biblemike wonders

There isn't anything new in what I have to say, but I do see life from an unique perspective. As my body is shutting down, my soul is opening up to a greater and greater relationship with Christ. I am sharing the things I learn as I go through my trials so that those who read what I write will be encouraged in their own walks by how gracious God has been to me in mine. Ask me questiions, dispute my views and most of all pray for me. www.ucfm.net
UCFM Evangelistic Association

Friday, August 19, 2005

 

One Nation Under God?

I have written on the concept of one nation under God many times. Most of those times I have met with much disagreement because I do not believe that the United States is in fact one nation under God. At one time it may have been, but it no longer is and any hope that it may be again is remote .

It may be true that at one time this was a Christian Nation. It was founded on Christian principles. The church and state though separate, worked hand in hand. In fact, the church was the primary center for education. Most students learned to read the Bible as one of their first books. But that is no longer the case, except where it is being used as a text book for students learning English as a second language.

Now, if you asked your average school students to read the Bible you could be open for a lawsuit. The Bible's influence is carefully being removed from education. Increasingly Biblical values are being dismissed for personal preference. It would be much more accurate if our motto was: "You do your thing . . . and I'll do mine." We are living in days similar to the days of the Judges when God's indictment was this: "everyone did what was right in their own eyes."
But I am not writing today to whine about the problems we face. I want to be an agent of change. I have chosen to speak to you about a man who lived in a very similar time as ours. He lived at a time when it was said of the people, "every inclination of the thoughts of their heart was only evil all the time." (Genesis 6:5) I speak to you about a man by the name of Enoch.
There are three references to Enoch in the Bible. The first time we read about Enoch it is in Genesis 5:22

"And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. (5:22-24) "

We don't read about Enoch again until we get to the book of Hebrews 11:5
by faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away for before he was taken he was commended as one who pleased God.

The most informative reference to Enoch is in the book of Jude verses 14-16

"Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him. These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage. "

From these references to Enoch let me draw some principles for what we need to do and remember as we seek to bring our country to that point of being one nation under God.

Enoch Believed Fully

Enoch lived at a time when the world was going the wrong direction. It was early in the life of earth. He was the seventh generation after Adam. So, everyone was related to him. (A lot like living in a small town!) It would have been easy for Enoch to adopt the party line. But instead he chose to be loyal to God rather than to the world he was living in. This probably did not win him many fans.

When God brought Enoch's son into the world He was named Methuselah. There is some debate as to the meaning of his name. It could mean, "Man of the Weapon." or "Man of the Javelin" but it also could mean, "he dies, a sending forth" or "When he is dead, it shall come."
I know what you are thinking. You are saying, "Who cares?" Let me give you the words of the commentator James Boice,

"Enoch had a revelation at the time of Methuselah's birth of the destruction to come on the earth by flood. God said that the flood was to come after the death of that son. So either at God's explicit direction or as an act of his own faith, Enoch named the child Methuselah- "when he is dead, it shall come." While Methuselah lived, the flood will be held back. But when he died, it would come. (Genesis p. 292) "

Now if you read Genesis carefully you will see that the flood which destroyed the entire earth came in the same year that the oldest man in the Bible died. Coincidence? Or fulfillment of prophecy?

My point is that Enoch began to walk with God after He was told about the coming judgment. He took the message to heart and spent the remainder of his days warning people of the judgment that was coming.

In the same way, you and I must begin to do more than believe in God. We must learn to BELIEVE GOD.
We must believe Him when He tells us,
that "He is the Lord our God and Him only shall we serve"

His definition of right and wrong is the only definition.

That there is coming a day when he will judge the world.

That all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ can and will be saved.

That God is at work in EVERY situation of our lives
That God will provide for all our needs

That this life is not all there is.

I still know what you are thinking. You think, "We do believe these things." But I have to ask, "Do we?"

Would we neglect the reading of His Word if we really believed these things?

Would we be so slow to pray if we really believed these things?

Would we be so reticent to share our faith if we really believed these things?

Would we be so prone to rely on our power and strength if we really believed these things?

Would we be trying so hard to merit salvation if we really believed in His grace?

Would we waste so much time worrying if we really believed God's promise?

You see, one of the things that makes Enoch such a good example for us is that he believed God.

He believed Him to the point that His life was irrevocably altered.

