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A Little Peace and Quiet

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a sermon about how humble trust in the Lord leads to true peace

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Intro story: Right now Ruthie and I are in the craziest time of our lives. We have sold our house, have been couch surfing living with friends and family for the past several months, we have lived in three states so far this year and we look forward to visiting at least five more by the end of this year. we are raising support to return to Bulgaria long term as missionaries, we have God’s call, we are driven! but sometimes it doesn’t really seem possible that it can happen, with the many things we are juggling.
I’m sure that I’m not the only one in this boat, is there anyone who is just overwhelmed by life, who looks at the next several months and wonders is this possible? how on earth am i going to survive this? It’s a universal condition that
FCF: We can get so overwhelmed by life that peace cannot be found
last weekend i went to the prayer retreat with a sense of dread on my heart over the amount of travel we are going to do, and God put this passage on my heart to meditate on. one of the good things about preaching is that it’s a chance to meditate on a single passage for an entire week in preparation.
Last weekend i went to the prayer retreat with a sense of dread and anxiety on my heart over the amount of travel we are going to do, and God put this passage on my heart to meditate on. This is one of my favorite psalms and coincidentally it is one of the easiest to memorize. one commentator writes that it’s the easiest psalm to read but the hardest lesson to learn. What does peace and quiet look like? What can we do with our anxiety? For some of us we have been living under low grade anxiety for years, so much so that a tightness in your chest is now what’s considered normal, you’re stretched taut like a string, and any more pressure could cause the cord to snap. and the words of Jesus saying come to me all of you who are heavy laden and i will give you rest seems like a sick joke because Christ has never given you rest, he’s only given you more burdens to bear! Where can peace be found when we experience the God of peace as a taskmaster?
FCF There’s something keeping us from peace and quiet
Let’s turn to God’s word to see what he has to say
read psalm 131
weekend i went to the prayer retreat with a sense of dread on my heart over the amount of travel we are going to do, and God put this passage on my heart to meditate on. one of the good things about preaching is that it’s a chance to meditate on a single passage for an entire week in preparation.
Context: This passage doesn’t tell us much about when and why it was written. we know that it is of David, and we know that it is a song of ascent. the songs of ascent were used by Israelites to sing together when they were coming to jerusalem for one of the three yearly festivals and you can see from the last line that this is a song to be sung together. and it was a song used to prepare the hearts of the people to worship the Lord together. this song is a chance to be reminded together to
Context: This passage doesn’t tell us much about when and why it was written. we know that it is of David, and we know that it is a song of ascents. the songs of ascent were used by Israelites to sing together when they were coming to jerusalem for one of the three yearly festivals. why am i telling you this? because we tend to think of psalms and this psalm in particular as something very private, a prayer to reflect on in our rooms. this is a very good use of the psalm and i’m not denigrating that, but this psalm was written, not only as a private prayer, but you can see from the last line that this is a song to be sung together. and it was a song used to prepare the hearts of the people to worship the Lord together. this song is a chance to be reminded together to
Big Idea: Hope in the Lord who never fails
Big Idea: Hope in the Lord because he will never fail
Big Idea: Hope in the Lord because he never fails
this morning i want to reflect on three things that this passage is teaching us:
MP1: Because we are humans, we must hope in the Lord.
MP2: Because we not God, we must hope in the Lord.
MP3: Because the Lord loves us, we can hope in the Lord.
MP1: Because we are humans, we must hope in the Lord.
MP1: Because we are humans, we must hope in the Lord.
MP1: Because we are humans, we must hope in the Lord.
MP1: Because we are humans, we must hope in the Lord.
Where does anxiety come from? what would it even look like to have peace and quiet? David begins this psalm by telling the Lord and the people around him the condition of his heart, the heart attitude of someone with a calm and quiet soul. his heart is not lifted up, his eyes are not raised too high, and he does not occupy himself with things too great or marvelous for him. David suggests humility is the secret to peace and quiet. This psalm refers to two different types of humility, humility towards others, and humility before God. Let’s begin with David by talking about how humility towards others brings peace.
MP1: Because we are humans, we must hope in the Lord.
