“HOW TO BE A GODLY CITIZEN” Ps. 33
INTRO – This weekend is our nation’s celebration of freedom. It’s a precious thing to us as Americans. We’ve fought for it throughout the course of our history. Many have died for it. We cherish it & value it. We just pledged our allegiance to the flag of our nation & sung our national anthem w/ gusto & fervency.
But we have to be honest in saying that right now our nation is in a dark place, darker than any of us have ever known in our lifetimes. We are not living as “one nation under God.” We are not functioning w/ the motto, “In God We Trust,” in the forefront of our minds. Some of our nation’s leaders have spoken during times of difficulty:
- “The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.” (George Washington)
- “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here.” (Patrick Henry)
- “Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty.” (Abraham Lincoln)
- “America was founded by people who believe that God was their rock of safety. I recognize we must be cautious in claiming that God is on our side, but I think it’s all right to keep asking if we’re on His side.” (Ronald Reagan)
As Christ-followers, we must learn how to live in such a way as to show our allegiance to our Savior as we live as citizens of the US. The importance of this grows every day! First & foremost, we are Christians. We are citizens of a much greater K’dom than the US.
- Eph. 2:19 – “…you are no longer foreigners & aliens, but fellow citizens w/ God’s people & members of God’s household…”
- Phil. 3:20 – “…our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ…”
Let’s think about what it means to be a good citizen. What is expected of someone who is a citizen of a nation?
- Meet requirements of citizenship
- Obey the laws of that nation
- Support the leaders
- Contribute to the betterment of the nation
- Help those who are in need around us
There’s definitely a need for more people in our nation who will do these things. This is especially true for Christians who live in our nation. The recent SCOTUS ruling has made it much plainer & clearer that the Church in America needs to stand together on the truths of God’s Word, no matter what the courts or the government says. We are to obey the laws of our land as long as they do not contradict the laws of God. But, when they do, as the legalization of gay marriage does, we must take our stand on the Word of God.
- Acts 5:17-42
The days we are living in right now may seem to be getting darker. But the darkness that is all around us just makes the light of Christ shine that much brighter in our lives & in our society! Instead of being our worst days, these days should be our greatest days. The opportunities for us to shine & show the love of Christ to others are greater than they’ve ever been before. The need for us as Christ-followers to live as Godly citizens in our nation is huge! It goes far beyond just flying an American flag & singing “God Bless America.”
Living as a Godly citizen in our nation means that we first learn from Scripture what it means to live as a godly citizen of heaven. If we are doing that, then I can guarantee you that we will be living the kind of life we need to live to be a godly citizen of the US. PSALM 33 gives us some of those principles that will help us live our lives as citizens of heaven & the USA:
Worship Rightly – v. 1-3 – Our God alone is worthy of our worship. The psalmist said that it is “fitting for the upright to praise Him.” That word means that it is a beautiful thing when we worship & praise our God! Ps. 147:1 – “Praise the Lord! How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant & fitting to praise Him!”
There are lot of people who are worshiping wrongly in our nation today, & some of them are even in our churches.
- People are worshiping $
- …their kids
- …their careers, businesses
- …their possessions
- …their recreational & leisure pursuits
- …their bodies
- …their freedom, rights, a flag (rainbow, confederate, or American)
ONLY GOD is worthy of worship! We are worshiping rightly when we are worshiping Him alone. The 10 Commandments haven’t changed, even though they are under attack all across our nation. And the 1st 2 commandments explicitly address the worship of God alone:
- “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
- “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image [idol], or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”
Study Diligently – v. 4-11 – 2 Tim. 2:15 – “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a worker that needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” The word for “study” means “to be zealous; to be eager; a sense of urgency, gravity, seriousness.” God has not changed & His Word has not changed. Our nation may be changing laws, but God’s laws have not changed. Now, more than ever, God’s people need to be daily reading God’s Word; diligently studying God’s Word; dutifully memorizing God’s Word; & definitely applying God’s Word.
- With all that is going on in our nation, a lot of people are anxious & afraid today– God’s Word speaks to that!
- …angry today – God’s Word speaks to that!
- …confused today – God’s Word speaks to that!
- …bitter & resentful – God’s Word speaks to that!
- …falling into sin – God’s Word speaks to that!
- …living immoral, perverse lives – God’s Word speaks to that!
- …getting priorities messed up – God’s Word speaks to that!
In January, 1984, a house painter was painting the home of an 89 year-old lady in Spokane. She had a large family Bible prominently displayed on the coffee table and remarked that it was 116 years old and a priceless heirloom. He commented on how remarkable that was, and added, “It doesn’t matter how old the Bible might be, what’s on the inside is what matters.” She immediately replied, “Oh, I know. That sure is the truth. Why, we have family records and births and marriages and deaths that go so far back, all recorded in that Bible; we could never replace them.”
Stand Unwaveringly – v. 12-19 – V. 12 is specifically about the nation of Israel. They are God’s special chosen people. So we have to be careful in our interpretation of this Scripture. And while that verse may be good preaching material for today & a good FB or Instagram post for the 4th of July, we must remember that the USA is not a nation “whose God is the Lord.” Only the nation of Israel has been particularly chosen by God to be His people through whom our Savior, Jesus Christ, came.
So, does this verse not apply to us today? It does, but not in a patriotic, nationalistic kind of way. It applies to us as followers of Jesus Christ, who are citizens of heaven, just as it applies to Christians who live in Africa, or England, or Japan, or Italy, or any other nation. V. 13 says that God looks down from heaven & sees “all mankind.” V. 15 tells us that He considers “everything we do.” And v. 18-19 promise us that His eyes are on those who “fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love, to deliver them from death & keep them alive in famine.”
What does this tell us? It tells us to stand unwaveringly w/ our God & for our God, no matter what our nation is doing, or how far our nation is straying away from Him & His principles & precepts.
- We stand unwaveringly for the Gospel!
- We stand unwaveringly for the Church!
- We stand unwaveringly for the Word of God!
- We stand unwaveringly in the love of God!
- We stand unwaveringly to help sinners who are lost & need Jesus!
- We stand unwaveringly to help those who are in need!
Wait Patiently – v. 20 – We don’t wait passively, twiddling our thumbs doing nothing. We wait patiently, but actively & expectantly for our God to move & work!
- He hears us when we pray!
- He responds to the cries of His children!
- He provides for every need that we have!
- He has given us everything we need to live a life of godliness & usefulness!
- And Jesus is coming again soon as the victorious Judge of all the earth!
Trust Explicitly – v. 21 – We don’t trust in kings & armies to save us (v. 16a). We don’t trust in our own strength to save us (v. 16b). We don’t trust in horses or other earthly resources to save us (v. 17). “IN GOD WE TRUST” to save us! (v. 21, 18-19). And THAT makes our hearts rejoice!