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Are We A Nation Of Principle?

Today is Armed Forces Day in the United States.

About eight years ago the United States and supporting nations began the official liberation, some would say the invasion, of Iraq. This military invasion was accomplished in record time and with minimal loss of life to our military. Some compare the victory with the Israeli victories in their wars started by Arabs and conclude that God was behind both victories. Most of the American public were filled with euphoria.

But since the invasion and with the increased Islamic terrorist attacks on our troops, many question the correctness of our invasion of a country half way around the world which, in their own mind, did not pose a threat to this country. They question whether we can truly say that our military has fought to preserve the freedom and liberties given to us by our founding fathers and God Almighty. Their opposition, disloyalty, and sedition places the U.S. and Israel in a defensive, retreating position in world opinion. Due to its nuclear weapons possession, Pakistan was bought off.

After the 9/11 terrorist attack on New York and Washington which killed about three thousand, President George W. Bush committed the United States to fighting terrorism wherever it was found. With the apparent exception of the so-called Palestinians, he included all those nations which supported terrorism. Intelligence information indicated that Iraq and Afghanistan were states under terrorist governments so the U.S. attacked them rather than wait for terrorism to strike again. Belligerent, Islamic Iran was ignored.

The nations of Syria and Iran were declared terrorist states but they were not attacked. Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terrorist organizations were also included. But when Hamas replaced the Palestinian Authority government in Gaza by a democratic election followed by war, Hamas was redefined by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice even though their admitted goal of destroying Israel and the U.S. did not change. After that time, Ms. Rice also met with Hamas, Syria and a nuclear Iran. Was this a compromise of principle?

Millions of illegal immigrants and tons of drugs have now entered the United States, mostly from Mexico. Now the administration wants to allow these illegals to stay under government mandated amnesty provisions. What has become of American principles?

Now, the U.S. administration wants to ignore all previous agreements of support with Israel by excluding the so-called Palestinians as a terrorist group, over sixty percent of whom want to destroy Israel and all Jews. Is the U.S. President ignoring God's principles and Biblical promises?

Let's look at some of these promises; these territorial principles of God.

(Gen 12:3 NKJV) I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
(Gen 12:7 NKJV) Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your descendants I will give this land."

Yes God promised Abraham that He will bless those peoples who bless Abraham and his descendants but curse those peoples who curse Abraham and his descendants. God gave this land to Abram (Abraham) without any time limits or conditions. It was a contract given by God alone without any conditions on Abram's part.

(Gen 15:18 NKJV) On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates;. . .
(Deu 1:7-8 NKJV) 'Turn and take your journey, and go to the mountains of the Amorites, to all the neighboring places in the plain, in the mountains and in the lowland, in the South and on the seacoast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the River Euphrates. {8} 'See, I have set the land before you; go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to your fathers; to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; to give to them and their descendants after them.'

God gave Abram's (Abraham's) descendants all the land from the Nile River in Egypt to the Euphrates River which runs from Turkey through western Iraq, a much larger area than is currently claimed by the government of Israel.

(Gen 27:29 NKJV) Let peoples serve you, And nations bow down to you. Be master over your brethren, And let your mother's sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, And blessed be those who bless you!

This should be a lesson for the current U.S. Administration. Isaac, son of Abraham, conveyed God's blessings to his son Jacob, father of all the Israelites. Later verses show that these blessings were not given to Isaac's son Esau, father of the Arabs.

(Gen 28:13-14 NKJV) And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: "I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. {14} "Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

Isn't the so-called Road Map supported by the U.S. a clear violation of these scriptures?

(Zec 12:3 NKJV) "And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.

Today's American military is dedicated to supporting the decisions of the US president in preserving our liberties as much as in the past, knowing that the liberty they fight for and give their lives to protect is every bit as justified as in any past war. A president who is true to Judean-Christian religious principles strengthens the trust of ordinary citizens and his military. This is also reassuring to a country which has emerged from a Presidency which seemed to have difficulty placing principle ahead of expediency.

In the last fifty years we as a nation have seen an accelerated deterioration of our values and standards. Unfortunately the attitudes of our government officials have reflected the attitudes of many of our people. Dishonesty, greed, the desire for power and control, pleasure and profit; all are paramount in today's society. Standards of morality and honesty are no longer deemed that important by either government leaders or society itself as was once the case. Paul warned us of these days.

