The Inauguration of Haley Barbour – God and Government

Sermon by J. Ligon Duncan on January 11, 2004

2 Chronicles 7:14


A
WORSHIP SERVICE
of
PRAYER AND PRAISE

Preceding the
Inauguration
of
HALEY REEVES BARBOUR
As
GOVERNOR OF MISSISSIPPI


THE INAUGURAL WORSHIP SERVICE

For


HALEY REEVES BARBOUR

The First Presbyterian Church
Jackson, Mississippi

The Eleventh Day of January, Two Thousand Four
Four O’Clock


“Blessed is the Nation whose God is the Lord”
Psalm 33:12

THE
PRELUDE–“Notturno” (Opus 61, No. 7)

The Orchestra

Felix Mendelssohn


“Solemn Festival Entrance”


Richard Strauss

THE GREETINGS–
The Reverand Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III


Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson

On behalf of the session and
congregation of the First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, I want to welcome you
all to this service of divine Christian worship on the notable occasion of the
inauguration of a governor of this great state. I want you to know that all the
Scriptures and songs chosen and requested by our Governor-elect are specifically
designed by him to point away from him and to God. We are here today to worship
the almighty God and the focus will be on Him. Even some of the Scriptures we
avoided reading today were designed to be omitted so that we would not give the
impression that the focus was on the Governor-elect. The choir and the
orchestra do not request your applause today; rather we would all deflect the
praise to God Himself. I would say briefly that after the service the
congregation will remain seated until the Governor-elect and his family exists.
And then I will return and dismiss the congregation during the postlude from the
back of the sanctuary. We especially welcome friends and family of the First
Presbyterian Church of Yazoo City, the Governor-elect’s home congregation, and
their minister who will now begin this service with a call to worship.

THE CALL TO WORSHIP–

Reverend Mr. Joe Perry Easterling

Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Yazoo City

Beloved saints of the Lord Jesus Christ, may God’s grace
and His mercy be yours in abundance. “We lift our eyes to the hills–where does
our help come from? Our help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and
earth.” May the name of the Triune God ever be praised.

Arise, O church, now and join your voices with the saints
that have gone before us. Arise, O church, and join your voices with the
angelic host of Heaven, giving praise to our Redeemer God, even to the Lord
Jesus Christ. Our hymn of praise is hymn #92, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”
I would ask that you would stand with us as we sing and that you would remain
standing for the invocation. Let’s worship our God together.

THE HYMN OF PRAISE NO. 92– 		“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”
THE PRAYER OF INVOCATION–   	       The Reverend Mr. Chester Berryhill
						       Minister, Rising Sun Baptist Church, Hernando

Most holy and
merciful God, we offer our sincere thanks for the divine privilege of seeking
Your blessings on this special occasion. We ask for Your attention to our
petition for grace, mercy, and peace. Grant us the successful and enlightened
experience of new leadership in the governor’s office. We pray that you would
grant Governor-elect, Haley Barbour, wisdom with his knowledge, integrity with
his leadership, insight into the complexities of governing, compassions for the
citizens so deserving, toughness for painful and difficult but necessary
decisions, victory over negative obstacles and barriers, vision for a better
Mississippi, success as he leads this great state. We pray for grace for the
first family, and seek protection from the pressures to disrupt or divide. We
ask for enough unity among the diverse constituency that differences will be
less of an issue or an item than our common need to grow and be successful.
Give us the ability to respect and respond to the quality of leadership that
will enable all of us to do better–for our own sake, for our children’s sake,
for God’s sake. We need Your presence. We seek Your power even as we praise
Your holy name. God bless Governor-elect, Haley Barbour. Bless this assembly
and this service. Bless his wife, Marcia. God bless Mississippi. God bless
America. Amen

THE SOLO– “Great is Thy Faithfulness”

Mr. Derrick Burt, Soloist


William M. Runyan

THE SCRIPTURE
READING–
The Reverend Mr. William C. Hughes

Executive Minister, First Presbyterian
Church, Jackson

Governor-elect
Barbour has chosen the Scripture readings today on this special occasion.
Former presidents of the United States of America have referenced some of these
Scriptures in their inaugurals. I’ll only read a portion of what is listed in
your bulletin. Let us give attention to the reading of God’s word.

First, from II
Chronicles chapter 7, verse 14: “If my people, who are called by my name, will
humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,
then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their
land.”

And from Psalm 33,
selected verses:

“Blessed is the
nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance. 13
From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; 14 from his
dwelling place he watches all who live on earth- 15 he who forms the
hearts of all, who considers everything they do. 16 No king is saved
by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. 17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose
hope is in his unfailing love, 19 to deliver them from death and keep
them alive in famine. 20 We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help
and our shield. 21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his
holy name. 22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as
we put our hope in you.”

