Sermon Titled “Rock Of Refuge” (Psalm 46:1-11) – Sunday 3rd August, 2014
- Psalm 46:1-11 vs.1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble…………vs. 7 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress…….vs. 10 and 11 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.
Right off the bat, we see in the verses above that God is our refuge, our strength, and our fortress. Why would He tell us these things if life as a Christian was supposed to be easy? Because it’s not! The gospel does not promise a life of prosperity, but it does promise us hope and peace in the troubled world that we live in. The key however, is to understand that there is no room for blame and guilt.
When bad things happen to good people, it’s tempting to assume that God is not the all-wise, all-loving, and all-powerful being that the bible portrays Him to be. Faith wavers as some Christians wonder why God allows even His own children to fall into harm’s way or into difficult circumstances. They reason that it must be because their parents or someone else made bad choices and messed things up for them. Or they feel a false sense of conviction and convince themselves that they must have done something to provoke God’s anger towards them.
The truth though, is that all suffering comes from sin “in general,” not from sin “in particular.” Christ already paid the price for our sins when He sent His son to die on the cross for us. So although there is no more punishment, we are expected to make a choice between God and the world, and if we choose the world then we relinquish all rights to God’s protection. That’s not to say that those who choose God are protected from events that cause suffering, but they are protected from giving in to urges of self-pity and defeat. As Dr. David Jeremiah says, “Always remember that what life does to us depends upon what life finds within us.”
Stop and consider for a moment what God’s word says about the trials we face. Romans 8:28 says for example, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Satan may throw all kinds of obstacles at us, but God will always find a way to use our crises to His advantage and for our good. Remember too, that it’s the trials in life that develop our strength and character, and humble us in such a way that we learn to have more compassion when we recognize others who are hurting or in need.
So we see that God may not save us from the fire, but He can save us through the fire. He shows us a way to keep living in the midst of suffering, a way that also glorifies Him because those around us witness an obvious display of faith. In Isaiah 7:9, we are told to “stand firm” in our faith or we will not stand at all. The Old and New Testaments both tell amazing stories of faith, and things are no different for us today. It is by faith that God enables us to persevere through the toughest of times.
But beyond being able to persevere, perhaps one of the key reasons God challenges us to keep our faith during difficult times, is because He knows that the greatest test of all is yet to come and that only the strong and faithful will prevail. Revelations gives a clear warning of what’s to come, along with an equally clear message that only those who responded to Christ’s invitation will be saved from eternal damnation. Sounds harsh, I know. Maybe even silly, or foolish. But if God’s word is true, then the reality is that there will only be hope for those whose names are found written in the Book of Life.
To illustrate this point further, let me leave you with a true story that you may have read before in Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven. Randy tells about professional singer Dr. Ruthanna Metzgar, who because of her impressive repertoire was invited to sing at the wedding of a very wealthy man. The wedding, held on the top two floors of the tallest skyscraper in Seattle, was beyond impressive.
After the wedding, the bride and groom made their way to a beautiful glass and brass staircase that led to the top floor, where the reception was to be held. After cutting a satin banner that symbolically barred the entrance to the staircase, the couple proceeded upwards and invited their guests to follow. Ruthanna and her husband Roy were excited at the prospect of taking part in what promised to be one of the most extravagant dinner receptions they had ever had the honor of being invited to.
What happened next was both unexpected and humiliating. As Ruthanna and Roy approached the maitre’d at the top of the stairs, they were asked for their name. Ruthanna gave their last name, and even spelled it out, but the maitre’d was unable to find it in the guest book. Thinking there must be some mistake, Ruthanna quickly explained that she was the wedding singer. The maitre’d however, did not budge. Instead, he ushered a waiter towards them and had the waiter quietly escort Ruthanna and her husband to the service elevator.
On the drive home, Roy lovingly asked his wife if she knew what might have happened. Ruthanna, in tears by this time, nodded her head. “When the invitation arrived, I was busy,” Ruthanna replied. “I never bothered to RSVP. Besides, I was the singer. Surely I could go to the reception without returning the RSVP!”
And so it will be when the time comes to enter the kingdom of heaven. We will either be welcomed in, because our names are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life, or left standing outside with a worse fate awaiting. Don’t leave it to chance, or get so busy that you miss the opportunity to respond to Christ’s invitation – He’s waiting for you right now, and He accepts you as you are.