River Hills Community Church 3/15/2020


Hello church It’s a pleasure to be with you Even though we are not physically together We are still together in Spirit and in Mind and together in Christ It is a joy and a blessing really to utilize this technology to meet together In light of the current circumstances globally, nationally, and locally with the coronavirus We, as elders, met today, Today’s Saturday, the elders met for about 3 hours to discuss how to shepherd our flock we looked at current data, we prayed This is a way, at least, for the immediate time being of how we can try to guard the flock in their physical safety while also guarding and feeding you spiritually from the Word of God And so, for now, this is what we’ll do So I am going to just break away from 1 Peter We’ve been in 1 Peter for a while and we will return to 1 Peter next Sunday but for today, I felt Pastorally burdened in light of the attention that the coronavirus is receiving even though we as leaders are not panicking We are not fearful. I felt that it would be prudent pastorally, to take you to Psalm 46 and just address from the Word of God How do we think? How do we feel? in perilous times so, I’m going to give you a few things to think about just some things if I was sitting there with you in your living room over a cup of coffee and we were just talking how would I want to pastor you and shepherd you in these days I wrote down 4 things that I would want to shepherd and encourage you with then we’ll get into Psalm 46 and take some thoughts away from that and worship in the word together then we’ll be done for today. The 4 things that came to mind that I would want to impress upon you 1: God is Sovereign over solar systems as well as microscopic viruses Nothing is outside of His control and nothing surprises Him Psalm 115:3 says, “Our God is in the heavens He does all that He pleases.” that is not just a lofty, theological truth that lives up here in the realm of the ethereal that is a real, Biblical, practical reality that our God is indeed Sovereign over everything including: atoms, viruses, and bacteria so we ground ourself in that truth the 2nd thing I want to impress on you and stir you up, by way of reminder although we don’t delight in pain we have a sturdy hope in Christ that nothing in this life no suffering, no disease, no virus, no death nothing will diminish the joy of the life to come Paul says in Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time.” Sufferings in this life because of the fall, because of sin take on many different shapes and forms but he says, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” The third thing that I would just want to impress upon you is that we are to be thankful for modern medicine we are to be thankful for good local, and national leadership and many, many other common graces that God has given us Yes! and Amen, however Our ultimate trust is in Christ alone Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord Our God.” and the final thing, pastorally that I would want to impress on you at this time is this: Time’s like these and there have been time’s like this in the past and there will be times like this going forward until the return of Christ. But in times like these… very often, our unsaved friends, and our unsaved loved ones become more receptive to discussing eternal matters I think of the Cholera outbreak in London in the mid-1850s and how Spurgeon noted that many were open to conversation and discourse about eternal matters, and about the Gospel and immediately I thought of Ecclesiastes 7:2 which says, “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind and the living will lay it to heart.” And with all these things in mind, if I could just sit across the table from you and just pastor, and encourage you to beloved… to just think on these things is the fact, that our God is Sovereign. and we really need to feel that and know that at a time like this We need to be thankful for all of the good things that He’s given but put our trust and our hope in Christ primarily and supremely we need to be mindful of the fact that we are not living for this life totally that this light, momentarily, affliction is working for us in eternal weight of glory and finally, I just want to encourage myself, my heart, encourage you as well to think evangelistically could this be, could this time be a unique platform, for the Gospel to be shared with our friends and our neighbors who don’t know the Lord and who’s hope is not settled in Christ and are perhaps are more fearful than they are letting on so I just want to encourage us to be intentional in that regard, and to steward this time for their Joy in Christ so on that note, let me pray for us I’d encourage you to grab your Bible if you don’t have it Let’s open up to Psalm 46 Psalm 46 I’m not going to spend a lot of time because you’re not here, I’m here in the sanctuary alone and, this is more of a devotional, I think but I do want to bring you to the Word and just share some