Posted by: pastortomvabeach | October 22, 2008

Thought For The Week October 26, 2008

On Sunday, I spoke about the moral crisis facing our country today and the tremendous opportunity that God has placed before the church in the age in which we live. Everywhere we look today we face crises – economic crises, foreign policy crises, political crises, domestic crises, etc. The news media assails us every day with their assessment of the plight of “millions of Americans” – no jobs, no health care, losing homes, low pay, etc. What we don’t hear is the true reason we find ourselves in the shape we are in.

I don’t believe these things happened only because of failed economic policies or incorrect foreign policy or any of the myriad of social or political reasons the secular media chooses to put forward. I believe many of the severe difficulties we face today are a result of the moral condition of the country. Deuteronomy 28, proclaims the blessings that will be given to the nation who obeys the Lord and the curses that will overtake the nation who disobeys.

The blessings relate to economic prosperity, agricultural and industrial production, growth and well-being of families, international prestige and leadership, and military power. Obedience to the Lord is evident to all the nations of the world because of the blessings poured out upon the nation that obeys. I think this is how the United States became the greatest nation on earth and is looked upon as the place many want to live. Now I recognize there has likely never been a time when all Americans walked in obedience to the Lord or were Christians. I do believe, however, that many of our leaders for most of our history, and the values that shaped our national identity, were aligned with Biblical values and that much of what we did, as a people, was informed by these values. People in our culture were more aware of God’s standards and, even if not believers, at least yielded their behavior to these standards ethically and personally.

On the other side of the coin, the curses come down pretty hard. They touch every area I described above but are described in greater detail than the blessings. Fourteen verses are dedicated to blessings and fifty-four to curses. This is not meant to short change God’s blessings. When blessings come they multiply more than we can imagine. I think it is meant to help us be very clear that when things begin to fall apart, we need look only one direction for the reason. The list of curses details the moral decay that befits those who turn from the Lord (“because of the wickedness of your doings in which you have forsaken Me.” Deut. 28:20)

God is speaking here to Israel as a nation. While the blessings and curses surely relate to individuals, they really get their full impact when applied to a nation as a whole. One of the greatest departures from God’s commands and the sin that eventually brought about the overthrow of Israel and Judah, was the sin of idolatry. Israel wanted to be like all the other nations around them and thought the way to do that was to worship the gods the other nations worshipped. At various times they had leaders who built altars and places of worship in order to call on foreign idols. They lead the people in practices clearly prohibited by the first two of the ten commandments. When these things happened, God would begin to bring the curses He promised against the people. When they had enough, they would repent and turn back to Him but soon another king would arise and they’d go right back to idol worship. Each time it seemed like they got farther and farther away from God until He sent the Assyrians and Babylonians to complete destroy the kingdom and carry the people away captive.

Jeremiah lived during a time such as this. He saw the coming destruction and spoke for God warning the leaders and the people to turn back before it was too late. He begins by saying, “What injustice have our fathers found in Me, that they have gone far from Me, have followed idols, and have become idolaters?” Jeremiah 2:5. Later he says, “She defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees.” Jeremiah 3:9. Notice God equates idolatry to the sin of adultery. Israel was to be His special people and bride. Turning to and serving other gods was like going to another lover. In Israel’s case, idols were usually stone or metal gods from other nations or actually creating their own statues to represent the true God (i.e., Aaron’s golden calf). Both were strictly prohibited and the continued failure of Israel in this area ultimately resulted in their overthrow.

In the New Testament, idolatry is more frequently depicted in a metaphorical sense and particularly related to covetousness. Both Ephesians 5:5 and Colossians 3:5 say the sin of covetousness is idolatry. Why is this so? Covetousness is an inordinate desire for things one can see – material goods, wealth, fame, pleasure, etc. When we begin to desire the things of earth to the extent that we dedicate most of our time, effort, work, thought, finances, etc. to the goal of achieving these things they actually become an object of worship. We effectively make idols of careers, cars, houses, video games, money, sports, entertainment, etc. From a negative viewpoinit it is easy to see how pornography, drug addiction, alcoholism, selfish anger issues, etc. can create idolatrous issues in life.

Dear friend, I don’t think we understand how easily we are enticed and deceived into putting things that are earth-bound ahead of our relationship with Christ. Anything that interferes with me really pursuing the Lord and growing closer to Him can quickly become an idol. If something takes me away from church, Bible study, prayer, using my spiritual gifts, guarding my thoughts, keeping the elementary commands of the Lord, etc., or if something begins to take Jesus’ place as the first love of my heart, that something is an idol. There is no other way to say it.

I have said all this to ask the question – are we, as a nation, in the situation we are in because, as a nation, we have sold out to idols? Has chasing the American dream become our god? When we see the degree of sinful madness afoot in our country, most of which revolves around people wanting something for themselves, be it riches, pleasure, absolute freedom from restraint, or whatever, it seems to me that our national sin is idolatry. And Christians have been deceived into chasing the same gods. We spend too much time and money going after things that will be burned up when Jesus returns and not enough time and money seeking Him and calling the world to Him. It is time for the body of Christ to repent! We can be the catalyst for real healing in our land if we will turn from our sins and really become the people of God in the earth.

I have called our church to join thousands of others around the nation in ten days of prayer leading up to our national election on November 4. From Sunday, October 26 through Tuesday, November 4, we will have prayer at 5:30-6:00 a.m. and 6:30-7:00 p.m. every day. The only exception will be the evening meeting on Sunday which will be from 5:30-6:00 p.m. Today is the greatest opportunity in recent memory for the church to make a real difference in our country. We can begin a revival that turns the U.S. back to God. Are you desperate enough to see it happen? God will answer, if we pray! Just a thought.


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