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About this series
Finding God When You Need Him Most
In Finding God When You Need Him Most, Chip Ingram reveals how you can meet God in the midst of your most difficult moments. Through Chip's teaching from some of the most comforting and encouraging Psalms, you will move from "knowing about God" to profoundly experiencing His presence and power in your life. Whether you're struggling with a rocky relationship, an unexpected crisis, depression, or injustice, this series will remind you that the Lord is faithful to hear your heart's cry and will be there for you, time and again.More from this series
I have written in my Bible a little note next to Psalm 46. It’s in green ink and it says, “Duke Medical Center – 2/19/92.” And then in parentheses I have, “Mom is dying.”
And then highlighted in a green highlighter pen it says, “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 the waters roar and foam, and the mountains quake with their surging.”
That was 1992 and I was at the Brown Shoe Inn with all my family, my mom went in for just a very normal checkup. She had battled a very rare blood disease in the lupus family. She took only an overnight bag. It was just for some additional tests and she never left.
I got a call, she got a systemic infection in her blood and we did what families do. Before long, they were talking about amputating huge body parts to save her life. She was on life support. And we stayed in a little room, like many of you have been in, next to the ICU, where you discuss and try and figure out: when do you pull the plug and why?
And then, you begin to deal with issues in your heart and in your life, internally, that you’ve never thought about until then. Especially when it happens to be a real key family member. My mom was the glue of our family. She held everything together.
And then as you sit there in quietness with brothers and sisters and some relatives and father, you deal with family issues you’ve never dealt with in all the years that you’ve been there.
And I needed God, up to that point in my life, more than I ever needed Him. And I experienced more of God in 1992, up to that point, than I’ve ever experienced.
I learned that God is my refuge, that God would be my internal strength giving me moment by moment whatever I needed to go through, facing inward issues and external issues, and that He was available. He was a very, very present help in my time of trouble. Therefore, I didn’t have to be afraid. What I experienced is what God desires all of His children to experience in various times of need.
And we’re going to look at Psalm 46 because I think if there’s a classic portion of Scripture about how to overcome fear when we’re paralyzed and overwhelmed by fear, I think it’s Psalm 46. But this will be the first of eight that we’re going to look at.
And what I long to do, and the reason I’ve chosen this is I believe we’re living in a day where there is incredible need. We’re living in times of amazing uncertainty, sometimes we get so busy day to day, you forget what’s going on.
There are issues in the Middle East that could break any moment. We’re seeing things line up with Europe moving in situations and their economy. We’ve watched the stock market, we don’t even think about it when it drops and goes up a hundred points in a day.
Despite all the different things you may hear, there’s going to be some real problems somewhere over what is going to happen and how it’s going to work out. We are living in uncertain times.
And not only that, we live in uncertain times when I believe the view of God among believers, let alone unbelievers, has fallen to an all-time low.
So, when we really have trouble, when we really have a need, we run to God, but we don’t even know what He’s like. And we not only do we not know what He’s like, we don’t know how to experience Him. We’re living in a world of almost biblical illiteracy.
People don’t know where to go in the Scripture and once they get there, how do you experience God? He wants to meet you. You hear He wants to love you. He wants to uphold you. But you know what? That doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
And so my dream, when we get done with this series, is that you will know, when fear begins to grip your heart, you can open your Bible to Psalm 46, and you can drive a stake and you can go through Psalm 46 and you’ll know, that truth, God will meet you.
Now, you have fears and I have fear. What do we mean by fear? Webster says, “Fear, literally, is sudden attack. It’s a feeling of anxiety and agitation caused by the presence or nearness of danger, evil, or pain. It’s to be frightened, timid, apprehension, terror, or dread.” It’s to have those feelings.
Now, for some of you, you’re concerned about your loved ones, for others of you that feeling of fear comes when you think about the future, for some you have fears concerning your marriage, for others you have fears because you’re not married.
