God Has Blessed Our Native Land

When floods wipe out the Mississippi valley, wheat still grows in Kansas.

The following devotion is an excerpt from a sermon preached at Grace Lutheran Church in a series following the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Over the past few weeks devotions have featured various sermons in remembrance of these attacks as well as the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The focus has been on God’s mysterious care in the midst of discomforting circumstances, unwelcome fear, and a struggle for world peace. This is the final devotion of the series.

You can link to http://www.gracedowntown.org/pages/srmDetail.asp?id=229 and read this sermon in its entirety.

Ancient believers did not know that some day astronauts would walk on the moon. They did not know that one day space shuttles would zoom outside earth’s atmosphere and return with pinpoint precision. They didn’t know that the sun is ninety million miles away and that it takes eight and a half minutes for its light to reach earth. They didn’t know that it takes seventy years for light from the North Star to reach earth, or that earth is only one planet of one solar system of one galaxy. But they knew the heavens. Without electric lights, without late night theater and restaurants and Monday Night Football, what else did they have to do but gaze at the heavens and marvel at its majesty? So when the Israelites needed strength and purpose they sang Psalm 147. “Extol, the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion, for he strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you ... He determines the number of stars and calls them each by name.  [Surely] great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.”

The greatness of God’s sustaining power is shown by his knowledge and control of the stars, but the most practical evidence of his sustaining power lies closer at hand. “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp. He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call ... he sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes. He hurls down his hail like pebbles. Who can withstand his icy blast? He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.”  If God would ever withdraw his sustaining power and blessing from that process, we would witness drought, dust bowls, hunger, and starvation.

No other nation on earth produces food like America. When floods wipe out the Mississippi valley, wheat still grows in Kansas. When hail destroys cotton fields in Texas, soybeans still grow in Minnesota. When frost nips at the fruit in Florida, tomatoes still ripen in California.                                                         

God’s greatest joy, however, is not watching his creatures exercise the muscles and brain cells which he gave them or harvest the crops he causes to grow but his greatest joy is receiving their humble faith and loving trust. “His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man, but the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”

If you really want sure hope then go to the Bible and see again your guilt lifted off your back and laid on Jesus, see again your sin washed away in the flood of his blood, see again the certainty of life eternal at his empty grave. Few nations on earth enjoy the freedom of worship we enjoy. We can sit here and sing praises without fear of arrest.  Government agents have not been sent into our homes to confiscate our bibles. We can gather for worship and fellowship on any day we choose. We have bibles available at low cost, in easy to read updated language, and with no limits on how much we read them. 

If you have become cynical of the state of morals, ethics, and values in our nation, then remember that God has blessed our native land.  He still preserves us with his sustaining power and still unites us to himself by his saving word. “Praise the Lord.”

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for you sustaining power at work in both dramatically awesome events, routinely normal cycles, and mysteriously hidden ways. All that we have is a gift from your gracious hand. Should the many blessings we enjoy in this nation ever cause our faith and love in you to weaken, then take the physical pleasures away so that the spiritual treasures may remain. Better yet, if it is your will, let our nation manage our many blessings wisely, and by your perfect handiwork use our efforts to open the eyes and hearts of many to your saving grace. Amen.

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