(2 Tim 3:1-5 NKJV) But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: {2} For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, {3} unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, {4} traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, {5} having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

These words of Paul describe our present societal morass perfectly.

So did Edward Gibbon back in 1788. One of the most widely read books of all time is titled "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." Written in 1788 by Edward Gibbon, it sets forth five basic reasons why that great civilization withered and died. These were:

1. The undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home, which is the basis for human society. Is there any doubt that the homes of our society are undermined in the same manner?

2. Higher and higher taxes; the spending of public money for free bread and circuses for the populace. Today income taxes alone can approach 50% of income. Public money is not spent on circuses, but it is certainly spent on sports arenas, food stamps, health insurance, retirement, financial underwriting of banks and industries, favors to supporting organizations, and every conceivable welfare program, many whose only redeeming value is in buying votes for those politicians who promise to support such largess.

3. The mad craze for pleasure; sports becoming every year more exciting, more brutal, more immoral. The mad craze over sports, greed which includes gambling and trivial lawsuits, and every conceivable form of pleasure, has totally addicted the public. Politicians write and distort laws to their own political benefit, not the nation's.

4. The building of great armaments when the real enemy was within - the decay of individual responsibility. Until 9/11 the United States was so filled with apathy that it simply was not concerned with encroaching external threats to our security. Instead it blindly depended upon some level of government to provide that security. The UK is also facing the same problem with the over one million Muslims in their country which want their own Islamic state. Nevertheless, with more lawbreakers and the resultant increased laws, the police agencies at every level of government are growing enormously, and with them, a resultant loss of individual freedoms as guaranteed by the constitution. But the total lack of individual responsibility displays itself with demands for government involvement in every aspect of life. No longer do people assume responsibility for their actions. With the advent of socialism, the attitude of many today is, "What government agency and attorney handles my problem?"

5. The decay of religion; faith fading into mere form, losing touch with life, losing power to guide the people. The increase of secularism today is obvious. Many who do profess a religion, (and most seem ashamed to do so, probably because of the inroads of teachings of evolution and a refusal to follow Biblical mores), profess religion in a very hollow manner. Publically stated mores and standards of religious belief returned somewhat with the Bush administration but are still lacking with much of the public. Growth of Islam is an exception but violation of the constitution and lying prevail.

The oft-heard warning that "history repeats itself" has an ominous meaning in the light of Edward Gibbon's description of a dying Rome and current American life and principles.

We have seen pride and arrogance in the corruptions of public office. Late evening TV and even such social events as the Presidential Correspondent's Dinner make light of previous presidential scandals and policies; just like in the final days of Rome. There was little or no shame or criticism of a favored president's scandals by the public's watchdog, the press. Congressional oversight of the executive branch of government was frustrated by lack of commitment and by sworn witnesses' claims that they "cannot remember" or "cannot provide documents" for whatever reason. The dedication of some was repaid by political favoritism or destruction. Dishonesty had lost its shame and become that which was expected, and was even acceptable. The freedoms and liberties guaranteed by a constitutionally mandated democracy were and are in the process of being destroyed.

Well, I have wandered way off my subject. But the parallel between American-British life today and Roman life in the final days of Rome is stark and very disturbing, though Paul did warn us about today's society in 2 Timothy 3, which we read.

So, instead of discussing the military or politics, past and present, though I truly respect and appreciate the sacrifices of our military veterans, today I will talk about a great American leader's principles. America has had many great leaders. Among the many:

George Washington, general, first president, and founder of our country stated:

'It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God or the Bible.' Is that not what most of our governmental leaders, including those at the very top, are doing today?

Abraham Lincoln, who God raised up to save the nation after the secession of the Confederacy over states rights and, to a lesser degree, slavery back in the 1860s. The question of states' vs federal rights is still with us.

Teddy Roosevelt, had great pride in America and was also a strong believer in principles. He felt his greatest accomplishment was the construction of the Panama canal. If he could see how, 100 years later, we gave away this strategic resource, he would be dumbfounded and heartbroken -- and furious.

Winston Churchill, who yes, was an American citizen too, lead and saved modern day Israelitish nations from the axis powers. He is criticized for creating Jordan and Iraq from God-given Israeli land, but he had great courage and character. He saw the importance of a strong British and American military in preserving world peace and democracy. Regrettably and shamefully, his bust, given to the United States by the British government, was removed from the White House by the current president and returned to the British Embassy.

