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Setting Our Hope in God

The Verdict / John Munro
The Truth Network Radio
August 15, 2022 11:03 am

Setting Our Hope in God

The Verdict / John Munro

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August 15, 2022 11:03 am

Dr. John H. Munro August 14, 2022 Psalm 78:4-7

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You know the United States wants to be a light on a hill, but sadly the prevailing culture today now promotes moral values, ethical standards, right and wrong in a way which says there are no absolutes. There is not such a thing as absolute truth. Everything is relative. And so our values, our ethics, our morals are no longer, generally speaking, rooted in God's Word, the Bible, but in our changing personal circumstances and beliefs.

So now the mantra is, dream your own dream, believe what you like, be true to yourself, and the result is that in our culture, I believe the unthinkable is happening right before us. In the last 25 to 30 years, there has been a dramatic change, I would argue a dramatic decline in the moral standard, the spiritual standard of this nation. A glaring example is the view of biblical marriage, the view of family. Marriage and family are not the ideas of some man or Congress or a president or the judges of the Supreme Court, but rather in the beginning, our great God that we've been singing about who is steadfast, who is everlasting, yes who is good. For our good, He made us male and female. And marriage according to Scripture, reinforced by the teaching of Jesus in the New Testament, and which has been the building block of human civilization down through the years has now been changed.

The idea of marriage, the idea of who you can marry, the idea of what is marriage is now based not on God's Word, but on people's evolving views. Students are now asked, do you think how foolish this is? Students are now asked their preferred pronoun. I can imagine in my classroom Mrs. McDonald saying to me, now what do you want to be addressed?

Now am I thinking, am I a her or a him or an it or a they? Think of the confusion and think of the reality that that is happening now in our culture. Paul who writes to the Romans, which was also a decadent society, regarding their declining moral standards, he says, claiming to be wise, they became fools. And haven't we developed and aren't we living in an increasingly foolish society? I ask you, do you think you're wiser than God? Do you think that this book, the Bible, is now out of date?

It can be rejected, marginalized, ignored, depending on your personal preferences, on the way you want to live. How important it is that a church like Calvary Church, that a school like Calvary Christian Academy states very clearly, as we've already heard, that we believe that the Bible is truth. Jesus said that to prayer to His Heavenly Father in John 17 verse 17, your Word is truth. Not that it just points to truth or contains the truth, but it is truth. God's Word is truth. God is a God who is true. He's reliable. He's faithful. He's all wise.

He's omniscient. And so the Scriptures are given to us. Paul writes that they're inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. How can a young man, a young woman be trained in righteousness? That's really the question which is asked in Psalm 119 verse 9. How shall a young man live a clean life? How is it possible for an 18-year-old leaving Charlotte, going to a secular university or college, how is it possible for that individual to live a clean, pure life? The answer is given, Psalm 119 verse 9, by living it according to your Word.

Not according to the culture, not according to his own desires, but according to God's Word. Therefore, to say the obvious, we must be diligent, parents, grandparents, to teach our children biblical truth, and we must make sure that we ourselves are obeying this truth. And so at Calvary, we put great emphasis on parents bringing up their children, as Paul says in Ephesians 6, in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

I realize that is a huge responsibility for parents. I realize it's a huge responsibility for a school like Calvary Christian Academy, but we believe that this is a living book. It's the Word of God. We believe that God will help us. God will give us all of the strength, all of the guidance, all of the resources, all of the wisdom we need as we humbly follow His Word, investing in the next generation.

So we invest in our children's ministry, in youth ministries, in our child development center, in CHAMP, in these camps that you've heard about, and now in Calvary Christian Academy. I'm going to ask you to stand as we read from Psalm 78 verses 4 through 8. Psalm 78, here is the ancient Hebrew Scriptures, 3,000 years old, but how they are needed today.

Read them with me. 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. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers to teach to their children that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments. And that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God. Thank you.

Please be seated. So we read these verses. We read that hard hearts characterized a past generation. If you have your Bible there again, open it to Psalm 78 verse 8, that they should not be like their fathers, and that generation is described as a rebellious and stubborn generation.

Think of it. A generation in Israel forgot the works of God and His wonders. Verse 11, they forgot His works and the wonders that He had shown them. Here is ancient Israel, and they had lost the sense of wonder of God working in and through them. They took God and the blessings of God for granted. The stories of the deliverance from Egyptian bondage going through the Red Sea, the heavens open in the wilderness and raining down manna, the very food of angels, the rocks that gushed with waters, the fall of Jericho, going into the promised land.

All of that, it seemed, had become a bit of a bore. Their spiritual heritage became remote, stale, unexciting. Rather than following the Lord, rather than trusting the Lord with all of their hearts, their hearts, ancient Israel, became stubborn and rebellious.

