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ONE NATION UNDER GOD Psalm 33:12-22 July 4, 2010 Given by: Pastor Rich Bersett [Index of Past Messages] Introduction Is it alright for a Christian to be patriotic? I mean deeply patriotic: flag- waving, shiver-down-the-spine-when-you-hear-the-national-anthem, stand-when-old-glory-passes-by-during-the-parade, red-white-and-blue patriotic? What’s wrong with that? Is it silly? Is it theologically incorrect or intellectually shallow? Have I gone off my rocker or into dementia because I love my country? Am I an idolater if I hang my flag out on the fourth of July, but don’t have a cross on my door? When I was a child, old enough to understand national pride, I would almost cry every time I heard a moderately good voice croon “America, the Beautiful.” (It almost seemed we got that old stirring back, ever since 9/11, because at every ball game some Italian fireman sang it.) For the longest time, it seemed it was most un-cool to be patriotic. What has caused patriotism to wane? I know that politics and leaders are corrupt, but that’s always been an issue. Are there not enough blessings in our country for which to be thankful that can not only drown out the pessimism of corruption, but also restore decency and genuine, devoted leaders to office? Are we afraid to honor our leaders because Nazism and Stalinism have made us wary of allegiance? Is there a valid religious fear of idolatry if I love my country? Psalm 33 Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song: play skillfully, and shout for joy. For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the people. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Blessed is the nation who God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance. From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. No king is saved by the size of his army: no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those who hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for in him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you. Read with me, please, those last five verses: But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those who hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for in him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you. The last two verses, once more, please: We wait in hope for the Lord… May your unfailing love rest… Please notice some of the key insights given to us in this psalm: 1. The Lord is worthy of praise – not just by those who are committed to Him, but by “all the earth” – “all the people”. How will even the pagans give praise to the Lord? Well, the New Testament gives our answer to that question: We are the light of the world, and when others in the world see our good works, “they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) And why is He worthy of praise? Because He is our Creator, He is the providential director of all history, and He is the help and shield of all those who put their trust and hope in Him. 2. The Lord blesses the nation that fears Him. The word “fear” does not necessarily include the idea of being afraid of God, except in the case of those who are under judgment. To “fear” God, for those who know Him, is to respect and worship God. verse 18 says, But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love. And back in verse 12 we read, Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord… The whole theme of this psalm is that the only true God, who alone is righteous and holy, is watching the people of the earth, looking for those who will love, honor and serve Him. Far from the attitude prevalent in our nation that God and religion are only a distraction from the truly important things, the Bible’s truth is this: It is actually God alone who matters! It is He who is looking down from heaven (verses 13-15) and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on the earth . . . and considers everything they do. The marines who were involved in the special duty of informing the nearest of kin when a Marine was killed in Iraq didn’t just deliver the sad news and leave. They stayed with the family for several days, helping them through the process of the funeral, including supervising the Marine honor guard that stands nearby at the burial of the fallen soldier. Among other things he was to instruct the honor guard how to salute their fallen fellow Marine. He taught them that when they leave or resume guard, they were to do so with a slow salute that isn't taught in basic training. The slow salute requires a three second raising of the hand to the head, a three second hold, and then a three second lowering of the hand—a gesture of respect that takes about nine times longer than normal. The tutor would say, "A salute to your fallen comrade should take time." So it is with our worship of God. God deserves a slow salute. The God who made us and is waiting for us to honor Him for who He is, the Savior who gave his life for us is worthy of our careful devotion, our respect and our worship. 