December 17, 2017
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Thankful for our nation

Chris Tomlin presented Worship Night in America at the Madison Square Garden two weeks before the election. It was simulcast in large churches all around the nation. He invited five other popular Christian musicians and speakers Max Lucado and Louie Giglio.

The theme for the evening was taken from 2 Chronicles 7:14 - If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

They called the nation to repent, to be humble, to pray, and to seek Godís face. Tens of thousands of people knelt down on the floor and asked God to forgive us and our nation. They prayed for Godís favor in our recent presidential election.

Since then we have elected a new president. Some people are responding in fear and others with anger. Protests have been staged in some cities and our nation has been deeply divided. Hatred and blame have pushed us apart.

But we are one nation under God. This country was built on Godís principles and laws to protect the freedom of religion. It has become the greatest country in the world for protecting individuals and their rights.

We, as Christians, should be thankful for this nation.

The pilgrims came to this land to get away from religious persecution. They wanted a new world to live in and took great risks. No wonder they declared a day of thanksgiving to remember Godís faithfulness.

The birth of this nation came through struggle, fighting for rights, and rebellion. No wonder the founding fathers set Godís laws as the basis for our government. They promised to follow Godís ways.

Today we are thankful that we can freely seek His face and worship Him. He has blessed this land and this nation, and He still loves us. We show our gratitude to God by obeying His commandments.

Grateful Behavior

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. - Romans 13:1

There is no higher authority than God. He has full command of the world, seen and unseen. He has command over all people. No one can get elected unless God allows it, and no one can rule over others except by His permission.

This great country just elected a new president, and it was a long, hard battle. I did not know who would win the race, but I knew we would elect a sinner.

Maybe you wondered, as I did: ďGod is this the best we as a nation can do? Is there no one trustworthy to govern this people?Ē How can a person be thankful for a nation that is in this much trouble?

Whether you are happy or sad about the outcome of this election, God says that you must submit to the governing authorities. Fear gripped the nation and lingers on, but God knows who is in charge. He is.

Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. - Romans 13:2

Anyone who rebels against the governing authority trusts in himself, rather than God. A rebel is acting as his own highest authority, and those who do so are judged for denying Godís authority.

Even Christians that rebel against the government are rebelling against God. Let me explain. God is up to something. He has a plan. He can use anything He wants to accomplish His purpose.

The prophet Habakkuk complained to God because he didnít understand why Israel was under oppression. God told him that the solution was even more perplexing than the problem. God was about to use the Chaldeans, a most evil people, to save Israel! If I were Habakkuk, I might have said: ďI didnít see that coming!Ē But God is in control, we must let Him work His plan. Donít be afraid. Thank God for what He is doing.

For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. - Romans 13:3

Do you want to be free from the fear of the ruling party of America? Do the right thing and you will have no reason for fear.

This is true today, just as it was true four years ago, and eight years ago. There was much fear when President Obama took control, and our government has veered away from Godís laws. But if you want to be free from fear, then do the right thing.

This is what God says about the president who represents our government:

For he is Godís servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is Godís servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. - Romans 13:4

Anyone who disobeys law and order is subject to punishment. God uses the government to execute that judgment on wrongdoers, even though the government does not do it perfectly.

But what about religious persecution? What about a situation in which the government requires a person to act against their convictions?

We have examples in the news of business owners that were fined or sued because they refuse to participate in something they disagree with, such as gay marriage. Similarly, some Christian business owners would like to screen their future employees according to their religious convictions. But the law treats that as discrimination, which is illegal.

What do you do when Godís servant, the government, has promised to do you harm instead of good? Can I rebel against that sinful authority without it being rebellion against Godís authority?

Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. - Romans 13:5

We must submit to the authorities because of conscience. We must be obedient to God as the ultimate authority. God demands that earthly authorities be in agreement with His laws.

Keep your conscience clear by obeying the law of God. When there is any room for doubt, choose to do the most loving thing. It is possible to act in love rather than support.

Do you remember the bakery charged with discrimination? They did not want to show support for gay marriage. God does not command us to defend our opinions. He commands us to love one another.

Perhaps that bakery could have demonstrated love without demonstrating agreement. Not every law in this nation is godly. We can still be thankful for this nation by obeying Godís laws, and He will bless that obedience. Let God deal with judging the law of the land. He will.

Meanwhile, be thankful and trust Him.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are Godís servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. - Romans 13:6-7

I used to resent paying taxes. I believed the government was not trustworthy in how they used it. I thought it was my right to fund only those things I supported. I explained it as ďgood stewardship.Ē

But these verses showed me that my attitude was wrong. I cannot be thankful when I am judgmental. I am not a steward of money I owe. The one to whom I owe it is responsible.

It is not up to us to manage the federal budget, but we are responsible to vote and provide guidance. We are not responsible for the choices politicians make, nor their motives while they make them. God takes charge of that.

Be Thankful

Let us be thankful for our nation. We can gratefully pay our taxes, revenue, respect and honor because we know God is able to work through the most corrupt system and the vilest sinner for His good. And He will.

We can be grateful for Godís blessing, as He has proven for over two hundred years. Not because our founding fathers were perfect, but because He is perfect. We can appreciate the freedom and independence that sets this nation apart from any other in the world. God is for us, and He is the highest authority.

We can be thankful for our president and every member of our government. And with that thankful heart we must pray.

Remember what the Bible says: ďIf My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.Ē

We humble ourselves by giving thanks rather than demanding our right to an opinion. We pray and seek Godís face by recognizing that He can control every part of the government for His purposes. And He is.

We can thank God for giving peace and prosperity to our land, and because He does we live in peace and prosperity.

Today, even though there are protests, fear and anger, you must express your gratefulness for this wonderful nation.

God has a history of using this nation to bless others, to bring peace, and to share in prosperity. It is His stewardship, and we are glad.

Thank You, Lord, for the lovingkindness You show us.

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