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The Nation that God Blesses - Shepherd of Hope

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD – Psalm 33:12a

 

Well, the big one is upon us. You’d be hard pressed to find someone in this nation that doesn’t believe this presidential election is epic, historical, and will go a long way toward determining  the direction (even survival) of our nation. The stakes couldn’t be higher. Are you nervous?  This really is a watershed election.

The presidential candidates couldn’t be more different. One candidate’s vanity is called into question, while the others sanity is askew. The media lies about one, while the other denies his own words. One boldly proclaims what he believes no matter what anybody else hears, the other seems to say whatever his crowd du jour wants to hear. One rests his case on a formidable list of four-year achievements, the other can’t come up with any notable achievements in a forty-seven-year political career. But everything and anything of truth concerning either of the two candidates is fogged and clogged by those who are supposed to be reliable reporters. Instead said “reporters” and “journalists,” for the most part, have reduced themselves to propaganda arms of the party they support.

The platforms for each party are diametrically opposed to each other like never before. One is globalist, the other nationalist. One has a deep state that will stoop to any bending and breaking of law to get what they want, the other points out and exposes their opponent’s injustices. One wants to dismantle the constitution, the other defends it. One wants open borders, the other wants a protective wall. One wants to defund the police, while the other wants to invest in the police. One is rioting while the other waves their patriotic flags. One censors and shuts down all opponents while the other wants freedom to voice opposing views. One wants abortion anytime, the other focuses on protecting the life of the unborn. One recklessly promises free everything, the other promises jobs and economic growth to treat the material ills of people.  One wants more government, the other less government. One wants to increase taxes, the other wants less taxes. These two parties and their platforms couldn’t be further apart. Our politicians are at each other’s throats. And what’s interesting is, both sides have their spin on all of the above. Maybe you were spinning a bit while you read just now.

Adding fuel to the fire is a proliferation of misinformation. Propaganda is being poured out profusely on a populace perplexed about how this political puzzle fits together. There is no peace in the midst of this mess. We’re all “Ps” in a national pod.

To add to the tension there is the specter of illegal voters, illegal votes, and corruption in vote counting. One wonders, “Will we know election night who has won?” The pessimist might add, “Will we ever truly know who won?” And what will this mean for the nation’s psyche? There are those waiting in the shadows to charge out into the highways and byways, to pour out into our city streets to pillage and pummel anyone (including police) who try to prevent their tantrum to express their displeasure.  Businesses are boarded up. The National guard are on call (where they are allowed to intervene). It’s hard to imagine any more intensity or unrest, anymore division and cognitive dissonance than what we are experiencing right now.

But let’s step back a moment. What really should we be aiming at? The godless are aiming for a utopian existence fantasized by those whose historical test cases have left multiple millions of dead in its wake. Some point to that and to their credit, expose socialism and communism as failed government systems. But others retort that capitalism is no better; it only leads to the haves havening more and the have-nots having less. The truth is, until the good LORD’s kingdom comes, no governmental system involving fallen human beings as its instruments is ever going to satisfy. Satisfaction, true justice, equality, liberty, safety, prosperity and bliss will only come when Jesus comes and sets up His kingdom. That’s the truth whether you choose to believe it or not. I do, and I constantly pray, “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”

So, what do we do? Do we throw our hands up and give up? Is there hope? Can a nation be blessed? I believe we can experience a measure of God’s blessing. There is truth to the hymn, “America! America! God shed His grace on thee.” America as a nation has been blessed in historically unprecedented ways; too many ways to go into now. But for right now, it seems pretty clear, we are at a cross roads as to whether we will continue to grow in God’s grace or choose to drive off a political cliff away from that grace.

One candidate has made his bread and butter political motto “Make America Great Again.” And for a while in this administration we seemed to be making some gains. But then we were run over by a few Mack Trucks. Impeachments, the Covid pandemic, racial injustices, related rioting, and the infiltration of revolutionaries who are preying on the emotions of our nation to propagate their own insurrectionist agenda. These hit us like a ton of bricks. Any thought of “blessing” was sapped from us. And so, we’re here, beaten and bloodied, filled with angst and anger. How can we get back to any semblance of blessing we once experienced? Is there a way out of this worm hole? I believe there is.

