One Nation Under God - Or Just A Nation Going Under?
“One Nation Under God – Or Just A Nation Going Under?”
Text - 1 KINGS 18:21 and ROMANS 13:1-7
GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER, FROM OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST AND THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Lars Tharp had a rough day at the office and, after dinner, wanted nothing more than to collapse in his easy chair and read his
favorite magazine. Guenther had other ideas. He approached his Dad
with one question after another. Finally, he wanted to know about the United States map.
Lars found a chance for that relaxation he so craved. He tore a sheet out of his magazine on which was printed a map of the United States. Cutting the map into small pieces, he gave it to Guenther and said, “Go into the other room by the table and see if you can put this map together.”
In what seemed like mere minutes, Guenther was back with the map correctly pieced together and taped. Lars was surprised and asked how Guenther had been able to complete the jigsaw puzzle so fast.
Guenther smiled, “Dad, on the other side of the map there was a picture of Jesus. When I got all of Jesus back where He belonged, our country just came together.”
Two hundred and forty-two years ago, a group of men who dreamed of a new nation gathered in a hot and musty room in Philadelphia. Those men were farmers, doctors, lawyers, surveyors, printers who had come together with a dream – a dream they were willing to give their very lives for.
GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER, FROM OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS THE CHRIST AND FROM THE HOLY SPIRIT.
There is something fascinating about a seed. It has a dead, lifeless appearance, and yet, within it there is life itself. Place a seed in the right soil and in a relatively short period of time, you have food stuffs to feed a nation or flowers to beautify the drabbest of landscapes.
Agriculture in the Holy Land is as diverse as anywhere in the world – from the bountiful crops springing up in the rich volcanic rain-soaked soil of the Galilee to the rock solid and parched soil of Judea’s wilderness and edge of the wilderness terrains – with a diverse assortment of soils in between – often side by side as on a day when, as usual, a large crowd gathered about Jesus and Jesus was teaching them many things in parables – in earthly stories with spiritual meanings.
It was at that moment Jesus saw a farmer planting seed in a field with a variety of soils -all unfenced and open to one and all. To this day, even the best soil is often too shallow for modern equipment so the farmer lifts the seed from the bag he carries and throws it from side to side.
With a glance at that farmer, Jesus said, "Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds of the air devoured it. Bordering and often cutting across the fields of Israel are numerous roads and paths – all having endured years of being beaten down into a rock hard surfaced road by people walking, by sheep and goat herds moving in search of water, and by the occasional camel, donkey, or wagon transporting goods. As the farmer sows the seed, the breeze blows some of the seed onto those paths where the seed lays on the packed-down ground, unable to penetrate the soil, and the birds scoop it up so no life bursts forth.
Jesus said, “And these seeds on the hardened path are the ones along the path where The Word is sown. Satan immediately comes and takes away The Word that is sown in them.” - takes away The Word from people’s hearts, that they may not believe and be saved.
GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR PERSONAL LORD AND SAVIOUR....JESUS THE CHRIST.
“Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy Blood was shed for me,
and that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee.
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.”
How powerfully those words spring to life as we read “Then Jesus went out again by the sea and all the multitude came to Him and He taught them.” Word had spread throughout the area about this Man who healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, gave mobility to the lame and spoke with greater authority than the most learned rabbis.
Large multitudes were flocking just to see Jesus and hear Him talk about the relationship God is offering all of us.
As Jesus passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax table. Walking, teaching and showing miraculous signs among the multitude , Jesus’ attention turned to a man totally despised by everyone in that multitude. That man sitting at the tax table was a Galilean man named Levi who turned against his own people and even took a Gentile name Matthew to enhance his position with the Roman conquerors.
Rome ruled the world and it takes money to rule the world ... a great deal of tax money. Rome had conquered most of the nations of the world — including the people of the Holy Land. Rome’s worldwide system of taxation involved prominent Romans or local officials in league with Rome buying the right to collect taxes in a given area. In the Galilee, the publican with the tax franchise was the despised Herod Antipas — tetrarch of the Galilee and Perea.
GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS THE CHRIST.
Today is Father’s Day – that day each year when we honor our fathers – a day to say "Thank you" - a day for father and offspring alike to be warmed by cherished memories.
A baby's first words...a baby's first steps...the first piece he or she spoke in the Sunday school program...the day he or she got on that school bus for the first time - the photo album stored in the memory section of our brains is filled with such mental pictures - and how we treasure them.
Gunther Tharp’s parents had been watching a program on PBS and got into a discussion concerning the foreign culture that was the focus of the program. Eventually their discussion got around to a debate over the exact location of that foreign culture. Their best map at that time was a large globe in Guenther's room. Gunther’s father got the globe and held it up in the doorway where they could look at it with the light from the hallway. Suddenly, Guenther heard them, rubbed his eyes, saw them gathered around his globe, and asked, "Poppa, what are you doing with my world?"
Obviously not in the way Guenther meant the question, that ques¬tion is still very much with me - as it is in one form or another with many Chris¬tian parents and grandparents. Poppa, what are you doing with my world?
GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS THE CHRIST.
Linda was teaching classes for the Ohio State Extension Service. One day, while she was on a break, several staff members joined her at the table. One of them said “I heard you are going to marry a minister. I guess you go to church every Sunday and support that church.” The woman continued “Not me, I’ve been a cafeteria Christian for years. I pick and choose what I need and no strings attached. Need a baby baptized, call the church. Need a spiritual visit to the hospital, call the church. Get married or have a death in the family, call the church. I get all the service you do and none of the responsibility. I’m a cafeteria Christian who can pick and choose what I want – no strings attached.”
This month 54 years in the ministry I’ve met my share of self-proclaimed cafeteria Christians. I’ve felt sorry for each one of them.
In our Gospel text, Jesus reminds the Pharisees and us why I feel so sorry for cafeteria Christians. Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made for humanity, and not humanity for the Sabbath."
In the First Table of the Ten Commandments – the ones related to our relationship with God – God commands us to “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.” That word holy describes something that is set aside by God for a specific God given purpose as we live temporally and eternally in the Presence of God.