America's Great Heritage and Hope
America's Great Heritage and Hope
Cornerstone Church - July 4, 2021
*Today we celebrate our Declaration of Independence from England on July 4th, 1776. On that same day over in England, King George III wrote these words in his diary: "July 4th, 1776: Nothing happened today." (1)
*Poor King George couldn't have been farther from the truth! -- Because up in Philadelphia, Congress adopted our Declaration of Independence.
*It begins with these words: "When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. . ." The United States of America was born on that day. Now 245 years later, we are celebrating the birthday of our country.
*Our nation was born with the hope of help from Almighty God. And today we can still find the hope we need. Psalm 85 shows us how.
1. THE FIRST THING TO DO IS REMEMBER HOW GOD HAS RESCUED HIS PEOPLE.
*Remember how God has helped us in the past. Remember how God has blessed us in the past. That's what the Psalmist did in vs. 1-3, when he lifted up this praise to God:
1. LORD, You have been favorable to Your land; You have brought back the captivity of Jacob.
2. You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people; You have covered all their sin. Selah
3. You have taken away all Your wrath; You have turned from the fierceness of Your anger.
*Here God "brought back the captivity of Jacob," and God has rescued His people many times.
*We can certainly see this truth in our own history. God has worked in countless ways to create and preserve our nation. Think about our first President, George Washington. He is called the "Father" of our country, and rightly so. Historian James Flexner called Washington "the indispensable man." Richard Smith said, "If George Washington had not existed there arguably would have never been an American Republic." (2)
*But George Washington would have not been there to lead our army in the Revolutionary War, he wouldn't have been there to become our first President, -- if God had not spared his life 21 years earlier at the Battle of Monongahela.
*It was in 1755, during the French and Indian War. At the time, Washington was an officer in the British army under Gen. William Braddock. And Washington was a colonel, even though he was only 23 years old.
*At the Battle of Monongahela, the British were attacked and nearly wiped out. Washington's responsibility during the battle was to take orders from Gen. Braddock and ride across the battlefield on his horse to take the orders to the men.
*As the battle raged on, the officers were being mowed down. Finally, Gen. Braddock was killed, and the men ran for their lives, but Washington wasn't killed. After the battle, George wrote to his brother John on July 18, 1755, and said, "By the all powerful dispensations of Providence, (that's God) I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectations. For I had four bullets through my coat and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt although Death was leveling my companions on every side of me."
*Fifteen years later Washington and a friend, Dr. Craig, were going through that same area. There they were met by an old Indian chief, who spoke to Washington through an interpreter and said this:
"I am chief and ruler over my tribes. My influence extends to the waters of the great lakes and to the far blue mountains. I have traveled a long and weary path that I might see the young warrior of the great battle.
*It was on the day when the white man's blood mixed with the streams of our forest that I first beheld this chief. I called to my young men and said, 'Mark young tall and daring warrior. He has an Indian's wisdom. Quick, let your aim be certain that he dies.'
*Our rifles were leveled, rifles, which but for you knew not how to miss."
*Then this Indian chief said, "I shot at you myself 17 times, and could not hit you. T'was all in vain. A power mightier far than we shielded you. Seeing you were under special guardianship of the Great Spirit, we immediately ceased to fire at you. And I am come to pay homage to the man who is the particular favorite of Heaven, who could never die in battle." (3)
*Church: That story was in our history books until the 1930's, and it ought to be in our history books today.
*God has intervened on behalf of our nation many times. In 1776, the British Empire had the most powerful army in the world. America had a rag-tag army of farmers and shop-owners. They were out-manned, out-gunned and out-financed. Without God's intervention, the colonies had no chance of winning the war against England. But God did intervene.
*Another example was at the last battle of our war for independence. It was at Yorktown, Virginia. The weather was good, except during two crucial periods. On the night Washington's army began digging approach trenches. A soldier recorded that "we were favored by Providence with a night of extreme darkness," and by a gentle rain that muffled the sound of digging.
