Separation of Church and State

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…”  (excerpt from Amendment I, U. S. Constitution)

If our United States Constitution actually commands Congress to protect the “free exercise [of religion]” and explicitly protects freedom of speech, how on earth did this phrase “separation of church and state” get such common usage?  The phrase is not in the Constitution nor, according to the Congressional Record, was it ever even mentioned during the framing of that document in 1789.

The phrase is not Constitutional at all!  It has been wrenched out of context from a private letter written in 1802, 11 years after the First Amendment was ratified.  There was a widespread rumor going around at the time that one particular denomination was to become the official national religion.  This concerned the other denominations a great deal since some had fled religious persecution by the official church of England.   President Thomas Jefferson wrote to the concerned Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut assuring them that under the Constitution the federal government would not, and indeed could not, establish a national Christian denomination.  In other words, the United States Congress could not legislate that all Americans had to be Lutherans, or Episcopalians, or Baptists, or whatever.

It is clear from Thomas Jefferson’s letter that the “wall of separation” he spoke of was to be one-directional.  This wall was to keep government interference out of the church and out of believers’ lives.  It was never meant to keep the church, or believers in Jesus Christ, out of the federal government, states, municipalities or schools.  It certainly was never intended to mean that believers could not speak of their faith openly, or pray openly in Jesus’ Name at public events.

The historical record clearly shows the Founding Fathers of our country truly had freedom of religion in mind when they framed our Constitution.  The courts, media and special interest groups have convinced the American people that we must have freedom from religion in the public square.  Nothing is further from the truth.

As a nation, we have been increasing the judicial and public approval and practice of shedding innocent blood of the littlest human beings, flaunting all sorts of abominations and sexual sins, forsaking our marriage covenants, calling good evil and evil good, and now pushing even the mention of God’s Holy Name out of public life under the false guise of “separation of church and state.”  Are we still arrogant enough to think that the Lord will rescue us from our enemies time and time again?  Perhaps we are that arrogant.   But, maybe we’ll be surprised some day to find that His patience has run out.

The prophet Isaiah says, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”  Are we willing to repent of our national sins and be forgiven and be spared God’s judgment?

“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.  Let him turn to the Lord…” (Isaiah 55: 6, 7a) 

Separation of Church and State? Part Two

What do you hear in so many places around America when a student wants to pray in Jesus’ Name? “No way, Constitutional separation of church and state, you know.”  What do you hear when a county wants to put a Nativity scene on their courthouse lawn at Christmas?  “We can’t do that… Constitutional separation of church and state, after all.”  What do you hear when a judge wants to post the Ten Commandments on his courtroom wall?  “What?!?  Everyone knows that the Constitutional separation of church and state prevents that.” Or does it? Just what “Constitutional separation of church and state” is being referred to here? This is usually said by groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and People for the American Way (PAW), groups which many of us would argue are obstructing many of our civil liberties rather than protecting them and whose attitudes in many instances are more anti-American than American.

Now, having said all that, I dare you to find the phrase “separation of church and state” in our official United States Constitution.  In fact, I dare you to find the words “separation” or “church” in the Constitution.   “Religion” is referenced in the Constitution, Amendment 1.  This is part of our Bill of Rights, which were immediately enacted to protect citizens from the government, not government from the citizens.

Let us quote this section for you. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”  (emphasis ours)

First, please notice the two emboldened phrases in the quote.  Our Constitution actually commands that CONGRESS (not schools, not local governments, not even States) “shall make NO LAW…” Again, it doesn’t say anything about not praying, or speaking Jesus’ name, or having Christmas celebrations, or posting the Ten Commandments, but about making laws.

Second and most important, Congress as an arm of the federal government is Constitutionally and strictly forbidden from EVER preventing the free exercise of religion.

 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord… the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him.” (Psalm 12a, 18a)

Individually, and as a nation, we must give our God more than lip service.  We must give Him the glory and honor due His Name.  We must seek to obey the entirety of His Word.  We must extend His grace and mercy to all, but never allow His justice and Truth to be compromised in our hearts or in our homes.  May His Name be praised, and not profaned, in this country.  Let us truly be “one nation, under God.”

