Friday, July 15, 2011

July 16, 2011

"He says, 'Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.'"  Psalm 46:10
If problems were hundred dollar bills we'd all be millionaires, right? Our nation could use more millionaires with the financial problems it faces.  We have debt-ceiling problems and the people who are supposed to solve them have problems getting along and are afraid of creating political problems if they don't solve the problem in the right way.

Have you had a problem this week? Has the whole week been a problem? Has your problem been the least of your problems?

You and I were born into a world of problems. When we were growing up our parents had problems. When we got old enough to go to school the math teacher gave us problems. As we went out on our own we inherited our own problems and tried not to create additional ones. We go to work and find problems. We come home and find problems. We turn on the news and here about all the problems in DC and all over the world. We go to church on Sunday and find out it has problems. There is only one place we know about that has no problems but the only problem is we have to die to get there!
David, the Psalmist, was familiar with problems. When he was a shepherd he had lion and bear problems but God helped him solve them. As a teen-ager he had a giant problem and God helped him bring down Goliath. As a young adult he has king-sized problems as the jealous King Saul was chasing him.
Having been faced with real problems he had to learn some real solutions - and he did! In Psalm 46 he shares his three step approach to dealing with problems:
Be Still, Vv. 1-3

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
When you are hurting and under pressure you really need to be extra careful what you say! You don't want to allow your pain or your frustration speak for you. That never turns out well and the last thing you need in troubled times is more trouble from self-inflicted wounds or wounding others.
Like your mother told you hundreds of times, "If you can't say something nice don't say anything at all!" Good advice!
Be Strong, Vv. 4-7
"There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at the break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts."
Don't speak out in anger or frustration or pain, but be still and know Who God is! It is far better to be silent in faith than to speak out in frustration!
What David is urging here is for you to be the strong silent type! If you know Who God is then act like it! Don't panic but praise!
Know that God is stronger than your troubles and you can draw from His strengths while you struggle with trouble. Know that His faithfulness and His strength and His grace and His goodness are more real than the troubles you are facing at any given moment.
Be Sure, Vv. 8-11
"Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolation he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, ‘Be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” 

When trouble comes it helps if you are sure just Who your God is! The Psalms mentions a couple of ways you can be sure:

     Behold, Vv. 8-9

This Psalm was written shortly after God defeated 185,000 of the mighty Assyrians as they threatened the City of God. He sent one angel to destroy the fierce enemy and all those in Jerusalem know about it. They had beheld the power of their God! He is a God Who surely can deliver you in times of trouble!

     Believe, Vv. 10-11

a. Believe in God's Person - "Be still and know that I am God"

The Psalmist uses God's favorite name for Himself - "I AM"! It was the "I AM" Who delivered the Jews out of Egypt by the plagues. It was the "I AM" Who led them through the Red Sea and destroyed the Army of Egypt. It was the "I AM" Who spoke the commandments to Moses on the sacred mount.

b. Believe in God's Plan - "I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth."

God's plan is to glorify Himself in everything that troubles His people. He allows trouble to come with His permission and when His purpose is fulfilled in His power He will deliver them - just like He did with the Assyrians. All the world heard of them and all the world trembled!

c. Believe in God's Presence - "The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge."

"The Lord of hosts" refers to God's authority over the angels. God is an omnipresent God and wherever He is all of His angels are there as well!

Your God is a God of refuge in your time of trouble. You can retreat to Him and hide in Him and be safe untile you are delivered from your enemy!

In closing, consider this. Who says when trouble has come? What do we mean by trouble? The word used in the original language means to "be in a tight spot". But think about it. If God has put you in this tight spot it might actually be the right spot for you and what you call trouble - He might call a test!

You need to be okay with that! (See I Corinthians 10:13 and Romans 8:28).

July 15, 2011

"There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts."   Psalm 46:4-6

When trouble comes your way, there is a refuge!

Also, when trouble comes there is a river!

What is the significance of that?

Rivers are life-giving bodies of water. They supply a steady and reliable source of water. Most great cities of the wold are situated near a river because of the fresh water supply the  river provides. Also the river provides recreational opportunities for boating, sailing, fishing and swimming. Rivers provide navigation and transportation to allow life-sustaining supplies to be delivered and items to be sent out in trade. The great rivers like the Potomac or the Mississippi or the Nile or the Amazon support and sustain great cities along its banks. In the Bible we are told that when God created Eden, the first paradise, He put a river in the midst of it. We know that there is a crystal river flowing in the midst of the New Jerusalem in Heaven.

Rivers are important! In times of trouble a river can provide a calming influence. Sitting on the banks of a river and watching the boats and barges drift by can be a very calming experience. Wading in the river or going for a swim in the river can be quite calming. It is a good place to retreat when troubles plague you.

While all these benefits are true of an actual river, there is also a spiritual symbolism here. Many have opined that the reference to a river here represents the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. I like that!

Get your mind and spirit around the thought that in troubled times you can flee to God the Refuge and to God the River. Or, take refuge in the Father and find comfort in the Holy Spirit!

Is God is your "Refuge" and He is also your River. Will you flee to Him? Will you hide in Him? Will you rest in your Refuge?