I believe that if we do not address the spiritual war that is taking place and the deterioration of our values and principles, then the future of America – and the future of our churches – and the future of our families is scary and bleak.
America is in transition. A cultural shift is occurring. Traditional values are fading in the ever-growing presence of tolerance and acceptance. Our beliefs about the basics of our founding principles are changing. For example:
1. Family values – living together outside of marriage
2. Marriage being between a man and a woman
3. American exceptionalism
4. America a Christian nation
5. Separation of church and state
6. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people
7. Limited government and states’ rights
8. Guiding moral principles
Here is a truth we cannot afford to forget:
What we believe determines our values, and our values determine our actions.
Israel was away from God again. The nation had rebelled and the government had gone awry. The poor were getting poorer – the common folks were in bondage. Morality had plummeted. At the very heart of the issue was the people had a form of religion but no heart for God.
They attended the worship services and sang the songs and offered the sacrifices, but there was no heart change – no transformation – no passion for God.
Key Text: Isaiah 58:1-12 (NLT)
“Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. Tell my people Israel of their sins!
Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me.
They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me. ‘We have fasted before you!’ they say.
‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’
“I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. What good is fasting
when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me.
You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting?
Do you really think this will please the LORD?
“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.
God Himself contrasts the genuine from the imitation. God laments their hypocrisy and calls them to an experiential relationship with Him. Okay, Pastor – what’s the point? What do we do?
If America is to change, it must start with us, and here is what I believe God is saying:
1. Commit to an authentic relationship with Jesus and teach the difference to your children.
- The Lord told Israel in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NLT):
“Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
2. Practice authentic principles as Christ followers.
- Do right by those wrongly treated.
- Break the chains of those who are oppressed.
- Be generous - lose your selfishness and quit being self-absorbed.
It begins with us. What kind of Christian are you going to be?
Posted on Sat, June 27, 2015
by Erika Catlett