But it is the principles of another great American, Benjamin Franklin, that I want to describe and discuss with you again today.

Benjamin Franklin was born in 1706, the tenth of seventeen children. During his lifetime, Benjamin Franklin distinguished himself in many ways:

1. He represented the American colonies to Great Britain.

2. He was America's diplomat abroad and ambassador to France. He was the image of America to the French public; and was an extremely popular person in France, with his pictures appearing everywhere.

3. He helped frame the Federal constitution and Declaration of Independence.

4. He acquired a fortune as a printer while still a young man in his early twenties.

5. He was respected for his wisdom. One of his statements, of which I am reminded daily, was, "When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic." What a condemnation and prophesy of today's government efforts to pay for health care, unemployment, food stamps, retirement, farm supports, bank or industrial supports, and a bundle of other social programs, all with public money. The current increase amounting to trillions of dollars in the nation's indebtedness is a case in point. The continual budget deficit, accumulating into the national debt year by year for most of the past 60 years but especially since 2009, and almost all our taxes could have been eliminated by adherence to Franklin's views and the strict interpretation of the Constitution's moral absolutes. Upon finishing his work on the Constitution, he was asked by a bystander, "What kind of a government have you brought us?" His answer, in light of our governmental display of raw, socialistic, unconstitutional power, is sobering: He answered, "A democratic republic, if you can keep it." Recent events question whether we can keep it.

6. Benjamin Franklin became a great swimmer.

7. He became one of America's first great scientists, especially in the study of electricity. He designed an indoor heating stove which is still on the market: The Franklin Stove.

8. He had a goal to conquer all bad inclinations. [We'll talk about this later.]

9. He stated that bad habits had to be broken and new ones taken up. Everyone in the church knows that our biggest problem is to overcome our human nature.

Rev. 3:12: He that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

10. In his later life, Benjamin Franklin listed thirteen virtues by which he planned to regulate the rest of his life: Temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility.

Let's look at each of these thirteen virtues in light of God's Word:

1. Temperance - His words were "Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation." Today people would say "don't overeat or over-drink." We could also add "Don't eat the wrong kinds of food."

Prov 23:19-21 Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. {20} Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, {21} for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.

But temperance includes more than overeating or over drinking.

1 Cor 9:25-27 Everyone who competes [in the games] goes into strict training [per KJV: is temperate in all things]. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. {26} Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. {27} No, I keep my body under subjection and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize (i.e. I will not be cast away).

2. Silence - "speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation."

Eccl 3:7. . . . a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
Prov 21:23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.
Prov 17:28 Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.

"It is better to be silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt."

3. Order - "let all things have their places and let all your activities have their time".

1 Cor 14:33-35 refers to both order and silence:

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, {34} women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. {35} If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.
Gen 3:16 To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."
1 Cor 14:40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

4. Resolution - "resolve to perform what you ought. Decide what you should do and then perform it without fail".

James 1:22-25 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. {23} Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror {24} and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. {25} But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does.

5. Frugality - "Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e. waste nothing". In another text he stated, "It is necessary for me to be extremely frugal for some time, till I have paid what I owe". A lesson for today's borrowers.

Prov 11:24-25 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. {25} A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
John 6:11-13 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. {12} When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted." {13} So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

6. Industry - "To apply myself industriously to whatever business I take in hand, and not divert my mind from my business by any foolish project of growing suddenly rich; for industry and patience are the surest means of plenty." (Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.)

Eph 5:15-16 Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, {16} making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
1 Th 4:11-12 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, {12} so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
Prov 27:23-27 Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; {24} for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations. [Are you listening, America?] {25} When the hay is removed and new growth appears and the grass from the hills is gathered in, {26} the lambs will provide you with clothing, and the goats with the price of a field. {27} You will have plenty of goats' milk to feed you and your family and to nourish your servant girls.

Prov 31:10-31 - the epitome of industry:

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. {11} Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. {12} She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. {13} She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. {14} She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. {15} She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. {16} She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. {17} She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. {18} She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. {19} In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. {20} She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. {21} When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet (double layered clothes). {22} She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. {23} Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. {24} She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. {25} She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. {26} She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. {27} She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. {28} Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: {29} "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." {30} Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. {31} Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
Prov 10:5 He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.
2 Th 3:10-13 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat." {11} We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. {12} Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. [What a condemnation of those who unnecessarily use public welfare programs.] {13} And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.
Prov 12:11 He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.
Prov 12:24 Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.