Some have fears of being alone, some have fears of the dark, some of you struggle with panic attacks and no one knows it. You lose your breath. Some of you hate crowds and overwhelmed by fear. Some of you are just fearful of loneliness and when everyone leaves you turn things on all over the house.
Others of you have financial fears, job fears, you have fears about aging parents, you’ve got fears about your kids and how they’re going to turn out and who they’re running around with.
You have fears about retirement and how you’ll ever pay the bills. You have fears about where you’re going to live and if you can keep affording what you’re doing.
But there’s one fear, I think, that’s universal. When you hear the word, when you go to the doctor and you hear this one word, fear strikes your heart. Because it happens to six and eight-year-olds and it happens to sixty-eight-year-olds. And that word is, “cancer.”
A family that I have known well and a young man that I was very close to had medical problems, had a lot of ups and downs. And they could never figure out what was going on. They did the GI test and the whole battery of tests. They could never quite figure it out. And I remember vividly the day when they found out what was wrong. And they let him know he had cancer.
What do you say to a mom and dad, let alone a twenty-two-year-old boy who just found out he has cancer? And at this point, obviously, they don’t know exactly what kind, they don’t know the implications, “Is this one of those low-grade kind? Is this a life-threatening kind?” You know, all those were unknowns.
But imagine yourself in a hospital room with all the dreams you have of your son and your family and all your schedule comes to a screeching halt. And my job was to be their pastor.
And so, I drove and I prayed, and I said, “Lord, what do I say? I don’t have any resources that can help them but I know You do. What could You give me that I could give to them so they could experience God?”
And I walked in the room and we had a little chit-chat and then I sat on the edge of the bed and I opened up my Bible to Psalm 46.
Well, why don’t you just listen to it first and then I’ll give you an overview of it. Imagine yourself in your time of great, great fear and listen to what God would say to you.
It says, “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. 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 an uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts His voice, and the earth melts.”
And then the refrain, “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come, and see the works of the Lord, the desolations He has brought on the earth. He makes wars to cease to the ends of the earth; He breaks the bow, he shatters the spear, He burns the shields with fire. Be still, be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
And then the refrain again, “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
As we look at this Psalm, I want to give you a little overview. At the top, notice it says, “A song of hope and confidence.” See, every Psalm was actually, it was a song. This is the hymnal of the Old Testament. When they got together and they did worship, they didn’t do choruses, or they didn’t have eighteenth century hymns because it wasn’t the eighteenth century.
They sang out of the book of Psalms. And this is a song of deliverance and confidence for life’s darkest era.
And there are a few musical cues that let you know where the stanzas are. Notice the little word on the right at the edge of each stanza: Selah. And the word “Selah” means, it’s a musical term but it means a pause and it means a point of quiet reflection. And so that tells you where the first stanza, pause; second stanza, pause; third stanza, pause.
Martin Luther made this famous. In fact, as you read commentaries most of them will have either the entire story or in one commentary it says, the old hymn, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, was taken from this Psalm when Martin Luther’s life was on the line. As he, in his time of fear, went to Psalm 46.
What I want to do is read each section and then I want to give you a lesson from it and develop the text so that when we leave, you will understand it and you will know how to experience God in your time when fear paralyzes you.
The first three verses talk about God, our source of hope. Now, follow along if you have a teaching handout, why don’t you go ahead and pull that out.
It says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.” That’s who He is. Now, notice the “therefore.” Since that’s true, “Therefore we will not fear,” and now get this. He takes the two most indestructible, stable things that He can think of, and by way of hyperbole, He says, “If all the pillars in your life, of all the things that we know we can count on, even if they are removed, it doesn’t matter because God is consistent.”
“Therefore though the earth give way and the mountains would fall into the heart of the sea; and though its waters roar and foam, and the mountains quake with their surging,” what’s He saying? God and God alone is your only security. That’s the theme. God is our source.
