11-01-2020: In God We Trust

2 Chronicles 7:11-22

Summary: Addressing the need to turn to God, not a political candidate to solve the problems in our nation.

I. Introduction.

I recently read an article – actually a series of articles in Newsweek magazine subtitled, “The Scary Challenges Facing the Next President on Day One.” There’s no question we are in a difficult time – the division, hatred, violence, crime – distrust of authority, judicial system, government – concern over jobs and our future. The pandemic “Corona Virus – COVID-19” is taking its toll on everyone regardless of contamination.

Younger generations don’t even know if Social Security or Medical Care will be around for them when they get to retirement – for that matter it may not even last for those of us on it right now.

The disagreement over the type of healthcare seems it will go on forever. We have like 27.2 trillion dollars of debt and growing – that’s $82,261 per household.

We continue to fight a war on terror while trying to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan. We face the possibilities of aggressive nations having the future capabilities of nuclear weapons – Iran, Venezuela. That in itself can be very scary.

In the midst of all this we are well underway in the election for the top office in the country – the most powerful position in the world – President of the United States of America. Many have already voted – in person or by mail. What has been interesting to me watching the run for election – or re-election – has been the reaction people have had as a result of all the campaigning, debates, political commercials. Some have gotten very excited – other people are very discouraged and very concerned about our future – and still others have gotten just down right mean and hateful.

II. “In Whom or What Do You Trust?”

No doubt this is a historic time. But the question which comes to my mind right now is – “In whom or what do you trust right?” Do you trust in a political party? A new president or a re-elected president? In the government? Do you trust in the economy? Do you trust in the health and virus experts?

David wrote in Psalm 20:7 – “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” A more modern translation says, “Some nations boast of their armies and weapons, but we boast in the LORD our God.”

Are we trusting in something other than God right now? If we do then perhaps we should worry – because God is our hope – not the leadership of our country – or political parties – or armies or weapons – or anything else.

A. Ancient Israel Wanted a King.

I am reminded of the OT in the Bible when the nation of Israel first got started – they didn’t have a national leader like a president or a king – it was a theocracy – God led with a judge or judges over the people. They had 12 tribes with different leaders but they were not very united. They had problems working together – the leadership they did have was corrupt and made poor choices so the people demanded that God give them a new leader. They wanted a king like all the other nations had.

In other words when things were not going well – the people thought what they needed most was a change in leadership – a new administration – a new structure of government. If we just get this new leader to rule over us everything will be okay. He will solve all of our problems. He will protect us from our enemies – He will bring a sense of unity among our divided people (bipartisanship?) – He will stabilize our economy – He will provide a new direction – He will provide the change we need. Does this sound familiar? Of course, it does – both presidential candidates are promising it.

B. God’s Response to Samuel.

Listen to God’s response to Samuel (1 Samuel 8:7-9):

 “And the LORD told him [Samuel]: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected [he was the religious national leader at the time], but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day, I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.’”

God was telling Samuel that the reason they put their hope in new leadership to solve their problems was because they had rejected God as their leader. They no longer looked to God as their helper – and the same goes for us – if we quit looking to God – if we stop trusting in God – if we look to someone or something else – Beloved – we are in trouble!

I am not saying anything against Joe Biden or Donald Trump if one becomes president – or any of the other elected officials – I’m sure they will do their best to lead our country through these difficult times in the way they think is right. What I’m saying is they are human beings – they have flaws – they are not perfect and they will make mistakes – and one, more than the other. Remember God went on to warn the people of Israel through Samuel of all the flaws a national leader would bring.

III. The Primary – Number One – Single Most Problem in Our Country.

The primary problem in our country is not the economy or terrorism – or health care or this pandemic.

The biggest problem is not something the government or the next president can fix at all. It is a sin problem. By sin – I mean people are rejecting God as their leader. They are failing to love and serve God – and each other.  

This works itself out in many ways. One way is the problem of affluenza – greed. If it wasn’t for our desire for more and bigger stuff – would people have borrowed more than what they can afford to repay – charging it even though they don’t have the funds to back it up? Would people have bought bigger homes with a mortgage bigger than what they could realistically afford?

That’s not a problem the government can regulate or solve. They can try to keep the mortgage

lenders accountable – but you can’t change the inner desire for more stuff – bigger stuff – better stuff. Would companies be going bankrupt if it there weren’t so many cases of embezzlement – and profiteering from questionable business practices? If our country followed God’s principles rather than celebrating immortality – would terrorist cells be able to get the recruiting support against us?

The government can’t change people’s lifestyles, and legislate morality – they never could – and never will. Our health care system can’t cure poor health choices like gluttony and lack of exercise – or excessive drinking and smoking – all leading causes of heart trouble.

Folks, what we have in our country is a character problem – a spiritual problem. It is people rejecting God – forsaking him – to do whatever they think is best – and turning to serve other gods of this world.

You might give me a puzzled look because 90% of the people in our country believe in God. 80% claim to be Christian – 33% show up in services on an average week – and of that 33% the majority are women.

But our real gods are what we truly value – It is what we worship – spending our time – energy – and money on the most –  – Things like entertainment – sitting in front of the television or computer – sporting events – hobbies. These are our real gods –  – Think about it – where do people spend most of their time and money? Jesus said our money follows what we really value. He said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

IV. Real Change.

Both the progressive liberal and conservative parties have been talking about the need for change – and they are right – but real change isn’t going to happen with a new president – new legislators – new policies and legislation – change begins with people who choose to trust in God – and turn to him.

A. “In God We Trust”.

The motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” was placed on United States coins largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the WBTS. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received many appeals from devout persons throughout the country – urging that the United States recognize the Deity on United States coins. From Treasury Department records – it appears that the first such appeal came in a letter dated November 13, 1861 and implemented on November 20. 

On July 30, 1956 – two years after pushing to have the phrase “under God” inserted into the pledge of allegiance – President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs a law officially declaring “In God We Trust” to be the nation’s official motto. 

(NOTE) Scholars now believe his family was Mennonite. Either way – Eisenhower abandoned his family’s religion before entering the Army – and took the unusual step of being baptized relatively late in his adult life as a Presbyterian. The baptism took place in 1953, barely a year into his first term as president.

B. Ancient Israel Forgot to Do That.

At the time 2 Chronicles was written – it was a pinnacle in the history of Israel. They had just finished all of King Solomon’s building projects – the high point being the Temple in Jerusalem. It was a time of great prosperity – and peace and national pride was running high.

And yet in the midst of dedicating the temple – God gave a warning. He said there is going to come a time when he would shut up the heavens so no rain falls – or cause locusts to eat up their crops.  

In other words – agricultural and – therefore – economic meltdown. Why? Because God just likes to be mean every once in a while? No – it’s because the people abandoned God. He follows with this well-known Scripture passage of NIV 2 Chronicles 7:14 –

“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

C. We Cannot Afford to Forget Where We Place Our Trust – In God!

What we often forget in the midst of an election – in the midst of scary times – is that God is still in control and that is where we are to place all our trust. Yes – he has given us freedom to make our own choices. But God is in control of the destiny of our nation. And as God reminds us – a nation that trusts in God – God will bless – he will heal – and it will prosper.

A nation which turns its back on God – he will reject – he will allow the natural consequences of its sin to run its course – which I believe is what we are experiencing now. It doesn’t matter who the leader is – or how much legislative changes they manage to push through – without people turning back to God – it just won’t matter.

V. Change Can Come.

The Good News of God’s word to Solomon is that change can come to our nation – when God’s people set the tone for the nation and do these three things:

A. Humble Ourselves.

We must humble ourselves. To be humble is to see ourselves the way God sees us. We take an honest look at ourselves and admit where we have sinned. To be humble also means we look out for others as much as we do for ourselves. I believe JFK was echoing God’s word when he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

When we look to a leader or a government to fix our problems – we don’t take responsibility for ourselves or our communities and the problems therein. It’s someone else’s job. We ask, “what are you going to do for me.” That’s selfish – that’s not from God.

