James Merritt - God Bless Us Everyone
Well, this month we're in a series that we're calling "Music to My Ears". And what we've been doing if you will is listening to some of the most beautiful songs and those beautiful lyrics that have ever been written in a book called "Psalms". And what you're gonna find today in this 67 Psalm is not only this incredible blessings of God that God gives us every day, but you're gonna find that God's blessing is a gift that keeps on giving. So, what I want to do today four things that the blessing of God gives us. Number one: God's blessing gives us grace. God's blessing gives us grace.
Now when you think about blessings, if I were to say to you have you been blessed? Can you count your blessings? Automatically you would start thinking about one of three things. So, we'll say, "Oh yes, I've been blessed. You know, I've got a big house. I've drive a nice car. I wear elegant clothes. I've gotta-I get a good pay check every week. I have expensive jewelry". So, we think about positions, but it's also we think about position. We think, "Oh, man you know I have been blessed. I'm the president of my company. I'm the principal of my school. I'm the provost to the university. I'm the pastor of a church". And those are all find blessings I admit that.
But this Psalm writer does us a favor. He points out to us the greatest blessing we all enjoy; the greatest blessing we all have and that is not what God gives us, but the God who gives to us. The greatest blessing is God himself. So, he begins with this verse in verse 1. He says, "May God be gracious," there's the word "gracious" grace. "May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us". Now what the Psalmist is saying here is this: "Wake up and smell the coffee; wake up and smell the roses". The greatest blessing, we enjoy every day is God himself because when you've got the face of God shining on you and the mouth of God smiling at you, there's not a better place to be; there's not a greater blessing that you can receive then the blessing of God himself. You know, when I read that verse when the psalmist says, "God, would you just make your face shine on me"?
You can just smile at somebody and you can make their day just with a look. You don't need any words you can really give them a glow and a shine just for the way you look at them. And the reason why the psalmist is asking for God's blessing in a shining face is because when God looks at you with a shining face and God looks at you with a smile on his face, it is signaling to you that God has just given you the two greatest things we need from God: his love and his acceptance. 'Cause you think about this: it doesn't matter who else rejects you if God accepts you. It doesn't matter who else hates you if God loves you. So, when God's face shines upon me I know what God is saying: "James, I knew your flaws and they're many. I know your faults and they're many. I know your failures and they are many, but I love you and I accept you".
Now you may be thinking I'm trying to over spiritualize God's blessings and I'm not trying to ignore all the material blessings that we have and we've all been so blessed in so many ways with people and with possessions and with positions and I get that. But I would like to challenge you with this, I'd like for you to think about something: not everything that we consider a blessing is a blessing. Not everything that we consider a blessing is a blessing. Money can be a curse and not a blessing. Fame can be a curse and not a blessing. Popularity can be a curse and not a blessing. Position can be a curse and not a blessing.
If the greatest spiritual blessing of all blessings is the favor and love and the acceptance of God and if the greatest blessing of all is knowing God and if that blessing does not lie as the foundation of all your other blessings including our possessions, including our people, including our position, including our material things, then all the other blessings can wind up being a curse. Because let me tell you we're living in a city, right now, we're living in a community right here. And they have substituted the blessings for the blessor; they have substituted the gifts for the giver. And when you do that what was meant to be a blessing actually becomes a curse because I'm telling you we're surrounded right now, we're living in a culture where so many people are saying to us as the church, "I live in a big house. I drive a nice car. I've got expensive jewelry. I'm in a great relationship. I've got healthy children. So, tell me again why I need God".
And what has happened is the blessing has become a curse because let me tell you the greatest curse you will ever live under. The greatest curse you will ever live under is when you think more about your blessings that you do the one that's blessed you. When you think more about what's been given to you than the one who gave it to you because I want you to notice the purpose of God's blessings, it's not what we think. The psalmist says, "God, make your face shine upon us. Be gracious to us," why? "So that your ways may be known on earth. Your salvation among all nations. May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you".
Listen, the purpose of God blessing us is not so that other people will marvel and go, "Man, look how God has blessed you". The purpose of God's blessings is so that we will always testify to other people: "This didn't come from me, it came from him. Don't brag on me, brag on him; don't look at me, look at him. I want him to have all the glory and all the honor so that you can know the God that has blessed me as well". In other words, we are not to be dams of God's blessing keeping it to ourselves, we're to be reservoirs of God's blessings sharing it with others. If you don't hear anything else I say I want you to hear this: God never blesses you so you will be blessed. God blesses you so you will be a blessing to others, always. That's what grace is all about.
God's blessing give us grace so in turn we can share with others the best news of all that God wants to share his grace with everyone because his blessing to the entire human race is nothing less, nothing else, and nothing but, his grace and his salvation. So, number one: God's blessing gives us grace. I haven't told you anything you already know. I mean, you probably have heard this before. I'm not the first man that thought of that, won't be the last one. But the second thing, is a shocker because the psalmist now tells us that God's blessing gives us guidance. God's blessing gives us guidance.
