by Pastor Greg Simon
This week we acknowledge the birth of the United States, we pray for our nation and leaders, and we are thankful for our liberty. We have much for which to be thankful! Let’s celebrate the Fourth with gratitude to God for what He has allowed us to enjoy.
Angry critics tell us what is wrong with society, where we have failed, and why we are hated. Discouragement, despair, and negativism swell, but despite faults and failures, we believe God is still at work in our country. We are still a people endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
God deserves praise from all people on earth. The Gospels tell us that Jesus prayed at least the first verse of Psalm 22 from the cross (Mark 15:34). Could Christ Jesus have been meditating Psalm 22 as He approached Calvary? Psalm 22’s universal application to all nations and all generations finds its fulfillment in Christ’s finished work on the cross. The Psalmist proclaimed, “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, And all the families of the nations will worship before You. For the kingdom is the Lord’s And He rules over the nations.” (Psalm 22:27-28 NASB)
Notice, firstly, All the ends of the earth (every corner, everywhere) is called to turn to the Lord. This motivates our commitment to missions and eva ngelism. We send out missionaries because we want men and women around the world to “turn to the LORD” (v. 27) and worship Him. As Pastor John Piper aptly states, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.”
Secondly, All the families of the nations (all tribes, all languages, all racial and ethnic groupings) will worship. Knowing and worshiping the Lord is not a private, or tribal, or national or ethnic privilege. All the families of earth are invited to worship. Pastor Piper elucidates, “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.”
Psalm 22:27 praises, “the kingdom is the Lord’s And He rules over the nations.” Thirdly, God alone rules over the nations. The Lord rules over all the nations. National boundaries have a purpose. God “Himself fixed beforehand the exact times and the limits of the places where they would live” (Acts 17:26 GNT). We can respect a nation while also remembering that We are missionaries living with a green card in the land God chose for us. As Christ-followers, we never forget that our ultimate citizenship is in heaven. The Old Testament patriarchs modeled this healthy perspective, living as “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13 MEV). “They desired a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16 MEV).
While God’s kingdom is not defined by geo-political borders, a sense of nationalism is not necessarily a bad thing. The Fourth of July is a good time to express gratitude for the blessings of freedom. Fire up the bbq grill, enjoy a burger, sing “God Bless America”, wave a flag, watch some fireworks, enjoy time with family and friends in the country where God has placed you.
We wish you a happy Fourth of July! We pray that you will celebrate God’s blessings today, even as you remember God has prepared something incredibly BETTER for eternity! We love you!