Monday, November 5, 2012

America at the Crossroads, Part 1: "The Promise of Our Nation"

Here are the notes from the message at New Life Community Church yesterday, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012.  This was the first of a three-part series entitled AMERICA AT THE CROSSROADS: A Defining Moment.  The message title is "The Promise of Our Nation."  If you desire to listen to this message, you can do so by going to our website  God Bless!

America at the Crossroads, Part 1                                              Sun., Nov. 4, 2012
 “The Promise of Our Nation”

Video: “It is our Time”
1.      THEN
2.      NOW
3.      AND HOW

A Defining Moment
Roman Empire – a pagan place – Christian values unknown. 
Corruption was pervasive in business.
Morality virtually non-existent.
Divorce was common to the point that marriage was increasingly considered non-existent.
Dirt and filth filled the cities so that disease, plague, and epidemic were frequent.
Life expectancy was half that of US today.
Few families had both parents – few parents ever saw all their children grow to adulthood.
Modern contraception or birth control was unknown, therefore abortion was frequent.
Medical procedures were primitive – germ theory unknown, sanitation non-existent.
Women who underwent abortions often either died in the process or became infertile.
Therefore the primary form of birth control was infanticide. 
Determine the gender and then usually keep the male babies and dispose of the female babies – abandonment – take them to seashore or forest and leave to die of exposure.
Measles, smallpox, or bubonic plague would sweep through a city and kill as much as half the population. 
People fled the cities.  As a result of depopulation of the cities, then after the epidemic, the government would move tens of thousands of people from different parts of the empire back into the cities.  Therefore the cities were a conglomerate of languages and cultures.
Historic date:  July 19, 64 A.D.  The city of Rome burned.
72 hours the fire was nearly out.  Then it burst into flame again.  Three more days it burned.  Rumors that soldiers stopped firefighters 
Nero decided to blame the Christians.
Thus, the Neronian persecution.
Three years later Peter wrote:
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.  I Peter 2:9-12 (NIV 1984)


Three Words to America:
1.     God judges PEOPLE and NATIONS.
2.     The church is the HOPE of the world.
3.     America is UNIQUE in history.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.  Psalm 33:12 (NKJV)

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.  Proverbs 14:34 (NKJV)

How were Christians to live in such a perverse and corrupt society?
Here’s how:
Husbands and wives were faithful.  Avoided divorce.  Women treated with dignity.  Didn’t have abortions.  Kept their girl babies.  EVEN WENT OUT AND FOUND THE ABANDONED LITTLE GIRLS.
Therefore there were a disproportionate number of women in the churches.  Wouldn’t allow women to venture out into the world because of the danger.  Church insisted that a young man be a Christian before he could marry a young woman.  Single men in the empire by the thousands began coming to church.  Result – they converted.
Standard health policy – when disease hit, flee the city.  Leave behind the disabled, the children, the elderly.  But the Christians would not flee.  At risk of their own lives, the Christians reached out to those who stayed behind.  Loved them and ministered to them.  After 3-6 months, when plague had died down, family returned and found their family members still alive and converted to Christianity.
October 28, 312 A.D. the Battle of the Milvian Bridge
In hoc signo vinces.

Rodney Stark The Rise of Christianity.  It wasn’t the Edict of Milan that made Christianity the official religion, it was the rise of a vibrant Church.

Question:  Are we winning or are we losing in America?
What happens at the ballot box is certainly important because it determines the health and future of our nation, but the real battle is in terms of THE CHURCH BEING THE CHURCH.
2008 BBC correspondent Justin Webb stationed in Washington, D.C. wrote this about what he sees in America:
My wife and I do not believe in God. In our first posting in
Brussels among the nominal Catholic Belgiums' unbelief was not a
problem. The Bush administration hums to the sound of prayer.
Prayer meetings take place day and night. Before that in London it
was not remotely an issue. With the sole exception of one friend
who is an evangelical Christian, I don't recall a single conversation
with anyone about religious matters in the years I lived and worked
in the capital. Our house in London was right next to a church. We
talked to the tiny congregation about the weather, about the need to
prune the rosebushes and mend the fence, but we never talked
about God. How different it is here on this side of the Atlantic. The
early settlers came here in part to practice their faith as they saw
fit. Since then the right to trumpet your religious affiliations loud
and clear has been part of the warp and weft of American life. And
I'm not talking about the Bible belt or about the loopy folk who
live in log cabins in Idaho and Oregon and worry that the
government is poisoning their water. I'm talking about Mr. and
Mrs. Average in normal town USA.
Mr. and Mrs. Average share an uncomplicated faith with its roots
in the Puritanism of the forbearers. According to that faith there is
such a thing as heaven. Eighty-six percent of Americans, we are
told by the pollsters, believe in heaven. But much more striking for
me and much more pertinent in current world events is that 76
percent, or three out of four people you meet on any American
street, believe in hell and the existence in Satan. They believe that
the devil is out to get you, that evil is a force in the world, a force
to be engaged in battle. Much of the battle takes place in the forms
of prayer. Americans will talk of praying as if it were the most
normal, rational thing to do. The jolly, plump woman who delivers
our mail in the Washington suburbs has a son who is ill. "The
doctors are doing their best," she says, "but she's praying hard,"
and that's what will do the trick.
During the last week a child who has been missing for nine months
has been found safe and well. The event was described routinely
on the news media as a miracle. One broadcast had a caption
reading "the power of prayer. In fact, the child had been abducted
and her abductor was recognized and captured. In rational, old
Britain the media circus following the finding of the child would
have focused on ways of preventing this from happening again, on
police errors in the investigation. But here metaphorically,
sometimes literally, they just sink to their knees.
We are at our best when IN CRISIS.
But why wait until the crisis?
America rises to her true identity when things are at their worst.

24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.  27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’  28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’  29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”  Matthew 13:24-30 (NIV)

36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”  37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.  40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.  Matthew 13:36-43 (NIV)

Don’t curse the weeds – Grow the wheat!

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