the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
d. They believed in moral absolutes or absolute truths which our Fathers call "inalienable rights," and self-evident truths. (Government cannot give these rights, so they cannot take them away. These rights came from God.
87 years later Abraham Lincoln would say this to a broken nation.
Abraham Lincoln Ė April 30th 1863 "And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; 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.
And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the
needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand
which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-suffi cient to feel the necessity of
redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!"
That same message could be said almost verbatim today and it would be appropriate.
15 years ago, terror struck the United States on 9-11-2001. Many thought that this terrorism rooted in Islamic extremism would result in a national revival. For one month churches were filled as people wanted answers and a source of hope. But after a month, the swelling went down and perhaps even lower than
usual as pluralism and tolerance were preached and some sages believed that we just need to understand Islam and so dialogues and classes were presented on our colleges and universities. Prayer meetings began to include many religions and the name of Jesus was strongly encouraged to be dropped from our prayers. Dr. Joseph Stowell,
former President of Moody Bible Institute, wrote of this in his book, The Trouble With Jesus.
Our current President will join in a Muslim prayer time but not in the National Prayer Breakfast or National Day of Prayer.
We have legalized and promoted the killing of the unborn, promiscuous sex, pornography, homosexuality, euthanasia, and legalizing drugs. We call good evil and evil good as in Isaiah 5. We have forgotten how to blush (Jer. 8:12). And God is as He said to Jeremiah in Jer. 2:19, He is, "letting our own
backsliding and wickedness correct and rebuke us."
Despite God sending or allowing natural disaster after natural disaster, and despite the rise of our enemies, and deadly diseases. we believe we donít need Him that we can handle this without Him. I firmly believe that America needs a revival. We need to adhere to 2 Chronicles 7:14. "if My people who are
called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
Revival cannot begin with the un-believing, it must begin with the people of God. In the Old Testament this was primarily the Jews, but not solely, as in the case of Nineveh. Read Nehemiah 8 sometime or read about Josiah, or Jehoshaphat, or even in a man named Manasseh in 2 Chronicles 33. Since Jesus, the
people of God are all those who receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. 1 Peter 2:9-10, says, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the
people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy."
This verse is the basis of our only hope to continue in the freedoms that America was founded on. Our Hope is based on our heeding Godís words. Our hope is based on our response to the one little word, "If," Itís our choice as Godís people.
If we want revival the first action, we must make is to Humble ourselves. The word "humble" in the Old Testament means "to bend the knee; to bring down; to place oneís self under another." It means we place ourselves totally 100% under the authority of God. It is why we bow our heads and get on our knees to
pray. It is why the publican could not look to heaven but smote his breast and said, "have mercy on me a sinner." (Luke 18)
In the New Testament the word humble means to tie on the apron of a servant. Look at 1 Peter 5:5-6. - "Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." 6
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."
James says a similar word in James 4:6-10 Ė "But He gives more grace. Therefore, He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." 7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and
purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up."
In Luke 22, our Lord is having the Lordís supper and giving communion, when again, for about the 3rd or 4th time the disciples begin to argue over who is the greatest. John 13 tells us what Jesus did in response. He tied on the apron of a servant and washed their feet. He showed them humility.
We are not Christian in name only; we genuinely follow Jesus. He is the Lord, our Lord, my Lord. I give up my rights, I am His. I am His servant. I am His prisoner. I am His soldier. I take my orders from Him. Do you understand this? Do you do this? He Himself is our model. Do you remember what Paul said in
Phil. 2:3-10? "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled
Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should
confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Ill. The story of General Robert E. Lee is told that after the Civil War, the General returned to his home and guests would visit and sometimes stay for days. It was customary for guests to set their boots outside the bedroom door at night and a servant would clean, blacken, and polish them. But the General
had no servants, but so as to not embarrass his guests, he himself would gather up the boots late at night, and clean and polish them himself.
But our problem is our pride. Pride is the enemy of our soul. Pride is the tool of Satan and part of his character. The word translated "pride" in the Old Testament means "to rise or to swell up." It refers to the rising of the waves of the sea. It speaks of men thinking more of themselves and their
abilities than they do of God. Pride says, "I do not need God, I can make my own way. I know best. I call the shots in my life." Friends, we are eaten up with pride in our modern churches! We have adopted the Laodicean mentality, Rev. 3:17a. We have learned how to function without the help of the Lord and it has destroyed the
power of the church! When we compare ourselves to the world, we are looking pretty good; but when we lay the modern church alongside the early church, Acts 2:42-47; it is easy to see that we are in sad shape!
God hates pride! Ill. Pro. 6:16-19. These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, 19 A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.
Each sin mentioned in that list is a result of pride! Here is Godís Word on pride:
Pro. 8:13; The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate.
11:2; When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom
16:5; Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
be assured, he will not go unpunished
18-19. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
19 It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.
How can you tell if you have a pride problem? Here are the evidences of pride in a life:
- Pride refuses to listen; it always interrupts others.
- Pride likes to talk about itself all the time.
- Pride has an intense desire to be noticed.
- Pride believes that it deserves everything it gets.
- Pride is not thankful.
- Pride cannot be corrected.
