Over the course of time, people have turned different things or people as their “god.” This is what is known as paganism. We see this practice all throughout the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. We see it during the time of Elijah in the book of 1 Kings. One particular account is in 1 Kings 18 where Elijah and King Ahab had a little “competition” if you will about who “god” was the most powerful. In King Ahab’s corner, there were 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah who were supported by this wicked woman named Jezebel. In the other corner was Elijah and the Almighty God. There were different things that they had to do and none of the prophets for King Ahab were able to make their “god” do the things that they were supposed to do. For instance, they made an altar and they had put their sacrifice on it, and they called on the name of their god and he was supposed to set that altar on fire. Their god didn’t answer. What? How can this be? When they didn’t get their answer, the people began to dance, chanted, and they were hobbling around the altar. Nothing happened. They thought that their god was asleep, and he needs to wake up. So, they began to shout louder, and they also started to cut themselves with knives and swords until the blood was gushed out. In other words, they were taking things to the extreme when it came to their god. All during the afternoon, they were expecting a response from their god, but they never got the answer they wanted. Then, Elijah called the people over and the crowd had gathered around him. After he put together his altar, he began to pray to the Lord. After his prayer, the Lord had answered by casting a fire down from heaven and burned the bull, the stones, as well as the dust of the ground. Not only did that happen, but also the water that was surrounding the altar had been dried up. Once the people saw this, they bowed down and worshipped the Lord.
How does this apply to us? In today’s passage from Psalm 44, it talks about how powerful God is. In verse 2, it says “You drove out the pagan nations by your power…You crushed their enemies and set our ancestors free.” In verses 4 through 8, here’s a declaration that we need to assure ourselves each and every day. It says, “4. You are my King and my God. You command victories for Israel. 5. Only by your power can we push back our enemies; only in your name can we trample our foes. 6. I do not trust in my bow; I do not count on my sword to save me. 7. You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies; you disgrace those who hate us. 8. O God, we give glory to you all day long and constantly praise your name.” This is something that we need to remind ourselves every day. While we may go through the darkest parts of life, we need to remind ourselves that He is always there (Psalm 23:4). The prophet Isaiah says in Isaiah 2:5 “Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the world.” In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus goes on to say “14. You are the light of the world-like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to. See, so. That everyone will praise your Heavenly Father.” Other translations would say to “let our light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
I want to challenge you to let the light of God shine through you. In Ephesians 5:1, Paul reminds us to be imitators of God. In other words, we need to be Christ-like to others. Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 2:9 part B where it says “for he has called you out of the darkness into his marvelous light.” No matter what the world is trying to do to you, continue to let the light of Christ shine through you so that others can see Christ through you. This is so important because this world needs to have God’s light shine because the world cannot see right now due to the events that is currently happening in the world right now. No matter how dark the world gets, the light of Christ will always shine through the dark every time.
Psalm 44 (NLT)
For the choir director: A psalm of the descendants of Korah.
1 O God, we have heard it with our own ears—
our ancestors have told us
of all you did in their day,
in days long ago:
2 You drove out the pagan nations by your power
and gave all the land to our ancestors.
You crushed their enemies
and set our ancestors free.
3 They did not conquer the land with their swords;
it was not their own strong arm that gave them victory.
It was your right hand and strong arm
and the blinding light from your face that helped them,
for you loved them.
4 You are my King and my God.
You command victories for Israel.
5 Only by your power can we push back our enemies;
only in your name can we trample our foes.
6 I do not trust in my bow;
I do not count on my sword to save me.
7 You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies;
you disgrace those who hate us.
8 O God, we give glory to you all day long
and constantly praise your name. Interlude
9 But now you have tossed us aside in dishonor.
You no longer lead our armies to battle.
10 You make us retreat from our enemies
and allow those who hate us to plunder our land.
11 You have butchered us like sheep
and scattered us among the nations.
12 You sold your precious people for a pittance,
making nothing on the sale.
13 You let our neighbors mock us.
We are an object of scorn and derision to those around us.
14 You have made us the butt of their jokes;
they shake their heads at us in scorn.
15 We can’t escape the constant humiliation;
shame is written across our faces.
16 All we hear are the taunts of our mockers.
All we see are our vengeful enemies.
17 All this has happened though we have not forgotten you.
We have not violated your covenant.
18 Our hearts have not deserted you.
We have not strayed from your path.
19 Yet you have crushed us in the jackal’s desert home.
You have covered us with darkness and death.
20 If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread our hands in prayer to foreign gods,
21 God would surely have known it,
for he knows the secrets of every heart.
22 But for your sake we are killed every day;
we are being slaughtered like sheep.
23 Wake up, O Lord! Why do you sleep?
Get up! Do not reject us forever.
24 Why do you look the other way?
Why do you ignore our suffering and oppression?
25 We collapse in the dust,
lying face down in the dirt.
26 Rise up! Help us!
Ransom us because of your unfailing love.