Summary: There is a world living in darkness that needs to see that light on a hill, that needs to hear the word of life - to hear that they can be born again into an inheritance that can never spoil, fade or pass away. (PowerPoints available - #149)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(The Powerpoints used with this message are available at no charge. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #149.)
A. Eleven years ago this past week the skies of New York, Washington, D.C. & Pennsylvania were punctured by hijacked airplanes in a diabolical plot to pierce the soul of our nation.
Eleven years ago our sense of security was shattered as planes became missiles, buildings became piles of rubble, thousands of lives were lost, millions of hearts broken – the handiwork of men who killed in the name of their religion.
Terrible images have been etched forever into our memories: of planes crashing into towers, of 110-story buildings turning into fiery furnaces & collapsing in a cloud of ashes & dust, of men & women falling to their deaths, of people running for their lives even as hundreds of firefighters & police officers were losing their lives in attempting to save more.
ILL. Eleven years ago we received a shock that some described as “a wake-up call from the pits of Hell.” Listen to what Steve Malone wrote a few days later:
“We have all been wandering around in a haze, in a daze for 6 days now. Like the clouds of smoke, soot & debris that blanketed lower Manhattan – a dark cloud has blanketed the heart & soul of nearly every American. …
“We feel helpless, we’re confused, we’re angry, we’re numb… How could we be so vulnerable? How do we fight against ‘shadows?’
“How do we ever step into an airplane or a skyscraper again? How do we ever feel safe again? How do we make our children feel safe again?” (See footnote)
Suddenly realizing how very fragile & precious life truly is, for a little while at least, as a nation we hugged our kids & grandchildren a little tighter, & told our spouses of our love for them even more fervently than before.
B. And our nation prayed. Simple, heart-felt prayers echoed not only in churches, but on street corners, in public buildings, &, yes, even in some schools.
Members of Congress gathered for prayer in the very hall where, a few weeks before, police had threatened to arrest a group of young people for bowing their heads in silent prayer.
As a nation we stood united in prayer to Almighty God, & we sang “God Bless America” with a fervency that startled us. People turned to God & to His Holy Word for comfort & guidance, & were unashamed of that. And His words echoed & re-echoed throughout our land. For example, Psalm 25:1-3.
“To you, O Lord, I Lift my soul; in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.”
Also Psalm 27:1-2, “The Lord is my light & my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?
“When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies & my foes attack me, they will stumble & fall.”
At such a time we knew that we needed God - not a feel-good type of God. But the unmovable, unshakable God – the God who was & is & forever shall be - all present, all knowing & all powerful – King of Kings & Lord of Lords.
As a nation we knew we needed the Lord God Almighty – And we still do!
ILL. That year, when President Bush stood before the Joint Session of Congress & addressed the nation about our national resolve, his words met with near unanimous approval & acclaim.
And the leaders of Congress pledged their unswerving loyalty to his leadership in doing whatever had to be done to protect the people of our nation & to defeat those who would seek to harm us.
C. Now 11 years have passed by, & much of our national unity, emotion, & commitment has melted away. Just like the people of Israel in the days of old, we seem to have forgotten the promises that we made to one another & to our God.
In the political world it seems to be “politics as usual.” And now we seldom hear anyone singing “God Bless America” in public. Its message is fading away.
But this past week we awoke to the news of new attacks: the storming of our Embassy in Egypt, the assassination of our Ambassador & 3 others in Libya, & the destruction of our Consulate there. Then in quick succession rioting against the U.S. broke out in Yemen, Iran, Tunisia, Sudan, & elsewhere in the Middle East.