The Revelation of His Provision

No matter what talents and abilities you may have, no matter what opportunities come your way, no matter what position in this world you may hold, there are adversities.  These trials of life can cause a man to lose hope and turn from the vision that once was so clear in his heart.  In the midst of the worst depression, in the midst of the worst health crisis, in the midst of a broken heart, if you allow Him, the Holy Spirit can awaken your spiritual heart to God’s provision, love, and care through trusting in Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord.  Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  It is Christ’s desire that His disciples have peace in their spiritual hearts, no matter what troubles and conflicts they may face in this world.  George Morrison once defined peace as, “the possession of adequate resources.”

In a time of great financial trial and faith building for us, the Lord showed His faithful provision in a simple practical way.  In July of 1986 the Lord revealed to me so clearly He wanted my family to know that he cares about every part of our lives.  This revelation came as a stray female yellow colored Labrador puppy wandered into our yard.  The Lord also revealed to me that it was time for our children to enjoy one of His creations.   After returning the puppy to its owner we desired in our hearts to purchase a yellow female Labrador puppy.

In our town was a dog kennel.  They had two chocolate colored Labradors.  The female had just been covered, which meant in three months there would be puppies.For three months, the boys and I prayed to the Lord every night.  We were specific in our prayer request to the Lord.  We needed a family dog, loyal, sweet, dependable, and preferably a yellow female Labrador puppy.  After praying with the boys every night for three months, I would stop at the bottom of the stairs that led to the boys’ bedrooms.  I would ask from my heart for the Lord to answer yes to our prayers, so the boys may know that He cared about every part of our lives.

At the end of the three months, five puppies were born into this world, four chocolate colored males and one yellow colored female.  We continued to pray for six weeks for our special request about this puppy.  After receiving our new puppy and enjoying her for nearly 13 years, we discovered that the Lord answered our prayer, exactly as we had asked for. What a blessing to see Jehovah-jireh meet our request, meeting a special need in our family with His providential care.

To us, Sandy was more than a wonderful pet, she was a constant reminder that the Lord cared about every part of our lives.  When I got laid off of my job, Sandy was right there beside us as we prayed for our financial needs.  When I was going through Berean Bible School, Sandy was right there beside us as we prayed for the time and finances needed.  When Bonnie was diagnosed with Brain Cancer, Sandy was right there beside us as we prayed as a family.  Every time we met together as a family to have special Bible teaching times and family prayer, Sandy was right there beside us.  One time after we had prayed, one of the boys said, “Here is Sandy, right beside us to remind us that God cares about everything in our lives.”

Then came that day, when we had to put our beloved Sandy down because of a serious illness.  On a Saturday morning, we gathered in our back yard to bury Sandy right beside a large group of flowers.  With our hearts broken and in tears, we thanked the Lord as a family in prayer for allowing us to enjoy His provision and for Sandy, a reminder that he cared about everything in our lives.

Even in the death of our beloved pet, the Lord proved Himself Jehovah-jireh in this sin stricken world.  We had lived in our new home for about a year and a half.  On our back porch was a pile of decorative rocks.  I had no use for them and I had intended to haul them off, I just never got to it.

There were just enough rocks to cover the top of Sandy’s grave.  There were just enough nice bricks in that pile of rocks to make a cross over the top of Sandy’s grave.  When we had placed the rocks and bricks over the grave, I reminded the boys how the Bible says the Lord is Jehovah-jireh.  He sees like a prophet and has provided ahead of time to meet our needs.

The home we needed to meet Bonnie’s health crisis sat empty for two years, waiting for us.  The pile of decorative rocks with the bricks we needed to place a cross over the grave of our beloved pet sat there for three and a half years.  The Cross over her grave reminded us of the Christ who died for us, so we as the children of God may enjoy the Lord as Jehovah-jireh, spiritually and practically in this sin cursed world.

Let the Holy Spirit of Christ prepare your heart so your spiritual eyes may be opened to enjoy His provision in times of crisis, so you can live in the realization of His provision. (Genesis 21:14-19)

Revealed Through Testing

There are different situations in life in which a child of God can expect the Lord to prove Himself as Jehovah-jireh.  Before you can receive Holy Spirit illumination of the Lord being your provider, you must be hungry to know the meaning, the significance, and realization of God being Jehovah-jireh.