Why would pride be a barrier to peace? surely telling myself that i’m no good at what i’m doing would only promote anxiety, surely i should be convincing myself of how great i am! if i think i’m awesome and my competition is less than great surely i would be less nervous. but let’s think about what humility actually is and what pride does to us. humility is an accurate assessment of your worth both in relationship to God, and in relationship to others. humility is being able to recognize where God has gifted you while at the same time recognizing where we fall short. Humility is being able to humbly confess your sins, because you know that peace with God and others is better than a great reputation. humility is being able to rejoice when your coworker gets a promotion that you feel you deserve because it recognizes that your worth is not based on how much money or power you have. it means that you are not setting your sights on your personal glory by crushing other people because your heart is not lifted up, nor are your eyes raised too high.
Why would pride be a barrier to peace? surely telling myself that i’m no good at what i’m doing would only promote anxiety, surely i should be convincing myself of how great i am! if i think i’m awesome and my competition is less than great surely i would be less nervous. but let’s think about what humility actually is and what pride does to us. humility is an accurate assessment of your worth both in relationship to God, and in relationship to others. humility is being able to recognize where God has gifted you while at the same time recognizing where we fall short. Humility is being able to humbly confess your sins, because you know that peace with God and others is better than a great reputation. humility is being able to rejoice when your coworker gets a promotion that you feel you deserve because it recognizes that your worth is not based on how much money or power you have. it means that you are not setting your sights on your personal glory by crushing other people because your heart is not lifted up, nor are your eyes raised too high.
Pride is often a major source of our anxiety. anxiety is often brought by trying to hold on to the things that we feel like we should be in control of. we are anxious about our presentation that we have to make because we want to look competent at what we do, we are anxious about what our boss thinks because we want to feel indispensable, we are anxious about our money because we don’t want to have to ask our parents for help again. we are anxious about a disaster happening because we don’t want the people around us to say, “well you should have thought of that when blank.”
Illustration: Pride promises us everything we want, it promises wealth, honor, security. In order to get these things, all we have to do is believe in ourselves. Its like in the movie the Jerk with Steve Martin, has anyone ever seen that movie It’s kinda my favorite. In this movie, Steve Martin’s character Navin Johnson was born a poor black child who wants to be somebody famous and important. he is upbeat and believes in himself and because of his invention of the optigrab, glasses with a handle in the middle, he achieves his goal and becomes wealthy beyond his wildest dreams!! He has a wife, a huge house, with shag carpet throughout, and a disco room with fancy disco dancers all to himself, cause this movie was made in the seventies. but he is sued when it is discovered that the optigrab causes people to be crosseyed and looses everything and when his wife tries to console him he storms away from her declaring that he didn’t need her, or anything but this ashtray, and this paddleball game, and the remote control, and those matches, and the lamp and the chair and that’s it! Pride drove him away from the people he loved and who could help him in his hour of need because he couldn’t handle the fact that he was no longer somebody! Pride isolates us, and forces us to try to do everything on our own because if we need help with anything we are not as great as we want to be.
Illustration: Its like in the movie the Jerk with Steve Martin, has anyone ever seen that movie It’s kinda my favorite. Throughout the movie, Steve Martin’s character Navin Johnson wants to be somebody famous and important, and he achieves his goal! He is wealthy and successful, and has a disco room with fancy disco dancers all to himself, cause this movie was made in the seventies. but he looses everything and storms away from his wife declaring that he didn’t need her, or anything but this ashtray, and this paddleball game, and the remote control, and those matches, and the lamp and the chair and that’s it! Pride drove him away from the people he loved and who could help him in his hour of need because he couldn’t handle the fact that he was no longer somebody! Pride isolates us, and forces us to try to do everything on our own because if we need help with anything we are not as great as we want to be.
Illustration: Its like in the movie the Jerk with Steve Martin, has anyone ever seen that movie It’s kinda my favorite. Throughout the movie, Steve Martin’s character Navin Johnson wants to be somebody famous and important, and he achieves his goal! He is wealthy and successful, and has a disco room with fancy disco dancers all to himself, cause this movie was made in the seventies. but he looses everything and storms away from his wife declaring that he didn’t need her, or anything but this ashtray, and this paddleball game, and the remote control, and those matches, and the lamp and the chair and that’s it! Pride drove him away from the people he loved and who could help him in his hour of need because he couldn’t handle the fact that he was no longer somebody! Pride isolates us, and forces us to try to do everything on our own because if we need help with anything we are not as great as we want to be.
