Righteousness Exalts a Nation
February 21, 2016
      Righteousness-Exalts-a-Nation-Dennis-Lee

We are in an election year and Nevada is presently going through caucusing for each political party, and America begins the nomination process for the next Democrat and Republican nominee who will be running against each other to be our next president.

And what I’ve noticed over all the years is that we tend to get real political during these times, voicing our opinion as to who we think is best qualified. And we do so loudly and proudly.

But what is both sad and disconcerting is that we tend to talk more about national and local politics than we’re willing to talk about Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God.

But when it comes to what a church can and cannot speak on, seeing how it’s always brought out at this time by our government how we can’t speak about politics from our pulpits else we lose our 501C-3 charitable status, I would rather get my inspiration and authority based upon God’s word. More specifically it’s what the Apostle’s Peter and John said to the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin, when they commanded them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. These two men said,

“Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20 NKJV)

And so today, I want to add my voice and affirmation to what these two men of God stood so vehemently for.

Now, if you’re expecting me to endorse a candidate or a political party, I won’t. What I will say, however, is something that I’ve always said, and that is vote in accordance with God’s word.

Further, speaking about politics is not the purpose of the pulpit. The purpose of the pulpit is to teach and to preach the word of God and how it to speaks to and applies to our lives. And I believe that God does have a word for us regarding this matter of politics and the course and direction of our nation.

Another reason why I won’t endorse a candidate or political party is because Jesus never did. He didn’t seek a kingdom of His own, nor was He a Democrat or Republican. Instead Jesus spoke about our need to repent because the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

When you look at it, it was such undying loyalty to a form of government and to a state run church and religion that persecuted those who wanted to simply believe in Jesus over king, and God’s word over church institution and religion with all of it’s rules and regulations.

But on the flip side it was loyalty to the principle of God’s word, over that of denomination or politics that saw our forefathers put everything on the line, including their lives, to come and establish America as a nation.

Also, as we look at the Christian church over the years what we find is that the church has played a significant, if not a major, role in shaping the governmental structure of our nation. In fact, the founding fathers formed our republic based upon God’s word.

And since then Christians have been the forerunners of some of the greatest reforms in our nation’s history, including the development of schools and education, hospitals and medical care, along with charities to help the poor and needy. From the abolition of slavery to the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, Christians have been at the forefront of all these great causes.

There are a number of people in the Bible that God specifically called to work for change in the political and governmental arena. This includes men and women such as Joseph (Genesis 41:39-41), Deborah (Judges 5:1-7), Gideon (Judges 6:11-14), Samuel (1 Samuel 3:1-19), David (1 Samuel 16:1-13), Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:1-11), and Daniel (Daniel 1:4-6; 18-21)

And today is no different. There are a number of things that we can do to promote godly change. The number one thing, or the most significant thing we can to is to pray, but another thing we can do is vote. We’ve all been given this unique privilege and it would be a shame not to use what God has so freely and graciously given and which so many have lost their lives in defense of.

What we need to understand, however, is that being a follower of Jesus transcends loyalty to any political party, and there’s room for honest differences of opinion in regard to politics. But there are some Biblical principles to which we must stand. Here are a few important ones

Speaking out for the innocent

Open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause of all who are appointed to die.” (Proverbs 31:8)

Confronting sin and moral decay

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and tell them to repent for their wickedness, Jonah 1:2.

Defending the poor and oppressed

Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees, who write misfortune, which they have prescribed to rob the needy of justice, and to take what is right from the poor of My people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless” (Isaiah 10:1-2).

And let’s not forget Jesus’ advocacy for the fatherless and widow, to take in the stranger, visit the sick and those in prison, as well as feeding and clothing those in need, Matthew 25:31-46.

Not forgetting Israel           

I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you.” (Genesis 12:3)

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: may they prosper who love you” (Psalm 122:6)

The Bible also gives us several things we are responsible to do.

We are to pray for and honor our government leaders

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” (1 Timothy 2:1-3)

Pay our taxes

“‘Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?’ But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, ‘Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money.’ So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, ‘Whose image and inscription is this?’ They said to Him, ‘Caesar’s.’ And He said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’” (Matthew 22:17-21)

Work for the highest good of all people

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so.” (Proverbs 3:27)

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10)

Promote Godly principles in politics and government

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan.” (Proverbs 29:2)

But there are several important and overarching truths that need to be brought to the forefront when it comes what we are to do during these times.

  1. Trust God

We need to trust God over everything and everybody else.

In one of the most quoted verses from the Bible Solomon said, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Or more literally this says, “Useless, useless, all is useless.” Through Solomon God says that all of our cleverness and understanding are useless.

This is what the nation of Judah found out when they made their agreement with Egypt to counter the Babylonian threat. They trusted in the might of Egypt, and failed to trust in the Lord, Isaiah 31:1.

In the end both suffered. Isaiah said, “Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the Lord stretches out His hand, both he who helps will fall, and he who is helped will fall down; they all will perish together.” (Isaiah 31:3)

In our present political climate we need to be careful not to put any trust in our politians or government to get us out of the mess we’re in. If we do, then the Lord saying is that not only will they fall, but we’ll fall as well.

This is something history has proven out time and again. But what history has also revealed is that when the church prays and seeks the Lord, when the church trusts in the Lord more than in the government, then the Lord brought healing to the land and their lives.

Let’s take a look at what the Lord says regarding His promise to His people during these times.

“Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord … Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:5-7 NKJV)

And so we are called upon to trust the Lord. Solomon said,

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV)

So, let’s not be wise in our own understanding, but let’s trust the Lord.

  1. God’s In Control

There’s an old spiritual I’m sure everyone has sung, “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands.” The wording is simple but very profound. It’s four basic choruses

He’s got the whole world in His hands

He’s got the Sun and the Moon in His hands

He’s got the little bitty baby in His Hands.

He’s got you and me Brother in His hands.

God is in control.

The prophet Isaiah paints a wonderful picture of God’s power.

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, measured heaven with a span and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? Weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?” (Isaiah 40:12 NKJV)

Isaiah then goes on to talk about the greatness of God throughout the rest of this chapter. When you get a chance this is an excellent read.

Solomon tells us that the Lord is even in control of human government.

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” (Proverbs 21:1 NKJV)

And so we need to pray for those who are in authority that they would open up their hearts and their minds to hear and follow God so that we can live peace-filled lives as the Bible promises, 1 Timothy 2:2.

And the third overarching truth we need to understand and pay attention to is that of…

  1. Righteousness

When it comes to righteousness, we have two choices, or shall I say the government has two types of righteousness to choose from.

  1. The Righteousness of Man

The righteousness of man is literally a man-made set of rules for righteous behavior. These set of rules, however, have no clear defining base. It’s always changing based upon whatever the society and culture deems best at the time.

This sort of righteousness, however, has people uneasy about God and the Bible, and that’s because they know deep within themselves that they’re not living in accordance with God and His word, and are therefore standing condemned because their conscious convicts them. This is why they’re trying to remove God from our government, courts, and schools.

 

It’s the righteousness of man that unfortunately our country has accepted, and which now finds us killing babies in the womb, euthanizing the elderly or those who don’t want to live, and then there’s this who alternative lifestyle where marriage can be outside the confines of a man and woman.

Our nation now finds itself calling what God says is evil as being good, and what God says is good, our nation is now calling evil, and those who stand upon God’s word are called intolerant even though the intolerance lies with those who don’t like our set of beliefs.

God has a word for our nation, that that word is “Woe.”

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20 NKJV)

The Apostle Paul says that the reason they’ve accepted man’s righteousness is because they are ignorant of God’s, therefore they have yet to submitted to it, Romans 10:3.

And God’s pronouncement, according to Isaiah, is fiery judgment, but the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is the end of the law of righteousness for all those who believe. When we come to belief in Jesus Christ it is no longer our righteousness were living under but God’s righteousness.

So if we want to escape this fiery judgment then we have to reject and put away man’s righteousness and accept God’s instead, which is the second form of righteousness.

  1. The Righteousness of Christ

The only righteousness that is acceptable in God’s eyes is the righteousness of Christ, who is perfectly righteous. And this righteousness is only available through faith in Jesus Christ.

It was by faith in God that Abraham became righteous, Romans 4:3. And it’s only by faith in Christ that we and our nation can be blessed. And it’s this righteousness we need to seek after if we ever want our lives and nation to be healed.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33 NKJV)

 

Back in the 1992 presidential debate Bill Clinton coined this famous phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid.” The phrase not only won Clinton the debate, but it also helped him win the election, taking advantage of the recession America was mired in.

But the economy isn’t the real issue; rather it’s God’s righteousness. And this is what this whole message was based upon.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34 NKJV)

Righteousness, not a great economy, is what exalts a nation – being in right relationship with God is what we should be seeking after, it should therefore always come first. And I think it’s safe to say that we have a really big problem with that here in America.

Even if we fix the economy, Social Security, healthcare, unemployment, immigration, education, and any of the number of things that are broken in our government and country, if we don’t begin to live our lives in obedience to God, repenting and turning away from our sins, then nothing will be fixed.

In the end we need to realize that politics and government can never save anyone. While we can and should be involved in a positive way for godly change, this is only putting a Band-Aid over the problem. The root of our nation’s problems isn’t physical; rather it’s spiritual.

And so we come to that Scripture that is so often quoted and prayed for

“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 I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV)

If we want the Lord to heal our land, then our responsibility is to first place our trust in the Lord and not in the politians or in our governmental agencies. We have to get down upon our knees and begin to pray and seek God’s face for our country.

But we also need to live obedient lives to God’s word and repent of our sins. Then God’s promise is that He will hear, forgive, and heal.

And so, vote, but don’t do it blindly or through blind loyalty to a political party. Vote righteously, morally, and in accordance with God’s word and to godly principles. Vote principle over party, politics, political promises, and pocketbook.

As I was wondering how to end today’s message, the Lord seemed to say that His word is always sufficient and doesn’t need to be added to. So let me close with an Old Testament beatitude.

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” (Psalm 33:12 NKJV)









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