Summary: May I dare to be a prophet today? There is so much that is right in our land, but allow me for a moment to look at the other side - at 3 temptations that I think Americans are facing. (Powerpoints Available - #101)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(PowerPoints used in this sermon are available at no charge. Just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #101.)
Feelings of patriotism tend to flow rather freely at this time of the year. When we sing the "Star Spangled Banner," or hear a choir sing about America & the freedoms that we enjoy, we often want to stand up & salute or just do something to show that we're proud of our nation.
Sometimes we hear patriotic speeches which contain that ringing phrase, "I'm proud to be an American!" And we echo those sentiments, too. But think about it for a moment. Maybe what we ought to be saying is, "I'm grateful that I'm an American!"
You see, we could have been born in Bosnia or China or Pakistan. We could have found ourselves on the streets of some other nation this morning, wondering where our next meal is coming from, surrounded by squalor.
But here we are, in a nice air conditioned building, surrounded by beautiful people, in a loving church, in the great state of Oklahoma.
A. I am deeply grateful to be a citizen of the United States. And I trust that you are grateful, as well.
ILL. A father was talking with his rather rebellious son one day & said, "Every person who lives in the United States is a privileged person." The boy answered, "I disagree." And the father replied, "That's the privilege."
We have the privilege to disagree. We have the privilege to speak our mind. We have freedom of religion, of speech, of the press, and the right of petition. We have freedom to hope & dream & pursue our dreams. We are free in so many ways!
We have these rights because of what our forefathers have done. You & I didn't earn the privileges we enjoy as citizens of this land. But I am thankful for those who did earn them & passed them on to me, & that is what I celebrate on the 4th of July.
ILL. During the 1800’s, Alexis de Toqueville, a famous French political philosopher, visited our nation seeking to uncover the secret of our greatness. He traveled from town to town, asking questions, examining every facet of our society, & then wrote his conclusions in his famous work, “Democracy in America.”
Dr. John McDowell, a Presbyterian minister, attributed the following statement to Toqueville. While proof is lacking that he is the author, Presidents Eisenhower, Reagan, & Clinton have quoted it. And I believe the message is still relevant today.
"I sought for America's greatness. I found it not in her fields & forests. I found it not in her mines & factories. I found it not in her Congress & great tribunals. It was only when I entered her churches & heard her pulpits thundering against sin & preaching righteousness that I discovered her greatness. America is great because America is good. If America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."
The soul of America is God. O beware, America, lest we lose our soul!
SUM. Folks, if we put our trust in education, we'll get what education can give us. If we put our trust in money, we'll get what money can give us. If we put our trust in government, we'll get what government can give us. But if we put our trust in God, we'll have everything we need, for all eternity.
B. Now think with me for just a moment. Do you remember the names of the great prophets of the O.T.? How about Isaiah, or Elijah, or Jeremiah, or Jonah, or Daniel, or Hosea? And our list could go on & on.
But listen to the words of Jesus in Luke 13:34 as He approached Jerusalem, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets & stone those sent to you."
Stephen, the first Christian martyr, said to the angry crowd that was soon to stone him to death, "You stiff necked people, with uncircumcised hearts & ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute?" (Acts 7:51-52)
Why were prophets treated in such terrible ways by their own people? Why didn't the people honor the prophets of God & listen to what they said? Because the role of a faithful prophet was to point out the evils of society, the things that were wrong in the land.
May I dare to be a prophet this morning? There is so much that is right in our land, but allow me for a moment to look at the other side, at some of the things that are wrong.
ILL. A few years ago a picture of the historic flag designed by Betsy Ross appeared on the front page of a Chicago newspaper, & underneath it was this caption, "It's time to check our stitches again."