November 5, 2016
Oh Say Can You See God is Sovereign?
NOTE: This is a written version of the message I delivered on November 6, 2016.
Last year, Billy Hallowell shared an article Christian Singer Crowder Breaks Down Why the 'Star-Spangled Banner' Is Possibly the 'Best Song Ever Written' out of an interview with Christian singer David Crowder. In the interview, Crowder spoke of the national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, as "one of the most perfect pieces of poetry ever ... the best song ever written, maybe." What really impacted me was when he further said the following:
"You can't see the flag until the moment of conflict ... it's 'still there,' 'bombs bursting in air.'"
America faces an imminent and difficult election. And the options are the most challenging in my lifetime.
Further, the nation has largely dismissed God and people are divided. And the division even comes to the church.
There are people in the church questioning others in regards to their spiritual maturity, or even salvation, on such things as if they vote, for whom they vote and why they vote in the manner they do (issue-based, pragmatism, party-line, etc.).
I am grateful that I have the privilege to vote and encourage others to do likewise and while it should be informed by the faith, it is not the basis of
my faith. Any vote this year is a difficult one. And few vote with hope and confidence. However, the vote will occur and someone will be President,
someone about whom many in the country will not be excited.
Still, God is sovereign. He will place the President in place according to His will.
Romans 13:1 (NASB) states, "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God."
My hope and confidence is not in any of the candidates. My hope is not in the next President. Yes, but there is conflict. There are "bombs bursting in air."
R.C. Sproul mentions that sometimes God isn't on our side and we should be asking, "Are we on God's side?" He said the following in a message about civil disobedience:
I can remember when I was in seminary struggling with this [hesitating instead of living in disobedience to those God has placed in authority over us]. I had professors in the classroom who radically denied the truths of Christianity. ... I held them in absolute contempt spiritually, but I believed it was my absolute duty in that classroom to treat them with respect because as derelict as they were, they were in the position of authority and I wasn't. They were the teacher. I was the student. That didn't mean I was supposed to believe everything they taught or slavishly accept their teaching, but respect I was commanded to do.
Whether or not one's candidate wins and leads, we are to be light in this world. God is still there. Don't forget about Him. Above and beyond the candidate, the President, the flag, the nation or the vote is God. If you are in Christ, you can have confidence and hope and demonstrate it with respect. While I have my opinions on the vote and what would be best for the country given the options, my faith is in Jesus Christ and I am to respect. I am to influence instead of insult. I am to bring healing rather than blame. I can do this in Christ. This applies to your day-to-day life and to the election itself.
However, let's get some perspective. The "bombs" in the air regarding America's election pale in comparison to the bombs in Syria and the
evil atrocities committed there by Daesh (ISIS). It makes sense to ask, "Where's God?" or "Why does God allow this?" There are Muslims
who are disillusioned by the atrocities committed. In many cases, they are not only fleeing the atrocities, but fleeing falsehood and turning
to Christ whether it be through those who receive them as refugees or via dreams about "the Man in white." Daesh is horrific, but in spite of
the atrocities, God is reaching seemingly unreachable persons. The next President will not be ideal, but God is sovereign. He will use what
occurs. At the very least, these times demand that those who call themselves Christians are clear about whether they truly trust Christ.
Do you have hope? Do you know Christ? Jesus is the third Person of the Triune God. To reject Him is to reject God. To trust Him is to have peace with God.
And walking in the Spirit, you can have peace with God. There's that old saying: "No Jesus, No Peace, Know Jesus, Know Peace." Do you know peace?
We could look at the circumstances around us and despair. Consider Matthew 14:22-36 (NASB):
Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away.
After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.
But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary.
And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea,
they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying,
"Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."
Peter said to Him, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."
And He said, "Come!" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!"
Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?"
When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, "You are certainly God's Son!"
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent word into all that
surrounding district and brought to Him all who were sick; and they implored Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak;
and as many as touched it were cured.
What was the first thing Jesus said to the disciples in this scenario? "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." Those words are
applicable today, aren't they? Take courage. Jesus is there. Do not be afraid.
Peter had faith to get out of the boat and walk on the water with Jesus, but he began to sink. When did he begin to sink?
The scripture says, "But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink..." When he began to sink, he was looking at his circumstances, not
Jesus. In these times, we must look to Jesus and experience His healing for our souls. In all times, we must look to Jesus.
Got trial? We are here for such a time as this. Franklin Graham speaks words that are applicable:
I am reminded of when Esther, in the Bible, had to take action at a critical time in her nation's history. If she had stayed silent, it would have been the end for God's people -- but she had an opportunity to speak up. Esther's relative Mordecai told her, "If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14, ESV).
If you know the book of Esther in the Bible and the story thereof, you know that Esther became queen and lived during what would become trying times for the Jewish people. Mordecai, her relative who looked after her, had saved King Ahasuerus. Meanwhile, Haman had been promoted, but Mordecai would not bow to him or pay homage to him. This frustrated Haman so much that he plotted to destroy the Jews and got the king to approve. Eventually, Esther learned of the plot and at the risk of losing her life, approached the king and interceded on their behalf. In the end, Esther saves her people and Haman is stopped. She really was there for such a time as that.
We are here for such a time as this, for whatever trials we face. We are here to be a voice of truth, a listening ear or to come along side of another or to intercede like Esther. Like Esther, there is Another Who interceded on the behalf of others and "risked" losing His life. Yet, it wasn't truly a risk. He knew it would happen and it was part of His plan from the beginning of time. This other One is Jesus. He is the Sovereign Lord Who interceded on your behalf and died on the Cross in your place. He is Sovereign and demonstrated power even over death in that He rose again. This is available to all who believe. Do you believe?
Consider this anthem I wrote:
Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
Whom so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes on His back thru the perilous plight,
O'er the beams of the cross, blood so gallantly streaming?
And the trial's red glare, buried, seeming despair,
He rose the third day, at God's right hand He's there.
Oh, say can you see God is sovereign today
O'er the hearts of the free that in Christ are the saved?
~James "Jamie" Arthur Johnson, based on Francis Scott Key's "The Star-Spangled Banner"
Are you facing trial or pain whether it is on a national or personal level? Jesus wants to walk through that valley with you. He is the Sovereign Lord today, tomorrow, always. Believe in Him today and be truly free. Oh say can you see Good is Sovereign? Yes!
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