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Light of Christ Lutheran Church in Turlock, CA

Pastor's Thoughts for July 2009

Pastor

Each month our pastor writes to us from our Turlock church to share his thoughts on a topic of religious significance. His goal is to link the word of God as it is presented in the Bible and apply it to the context of our daily lives. Although each of these messages is dated they are in fact timeless in their spiritual significance.


God Has A Plan

What do Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Ben Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston have in common?

They were the committee when Congress passed a resolution asserting the Independence of the United Colonies back in 1776.

Ben Franklin said in the convention that met to draw up the constitution: "I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth .. That God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured in the sacred writings, that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. And I also believe that without this concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel.

They were the committee when Congress passed a resolution asserting the Independence of the United Colonies back in 1776. Ben Franklin said in the convention that met to draw up the constitution: "I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth .. That God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured in the sacred writings, that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. And I also believe that without this concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel. So Paul too, according to acts 17:24-28, in his address to the Athenians gathered to hear him in the court or the areopagus, reminded them that God had made all the nations of the world out of one original race of men and that all the epochs of every nation's history were fixed by his divine hand.

We call this holiday Independence Day. We know that as a result of the proclamation of this day the American colonies were separated from their mother country, and this new nation was given birth becoming "independent".

First of all, God has a unique plan for us. According to Jeremiah, God has a plan to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."

Government, we might agree, is of God. But government is not a thing that exists in-and-for itself. Man is not the tool, or puppet of the state. Man is not for the state. The state is for man. We must remember that mankind is the crown of creation. Therefore we are not made for the sake of the state.

So, secondly, government is of God, only when it does the things for which it was instituted - only when it seeks to suppress evil and rewards the upright, and works for the good of all. When this process is reversed - when it becomes an instrument of oppression and thwarts the common good - then government is perverted and becomes an instrument of evil and should be opposed.

Hear these words of 1 Samuel 12:14-15: "If you will fear the Lord and serve him and hearken to his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the King who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well; but if you will not hearken to the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you and your King."

So third, if God is forsaken, in either church or state, there can be no long continued peace or prosperity. Surely this is the history of the entire Bible - where God is not first, where God's love is not priority, there can be no peace.

If the rights that are proclaimed in the declaration of Independence are not God-given - then they are vulnerable to whatever more powerful force may overtake them.

Fourth then, the strength of our "freedom" lies in the conviction that it is the right of the human spirit - not the privilege granted by any government. It was not against King George that the colonists rebelled - it was against the taking away of freedom. The freedom they demanded was not merely the freedom that was their due as Englishmen. It was not the freedom granted by the whims of King and Parliament - but the freedom they understood God had given.

It is this - which makes the course of human events described in the declaration as divine course - a movement not of politics - but of the spirit. We have a faith that the spirit of freedom is ours because it is God-given. Fifth, so we are called back to a consecration of our nation's Independence that includes the commitment of our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. Remember how Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg address said: "We cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hollow this ground. It is for us - the living - rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they -who fought here - have thus far so nobly advanced." That is our challenge today. Our country from it's founding, has been established on these principles. The freedom our citizens have died for are God-given freedoms.

We forget that God is at work behind the human activity. It is our firm belief that this nation is under the living God (despite the actions of some people). It is right that we should pray for our government and all those in authority - that this nation can continue under God - and that we might recognize that God will continue to smile upon our undertakings if we are faithful to God.

-Pastor Starkey


 

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