*Then, near the end of the siege, the British General Cornwallis tried to breakout by getting his best troops across the York River at night. But halfway through the operation, "the weather . . . changed to a most violent storm of wind and rain" that drove the barges down river and left the British army divided and scattered. The terrible weather completely ruined their attempt to get away, and Cornwallis surrendered the next day. (4)
*Tradition says that after the British surrendered, their defeated army marched off to the sounds of a song called, "The World Turned Upside Down."
*Part of it goes like this:
"If ponies rode men and grass ate cows,
And cats were chased into holes by the mouse . . .
If summer were spring and the other way round,
Then all the world would be upside down." (5)
*They just couldn't believe that the greatest army of the greatest empire in the world had been defeated by a rag-tag army of Americans. And it never could have happened without the strong help of Almighty God!
*The evidence is all around us: We are a blessed people! God has blessed us beyond measure. If you are sitting in this room today, you are blessed: Blessed with the health to be here, blessed with the freedom to be here, and blessed by the grace of God that brought you here.
*We are not here by accident. The God who orders the paths of the stars ordered our steps so that we could be here now. He wants to meet with us and bless us still, so remember how God has rescued His people, and be encouraged by those past victories.
*The writer of this Psalm was going through a tough time, and what did he do? He looked back at the great things God had done for His people. It's the same thing young David did when He was going to fight the giant Goliath.
*Starting in 1 Samuel 17:34:
34. . . David said to Saul, "Your servant used to keep his father's sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock,
35. I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it.
36. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.''
37. Moreover David said, "The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine . . .''
*Are you battling any giants in your life right now? Look back at the great things God has done for you. It will help renew your hope.
2. BUT WE ALSO NEED TO CRY OUT FOR GOD'S COMPASSION.
*That's what the Psalmist did in vs. 4-7, where he said:
4. Restore us, O God of our salvation, And cause Your anger toward us to cease.
5. Will You be angry with us forever? Will You prolong Your anger to all generations?
6. Will You not revive us again, That Your people may rejoice in You?
7. Show us Your mercy, O LORD, And grant us Your salvation.
*Here the Psalmist was crying out to God, basically saying, "Oh God! You've been so good to us in the past. But if we have ever needed your help, we need it today!"
*Verse 4 in the KJV says, "Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease." And of all the problems we face in our nation today, the biggest problem of all is that so many of our leaders and people have turned away from the God who gave birth to our nation.
*Judges 21:25 describes our nation to a "T" when it says, "Everyone did what was right in his own eyes," so we need to passionately pray: "Restore us (Turn us), O God of our salvation, and cause Your anger toward us to cease." We need passionate prayers like that for repentance and revival.
President, George Washington certainly prayed like that. He had a well-worn, 24-page journal filled with prayers in his own handwriting. Part of his Sunday Morning prayer said, "I beseech Thee, -- my sins, -- remove them from Thy presence, as far as the east is from the west. And accept me for the merits of Thy Son Jesus Christ."
*Washington's "Sunday Evening" prayer said: "Let me live according to those holy rules which Thou hast this day prescribed in Thy holy word. Direct me to the true object, -- Jesus Christ the way, the truth, and the life. Bless, O Lord, all the people of this land." (6)
*We need to pray like Washington prayed! And we need to pray like our 34th President prayed. His name was Dwight David Eisenhower, and he was certainly a praying man.
*Eight years before Eisenhower was elected President, he was the World War II Supreme Commander of Allied forces in Europe. June 5th, 1944, was the day before the D-Day invasion of France. It was one of modern history’s most important moments, because it led to the defeat of Hitler’s evil Nazi regime.
*The next day, an Allied Force representing 12 nations launched more than 5,000 boats and ships. 11,000 aircraft flew 28,000 missions. And 150,000 ground troops landed in France.