7. Sincerity - "To endeavour to speak truth in every instance, to give nobody expectations that are not likely to be answered, but aim at sincerity in every word and action: the most amiable excellence in a rational being." In another instance he said, "Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and if you speak, speak accordingly." In other words, be honest.

1 Cor 5:8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.
1 Tim 1:5-7 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. {6} Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. {7} They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.
John 4:23-24 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. {24} God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."
2 Cor 1:12 Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God's grace.
John 1:47-51 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false." {48} "How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you." {49} Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel." {50} Jesus said, "You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that." {51} He then added, "I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." [He promised him eternal life in the KOG because of his sincerity.]
1 Pet 2:21-24 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. {22} "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." {23} When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. {24} He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

How many of you have experienced deceit from people who believe their lives are the epitome of Christianity? I can well remember being encouraged by higher-ups in a previous church to hide facts by double talk. It was called 'being wise'.

1 Th 2:1-6 You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. {2} We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. {3} For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. {4} On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. {5} You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed--God is our witness. {6} We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you,

Brethren, be sincere.

8. Justice - wrong no one by doing injuries, or omitting benefits which are your duty.

James 4:17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.
Gen 6:9 This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.
Acts 10:22 The men replied, "We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to have you come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say."
Prov 8:15-16 By me kings reign and rulers make laws that are just; {16} by me princes govern, and all nobles who rule on earth.
Gen 18:17-19 Then the LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? {18} Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. {19} For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him."

9. Moderation - "avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve." What a lesson for today's attorneys and their clients. Mr. Franklin would be very upset if he could see today's greedy society and the price that greed is costing us.

Phil 4:5 Let your gentleness (moderation in KJV) be evident to all. The Lord is near.
1 Tim 3:2-3 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, {3} not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
Titus 3:1-3 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, {2} to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. {3} At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
James 3:17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
1 Pet 2:18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.

10. Cleanliness - tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.

2 Cor 7:1 Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

There are many, many places in the OT where people are admonished to wash their clothes and bodies. Cleanliness is very, very important to God.

11. Tranquility - Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents, common or unavoidable. Accept things.

Psa 119:165 Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.
Phil 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. {7} And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

12. Chastity - Being sexually clean and pure. "Rarely use venery (the gratification of sexual desire) but for health or offspring; never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation."

1 Cor 6:18-20 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. {19} Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; {20} you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

13. Humility - imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Benjamin Franklin admitted that he never acquired the reality of this virtue, but he did succeed in gaining the appearance of it. He did this by making it a rule to forbear all direct contradiction to the sentiments of others and all positive assertions of his own. Instead of saying "certainly, undoubtedly, etc.", he would say "I conceive", "I apprehend", "I imagine" a thing to be so or "It appears to me at present" to be so. He found a readier reception and less contradiction by others; and less mortification by himself when he was wrong. He concluded there was no natural passion so hard to subdue as pride. "You can disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as you please, and it will still remain alive and periodically pop up and show itself much to your embarrassment. And if you finally conceive that you have completely overcome it, you will probably become proud of your humility."

Mat 18:1-4 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" {2} He called a little child and had him stand among them. {3} And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. {4} Therefore , whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Benjamin Franklin's intention was to acquire the habit of all these virtues. He knew he could not accomplish them all at once, so he made himself a weekly chart to mark down each time he failed in keeping the virtue. Each week became a page in the book.

In the early days of the parent church, we too were admonished to make a list of our weaknesses from which we could work to overcome them.

His prayer, which was included in his autobiography was:

"O powerful Goodness! bountiful Father! merciful Guide! Increase in me that wisdom which discovers my truest interest. Strengthen my resolutions to perform what that wisdom dictates. Accept my kind offices to Thy other children as the only return in my power for Thy continual favors to me."

How profound! Let me read it again.

"O powerful Goodness! bountiful Father! merciful Guide! Increase in me that wisdom which discovers my truest interest. Strengthen my resolutions to perform what that wisdom dictates. Accept my kind offices to Thy other children as the only return in my power for Thy continual favors to me."

Benjamin Franklin was a great American. Let's strive to make his virtues our virtues, his principles our principles, for the rest of our lives too.

Sermon given by Wayne Bedwell
19 May 2012
Copyright 2012, Wayne Bedwell

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