IN TIMES LIKE THESE --- CHRISTIANS REST THEIR CASE ON THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
Sydney Lanier, famous Georgia poet who spent much of his time in the coastal area, penned a poem, “The Marshes of Glynn”, in which he opined, “As the marsh-hen quietly builds on the watery sod, behold I will build me a nest on the greatness of God. By so many roots as the marsh-grass sends in the sod, I will lay me ahold on the greatness of God.”
In times like these – when Christian voices are often drowned out by secular forces – we who order our lives by Biblical standards and seek to practice Christian values are steadfastly building our nests on the greatness of God. We therefore defend our faith by resting our case on the sovereignty of God.
Ask not: “Is there a God?”. Ask: “To what extent do we who profess faith in God rest our case on the sovereignty of God?”
The extent to which we accept the existence of God . . . accept Him as the one and only LORD God . . . accept Him as Creator and sovereign of the universe and all that exists therein and beyond, is the extent to which we respond to Him in awe, respect, honor, love, trust and obedience to His commands.
My contention is that only as we put God first and order our lives around the sovereignty of God can we be happy . . . content . . . live in peace. Christmas is all about how Sovereign God came into the world to be the “Sun of righteousness” (Malachi 4:2), . . . how the living Word of Sovereign God was laid in a manger to become the Savior of the world (John 1:14). In acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty, the church lectionary used by many denominations assigns Psalm 19 to be read on Christmas Day.
This morning we will read just the first six verses of this majestic psalm in connection with our series on “Defending What We Believe”.
David points to God’s Works and God’s Words as two affirmations of the sovereignty of God. This psalm was referred to by theologian C. S. Lewis as “the greatest poem in the Psalms and one of the greatest lyrics in the world” --- Psalm 19:1-6 . . .
We don’t have to go to a scientific observatory, with its telescopes and huge magnifiers of the solar system, to get the feeling that was David’s as he gazed into the vastness of the skies while tending sheep. He saw what we see – a panoramic display of twinkling stars lit up by the moon that shone after the sun disappeared for the night, to rise again the next morning.
Easily understood, therefore, is Malachi’s reference to the “Sun of Righteousness” as a prophecy of the dawning of a new day when the Savior would appear as the light of the world. Even before the occurrence of that most miraculous and amazing advent of the Word - which was from the beginning - was the glorious affirmation of God’s sovereignty by silent “worlds around us” which speak as a “wordless book” which everybody can read because it needs no translation or interpretation!
The wonders of creation are witnessed by people all over the world, while the existence of God is affirmed by all those elements of nature that speak to us silently - but also loudly (as in thunder and lightning and the roar of the sea). Creation conveys to serious observers one word: “God”! “In the beginning God”! Creator God! And, as God’s further revelation of himself unfolds in Scripture, it becomes clearer to us who God is: “LORD”! Sovereign LORD!
Folks: David knew that God was speaking to the inhabitants of the earth via His creation – day after day, night after night . . . His speech “pours out” universally. We know what David knew:
“This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears, all nature sings, and round me rings, the music of the spheres . . . I rest me in the thought, of rocks and trees, of skies and seas, His hands the wonders wrought . . . the birds their carols raise, the morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise . . . He shines in all that’s fair, in the rustling grass, I hear Him pass, He speaks to me everywhere.”
Despite this universal message that “pours out” day and night to the entire world, there are more folks than we would like to admit who ignore the message . . . reject the existence and sovereignty of God because they want to be in charge of themselves and live as they please, with no moral standards nor Christian values! Why are Christian morals and values ignored and rejected?
Christian doctrine is based on a set of facts delivered to us by God’s chosen One, sent to save us from our sins, once and for all! The facts are:
All have sinned. All need to be saved. God so loved us that He sent His Son to die for our sins. The one and only way to be saved is to repent . . . and to accept Christ as Savior - and Lord. The Lordship of Christ demands that we live for Him a life that is true, striving to please Him in all that we do --- to His glory - to the glory of God our Maker, Sustainer, Redeemer, Father!
In times like these, God-focused doctrine based on facts is more often than not tossed aside by those who are self-focused . . . replaced by a new-age way of thinking that allows selfish ambitions and unholy desires to dictate lifestyles and behaviors, with little or no regard for laws – whether they be laws of God or men.
Disrespect on so many fronts in our society stems from disrespect for God’s sovereignty, which precipitates disregard for God’s commandments. Huge mistake! God our Sovereign Creator has a right to rule our lives and to set the standards by which we live. He does so in ways that are trustworthy --- Psalm 111:7-10 . . .
To accept the fact that God exists . . . He is the one and only LORD God . . . He is Creator and therefore sovereign of the universe plus all that exists therein and beyond --- is to trust God and obey Him.
Five reasons are given by David for trusting the LORD God in whom we have placed our faith and to whom we pledge our devotion:
God’s works show that He can be trusted for two reasons: His works are in the best interests of His creation . . . reveal the character of God as just and right. It is for our good that there is a sun and that it rises and sets . . . For eons, such has stabilized our universe and maximized the benefits we receive as occupiers of this habitat for humanity.
God’s words are sure. His natural laws such as gravity work for the good of all. So do His spoken Words. His commands are not lies. What God says is true! Thus, if we want to do things the right way, we must trust Him and live by the words He has given us. Put His “instructions” to the test . . . Be surprised by how well things in your life turn out when you rely on God’s words and ways. Know the truth and Do what is right!
God’s love that sent redemption to His people is the surest reason to trust God! The fact that God provided the Way for us to have fellowship with Him forever by the sacrifice of His Son was the greatest act of love the world has ever known or ever will know. To pause and think seriously about the love of God and what His grace has done for all who believe is to inspire awe and respect - and a willingness to be and do right.
God’s covenant that precipitated the miracle of the exodus and the miracle of the burning bush at Mount Sinai where God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, along with all other manifestations of the keeping of His promises, stands as historical evidence that God is the covenant-keeper as well as the covenant-maker.
What God says He will do, He will do!
God’s name - meaning His character, His reputation, His sovereignty - is holy and reverend. God told Moses to take off his shoes because he was on holy ground. God was there. What’s more - God is here, there, everywhere. Wherever you go, whatever you do, whoever you’re with, remember: you’re in the presence of the LORD God whose name is to be revered and glorified.
Our response to all of this: Reverence the LORD by honoring His instructions - in every situation, under all circumstances. We cannot go wrong by heeding what He says . . . doing what He wills. Mature Christians are God-fearing . . . God-honoring . . . God-following. Thus, in times like these:
They who are wise rest their case on the sovereignty of God. For, you see . . . “This indeed is our Father’s world, and let us ne’er forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet . . . The battle is not done. Jesus who died shall be satisfied - and earth and heaven be one!” Amen!