Here’s the life lesson. The life lesson is we don’t have to be afraid because God is for us. In verses 1, 7, and 11 there is an interesting, little phrase. The literal translation, if you have a pen you might mark out when it says, “God is our refuge.”
A literal rendering is, “God is for us, a refuge.” And then it’s, “God is for us, a strength.” See, you do not have to be afraid because God is for you. He is not against you. He is not waiting for you to mess up.
When you’re in trouble and you realize eighty percent of the trouble you brought on yourself, God doesn’t have His arms crossed and smiling saying, “See? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.” That’s a childhood picture but it’s not a biblical one.
God is for you. He wants to meet you. Now, what exactly is He for you? Three things out of these first, three verses. First for you, He is a refuge. A refuge is a defensive place of protection. It takes care of the external issues. A refuge is where you can run to and once you get inside, you can shut the door, ahhh, and you’re okay.
God says He is for you. He will be a refuge. Not a big, steel building. Not some tunnel underground that has rocks all around it and food storage, but bigger than that! The God of the universe says, “I, personally, will be your refuge. You can come in to Me, and I will wrap My arms around you and I won’t let anything touch you. I will be for you a refuge.”
But that’s not all. Not only does He promise external protection, but notice He will be for you a strength. This is provision from within. This is the power to endure. By the way, He only gives us minute by minute, moment by moment.
He is not a strength for tomorrow. There is no such thing as hypothetical grace. See, we all worry about tomorrow. What about the job tomorrow? What if this relationship goes south in a month? What if I don’t have…?
And we get all anxious, we get all uptight, we get fearful. You know why? There is no grace in tomorrow. How do you know tomorrow is even coming? Your only responsibility, my only responsibility, is trust God for today. And He says He will be your strength.
If you need this much grace to make it through this hour, that’s how much grace you get. If the next hour it gets tougher, you need that much grace, that’s how much grace you get.
Moment by moment, He says, “For you, I will be your strength.” But then you might say to yourself, “Ah, I bet that’s only for superstars. I bet that’s only very selective. I bet God only gives that in real extreme situations.”
And so, notice the third thing He is for you. He is for you an ever, or very, present help. When? In time of trouble. It means He is readily available in trouble no matter how great, no matter how hard.
Luther was in that tower, and he was sentenced to die. He had an agreement at the Diet at Worms when he was debating whether you could stand on Scripture alone or Scripture and the interpretations of the traditions of the Church.
And they said, “Let’s discuss it. And when we get discussing it, you’re free to go.” They condemned him. They went back on their word and he was in a tower. And he was going to be executed the following morning.
And he prayed over this passage and God met him. And in confidence he said, “A mighty fortress is our God.” And when they put him on a wagon to take him from the tower to where he was going to be executed, a band of his followers came on horseback, swooped him off, took him to a German castle, and there he hid and there was a baron in the castle who had his own army, and for a year he hid out in the castle.
And in his downtime, he translated the New Testament into German. And for the first time in history, the Bible was put in the language of the common man. Amazing. See, God showed up for him. And God will show up for you.
You might ask though, like, “How does it work?” How does it specifically happen that God is your refuge? Do you have ooey-gooey feelings? Do you just have a mystical mist that comes in the room? I mean, how does it work for Him to be my strength and my refuge and be available?
Well, verses 4 to 7 are going to answer that question and here it is. Here’s what God says. His presence, God’s presence, is the reason for your hope.
See, what He says is He will show up, right where you’re at, in His supernatural presence, He will be with you. He will enter in with you, in relationship, in your fear, in your trouble, in your hurt, in your anxiety, and He will enter in it with you and His presence, His very presence will sustain you.
Listen as I read. Now, as I read this, notice, this is written for a Jewish audience. It’s written by David. He is going to use some phrases that, at first shot, you’re going to say, “I don’t get it.” You’ll get it in a minute, okay?
“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her presence, she will not fall; God will help her, His presence, at the break of day. Nations are in an uproar, kingdoms fall;” contrast, “but He lifts His voice, and the earth melts.” He’s in control. “The Lord Almighty,” literally, the Lord of hosts, the Lord Sabaoth. It means the Lord with all of His armies, all of His resources. The Lord of hosts, where is He? He’s with us, literally, it’s the same way, it’s He’s for us. “The God of Jacob is our fortress.”
Life lesson from this: God’s presence provides an unlimited supply of joy, protection, security, and deliverance even in the midst of our most severe adversity.
God’s presence, He Himself is going to enter into your life and He has an unlimited supply, did you hear the word I used? It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Of joy, protection, security, and deliverance even in the midst of your most severe trouble.
Let me ask you before I go on, what would that be? If I gave one of those markers to everyone in the room and we had a whiteboard and I said, “Would you walk up and write on the whiteboard, what’s your greatest fear?” What would you write? What would you write?
What He’s saying is whatever you would write, in the midst of that, His presence has an unlimited supply. Like a river that has streams and it flows and it flows and it flows and it flows. Unlimited supply.
And you say, “Well, Chip, where do you get this stuff that, how did you get that from this? Unlimited supply of joy, protection, deliverance, security, where did you get that?” Let me show you.
Look at verse 4. It said, “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.” Did you pick up the contrast between streams here and what the water was like in verse 3? How are the waters in verse 3? They were chaos, they were foaming, it was unsteady, unstable.
And by contrast here, there is a stream, there’s a river whose streams make glad the city of God. What’s the city of God? It’s Jerusalem. I think there’s reference here to the earthly Jerusalem and the heavenly Jerusalem.
But taking it at its historical value, there’s a river that makes glad the city of God. See, Jerusalem wasn’t just a city that David picked out and thought, “You know, this would be a nice place for a capital.” It was strategic!
It is like a fortress. Man, there are rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks and then the city. And then all these huge walls and then there’s a river. And in the ancient days they would have battle after battle after battle, and the key was to have a fortress that your enemy couldn’t overtake you in. But the one way they could overtake you, even if you had a great fortress, is if you didn’t have a water supply.
If you had a fresh water supply and plenty of food, you could stay in there forever. And so, for an Israelite’s ears in that day, he’s painting a picture of, there’s this outward opposition, there’s danger, there’s the enemy but even while all that is happening on the outside, there is a stream outside the pool of Siloam in Jerusalem. There is a stream that makes glad the city of God. It’s all happening bad out there but in here, it’s safe.
Now, there’s a spiritual implication as well because not only is that literally true but the “city of God” is used in Scripture of where God dwells, in God’s presence.
In Isaiah chapter 8 this same phrase for “The stream of God,” or “The river of God,” is identified with His presence. And then in Revelation 22, it talks about the throne of God. And guess what flows from the throne of God that gives life: a river.
You see, in Old Testament imagery, he’s telling these people, in the midst of their trouble, God’s presence, a stream, a river that flows from the very heart of God, from all of His infinite resources, it flows to His people in a place where they are protected and there is unlimited supply.
So, what’s it do? Notice the first phrase. It makes gladness. “The streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.”
Now, I hope you’re saying, “Chip, are you really telling me that in the midst of great adversity, I mean, pressure and trouble and fear, that God’s presence could actually give you joy?” Yup.
I went into the ICU, and a fellow named Will South is having surgery. He’s having a quintuple bypass. His arteries not only need to be opened but they have dried out and deteriorated so they had to replace; it’s like a total plumbing job.
And then they explained all of it to Will and they said, “Do you still want to go through with the surgery?” He said, “Well, sure!” They said, “You need to understand that the chances of success for this surgery is less than a total heart transplant.” He said, “Well, sure!” He said, “The options are if I die, it’s great! I’m going somewhere. And I’ve had seven strokes. I’m ready. I believe God wants me to do it.”