And then, finally,
from Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord;
He directs it like a watercourse wherever He
pleases.” Thus far the reading of God’s word.

THE INAUGURAL PRAYERS–

Prayer
for the State of Mississippi: Judge William H Barbour Jr., Ruling Elder,
First Presbyterian Church, Yazoo City
:
I’ll ask you
to join me in praying for our state. Our God
and our Father, You have made this earth and everything in it. You have
ordained governments and have rested them on the shoulders of Your Son, Jesus
Christ. To You we direct our prayers. We thank You for the blessings You have
bestowed upon us here in Mississippi: the great natural beauty, for the
friendliness of its people and their concern for each other, for the prevalence
of their belief in strong family values, for our freedom, both governmentally
and culturally, to publicly profess our belief in You, for godly men and women
who are willing to commit themselves to participate in the affairs of
government, and for the man who wishes to start his term in office with this
service to worship and glorify You. But, Lord, we have so many problems in this
state: poverty, crime, distrust between the races. We confess that many of
these problems are caused by our failure individually and corporately to follow
the tenants You have given us. We pray for our officials in all three branches
of our state government: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. We
pray for cooperation, for compromise, and for wisdom. We also acknowledge that
eventually the decisions of government reflect the beliefs, desires, and
attitudes of its citizens collectively. We pray for each citizen of this
state. We pray that Your Holy Spirit will move in each of us to be more
understanding of others, more unselfish, and more willing to work for and to
support the common good. Be merciful to us, our God and our Father. Amen

Prayer
for the State Legislature: Mr. Frederick Clark, Ruling Elder, First
Presbyterian Church, Yazoo City
:
As we go to the
Lord in prayer, I’ll ask you to bow your heads and have a few moments of silent
prayer for Haley and Marcia and Reed and Sterling, and then I will close in
prayer. Our most gracious God and heavenly Father, we just praise Your holy
name. We thank You that You are the sovereign God. We just thank You that You
are our God, and we just thank You for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who’s
in the throne room now interceding for us as our Prophet and our Priest and our
King. And, Father, I thank You for this inaugural worship service. I thank You
that Haley wanted to begin his term in office with this worship service. And,
Father, I just pray that everything we do in this hour will honor You. I pray,
Father, we would truly worship You in spirit and in truth. And, Father, I do
thank You for Haley, and I pray that You’d give him Your divine guidance as he
will be making appointments and studying bills that have been passed and that
have come before the legislature and other matters, and I pray, above all, he’ll
always be in prayer to You as he considers these things. And, Father, I do pray
now that You will bless the legislature. I pray for the Democrats, Republicans,
Independents, the blacks, the whites. And, Father, I pray for racial harmony
among the members of the legislature. I pray that in every matter that comes up
before them, that they will act in the best interest of the state and not for
their selfish gains. And now, Father, I pray the next four years will be the
beginning of a new era in our state. May we all work together as Christians for
unity and peace. And Father, may we realize that we have a state right here…we
have a mission field, and let us as Christians not be ashamed to present the
gospel. And I pray, Father, for a real revival within our state. I pray this
in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Prayer for the Governor and his
Administration: The Reverend Mr. Bradford M. Stewart, Minister, Grace
Presbyterian Church, Starkville
: Well, let’s continue to pray. Our
Father in heaven, You’re the One who’s the creator and sustainer of the
universe. You’re the One who is the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the
Governor of Governors. We praise You for You are the One who places kings and
rulers and governors, indeed all officials, in their places. How we thank You
and praise You for this occasion, knowing as Your word says that the authorities
that exist have been established by God. We acknowledge as has been read even
before that, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a
watercourse wherever He pleases.” We ask You that the Governor-elect’s heart
would be tender to Your direction, that he would trust in You with all his heart
and lean not on his own understanding, and as all his ways acknowledge You, that
You would direct his paths. We pray for Haley’s physical health. Father, keep
him fit, strong, clear-headed, free from accident or injury. Give him a clear
understanding of his personal priorities. Bless his walk with the Lord Jesus
Christ. Bless his family life. Bless Marcia, Sterling, and Reese. Pour out
Your Spirit upon them. Bless him as he seeks to govern. Give him the humility
of a David who exclaimed, “Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, that You have brought me
thus far?” Give him Solomonic wisdom, even as Solomon asked, “Give Your servant
a discerning heart to govern Your people and to distinguish between right and
wrong.” Grant that those surrounding Haley and his administration would support
him as he seeks to serve You in the place that You have put him. And may he and
his administration be used of You to unify the people of this state across
racial, socioeconomic, and ethnic bounds. Be pleased to make him Your
instrument to be a blessing to the people of the state of Mississippi. All to
the glory of Your name and for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ in whose name
that we pray. Amen.