- Pride does not like to follow instructions.
- Pride exalts itself in the presence of others; it brags.
- Pride criticizes and tries to makes itself look better by putting others down.
- Pride thinks of its own needs first.
- Pride takes credit for what God has done or allowed.
- Pride will not stoop to help others
- Pride will not stoop to receive help from others
Illustration- It is said that the late great boxer, Muhammad Ali, was on an airplane once and he was standing up in the aisle, talking and laughing and entertaining the passengers. Finally, the stewardess came back to him and said, "Mr. Ali, you'll have to take a seat and fasten your seat belt because the
plane is about to take off." Mohammed Ali looked at her, and said, "Honey, superman don't need no seat belt." She looked at him and said, "Yeah, and superman don't need no airplane either. Now sit down and buckle up."
Both Peter and James tell us that "God resists the proud."Ė They quote from the Greek Translation of the O.T. called the Septuagint as he brings to the churchís attention the writing of Solomon in Proverbs 3:34; 6:17; and 8:13. "God resists the proud;" that is, God deliberately positions Himself against the
proud. He opposes them. He removes His grace and favor from them.
John Piper reminds us that: Pride is the basis of the Poem Invictus
The only statement Timothy McVeigh (The Oklahoma City Bomber) left behind when he was executed in Indiana, on June 11, 2001, was a handwritten copy of the 19th century poem "Invictus" by William Henley.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
John Piper writes, "Henleyís life (1849-1903) almost exactly parallels that of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) who said that the modern world had rendered God irrelevant so that we could legitimately say, "God is dead." Nietzscheís philosophy is that all that matters is that man learns to rule over himself.
His most valuable power is over himself. "He that cannot rule himself will certainly be ruled by others"- Nietzsche)"
Piper says, "Would that Nietzsche, who went insane the last 12 years of his lifeóand Timothy McVeigh, who claimed the rule of his soul till he lost itóhad both seen the beauty of being ruled by Christ. It is fitting that a virtually unknown poet of the early 20th century, Dorothea Day, should write the
counterpoint to Henleyís poem. "Invictus" means "unconquerable". Dorothea Dayís poem is called "Conquered."
Out of the light that dazzles me,
Bright as the sun from pole to pole,
I thank the God I know to be,
For Christ - the Conqueror of my soul.
Since His the sway of circumstance,
I would not wince nor cry aloud.
Under the rule which men call chance,
My head, with joy, is humbly bowed.
Beyond this place of sin and tears,
That Life with Him and His the Aid,
That, spite the menace of the years,
Keeps, and will keep me unafraid.
I have no fear though straight the gate:
He cleared from punishment the scroll.
Christ is the Master of my fate!
Christ is the Captain of my soul!
This must become the mindset of Christ-Followers everywhere. This is what God says to us. Isaiah 57:15- "For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And
to revive the heart of the contrite ones."
Let me give you a summary of what it means to humble yourself.
- I examine my life in the light of Godís Word. Perhaps the 10 commandments, or just the Two Over-Riding commandments.
- I recognize and confess my sins without rationalizing, or self-justifying, or blaming others for my actions. I am responsible (Contrast Adam, Eve, and Aaron; with Psalm 51)
- I place myself under the mercy and grace of God in Jesus for forgiveness and restoration because I cannot restore myself. (Cp. the Publican Luke 18:13)
- I deliberately and willfully submit myself under the Lordship of Jesus Christ for all time and eternity. (Romans 12:1; 2 Cor. 5:14-15) This includes accepting the chastening of the Lord knowing that it is for my good. I desire to serve Jesus and bring Glory to God no matter what. 1 Cor. 10:31. My
prayer will always be, "Thy Will Be Done."
- My heart breaks because of the effects of sin in my life and in that of others. (Isa. 57:15). Jesus said, "blessed are the ones who mourn." (Matt. 5:4)
- I desire a deep and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. (James 4:6-10) To Draw near to God has the word picture of the priests that enter the temple to pray and worship God. I want to be close to God. I want to be like David, a man after Godís own heart. Like Abraham, I want to be called a friend
of God. I want to be the brother of whom Jesus is not ashamed. (Heb. 2:10ff)
- I want to walk by faith and not by sight, knowing that obeying God because I trust Him, regardless of the circumstances or consequences, is the only way to please God (Heb. 11:6).
- I care more about others getting the credit or praise than I do myself (Luke 14:7-11, Prov. 27:2). My Mantra is, "Its not about me." I will sit in the lowest seat, or stand so others can sit. You can have the last or biggest piece of pie.
- I am willing to be a servant to the least of these (Mark. 10:44-45; John 13:1-17). To care for the poor, the aged, the homeless. To wash feet.
- I do not try to draw attention to myself but want Jesus and others to be exalted. (Matt. 23:1-12) I donít spend my time expounding my accomplishments, in fact, I downplay them. Like most heroes, we are just doing our job. (Contrast the pastor that was given a medal for being the Most Humble Pastor in
America. Then he had it taken away when he wore it.
"ÖWe have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace,
and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too
proud to pray to the God that made us!"
Revival will begin when Godís people humble themselves.
Letís pray about it.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman