Since we are only days away from the celebration of our nation’s birth — July 4, that grand day when we celebrate the blessings of God upon America — I wanted to pass along some thoughts about this great land from whence we have come and the direction we may go. To use the phrase, “God bless America,” is to call forth thoughts of the great song of the same name, but more than just a tune it is an attitude toward the God that we are asking Him to bless us. Clearly, through these centuries of national life God has blessed America. From our birth in 1776 when 56 men signed a short document declaring that we would be independent and free, through the eight years of war that followed and the blood that was shed to purchase our freedom — including the 25,000 men who died in securing our independence — God has blessed America.
Prior to the Declaration of Independence, it is interesting as sometimes history points out that from about 1725 – 1750, incredible revival fires covered the land. Preachers like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield preached the Word of God with power, conviction, and love. Out of the incredible outpourings of God, a nation would be born. God has blessed America from the earliest days.
While that is essential to be remembered, I want to focus our attention for a moment on today and a verse of Scripture that God gave to His people in Second Chronicles 7:14. Many of you could recite it without reading it, but God said, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall 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.” The application of that verse clearly needs to be refreshed and refocused in America today. There are four unmistakable points that God makes as he speaks to His people in that verse.
The first point is to recognize. When I say recognize, God says, “If my people will humble themselves…” God cannot and will not bless haughty arrogance. It is one of the things God hates, according to Proverbs 6. He looks for a humble spirit, one that will recognize He is God and we are not. When we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, He promises to lift us and bless us, but we must recognize that humbleness is necessary. While you can find people with a proud, arrogant attitude in almost every area of life, it is not a feature God will bless. “If my people will humble themselves…” is the call from heaven.
There was a day when America was known as a Christian nation. We thought of ourselves that way, but in the swift passing of just a few decades it has become hard to imagine that we were ever that and it’s equally hard to believe what we have become. There is less and less respect for Christian influences. More and more, you find secularism, humanism, and the rejection of God as a way of life — but don’t be mistaken. God still has a people and He has a people in America. Those who call on the name of the Lord, the living God, need to humble themselves. We need Him, but He needs us to recognize that it is only in humility that He can bless us.
The second point is to agonize — pray. It is a prayer that is far beyond just a rote reciting of some memorized thoughts. It is the kind of prayer that has intention, intensity, and urgency to cry out to God. I believe it was Abraham Lincoln who said something to the effect that he liked to hear a man pray like that man had a broken leg. That is a sort of visual picture of somebody getting serious about being in touch with God. God says if we will come to Him in prayer and surrendered yieldedness, He will listen to us.
The third point is to prioritize seeking His face. Popular singer Kenny Rogers’ old song says, “I spent a lifetime reading people’s faces.” To seek the face of God is to be willing to be so attuned to Him, to see Him, to understand what He wants, that we simply do what He asks. It’s not just to look at Him, but it’s also to focus on Him and not on us. It is to see and say we want God’s will to be done. That is seeking His face. Too many times personally, and too often in our churches, we want our will to be done and our way of doing things. The priority is to let God have His way in us.
There is a church in South Carolina named, “Jesus Only Church.” Some years ago, Hurricane Hugo blew off a few of the letters on the church’s sign to read, “Us Only Church.” Sadly, that could define our lives and our churches. We must make a priority of looking to Him.
Fourth, we must individualize. God says for us— for me, for you — to turn. What is it in your life that needs to be turned so that God can bless and use you? It becomes very individual for each one of us. You and I must decide if we are willing to turn. If we don’t, we for sure become a stumbling block to others. Years ago, a blind man living on the streets would every night light the lantern he kept. He could not see, but he lit the lantern because, he said, “It’s so easy for people to stumble on me in the darkness.” You and I need to get our lives in line. Being aligned with God is to turn from our way to His way so we won’t be a stumbling block but rather an encouragement, a blessing, and a help to other people seeking to turn toward God.
God bless America. He has and will bless this great nation if we listen to Him, turn to Him, and let Him have His way in us.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.