Summary: For a strong nation, be faithful in the little things, fear God; and make sure you are in the family.
Charles Swindoll, in Growing Deep in the Christian Life, talks about a man who bought a bucket of fried chicken for himself and his date late one afternoon. The attendant at the fast food outlet, however, inadvertently gave him the proceeds from the day's business – a bucket of money (much of it cash) instead of fried chicken. Swindoll writes:
“After driving to their picnic site, the two of them sat down to enjoy some chicken. They discovered a whole lot more than chicken – over $800! But he was unusual. He quickly put the money back in the bag. They got back into the car and drove all the way back. By then, the manager was frantic.
“Mr. Clean got out, walked in, and became an instant hero. ‘I want you to know I came by to get a couple of chicken dinners and wound up with all this money here.’
“Well, the manager was thrilled to death. He said, ‘Let me call the newspaper. I'm gonna have your picture put in the local paper. You're one of the most honest men I've ever heard of.’
“To which the man quickly responded, ‘Oh, no. No, no, don't do that!’ Then he leaned closer and whispered, ‘You see, the woman I'm with – she's, uh, somebody else's wife.’”
Ooops! An honest man without any integrity. It reminds me of the state of our American culture. We’re full of so-called “good, honest people,” but we lack the moral integrity that’s needed to keep us strong as a nation.
We’re in an accelerating slide into absolute moral ruin, which began with the sexual revolution in the 1960’s and has now led to the government prosecution of believers who will not celebrate same-sex marriage. Race riots are occurring with increasing frequency, requiring the National Guard to intervene twice in the last six months, first in Ferguson (November 2014) and now in Baltimore (April 2015). (Show Image)
What’s our country coming to? And what will it take to make America strong again? Well, I believe that the key to a strong nation is its churches. But the key to a strong church is its families. And the key to a strong family is its people.
That means you and I are the key to America’s strength (or lack of it). You and I are essential to our national security. You and I, as followers of Christ, are vital to our country’s vitality.
The question is: How? How can God use us to restore a nation that has gone so far away from Him? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Nehemiah 7, Nehemiah 7, where Nehemiah seeks to restore his nation.
Nehemiah 7:1-2 Now when the wall had been built and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, I gave my brother Hanani and Hananiah the governor of the castle charge over Jerusalem, for he was a more faithful and God-fearing man than many. (ESV)
Nehemiah has rebuilt the walls. Now, he works to rebuild the people. They had returned from exile, which was a result of their turning away from God.
You see, Nehemiah knows that the walls are not enough to secure the city of Jerusalem. More than anything else, the city needs the right kind of people IN it and OVER it to make it strong, so He appoints two faithful men that fear God to lead the people; and that’s what it will take in our cities all across this land to restore America. It will take faithful, God-fearing people!
Do you want your family to be strong? Do you want your church to be strong? Do you want your nation to be strong? Then first of all…
Be trustworthy. Be men and women of integrity.
In ancient China, the people desired security from the barbaric hordes to the north; so they built the Great Wall of China (show picture). It was so high, they knew no one could climb over it; and it was so thick, they knew nobody could break it down. So they settled back to enjoy their security. However, during the first hundred years of the wall’s existence, the barbaric hordes invaded China three times. Not once did they break down the wall or climb over the top. Each time, they bribed a gatekeeper and marched right on through the gates. (Bible Illustrator)
You see, no matter how strong a nation’s physical defenses, if that nation does not have people of integrity, then those defenses are useless. Faithfulness is fundamental to a strong country, a strong church and a strong family.
Just a few years ago, Dan Ariely conducted a massive study involving 30,000 college students to try and understand why some people lie, cheat, and steal. Ariely and his team went to college campuses all over the world and offered to pay students for every math puzzle they could solve in five minutes. At the end of the five minutes, the students were asked to grade their own papers and shred them in the back of the room. Then the students stood in line and received money for every right answer.