How did that come about? They ignored or rejected the Word of God. And as they did that, this is ancient Israel, the unimaginable then happened. The true and the living God that we've been singing about, the God from everlasting, the good God, the gracious God, the God who delivered them, the God who had provided for them, the God who had led them by the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, that God, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the God who had given them supernatural victories over their enemies.

Yes, the God, as we read in verses 23 and 24, who opened the doors of heaven and rained down on them manna to eat. That God was now exchanged for worthless idols. Verse 56 through 58, verse 56 of Psalm 78, yet they tested and rebelled against the most high God and did not keep his testimonies, but turned away and acted treacherously like their fathers. They twisted like a deceitful bow, for they provoked him to anger with their high places, they moved him to jealousy with their idols. Rather than the people of God who had been told that they were to be a light to the nations, that God would bless them and they in turn would be a blessing to the nations, even to the remote nations of the world that God's grace was going to fall on Israel and that through them, His mighty power, His glorious works would be known to all of the nations. Instead of that, instead of impacting the culture for God, what did they do? They coveted the idolatry of their neighbors.

They mimicked it and then they embraced it. Do you ever covet what unbelievers have? Do you ever look at some unbeliever and say, well, you know, this person may live like the devil but they've got it pretty good.

Maybe they're right and I'm wrong. Here I am faithfully serving the Lord and this character is living in defiance of the Lord but he's getting the promotion. They're getting the blessing and instead in a subtle way, in a terrible way, the devil is turning our hearts that rather than focusing on God, we begin to look around and there's a restlessness.

Isn't this what has happened? This was the Canaanization of Israel. They first tolerated the sin of the Canaanites. They knew it was wrong. They knew the Old Testament. They knew the Ten Commandments. They tolerated it. Then they accept it and then they're embracing and practicing it.

And in so doing, they lose their spiritual identities, the people of God and they certainly lose their spiritual vitality. Do you see how it happened? Do you see any parallels with ancient Israel to where we are in the United States? Not just in the United States, in the United Kingdom, in Europe, in Canada, what we would call the West. Do you see what has happened? Would you say that our country, the United States, is rebellious?

Isn't it true before our very eyes? Yes, particularly over the last 20 or 30 years, we're seeing a spiritual and moral decline in our nation. I remember coming to this country and looking at the coin, in God we trust.

I thought, wonderful! Here is a nation that is trusting God. And I don't need to remind you of God's favor on this country. Has ever a country been so blessed as the United States of America? Think of the grace of God. Think of the way God has led.

I think since its founding, if you know even a little of the wonderful history of this country, yes, I know there are dark areas. Yes, I know not everyone was following God. I understand that, but there was in this country the favor of God, and God blessed this country.

And from the United States then, the gospel has gone forth throughout the world. But I think, largely speaking, we're forgetting God. Many who are raised in Christian homes live their lives as practical atheists. Oh, they wouldn't say they're an atheist, but their life is really no different from the unbeliever next door. They may embrace a shallow cultural Christianity. They may follow in an unthinking way the traditions of their church. They may have embraced a hype and a false prosperity gospel, but they do not know Christ in their hearts.

They have not been saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. And many over the years, and I say yes, in churches like Calvary Church, that we become spiritually complacent, that we become lethargic, and I think we take God for granted. Do you ever have a friend who takes you for granted? It's not very good, is it? Or a relative? And you wake up one day and you think, you know, I've known so and so for 15 years, and I think we're friends, but I suddenly realize it's all a one-way street, that they call me in an emergency, but I think they're taking me for granted. It's not a very nice feeling, is it?

We've all had that experience. Could you imagine taking God for granted? Do you take God for granted? Throughout Scripture, particularly the Old Testament, and we've been singing about it, the prophets say over and over again, I am God and there is no one like me. I'm the only rock. Do you know anyone else? Do you know anyone else who can save your sins? Do you know anyone else who died on a cross for you and was buried and rose again?

Do you know anyone else? Is there anyone who can compete with this God and we're now taking Him for granted? We go through the motions. Yes, we can sing a hymn. Yes, we can quote a verse of Scripture, but our hearts are hollow. What's happened?

The same as ancient Israel. Compromise creeps into our hearts. Which one of us could say that we're exempt from that? Compromise creeps into our personal lives, our homes, our lives.

The way we do business, there really is no difference. And we wake up and we think, now where have we gone wrong? And overall, our country, yes, this wonderful country that I love, is in moral and spiritual decline. Isn't it time that we, the people of God, woke up? Isn't it time that we repented? Isn't it time, as Paul would say in Romans 13, to put on the armor of light?

And so, Calvary's commitment with God's grace and with His help is to invest in the next generation so that they will set their hope in God. That's what we're doing. And can I say the obvious? And you say, you know, we don't need you in television. We've had this before.

