God Bless America?
What if God wanted our country to be poor?
to be humbled on its knees?
to be in the depth of mourning?
to be selfless?
to be hungry and thirsty?
to be persecuted?
Often we hear and say the words "God bless America!" But do we really know what we are saying? Do we really know what we are asking for?
When I compare the world's understanding of "blessing" to what Jesus taught - they are strikingly different.
"Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them...
There is spiritual danger living in a country filled with material blessing and earthly success.
We can have homes full of stuff but lives empty of value.
We can view devices and follow trends but be blind to Jesus' guidance.
We can build success but become proud.
We can attend a church building but not be alive as the body of Christ.
We can dress from overflowing closets but be naked in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
We can grow immature, weak, apathetic, arrogant, lukewarm, lose our saltiness and become diluted (to name a few!) by keeping up with the Joneses. Read John's letter to the church of Laodicea!
Don’t get me wrong. I am so grateful that God allowed me to be born in our free and beautiful nation, the United States of America. We get to worship Jesus in Spirit, truth, and freedom! But what do we do with that freedom?
I remember when we lived in China and visited the back of a plumbing shop to pray with other believers. They sang hymns for hours before church even began. Their dependency on the Holy Spirit fueled their every minute as they lived not only in communist China but also a Muslim autonomous region. Phones and whereabouts could easily be monitored. Having their children attend the equivalent of Sunday School or “English corner” put them all at risk. And when I read articles like this I can’t help but wonder how our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ would walk differently on American soil…
What am I taking for granted?
Who am I turning a blind eye to?
Why am I distracted with trivial arguments?
Often when Christians live in countries that persecute them for their faith, they are tested and strengthened more than if they were in a country of religious freedom.
Let's not hide from persecution right here in America!
1. DON’T BE SURPRISED! What does it mean if you’re not being persecuted? Think on it!
2. STAND UP! Take pride in our Savior. Not ourselves.
3. LEAN ON JESUS! Our strength doesn’t determine our value or success. It’s easy to fall for the American “can do” spirit and feel entitled to our comfort and happiness.
4. MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY OPPORTUNITY! We are standing in God’s grace with the freedoms we are privileged to have. Let’s move while we have the light!
5. BE ON GUARD! This is no prosperity gospel. Say what God has to say with clarity and compassion.
7. BLESS AND PRAY FOR THOSE THAT HATE AND PERSECUTE US! May they be open to the gospel. Not sure where to start? Here are the top 10 persecutors of Christians in the world today.
You left heaven and lived in a place that was undeserving of You. The world cannot contain Your glory and so You humbled Yourself to become one of us in order to save us. I praise You, Lord, because You do not give to us as the world gives. You do not bless us with treasures that can deteriorate, get stolen, or be destroyed. You bless us with a forever love, life to the fullest, and salvation for our souls in heaven! Forgive us, Lord, for our apathy! Forgive us for our entitlement! Forgive us for our ignorance! Thank you for the blessings of our country. We get to worship and live our faith with freedom. Please guard our hearts to never take that gift for granted. We are discouraged when our nation rejects you. Help us stand up and shine your light even if it means we are persecuted. Please comfort our persecuted brothers and sisters with your power and peace beyond this world's understanding. You too were persecuted. Transform the hearts of the persecutors so that they may come to know Your love. Fill us with the Helper, the Holy Spirit, that we may we be dangerous to Satan and his schemes! Thank you Lord, Jesus. Your kingdom come. Your will be done. Amen.