MP2: Because we are not God, we must hope in the Lord
Now the bible makes promises for the humble. Jesus promises that the kingdom of heaven belongs to the humble, the humble will be exalted, the humble will find rest, the humble will be secure in the arms of the father. How do the humble attain these things? By trusting not in themselves or their own merits, but by trusting in the God who provides all things. Humble people recognize where they are weak and ask for help, they do not make pretensions for omnicapability. humble people can confess their sins and trust in the mercy of God and lean on the grace of God’s people, they do not make pretensions of being perfect. humble people don’t need to grasp to the things that make them feel secure, they know that life is so fragile, it can end in a second, their hope is in the God who gives eternal life. do you see how humility before others brings peace? When we are humble we don’t have to keep up our facade of strength, we can be the weak and wounded people we are!
In our weekly worship and life groups we practice this humility by being open and vulnerable with one another, sharing our real struggles, and listening and showing grace to others in their struggles. and its a chance to remind each other of where our true hope lies. you don’t have to be strong all the time! Instead of hoping in your own ability to be better than others, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore, that is where peace is found!
MP2: Because we not God, we must hope in the Lord.
MP2: Because we not God, we must hope in the Lord.
David in the psalm also talks about being humble before God. “i do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.” by saying this he is singing to the people, i don’t try to put myself in God’s place, i only concern myself with things i as a human can understand. Instead of doing this, David says he has calmed and quieted his soul and urges the people of God to do the same. David teaches us that sometimes a barrier to peace and quiet is trying to put ourselves in the position of God, when in fact we are very much human
In our culture we are driven by a need to know and understand everything from that creepy sound coming from our grandma’s attic, to the way the entire universe works! We also do this whenever there is a tragedy. we automatically wonder, who’s fault is this, how could we have prevented this from happening? We should have planned for every contingency! In the reformed tradition, we like to talk about the sovereignty of God. We talk about God as being the author of all things, about how nothing happens outside of God’s will. This is all true, but sometimes we get smug about it. there is such a thing as the cage stage of calvinism where people who just discovered that God is completely sovereign suddenly feel like they can see behind everything that happens in the world. Wonderful doctrines about how great God is, suddenly become about how great we are.
Sometimes our biggest anxieties come from wanting to know what is going to happen in the future, or to try to explain the inscrutable things of God in a way that makes sense to us. Have you ever laid out a fleece before God praying that he would tell you which college to go to and which job to take, bargaining with him and saying if you would just tell me your secret plans i’ll follow through with them? How often do we try to see into the mind of God in some senseless tragedy? Trying to figure out exactly what sin God is punishing us for, like thinking maybe i got in that car accident because i was proud about how cool my car is. when we do that we can become fearful that if we don’t learn the lesson right this time, God will make us experience it again. you are not privy to God’s plans or designs. these are things too great and too marvelous for us and we have no business trying to put ourselves in God’s position. God will complete the work he is trying to do with that car accident, and he doesn’t need you to decide for him what he is doing. he wants you to be faithful in the middle of it. that is what will help you grow. Brothers and sisters, you are not God. Let us reflect on what is our position before God. Before we talk about who we are in Christ before God, i want to talk about who we are as humans before God. teaches us the awesome might and power of God!
Read
MP2: Because the Lord loves us, we can hope in the Lord.
Where were you people of God when God did these things? are you God that you can understand them? Do you know what the future holds? do you have the wisdom, might and resources to plan for every thing that could possibly happen? If we cannot understand creation which is there and available for anyone to look at, what makes you think you can understand the hidden will of God? God himself doesn’t try to explain it to Job. When we try to do so, we are as proud as Job’s friends and if that’s the case, perhaps we should be anxious because God knows how to humble the proud.
God revealed to us what how we can be saved: believe in Christ, and what he wants us to do with our lives: love him and love our neighbor, and he has revealed to us what the future holds! Jesus is coming back, and will judge the world. He has not told us in his word what job will make us the most happy or fulfilled, he only told us to pursue righteousness, who i should marry, but to marry someone godly, the bible doesn’t say anything about socialism or capitalism but it says a lot about justice. God has given his people wisdom to determine these things. God didn’t tell you why a tragedy occured in your life, don’t pretend to be a prophet who knows the mind of God. God doesn’t expect his people to know how why everything works the way it does, he wants them to be faithful in the midst of the confusion.