You may have heard it, but you'll know if it's sunk in all of your hearts. Personal faith in the Lord Jesus and obedience to Him are essential. God does not have any grandchildren. Troy is celebrating that he was brought up in a Christian home.

I could do the same. Wonderful to have godly Christian parents. That does not make us authentic followers of Jesus Christ. No, the Scripture makes it very clear that what is needed from each one of us is a dynamic, personal, saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. So John, at the opening of his wonderful gospel in John 1 says, but to all who received Him, that is Christ, to all who received Him and believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Supernatural regeneration, a work of God in the soul of men and women and boys and girls as we receive the living Christ, as we embrace Christ, as we trust Him and realize that we turn from our sin and realize that Christ died for our sins and rose again, and we ask Him to be our Savior and our Lord. The promise is true. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. I'm not sure if all of you have called on the name of the Lord. You say, well, that's why we're here, John.

Listen, I welcome you. We appreciate you coming so much, whether you've come for 30 years or whether it's your first time here, but as your pastor, I have to challenge you. Do you know Christ? Do you know Christ? Are you truly trusting in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? Have you ever mourned over your sin? Have you ever repented of your sin?

Or have you created a very comfortable pseudo-spiritual cultural Christianity where you say you love Jesus but you ignore His commands? Are you setting your hope in God? I love how the Psalmist says that, that they're going to teach their children who will teach their children who will teach the children yet unborn. Teach them what? Yes, the commandments, but to set their hope in God. That's personal, isn't it? That my hope is in our Lord Jesus Christ.

What's your hope in? I had lunch this week with a man and he was telling me about one of his relatives a few years ago, and he was a great basketball player. And he was playing at college and he was one of the top college players, and he was planning to play professional basketball in the NBA. And then just as he was coming towards the end of his college career, during a game he fell and in a split second his basketball career, certainly at the top level, is over. You ever had anything like that happen to you?

Some of you have, haven't you? You put your life effort into your job, into your business, into your career, into your hobby, into your sport. And you go into the bank one day and you get told, oh, in a nice way, and you're giving a little compensation, but basically you're right off here, you're gone. I remember a man coming to see me, he said, I can't believe it, John. He said, I invested thirty years of my life and in a split second I'm told to go.

Pretty sad, isn't it? If you've set your hope in your business, if you've set your hope in your family, if you've set your hope in your possessions, you're getting a little nervous watching the stock market go up and down. You're thinking, what's going to happen? If you put your hope in anything or anyone other than God, you're doomed. Listen to Timothy, 1 Timothy 6 verse 17, as for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches. Notice the uncertainty of riches.

You say, well, I'm poor, it doesn't bother me. It's a point, doesn't it? On whom or on what are you setting your hope? But he says, on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. Peter talks about a living hope in 1 Peter 1. A living hope, that's what I want, not a dead hope, not a hope in myself and my achievements, in my ministry. No, my hope has to be in God, your hope has to be in God. That is an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.

What an inheritance, a living hope. So, because we believe this passionately, many of us do, I trust most of us do, Calvary Church, as the people of God were committed to invest in the next generation. Why do we have the camps to teach them how to sing? Unbelievers can teach people how to sing. Why do we have champ sports to teach kids soccer?

That is a good sport, by the way, so I'm all for that. But, unbelievers can teach people to play soccer and perhaps even do better than we can. All of this is done so that children and young people and adults will set their hope in God, the unchanging and the unchangeable rock. Life is difficult. Life is tough.

I hear it every week, as devastating as to what happens in the lives of people. And we as pastors, we pray for you and we help you, but you, in the midst of the difficulty are to do what? To set your hope in God, an unchanging and unchangeable rock. And so how important it is, and I thought it was thrilling, wasn't it, to hear from Dowd and Troy, that what we're doing at Calvary Christian Academy is to teach our children the Word of God. Not only to teach it, but to display Jesus.

That's a little more difficult, isn't it? Not only to teach the Word, but to live it out and to pray with them, and you as parents, that you have that priority, that you put worship on the Lord's Day with your family as a priority, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn. So that's why we're praising God today for Calvary Christian Academy.

As Dowd had said, I am a reluctant convert. When I first heard about it, I thought, no, there's so many other schools. And, you know, I never really heard about Christian schooling until I came to this country, and I thought, you know, these are, these Americans with the little schools, they're just forming these little holy bubbles, and protecting and living life as if there's not a big bad world out there. I'm not sure if I agree with that. Listen, Calvary Christian Academy is not going to be a holy bubble. It's going to be holy, but it's not going to be a bubble.

It's not. God calls us to be light and salt. Calvary Christian Academy, and one of the things my heart rejoiced when I heard it, is missional.

You say, what's missional? There are some Christian schools that only have students who come from alleged Christian homes. That's so we have nice little well-behaved Christian kids. They don't exist, of course. Some of the worst kids I've met come from Christian homes.

