Sermon: Psalm For An Election Year

Choose any day to look at Facebook or social media and you will find people engaged in conversation about the upcoming election.  It is evident by the newsfeed that people are anxious about who will be elected to the highest office of the land.  Mud slinging, conspiracy theories and scare tactics reveal a tangible fear in the home of the brave.  There are rightful things for any citizen to look at and be aware of when it comes to this political season.  Stir in passion and fear and things get ugly.  I have not been above the fray in my concern for the future of our country.  There are times that I have just shook my head in disbelief over the current state of things.  Really America? Is this the best that we can do?

As I read through Psalm 146, it spoke to my heart and God used it to direct my attention back to the ultimate reality.  It reminds me of where real authority lies.  It points me to the king of the universe and how there are no exceptions to his sovereign rule.  As we look at Scripture we see how God uses even poor leaders for his purpose.  Things may not be as comfortable as we would like, but we are never outside of the mighty hands of God.  In a time of great passion, anxiety and people “unfriending” one another for their views, may Psalm 146 serve as an important bulwark to your soul in a swirling political climate.

Below is a sermon I gave on this very topic preaching to my own heart.

“It would be a very sharp and trying experience to me to think that I have an affliction which God never sent me, that the bitter cup was never filled by his hand, that my trials were never measured out by him, nor sent to me by his arrangement of their weight and quantity.”

-Charles Spurgeon

The Rightful Wearer of the Crown

Well, that was embarrassing.  It was the pinnacle of the night.  Everything was coming down to this one moment.  The next Miss Universe was about to be crowned.  Then the unthinkable happened.  The wrong woman was announced as the winner.  Not only that, she was crowned.  The wrong person received the crown and accolades.  For a moment.  A very brief 1136543_1280x720moment.

How could this happen? The rightful wearer of the crown’s name was right there on the index card, but somehow it was missed.  Call it human error, but it was an unbelievable gaff.

Social media was abuzz with the news.  I have to admit, that’s how I found out about it.  For a few days it was the talk on news feeds.  What an embarrassing, uncomfortable moment.  We chuckle at how something so important (in that context), could be so blown.  As though we ourselves would NEVER blow it in such a way.

We would never put a crown on the wrong recipient, would we? The reality is, we all have.  There is only one who is worthy to wear the crown.  Only one true victor.  One who deserves all the attention, all the praise and accolades.  Each of us in our own ways have handed that crown over to things that even for a brief moment we believe is worthy.  Human error? It’s the human condition.
We have more than index cards, we have God’s letter to us.  It’s been the best selling book for years.  It’s accessible in various readable translations.  It’s on our phones and digital devices.  Likely we have more than one copy in our homes.  God has made an entire universe that screams out its existence because of him.  Discoveries of microscopes, telescopes and stethoscopes all point to him.  We are without excuse.  It’s right there.  Are we missing it?

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  So they are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:19-23)

The incredible story of the gospel is that the King laid aside his crown of glory and took up a crown of thorns.  The rightful one left his glorious throne and humbled himself.  He left glory and faced scorn.  He died for those who reject him.  We, the ones who so easily worship false gods – our jobs, families, finances and abilities.  He paid the price for our rejection that we might receive God’s grace and forgiveness.  He came that we might know God through him.

None of us would have been privy to who the real winner of Miss Universe was had the show just gone on.  But the judges knew and that made all the difference.  It was that standard that made it a necessity to take off the crown from false winners.  God is a righteous judge.  He will not allow false winners to continue to wear the crown.

The time for false victors is brief.  The rightful wearer of the crown will be known.  May it not be a time of shame for us when that moment of recognition occurs.  The God of the universe reigns.  Read the card and crown accordingly.

Who Needs Who

Death hurts.  It’s true that it is the common denominator for each of us, but that in itself is not a comfort.  It just identifies the problem, but doesn’t provide a hopeful solution.  What do you say to someone grieving the loss of a loved one? We want to be caring, compassionate and empathetic.  However, there are words that, while meant to be helpful, actually have the wrong impact.  Those words usually begin with “God needed…” and explain why that person died (God was in need of another carpenter, choir member, angel, etc).  God needed them.

Did he really? God needed that person? Herein lies the problem with such attempts at comfort.  God doesn’t need anything.  In actuality, pointing to a perceived need of God lessens the power of the intended comfort.  How can we be certain that a God with personal needs is able to meet ours?  How can a God with needs bring about true healing in our time of greatest agony?

Paul addressed the lack of needs that God has in Acts 17:24-25.  “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.”

Revelation gives a beautiful picture in which the sun and moon are not even needed: “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.  And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.” (Rev 21:22-23)

That is some glorious perspective.  The Bible is clear.  God doesn’t need anything.  He is self sufficient.  Any time we lower the supremacy of God to try to bring comfort, we actually are accomplishing the opposite effect.  We are bringing a false comfort not grounded in truth.  Pragmatic anecdotes are not beneficial.

My dog constantly is eating out of our garbage cans (all sorts of nasty stuff).  The fact that my dog swallows the garbage does not mean it is helpful (as evidenced within a couple hours of eating).  We must be careful of the words we are feeding people.  Anything that presents a low view of God is not helpful for that person’s soul in the midst of their suffering.

While dealing with death is difficult, a biblical understanding of God is enough to bring comfort.  Death is the awful enemy.  Yet, it is an enemy that was defeated by the resurrection of Jesus.  There is hope found in him even through death’s valley and at death’s door.

Many people want their confidence to be in knowing the “why’s”.  The belief is that in knowing the reasons why something occurred, there will be understanding.  We may never know the specific reasons why something happened.  Comfort is stifled.  However, when we focus on the “Who” instead of the “why”, we can confidently move forward and bring comfort even when the reasons are elusive.

Share the supreme God of the Bible who is able to comfort the broken and hurting.  He, after all, is their greatest need.  He is enough, even in times as difficult as death.