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January 10, 2022 1:00 am
Father, we thank you for your wholly inspired and inerrant word. We thank you that you speak to us through it and that it is sufficient and that it is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, training in the way of righteousness, so that we would be fully equipped for every good work.
We pray that that indeed would be the case in us tonight because your spirit is working and penetrating our hearts. May it be so.
We pray in Jesus name and for his sake and Matthew chapter 5 verse 13 you are the salts of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall it saltiness be restored is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world.
A city set on a hill cannot be hidden, nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house the same way, let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Thus far, God's word and then turn with me if you will to Proverbs chapter 14 verse 34 Proverbs 1434 says this righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people men. This is God's word to us this evening.
Some of you have Facebook accounts.
I would imagine room this many people have a Facebook accounts and you are aware, if you have that account that there is a place where you can display your relationship status. So if you're married, you can say that you're married to so-and-so. If you are single you can state that if you're in a relationship with someone you're dating someone you can state that but there's also a category that you can include in that status which says it's complicated so you can be N/A it's complicated with someone. Hopefully they agree that it's complicated because then you're really gonna start complicating things, but that you can be in a complicated relationship with a another person and I think that if I had to place my relationship status with my country with United States of America. I I might select it's complicated because when you look out at our nation. You see so many ways in which our nation is exceptional that God has truly blessed that I mean the facts listen. We are here on a Sunday evening in a room of this size. With this many people and were worshiping the one true and living God. That doesn't happen in every other country in the world because that is prohibited by the authorities and they would come in and they would at best throw us out is remarkable blessing that we have those liberties here. We have privileges and opportunities in our nation that are paralleled by few if any other nations in this world we have the ability to travel somewhat freely get an education per pursue to pursue so many of our our longings and desires and dreams. We can be innovative. The government however you feel about a lot of stays out of all of our business. Compared to many other nations so that we have some of the freedoms, but they also provide protections and measure of justice that protects us as well, however imperfectly they do this that we are tremendously blessed but then you also look at America and you did you discover that we have some some really ugly parts of our country historically and in our present day and age where we where we have moved with our definition of things like marriage and family and the divorce rate in the abortion rate and that the chaotic sexual issues going on in our nation and the racial tension that we have had historically and in our own day in many of the injustices that have that have befallen people in our nation who may not look exactly like myself and it's wrong.
That's evil. And these things continue to to happen and then we have all all sorts of of other injustices that take place. We we have much to celebrate. And we have some things to lament as well in our nation and so you look at it and so many times you feel like it's complicated you go to the voting booth and you and you get there you see coming this this litany of candidates. It's it's like you look at it and it's like I've got clowns to the left of the jokers to the right and here I am stuck in the middle with you and Eddie that that's half that's how we often times feel like where is the hope and there's great discouragement.
Sometimes great discouragement at what's happening in our nation, and I know that it that many of us feel that way were were overwhelmed by what we see when we turn on the news is it. It's not is not always good news now is encouraging news. And so what does it look like to be a Christian up a person who follows Jesus Christ's and looks to him alone for hope in this life and the next and to be a person who is also a citizen of this earthly nation.
Your citizen of the kingdom of God and your citizen of the United States of America and and so what does it look like to to live that out.
It how do we love our nation should we love our nation. How if the answer is yes, how do we love our country in a way that does isn't just framed by politics or parties, but is framed by the grace and truth of the Lord Jesus Christ as he is revealed in his work. Well, I think what Jesus is saying here in Matthew is helpful for us because what Jesus begins with instead of saying this is what you are to do. He starts with this is who you are.
Therefore, this is how you live in response to that and what he calls us here is salt and light salt and light what is salt do salt at a meeting in does a lot of things. It provides flavor right.
It flavors bland tasting foods and soak we are the flavor of God as we go into the world that another metaphor that you can maybe think of that we find in scriptures that were called the aroma of Christ.