I believe voting in this election is important, but it isn’t the sole or even the main way back to blessing. I believe in a God who loves us and watches over us, who remains involved in the affairs of humanity. And He has given us a manual for life; it’s called the Bible. This manual is good for instruction in every area of life. If we simply take the time to pray, and then go to His manual, He will show us the way back to blessing as a nation. What does this manual advise us to do to recapture the blessing?

The Psalms were written by one of the greatest if not the greatest kings of Israel, king David. He wasn’t perfect. Like most leaders in this fallen world, he was flawed. He fell short at times. He sinned. He was great, but flawed. We see the great men of scripture and recognize they were all flawed. And as we study this manual for life, we are brought to one mighty conclusion. There is only one perfect king, King Jesus.

But David was a gifted poet. And God used Him to provide inspired revelation and instruction to us through poems called psalms. These psalms were often set to music. In fact, the Book of Psalms is often referred to as the Hymnbook of Israel. In this hymnbook can be found instructions not only for individuals, but for nations.

Psalm 33 is one of the psalms that instructs nations. It was written for God’s people and their nation. But we can glean some helpful instructions for our nation from this psalm as well. It’s not a long psalm; only 22 verses. But right toward the middle of this psalm we find the words, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.” What does that mean? How can a nation make the LORD their God? While this psalm was written primarily to Israel, this phrase does seem to speak in general terms that the nation that makes the LORD their God will be blessed by the LORD. Therefore, if we are wanting to recapture blessing, what does this psalm tell us about having the LORD as our God? Let’s see.

First, we need to get back to worship. Psalm 33 begins:

1     Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful.

2     Praise the Lord with the harp;

Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.

3     Sing to Him a new song;

Play skillfully with a shout of joy.

Now this is something we the church should help our nation get back to. For far too long what has been called worship in many churches has degenerated into entertainment that’s performance based rather than Holy Spirit led and empowered sound truth worship from God’s word. I don’t mean churches have been unemotional. I think there’s been a lot of emotional singing. But the singing and lyrics haven’t always been directed toward God as much as they have been directed toward attracting people. Worship has been graded as “good” based on the talent of those performing it. This has led to some church worship teams hiring talented professionals whose depth of relationship with God is not what it should be for someone making an offering of song before Almighty God. That’s really what worship is you know. Worship should be an offering to God. It hasn’t always been. It still often isn’t. Church, we need to correct this.

But also, our nation needs to get back to singing about God’s blessings. When was the last time you heard or actually sang America the Beautiful, or My Country ‘tis of Thee, or Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory? There have been some more modern songs about our nation that are worth singing too. But many songs about our nation have an underlying criticism of it. When was the last time you sang a “patriotic” song that was just a positive thankful rejoicing over God’s blessings on us? That’s not a bad thing you know. Some think it is. Some are ashamed of our nation and what God has blessed upon us. Maybe one of the things we need to do as a nation is begin to purely sing again about our nation and God’s blessings on it.

Second, we need to get back to God’s word and truth.

4     For the word of the Lord is right,

And all His work is done in truth.

God’s word is powerful (Hebrews 4:12). God’s word helps us know how to do good (2 Tim. 3:16-17). We need to, as a nation, return to the truth of God’s word. The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo keeps an old well-worn oft read Bible on his desk. He keeps it there so that when he gets the chance, or when he needs some encouragement or guidance, he can read it and be edified and led by it. We need more people like him in serving in or government. But he, unfortunately, is more the exception than the rule. Maybe our representatives should get back to God’s word. If they did, maybe our representatives would be transformed into our leaders.

Third, we need to get back to righteousness and justice.

5     He loves righteousness and justice;

The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.