*On D-day, under heavy fire, our brave armed forces landed on the beaches and scaled the cliffs of Normandy. About 4,500 of our soldiers were killed that day. And over 5,000 more were wounded. That number would have been twice as high, except for the planning, leadership, and courage of those men. (7)
*General Eisenhower was the Supreme commander of those Allied forces. And the day before, the Allies were ready to launch this key invasion of Europe. But the weather over the English Channel was terrible, and there was a serious debate about whether to postpone the invasion. The tides and moon wouldn't be right again until July.
*General Eisenhower said, "Such a postponement is too bitter to contemplate. I am quite positive, -- we must give the order." The invasion was launched, and the victory was won.
*Ten years later, President Eisenhower spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast. He told of praying the night before the invasion. And he heard a voice from above which said, "The weather is for your protection. -- Launch tomorrow." (8)
*The bad weather put the Germans off-guard. They did not expect the attack. And victory came again through the help of Almighty God, so never give up on prayer! We must keep praying. Keep asking for God's mercy on us, on our families and on our nation. We can trust in His mercy!
*Our God is able to forgive every sin, cleanse every stain, save any sinner, overcome all doubts, quiet every fear, meet every need, and give us His victory! Church: We can find the hope we need by crying out for God's compassion.
3. BUT WE ALSO NEED TO TRUST IN GOD'S TRUTH.
*That's what the Psalmist did in vs. 8-13. He trusted in God's truth, so starting in vs. 8, he said:
8. I will hear what God the LORD will speak, For He will speak peace To His people and to His saints; But let them not turn back to folly.
9. Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, That glory may dwell in our land.
10. Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
11. Truth shall spring out of the earth, And righteousness shall look down from heaven.
12. Yes, the LORD will give what is good; And our land will yield its increase.
13. Righteousness will go before Him, And shall make His footsteps our pathway.
*This Psalmist trusted in the Lord God Almighty. The greatest men in our history trusted in the Lord. And I want to remind you that we can always trust in God! Trust in the Lord! Trust in His truth.
*But what is God's truth? The Bible is God's truth. In John 17:17, Jesus prayed to the Father and said, "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." In other words: "Make My followers pure and holy through Your truth. Your Word is truth."
*What did our past Presidents think about the Bible? George Washington said, "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible." Andrew Jackson said, "That Book, sir, is the rock on which our republic rests." Abraham Lincoln said, "I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to men. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this Book."
*Ronald Reagan said, "Within the covers of the Bible are all the answers for all the problems men face. The Bible can touch hearts, order minds, and refresh souls." (9)
*On January 30th, 1953, President Eisenhower was sworn into office with his hand resting on two Bibles. One was the Bible used by George Washington for his inauguration in 1789. And the other Bible was the one given to Eisenhower by his mother when he graduated from West Point.
*Both of those Bibles were opened to 2 Chronicles 7:14, which says, "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." (10)
*These American Presidents trusted in God's truth. And the Bible is God's truth. But so is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! In John 14:6 Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me."
*We can always trust in God's truth. But what are the truths we can trust in today's Scripture?
 FIRST, TRUST THAT JESUS WILL SPEAK TO YOU.
*In the first part of vs. 8, the Psalmist said: "I will hear what God the LORD will speak, for He will speak peace to His people and to His saints."
*God wants to speak to us! He's got a message for everyone in this room, and it's the message we need to hear the most.
 TRUST THAT JESUS WILL SPEAK TO YOU. AND TRUST THAT HE WILL STAND BY YOU.
*In vs. 9: "Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, that glory may dwell in our land." God's salvation is near, because He is near. By His Holy Spirit, He is right here right now! And by His Spirit, He even wants to live in your heart.
 TRUST THAT JESUS WILL STAND BY YOU. AND TRUST THAT JESUS WILL SAVE YOU.
*Listen again to vs. 1-4: LORD, You have been favorable to Your land; You have brought back the captivity of Jacob. You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people; You have covered all their sin. Selah You have taken away all Your wrath; You have turned from the fierceness of Your anger. Restore us, O God of our salvation, And cause Your anger toward us to cease.
