National Reformation - Version 1
The following is a summary of the sermon I did NOT preach on February 12, 2017.
THE CALL TO NATIONAL REFORMATION
Part 2 of Reformation Now! Psalm 12
February 12, 2017. The Cornerstone Church.
BIBLE READING: PSALM 12
Psalm 12 is King David’s prayer on behalf of his kingdom, Israel. His nation was collapsing under the weight of its own wickedness. It is a prayer for national reformation by God’s intervention.
Psalm 12 is also a blueprint for our prayers for our nation. It’s a model prayer. We should be praying for national reformation by God’s intervention.
Psalm 12 tells us 3 things NOT to do when we see America plunge deeper into ungodliness.
Do not give up on our nation.
Do not excuse the failings of our nation.
Do not expect on our nation to fix itself.
Psalm 12 also tells us two things to do when we have concerns about America. And that’s what I want us to talk about today.
A. TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT OUR NATIONAL PROBLEMS.
At breakfast, I usually click from CNN to MSNBC to Fox News. Here’s what amazes me: the same event is interpreted so differently by each channel. At night, I read a couple of newspaper apps on my phone. I read the Guardian which is a left-leaning paper. I read Breitbart which is right-leaning. Again, they report the same events, but interpret them very differently.
So … What is the TRUE condition of America? On the one hand, there is so much good to celebrate. I believe this is because our early history and our founding ideas were all informed by the Christian faith. On the other hand, we have very serious problems. I believe these are the result of a drift away from the ideas and values of the Christian faith. In America, it is acceptable to do what God forbids, love what God hates and promote what God judges.
I believe that we are a Romans One nation. We have rejected and replaced God and his ways. And he has abandoned us to sexual perversion, violence, injustice, and moral decay.
“So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.
28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.” - Romans 1:24-32
Are we on the brink of divine judgment? NO! We are already under judgment. Romans 1 tells us how God passively judges a nation. He abandons it to sin to its heart’s content. America is surely under the passive judgment of God. God also judges nations actively. Israel’s conquest of Canaan tells us what that looks like:
“It is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lᴏʀᴅ is driving them out before you” - Deuteronomy 9:4.
Would God ever actively judge America? Consider this: every kind of sin committed in godless Canaan is practiced in America today and many of Canaan’s sins are legal and celebrated in our nation. We have to admit the truth about our nation and our churches - verse 1: “the godly are fast disappearing.” We cannot be far from a time of God’s active judgment.
Psalm 12 teaches us to get real about what’s going on. David was honest about the shortcomings of the nation under his rule. He didn’t hide from reality or spin facts to show himself as a great king.
Neighbors lie (EMPTY) to each other, speaking with flattering lips (SMOOTH TALKER) and deceitful (DOUBLE) hearts. 3 May the Lord cut off their flattering lips and silence their boastful tongues. 4 They say, “We will lie to our hearts’ content. Our lips are our own—who can stop us?” - Psalm 12:2-4
David told God the truth. His acknowledged that his own kingdom was built on lies, fake news, and alternative facts. The lying was just a symptom of a nation in total rebellion against God.
We need to be honest about our national short-comings. Even if it doesn’t fit our political agenda. Do you remember what happened when Jonah preached judgment to the king of Nineveh? The king admitted he and his nation were godless, wicked. He decreed that his people should pray and “turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence.” - Jonah 3:8. And God turned his judgment away.
This is what we learn from Psalm 12 and from Jonah: there can be no national transformation without national truth-telling. Nothing will change until we admit we need to change. The church - Christians - we should lead the way on this. Reformation begins in the church (more about this next week).
I don’t like being a negative nellie. So, I’m never going to point out the bad news without also sharing the Good News; That right now is the time to turn from sin to God; That he has made a way to be restored and forgiven through Christ and his cross.
B. TELL GOD ABOUT OUR NATIONAL PROBLEMS.
In the age of Facebook and Twitter, Texts and Snapchat, our reflex reaction to problems can be to post something, protest, make a noise. The Bible warns us about that. Spouting off brings divisions, not solutions:
"Fools care nothing for thoughtful discourse; all they do is run off at the mouth." - Proverbs 18:2 The Message
"The words of a fool start fights; do him a favor and gag him." - Proverbs 18:6 The Message.
King David knew a better way. He prayed to God about the injustice in his kingdom.
“Help, O Lord, for the godly are fast disappearing! The faithful have vanished from the earth!” - Psalm 12:1
He took his problem to the One who could actually fix things. David’s confidence was in God. Think about that for a moment: David was the King - the head of government. He had wealth and power and an army. He could have bought his way out of trouble. He could have fought for a better kingdom. More judges, more prosecutions, more executions. He could have promoted his “program for progress in purity.” Maybe he did some of those things. Perhaps some of it worked.
But David knew the most effective solution: When God stands up, evil falls down. The Lord replied to David’s prayer:
“I have seen violence done to the helpless, and I have heard the groans of the poor. Now I will RISE UP to rescue them, as they have longed for me to do.” - Psalm 12:5
David knew the real power for national reformation was God himself:
The Lord’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over. 7 Therefore, Lord, we know you will protect the oppressed, preserving them forever from this lying generation, - Psalm 12:6-7
Government can do so much. But God can do so much more. God’s help is America's hope.
America needs a national reformation. But how will that ever happen?
We should work together to make America great. There are a million ways to do that. And we all have something to offer. We should all work for an Isaiah 58:6-7 nation for everyone regardless of color, class or creed:
“This is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. 7 Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
But working towards a national reformation is not enough. We also need God’s intervention. And that only happens after prayer. Jeremiah knew this:
“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” - Jeremiah 29:7
God has put Christians here at this time, in this place, to pray. Your calling is to bombard the throne of grace until God visits our nation.
We’re going to pray 2 ways:
Pray for God to destroy the evil that dominates so many communities so that love and peace and justice and prosperity can flourish for all.
Pray for a national spiritual awakening - a wholesale turning to Jesus Christ as Savior and God. Pray for God to raise up more and more healthy, holy, loving, Spirit-filled, Gospel-preaching, salt and light churches everywhere.
If we’re really serious about making America great, we will pray with passion and zeal.
The greatest, most positive, changes will happen when communities which were dominated by Satan and sin are filled with new believers who love Jesus and follow his teachings. Salt and light will overcome the decay and darkness.
Get to it! Pray for America. Pray for a national spiritual awakening that leads to a national reformation so that there will be liberty and justice for all - a beautiful community in which God’s ways are honored.