My Citizenship Is In Heaven
As the 4th of July celebrations are now a faint memory, I was reminded of a celebration that we had with friends and colleagues here in Brazil several years ago. One man, along with his family, is a friend of ours, and so we invited this family to our July 4th party. Neither the man, nor his wife are Americans. About the middle of the afternoon, we decided to sing the American National Anthem, and then say the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag. I asked this friend if he felt a little out of place, not being an American, in the midst of all the Americans. What he said is something that I don’t ever want to forget. He said, “My citizenship is in Heaven.”
As Americans, we get so caught up in “American Pride,” that we forget that we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth (1 Peter 2:11). This world is NOT our home! I am thankful that I was born in the United States. God has blessed the USA as a result of the Biblical principles upon which our coutry was founded, and being born there, I have reaped the benefits.
But now I see that the winds of change are blowing. No longer is the USA what it used to be. I recently saw that a man in Arizona was arrested for holding a Bible study in his home. With recent developments, it is now the Chick-Fil-A controversy about biblical principles and traditional marriage. I know that many Christians are not happy with the current administration. I have seen enough and heard enough that it disturbs me as to what America is becoming.
There is a verse in the Bible, in Second Chronicles 7:14, which is often used during revivals that says, “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.” I know that this verse is talking about Israel, but it can also be applied to Christians, God’s redeemed people. For God to “heal their land,” there are four requirements given:
3. Seeking God’s face
4. Turning from sin
Number one, Americans are a proud lot. I ought to know, because I am an American. Americans are proud of their cars, houses, sports teams, and everything else. One tends to forget that all this stuff is temporal, and “you can’t take it with you!” That may be one reason why not too many Americans are anxious to go to Heaven. Life is too good here.
Number two, Christians don’t pray enough. When one says, “I pray for America,” it ought to be more than, “God bless my family, my church, my country, and the missionaries.” Many think that just by saying, “God bless America” that they have prayed for their country.
Number three, Christians don’t spend much time in seeking the face of God. They have time for everything else, but spending time with God and studying His Word? Many think that if they breeze through a chapter in the Bible each day, then they have sought God’s face.
Number four, instead of turning FROM sin, American Christians turn TO sin by means of their entertainment and leisure time. We say that we want God to “heal our land,” but until we are ready to turn from our wicked way, there will be no healing.
The average Christian in America is not sick of America, not sick of the abortions, not sick of trashy TV shows and filthy movies, not sick of immorality and immodesty, not sick of corruption, not sick of perverts and pedophiles, not sick of using God’s name in vain or idolatry, not sick of wife beaters and child molesters, not sick of drug addiction and alcohol abuse, and in general, are so accustomed to sin that they have become calloused to it. It just doesn’t bother them. They crowd around the evening news to se all the evil that has transpired in the last 24 hours, and it’s like “water off a duck’s back.” What bothers them more than sin are those “legalistic, fundamental, Bible-thumping fanatics” that keep talking about sin. (“We need to ship those ‘party-poopers’ off to a foreign country!”)
It was recently pointed out to me that what I deem “wicked” may be different than what others deem “wicked.” Christians in America have become hardened to wickedness and sin. What would have bothered Christians as recently as twenty years ago, the Christians of today are not even convicted about those same things. If a TV show or movie only has “just a couple of cuss words,” or “just a couple of suggestive scenes,” then today’s Christian would call it a “good movie.” Since when is “just a little sin” alright? Action, drama, and romance does not mean that a movie is good. What are we feeding on, and what are we teaching our children? The Apostle Paul said in two places, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”
The children of Israel, God’s chosen people, went through cycles on various occassions, which went something like this:
1) God’s people serve the Lord
2) God’s people turn their backs on God
3) God punished His people
4) God’s people cry out to God for help
5) God heard and answered their cry
6) God’s people serve the Lord
And so the cycle begins all over again.
It may be that the Lord is allowing this to happen to our country so that we get so sick of our beloved country, that we long for and desire to leave here, so that we can be with Him up in Heaven. The problem is that so many Chrstians have become so comfortable that they don’t have a desire to leave the “good ole U.S. of A.” The apostles and early Christians were suffering persecution while they were expecting Jesus to return in their lifetime. They were excited and anxious to be taken out of this world. The return of Jesus couldn’t be soon enough! Jesus said to the Apostle John in Revelation 22:20, “Surely I come quickly. Amen.” At those words, John responded, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” The average Christian today is not expecting Jesus to return any time soon, and that is evident by the way they live. They are having such a good time here copying and conforming to the world that it’s hard to tell a difference any more between the saved and the lost.