Enoch Spoke Clearly

Listen again to Enoch's message:

Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.
As you can read, Enoch didn't mince words. No one wondered what the message was that Enoch was trying to get across. Four times he calls his world, "ungodly". He is warning of impending judgment and I suspect he also advised immediate repentance. Although these writings of Enoch no longer exist except in reference by Jude in his epistle, the importance of what they say still remain.

We must also speak clearly to a world that is ungodly

1. We must call sin, sin.
We call sin "failure," or we say we've made "a mistake". We call pride "self-esteem", selfishness "fulfillment," lust "an instinct." If we cheat in business, we call it "protecting our own interests." If we commit adultery, we call it "an attempt to save the marriage." We call murdering an unborn child "terminating a pregnancy." What hypocrites we are! How offensive we must be to God, who is obviously not taken in by our reinterpretations but who calls sin, sin and evil, evil.
I'm not advocating that we become obnoxious people who are always pointing our bony finger into someone's chest. I would suggest we start with ourselves. We need to be honest about the sin in our own lives and in our own churches.

Here are some questions for your personal lives:
Am I blaming others for my sin: my lust, my anger, my competitiveness, my gossip, my materialism, my neglect of my family? Am I saying it is because of genetics, or society, or circumstances? Take responsibility for your own behavior!
Am I rationalizing my lack of compassion or divisiveness by calling it "taking a stand?"
Am I talking about trusting the Lord while spending most of my time fretting about circumstances?
Do I talk about the need to love others for Christ's sake while at the same time writing some people off as "unreachable"?
Do I sidestep necessary tasks and issues by saying, "I'm waiting for the leading of the Spirit?" Have you ever thought the Spirit may be waiting for you to do what is obvious before He takes you further?

And here are some questions for our churches:
Have we confused "drawing a crowd" with successful ministry?
Are we guilty of putting on a show rather than entering the presence of God?
Are we trusting market research and "sure fire programs" more than the Word of God?
Are we proclaiming the tenets of psycology more than Scripture?
Those who have been broken by the realization of their own sin, are much more compassionate and loving when dealing with others about their sin. When the world knows that we are facing up to the rebellion and wrong in our own lives, they will be more open as well.

2. We must speak in a language people understand:
Do you think there was anyone who misunderstood what Enoch was saying? Just this week I heard a very encouraging comment but it saddened me at the same time. A young man said, after visiting our church for worship: "If there was someone nearby that spoke like that near where I live, I would gladly get up each week to worship there." What was it he found attractive? He said he appreciated the fact that we spoke in a way everyone could understand.
Let me be clear. I love words like: justification, righteousness, total depravity, millennium, rapture, tribulation, covenant, sanctification. I also appreciate and cherish phrases like: "born again", "spirit-filled", "anointed", "heard from God". But the world we are trying to reach does not understand those terms. Just because we close our eyes tight and really want to reach the non-Christian doesn't mean that we will reach them if we don't find ways to communicate with them.

If you don't know much about computers . . . let me ask you how you feel when you are listening to two people who love computers talk? All the talk about Megahertz, legs of lamb, floppies, hard drives, modems and the Internet mean almost nothing to you don't they? And ask one of those people to teach you how to run a computer. . . . forget it. You can't follow their directions because you don't know what they are saying and they are saying it way too fast.
Jesus told stories. He related spiritual truth to common events. He described God in human terms. He said the Kingdom of God was like a mustard seed. He said evangelism was like sowing seeds. He said Israel was like a tree that did not bear any fruit. Jesus spoke in a way that people could understand.

Do you enjoy reading Shakespeare? If you are like most people you don't enjoy it, because you don't understand it. If we don't understand Shakespeare, why do we present the gospel in the language and terms of Shakespeare?

Let me meddle a little more . . . let me suggest three possible reasons why we continue to use unfamiliar vocabulary when we talk of God.

It makes us feel superior. We like knowing the code words. It makes us feel more holy.

It gives us power. The only person that understands is us . . . people have to come to us to gain understanding . . . giving us power and influence

We don't understand the terms well enough to translate them. If all we have done is memorized certain code words and phrases and people don't know what they mean . . . we have not converted them, we have indoctrinated them!

Think through your testimony and your witness. Work to speak clearly so that the people you are seeking to reach will understand.

