In the Image of Christ
Colossians 3:8-11

The Greater Tragedy!

        In the USA September 11th is burned into our minds forever as the worst national tragedy to date. We were attacked without warning by an unseen enemy who shamelessly slaughtered innocent civilians. Many lives were taken in a moment, great property damage was inflicted in what is called the nerve center of our nation, and fear was instilled in people who thought this could never happen to them. Dreams were shattered as loved ones died, and many were changed for the rest of their lives by the injuries sustained in the devastation of the bombings and collapse of the World Trade Center towers.

        Yes, this great tragedy will always remain in my mind’s eye. I watched in disbelief as those planes crashed into the twin towers. Along with everyone else, I grieve and sympathize with all who suffered loss on that horrible day. But I believe there is a much greater tragedy that is plaguing this country than terrorism. Most Americans have forgotten who the one true living God is. The One who created the heavens and the earth, who formed each of us in our mother’s womb, has been forgotten. Tragedy strikes and we want to take God out of His box and ask Him to help us. “Pray for America” is a call that has gone out since this tragedy took place. Yes, we should pray for America and its leaders; the Bible tells us to do so (1Tim. 2:2), but it is a shame that it took a tragedy as grotesque as the collapse of the twin towers for the call to go out. Prayer should be the norm in a God fearing nation, in good times, as well as bad. Perhaps if our nation had truly been God-fearing and prayerful BEFORE September 11th, these things would not have happened.

      Worse yet is the idea that all, no matter what religion or faith, are asked to pray for help. The Bible tells us, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD”  Psalms 33:12 (KJV). To pray to anyone but the living and true God is a slap in His face. It is idolatry that He hates. He is the one true God and He alone is able to answer prayer. Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal as four hundred and fifty of them tried to call fire down from heaven to consume the sacrifice they laid upon Baal’s altar. From morning until the time of the evening sacrifice they pleaded with Baal to send fire and thus prove that he was a god. But in the end there was no answer. Then Elijah repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down, and put the sacrifice upon it. He dug a trench around it and commanded that twelve barrels of water be poured upon the altar and the wood. Then he prayed, “and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.  Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God”  1 Kings 18:36-39 (KJV). If this nation truly wants to be blessed, then it needs to recognize the one true God and Him alone. Ecumenism is ruining this nation much like it did Israel in times of old. Someone has said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Apparently America is not exempt. The true God is not worshiped by all religions, not even by all so-called monotheistic ones. He is the one who sent the Lord Jesus Christ to die for our sins. Then on the third day He raised up His Son from the grave and gave Him all power and authority. All other so-called gods are either made with man’s hands, myths, or lay dead in their graves. Jesus Christ is the “I Am,” the true and living God who can do anything! When one righteous man prayed, not only did fire from God consume the sacrifice, but the stones and the water as well.

        There are several things that we can learn from Elijah’s prayer. Elijah said, “I am thy servant.”  This means that he did what God commanded him to do. God is not our servant that we call upon when we need Him then dismiss Him when the trial is over. The Bible says to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, not just when it is convenient. If we want Him to bless this nation we must do as He says, not as we please. God was pleased with Elijah because he was His servant, but the fate of the followers of the false god (Baal) was God’s wrath and judgement, and they died that very day. If the heathen newspapers had written the story they would have called it a slaughter and denounced the intolerance, but in reality it was the judgment of God.

        Before the prayers of America will be heard, selfish, worldly and hardened hearts must be turned back to Him! “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” Psalms 66:18 (KJV). The words of the psalmist are true for us today.  We are a nation loaded with sin, and God will not even hear the prayers of those that regard iniquity (Psa. 66:18). Things once considered sinful in this land are now tolerated and accepted. The sins of homosexuality, drugs and alcohol abuse, abortion, and immorality have taken this nation and its people far from God.  Will we arrogantly defend our tolerance of things that God calls sin? Do we pretend to be more righteous or loving than He is? Who are we to alter God’s Word or pass judgment on what He has declared? Our great nation is on a fast downward spiral and the only way to change that trend is to turn our hearts back to God. If we humbly kneel in repentance, seeking His mercy and forgiveness, He will answer. Otherwise we can only expect His judgement upon this nation. Many have forgotten that it was God who has brought us to be the powerful and prosperous nation that we are. They believe it was by hard work and “American ingenuity” that we got here, and they are proud of it. Let’s give credit where credit is due, and that credit belongs to the Lord. He put us in this position and He surely can remove us from it (Psa. 75:6-7). I am definitely not a prophet, but I wouldn’t at all be surprised if this wasn’t a wake-up call to this nation. God is a jealous God and He alone wants our devotion. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.”  1 Kings says that Elijah repaired the altar of the Lord. The altar to the Lord that this nation once had is crumbled and broken. The only way it can ever be repaired is to humble ourselves, repent, believe and spread the gospel of Christ. For it is Christ who died for our sins and He alone has the power to change a life from sin to one that pleases Him. We should pray for America, that the leaders would seek to be godly, not popular, and desire to do God’s will, not their own. If we want God to bless America we must repent of our sins and turn our hearts back to Him. The words of Joshua need to be taken to heart as the theme for this country, “but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Only thus can the altar be repaired! I would like to leave you with the words from Abraham Lincoln.         

by Abraham Lincoln

        "It is the duty of nations as well as of men to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and their transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon. And to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

          We know that by His divine law nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may not be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people.  We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, power as no other nation has ever grown.

           But we have forgotten God; we have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us. And we have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with success we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged with one heart and with one voice by the whole American people."

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