And so, I went in thinking, “This is probably my last time, medically speaking, unless God does a big thing here. This may be the last time I ever see Will.” And I’m thinking, I’m uptight and, boy, I want to encourage him and his wife, Sara, is there and what do you say? Tell you what. I read Psalm 46. And I got about two or three minutes into trying to encourage him and help Will and he said, “Hey! How’s that Ryan? Boy, I just love that kid.
How is your wife? You shouldn’t be here. Your schedule is so busy. ”You know, I’m thinking, “Will.” And then there’s this big smile. He said, “Isn’t Jesus good? I don’t mean in a phony way but, “Isn’t it just an honor to be in the presence of the living God?” I said, “Yeah, Will.” And he said, “Well, you know, tomorrow, I tell you, I am so hungry. I want some eggs over medium. They said I can’t have any tonight, but I’ve told them tomorrow, after I get out of this intensive care stuff, man, I want some eggs over medium. Well, hey, Chip, you got a lot to get going on. I will see you later. Why don’t we pray?”
I came home that night, I said, “Honey, I met someone who not only knows God like few people I know but he really understands the reality of heaven and an eternal perspective. It was a privilege; it was a privilege.” God’s presence gives you gladness even in the midst of your greatest trouble.
But it goes beyond that. Notice he says, “God is within her, she will not fall.” God provides protection and security. “He will help her at the break of day,” and for us that’s just a little phrase but out of Exodus 14:27, that little phrase would have clicked into the mind of an Israelite, “Wow! Break of day! Remember when Moses led us out and they were coming, we were at the Red Sea, and God opened the Red Sea, and at the break of day, that little phrase, he prayed, and it closed back up.”
It’s a picture of deliverance. In the midst of your greatest fear and trouble, God will deliver you. He’ll deliver you. He will be your security. He will give you what you need, He will protect you and sustain you. What? One moment at a time.
I got to visit Paul and he had colon surgery, had cancer, and I mention his name so you can pray for him. And they were hoping to get to it early and they didn’t get to it as early as they’d like, and that cancer spread to his liver and we’re all praying very diligently.
And I think it was a day or maybe two at the most after the surgery I got a chance on a Saturday morning to visit with he and Vicky. And I got to witness the presence of God giving protection and a sense of security in a vivid way. And I asked him, “How are you really doing?” And he’s got that smile. I like that smile. He sort of smiles without his teeth, you know? Like that. It’s one of Paul’s. And with his head tilted a little bit he said, “You know, considering where we are, we’re okay.” I said, “Vicky, how are you doing?” And not in all the specific words but basically they communicated, “God has given us grace. We have peace in the midst of a hard time.”
“We’re just going to live one day at a time and God will give us what we need, one day at a time.” You know what that is? That’s someone who says, “The presence of God is within me; I will not fall. He will deliver. He will help. The opposition may be strong.”
“Nations are in an uproar, kingdoms fall; but He lifts His voice, and the earth melts.” All those metaphors, all those pictures, there is joy in the midst of God’s presence, even in trouble. There is protection, there is security, there is peace.
But where does it come from? It comes from His presence. Let me show you how powerful this is. Now, there’s the imagery of river but five times in these four verses, I circled them in my text, it says, notice what it says, “The city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells,” circle that, that’s number one; “God is within her,” circle that, that’s number two; “God will help her at the break of day,” circle “help her,” He has to be there to help her.
Skip down to verse 7, “The Lord Almighty is with us,” circle that. Literally, it’s “for us.” It means He is there. “The God of Jacob is our fortress.” A fortress is a high positioned place where enemies cannot reach and where you are protected and it’s impregnable. All of His resources, He’s the God of hosts, all of His armies are available, all of His strength, all of His power is available to meet you where you’re at. That’s what it’s teaching.