Enoch Walked Consistently

Finally, notice these wonderful words In Genesis, "Enoch walked with God" And if America will ever again be a nation that is under God . . . individuals like you and me will need to walk with God in our daily lives. This is different from visiting God on Sundays, or for the more spiritual, fifteen minutes every day. This is walking with God day by day and moment by moment.
Friends, let me tell you something as plainly as I know how. Our calling is not to go to more meetings . . . it is to know God and walk with Him! We can learn a hundred choruses and still not have a relationship with God. We can memorize whole books of the Bible and still not know God! We can attend seminars and have experiences and still not be walking with God! We can go to worship five nights a week and be a leader in the church . . . but still not be walking with God! We can be loyal to a church body and still not be walking with God.

At a recent Promise Keepers Revival Summit, it was reported that there has been NO increase in the proportion of adults who are born-again in 15 years --in spite of American churches devoting more than $500 billion to domestic ministry during that time! What's going on? We keep talking about "winning the lost" but we don't seem to be getting the job done. Let me tell you why I think that is. People are not looking for slogans or presentations. They are looking for people who are walking with God.

1) They are looking for evidence of a changed life. People stop smoking for several weeks. They give up drinking for a month. An abusive husband will be nice to his wife for a couple of months before the next explosion. Should we believe these people because they say they are changed? No. The proof of change is seen over the course of time. The world is looking for someone who not only has an experience;.they are looking for someone who has genuinely been turned around.

2) They are looking for consistency. Walking with God means allowing him to touch every element and aspect of our lives.

They want to see how our faith effects our business ethics and quality
They want to see how our faith affects the consideration and love we show to our family
They watch to see how we handle those who disagree with us.
They want to see what we are like with our friends.
They want to see how we handle the difficult times of life
They want to see how we react at a close ballgame
They want to see how we respond when someone wrongs us
In short, they want to know whether we are walking with God or whether we are just paying Him a visit now and again.

3) The are looking for people who show the compassion of Jesus:

“I was hungry
and you formed a humanities club and you discussed my hunger. Thank you.

I was imprisoned
and you crept off quietlyto your chapel in the cellarto pray for my release

I was naked
and in your mindyou debated the morality of my appearance

I was sick
and you knelt and thanked Godfor your health

I was homeless
and you preached to meof the spiritual shelter of thelove of God.

I was lonely
and you left me aloneto pray for me

You seem so holy;
so close to God.
But I'm still very hungry
and lonelyand cold.
So where have your prayers gone?
What have they done?What does it profit a man to page through hisbook of prayers when the rest of the world is crying for help? “
-M. Lunn, 1,500 Inspirational Quotes and Illustrations

Conclusions

I wanted to give you an example. An example of one man who stood faithfully in a corrupt world. Because, I believe this is what we are called to do as well. I hope you have seen that as Enoch believed fully, spoke clearly, and walked consistently so must we. If we really want to be one nation under God we must live under God's rule in our own lives first.
But one more thing . . . notice that Enoch, though faithful, did not save his people from destruction. His faithfulness and the fact that he "pleased God", was not contingent on his "success." And we must not measure our efforts by the worldly success or appearance either.
Enoch, who appeared to be a failure, so pleased God that God "took Him". Enoch didn't die . . . he went straight to Heaven! We can imagine that it happened this way as I borrow freely from the writings of Martin Luthor.

I believe one day God said to Enoch, "Enoch, tell you what . . . tonight let's go home to my house." The Bible doesn't say that Enoch died . . . it says God took him. And unless you believe that God took him by force, we need to realize that God gave Enoch a choice. Enoch chose Heaven even though he had never been there. His relationship with God was so strong that he chose to be with Him.

What would you choose if God gave you that choice today? Hold it! Don't give the correct answer . . . give the honest answer.

We should certainly work hard to bring renewal in our country. We should be the best citizens this country has ever known. But . . . we must always remember that our goal is not renewal in America. Our goal is to bring honor to the Lord and one day go home to the Father's house like Enoch did.

If we will believe God's Word and communicate it clearly to the world by our words and our lives, then we may find that there are those who would like to make the journey with us. And if enough people decide to place their trust in the one who died in their place . . . we might one day be able to declare that the United States of America is indeed, "one nation under God" and for the record . . . . I'd use an exclamation point!

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