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Thursday, June 18, 2009

God Bless America or America Bless God?

"God Bless America" - A beautiful sentiment that we Americans commonly say and hear each Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Veteran's Day and in numerous patriotic speeches or articles. And so completely backwards and wrong.

This past week while visiting a local country style furnishings store with my daughter I saw a sign that read "America Bless God" and I was instantly taken aback at the simple truth and humility revealed by switching two words. It not only rearranges the sentence but reveals the truth of our place in the "big picture" and puts us squarely where we rightfully belong.

While God's blessings are a wonderful thing to strive for as a nation, just how do we go about receiving God's blessings? Do we just ask and receive as Jesus told us in Matthew 7:7? Is it that simple? Well, yes and no. Remember, the Bible is a whole, not a collection of one-liners to be thrown like daggers in an argument.

If just asking and receiving were all that's necessary, why don't we already have all that we've ever asked for in prayer? Jobs, cars, homes, health, Love, etc? Simple, we're doing it wrong. In our quest to not complicate things, we've oversimplified our faith and apparently lost so much in the translation and perhaps even our way. The way we are to go about receiving God's blessings and what we ask for in prayer IS remarkably simple, but it's not the way we've been told to go by far too many false prophets.

Let's get back to the basics in Sacred Scripture;

In Matthew 18:19 Jesus tells us that two of us should agree on what is asked for, "touching" it. and this can't possibly mean that all we need to do is physically "touch" those things we desire while praying. If that were true all me and my wife would have to do is go to a Ferrari dealer, both of us lay hands on a nice new Ferrari F430 and pray and it will be ours! We should be able to find a nice new home and new furniture and everything we desire in the same way, right? Not quite. If you get the urge, feel free to try it and please let me know how that works out for you.

How then do we "touch" God's blessings in order to receive them? We cannot "touch" a blessing that we have not already received. "Touching it" in this case most certainly does not refer to physical touch but to the whole of our actions that we must do in order to realize that in which we seek, according to God's will, not ours.

Luke 11:9
tells us to seek and we shall find. But what is in the seeking? Seeking is not just asking but it a conscious pursuit, an act of will to find that which is hidden. In John 14:13 Jesus further explains and tells us that we should ask it in His name so the Father might be glorified in the Son.

But again, is it that simple? Can anyone just ask for anything in Jesus name and receive it? Again, obviously not. In John 15:7 Jesus clearly further explains that we can ask and it shall be done only if we abide in Him and His words in us. The picture is coming clearer now.

John 15:16 clarifies that what God gives us is so we may continue to bear fruit but not the fruits of human toils and our earthly passions that we narrowly see and seek, but the fruit of our lives which truly comes from the vine; our labors such as wisdom, charity and Love. God provides us that which we need here on earth but His fruits are those things that we can clearly take with us and are not bound by earthly existence and transcend the human experience such as wisdom, charity, faith, hope and Love.

James 4:1-10 tells us:
"Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. Adulterers! Do you not know that to be a lover of the world means enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose that the scripture speaks without meaning when it says, "The spirit that he has made to dwell in us tends toward jealousy"? But he bestows a greater grace; therefore, it says: "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." So submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds. Begin to lament, to mourn, to weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you."

Another answer is right there in Philippians 4:6 "Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."

If we want it and are anxious for it, even in prayer, we shall not receive it.

Now God's revelation of His truth and His Will regarding prayer becomes clearer in 1 John 3:21-22 "Beloved, if (our) hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him." Purity of heart, confidence in God and obedience to Him.

And further along in 1 John 5:14-15 "And we have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, we know that what we have asked him for is ours."

For us to receive anything from God, most especially His blessings whether as a nation or as an individual, we must first keep ALL His commandments (not just the convenient ones, but ALL of them), doing all those things that are pleasing in His sight and according to HIS WILL and then asking through Christ Jesus in prayer and supplication, only THEN shall we receive.

In Matthew 7:6 Jesus tells us "Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces." Why then would God cast his holy blessings before us when today we as a nation trample underfoot His commandments and all those beautiful things He has given us? I would bet my life that God has no cares whatsoever for our pathetic little "Separation of Church and State" especially in light of what it has become. It went from being a wonderful concept by Thomas Jefferson to prevent religious persecution of all of God's people into a device FOR religious persecution against those that do believe in God and the means for removal of God from our society. That surely isn't God's will, but of an evil design whereby we choose the laws of man over the laws of God and even deny Him in the process. Remember, denying God's existence doesn't mean He doesn't exist. It means you are in denial.

Church and StateOne look at today's political scene, the news and especially the current administration's efforts to completely secularize our society by not only removing God from our government, our schools and our lives, and going to the other extreme to support those things that are certainly against God's commandments and His Will such as abortion, embryonic stem-cell research and homosexual marriage, and this alleged separation of church and state and it's clear that we HAVE trampled underfoot all of God's commandments and do not keep them. The church is indeed the body of Christ so what then is the real goal of separating church and state?

To receive anything from God, especially His blessings, we must first be worthy of it. As James 5:16 reminds us, "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" and that means we must first be righteous in God's eyes, not our own and then may receive.

"God Bless America" is arrogant and proud. "America Bless God" is humble and righteous.
God cannot bless America until America Blesses God.

May each of us find ourselves worthy of God's blessings.

America Bless God,


Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Even though America bless God is a nice sentiment, actually this is wrong, merely because America can't bless God. Last time I checked we're not a nation of priests. (That and the finite can not bless the infinite)

But America CAN Adore God, so maybe it'd be better written America Worship God, or America Adore God :)

Bob Cavalcante Jr. said...

Not wrong at all Joe, let me explain. We most certainly CAN and should bless the Lord in every way and at all times. It's true that only God has the power to bless (make holy) and and that the inferior cannot bless the superior and it's also true that priests don't bless us, they bestow the blessings of God upon us.

In our celebration of Mass during the Liturgy of the Eucharist the priest says:
Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life.

And we reply:
Blessed be God forever.

The priest is in no way attempting to give a blessing back to God nor are we in our reply. As the created, we have neither the power to add nor detract anything from God so in blessing God, we are not making Him blessed but rightly declaring and acknowledging that He is blessed and the fountain of all holiness and blessings!

King David reminds us in Psalm 103: (

"Of David. Bless the LORD, my soul; all my being, bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, my soul; do not forget all the gifts of God,
Who pardons all your sins,
heals all your ills,
Delivers your life from the pit, surrounds you with love and compassion,
Fills your days with good things; your youth is renewed like the eagle's."

And in Daniel 2:20:
"Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and power are his."

Here's a good article on this subject I found some time ago:

As a father, among the first things I taught my children was please and thank you. God's blessings are the gifts He gives us while our blessings of Him is our thanks. We are taught to be thankful even before we receive:

Philippians 4:6 "Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."

Make sense?

J. Brent Bullock said...

Thank you for the post. It is nicely stated.

To Joe of St. Therese's point, the word bless has a variety of meaning, such as favor, consecration, happy, praise, or keeping. Certainly, we cannot bless him as he blesses us. His favor toward us is unmerited. Our favor toward His is totally merited.

1 John 5:3 - For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Both of you are right of course, I was writing what first came off my head.

Who is the Catholic Conservative American?