The first step to enjoying God as Jehovah-jireh is that the believer be willing to be Biblically tested.  The opening Scripture to our teaching about Abraham’s faith says, “Some time later God tested Abraham….” (Genesis 22:1)  God gives different dispensations – ways for mankind to show their love to Him.  Obedience in these dispensations always opens spiritual eyes and hearts to the will of God and often enables the child of God to enjoy Him as Jehovah-jireh, even in practical ways.  Human life stands under a divine testing which climaxes in the judgment of God.  Set under the Lord’s careful watch, Christians come under twofold testing.  One, will the children of God seek Him and Two, will Christians let Him reveal His provision and will to them in the midst of the testing?

The word tested (nasah) in Genesis 22:1 is a verb meaning to test, to try, to prove.  This word appears nearly forty times in the Old testament, often referring to God testing the faith and faithfulness of human beings.  Testing from a New Testament understanding protects Christians from compromise and enables them to grasp God’s will for them.  To be tested as Abraham was tested means to be subjected to a test for qualification.  Let the Holy Spirit place this truth into your minds and illuminate it into your spiritual heart, “strong faith is often exercised with strong trials and put upon in hard service.” (Matthew Henry Commentary)  The Lord does not allow His children to be tested to see if they will fall. (James 1:13) The author of the trial brings on the testing so the children of God may discover His grace, empowerment, and enablement. (1 Peter 1:7)

God allowed Job to be tested by Satan so that he might be seen and known as a man who trusted in the Lord. Abraham’s particular testing time came after he had exercised faith in God through a variety of hardships and many difficulties.   There is a wrong expectation found among the people of God. They think the longer they have served and have proven faithful in the storms of life, the less they will have to endure.  Nothing is further from the truth.  Please note, “Many former trials and testing will not supersede nor secure us from further trials and test.” (Matthew Henry Commentary)

The Lord knows just what dispensation you need to provide you the opportunity to show your love for Him.  The right response in your present dispensation enables you to have a heart that causes you seek the Lord and enjoy his provision and protection in the greatest trials of your life.

What testing is God setting before you?  What are you to lay on the altar so you may enjoy all the Lord as Jehovah-jireh, has in your life.

God Reveals Himself

“Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.’” (Genesis 22:13-14) The King James says, – “And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh as it is to this day, ‘In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.’”

These passages of Scripture are found in one of the most unusual, and at the same time, one of the most exciting accounts in the Word of God.  Just as the Lord revealed Himself to Abraham, He reveals Himself to us through the Spirit, as He brings revelation and illumination of the written Word of God.

I would propose to you that God, our heavenly Father is the God who sees and provides as we walk in obedience to His will in our lives.  The Lord is as much involved in our lives in practical ways on this earth as He is in our spiritual hearts as it pertains to eternity.

There is so much for us to grasp in the Biblical account of Abraham, Isaac and the ram.  However, in this series of Sermonettes, the Holy Spirit of Christ wants you to grasp the truth of God being Jehovah-jireh in practical ways.

The best way to protect yourself from giving up on the Lord is to have Holy Spirit revelation of what God told Abraham before the announcement of His covenant with him.  Catch this powerful truth, “…The Word of the Lord came to [Abraham] in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, [Abraham], I am your shield, your great reward.” (Genesis 15:1)

At this time in history, the Lord was making a covenant with Abraham.  Despite all that Abraham had done in the power and strength of God, in his mind he was no better off in regard to having an heir from his own flesh and blood.  There was a practical concern that lay on Abraham’s heart and was dear to him.  Abraham wanted an heir for his estate.  God spoke to him and gave Abraham the promise of a son (Genesis 15:2-5)   There is a powerful truth that must be grasped if one is going to enjoy God as Jehovah-jireh like Abraham did.  Genesis 15:6 says, “Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.”  The Christian’s greatest reward is to have God and Christ, to know and believe God’s Word.  This automatically places you in a covenant relationship with the Lord.