I have heard from a number of people time and time again that they don’t want to die, but to be raptured out when Jesus comes again. However, everyone wants the rapture to happen when they are ready for it to happen, perhaps when they have reached ninety years of age. Friend, that’s not going to happen!
Have you ever been separated from a loved one for a prolonged period of time? Did your heart ache at the time and distance of the separation? Do you long to be up in Heaven with Jesus in the same manner? I’ve heard preachers say many times before in a humorous way, “Yeah, I’m ready to go to Heaven, but I just wasn’t wanting to get on that bus today.” Why not? Because they don’t long to see the Savior, nor do they want to “leave all this behind.”
If you are still with me, first of all I want to say to you,”Thank you for reading all the way down to this point.” Second, if you are upset with me for writing this, I want to ask you to stop and evaluate your own heart when I ask you, “Does your love for America supersede your love for Heaven?”
Finally, I want you all to know that I am not ungrateful for having been born in the USA, but all of us that were privileged to be born there, it was by God’s grace and goodness, and not by anything you or I have done. We need to remember that we were not blessed just because we were born in the USA, but America was blessed when our Christian forefathers set foot in this country. God didn’t bless the soil and the grass and the trees, but He blessed PEOPLE, and because the founding fathers were Christians, that’s why America was blessed. But now with America on that “slippery slide” downward, it may not be very far off in the future that persecution will begin again for the Christians. Maybe then, the American Christians of today will again take the attitude of the early Christians and say, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” It may even be in the near future. I’m telling you, be ready for it.
I know it’s the week of Missions Conference in our church, and You could call someone to surrender to be a missionary. I know You wouldn’t call ME, or MY family because, well Lord, we are already serving You faithfully here in our local church. I mean, I have responsibilities, and who would take my place? You know, Lord, that my family is close by, and You gave us this house, and my job, and since You have given us all these things, surely You must want us to stay here. You wouldn’t want us to give up all that You gave to us, would You? Of course not!
And besides all that, we’ve suffered enough already. We have gone through so much, and picking up our roots to start all over again in a foreign country, well, that would be too much for my kids to handle. They have their friends here, and they go to a good school. And Lord, You know that we’re not as young as we used to be. It would be impossible for me to learn a foreign language at my age.
Yes, this is Missions Conference week, and I’ll say, “Yes, Lord, yes,” but I know that You would never call me. There are a lot of other people that would be better for You to call. They have no excuse…
What’s YOUR excuse?
Teach Us To Pray, Lord
You can probably think of a married couple that is always going out to eat at a restaurant. Rarely do they stay at home to go to the trouble of fixing a meal. It’s so convenient to go out, and not have to clean up the kitchen after a meal. It’s not that the woman (nor the man) doesn’t know HOW to cook – no, she’s an excellent cook – but that time and effort and preparation and cleaning are not as easy and convenient as eating out. Fixing a “full-blown” meal takes preparation, time, energy and effort that many would rather not do. It’s just plain work!
(You’re probably thinking right now, “Yeah, and…???) Well, to make an application, there is a song that we sing in our “independent, fundamental Baptist churches” entitled, “Teach Me To Pray, Lord.” This song was taken from when the disciples asked the Lord Jesus, “Teach us to pray.” They did not ask the Lord to teach them HOW to pray, but TO pray. I compare this to the person who knows HOW to cook, but just doesn’t because it’s just plain work. Think again of how much time is required to prepare, cook, and then clean up after a meal. When was the last time you spent that much time in prayer? I’m not talking about throwing something in the microwave, and then having your prayer time for the ninety seconds it takes to warm up your food. There is a book out entitled, “One-Minute Prayers to Start Your Day.” That’s just as absurd as the “One-Minute Bible.” Really folks, are Christians satisfied with spending just two minutes each day with the Lord? No wonder America is in the condition it’s in! Having a “full-blown” time of prayer requires preparation, time, energy and effort that not many are willing to invest. Why? Many times it’s just because we are just too busy, but also because it’s just plain hard work.
It’s not that the disciples were so ignorant that they didn’t know HOW to pray, nor is it that we don’t know HOW to pray. The fact of the matter is, we’re just not doing it! If Christians would spend some serious time in the prayer closet, instead of only praying during their fifteen-minute commute to work, revival could take place. Christians certainly have some misplaced values when they spend an average of less than five minutes in prayer per day, while they spend an hour on Facebook. Instead of looking for farm animals and virtual jewels, we need to seek the face of God for revival to take place.
Friend, you know HOW to pray. Just ask God to teach you TO pray.