And notice who for. He’s not just the God, the Lord Almighty, He’s the God of Jacob. Did you ever wonder why that’s in here? The God of Jacob. Why not the God of Abraham, or the God of Isaac, or at least the God of Israel. I mean, when they changed his name. Do you remember who Jacob was of the three patriarchs? He’s the not very good one. His name means, literally, the grasper of the heel or deceiver.
Jacob’s the guy who couldn’t get it right. Jacob’s the guy that was always messing with people, lying to people, and manipulating, jockeying for position. Jacob was the guy that was always doing people in. I believe there is a clear message here. See, down in my heart, I feel like, “Oh, God’s presence and His power and all this stuff I’m talking about. Oh, that’s really good for those people that live up here, but I’m here.
But, you know what? It’s a message of grace. He’s saying, “I’m the God of Jacob. I show up for manipulators and schemers and people that are living double lives and hypocrites and people whose lives aren’t together.”
In fact, God will actually use your time of greatest need often to do the most radical transformation of your heart, to identify some pride that you didn’t want to look at before. But I’ll tell you what, you hurt so bad there’s nothing else to do but look. To look at your priorities like never before, to look at your relationships like never before, to look at your values like never before.
And most of us learn to trust, not because we’re noble and more godly and have it together, we learn to trust because there’s no other option, because we just hurt so bad.
But unfortunately, when some of us hurt, instead of running to God, we run from Him. And so notice, finally, he’s going to teach us: How does it work? How specifically can you enter in? And in verses 8 through 11, God is calling us to experience His presence.
What I’ve told you is what’s true. The first three verses are the “what.” It’s a promise. Verses 4 through 7 are the “why.” It’s the reason. The reason you can trust Him, it’s His presence is available for you, right now, where you’re at, regardless of your circumstance.
Verses 8 through 11, now, are the “how.” It’s an invitation. How do you enter in and experience His presence? Let me read it and then we’ll make some comments.
Two commands, the first one, “Come and see the works of the Lord, the desolations He has brought on the earth. He makes wars to cease to the ends of the earth; He breaks the bow, He shatters the spear, He burns the shields with fire.”
Second command, “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in all the earth.” And then the refrain, “The Lord Almighty is with us,” or, literally, “He is for us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
We have learned we don’t have to be afraid because God is for us. We have learned that God’s presence provides an unlimited supply of joy, protection, security, and deliverance, even in the midst of our most severe adversity.
And here we learn, God implores us to come and experience His presence in our time of greatest need. He implores us, He invites us, He commands us. It’s available but you’ve got to come. There are two commands and two things we’re told to do at the end of this Psalm that – here is you and your problem and here is God with His resources.
There are two things you have to do for your problem and you to be interconnected and experience His resources. Number one, command: “Come and see the works of the Lord.” You’ve got to come! You’ve got to come to Him! And you’ve got to see.
The word “see” here is very interesting. It means not only see, objectively, with your eye, but the word is used throughout the New Testament for a seer or for a prophet. It’s the idea of looking at life with the inward eye, the spiritual eye. Looking at the facts but drawing back from the facts and saying, “What is God doing? What could God be doing?”
“Come and see,” and what are you to see? “The works of the Lord.” Now, what did that mean to the Old Testament saints? What were the works of the Lord? They would come and see and in their trouble and they’re surrounded by an army, or someone is threatening their lives, or their children have a disease, and they would open up the Old Testament and say, “Now, let’s see, the works of the Lord. Genesis: God created all there is. Exodus: He delivered the people. David: He made him king. We had battles with the Philistines!”
And they would recount the works of the Lord, His faithfulness in the past. That’s why, notice the phrase. It says, “The desolations He has brought on the earth.” “Hey, He has delivered us in the past. God has come through for us in the past.”
The way we get an accurate view of God, first of all, is from the Scriptures. But we have to go back. The reason we need to read the Bible is to get a clear picture of who God is and what He has done in the past, He is eager to do in the present.