thoughts from Psalm 46 with you, but let’s pray and then we’ll get into Psalm 46 together Father, thank you for this time thank you for this medium, that we have with technology and the ability to, if not physically be together Lord, to at least share time in Your Word together, virtually and ask, God please send Your Spirit to help us to open Your Word, to understand, to relish that any troubled heart would find peace in You Lord and any doubting heart would be settled. That we would indeed be still and know that You are God In Jesus’ name, Amen. You know, I learned in my studies that Martin Luther, the Great Reformer, when he was faced with some trouble or some peril of any kind he often would say, “Come let us sing the 46th Psalm” and I wondered to myself, what is it about Psalm 46, out of all of Scripture that would cause the Great Reformer, Martin Luther, to want to go there in times of trouble so I’m going to read Psalm 46 with you and I think very quickly, we’re going to see why perhaps that this particular Psalm came to Luther’s mind in times of peril Psalm 46 reads this way, “God is our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way. Though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea. though it’s water’s roar and foam though the mountains tremble at its swelling there is a river whose stream make glad the city of God the holy habitation of the most high God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved. God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage and the kingdoms totter. He utters His voice and the earth melts. The Lord of Host is with us the God of Jacob is our fortress come behold the works of the Lord how He has brought desolations on the earth He makes war cease to the end of the earth He breaks the bow, He shatters the spear He burns the chariots with fire. Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress. So let’s put that into a one-sentence, main idea. How would you take all of Psalm 46, and put it into one main idea if I had to do that, I would say it this way. In perilous times, we trust in our Sovereign God. Who works all things for His Glory and the joy of His people. In perilous times, we trust in our Sovereign God who works all things for His Glory and the joy of His people. So let’s examine the text together, we’re just going to walk through it together. verse 1, is a sermon in and of itself, it’s the thesis statement. God is our Refuge and Strength. and a very present help in trouble. Now immediately, if we have ears to hear, we can hear echos of the Gospel even though this was written many hundreds of years before Christ came in the flesh, if we read our Bibles backwards, we re-read it knowing, looking for Christ on every page, as Luke 24:44 tells us to do Immediately, I find encouragement for my heart in verse one because I ask myself, I know what Scripture says about sin, I know what it says about me The Wages of Sin is Death, I know that apart from atonement, apart from my sins being judicially dealt with, I know that me and God have major problems. I know what Ephesians 2 says, that I am a child of wrath I know what Romans 5 says, that I’m an enemy of God my sin has made me that way, and now I come, and say that God, that Holy God, how can He be my refuge, a place of safety? How can He be my strength? How can He be a help to me? How can He be for me? And all of it cascades forward to the Cross So immediately, we realize that our greatest problem is not a virus, our greatest problem is not economic collapse, our greatest problem is not low self-esteem. our greatest problem is the fact that we are sinners and God is Holy. and immediately in Psalm 46, we are are jolted back to the foot of the cross to get comfort to realize, no, no no God is indeed, for us and therefore, who could be against us? For He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all How will He not, with Him, graciously give us all things and so beloved, we could spend all morning on verse one but we are going to move on, but I want to anchor our thoughts there. That indeed, if we are in Christ, if we are trusting in Him, turning from our sin. the Blood of Jesus covers us by Faith alone the God before whom we once trembled, a God who is terrible in Holiness Who is frightful in His righteousness, is a far bigger problem than a virus but this says, that because of Jesus, that I can call Him my refuge and my strength, and not just a help, but a very present help. all of that resounds to the glory of Christ and all of that reminds us that our greatest problem has already been dealt with Praise be to Jesus! and he goes on, therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way, the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea and the waters roar and foam and the mountains tremble at its swelling if you want to give the idea of chaos point to a mountain, which is supposed to be permanent one of the most permanent things we can think of and show it crumbling and falling apart. It’s really calling us into question here it’s really dredging a lot of idols in our hearts. Because it feels like mountains are falling apart. Meaning, things that I thought were permanent, are tumbling, stock markets and trade deals, national security, and personal health. Things, in my mind, were mountains in my life What happens when they all fall apart, and start being overtaken by a sea of anxiety? and uncertainty? Well, for those that are trusting in Christ, and who know that their souls are secure. Even though these things happen, we will not fear. Because God is our refuge and our strength, and our very present help in trouble. He goes on in verse 4, and says there is a river. What a contrast between a raging sea, and a river with a nice, gentle, little stream. There is a river, whose streams make glad the city of God, the Holy habitation of the most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved. God will help her when morning dawns. You look at that, and you go, this must be about the age to come. That must be talking about the new heavens and the new earth. That sounds a lot like the book of Revelation, and that’s true. But, does not I Corinthians 3 tell us, that the spirit of God dwells in us? Did Peter not tell us in I Peter 2, that we are a temple of lively stones? A temple is where God’s spirit dwells, we read this and go, where is the habitation of God? In the city of God, that’s being made glad by His gentle streams and rivers. It’s the church. God dwells among His people, by the Spirit, through the Gospel, to the glory of Christ He’s here with His people, and what is this river, that comes and just makes us glad that’s flowing through this place Is it not the promises of the Gospel made lively by the Spirit of God? When the Gospel flows into our lives, and we realize that God is with us. Even though the mountains are falling apart, even though things seem kinda crazy. For those that are in Christ Jesus, We are the temple of lively stones, and the Spirit of God is here. That river that flows into us, through the Word of God, feeding us, nourishing us, all the promises that flood us. Make us glad, make us content. That is exactly where our minds should go. The biggest thing about Psalm 46 bringing comfort to us, is how prevalent the idea of God’s presence is, and how close God is to His people. He is a very present help in trouble, the habitation of God, the city of God, Look at verse 5, “God is in the midst of her.” It’s not just the promises of God, it’s God that makes us happy. The promises that God is for us, and not against us. It doesn’t matter if mountains crumble, it doesn’t matter if viruses come. It doesn’t matter if wars erupt. Our greatest problem was settled on the Cross of Jesus Christ. And He is now for us, and that makes us exceedingly glad. Even in the midst, of chaos and disorder. Look at verse 6, “the nations rage, the kingdoms totter. He utters His voice, the earth melts. The Lord of Host is with us. The God of Jacob is our fortress.” There it is again, Where do we find peace, when all of our earthly structures seem to give way? It is in the nearness, and the sweetness, of intimacy with God the Father, through the mediation of the Son, and of the power of the Holy Spirit. Verse 8, there’s an imperative here, “Come behold the works of the Lord, how He has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth, He breaks the bow, He shatters the spear, He burns the chariots with fire.” There is coming a day, when Jesus returns in power and in glory, where every war, every threat, every tear, every grave, everything will be done, and the earth will be filled with His glory. But even until that time, when I read this. There was a war and a battle in my life as a sinner, that I needed settled before that day comes. That was the war, raging against my sin, and the holiness of God. Even though the earth may give way, I won’t fear, because He has dealt with the greatest battle that we face. That is how do we settle the fact that we have sinned against a Holy God. Again, Romans 5 says, that because of the blood of Jesus we are reconciled to God. That we are no longer enemies of God, the war is over. Between us and a Holy God if we are in Jesus. So I can read this with present implications, and say, yes, Amen! My biggest problem has been settled. I am at peace with God, there is, therefore, now, no condemnation to those that are in Jesus. That can give me joy to wake up, even when mountains are crumbling and viruses are spreading, and countries are burning, and nuclear warheads are being aimed it doesn’t matter if I can wake up and say, yes, I am not under the condemnation of God’s judgment. Hallelujah, the war is over, and I’m at peace with Him. And not only that, there is a promise for the people of God, that one day, all of these wars, and all these petty skirmishes, they will be over. When Jesus comes on His white horse of victory, and rules the nations with a rod of iron. We have double hope. And finally, in light of all these things