Understanding God’s Leadership and Embracing It -Pastor Roger Rohde May 28, 2017

Understanding God’s Leadership and Embracing It

Psalm 68:1-10

            Faith in Christ is essential if we are to be the people of joy and praise of which the Scripture speaks. To look around this world apart from faith leads us to see only pain, heartache, hatred, and destruction. We know wars and rumors of wars, senseless killings, murders, and hate crimes. The world is full of drugs, disease, and death. Seeing the world only through the human eye leads us to see life on earth as self-destructive. Yet, beyond and above all this is the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ into heaven whereby He now sits at the right hand of God the Father to govern all things for the eternal wellbeing of His people      (Ephesians 1:22). It is only through the eyes of faith that we can behold this truth of Christ’s reign and be blessed with hearts that are filled with joy and praise.

This is what we see in the Psalm that is before us. This Psalm was used in a procession of God’s people as they celebrated the glorious and triumphant rule of God. Let us ponder these God-inspired words of David through the eyes of faith so we may embrace God’s leadership in our world and live our lives in joy and praise to our Savior and King.

We begin by looking at three aspects of God’s leadership in this world. First, He protects us from our real enemy.

We must be mindful of whom are real enemy is. We often confuse this matter because we look at the enemies of the body as more dangerous than the enemies of our soul. Yet, Jesus taught us “not to fear those who can kill the body but not the soul. Rather, fear the One Who can destroy both body and soul in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Our greatest enemy is not cancer, heart disease, or Isis. Our greatest enemy is Satan. Cancer, heart disease, Isis can separate us from Christ Jesus. Yet, Satan seeks to do that very thing. That is his goal and purpose.

In his famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress,” Martin Luther noted that the old evil foe is Satan. He wrote: “The old evil foe Now means deadly woe; Deep guile and great might Are his dread arms in fight; on earth is not his equal.” Nothing can stop us from heaven, except Satan. Praise God this evil foe has been defeated. Jesus fought Satan off during Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Then He conquered Satan upon the cross when He crushed Satan’s head, bringing us the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life in heaven. When we behold this truth in faith we can embrace the leadership of Jesus and sing with Martin Luther: “This world’s prince may still Scowl fierce as he will, He can harm us none. He’s judged; the deed is done; One little word can fell him…. Take they our life, Goods, fame, child, and wife, Though these all be gone, Our victory has been won; The Kingdom ours remaineth.” Yes, Jesus’ leadership displayed at the cross and through the empty tomb guarantee us that our real enemy can do us no harm. Now that is something in which we can take joy and praise the Lord.

Second, we see that God in His leadership provides us with an eternal family. The Lord is described as “a father of the fatherless, a defender of widows…. God set the lonely in families.”

This reminds us of the beauty of the Christian church God has established. Through Baptism He gives us spiritual birth and we become His children. Through the grace of God received in the Lord’s Supper we are reminded that Jesus became our brother and died for our sins to bring us eternal life. By the Holy Spirit Jesus brought us into communion with other believers in Christ so that we would not have to go through life alone, but we could have brothers and sisters with the same godly values and eternal goals. As is stated in Ephesian 2:19: “Consequently, we are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.” Even when death comes we can live in the assurance that we will be reunited in heaven with those who have before us in Christ. Now that is something for which we can be joyful and sing.

Third, we are assured that because of God’s leadership showers us with blessings during our earthly sojourn. The Psalmist wrote: “When you went out before your people, O God, when you marched through the wasteland, the earth shook, the heavens poured down rain…. You gave abundant showers, O God; You refreshed Your weary inheritance. Your people settled in it, and from You bounty, O God, You provided for the poor.”

We all can appreciate this illustration of rain God uses. A week or so ago Loretta and I noticed that some of our perennial plants were wilting. We had a couple of days with warmer temperatures and strong winds that dried out the ground. Rains came and the plants immediately perked up.

In their wilderness journey God showered down His blessings upon the people of Israel. They did not encounter the rain of which we normally think. God rained down upon them His blessings to refresh and strengthen them during the wilderness journey. He provided them with manna in the morning and quail in the evening. He granted them fresh water from a rock. God may have had the people of Israel go through a wilderness journey, but He always provided for them and protected them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God provides and protects us too. We don’t always recognize this because we start thinking all we have is based upon our hard work. Famers are working hard these days to prepare the soil and plant the seed for a harvest in the fall. While they work hard, a good harvest is God’s doing. Farmers can prepare the soil and plant the seed, but they cannot make that seed grow and grant a harvest. That is God’s work and the blessing He gives.

All we are, have, and enjoy is because God showers His blessings upon us. His promise is to always care for us, watch over us, and safely bring us to heaven. We are not to worry about what the future holds, but live in the peace and joy that the Lord has hold of the future and that “He works out all things for good to those who love God, to those who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Yes, there is and always will be unrest in this world so long as we live outside the gates of paradise. Racial tensions, rebellion against law enforcement, and acts of terrorism such as was in the news this week will not cease until the Lord returns. That can be frightening. By the same token, God’s reign is supreme and His leadership guarantees us that His Church will know eternal victory, and that He will care for us until eternal glory is our reality.

This is why our text directs us to embrace God’s leadership in faith that we may have joy in every and all circumstances of life. Notice that this joy does not suggest that we are glad about everything that happens. No, we will know heartache, pain, and sorrow. Yet, we sorrow not as others who have no hope, but through the eyes of faith we see beyond the present situations to the Master Who is governing all things for our eternal good. We have joy inside of us during all circumstances because we know we belong to the Lord. He has loved us with an everlasting love, and He governs all things moved by that love. This is why the Psalmist in our text wrote: “May the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.”

May we also be people of praise. We are to honor the God Who has, does, and always will bless our lives. This is why Paul wrote in I Thessalonians 5:18: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” True faith in Christ’s redeeming work and governing wisdom reflects itself in our heartfelt joy and the praise by which we and honor His name. Amen.

 

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