“Be Still and Know That I Am God”
Towerpoint Resort Chapel, Mesa, AZ
Sunday, November 20, 2016
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble…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.
Any Chicago Cubs fans in this group of worshipping folk this morning? How about those Cubs after 108 years. The year after my grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from the Netherlands.
Was that at least one of the best baseball games you’ve ever seen, or what? We were hosting a Homeowners meeting and I told them it was time to conclude because I was going to watch the end of the game. The rain-delay made it possible to see all the fireworks.
One of the heroes of that 7th game was Ben Zobrist (Zorilla), who was formerly a member of the Kansas City Royals, last year’s World Series winners, and just this year Ben became one of the stars of the Cubs winning season, the Most Valuable Player of the 2016 World Series.
During the last game of the World Series, Ben Zobrist blasted the winning hit, and won the game and the World Series. He promised his pastor father he’d be “a missionary in baseball.” In an interview with Fellowship of Christian Athletes in 2013 Zobrist said: “We know that as a Christian athlete, people are watching, and so we want to be the best example that we can be. But at the same time, I want people to know that grace is for everyone. We all need grace. We all need Christ…That is the message the whole way we look at everything in our lives.”
Saint Petersburg Times writer Mark Topkin wrote how Zobrist shares his faith with his teammates, saying that he “doesn’t judge or proselytize, refraining from forcing his beliefs on anyone, though willing to get involved if asked.”
It’s been a time of dramatic transition for our country, for the world, and it is Thanksgiving this week, with Advent and Christmas to follow soon. It is a time for us to consider together and to reflect personally on what has become one of the most favorite Psalms, or songs in the Bible. Martin Luther himself wrote a familiar hymn based on this familiar psalm, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.
The psalm ends with the words: 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.
Eugene Peterson’s translation in The Message: “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”
To me, and hopefully to you as well, these are indeed encouraging words for us at this time.
In these perilous days between Presidents and amidst countless other changes: political, economic, international, social, and other, we need to hear and apply the words of this great song to our lives. Concern and caution are in our thoughts, but for those who abide in the words of this text, this hymn, this great song, trust can and will prevail for us and for our nation!
One of the first sermons I ever preached when I was a student at Columbia Theological Seminary, was the week after the assassination of President Kennedy. After the church service I went to my hotel room, turned on the TV and watched Jack Ruby shoot and kill Kennedy’s assassin. Later, in my first church as pastor I preached on the Sunday following the assassination of Martin Luther King. There have been countless times in my life and ministry when I, and hopefully the congregations I addressed were encouraged by the Word of God such as we find it this morning in this moving and assuring Psalm/song.
In an inspiring sermon on this passage the Rev. Alex Evans, Pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church of Richmond, Virginia, says: “We can trust life to God’s saving care. In the face of dangers and uncertainties, unknown issues and perplexing problems, God is our refuge and strength. We still have fears. We can be filled up with concerns that haunt us. Life can become very difficult. We live in an unstable world – the Psalm even says that. The earth can change – we know about mudslides and tornados. We know the mountains shake. Waters roar and foam. All this is in the psalm. Moreover the psalm speaks of nations in an uproar…”
It’s really getting pretty scary out there. We’re pretty comfortable here in sunny Arizona, with nice people in a safe community, but, as someone has said: “It’s a jungle out there.”
And the fact of the matter is that even in this relatively safe environment we all struggle with health and aging issues and worry about our families, our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren.
These are comforting words for us this morning:
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.
Doesn’t that comfort your heart? Can you believe that some person like you and me looked up into the starry sky one night, or into the cloudless sky one day and heard God speak these comforting words to their heart? Imagine that!
And then, as if that were not enough, much later God becomes one of us and walks right into our fallen world in the person of Jesus Christ, so that our hearts could be comforted not only with the Word, but also in the person of Jesus who laid down His life for us and for our salvation. He paid the ultimate price to die in our place that we might experience eternal life with Him!
The Lord Almighty is with us.
Do you hear that this morning? Is there any other word that can begin to even come close to the unfathomable, comforting words that God is with us? And, if God is with us than who can be against us? So Paul: What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Where in your life do you need to apply this redeeming message of hope? In what part of your fears and dismay does this Word from the Lord become for you the balm of Gilead, that heals the sin sick soul?
According to scholars the Hebrew word which we translate “be still” means literally to “let go.” In Alcohol Anonymous people learn to “Let Go and Let God.” You’ve seen that on a bumper sticker, I’m sure.
Last week a young woman approached me after the service for counsel, saying she was addicted and was going to overcome it. I told her it would not work, that she could not do it by herself, that she needed the kind of help AA offers where the first thing they teach is that they are powerless to overcome their weakness, and learn to trust in a “higher power,” in our context, Jesus Christ, who can help us through His Spirit to overcome our weaknesses.
Be still, and know that I am God. We can be still because we know that God is in control. God is our refuge and strength.
What part of your life needs to be addressed by this word from the Lord this morning? Where do you need to be still, to let go, to release your burden to the God who made you, redeems you, and shall someday take you to be with himself?
In a new book entitled The Good Funeral , author Tom Long reminds us that “there is a Savior who loves us, holds us, greets us always…All of us live and all of us die, and still nothing can separate us from God’s love in all times and places. Alleluia. Amen.”
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations…the Lord Almighty is with us.
And all God’s people said: Amen
Benediction: Micah 6:8
And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen