Happy 4th of July! We are blessed to be living in a country founded on biblical principles. America has never been and never will be a perfect country. Yet, it’s my opinion that there has never been a country founded on godly principles like America since the biblical nation of Israel. Let’s watch a short video called “This is America.”
I believe that our nation is in great danger of losing a God-fearing majority. And in a democracy, the majority determines the government of the people. The principles of religious freedom and freedom of speech are eroding at an accelerating pace. Our courts are making judgements contrary to God’s Word. The founding fathers never envisioned a time when the majority of America would not abide by Christian principles. John Adams warned in 1798 …
We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
What are we as believers to do about our current situation in America? Today our message is entitled “Psalms of Commitment.” I believe that commitment is a key to how we should respond in our time.
The Bible speaks of commitments or covenants of people with God and one another. For example, the marriage covenant is a life-long commitment between a man and a woman before God. Unfortunately, both the definition of marriage and the life-long commitment is no longer adhered to by many. We see across America an increasing lack of commitment to God, family, church and even to our nation and its founding biblical principles.
In the Bible, we see God establishing covenants down through history. God established a covenant with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and David. Those covenants all pointed forward to the new covenant established by Jesus Christ.
Today, we’re going to continue our message series Praying the Psalms. We’re going to learn about the blessing that comes through prayers of commitment to God and to one another. Of course, the reverse is that when commitments or covenants are broken, God’s judgement falls on those who break commitments. This applies to those who break their commitment to God, their families, their church or to the biblical principles that America was founded upon. We’ll see that just keeping commitments ourselves is not enough. We must influence others to make and keep these godly commitments in order to be blessed.
Psalm 81:8 (ESV) Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, if you would but listen to me!
In this section of Psalm 81, God is speaking to His people. He is calling them to listen to Him for what He is going to say next is very important. The Lord is calling on His people to make a commitment to Him to serve God only.
Psalm 81:9 (ESV) There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god.
God calls the idols that people are tempted to worship as strange gods or foreign gods. It is not sufficient to worship the Lord and idols at the same time. You must worship and serve God only. This another way of stating the first commandment of the ten commandments, to have no other gods before the Lord. The Lord is calling on His people to remember the commitment, the covenant that they made to Him at that time. However, the psalms in Book 3 of the psalms, such as Psalm 81 were written when the people of Israel were in exile. Here God gives the reasons for their defeat and captivity.
Psalm 81:11-12 (ESV) “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.
The people of Israel did not keep their commitment to serve God only. Usually, they sought to worship the Lord and idols at the same time. That was like having your wife and a mistress at the same time. That is not being faithful to your wife, nor is worshipping idols being faithful to God. Since the people’s hearts were stubborn, God let them follow their own ways, rather than His. This led to disaster for the people of Israel. The psalm closes with the Lord encouraging His people once again.
Psalm 81:13-14 (ESV) Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! I would soon subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes.
In the Bible, to listen to the Lord is the same as obeying Him. If you really hear God, then you will obey His instructions and walk in His ways. The promises in these verses if that if the people of God would listen to and serve God only, then blessings would follow. The blessing mentioned in verse 14, the subduing of their enemies and deliverance from their foes was the opposite of what happened when they went into exile.
In the final verses of the psalm, which I would encourage you to read this week, further blessings for obedience are being fed and satisfied with good things. God calls His people to make the commitment to serve Him only.
How does this command of the Lord to worship Him only apply to us today. In case you were wondering, every culture has idols, false gods that we are tempted to worship. There are idols too numerous to mention in America. Idols of pride, greed, money, pleasure, drugs, sex, knowledge, prestige and the list could go on and on.
The commitment that God calls us to as believers is not just to serve and worship Him on Sundays. We are to serve and worship Him every day, every hour of the week. Everything that we do, whether work or play should be done for Him and with His guidance. Every resource that God has given us, whether our abilities, our time or our money are His. Although God does instruct us to give a minimum of a tithe or 10% of our income to our local church family, the rest of our resources are not ours to spend as we please. We are to use everything we have as God directs, that is what it means to serve God only.
Finally this commitment to serve God only is not made and carried out as individuals. This commitment to serve God only can only be carried out as part of God’s covenant family in a local church. Our commitment to serve God only is done with the encouragement of other believers in the church family.
Psalm 89:1 (ESV) I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.
The main topic of Psalm 89 is to celebrate God’s steadfast love and faithfulness, which are closely related.What are we doing when we celebrate God’s faithfulness? As we spoke on last Sunday, we are praising Him. Today, we focusing on God’s instruction to make a commitment to continually celebrate His faithfulness to His people.
Psalm 89:3-4 (ESV) You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant: ‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations.’” Selah
In these verses, the psalmist refers to a covenant that the Lord had made with David. The covenant promise was that the offspring of David would rule forever. The refers to the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ, who as a descendant of David indeed does rule forever. We will be talking about other Messianic psalms in a future message. As we study our Bibles, we can see that each of the Old Testament covenants were fulfilled in the new covenant of Jesus Christ. Despite the unfaithfulness of people to the Lord, God kept His promises. So we can and should make a continual commitment to celebrate God’s faithfulness.