But that's the theory. We have these nice little well-behaved Christians, some kind of little clones, not the reality, of course. Of course, we will accept children from Christian homes, but we'll also accept children with joy from non-Christian homes. We do that already for over 40 years with the Child Development Center. It also is missional. And we have children right now in our CDC that come from all over the world, parents of different religions, and you say, well, do we compromise our faith?

No. We very carefully explain as we'll do at Calvary Christian Academy that we are a Christian school. It's got that right in the name. We're going to teach your children this book. We believe that Jesus Christ is God and so on, and trust that we will receive some such children and that they in turn will go to their families. I remember when I was coaching a champ here, a five-year-old's soccer, which is about my level now, and the assistant coach had sent his children to CDC and he said to me, you know, he says, John, we've got to know each other. He said, there's something different about Calvary. I thought, what was he actually saying?

I hope, I hope he's saying one, hoping that he'll say in a positive way. And he said, he said, I need to speak with you. So I made an appointment, came to my office and he sat down and he said, you know, I've gone to church all my life. And he said, my, my, my daughter came back from, from CDC and started talking about John 3.16.

He said, I had no idea. What is John 3.16? He said, I went to Barnes & Noble and asked if they had a book on, on John 3.16. And in the providence of God, Max Lucado has written a book on John 3.16. And I was able to share the gospel. Here is a family that doesn't understand the gospel.

That little girl is taking the Word of God, sharing with the parents that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. So we are committed to the gospel, committed to the Word of God, and also committed, as has been said, with academic excellence. That was one of my questions I had as I, as we discussed this. Was this school committed to academic excellence? I'm a big believer in education. And to do it with excellence, not just as a kind of add-on or to have a kind of school like as a kind of year-long VBS.

No. We're going to teach children, but we're going to do it in the context of the gospel and the Word of God. And so we believe, we have, and they're not going to disappoint us, Troy. We believe we've got a great staff of teachers, of home shepherds. I've met them all.

I've interviewed all of them. And I believe that we have, brothers and sisters at Calvary, we have outstanding teachers and shepherds, trained, yes, but also who love Jesus Christ. And our goal at Christian Academy is that our children then will be raised to serve God in their generation, and they will tell their children to set their hope in God, and the children yet unborn. Our goal is not to raise boys and girls who can go into Harvard Law School or be quarterbacked for the Panthers. Although Manchester United beat badly, so we need a couple of good players for soccer. That's our goal. You say, well, will some of these young men and young women go to Harvard? Will there be outstanding sports people?

They may well be. We will train them in all walks of life, wherever God has a path for them, that He leads us in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake, that we will seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. John Wesley, listen to this as I conclude. John Wesley had always considered himself a Christian until the day he was in a ship going over the Atlantic in a terrible storm, and he was very, very afraid. And as you look around, he realized there's a group of people, the only people in the ship who were not afraid of the storm, and it turned out they were Moravian missionaries. And he asked one of them, were you not afraid?

Afraid, said the man, why would I be afraid? I know Christ. Then gazing upon Wesley, he said very earnestly, do you know Christ? And John Wesley, this religious man, for the first time realized that he did not know Christ, and he learned that second-hand religion will not do in the storms of life. And you'll know the story how he went to that meeting and they were reading the preface of Luther's commentary to the Galatians, and he felt his heart strangely warmed, and he did know Christ.

I ask you, do you know Christ? Toser writes, the world is waiting to write, to hear an authentic voice, a voice from God, not an echo of what others are doing and saying, but an authentic voice. We want to be authentic. We have that in our mission statement.

Too many Christians, too many churches are mere echoes of the culture, compromise and tolerance and political correctness, and make me feel good about myself. Our challenge is this, to have children who know Christ, who are well-educated, and that they will be raised up to do what I trust that we are doing, to tell their children to set their hope in God. And so that generation, and the generation yet unborn, will understand that there is a God, and He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who came to seek and to love. Psalm 48 states that you may tell the next generation that this is our God, our God forever.

That's true. And this is our hope. Our hope is in the Lord from this day and forevermore. Our Father and our God, we thank you for this hope that we have, not a vain hope in you, the true and the living God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I pray each person here may set their hope in you. We confess, Father, that sometimes we are tempted to set our hope in things, ourselves, our achievements, our possessions, our comfortable lifestyle. May there be an awakening in our hearts in this church. And again, we thank you for this opportunity that you brought to us, that you graciously brought this to us, Father. We were not seeking it. Thank you for your grace that we can be part of this great school as we think of the weeks and the months and the years ahead if the Lord Jesus Christ doesn't come of children and young people setting their hope in God. Bless us we ask, Father, in Christ's name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-11 21:27:28 / 2023-03-11 21:38:46 / 11

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