Sermon for January 24, 2021
Sermon Series: Trusting God: Finding Peace & Strength Through the Storm
Message #4 – Trust God…Find Strength in the Stillness
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
So this morning is going to be a little different…integrating our worship time with the message time…
Psalm 46 is probably best known for verse 10: Be still and know that I am God…
Introduction: Why Do We Find it Hard to be Still?
Be still, Lord? We haven’t been able to stay still from the day we were born! Think about it..from the moment we’re born, we want to wiggle. Our parents have to swaddle us with blankets that function as strait jackets just to counteract our innate desire to move, so it’s not surprising that those natural tendencies follow us into our relationships with God. Being still is hard when we’re used to constant squirming.
“For me sitting still is harder than any kind of work” …(Annie Oakley, of sharpshooting fame) – I would say that is true for my dad as well!
I have discovered that sitting still leaves little spaces for the grief to get in, so I stay busy…Veronica Roth, American Novelist
What do we often say when people ask us how we are doing after a loss? Just staying busy, right?
And we all know the cliches such as:
He’s got ants in his pants…If you are a parent or grandparent, a certain child probably comes to mind!
Her mind moves 100 miles an hour…maybe that’s your mind as you sit and breathe here this morning.
But being still in this passage is not about physical stillness (although that can certainly help us sometimes). It’s more about spiritual stillness. What David, the Psalmist is getting at here is that we can be still because we put our full trust in God.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves as I want us to explore the entire chapter this morning as we conclude our series on Trusting God.
The Psalmist begins this chapter with this truth…
Psalm 46: 1-3…
Imagine for a moment the ground beginning to shake, the hanging lights above your head swinging violently, the walls of this room beginning to crumble and then the ground beneath us swallowing up everything in sight. That’s very frightening to me!
That is pretty much, though, the picture painted by the Psalmist in chapter 46. And yet, in the midst of all that, he reminds us that we can still trust God…that He is our refuge and strength.
The Psalmist reminds us that God is ever-present. He’s right by your side, standing at the ready to help. So even when things look there darkest, He is still the light in the darkness.
Whatever difficult circumstances you may be facing remember God’s great power and love for you. I like how the first verse of Psalm 46 starts with God being with us, before describing earthquakes, roaring seas, mountains giving way to the sea.
Just like we talked last week regarding Jesus being in the boat of life with you, He is also on the mountain that seems to be crumbling beneath you.
You already know this, but the Psalms are a collection of worship songs from ancient times…songs of praise, lament, and petition. Music was used then, as now, to speak to our souls and remind us of the love of our Savior.
As we go through Psalm 46, we are going to worship God with songs that echo the meanings behind these verses.
The 1905 gospel hymn “Stand by Me,” written by Charles Albert Tindley, speaks to these verses in Psalm 46:
When the storms of life are raging
Stand by me
When the storms of life are raging
Stand by me
When the world is tossing me
Like a ship out on the sea
Thou who rulest wind and water
Stand by me
From what I understand, this gospel song inspired Ben E. King to write the more familiar version of “Stand by Me.” I’ve asked Brian to sing it this morning. As you sing along (because I know you will), sing it to God as the one who is standing by you through it all.
“Stand By Me” – Brian
Don’t ever forget this truth: God will always stand by you!
In Psalm 46, the psalmist wants you to also know…
Let’s continue in this Psalm by looking at verses 4-7…
Imagine for a moment that you lived in the time of King David. The walled city you call home is coming under attack. The leaders close the gates to the city as the attacker’s approach. No one my go in or out, which means whatever food and supplies you have now are all you’ll have until the siege ends.
A city’s water supply was its most critical life-sustaining resource. A city with a river running through it would be well protected and could withstand a siege for a longer duration than a city reliant on external water sources.
God is your refreshing and life-sustaining resource (river) both in times of peace and when your city (life) is under siege. God is within you, strengthening your walls, defending your heart. He will not let you fall. He is your fortress, standing with you through whatever life brings your way.
