Last week, I focused on what was sort of a heavy topic but a much-needed one––focusing our eyes on God and not on what anyone has to say or think regarding who we are or what we believe as Christians. I titled it, “Don’t let the turkeys get you down.” I talked about whatever anyone says or thinks does not compare to who we really are as children of God. And I hoped to reestablish our thinking as to who we are in Christ and to have that boldness and assurance to accept that we are not of this world, that the world is not our home, and our ways are separate and different, so we should not expect that the world will understand us.
A couple of days after that sermon, we had the chance to vote, and while I’m satisfied with some things, I’m not with others. And that’s the way voting is. Sometimes some of your candidates win, and others don’t.
But there are so many people who place their hope and trust in the institutions of government that they practically make that their idol or their religion. There are a lot of people who have been disappointed in the results, and I just want to remind you again that, as the psalmist says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” And that’s my message to you this morning.
But that’s not our scripture verse. If you turn with me to Isaiah 26, we’ll read the first four verses and go from there.
As you’re turning there, let me read to you something that Charles Spurgeon once said: There is nothing for which the children ought to more earnestly contend to than the doctrine of their Master over all creation––the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands-the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that throne…for it is God upon the Throne whom we trust.
Scripture: Isaiah 26:1-4
In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; God makes salvation its walls and ramparts. 2 Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith. 3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. 4 Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.
If you read The Bible from cover to cover, you’ll find that there was a lot of strife among God’s people over thousands of years. Much of it was caused by themselves or was the consequence of their own actions for not obeying God. I remember reading in our Sunday School material recently that we, as individuals, really aren’t that much different from Israel. We turn to God; we stray from God. We turn to God; we stray from God. History repeated itself because human nature hasn’t really changed much over the course of the past 5,000 years.
And like Israel, we have chosen to trust in mankind as our savior. I quoted Larry Norman last week, and here’s another quote, he said, “Our money says ‘In God We Trust’ but it’s against the law to pray in school.”
Why is it that way? Because as much as we want to acknowledge God, we deny the power that saves us. Much of the World looks to its leaders for answers. But who should we look to? Who should we trust?
I don’t know about you, but no matter who is elected to either the presidency or governorship or senate or congress in any election, I am glad that my faith is in God, not humanity. I’d go crazy if my hope was in flawed, sinful, imperfect human beings.
To quote our currency again, “In God We Trust.”
So to bounce from last week’s sermon, no matter what happens in our government or our society, the true kingdom to which we belong is not of this earth. And we are carriers and ambassadors of God’s kingdom. And though God’s kingdom is a real place, it is a place that, for now, as long as we are on this earth, is in our hearts.
Isaiah talks about this kingdom in our scripture verse. The very first verse says “That Day” which means the day when The Lord returns. The Day when the curse is gone, and all is set right. His kingdom will come to earth––The New Jerusalem––will be a kingdom of peace. But God’s kingdom has been and already is a kingdom of peace. Like I said, we don’t have that kingdom on earth yet, except for ourselves representing that kingdom and experiencing that kingdom in our hearts.
Isaiah goes on to say, “We have a strong city; God makes salvation its walls and ramparts.” A rampart is a word we don’t really use anymore, but it’s the defensive wall of a castle or a city (back in Isaiah’s time, they would have had walled cities), and it would have a broad top with a walkway.
Enduring Word Commentary says, “in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ on this earth, there will be cities – but redeemed cities, glorious communities organized under the strength and salvation and righteousness and truth of the LORD.”
When Isaiah said, “God makes salvation its walls and rampart,” that means that his kingdom exists because of God’s salvation. And God’s salvation is strong and secure and nothing can penetrate it. Jesus said of Peter, “Upon this Rock, I will build my church.” Jesus’ church is His to build. In the same way, God’s city will not be built by the ability of man to achieve holiness on His own or to earn the right to be in this city by good works or obeying the law but by the strong and powerful grace and salvation of God.
This is God’s city, His kingdom on earth. And we are part of that kingdom. And by salvation, we are not only ambassadors who carry the kingdom in our hearts. We are heirs––as I mentioned last week––to our Father’s Kingdom when we finally are able to enter that kingdom on That Day.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians, “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”
And in Acts, Paul said, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.”
God will be the provider of our eternal home, the eternal city, the eternal dwelling place, and our eternal bodies.
Verse 2 says, “Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith.” We often think of a nation as a place on a map with lines drawn on it for its borders.
But a nation is more than a land with borders. It is a people. Just like The Church is more than a building, it is a people. We are here at the tip of Seneca Lake, named after The Seneca Nation. But where is The Seneca Nation? Its administration is headquartered now in Salamanca. If you go on I-86 and head West toward Olean, you’ll drive through it, with the administrative building on one side of the interstate and a casino on the other.
According to its official website, The Seneca Nation of Indians currently has a total enrolled population of nearly 8,000 citizens. The territories are generally rural, with several residential areas. Many Seneca citizens live off-territory, some are located across the country, as well as in other countries. Off-territory residents comprise nearly 1/2 of the citizenship.
The nation is right within New York State. They dwell right in our own backyard, and we don’t even think about it. Why? Well, because we don’t have borders like they do in Canada with customs and everything. I’ve driven Native Americans to their homes in the reservation, and I’ve driven non-natives who live just outside the reservation and maybe even in the reservation. It’s hard to tell because you don’t really know where the border is.