But notice how the tense of the verb changes. It’s from what He did do, it says, “How He makes,” present tense, “wars to cease to the ends of the earth; He breaks the bow.”
It’s not only a picture of His works in the past but the confidence that one day, He is the Warrior-King! The Warrior-King with all power, and His hosts and His armies, and He’s going to bring about justice and He’s going to take care of all of life.
And the invitation is, “You come and you look and remember who God is, what He has done in the past, and what He is going to do in the future.” He’s going to bring peace. He’s going to take care of everything.
How do we do that? Well, first of all, I think, I don’t know where you’re at but if you think you can experience the presence of God without being a person of His word, you are mistaken.
God does not reveal Himself in a vacuum. His Words are life. When you hurt, open His Word and read and cry out in desperation and I guarantee you, He will speak to you.
When we hurt, we spend way too much time on the phone. We spend way too much time listening to talk radio. We spend way too much time on the Internet trying to find out, “What are all the details of the diseases we’re fighting, the situations we’re hearing about, and trying to figure out how we can make it through this on our own.” Research is good but the works of the Lord are in the Scripture.
The second thing you need to do is recount the works of the Lord in your own life. One of the reasons I keep a journal is because I get discouraged a lot, believe it or not. I get discouraged a lot.
And you know what? I keep a journal and I write down my prayers. And I’ll tell you what, about every three or four days, I go back four or five days or sometimes a month and I look at check mark, check mark, check mark and a little in red and the date and how God answered, God answered, God answered, God answered, God answered, God answered, God answered, God answered, God answered. And what He did in my past, He’s going to do in my future.
That’s how you come and see the works of the Lord. And you get up next to people who have seen God work in their life and you rub up against them and you talk with them and you pray with them.
At the end of the service we’re going to give people a chance to come together and to pray and get help. You know what will keep you from doing that? Your pride.
Some of you are desperately hurting and God would want to reveal Himself by another person and get you connected and loved today. But some thought about what someone might think if, after the service, you walked down in the front, and just met with someone or went in the prayer room and prayed, will keep you from experiencing God.
It’s a shame, isn’t it?
Well, there’s a second command, not only are we to come and see the works of the Lord, we are to be still and know that He is God.
Now, this is a passage used in lots of texts, it’s very devotional, kind of nice, “Be still and know I am God…” You know? In all the devotionals, “Be still.” Now, meditation is great. Getting quiet before the Lord is wonderful. That is not what this passage is teaching, however.
Literally, this word “be still” means, “cease striving.” Stop! Knock it off! Get your hands off the deal! Hold off! Surrender.
See, when we’re in trouble our tendency is to go and try and find. The Israelites went and found a foreign power to deliver them. And we jockey, and we manipulate, and we try and cut deals, and we try and do, “God, I’ll do this if You do this!” And we play all these games.
And God says, “When you’re in real trouble, I’ll tell you what. You will meet Me on My terms. Be still.”
It’s the same kind of phrase that, remember when Jesus was in the boat and the disciples said, “Don’t you care that we’re perishing? Lord, what are You going to do?” And He said, “Peace! Be still.” Whoo. The waves went like that.
That’s the idea of this word. It’s when you say, “I’m going to stop, I’m going to quit pretending, I’m going to know that He’s God. I’m not God. I’m going to know He is bigger than what I fear. He is God, not a paycheck. He is God, not another person who is not responding right now. He is God.”
Why? “He will be exalted in the earth; He’ll be exalted among the nations.” He is sovereign. This is a picture of the righteous, warrior judge, in control. Stop and surrender!
Practically, this means for us, you pray. A prayer of absolute surrender and dependency. And where you take all the chips of your life, all the cards, all the hidden things in the closet, you open it all up, you push it all to the middle of the table, and this is what it means to be still. “It’s Yours, God. I give. You call the shots. I need You and whatever it looks like, I’m in.”
And when you do that, the Lord Almighty will be with you. The God of grace, the God of Jacob, He will be your fortress.