“At the break of day” (verse 5) references the moment just before night begins to turn into morning. This is the darkest hour of the day, the deep of night. It’s the moment when all hope seems lost and the darkness threatens to overtake. Then the light begins to break through.
Sometimes it may feel like God is not coming to the rescue, but at the “break of day” (the right moment) He will break through!
The hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” was written by Robert Robinson in 1758 has its roots in Psalm 46: 4, as it talks about the refreshing, life sustaining waters of God. Let’s sing this 263-year-old song together as we receive God’s blessings this morning…
“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”…
As we will see in verses 8-10 of Psalm 46…
Psalm 46: 8-10…
Blind trust is difficult to give, so God asks us to recall his great works. If God has demonstrated his power in these ways before, what’s to say he won’t do it again in your life? If God has power to make wars cease, doesn’t he have sufficient power to meet your need?
So, remember God’s great works. Remember all the times God has brought you through things in the past…Keep these memories close to your heart and call upon them when you are struggling to release control to God.
In verse 10, God commanded us all to be still. He wants us to learn to trust Him and not fret in His presence. He wants us all to silence ourselves and wait on Him, to keep calm and let Him move when our circumstances are dire and chaotic. Simply, God wants us to learn to put our full weight on Him.
But as I said at the start, being still is a challenge for many, however. I struggle with it at times. When things start to unravel, my mind starts working 100 miles an hour. All these potential scenarios start presenting themselves to me. What if this, what if that…But God wants me to think, But what if God…
Silence and Confidence are your strength.
God commands that we stop and breathe, be silent, and gather ourselves when troubles strike. This can be a real challenge. To actually slow our hearts and minds down when a crisis strikes. But in this silence and confidence in God you’ll find strength to face any trial. Be still is accepting that God is charge and you are surrendering all control to Him. That is true peace when you can be still during turmoil.
This part of the passage reminds me of the song 10,000 Reasons. Let’s praise God as we sing this song…
Psalm 46 concludes with verse 11 that speaks to…
Psalm 46: 11…
God is your refuge and your fortress, your safe place in the storm, your mighty defender. He is at work on your behalf in times of peace and in times of struggle. If God is for you, who can be against you?
Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation, wrote “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” after coming through some of the worst years of his life. For ten years, he had been challenged in political and religious battles, faced trials and even escaped a death sentence after the writing he published that sparked the Reformation. He also dealt with depression and variety of illnesses.
In 1527, the plague broke out in his city and his own home was made into a hospital for the sick and dying. During this time he penned these words that he later expanded into the song: A Mighty Fortress is Our God:
“The only comfort against raging Satan is that we have God’s Word to save the souls of believers.”
In a moment we are going to conclude this morning’s message with this song…But before doing so I want to do a quick review of where we have been the past four Sundays.
A Quick Review:
Key#1 – Pray first and lean into that prayer, trusting God will answer…King Jehoshaphat and the three enemies that Judah faced…because they prayed and trusted God’s plan they never had to raise a weapon.
Key #2 – Take a step, trusting God to lead your way…Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt and crossing the Red Sea…God took them a roundabout way, but it was part of His plan to save them. Once again, they didn’t have to raise a weapon against this enemy, the Egyptian Army. They just had to take a step into the Red Sea and trust the Lord.
Key #3 – Know Jesus is by your side and has all power and authority…Jesus and his disciples in the boat during a raging storm…Jesus slept in the back of the boat while the disciples bailed water, fearful for their lives. But Jesus calmed the storm and their fears, reminding them that He is always in the boat with his followers.
Key #4 – Be still and know that he is God, finding strength in stillness.
As we have traveled down this road of exploring why we have a God we can trust in all things, it seems only fitting that we conclude this series with Martin Luther’s 1527 classic. As we sing these words, truly mean them with all your heart. My hope and prayer in 2021 for each one of us is that we believe with all that we are that…
A Mighty Fortress is Our God…