July 7, 2019
AM Service Scripture: Psalm 134
I hope you enjoyed your Independence Day holiday. My family enjoyed a fireworks show and watermelon. We dressed in our red, white, and blue to celebrate. You and your family probably did something similar. Thinking about Independence Day I wanted to share with you an occurrence from our nation’s history. Some people today want to distance America from God and from Christian foundations, they would suggest that our nation’s founding fathers were not Bible believing men. Allow me to share with you about those men and their actions on the day our nation was born.
On July 4, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was approved by our congress. That same congress commissioned on that same day a committee of three men to design a seal to be used to represent our nation to the world. That committee consisted of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. Franklin suggested our seal include a depiction of Moses lifting his rod over the Red Sea as Pharaoh and his chariots were overwhelmed by the waters. Franklin suggested the motto “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God”. Jefferson proposed the seal include the pillar of fire and cloud through God led the Israelites through the wilderness. The final seal accepted by the congress included all of these elements inspired by God’s Word. Our nation’s first seal, used to validate documents are truly belonging to the United States of America, were dominated by Biblical illustrations.
Let me also share with you this morning a quote from one of our founding fathers, Elias Boudinot of New Jersey. In the Revolutionary War Boudinot served as a colonel overseeing the prisoners captured by the Americans. Boudinot would also serve as President of the Continental Congress, a trustee of Princeton University, a director of the mint under Washington’s presidency, and a founder of the American Bible Society. Boudinot said the following about our nation’s birth:
“The deliverance of the children of Israel from a state of bondage to an unreasonable tyrant was perpetuated by the Paschal (Passover) Lamb; and enjoining it on their posterity as an annual festival forever, with a “remember this day in which ye came out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exodus 13:3) … Let us then, my friends and fellow citizens, unite all our endeavors this day to remember with reverential gratitude to our Supreme Benefactor all the wonderful things He has done for us in our miraculous deliverance from a second Egypt – another house of bondage. “And thou shalt show thy son on this day saying,” this day is kept as a day of joy and gladness because of the great things the Lord hath done for us, when we were delivered from the threatening power of an invading foe. “And it shall be a sign unto thee, upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the law of the Lord may be in thy mouth, for with a strong hand” hast thou been delivered from thine enemies: “Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year,” forever (Exodus 13:8-10).
In this quote Boudinot compares the delivery of our nation from Britian to God’s deliverance of Israel form Egypt. Boudinot calls on Americans to teach the generations about God’s blessings on America and to keep God’s commands just as the Israelites were introduced by God.
Rose of Sharon, we have that duty today! A duty, a calling, a privilege to share with others about what God has done and to keep his Word! In many ways I believe Psalm 134 reflects this spirit for us.
The Psalm gives instruction to all the servants of the Lord – that’s you and me! We need to be quick to praise the Lord at all times. Give thanks to the Lord before our families, before our coworkers, before the doctors and nurses, before anyon and everyone.
The Psalm calls on us to lift up our hands before God. The lifting of hands was a posture of prayer for the Israelites. It reminds me of how my children come to me, with their hands lifted up as me to pick them up. We can pray to God in the same way – He is our heavenly Father! It gives me such joy to know I can call God Daddy!
The Psalm concludes in verse 3 with the writer asking God to bless the people. But verses 1 and 2 speak to us blessing God. I can assure you God is faithful to keep His promises and God has abundantly blessed us. Living in America we are blessed tremendously: we have homes, vehicles, air conditioning, food choices, security, safety, freedoms, health care. And beyond all those blessing we have the ultimate salvation: salvation, freedom from sin, forgiveness of sins, an inheritance from God, eternal hope, the Holy Spirit living within us! Praise God – we have much to Praise Him for!
God has indeed blessed us as hoped for in verse 3. It is our turn to bless the Lord through praises, song, prayer, and worship as called for in verses 1 and 2!
Scripture: Amos 4 – 5:1-17
Tonight we pick up our study through Amos. In the previous chapters Amos has declared the Lord’s prophecy to bring judgement on the pagan nations that surround Israel and he has announced that Israel will also be judged for its many sins. Chapter 4 contains the second message from Amos. Chapter 5 begins the third message from Amos.
Chapter 4 includes different pronouncements of sins. Verses 1-3 address the sin of the Israelites abusing the poor. It references the place Bashan, a location known for its cattle industry. The judgement to come would include the Israelite people being lead out of their homes like cattle by meathooks. And the enslavement would be so encompassing the meathooks would run out and fishhooks would have to be used. There would be no escaping the coming judgement.
In verses 4-5 Amos sarcastically denounces the sinful false religions of the people. He points out the false places of worship the people established. He points out the way the people brag about their religious practices, how they champion their bountiful offerings for their own glory.
In verses 6-11 Amos tells the people they had been warned by God repeatedly through different signs but they never listened. God warned the people with signs of lack of food, droughts, diseased crops, violence, and death. But repeatedly the people failed to heed the warning and as noted in verse 12 judgement would come.
Verse 13 closes chapter 4 and Amos’ second announcement with a benediction that recognizes the greatness of God and offers praises to the Lord.
Chapter 5 in the start of Amos’ third message. The third message begins in verses 1-3 by speaking again of the coming ruin Israel would experience once God’s wrath came.
Verse 4 then offers a new word that has not been offered in the previous chapters. The previous chapters are filled with judgements and consequences of doom. But verse 4 offers hope – I am so glad our Lord is full of love, grace, and mercy. Verse 4 declares that if the people would turn from their sin and seek God that they would live. Praise God He does not leave us in our sin without hope of forgiveness. No matter how far we stray from God on a sinful path, one step towards God will bring us back to Him!
Verses 5-14 alternate by announcing again the sins Israel is guilty of and the offer to repent and to the Lord for salvation and life. The sins mentioned include the worship of false gods, the cruel treatment of the poor, and the corruption of justice. Grave sins, but forgiveness and salvation was available to the repentant. Verse 15 reiterates the hope that is offered to the people and allows for a remnant to survive the coming wrath if they would truly turn to God.
Verses 16 and 17 again remind the people of the coming doom they have brought upon themselves.
So what does this mean for us today? Again we need to recognize sin is serious and it has consequences. God will not allow sin to continue forever unchecked. In the Lord’s timing His justice will come. That can be reassuring to us in the face of today’s evilness but also a warning to heed to guard our own actions to remove sin from our lives. We also saw the warnings the Lord gave the people of Israel – might God be sending us sins today that we should heed? Through it all we must commit to seeking God in all things. As it says: seek God and ye shall live!
If we can be of help in some way to you, please let us know.
In Christ’s Love,