Summary: We must learn to trust God instead of our own efforts for all things.
July 3, 2011
Text: Psalm 121:1-8
Subject: Independence Day
Title: Always Dependent On God
Welcome everyone to Palmyra First Assembly on this Sunday before we celebrate our Independence. We are blessed to be able to say we live in the greatest nation on the face of the earth – contrary to what some of our elected officials might say. What is it that makes us great? Why have we remained such a force in the world for so many years? My belief regarding this is that it is because we are a nation founded upon God’s word. God has raised this nation up for this purpose – that He would be glorified among the nations. The greatness of America does not rest in who we are but in who God is.
French writer Alexis de Tocqueville, after visiting America in 1831, said, "I sought for the greatness of the United States in her commodious harbors, her ample rivers, her fertile fields, and boundless forests--and it was not there. I sought for it in her rich mines, her vast world commerce, her public school system, and in her institutions of higher learning--and it was not there. I looked for it in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution--and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great!"
"Moreover, almost all the sects of the United States are comprised within the great unity of Christianity, and Christian morality is everywhere the same. In the United States the sovereign authority is religious, and consequently hypocrisy must be common; but there is no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility, and of its conformity to human nature, than that its influence is most powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.
The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other; and with them this conviction does not spring from that barren traditionary faith which seems to vegetate in the soul rather than to live.
There are certain populations in Europe whose unbelief is only equaled by their ignorance and their debasement, while in America one of the freest and most enlightened nations in the world fulfills all the outward duties of religion with fervor.
Upon my arrival in the United States, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more did I perceive the great political consequences resulting from this state of things, to which I was unaccustomed. In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom pursuing courses diametrically opposed to each other; but in America I found that they were intimately united, and that they reigned in common over the same country."
Alexis de Tocqueville.
Amazing, isn’t it, that even one of the most liberal philosophers / politicians of the time recognized that America’s greatness depended upon it’s pursuit of God. Some things never change. If we are going to continue to be the great nation that God ordained, we must continue to be dependent upon Him.
I want to break down Psalm 121 verse by verse to help us see that dependence is a good thing when it is God you are dependent upon.
Lord, help us to see and understand what You want us to receive from Your Word today.
I. GOD IS OUR SOURCE FOR HELP (1-2) 1 I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from? The very first part of verse 1 gives a very clear indication of the fallen nature of man. We have this innate desire to be able to help ourselves. The Psalmist is referring to perhaps a time of meeting an enemy in a valley for battle. You know you are outmatched, out numbered, and maybe even out smarted. But you have set a plan in order. Just when the enemy thinks he is about to overwhelm you, you have a back-up plan. You have lined up an army to be watching from the mountaintops to swoop down and rescue from impending danger. But too many times those who you have looked for to help have let you down. Here is what happens when we look to our friends for help, or worse, look to ourselves. Sign seen in a textile mill, "When your thread becomes tangled, call the foreman." A young woman was new on the job. Her thread became tangled and she thought, "I'll just straighten this out myself." She tried, but the situation only worsened. Finally she called the foreman. "I did the best I could," she said. "No you didn't. To do the best, you should have called me." 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, 6:10-13, 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. We learned last week that one of the things that is impossible for God to do is to lie. Jeremiah 33:3 says, ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know… Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. If those are promises that God has given to you do you not think that He is able to do it? Turn over to Luke 12. This is the story of a farmer who had a great plan. 16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” Let’s read a little more from Luke 12, 22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? 27 “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Whose plan will work out better – yours or God’s? 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. If God is able to create the heavens and the earth with just His word, then surely He is able to be the help that you need. Psalm 46:1 says it well, 1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.