Faithlife Sermons

Pause

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Introduction

Good evening - I’m excited to see what the Lord has in store the next few days and I’m pumped to study from His Word this evening.
There are times where we have SO much going on that we’re simply too busy for God. We have school work, so we don’t read our Bible. We have practice, so we don’t have a quiet time. We have a game or tournament, so we miss church. It’s not as though events, activities, or sports are bad, you won’t find a pastor who is more pro-sport than this guy! But there are all sorts of things vying for our attention and time. Work, friends, sports, games, school, college applications, and relationships. These things aren’t bad - but they can become bad if we make them the most important thing in our life. Maybe you’re an anomaly of sorts and you don’t have this problem. You don’t participate in any activities/events, you don’t have tons of commitments week in and week out and you don’t feel overwhelmed with school work - if this is you, praise the Lord, but please know that a time is coming in which you will be faced with a decision to choose. Jesus speaks of this truth in the Gospels and says that a choice must be made
Matthew 6:24 CSB
24 “No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
What is Jesus telling us here in the Sermon on the Mount? We cannot serve 2 masters. It can’t be Jesus + something else. It can’t be Jesus + us. It has to be Jesus and Jesus alone! The enemy would love for us to try to serve multiple masters. He would love for us to think that we can serve Jesus on Sunday, ourselves on Monday-Friday, and something else on Saturday. Jesus says that this is not an option, though. We can only serve 1 master!
This week we are going to pause. In the middle of the storm, pause. In the middle of being stressed out, pause. In the middle of celebration, pause. Pausing is only part of the equation, though. How many of you admit that whenever you have free time, you don’t always spend it very wisely? Whenever I was in college at SBU, I had the opportunity to witness several good friends use free time in different ways. Some of my friends would use their free time to go to the gym and work out or play basketball. Others would use their free time to go outside and play disc golf or hike. Others would use their free time to hangout with friends or watch movies. Some would spend hours and hours playing video games. There came a time my Freshman year whenever finals were on the horizon and everyone was cramming because if you had a good grade, you wanted to keep it and if you had a bad grade, you wanted to raise it before the semester was over. In the week leading up to finals week, though, many professors don’t assign lots of homework as they understand that you’re prepping for finals. Because of this, there’s quite a bit of free time. If you were disciplined, you’d be studying a little bit each day to be prepared. However, some of my friends decided that it would be fun to pull an all-nighter and play video games on Saturday night. Of these students, none of them attended church on Sunday morning because they were still asleep and one of them was sleeping until Sunday afternoon at 4pm. This guy had a final at 8am on Monday and realized that he had just about 12 hours to study for this exam because he had wasted away all of Saturday and most of Sunday playing video games.
This is just one example of situations that we don’t always handle the best. It’s one thing to pause, but its another thing to fill that void with the right thing. This week our goal is to pause, praise the Lord for what He has done, and build up some spiritual habits that will help us out as we go throughout our life!
Whenever you are stressed out, how do you normally cope with the situation? Lots of people trust in lots of things. We trust in other people, we trust in things, and we also trust in ourselves. It’s good to trust in these things! I hope that all of you have family members and friends that you can go to in your moment of need and trust that they will be there for you and provide you with advice and godly counsel. We should be able to trust in others. We should also be able to trust in things. How many of you all can drive/have a car? Whenever you get in your car, or whenever you’re driving with your parents somewhere, you trust that your car/truck will get you from point A to point B, right? You shouldn’t have to worry that your car is going to break down along the way - you trust that things will work. We trust in things. We also trust in ourselves. Whenever you jump up, you trust that your feet are going to catch you whenever you come down. You don’t worry about jumping because you trust in your own body. This is a good thing!
But, things don’t always go our way. Things surprise us every day!
People let us down. Cars do break down. Our feet stumble and we fall. What is our ultimate trust placed in? It can’t be others, things, or even ourselves because contrary to what the world might say, you and I are not good enough. The Bible tells us that we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The world says to follow your heart but the Bible says that our heart is deceitfully wicked and not to be trusted! What should we trust in??
Enter Psalm 46. Psalm 46 is an ever present reminder that we are not in control, but the One who is in control fights for His people. He is fully trustworthy. He is worthy to be praised. He is for us. Let’s read tonight about our God and what He commands us to do.
Psalm 46 CSB
For the choir director. A song of the sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. 1 God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. 2 Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, 3 though its water roars and foams and the mountains quake with its turmoil. Selah 4 There is a river— its streams delight the city of God, the holy dwelling place of the Most High. 5 God is within her; she will not be toppled. God will help her when the morning dawns. 6 Nations rage, kingdoms topple; the earth melts when he lifts his voice. 7 The Lord of Armies is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah 8 Come, see the works of the Lord, who brings devastation on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease throughout the earth. He shatters bows and cuts spears to pieces; he sets wagons ablaze. 10 “Stop fighting, and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.” 11 The Lord of Armies is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah

In Times of Trouble: Trust in God (1-3)

Psalm 46 is one of the most popular psalms for lots of reasons and Psalm 46:10 is a commonly memorized verse, but if you get nothing else out of our time here at camp from a Bible study standpoint, please hear this: Context is King. Lots of people have several Bible verses that they like and they memorize - this is a good thing! But did you know that just picking a random verse out of the Bible can be a very dangerous thing? Let’s take one of the most popular and out of context verses in Scripture, Philippians 4:13
Philippians 4:13 ESV
13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength! What an incredible verse. I have a race coming up, I have a test coming up, I have this big event coming up so what am I going to do? I’m going to pray Philippians 4:13 before the race or before the test and pray that I would finish first. Does God give us strength? Absolutely! However, does this verse mean that we can claim things out of thin air and that they will go our way? No. What happens if 2 runners in a race of Philippians 4:13 on their track shoes and they believe that in doing so, God will let them win the race? Well obviously, even if one of them does win, the other won’t. Does this mean that God is a liar? After all, Philippians 4:13 says that I can do all things through Christ… Yet, God didn’t let me win.
Maybe it’s still not clicking. If you go to the observatory overlooking the river on the edge of the camp, you know that there’s a pretty huge drop off. Why doesn’t anyone jump off of that edge and flap their arms like a bird and fly away? I mean, Philippians 4:13 says that I can do all things through Christ! That means that if I just say something or try something then it’s bound to work because that’s what the verse says. Have I interpreted the verse correctly? No. How do we know this? Because of the context around it.
Paul’s point in writing Philippians 4:13 is to illustrate how we can have joy in Christ even in difficult times. That verse has nothing to do with winning a game, finishing first, or acing a test. It has to do with being content during difficult times. Have you noticed that whenever a team wins a really important game, they sometimes give the glory to God? This is great and we cheer whenever this happens because God does deserve all the glory and honor. It’s a good thing whenever athletes praise Him on that mountaintop moment. But, what about those who lose? Philippians 4:13 tells us that we can lose and still have joy because Christ gives us strength. Isn’t that a different way of looking at that verse? The same thing happens here in Psalm 46. So many people look at this chapter and think that it means that we can just coast or that we can be lazy because God is good and in control.
Do you know the situation surrounding this Psalm? A quick history lesson. In the Old Testament the Jews had a united kingdom under king Saul, David, and Solomon that lasted for 120 years. What happened after Solomon died? The kingdom split. There was Israel to the north and Judah to the south. Israel was captured by Assyria in 722 BC and the Assyrian King, Sennacherib, was marching towards the capital of Judah, Jerusalem, with 100,000 soldiers. The king of Judah is named Hezekiah and Hezekiah is aware of the situation. He’s looking around and realizes the problem: We are facing a foe that we cannot beat. Have you ever been in a situation like this? You’re facing an opponent that you genuinely can’t beat? You’re outmatched and things appear hopeless. In those moments, what should we do? Hezekiah, in Isaiah 37, demonstrates what we should do: We should pray!
Hezekiah prays that God would deliver the people and prays this
Isaiah 37:20 CSB
20 Now, Lord our God, save us from his power so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are God—you alone.
Hezekiah prays that God would save the people of Jerusalem. Hezekiah realized that they had no hope outside of divine intervention! He prays that God would demonstrate His power so that all the kingdoms of the earth would know that He alone is God. Does Hezekiah pray that his life would be spared? No. