What if You Wake up Wednesday Morning and…
The following are excerpts from Rev. Matt Miller’s sermon, based on Psalm 146, on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012 at Greenville (SC) ARP Church.
My hope with the message this morning is to prepare you for Wednesday morning. How will you feel? What will you post on Facebook? What will you say to your parents, children and coworkers?
The magnitude of what you wake up to on Wednesday morning will likely throw wide open the window to your soul and others will see what’s inside of you. So what will they see?
Will they see that you put your hopes in man, and your man won, and thus you are euphoric?
Or will they see that you put your hopes in man, and your man lost, and thus you are deeply embittered and exasperated?
Or will they see that you put your hope in God, and thus whether your man won or lost, your hope remains unshaken?
On Wednesday morning, your emotions and words will open the window of your soul. What will others see?
Let’s look briefly at this Psalm and draw some instruction from it and the rest of Scripture for Wednesday morning.
1. The Call to Life-Long and Soul-Deep Praise
In vv. 1-2, the Psalmist reminds us that we, personally and perpetually, should have the praise of God rising from within our chests.
“Praise the LORD, O my soul.” This is not just for others, but for us.
“I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.”
This includes all times throughout one’s life. Earlier Psalms have talked about praising God even in the midst of tragedy, even in the midst of betrayal, even in the midst of loneliness, even in the midst of being hunted down by people trying to kill you. These last five Psalms wrap all of those situations up and say, I will praise God personally and perpetually, at all times, all my life long.
Another of the minor prophets, Habakkuk, ends his book with these words: “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce o the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation” (3:17-18).
So we know this much, whatever happens Tuesday, we should wake up Wednesday morning with the praise of God still burning hot in the furnace of our souls.
vv. 3-4 remind us that the praise burning within our souls should be praise for God, and not for man. Which brings us to our second point:
2. The Warning Against Longing for Men Who Can Fix Everything
“Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.”
We are always tempted to do that, to hear a leader say, “I can deliver you from all of your troubles, if you’ll simply trust and support me.”
The framers of our Constitution said to beware that one day there would come candidates for president who would pretend to be Caesars, men who have a political solution for all of your problems. And that if the American public did not have the moral and intellectual compass to steer away from these would-be-Caesars, they would fall prey to them, leading to the collapse of the American system.
Alexis De Tocqueville observed America in the 1830’s, and predicted the American system would begin to collapse when the voting public realized they could vote themselves money from the treasury.
One modern historian, a Catholic, named E. Michael Jones, has observed that sexual revolutions usually pave the way for political totalitarianism. Why?
Because personal moral chaos leads inevitably to cultural chaos, and when the culture falls into chaos, people will look for a strong-handed government to bring order out of that chaos. He writes: “The idea that sexual liberation could be used as a form of control is not a new idea. It lies at the heart of the story of Samson and Delilah” (Libido Dominandi, 5).
One of the greatest world historians of the twentieth century, Arnold Toynbee, wrote a multi-volume work on the history of world civilizations. In 1975 he said, “Of the 22 civilizations that have appeared in history, 19 of them collapsed when they reached the moral state American is in today.” Again, that was 1975, we are a generation past that, and is our moral state better or worse?
So our founding fathers warned us against men who would offer us everything. And historians have warned us that when we become morally corrupt, we are more likely to ask our political leaders to give us everything.
But the Psalmist, perhaps those prophets Haggai and Zechariah, warn the people of God to be wise, and not to put our trust in principles, who are mere mortals, in whom there is no salvation.
While we cast our ballots for a candidate, we do not cast our hopes on any man. We do not put our trust in princes.
The Psalmist then moves to who is this God in whom we hope. Our third point is found in vv. 5-9, where we find:
3. The Reminder of the Lord’s Sovereign Power and Purposes
vv. 5-9 show us the experience of those under God’s reign. We know it is speaking of those who are under God’s reign because only those under God’s reign know him as their help, and call upon him as the God of Jacob (v. 5), and only they are called “the righteous” (v. 8).
Those under God’s reign are righteous and have God as their help not because of their good works, but because of God’s grace, which has brought them out of the dominion of darkness and into the reign of His Son.
Colossians 1:13 praises God the Father as the one who has “delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Here’s the importance of this passage in the Psalm for us: Those who are members of God’s kingdom will not only want to experience His gracious, redeeming, healing reign; they will also want to be instruments of its extension.
That’s why an election time might be a good time to ask of ourselves – what do we plan to do the next four years?
As the Psalm reminds us of the Lord’s sovereign power and purpose, it calls us to be concerned not only with how we vote once every four years, but with how we live every day of our years.
Here’s the thing – if true Christians really believed and thought that way, we wouldn’t have to hope for a president to change this country. We would be changing this country. Perhaps our influence is so little because we expect so much of our politicians, and so little of ourselves.
So in vv. 5-9 we are reminded of God’s power and his purposes. How will your life depend on his power and align with his purposes when you wake up on Wednesday morning?
The Psalmist calls us to praise that is soul-deep and life-long. He warns us against longing for leaders who claim to be able to fix everything. He reminds us of the Lord’s sovereign power and purposes, which puts a call on our own lives.
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