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Psalm 46 - Closed Captioned Sermon

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Grace and Mercy and Peace are all yours, through the Word of God, that comes from the mouth of His Holy Spirit, Amen. Please pray with me... Lord Jesus, you are my Righteousness, and I am your Sin. You became what you were not, to make me what I was not. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable in your site, oh rock, Our Redeemer, Amen. Brothers and sisters in Jesus... In the summer of 1527, Martin Luther, found himself in much the same place that he had found himself ten years earlier - before there had been any "Thesis", before there had been any trial in front of the most powerful man in Europe, and the most powerful man in the Church... before people had used his writings as an excuse for war in which thousands died - he found himself then, and in 1527, very much... alone. Alone, with his conscience. Alone, with his struggle... against God. He battled illness - kidney stones and other things that are related to it - And if he had been around today he most certainly would have been diagnosed as suffering from a very very SEVERE depression. He was still that, that as they say, "That monk who found himself in a spiritual funk. " He... found himself alone, depressed, with his conscience, in his own little world where God was very very angry. He'd struggled in his soul throughout his life, not just with Satan but with God. And he couldn't shake the feeling knowing very well that God had died. Knowing very well that Jesus Christ had paid for sins, but there was this nagging voice that it wasn't for HIS sins. He had this sense that God died for maybe everybody else in the world, but not for him. He'd never find a solution to that problem, at least not within himself. Only on the pages of his Bible would he find Jesus Christ... where EVERY Christian encounters Jesus Christ. And it seems that that summer of 1527 there was at least one verse of Psalm 46 that sort of brought him back to his spiritual senses for the time being. And it did it so well that he put it into song. And that song, we know well; it's called, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. " So let's meditate upon this Psalm today and then we'll sing it together later. It actually starts off with some directions. It says, "For the director of music, Of the sons of Korah, According to the alamoth. A Song. " hmm. Whoever wrote this Psalm at the direction of the Holy Spirit wrote it with a very specific person, and a very specific purpose in mind. He wrote it for a choir director. A choir director of the NATIONAL choir at the NATIONAL church of Israel. And, there's a mystery word in here too, - "according to the alamoth" - it seems that he wrote it with very specific musical directions in mind too. "Alamoth" seems to mean, some say very high pitched voices, Soprano's maybe? Or, maybe with high-pitched instruments. We don't know. And then there's another mystery word in here too... The other mystery word that we'll come across in this Psalm we come across three times and it's the word, "Selah"! Yeah! The town where many of you live! It's used 70 times in the Psalms and we have no idea what it means. There are about six different pretty good guesses and the best one seems to be "Stop singing and listen to the music", so, it's sort of a marker for an interlude. And as they sing though, as WE sing, this is what we say... "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. " If you lived in Washington in April of 1980, I would suspect that you have a very GREAT appreciation for these words. When Mt. St. Helens errupted in 1980, in May, it really did not come as a HUGE surprise to everyone that it happened. Only when. Everyone knew that the erruption was on the way: For months there had been signs - There was steam coming out of the top big bulges on the mountain and there were two HUGE bulges, one, on top of the mountain that collapsed before the erruption and then another one kind of on the side, "Goat Rocks" where the mountain blew out to the north. Like God says, It's going to happen - Mountains will shake, and they will bulge. The energy released during the blast was equal to 440,000,000 tons of TNT. Like the bomb that had been dropped on Hiroshima - 30,000 times. It displaced 3.3 billion cubic yards of rubble, including 1,300 feet right off the top. And the 930 degree Celcius blast melted entire glaciers in seconds. Like God says, "The earth gives way. " The blast blew an entire lake out of the water, filled the hole with debris, and when the water came back down the bottom of the lake is now higher than the surface used to be. Like God says, "Mountains will be thrown into the heart of the sea. " When hiking up the mountain two months ago I tried to imagine what it would have been like for that brief second before it was blown away to have been on that mountain when it happened. And the only thing that really came to mind were those pictures that you saw on TV - - the footage that you saw - on 9-11 of New York City when those giant, ferocious clouds of ash and debris forced their way down city streets and no one could stop them - only hundreds of times bigger, thicker, hotter, and faster. Do you think you would have been frightened? WERE you frightened even though it happened over a hundred miles away? When you think about that, isn't it impossible to think that God would say