THE SOLO– “From
Sea to Shining Sea”
Mr. Charles L. Graeber III, Soloist

Arranged by Whitney


THE
SERMON–
God and Government

Amen. If you have your Bibles, I’d invite you to turn with
me to II Chronicles 7:14. I want to go back to the passages that have already
been read today, and I want to highlight two or three things that we learn from
each of those passages as we approach these years together as Christians, as
fellow Mississippians praying for our state, praying for our government, praying
for our governor.

One of the things that we learn
from II Chronicles 7:14, “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble
themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will
I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land,” is that
we are dependent upon God for blessing and guidance. We should humble ourselves
before God as we seek for national mercies and state mercies. And our
Governor-elect wants us to know as a people that he too looks to God for
guidance in these times. As we turn forward to Psalm 33:12, again in the
readings we heard these words, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the
people He chose for His
inheritance.” And then down in verse 18, “But the eyes of the Lord are on those
who fear Him, on those whose hope is in
His unfailing love, to deliver them from death and
keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; He
is our help and our shield.” We learn a second thing from that passage: that
the nation and people is blessed who trusts in God and who fears Him. And so we
ought to look to God as the source of blessing and provision and protection for
our land and for our state. And, again, the Governor-elect would want us to
know that he recognizes from whom and from whence all blessings flow.

And then,
finally, in Proverbs, the book of Proverbs 21:1, when we are told that “The
king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse
wherever He pleases,” we’re reminded that we need to pray to God to give wisdom
and guidance to the Governor and for the Governor to be responsive to God’s
guiding. This passage reminds us that those who are rulers over the people,
those who are governors, their heart is in the hand of the Lord, and they need
spiritual guidance in their guiding. And the Governor-elect purposes to be like
water in the Lord’s hands, and He would have us to
pray so as well.

But we live in a confused time.
We live in a time where there is a great social and moral divide, not only in
our state but all across the land, and there is confusion about how God and
government mix or don’t mix. There are some who want God to be out of
government. There are some who want America to be declared a Christian nation,
which not understandably or not surprisingly causes some consternation amongst
those who are not Christians in our land. So how should Christians be involved
in government? How should Christians and why should Christians want to
be involved in government? How should we pray for our government? These are
practical questions. And I want to give us a few brief answers to those things
as we seek to uplift our new Governor and government in this state in prayer.
To do this, I’d like you to turn to Matthew chapter 5 and to four small verses
there. In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus is speaking to His disciples, and in verse
13 He says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness,
how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be
thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill
cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.
Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good
deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Amen. And thus ends this reading of God’s holy, inspired,
and inerrant word. May He write its eternal truth upon our hearts.

Why should a
Christian be involved in society, in the culture, or in government? Jesus
supplies one very important answer here. Christians are part of a great
conspiracy, a conspiracy to be a blessing to the world. Jesus in this passage,
teaches us that we are to live so as to be salt and light to this world, to be
preservative in a hurting and decaying world. In a fallen world where there are
conflicts and there are wounds, we are to be preservative, to be salt. And we
are to be light. We are to let the light of God’s truth and grace and love
shine in a sin-weary world. And so we are to live in such a way as to be a
blessing in the world. Our goal is not to control the world; our goal is not to
wrest power from this world; our goal is to bless this world. One pastor
has put it this way, “When God called Abraham out of the Ur of the Chaldees from
the service of idols into the fellowship of the living God, He changed him from
being a guest on this planet to being a host. In other words, Abraham’s
relationship to the world changed. Instead of being one of God’s many guests on
this planet, he suddenly accrued a responsibility to be a host to the rest of
this world. And do you remember God’s words to him? That he would be “a
blessing to all the families of the earth.” And the Christian is involved in
government, in society, and in culture precisely for the purpose of being a
blessing to all the families of the earth. We are involved in a conspiracy of
blessing?

Well, how are we to be involved?
Does the Bible give us instruction on how the Christian is to be involved?
Indeed it does. The Bible’s instructions are gathered from various places.
You’ll find some in Romans 13, in Titus 3, in I Peter 2, and in other places,
but the basic marching orders are clear. What are we supposed to do as
Christians? First of all, we are to submit to legitimate government authority.
Paul stresses this in Romans 13:1. We among all people are to law-abide and
show people by our respect for the law that God has done a work of grace in our
hearts.