There’s a lot of talk about “social justice,” and various kinds of “justice.” However, the “justice” many speak of is nothing more than their personal preference about what should or should not be acceptable in society. And what undermines any sense of righteousness and justice in our country is an undeniable two-tiered system of justice where those in political positions, especially if they are from the preferred party, can do pretty much whatever they want with no fear of “justice” or consequences. That’s not right.

This two-tiered type of injustice takes the breath right out of the patriotic soul. There’s a symbol that was once popular but has fallen out of favor due to corruption in our halls of justice. That symbol is lady justice holding the scales of justice while being blindfolded. We need to get back to that so that whether we are rich or poor, educated or uneducated, upper class, middle class or lower class, no matter who we are, justice is served. If we do that, then the second part of that verse will ring true, that, “The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.”

Fourth, we need to get back to seeing this world as the Creator’s creation.

6     By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,

And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.

7     He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;

He lays up the deep in storehouses.

8     Let all the earth fear the Lord;

Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.

9     For He spoke, and it was done;

He commanded, and it stood fast.

There are those in the scientific community, in so-called “higher” education, who try to parse the universe with a godless narrative. But something never came out of nothing. Order does not come out of chaos. And the intricate design that we see in every facet of the world around us, is a testimony that Someone created it. We look at a watch and don’t think it just happened. We look at a car and don’t think it just happened. We look at a house and don’t think it just happened. We look at space vehicles that are travelling to further and further depths of outer space and we take pride in them and would look with disdain against anyone so dense as to think they just happened. Then why should we look at creation, from the smallest cell to the rotation of our own planet around the sun, to the profound way everything just happens to fit, why do we look at that and not come to our senses and admit, Someone, created it.

If we are to recapture God’s blessing, how about we at least have our educational institutions present a more objective view of the universe that makes allowances for intelligent design or that there just might be Someone bigger than us in this universe?

Fifth, we need to seek God’s counsel.

10   The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;

He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.

11   The counsel of the Lord stands forever,

The plans of His heart to all generations.

We need, as a nation, to recreate an atmosphere where seeking counsel from the LORD is acceptable. Do you know that during the constitutional convention our founding fathers, when they had reached an impasse with each other, stopped and prayed for heavenly guidance? Our founders did that! We used to have filibusters where politicians tried to prolong and prevent legislation. By there long, mostly boring and bellicose billowing they would stall legislative actions by speaking continuously for seemingly endless amounts of time. Such behavior only served to stall and seldom made for gaining any real ground.

Here’s an idea, instead of speaking mindlessly until politicians get their way, why don’t those same politicians stop, get down on their knees together and pray. George Whitefield, that great evangelist of the 18th century, who is often referred to as our forgotten founding father, he used to say, “It’s hard to hate someone you are praying for.” With all the hate in our government between parties, how about a good old-fashioned prayer meeting where we seek God’s counsel and direction? I think we should try it. What do we have to lose, our hatred?

Sixth, we need to care about God’s blessing

12   Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,

The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.

13   The Lord looks from heaven;

He sees all the sons of men.

14   From the place of His dwelling He looks

On all the inhabitants of the earth;

15   He fashions their hearts individually;

He considers all their works.

We, individually and as a nation, need to stop living as though we are the center of the universe. We, individually and as a nation, need to stop living as though there was no God. Oh, there’s room for patriotism, real patriotism. There’s room for patriotism that is ready and willing and eager to help people at home and throughout the world. And you know what, despite all the negative accusations brought against this nation, we are still the most giving and generous nation on the face of the earth. That needs to be acknowledged and we need to thank God that He has blessed us with the capacity to serve such a global purpose. That, not that is real globalism.

We need to understand that God is sovereign and He chooses those who look to Him. We need to remember that the LORD is watching; and He has His eye on all our works. The LORD fashions or works on our hearts. He puts that generosity and compassion for the needy and hurting, He puts that in our hearts. All of that comes from the LORD. All of that is evidence of God’s blessing on us. We need to own that.