to you, "Don't fear" if that happens? Really? Really, don't be afraid? Does that mean that when danger comes our way that we'll never be bothered? Hardly. To help us understand what the Psalms mean, maybe it's helpful to draw a line between fright, and fear: Fright is a sudden alarm that we have built into us, by God, that we react on in a first sign of danger. The Lord has made us with adrenaline glands and triggers in our brain that's sometimes called "the fight or flight response". It helps keep us protected. It's part of what God's given us to keep our bodies and our lives safe when something dangerous happens to us. But that's fright. We're not talking here about fright, we're talking about fear. We're talking about an ONGOING alarm caused by something that frightens. We're talking about a decision YOU MAKE to worry, in spite of the fact that you know God is almighty. In spite of the fact you know that God says He is near you. In spite of the fact that God says He loves you. There's always this nagging voice inside of us and it comes into our worried mind when we give way to the sin of worry, that says, "Maybe He's not quite as powerful as some think. " Or maybe it's just the foe that whispers in your ear - "God is almighty, yeah, but do you really think YOU matter to Him? Sure, He CAN help you, but what reason have you ever given Him to? Have you ever thought something like that? Some natural disaster hits and you can't wonder what the world would be like without sin. Or maybe some personal disaster strikes, and you can't help thinking, "God is punishing me for something. " You can't help but start fretting. You can't figure out how the problem will end, and you give way - not to fright - but to fear. God says, "Stop it. " God says, "Remain calm. " Put your fear to prayer. He is an easily accessible God. That's what the psalmist meant when he said, "He's an ever-present help in trouble. " He is always near and only a prayer away, from you putting your trust in Him. You can stand on top of Mount St. Helens when it errupts and not one single speck of ash will TOUCH you unless He says so. That's how powerful your God is, and He says He is an ever-present help in trouble... He is WAITING to help you. And He knows your fears and He knows how to help. Here's how the Bible says it: "You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave to fear. But you received a spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry; Abba, Father!" You need not fear, God's Word says. "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 and the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us. The God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah. " There is only one city like this that is ever described in the Bible. And it's not Jerusalem - there is no such river that flows year-'round as the one described here in that city. No, this city has a river that flows year-'round without a ripple of trouble in it. It's the perfect place and picture of peace. This is a city whose inhabitants are perfectly protected and at peace, even as the world around them is blowing up. This is the city where God is throughout history in Bible times, and today. Here's how He describes it... "The angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and from the Lamb down the middle of the Great City. " The "city" is God's Church. Not a particular "church building", but the Holy Christian Church. Wherever people HEAR God's Word, and believe in Him, we're given peace, no matter how much the world around us is blowing up. This is a picture of God's Church... God's City at peace, ESPECIALLY the peace that we're waiting for in heaven. Wherever you have the Good News of Jesus preached, you have people at peace. And all his life... all his life, Martin Luther had not been able to figure out how things would ever be right with a God who is so angry. I believe he tried harder than any of us to make that happen. He gave up a career as a lawyer and went into the ministry. He confessed his sins each day, one time for six hours straight until the priest just told him to leave and come back when he had some REAL sins to confess. He earned his doctorate and a position of professor at a university by the age of 30. He prayed, and he recited the book of Psalms straight through every fifteen days. And he prepared the next generation of God's church workers - - working harder than anyone at his job - and still he couldn't shake the feeling that it just wasn't enough. God was still angry. Until one day, it clicked. And it didn't take some near-death experience. Nor did it take some high point in a religious ceremony. Not even on trial in front of the world is where it happened. No, it happened as he was going about his everyday work... in his office, a study in a tower at the monastery where he was teaching, taking notes, getting ready for his next class... it was him. Just alone with his conscience and his Bible. God revealed it to him in His Word: Jesus took your sin for His, and gives you His life. It's just that simple. Jesus took your sin and died, and died HORRIBLY as you deserve. Instead of what you should expect, you get His wonderful life - the hope of life in heaven that is guaranteed you through Faith in Him. And not only that, but a reason not to fear anything in this life. A man can never make things right with God, but God can make things right with Him, and He did through Jesus Christ. Here's what Martin Luther said "when it clicked", he said, "Here I felt I was altogether born again, and had entered Paradise itself through open gates. " In the heart of a man alone with his conscience and his Bible, QUIETLY going about his daily tasks with the Psalms on his mind. That's where the Reformation began. And although the history books say that the Reformation ended in Europe hundreds of years ago, I pray that it still goes on today in your hearts. I pray it never ends. When Martin Luther went to work after that day in the study room, things in his world began to change. The Church split over the truth he told. Wars started and were blamed on him. He was personally threatened and put on trial by the ruler of the Western World and the Church, and kidnapped by his friends because his enemies would have done much worse. And yet in all of that he found peace. Peace that in fact all WAS right with God: Peace in the Word of God that flows with the good news that not only did Jesus Christ die and die horribly for you, but rose to give you a wonderful life, if not here, certainly in heaven. And no matter what your troubles here they are going to end someday. And with you waking up in the City of God. "Come and see the works of the Lord; the desolations he has brought to the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth, He breaks the bow and shatters the spear. He burns the shields with fire. Be still, and know that I am God! I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth and the Lord Almighty is with us. The God of Jacob is our fortress. " When my wife Niki was teaching pre-school in Michigan, there was one particular boy who was very good at concentrating on playtime. He found Matchbox cars, and little buildings, and blocks, and he built this entire city complete with all of the streets that went the right way, and no matter what the other kids were doing there he was - taking the cars and zooming them around and having the people walk next to each other and talk. Until one day, with one "whoooooosh" of a back-hand, and a little kick to get rid of what he missed, another boy came along and knocked it all down. And this is what Niki heard from the other side of the room: "Teacher! Nathan just wrecked my world!" Thousands of years ago, the king by the name of Hezekiah was about to have his world wrecked as well... The city: A military commander by the name of Sennacherib - cut Hezakiah's kingdom to pieces. He built statues to commemorate his victories, he wrote a letter to Hezekiah taunting him, offering, "I'll tell you what, I'll supply you with horses and chariots just so that we have a fair fight. " Hezekiah was trapped. And so he prayed and God made a promise. A promise that not only would save Hezekiah's life but yours as well because it kept the line of our savior Jesus intact. It preserved God's people through whom He promised that savior. And the next morning, Hezekiah and his people woke up and found 180,000 of the city's enemies had fallen asleep permanently outside the city walls. God has protected His people to preserve the line of His savior. And as Sennacherib learned, and many others did, God is a fortress for His people. So let me ask you... Does it really matter how big your disaster is? Whether your entire city is being threatened or your country is being threatened by 180,000 soldiers, or if it's just one little kid that wants to wreck your world, one person that wants to wreck your world by saying something that gets under your skin, by causing you trouble. Does it really matter, the size of the disaster that awaits you? Not really, because God is a mighty fortress that is bigger and stronger than any of them. No matter what comes your way, no matter what tempts you to fear, God is with you. Granted, if things are not right with God, they will not be in any other way. But things are right with God. Everything is right with Him through the blood of Jesus. You have been aquitted for your sins in His court! And this world with it's tiny tragedies and it's titanic disasters is going to end. And unless you love the world, that's a great thing!... because there's a better world coming for you. And you get to live in the City of God. So enjoy. Enjoy the peace that you have in your heart because of Jesus. Enjoy living in God's City. Love it, that you call yourself Lutheran, you call yourself "Church Lutheran" because it means you won't settle when you hear the sentiment, "As long as you're basically Christian that's all that matters, right?" No! Love it... Because a love for His Word means that you won't settle for anything false, or anything left out because the Word of God is where YOU HEAR that message that makes peace flow to your heart. Look forward to the peace you'll enjoy in heaven. Pray in your hearts, speak when you can, work in your church, to keep this message of peace going. Continue to let the Reformation live on in your hearts by believing in God's Good News of peace. "The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress. " Amen.

Video Details

Duration: 21 minutes and 55 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church
Director: John Shoosmith
Views: 192
Posted by: redeemeryakima on Apr 23, 2009

A sermon delivered by Pastor Timothy Schwartz (WELS) at Redeemer Ev. Lutheran Church in Yakima, Washington. This and other media are also closed captioned on our website in English and Spanish : www.redeemeryakima.org .

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