3. The Lord governs in the affairs of men. That means He is the overseer and director of history. There is nothing going on in our world, in our nation, our economy, of which He is not aware. Not all of it pleases or honors Him, we know. What this psalm teaches us is what the rest of scripture bears witness to, that even when God seems distant or somehow out of the picture, He is still there. I don’t know about you, but the thing that most causes me to doubt God’s care is when evil triumphs in our world—because He doesn’t intervene means to me He doesn’t care. But I am coming to learn that God’s ways are higher than my ways, and He allows evil to have its way in this world whenever He has a higher purpose to accomplish. It sometimes seems cruel and severe to us, but He is, after all, God. How would you run the world if you were God? Don’t know? Don’t have a clue? Of course you don’t. You’re not God—only He is. Do you remember the crazy plot in the farcical, but thought-provoking film, Bruce Almighty? Jim Carrey complains to God and is given the responsibility of doing the work of God. He messes everything up badly, because he answers yes to every prayer? The creature can’t run the universe like the Creator. 4.  He favors those who fear Him. Many people say that’s just not fair that God has a favored people—that He chose the Jews and is always on their side, or that He answers Christian prayers but not others’. It’s interesting, but the full revelation of scripture shows us that God chooses to bless those whom He wants to bless. The Jews thought for generations that He would bless them just because they were chosen as His special people. But He chose them to be obedient to Him, and they weren’t. People aren’t automatically obedient to God because He calls them. The New Testament clearly demonstrates that those who love and obey Him are the ones He calls. In the broadest sense, His call to love and obey Him goes out to all mankind. Some will respond and others won’t. God narrowed and simplified His calling by sending His Son. Jesus died for the sins of the world and now calls everyone to repent and accept His offer of reconciliation. Some do; most don’t. But to all who received Him, to those who believe in His name, he gave the right to become children of God, says John 1:12. Do you know the favor of the Lord? Have you come to the place where you have accepted His gift of forgiveness of your sins and the indwelling of His Spirit in your life? You can, any time you decide to receive Him, trust Him and determine to live for Him. The bigger picture in this psalm, though, is that the NATION that trusts in the Lord will also know His blessings. The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. Exhortations I want to wrap this teaching up with a couple of exhortations that are both pastoral and prophetic. By pastoral I mean in my responsible role of teaching, protecting and nourishing the flock. By prophetic I do not mean that I have some esoteric word of mystical knowledge for you. I simply mean that I have some insight into how this Word in Psalm 33 applies to us culturally, ethically and politically. We Christians are living in a nation that is fast abandoning its faith grounding. To a large degree the US citizenry has become blind to the demonically-inspired changes going on around them, successfully hoodwinked by the lies of the enemy that gain daily strength among the principalities and powers in high places. In the name of tolerance and political correctness, every godly virtue is being forfeited, one by one. I don’t need to itemize them for you—you’ve been watching sadly and prayerfully as it has happened. You know, because you have the Spirit of God in you and you discern things in spiritual wisdom. But the nation as a whole is making a massive series of dreadful and deadly mistakes, spiritually speaking. The courts are corrupted by ungodly thinking, the lawmakers are, by and large, so far off course morally, they have lost touch with decency and sound judgment. And executive branches at every level are clueless about righteousness and wisdom. The two exhortations that I want you to receive today are these:   First, though the nation may crumble, you will not, if you are a committed Christian, because the Lord is faithful. People ask, What is the worst case scenario for the United States? I shudder to think. But if the economy collapses, your Social Security evaporates, our borders are breached through outright attack or we are frozen to death by terrorists. Even if pagan ideology takes control and persecution breaks out against the church, you’re going to be okay, if you love and serve the Lord without fainting. Our hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver us from death and keep us alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. As you love and serve Him, first as citizens of the heavenly kingdom to come, and only secondly as American citizens, He will strengthen and empower you to intercede for the nations and to represent Him well in challenging times as His ambassador to a fallen race. Secondly, while you do your part to speak into this calamitous culture through your voice of reason and morality, through your vote and your witness, through your prayers of intercession, this is your most important assignment and, in many ways, your only assignment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and strength, and your neighbor as yourself. Is this a Christian nation? The debate continues. Certainly the founders spoke with Christian conviction. They were not merely deists. Those who insist they were need to do their homework. Checkout the ministry and website of Wallbuilders, the ministry of David Barton. The real question is the practical one: are we still a Christian nation, or was President Obama’s comment in Egypt that we are not a Christian nation true? The jury is out on that. And here is how you make a difference in that debate: PRAY, VOTE AND LIVE OUT YOUR LIFE OF FAITH. Let’s close by standing and reading aloud together the final verses of Psalm 33 once again…       [ Back to Top]          
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