So there's that aroma. There's that flavor that is displayed there. We also salt also purifies when it touches it. It protects it from disease and bacteria and other other items. Getting into an object that would cause disease that would cause impurity, and so we function as a purifying agent in the world and in other words, we reflect the holiness and justice and goodness and truth of all the God is for us and all that he reveals himself to be when we go into our nation and into our cities and into our neighborhoods into our homes and vocation living out our union with Christ with distinctiveness and faithfulness is that purity there is salt.
Also as a preservative right to preserve the wood they would just base meets in salt is as a means to preserve it before they had refrigeration right and so we are preserving in our world.
But as we look as we live faithful Christian lives publicly were preserving all that is good and right and true and beautiful about God about what he loves and about what he is like. So that's who we are and then he also calls us light. He calls us like when I was when I would go visit my my grandparents when I was a kid you like around Christmas time.
All my cousins were girls. Every single one of them. I mean, whenever we got together as a family. It was me in the estrogen festering. That's what it was like with my with my family. So one of the one of the things about that is I have I got my own room when I would stay at my grandparents house with my cousins but it wasn't really like it, probably when the been designated as an actual room because it was was like it was their office and so it didn't have any wind so I I would I would sleep in their him on the Hyderabad sofa and shut the door. The carpet was kinda kinda thick and I would shut the door and it would be picked on the pitch black and you couldn't see it.
Once that door shut.
I mean if I were to move this much one way or the other.
I was mean it.
It could've been a 911 moment because it was completely dark in there but if I just cracked the door just to hear. I could see just that much and just that much light in that pitch black room enabled me to at least know where to go and know how to get out and know how to house how to go in the direction that I needed to go and go in the direction of safety and what was good and wise and that that's what light does light light provides direction points the way it helps us to see reality for what it actually is, helps us to see clearly and we function like that in the world. So when you think of what the churches role is in many respects witness with regard to our political social situation. What are we to be, will the church is to be the conscience of the state would be the conscience of those who are are divinely called in positions of governing authority were to be that light would appoint the way to point the way to what is good and to point the way to Christ and point the way to the to what causes life in the kingdom of this world to thrive and also honors all that God is and that's how we live as people who are followers of Christ because that's who we are. He says that's who we are and soak. We are not doing anyone any favors if we withdraw, it is no longer good for anything and if it salt loses its taste is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet and we don't put our lightning open our light understand what good is a light if we this is what I talk to my family.sometimes we get ready to leave in the light.
It's a buy job on my tombstone. It's going to be here lies Darren Stone. He turned out all the lights after the progress the family left in the house. I mean, that's my role. Go back and turn off like is what good does a light do to be up to be on an a in a room with no one in it and it just kind of it. It's not is not going out serving the purpose right so the purpose of the best right there. You know I'm talking about and so that the.
The purpose of the light is to actually go to where there are when people are in the room and way illuminate the way display the way and that is who were called to him to be and it's very tempting unit in a world that we look out at and received, we see discouragement we see issues going on the right and the left in the center, and every which direction. Politically, socially, culturally, personally, that are that are that are tremendously weighty upon us.
We wonder sometimes we wouldn't necessarily say it, but we wonder sometimes if God has checked out. If he has Ridge withdrawn his countenance from our nation world from her lives in its very tempting if we believe that although we may not say it. We may not even be conscious that we believe it but it's very tempting if wood somewhere embedded in us for us to check out as well to to go into our own little quarantine to isolate so many in the church in the season of done that isolated, withdrawn from from the world and that is antithetical to who God says that we are as we are salt and light. So if we are salt and light that leads us to the Proverbs right to Proverbs chapter 34 if that's who we are. We go into our nation that God has has divinely placed us into in his providence he has it, and we are citizens of the kingdom of heaven, but we are also citizens of the United States of America is placed us here were to love the place that he has placed us in not love everything that we do as a nation not love everything that we are about to love her people to seek her good. The proverb says here that righteousness exalts a nation, we live as salt and light in our nation. What were doing is work living for the glory of God, primarily, and then underneath that for the good of our nation were were displaying the righteousness of God were were keeping injustice and wickedness and foolishness at bay. When Christians go into the world into the voting booth into the public arena into their vocations into their households and live out faithful Christian lives of saltiness and the light in those places and when we live that out and we use the weapons that God has given to us which are the full armor of God.
The sword of the spirit we don't fight with the weapons of the world.
Then we end up having a beautiful impact of the glory of God which God uses providentially to draw people to himself to enable the church to conduct its mission with faithfulness and freedom. There's a great blessing that comes when we live as blessings to our nations as well so we ought to be people who love our country, we ought to be people who love our country because God is placed us here and we are salt and light in it. That's who you are and so there are some practical hooks practical applications for how we go about doing that and I just there's a whole bunch that I jotted down but I'm on I would just give you a McGivney six said what seminary they say just give three points and sermons. That's all, people can handle while you're getting sick, so just pretend it's too sermons right so here we go number one practical hooks, practical application of salt like number one is we need to be people who first of all cultivate our love for God because if our passion for Christ is peripheral to our lives. Then all we are going to do is end up being partisan hacks to be swallowed up work in our affection, something is going to be Lord of our lives. It's either going to be Jesus or it's going to be something else is going to be a created twisted and broken thing and so we need to be people who whose lives are enthralled with all the Jesus is for us. We need to be tethered to the word of God, so that through that window of the word word beholding the beauty and the glory and the grace of God and his and all that he is is is burrowing itself into our soul when we have a white-hot passion for him, so that that so that will compel with the fuel to to go out. We need to be people who plumb the depths of his word. I mean, I am so looking Tyson, I'm so glad to be here on a Sunday evening if you came this morning your day has been bookend. It with the word of God.
The reading the seeing the praying hearing of God's holy word God speaking into your lives. The answer is isn't just come to church. But the point is is that Lord stay Christians make everyday Christians who go into the world, living salt and light become people who who delight in the things of the word and in your life is shaped by and when you stop to think about the about what you actually deserve.
You know what you deserve from God. It's one topic that what you deserve.
There's one thing that you deserve from God.
And I'm pretty sure you and I don't want that's all we deserve from God and that that's not what he gives us he has given us a love that will never let us go. He has given us the hope of glory.
He promises in your deepest darkest hour where you feel alone and hopeless and helpless that he he will never leave you nor forsake you. He is raining and ruling over every point of my new shed in your life and in this world is I is on the sparrow and I know he watches over me and you. And if that's the case he has deposited a wealth into your account that you can never deplete. I was with my family in our minivan Chrysler minivan a chick magnet if there ever was one, and I pulled up.
We had all the kids all four of us would pull up to a red light and next to me pulls up the sky in a Lamborghini and so I rolled down my window. He had his window down and I rolled down the said hey want to race to the next stoplight because you that guy give that guy like you.
That guy look right and he he.
The light turns green and I mean I look up. He's already there likes it was it was and I'm in this bucket of bolts. That's whomever it's like 0 to 60 in 90 seconds downhill with a tail and that's what I'm that's plumb rolling me that's disguise drive and 1/2 million dollar car and if he is if you spend 1/2 million dollars on a car. You are not going to go to the Walmart parking lot and parked that next to someone's rusted up, 1986 Pontiac Grand Am are you you are going to go instead. And you're gonna go away to the hinterlands of the parking lot and you're gonna park sideways so that you take up three spots in you to make sure that there's no one within a quarter-mile of you on either side. You are not gonna let that card get dinged up because you invested so much of your wealth into that vehicle. It is a treasure friends, listen to this. If you are in Christ you have a treasure that is infinitely greater and more beautiful and more powerful than someone's $500,000 Lamborghini that in 30, 50, 70 years is going to be sent to the recycling bin and its and turned in the someone's bellybutton ring that they can buy players for $9.09. That's where that Lamborghini's going to go eventually. We have the whole of glory. We have special if you're anchored into who Jesus is and that tools your life. He fuels your life and that lead you go out to love this place that God has placed you in the people that God has placed you amongst cultivate your love for God. Cultivate your love for God. Secondly, don't be discouraged you are looking it's easy to get discouraged on discouraged relic I turn on the news it's discouragement right it is discouragement and that's that.
So much of what we see. We feel like you know that we are not on a trajectory in the church and in the world of moving in a direction that is is a good, healthy, godly thing, but I just want to encourage you with a few things. Number one just a few diffuse stories number one and there's all sorts of indications throughout the course of history in the world where when things look really dark.
God was up to something and he was up to something good and reviving in the most biblical sense of that you can that in the things that 1400s what's going on there you have it in the 1400s in Europe for three major things happen at the same time. One the Black death happens. 1/3 of Europe's population dies and that I did. What is the impact of that on the mind and heart when 1/3 of the population dies as a result of pestilence and then on top of that you get the hundred years war.
The hundred years 100 years of war. The hundred years war devastating impacts and then on top of that, this is all happening at the same time you have this huge rift in the church to where you have sometimes two, three, four popes, all competing for power relations probably part and you look at that and you think this is the end.
This is the end of the world. Everything is doomed.
Everything is falling apart. God has checked out.
He is off the grid and yet what happens that in a few short years you get actual real revival you get the Protestant Reformation. You get a a return to the gospel. You get a church that is starting to be renewed and restored and invested and entranced in God's holy word the gospel goes out and people are actually redeemed and churches start all over the place and we sitting here 500 years later the beneficiaries that you go forward couple hundred years more in England 1640s that there is this great revival.
This influence of of Christ in all of the. The spheres of influence of culture. Oxford and Cambridge universities that two of the premier universities in the world.
It was part of the reading list that they that they read Calvin's Institute of the credit of the Christian religion you had to read that in order to graduate from those schools that some of the great theologians of the. The arrow went to those schools.
There will this was the time when Parliament came together at the Westminster assembly and drafted something called the Westminster confession of faith in the larger and shorter catechisms that the that the summary of what it is that we believe here in this church.
The Christians are having tremendous influence and in spheres of political and social in an academic arenas and then what happens.
1662 and it's all gone all crumbles. In fact, and just that amount of time people who believed in the doctrines of grace, who looked to Christ and that way they were not even permitted to attend the best universities in the country and many of them are expelled or expelled from the land and where they go they come here to this nation and they settle up in New England. They settle in the Chesapeake Bay and they settle in the Carolinas and they start churches, and however imperfectly they may have even live the Christian life have this great impact for the gospel in our nation that has had residual effects to this very day for our good God was up to something when all looked lost China communism comes into China there's a church in China. Communism comes in China goes under the radar and it just seems like will that's the end of the church in China. It's all gone now. The communists of come in their wife and churches out there burn them down there throwing people in prison there executing them.
There's no church left in China and then what happened you start that capitalism starts to come in there, which opens it up to the world and then were able to look underneath the hood of China and what's happened in all that time the church is grown exponentially under a profoundly harsh and an inhospitable political department.
God in the midst of all of those horrible circumstances, so I want you to not be discouraged because God is up to something he is doing his work in the midst of discouraging days.
Number three. Pray for your leaders. That's another way that you can be salt and light. Pray for your leaders what Tim that what Paul says to Timothy, the pastoral letters is that he calls them to calls the church to pray for those who are in governing authority so that what we might be able to live peaceful and quiet lives godly and dignified in every way. Pray for your leaders pray for that for them to have the wisdom and the courage to make decisions that are good and wise and right and in line with the things that God honors see the Christian life listened the Christian life is a political life. It's political life because you're a citizen of this nation and you been affected by by government in myriad of ways that we haven't even been conscious of even throughout the state, but ultimately it's a political life because we are citizens of the kingdom of heaven. And we serve a heavenly King, and he reigns in rule. He's the ruler. And so when things are going wrong when things are at odds with the things of God. We do is we take those wheat wheat we take those issues and we bring those people who God has placed in an authority and we bring them to the throne of grace and we say God transform their hearts die will be done. Let sure wisdom be poured out upon these people help them to come to know Christ. Do your work in them. Help them to tutor to rule so that righteousness slows down like waters and justice like an ever flowing dream may that be the case in their lives and in our nation. We pray for them. Number four teacher children, teacher children, the things of God. Teacher children ways in which they can practically love their neighbors and their nation protect them, but don't sequester them. Point them to Christ. Point them to ways in which they can they can grow and become men and women as they grow up to love their neighbors and love their nation in Deuteronomy 6 we see that that it was God reminding parents to bring this word to bear upon their children so that they wouldn't forget it and listen if there is ever a time in which children needed it. It is now because when your kids go to school your grandkids go to school.
They are pummeled with ideas not in school just in the world. Hey, they are pummeled with ideas that are foreign to how was we maybe you and I were growing up and with looking when I was growing up and I grew up in California, not the Bible Belt gay by any stretch of imagination, but in that time that the mantra of the day was tolerance. You have to agree with everything you have to celebrate everything you did happened at least tolerated not be a jerk about that ship sailed like twentysomething years ago is not tolerance, its full-blown celebration and embracing of it and if you don't celebrate it and you don't embrace it with every bone in your body, you will be marginalized, you will lose friends. I tell my high school daughter. If you are anchored to the word of God and you have views about sexuality, marriage, and so forth that are in line with Scripture instead of in line with what you may be hearing and seeing in the world you not only might lose some friends and might have some people that think that your bigot and close minded fool you will have that you will have that and that is no small thing for a 15-year-old young woman is no small thing for a 45-year-old man and the only way in which she's going to stay anchored and you are the estate anchored is if we are are just pouring in to who God is and what he's like and praying them from teacher children five get engaged, get engaged, some of us are are may be to engage with the news work were maybe discipled by it because we spend so much time in front of it when I that's not what I mean what I mean when I say get engaged is think about your neighbors. Think about your community. Think about your nation, ways in which you can practically go out and live that salty and illuminating life that God calls us to live because of that's who we are. We are called in that direction and fifth and finally, never forget that you are a citizen of the kingdom of heaven first, you are citizen of the kingdom of heaven.
For some of us may have grown up in a time where there was that there was not a sharp distinction between being a follower of Christ and being an American new in the 60s, 70s, 80s, during the time of the Cold War were the great evil of the world was communism which was characterized by atheism. The antidote to that was was a a a cultural at least form of Christianity that was at least valued, if not actually believed it was. In other words, the bias of the world of our nation was a but a favorable bias towards the things of Christianity. Well the thing is is that in the 90s and thereafter that shifted Cold War came to an end and what was the greatest. What became our great enemy in our nation. Radical Islamic terrorism religious is a religious issue, and then secularism continues to to take off in these in the world sees Christians standing for for certain positions in our culture that the the secular minded.
Couldn't couldn't brace didn't embrace doesn't embrace and now it's God in the things of God are seen as evil.
We need to remember is that when everything comes crashing down when everything comes bearing down against the church against you for who you are in Christ. Ultimately, we need to remember that our citizenship is in heaven.
First, we ultimately serve him.
We don't serve the Republican Party. We don't serve the Democratic Party. We don't serve an ideology in the world ultimately serve Christ and that informed all the other identities that we may lean into in this life, but ultimately we are in Christ shapes our whole life so that we go out and live for his glory and that because we are kingdom people first, we have no promises in Scripture notice finish with this with no promises in Scripture that the United States will prevail that it may be here another 245 years and made only last another 245 days. We have the promises of that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church.
The church's one foundation is Jesus Christ Lord and we can rejoice that his kingdom will not fail.
He rules over earth and heaven. The keys of death and hell are to our Jesus, Kevin, we have that hope you will love America bests if you seek his kingdom and his righteousness first righteousness will exult in nation when the church lives inconsistent repentance and faith with our gaze set on him who came such a distance for us, our Lord Jesus Christ, amen.
The spring Jesus, we thank you for your word. Write it on our hearts, change our lives.
Help us to love our communities and our nation for your glory for the good of those who've yet to come to know you and also even for our joy prayed in Jesus name meant