But we have a very myopic limited view of our existence. We too often only care about “me,” “myself,” and “I.” Hollywood promotes this. Professional sports figures try to use their platform to speak “justice” to culture, but it’s kind of a hard swallow when the shel deals they make are with companies that employ third world slave labor. This is not right.

Our government is not better. Our representatives are so consumed with such selfishness that they no longer see serving as our representatives in government as a privilege, they view it as their right. They don’t see themselves as the servants of the people, they see citizens as tax producers to fill their personal political coffers to live an elite lifestyle.

God sees all of this. And He is not pleased. If we want God’s blessing to return, this nation has to get back to being “One nation under God.” We need to start re-recognizing that all that is done, is done in the sight of God and He is our final Arbiter and Judge.

Seventh, we need to humble ourselves and repent and call out to the LORD.

16   No king is saved by the multitude of an army;

A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.

17   A horse is a vain hope for safety;

Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength.

18   Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,

On those who hope in His mercy,

19   To deliver their soul from death,

And to keep them alive in famine.

20   Our soul waits for the Lord;

He is our help and our shield.

21   For our heart shall rejoice in Him,

Because we have trusted in His holy name.

22   Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us,

Just as we hope in You.

We need to humble ourselves before the LORD. No “king” or anyone in a government position, or anyone in any position of authority for that matter, is what they are or where they are because they achieved what they have achieved on their own. Success and victory, individually and as a nation in this world is not merely because of the size of an army or the equipment we use. No, success and victory truly come from fearing or revering the LORD.

It isn’t the one who plants or waters that causes growth, increase comes from the LORD (1 Cor. 3:7). It isn’t our might or our power, its all about the Spirit of the LORD (e.g. Zechariah 4:6). If we truly want to make this nation great again, we need to seek and rely on the LORD to do it. It’s been a blessing to see our President acknowledge recently that its not about him but about the “Big Boss” in the sky. Our president has a ways to go, but our president is moving in the right direction in this regard. Pray for him. Thank God for him.

We need to wait on the LORD. We need to put our hope in Him. We need to trust the LORD with our life; with the life of our nation. We need to seek Him and trust Him to provide what we need. We need to seek Him and trust Him to protect us.

And then we need to rejoice in our LORD and thank Him for all His blessings. This has been a pretty horrible year for us as a nation, for many throughout the globe. It’s been a tough year for us as individuals. Many have lost loved ones to Coved (no matter how few or many truly were lost). Covid has taken a toll on our economy, on small business owners who have lost everything. Many have seen livelihoods, their businesses, their life work, that they built up with a lifetime’s effort, seen it all destroyed by rioters and rampaging looters. It’s been hard to watch. There’s a great deal of fear; all kinds of fear. The government isn’t securing our freedoms, they are taking more of them away. It’s been hard for sure.

Yes, it’s been a hard year by any estimation. But we are still here. There is hope. And if you’ve read this far thinking I’m going to divulge some final election exhortation you will be disappointed. I have a horse in this race. Any Bible believing Christians should have no problem choosing which presidential candidate and party platform to support. But this psalm says the king and even the “mighty man” doesn’t come to rule or strength through themselves or politics. No, politics isn’t the final answer. It may be a part of the answer. But it is only a relatively small part. If we want God’s blessing we need to turn to God.

I’ll close with this. I saw a social media meme recently that commented, “Day before the election… Jesus is King. Day after the election… Jesus is still King.” We individually, and as a nation, need to come to accept that. We need to live in light of that truth. If we do that, we will experience the blessedness of being a nation that belongs to the LORD. That’s what we need to do, as a nation, if we are ever to be the nation God blesses.

Do you believe that can happen? Without God its impossible. But we don’t have to seek that alone. If we begin to worship God, get back to His word and truth, seek His righteousness and justice, acknowledge His creatorship, seek His counsel and care about His blessing, if we humble ourselves, repent and call on Him, then we will be headed in the right direction. We have to ask God to help us seek Him as a nation. Then voting truly becomes a part of the solution. With God, nothing is impossible. Let’s pray about it. That’s a start. And oh yes, voting is not a bad place to start.

May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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