MP1: Because we are limited, we must hope in the Lord
Instead of trying to figure out why everything happened, the bible urges us again and again to trust in the Lord who sits on the throne of heaven. we are blind, we are finite, we can’t see further than our own noses, but God who sits in heaven sees all and knows all. God fights against all his and our enemies, God direct the future, God will judge the wicked, God will vindicate his people, God will make all things new! we can leave the future and his purpose in his hands knowing that he is able to save to the uttermost. If you don’t believe that there is a God who is strong, and just, and merciful, and kind and loving, where can you find hope? you can either sink into despair and anxiety and give up, or desperately try to hold everything together for as long as possible. But if you do believe that God is who he says he is, humble yourself before him and acknowledge how you are blind, and let him be God and work in your life, trust in him to provide and keep you safe. I realized last weekend that my overwhelmed feelings came from trying to manage everything and plan for every contingency, I’m not the ultimate provider for my family, God is, i’m not the one who will bring Ruthie and I to Burlgaria, God will! That burden doesn’t belong to me, i’m just called to be faithful.
Now you might think why would pride be a barrier to peace? I tell myself that i’m dumb, and lazy and incompetent all the time before any major test or presentation, and is a symptom of my anxiety and increases my anxiety, surely the answer isn’t more humility but more pride and confidence! But that kind of humility is not true humility, it’s shame. Shame tears us down by magnifying what we are not and can never be over who we actually are. Shame tries to insinuate itself in every area of life and say because i’m not great in this area, i must be terrible everywhere. humility is not quite the same as shame, humility is an accurate assessment of your worth both in relationship to God, and in relationship to others.
Where do you stand in relation to God? Before we talk about who we are in Christ before God, i want to talk about who we are as humans before God. Sometimes our biggest anxieties come from wanting to know what is going to happen in the future, or to try to explain the inscrutable things of God in a way that makes sense to us. How often are we trying to plan for every contingency in the future, with the fearful concern that if we forget about something, or if we don’t plan on some disaster we will fail and we will be put to shame? How often do we lay out the fleece before God praying that he would tell us which college to go to and which job to take, bargaining with him and saying if you would just tell me your secret plans i’ll follow through with them? How often do we try to see into the mind of God in some senseless tragedy? Trying to figure out exactly what God is trying to teach us after that devastating car accident, fearful that if we don’t learn the lesson right this time, God will make us experience it again. Brothers and sisters, you are not God. you are not privy to God’s plans or designs. these are things too great and too marvelous for us and we have no business trying to put ourselves in God’s position teaches us the awesome might and power of God!
Now you might think why would pride be a barrier to peace? I tell myself that i’m dumb, and lazy and incompetent all the time before any major test or presentation, and is a symptom of my anxiety and increases my anxiety, surely the answer isn’t more humility but more pride and confidence!
אֵיפֹה
David begins this psalm by telling the Lord and the people around him the condition of his heart, the heart attitude of someone with a calm and quiet soul. his heart is not lifted up, his eyes are not raised too high, and he does not occupy himself with things too great or marvelous for him. this refers to two different types of humility, humility towards others, and humility before God.
One of the ways we practice this is by reflecting upon the greatness of God in corporate worship. this time every week is a chance to be reminded and to remind your neighbors just how awesome a God we have, how mighty he is to save, how majestic is his creation, and it puts our anxiety and stress in an eternal perspective, because we are but a breath, but God lasts forever. O People of God, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore!
MP2: Because the Lord loves us, we can hope in the Lord.
Read
MP2: Because the Lord loves us, we can hope in the Lord.
Where were you people of God when God did these things? are you God that you can understand them? That you can explain the universe? That you know how something came from nothing? that you know how gravity works? If we cannot understand creation which is there and available for anyone to look at, what makes you think you can understand the hidden will of God? When we try to do so, we are as proud as Job’s friends and if that’s the case, perhaps we should be anxious because God knows how to humble the proud.
MP2: Because the Lord loves us, we can hope in the Lord.
MP2: Because the Lord loves us, we can hope in the Lord.
MP3: Because the Lord loves us, we can hope in the Lord.
It’s great to acknowledge that God is mighty, and powerful and able to save and will make all things new, but what if that doesn’t include me? In our anxiety, we oftenfear that God has abandoned us, that we have failed one too many times for him and now he’s leaving us to sort out our own mess alone. David had that fear many times throughout the Psalms when he cried out “how long O lord!” posing the question, has God abandoned me this time? but in this psalm he quietly confesses, i have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child with it’s mother. this is one of the few places in the scriptures where God is compared to a mother for his people. How is the psalmist trying to imitate a weaned child with it’s mother?