Now before I go any further, I'm gonna surprise you 'cause it's not what you think. Because I want you to listen now to one verse in this Psalm that's both a comforting verse, but it's a very shocking verse. He says, "May the nations," now he's talkin' now to China, North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, Canada, United States, Cuba, Algeria, Kenya, "may the nations be glad and sing for joy," now watch this, "for you rule the peoples with equity and you guide the nations of the earth". Now let me just be honest. That sounds a little bit...really? Because when I read the newspaper it doesn't seem like that's right. When I go on the Internet, when I listen to CNN, or FOX, or MSNBC, or ABC, or CBS, it doesn't look like God's ruling too well. And it doesn't look like God's guiding all that well.
And what the psalmist is saying is this: at the end of the day presidents win and presidents lose; kings live and kings die; dictators come and dictators go, but God's blessing is he rules over the earth with equity. He guides the nations on the earth. Look I'll be first one to admit to you, does it always look like it? Absolutely not. Does it always sound like it? Absolutely not. Does it always feel like it? Absolutely not. But I can tell you with 100% confidence every single nation, every single government, and every single ruler that is in place, God is using them to move the flow of history where he wants it to go. God is not just an American God. God is the Russian God and God is the North Korean God. And God is the Chinese God and God is the Iranian God. And God is the French God because Jesus Christ is Lord over every square inch of land and Jesus Christ is Lord over every single drop of water.
Listen, I don't care what Kim Jong-Il thinks. God's running the show; God's calling the shots; God is making the turns and not only does the psalmist say he rules over the people of the earth, watch this, he guides the nations. Now when we think of the guidance of God we always kind of bring it down to individuals, right? And God does guide us and I'm grateful for that, yes. God guides us to light when we're in the dark; God guides us to peace when we're in trouble; God guides us to safety when we're in a storm, but what the psalmist says is this: in God's own way, in God's own time, using his own methods for his own purposes God guides the nations, every nation. There's no nation out there running around on its own. They may think they are, but they're not.
Now this is why Imma quit preaching and Imma meddle for 30 seconds. If that is true, that's why even in our politics we oughta keep God in mind. That's why we oughta pray for leaders of both parties. That's why we pray for the president no matter who gets elected. That's why we pray for people we agree with and pray for people that we don't agree with because at the end of the day God's guiding, God's moving, God puts up one, God sets down another, and that's why we even pray for the leaders of other countries because God does guide. Listen, I'm not tryin' to you know, to call anybody to task here, but I wanna ask you an honest question: have you even one time, just once, pray that Kim Jong-Il would be saved? Have you ever prayed even one time?
Rather than look at him with...and look he's, you know, I can say this 'cause I'm not the president, I'm not trying to win election, man's evil. He's incarnately evil. His whole regime is evil and I don't understand how all that works. What I do know is this: God can save him too. And if God is guiding the nations and God is ruling over all I know God would want us to pray even for him because God's hand is on the steering wheel and I don't think anybody would deny it this world would be 180 degrees different and 180 degrees better if every nation really lived as if in God we trust and really trusted the God that gave us who we are. So, there's a blessing of God not that just gives us grace, but gives us guidance. But the psalmist isn't finished. He said if you believe those two things are true then number three God's blessing gives us gladness. There oughta be a joy in our heart about what we just said.
Listen, anytime a thought or a phrase is repeated in the Bible, this is just one way to kinda to clue you on how to interpret the Bible, whenever a word, or a thought, or a phrase is repeated in the Bible, that is the Bible's way of putting an exclamation point. That's the Bible's way of putting something in bold print, italicizing it, underscoring it. It's the Bible's way of saying, "Pay attention to this". Now in this Psalm the psalmist does that very thing. He repeats something twice. Verse 3: "May the people's praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you". Verse 5: "May the people's praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you".
Now when something is said twice, listen twice as big. When something is said twice, do it twice as hard. In this case, what the psalmist is saying is, "We ought to praise God twice as much. God's blessing ought to make us glad". I don't care what else is going on in your life, I mean, I do, but I don't in this sense. It doesn't really matter what else is going on in your life right now that may not be a good thing. If what he says about God is true and if you know that God, you oughta be glad. We oughta be glad that God rules on the people; we oughta be glad that God guides all the nations; we oughta be glad that God's salvation is available to everyone; we oughta be glad for all the goodness that God brings in our everyday life.
You know, I didn't know this, did you know that the word "blessing," the word "blessing" is used 415 times in the Old Testament. In other words, that word on average is used 12 times in every book in the Old Testament. People sometimes wonder, "Why should I read the Old Testament"? I'll tell you why: it's a book of blessing, it's a book of blessing. There are so many references to the blessing of God. See, you know what really funny to me? Every day when we get up out of our bed, we leave our home, we jump into an ocean of God's blessings and don't even realize we just got wet. And then to make the point the psalmist continues by saying this, he said, "The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us".
Let me ask you a question: why would the Psalm writer all of a sudden, he's got this beautiful Psalm going on and all of a sudden, he goes farmer Jones on us. He starts talkin' about a harvest. Why in the world would he start talkin' about a harvest right in the middle of the blessings of God? Well, keep in mind, unlike who I'm talking to today, he was not talking to an industrialized society. He was not talking to a mechanized society. He was not talking to a computerized society. He was talking to an agricultural society. And one of those visible ways you can see the goodness and the blessing of God was at a harvest.
As a matter of fact, most scholars even believe this was a harvest song that the farmers and other people would sing when they were bringing in their crops because if you've ever done any farming you know the most important word to a farmer is the word "harvest". Because to a farmer that word is the difference between plenty and poverty. That word is the difference between surviving and thriving; that word is the difference between life and death. And what the psalmist is saying is to all those farmers that were out there nothing represents the goodness of God more than the harvest because you can plow the ground and you can plant the seed, but only God can give the harvest. And when God gives the harvest, you ought to realize, he is the one that blessed you.
Farmer Jones, you can't guarantee the harvest. Farmer Jones, you cannot give the harvest, but God can do both. And let me tell you the cold hard truth of the matter. This is true whether you're black or white; this is true whether you're liberal or conservative; this is true whether you're Republican or Democrat; this is true no matter where you are in your age and stage of life, the truth of the matter is whether it be help, or will, or life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness it's all the blessing of God. All of it. It all comes from him.
Listen, I got news for you. I don't care how much money you got in the bank. I don't care what you've got in your 401(k). I don't care what you got in your retirement account. I don't care if everything you got is paid off. We all live from hand to mouth. His hand to our mouth. And the psalmist says we ought to be so glad everyday of our life because of the blessing of God. But he's not finished and I thank God, he didn't because I would've missed it. He said you know it's true that God's blessing gives us gladness, gives us guidance, and gives us grace, but the ultimate purpose of the blessing is not any of those things. He says, "God's blessing gives him glory".
God's blessing gives him glory. So, here's the way it works: when you finally wake up and you smell the coffee and you finally realize that God gives us grace and guidance and gladness and goodness, when you finally realize that and you acknowledge, we acknowledge, we make sure we acknowledge by our lips and by our lives that he gets the glory. Let me tell you why this is so important for us as a church. We cannot expect the world to let God guide them if we're not going to allow a God to guide us. We cannot expect the world to desire God's grace if we don't testify we're the blessing of God's grace.
We will not ever, ever have a world that full of gladness rather than madness and sadness if we don't display by our everyday life that we have the gladness of God because ultimately every blessing that you have... I hate to spoil the party, every blessing that you have is not for your good ultimately. It's for his glory. It is for his honor. So, the psalmist closes by saying this in verse 7: "May God bless us still," so that we could buy a bigger house; so we could trade in the old car for a newer car; so we could graduate from a Timex to a Rolex; so we could go from blue jeans to a tuxedo, no. "May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him".
God desires all of the earth to fear him. To give him the reverence and the respect and the response that he deserves. To give him the worship and the witness that he desires. To give him the love and the obedience that he demands. And I wanna say today to every believer in our campuses and I wanna say to our campuses of every believer, if we want others to give God glory, we must give God glory. If we want others to honor God, we must honor God because when you go back, and I'll wrap this up, when you go back to the very first verse when the psalmist says, "God, would you make your face shine on us"? If you know your Old Testament, you'll know this. If you don't, I'll tell you.
What the psalmist was actually doing was referring back to a prayer that Moses actually prayed to God thousands of years before that in the 33rd chapter of Exodus. And in that chapter Moses asks God for three things. He said, "God, number one, would you so teach me your ways that I would know you and find favor with you"? And God said, "Moses, I can answer the prayer". He then prayed, number two, "God, would you promise me that you'll never ever take your presence away from me or from my people"? And God said to Moses, "Moses, I can do that. Now it's dependent upon you and your people obeying me and loving me and worshiping me and staying faithful to me, but yes, I can do that". But then Moses prayed, "God, would you let me look on your face and would you let me see your glory"? And God said, "Moses, I can't do that". "Well, God why can't you do that"? Here's what he said: "You cannot see my face. For no one may see me and live".
All right, buckle your seat belt. That was true until Jesus came. And when Jesus came, when you looked into his face, you saw the face of God. When you looked into his eyes, you saw the eyes of God. When you heard him speak, you heard him speak the voice of God. When you touched his skin, you felt the skin of God. And one day, listen to me, one day we will all see God in all of his glory when all of the redeemed people of the world that are drawn from every tribe and every tongue and every nation come before his throne. And one say we'll see every race bathed in amazing grace. And we will all see his face and what a blessing it will be, but it will only be because of the greatest blessing of all. And that was when God sent his son to die on a cross and come back from the dead so he could live in our hearts and as Tiny Tim said, "Bless us, everyone".