As Christians – God says we humble ourselves and ask what can we do – what will we do – to change our community? Yes – there are problems but what are we doing to make a difference. Ultimately – we know real change only happens when someone turns their life over to God. We have the message of real hope. Let’s not wait for someone else to fix our community – our great state and country.

B. Pray.

Pray! I cannot say that enough. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 –

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone –  2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

I realize we don’t have kings because we live in a democracy – but we do need to pray for those who are in leadership – our president – our congress – our Supreme Court – all are going to have very difficult decisions ahead of them. We can talk all we want – we can complain and grumble about the situation we are in – but talking doesn’t change a thing –  – What changes things is prayer. God says pray – and let me change it –  – Nothing will happen if we don’t pray.

C. Seek God’s Face.

The Bible tells us over and over to seek God – And a handful of scriptures talk about seeking God’s face –  – What does it mean to seek God? Why do we need to seek God? And what is the significance of seeking God’s face? No better way to answer that than with Scripture.

“But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul” – Deuteronomy 4:29.

“I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me” – Proverbs 8:17.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”Jeremiah 29:13.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you”Matthew 7:7.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you”Luke 11:9.

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth … did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us” – Acts 17: 24, 27.

We need to seek God because we’re surrounded by so many distractions.

 

1. What Is Seeking?

The word “seek” in Hebrew in Strong’s Concordance means “to search out by any method.” In Greek – it means to “seek to find.” Although Strong’s gives more meanings and elaboration – the core meaning of the word “seek” supports God’s desire to be found. 

To seek something is to crave after it –  – One who seeks is tenacious – We seek God through prayer.

2. What Are We Seeking?

What Are We Seeking? We go to God in prayer about many things – provision – healing – comfort – wisdom – etc. – and there’s nothing wrong with that. We have needs and God desires to provide for us. 

“Therefore, do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you”(Matthew 6:31-33).

Luke 12:32 elaborates on God’s desire to provide for us,

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”

Seeking these types of things can be called seeking the “hand of God.” It’s seeking what he can do for us or give to us. As I said, there is nothing wrong with this – but there is a deeper relationship God desires to have with us –  – This is found through seeking the “face of God.”

3. Why His Face?

Why His face? The Bible verses for seeking the “face” of God are all found in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word used for face means “face, the part that turns.” It comes from the root that means “to turn, to face, appear, and look.” This implies being face-to-face with God, which is a place of deep intimacy

VI. Conclusion.

My Beloved Brothers & Sisters in Christ Jesus – Don’t seek any human face because God wants us to seek his face because he wants to be known by us. We can learn a lot about God without knowing him intimately. Every human has a desire to be known and to be loved. God has this desire as well and he richly blesses those who seek his face.

“They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob”Psalm 24:5-6.

To seek God’s face is to seek a deeper relationship with him. This is done not only through prayer but also through worship. Those who seek the face of God will not be disappointed.

And if you do not remember anything that I have said this morning – remember this:

God is still in control – God will always be in control!!!

Let us pray –

We are told in the Bible if we will seek first the Kingdom of God and Your righteousness that You will add all the other things that the people of the world seek after [Matthew 6:33]. May all people realize you sent Jesus Your Son to die for them on the cross and if they come to You confessing and forsaking their sins, You will forgive them and give them eternal life. This new life is to begin now. The moment they invite You to come into their heart You will change them so they can live for You, and Your purposes, and no longer live for self.

Lord, give them the peace and assurance of Your presence as they reach out to You. Reveal Yourself to them, Father. Heal them from their sickness and deliver them from all bondage of sin.

Bless them and may their new walk in the Spirit be one that brings glory to Your great and holy name! Amen.