Secondly, we are to acknowledge that God ordained government. Let me ask you to
look at Romans 13:1 and the second half of that verse especially. There Paul
says, “For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are
established by God.” Christians recognize that all legitimate government
authority finds its source and root in God, and it is God’s transcendent law
which we believe establishes all civil liberties and which establishes the rule
of law in the land. And it’s important for us to remember, my friends, that our
founding fathers, all of them, believed the same thing–Christians and Jews,
Protestants and Catholics, Deists and Rationalists–all knew that if there was no
transcendent law, there could not be unalienable rights, there could not be
civil liberties, because those rights and liberties, if they are not based on an
unchanging law, can be changed by the tyranny of 50% + 1 margins. No,
unlessthe law of this land, and unless the rights and civil liberties of this
land, are grounded in an unchanging transcendent moral law, then we are at the
disposal of those who would take those liberties. That’s one reason our
Governor-elect likes to say this, “Times change, but morals don’t,” because
those morals are rooted in the unchanging, transcendent law of God. That’s why
it’s not okay to be a racist, because God in His own transcendent order has
established that we would honor the image of God in all men and women. And
thus, because of His transcendent order, there is equity in the way that we
relate to one another. And so, Christians are to acknowledge that God ordained
government.

Furthermore, Paul emphasizes in verse 7 in this passage that we are to show
respect to those who govern. We live in a time in which there is very heated
and often uncivilized discourse in the political sphere. Christians, of all
people, should show respect to those who hold offices that deserve respect. We
are, of course, also to pray for those in government–and I’ll speak to that in
just a moment. And, finally, we are to serve in government if called. We
remember Daniel being called into the service of three different
administrations, even in a pagan kingdom. And we can think of Queen Esther and
the tremendously important role that she played in a government. We think of
David’s call to serve the family of God. And we think of those who even served
in the house of Caesar, whom Paul speaks of in Romans chapter 16. Christians
are to serve if they are called to serve in government.

But
how do we pray? If we are to be involved, how are we to be involved in praying
for those in government? Well, again, there are various directives in the word
of God, and I could summarize some of these directions in these ways. We are to
pray, first of all, that our government would foster nothing against justice and
truth. Just as the Hippocratic Oath asks the doctor to pledge that he will
first do no harm, so also the government should take the same pledge. First, do
no harm on what is done on behalf of the people. And so we would pray that the
government would foster nothing against justice and truth. And we would pray
that the government would make the innocent’s cause its own. That government
leaders would be protected against the temptations which are peculiar to their
office, and that they would be given strength and wisdom for their tasks, that
the government in all its branches would work in harmony, and that God would
usher in a new season of blessing in our state that brings all our people
together and sees the common good advanced. Our Governor-elect not only craves
your prayers for him, but all our collective prayers for our President. In all
these ways, we as Christians are to give of ourselves on behalf of the common
good of all people in the governments of this land and of this state. May God
help us to stay faithful to those unchanging norms of right and wrong, to be
involved constructively in the government of this state so that all people see
our goodwill towards them. And may He enable us to be fervent and faithful in
prayer on behalf of our Governor, his administration, and the legislative and
judicial branches of government here in the state of Mississippi. And May God
indeed bless us all through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let’s look to Him now in
prayer.

Almighty God, ruler of all the earth, establisher of justice,
freedom and government–we come before You this day humbly asking for Your
presence and Your mercies and blessings on the Governor-elect and the men and
women of the Mississippi House and Senate and Judiciary who will shoulder the
shared burden of government with him, and to whom as been entrusted the sacred
and noble and public vocation of furthering the rule of law in this great
state. We acknowledge that righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your
throne, and that Your own character is the transcendent source of law, that Your
law is the fountainhead of all legitimate human law and rights. Indeed, our
country’s founding documents themselves, The Declaration of Independence
and Constitution, together our organic law, remind us that our
unalienable rights come not from societal conventions, not from human tradition,
or even from constitutional grant, but they are grounded in the laws of nature
and of nature’s God. It is the Creator-God who has established justice and
freedom for us. Grant our Governor-elect and those who serve with and counsel
him, O Lord, the desire and the wisdom of Solomon to discern between good and
evil. Make his motives to be, in all his decisions, the promotion of justice,
the protection of the weak, and the advancement of the common, public good.
Give to him a heart to labor on behalf of the impoverished and destitute, but to
show bias neither to rich nor to poor. Teach him to love both mercy and
justice. Cause him to adorn the vocation of governance and rule with his own
personal character, and to raise the public estimation of his office’s
importance and integrity, and to assist in securing the continuation of a just
and equitable society. O God, may justice role down like waters and
righteousness like an everlasting stream. And bless us, we pray, for Christ’s
sake. Amen.

Let
us take our hymnals in hand and turn to #710, singing to God’s praise, “God of
Our Fathers.”


THE
HYMN OF RESPONSE NO. 710–
“God of Our Fathers”

National Hymn


THE ANTHEM– “Hallelujah!”
(Messiah)
George Frederick Handel
The Choirs of First
PresbyterianChurch,
Jackson, and Yazoo City


THE
BENEDICTION–
Mr. Easterling


THE POSTLUDE– “Festmarch”

Richard
Strauss






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