The idea is that a nation is defined by its people, not just physical borders. In The Old Testament, the nation of Israel was considered a people first, and then it took a long time before they finally had a land to call home. God promised them that land, and eventually, He gave it to them.
And the dwellers of God’s kingdom are God’s people. We are spread out all over the world in different places at different times, yet we are part of one nation, a holy nation.
Peter said, “9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
And we, being citizens of His holy nation, have all the rights and privileges of citizenship. Paul said to the Philippians, “…our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,”
So, what rights do we have as a citizen of Heaven?
We have peace with God, and we have the peace of God.
We don’t have to worry if everything goes awry here on earth. Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world and that He has overcome the world. Thank God we are part of The Kingdom of Heaven. That’s truly something to be thankful for. This Thanksgiving, remember that. We get to experience, through the promises of God, the benefits of The Kingdom of God here on earth. We get to be assured that God is Our Father and Our King. We get to be assured that we have our hope in a perfect, loving father and king. He sees us, he listens to us, and he protects us. He knows each one of us by name.
I can’t help but think of Psalm 91:
I’m tempted to read the whole thing, but for brevity, I won’t. But I’ll read several verses to you. It says:
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge;his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. (There’s that word again, ‘rampart’)
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, 10 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” (and there’s that word, salvation again)
And that goes well with our scripture verse in Isaiah. The prophet said in verse 3, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”
Do you know anyone on earth who can keep you in perfect peace? Can Washington, D.C. or Albany do that? We have been protected and have had a peaceful nation for the most part. But I attribute that to God, not politicians. I attribute that to our nation having honored God and tried to live Godly, holy lives and keeping our nation a Christian nation throughout the years––as flawed as we have been. A lot of people think that the president of the United States is going to solve all of their problems. That’s why they get so bent out of shape when their candidate doesn’t win. That’s why people feared rioting, that’s why people fall to the ground crying when their candidate doesn’t win. That’s why some people get so angry.
But whoever is in office can’t solve all of our problems.
But God can. Only in God can we trust.
Have you ever wondered why we have the motto “In God We Trust” on our currency? This is from
The motto IN GOD WE TRUST was placed on United States coins largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the Civil War. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received many appeals from devout persons throughout the country, urging that the United States recognize the Deity on United States coins. From Treasury Department records, it appears that the first such appeal came in a letter dated November 13, 1861. It was written to Secretary Chase by Rev. M. R. Watkinson, Minister of the Gospel from Ridleyville, Pennsylvania, and read:
Dear Sir: You are about to submit your annual report to the Congress respecting the affairs of the national finances.
One fact touching our currency has hitherto been seriously overlooked. I mean the recognition of the Almighty God in some form on our coins.
You are probably a Christian. What if our Republic were not shattered beyond reconstruction? Would not the antiquaries of succeeding centuries rightly reason from our past that we were a heathen nation? What I propose is that instead of the goddess of liberty we shall have next inside the 13 stars a ring inscribed with the words PERPETUAL UNION; within the ring the all seeing eye, crowned with a halo; beneath this eye the American flag, bearing in its field stars equal to the number of the States united; in the folds of the bars the words GOD, LIBERTY, LAW.
This would make a beautiful coin, to which no possible citizen could object. This would relieve uIt was found that the Act of Congress, dated January 18, 1837, prescribed the mottoes and devices that should be placed upon the coins of the United States.
s from the ignominy of heathenism. This would place us openly under the Divine protection we have personally claimed. From my hearth I have felt our national shame in disowning God as not the least of our present national disasters.
To you first I address a subject that must be agitated.
As a result, Secretary Chase instructed James Pollock, Director of the Mint at Philadelphia, to prepare a motto in a letter dated November 20, 1861:
Dear Sir: No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins.
You will cause a device to be prepared without unnecessary delay with a motto expressing in the fewest and tersest words possible this national recognition.
Now we live in a society where there are people who want to remove In God We Trust from our currency and other Christian mottos that have been part of our nation’s heritage.
This is from Fox News and was also published in The New York Post:
The Supreme Court rejected an atheist case Monday to remove “In God We Trust,” the national motto, from all coins and currency from the Department of Treasury.
Michael Newdow, the same activist attorney who tried to remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, lost his case, arguing Congress’ mandate to inscribe “In God We Trust” on currency was a government endorsement of religion and a violation of the First Amendment.
Newdow argued in his petition to the Supreme Court that because his clients are all atheist individuals or atheist groups, the government violated their “sincere religious belief” that there is no God and turned them into “political outsiders” by placing the phrase “In God We Trust” on their money.
The justices rejected his petition without comment.
The phrase was first put on an American coin in 1864, due to “increased religious sentiment.” It was added to both coins and paper bills in 1955.
Newdow also tried to silence prayer and any religious references at the inaugurations of President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.
If our nation decides to no longer trust in God but rather trust in mankind, that’s a decision that is not new or surprising to God. If you read about The End Times and what precedes That Day, it’s going to happen. The world will turn its back on God.
But, as I mentioned last week, I quoted from an old chorus, “Though none go with me, still I will follow.” No matter what, in God I trust.
As Joshua said: But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
It’s not about what the majority thinks or votes on. If the majority of earth votes for ungodliness, He’s still not going to leave or forsake us, the people of His kingdom.In fact, he might just make himself more known to us and revive us while the rest of the world decides to ignore God and do things their own way.
In God We Trust is not just a national motto but a personal decision we must all individually make. Choose you this day whom you will serve. No matter what, as for me and my house, I will serve the Lord.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on First Baptist Church of Watkins Glen