Ruthie and I lived with her sisters family for a few months and got to see a weaned child with her mother. Every time our niece saw a big thing and a little thing together, like a calendar picture of a big otter and a little otter, she would say “look, it’s momma and me!” the two were inseparable because as soon as the mom would leave to go running the weaned child would cry for several minutes until she was successfully distracted, she just wanted to be around her momma! When Ruthie’s sister would return she would be instantly comforted and snuggle with her. Her mom was her comfort, her support, the person who fed her, clothed her, changed her diapers and in her mother’s arms, nothing bad could ever happen.
Brothers and sisters, your heavenly father, who is great and mighty and glorious and able to defeat all his and our enemies, loves you more than your mother. Isn’t it amazing that the transcendent and glorious God of all the universe invites us in Christ to that kind of intimate relationship with him? How much more are we safe and cared for in the arms of our Father who never leaves us, or needs time to himself? Do we love and trust our Lord as much as that child with her mother?
Our Lord does not only command us to be quiet and calm, but he gives us ways to do that:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.
the Lord is at hand, do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God which surpasses understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, whatever you are anxious about, our God has invited you to lay it at his feet because he listens and he cares for you, if you are feeling that weight in your chest that something is wrong and cannot be fixed but only can be suffered, it may help for your to picture yourself in prayer, taking that burden off of your chest and putting it at the feet of Jesus. This isn’t just a psychology trick, but it’s a mental picture of what our Lord actually does for you and it does help. Isn’t it wonderful that we have been made children of God in Christ? and that the Lord listens to our prayers? We don’t have to decide for the Lord what is a worthy request, he invites us to bring all of our anxieties before him, let him decide which prayers he will answer, your job is to humbly pray and know that everything you have comes from God.
Some of you have lived in anxiety and stress for so long that it’s become the new normal, you couldn’t imagine functioning unless you were pulled taught like a string. anxiety, like depression and shame, can make neurological ruts in our brains, so that anytime a stressor pops up we automatically respond to it by a high stress reaction. This kind of stress doesn’t just go away, your brain has to be retrained how to deal with it in a healthy way. a good christian counselor may be helpful for this, and medication could help with the symptoms, but it isn’t a good idea to take medication without counseling to get at the heart of the issue.
And we are not called to rest in our fathers arms like a weaned child with it’s mother alone. we are a family, and we rest in him together, our job as a community is to point each other towards the true rest which is found only in Christ. when we are sad and when we are suffering we aren’t called to bear this alone, but to bring it to the community to lay it at the feat of the Lord, that’s why you can hope in the lord, from this time forth and forevermore.
Conclusion
This morning we have seen how although pride may make us feel strong for a moment, it ultimately creates a barrier to peace. True peace can only be found through humble trust in the Lord. and we don’t perform this humble trust alone, this is not something that we can manage in the quiet of our rooms, but as a community we must urge each other to hope in the Lord. We have seen how teaches us
MP1: Because we are humans, we must hope in the Lord.
MP2: Because we not God, we must hope in the Lord.
MP3: Because the Lord loves us, we can hope in the Lord.
we can hope in the Lord, not just because it takes our minds off of what we are anxious about but
We can hope in the Lord, because he never fails.
all of God’s promises that he made throughout scripture will one day be fulfilled. he has already begun to fulfill his promises by sending his son Jesus to die on the cross bringing forgiveness of sins and rise again for the hope of our own resurrection and uniting us with him so that we can call God our father. But we still live in a world where our worst fears do come true, where pregnancies end in miscarriage, where it is possible to lose our jobs and everything we’ve worked so hard for, we can die on our car ride home. we have to trust in the Lord because he is the only one who sees everything and holds the future in his hands, but most of all
We can hope in the Lord because he never fails.
Our God is making all things right, our God is fulfilling all his promises, our God will rescue his people, and our God will care for the poor. One day our Lord Jesus will return in glory and he will make all things new, the sad things will come untrue and for those who hope in the Lord and not in our own strength, our hope will come to fruition. so people of God, you can have peace! hope in the Lord, for he is returning.
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