*In vs. 7: "Show us Your mercy, O LORD, And grant us Your salvation."
*And in vs. 9-10: Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, That glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
*The Lord wants to save you, and He will surely save everyone who trusts in Him. But we must remember the price that was paid. As we celebrate Independence Day, we remember the high price that was paid for our country's freedom. Over one million of our soldiers sacrificed their lives for us to be free today.
*Years ago, Bill Hybels gave a testimony about something he saw on the news. He said, "I was moved as I sat in my study and watched this young soldier on a television newscast. He seemed almost unaware of the TV reporter who was intruding into his private moment of contemplation and relived memories.
*They were at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. The soldier was by the black granite wall, which is etched with the names of all the Americans who lost their lives in the Vietnam War. He just stood there, tearfully staring at the wall and tracing his finger over the letters of another soldier's name engraved there.
*He never even looked at the reporter or the camera, but you could see his pain. 'He gave his life for me,' was all he whispered as he kept moving his finger across his friend's name." (11)
*"He gave his life for me." "He gave his life for me." This is the testimony for everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Jesus gave his life for us! That's what He did when He died on the cross for our sins.
*That's why mercy and truth can meet together in vs. 10. Yes, the truth is we are sinners. And we deserve the wrath of God. But Jesus took our punishment, so that we could be forgiven and free forever.
*And then we read vs. 11 that "Truth shall spring out of the earth. . ." Those words remind me of the third day when Jesus rose again in everlasting victory over death. Now our living Lord will give eternal life to everyone who will turn to Him and receive Him as their Lord and Savior.
*Jesus died on the cross for us, but He is alive forever more! And He is the hope of all who trust in Him.
*Our country was born with the hope of help from above. And today you can find all the hope you will ever need in life. You can find it in Jesus! So, no matter what you're going through, put your trust in the Lord. And keep trusting in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
(1) "Nothing Happened Today" by Morris Chalfant - Source: SermonCentral sermon "Can America Return to God?" by Mark Beaird - 2 Chronicles 7:14
(2) Washington: The Indispensable Man by James Thomas Flexner, Back Bay Books - (Don’t know source for Smith quote)
-Taken from America's God & Country Encyclopedia, p 636-637 - Source: KERUX ILLUSTRATION COLLECTION - ID Number: 22253 - SOURCE: RM-Bible - 741999
-KERUX ILLUSTRATION COLLECTION - ID Number: 30199 - SOURCE: Baptist Press, http://www.baptistpress.org/ - TITLE: The Faith Of George Washington - AUTHOR: Kenyn Cureton - DATE: 22006
(4) 2008 Source: Ludlum, pp. 62-64 - Source: "The Weather Factor!" by Douglas S. Winnail - Article in Tomorrow's World Magazine
2008 Source: Article at colonialwilliamsburg.org/
2021 Source: "Folk Music of England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and America - Songs of War" - http://www.contemplator.com/england/worldtur.html
(6) KERUX ILLUSTRATION COLLECTION - ID Number: 30199 - SOURCE: Baptist Press, http://www.baptistpress.org/ - TITLE: The Faith Of George Washington - AUTHOR: Kenyn Cureton - DATE: 22006
-D-Day Brochure from "The Overlord Society" - Published by The National D-Day Memorial Foundation - Bedford, Virginia - www.dday.org
-The Atlantic Monthly - "First Wave at Omaha Beach" by S. L. A. Marshall - November 1960
(8) I cannot find the original source for this Prayer Breakfast
(9) Original source for quotes unknown
-Wall Builders Resources - Spring 2003
-Morgan, Robert J., From This Verse - Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers - 2000, c1998)
(11) Bill Hybels' book and sermon series entitled "Becoming a Contagious Christian." - Source: "Becoming a Contagious Christian -- Sacrifice" by Rev. Aaron Brown, www.saintpauls-umc.com/sermons/2003/sacrifice.htm