Psalm 89:8 (ESV) O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, with your faithfulness all around you?
This verse is a rhetorical question. Who is as mighty and faithful as the Lord? The answer is no one, no person, no other god, angel or demon. He is the Lord of the uncountable myriads of angel armies, which enforce His rule and reign with absolute justice. For that we celebrate His faithfulness.
Psalm 89:15-16 (ESV) Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O LORD, in the light of your face, who exult in your name all the day and in your righteousness are exalted.
When we make a commitment to celebrate God’s faithfulness, what are God’s promises to us? Those who make this commitment are blessed. To be blessed is to be given the power for success in following God’s plan. What do people who make this commitment do? They know how to and are not ashamed to shout praises to the Lord. They walk in the light of God’s face, that means that they are following Him closely and so do not stumble in the darkness. Finally they exult or rejoice in God’s name, which represents everything He is. How often do they rejoice? All the day. Finally, this verse closes with another blessing. Those who make the commitment to celebrate God’s faithfulness are exalted or lifted up into the very righteousness of God.
This psalm is talking about building a personal relationship with a faithful God and His steadfast love. When we begin to understand the depth of God’s covenant love for us, we will seek earnestly to love Him back. We will desire to know Him better, to please and praise Him with every aspect of our lives. We will not go for days with thinking of Him or praying to Him. Every day we will seek to walk in the light of His face through prayer and reading His Word, God’s love letter to us. Those who make and are growing in this commitment to celebrate God’s faithfulness will be blessed and exalted to be ever closer to God.
Psalm 78:2-3 (ESV) I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.
I believe that the commitment we are to make from Psalm 78 is absolutely critical in the generation that we are living in. To teach God’s truth to the next generation. This psalm begins with the psalmist saying that what he is about to say are things that have come down from the fathers. The fathers are the forefathers in the faith, men like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and David. True faith is handed down from one generation to another.
Psalm 78:4 (ESV) We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.
This psalmist is not going to let his faith die with his generation. He is making a commitment to tell his children, the coming generation. What are the components of faith that should be passed on? The wonderful things that God has done in the past and His unsurpassed attributes of power, knowledge and love. A parent’s responsibility is not to hide their faith from their children, so they can try and figure things out for themselves. No, a parent’s responsibility, especially the father, is to boldly tell of their experience with the Lord.
Psalm 78:5 (ESV) He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children,
This instruction to teach God’s truth to the next generation is not a new idea. God is the one that revealed Himself to Israel and gave them His Word. And part of God’s instructions in the laws of Moses was for fathers to always teach their children. Why is this so important?
Psalm 78:6 (ESV) that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children,
Faith must taught to each and every generation and God places the main responsibility on the parents. And verse 6 makes the chain clear, of children passing down their faith to their children, the parent’s grandchildren. Of course, each child has the responsibility to accept and believe the true gospel that His parent’s have taught him. Faith is not automatically passed down through generations. But when parents make the commitment to doing their very best to teach God’s truth to the next generation, God gives them success. What will the effect by on the next generation?
Psalm 78:7 (ESV) so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments;
We see a three-fold impact on the children when the parents teach God’s truth to them. First of all, they set their hope on God. Everybody sets their hope on something. If you put your hope in anything other than God, it is an idol. Our hope in this life and the next must only be in God. As the parents teach their children about the works of God, both from the Bible and their own lives, the children will not forget. As the children learn to love Jesus, they will follow and keep the command of God’s Word. The truth will have been passed down to the next generation.
These verses make very clear our responsibility to pass our faith down to our children. But I want to suggest this morning that our responsibility to pass our faith down to the next generation is much broader than to only our children. We have a responsibility to do everything that we can so that the world our children live in will have the freedoms that our forefathers fought and died for. That our children will live in a nation where religious freedom and freedom of speech to speak the truth of God’s Word is honored and not prosecuted as hate speech.
We are at a crossroads in our nation and God is trying to wake us up. Elections are no longer simply a choice of which party do you prefer. Elections are now a choice between good and evil, between light and darkness, between being governed by godly principles or the demonic. Demonic powers are seeking to be unleashed in our country. The only thing that can stop them is for the church of God to make a commitment to teach God’s truth to this entire generation. Both our children and other’s children who have never heard. Let’s make a commitment to teach God’s truth to the next generation.
Today, we’ve talked about three prayers of commitment that God is challenging us to make. These are not one-time commitments, but commitments to be lived out everyday of our lives. The first commitment is to serve God only. Although this one seems simple, it is the most difficult. All of us have blind spots concerning the idols that tempt us. The commitment to serve God only is done as part of God’s family in our local church, Life Church. We are not called to wander from church to church, but to be planted and grow in the church God leads us to.
The second commitment is to celebrate God’s faithfulness. We seek to praise Him for His faithful love toward us. We strive to grow in our love for Him and build our relationship with God through obedience.
Finally the last commitment is to teach God’s truth to the next generation. Our first responsibility it to our own children. But this commitment is also to the city, state and nation that God has planted us in. We must fight for the biblical freedoms won by our forefathers, so that our children can continue to live in a land of religious freedom. As we take on these commitments and challenges, God promises to bring blessing and success into our lives