in verse 10, he says, be still. That’s the idea of stopping, giving up, relaxing, putting down your arms. Be still and know that I am God. He’s not just talking to us, He’s talking to the nations as well. God is addressing everyone, He’s saying listen, listen to me. Be Still . . . Calm Down . . . Be Quiet And know that I am God. The mountains are not God, human structure is not God, things that you think are permanent are not God, even though we act like they are gods, He says, “Be still and know that I am God.” He says, “I will be exalted, among the nations, and I will be exalted in the earth.” Not, I might be, my plan to magnify my glory might come to pass? No, no, no. The thing that we were taught to pray, Father, hallowed be your name, cause your name to be hallowed, cause your name to be glorified, that’s the heartbeat of the Christian life, is that more than personal safety, I want God to be made much of. God is assuring us that the very thing, that is your greatest joy, which is not perfect health, which is not all the money you can imagine, it’s not earthly goods, the thing that gives the regenerate heart the most joy, which is seeing God glorified, He is assuring us, and the world, that my name will be exalted. The gates of hell will not prevail. The coronavirus will not stop the Gospel. And if indeed, our greatest joy is to glorify Him, and enjoy Him, we read these words, and we say, Yes, and Amen! Nothing will stop the advance of the Gospel. No virus, no war. I will be exalted among the nations, and I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of Host is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress. So, is it any wonder, that out of all of scripture, Martin Luther would point to Psalm 46. As a source of comfort and hope, and really not just comfort and hope, a re-orienting, of priorities, and affections, and trust. In times of peril, when suffering comes, and maybe we realize, I’ve been really hoping in myself and in my health and in my sovereignty, and my ability to control my life, when all of that is shaken, what a beautiful promise, to be led to, in Psalm 46, to say, no, no, no. God, because of the work of Jesus Christ, is your refuge, and He is your strength, and He is your very present help, in the midst of trouble, even when everything is falling apart, and we are not here, beloved, for our best life now, we are not here for perfect health, ultimately, we are here to glorify God, to preach that Gospel, to exalt Jesus Christ, and to say, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, and that’s why it closes, by saying, I will be exalted, this will not stop the advance of the Gospel. So I don’t think there is any doubt why Martin Luther would go to Psalm 46, and maybe, maybe, that helps us understand, why he wrote, “A Mighty Fortress is our God.” With Psalm 46 in mind, let me just read 3 stanzas from that Hymn, as we close. A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing, our helper He amid the flood, of mortal ills prevailing, for still, our ancient foe, doth seek to work us woe, his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal, but did we, in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing, were not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing, doest ask who that may be, Christ Jesus, it is He, Lord Sabaoth, His name, from age to age the same, and He must win the battle, that word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them abideth, the spirit and the gifts are ours, through Him, who with us sideth, let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also, the body they may kill, but God’s truth abideth still, His kingdom is forever, He will be exalted among the nations, He will be exalted in the earth. Father, we thank You that You indeed are a mighty fortress, and our refuge and our strength, I pray if anybody watching this, Lord, does not know You, if their hope and their trust, is in earthly structures, and that hope is being shaken, because earthly structures are falling into the sea, God would you be pleased to draw them to Yourself, to show them, that their greatest need is not to be safe from a virus, our greatest need, all of us, is to be saved from the wrath to come, that our sin deserves. That is only done, by turning from our sin, and putting our faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, for Your people, for Your church, God remind them, remind us, where our trust should lie, and where our hope should rest, the things of earth will pass, but Your truth abides forever, and You will be exalted among the nations, so Lord, would You strengthen us, not just to survive this season, but Lord, to herald the hope of the Gospel, to herald the fact that, the very God, with whom we must deal, can become a refuge and a fortress and a very present help, because of the work of Jesus, make us strong in this truth Lord, even if our bodies fail, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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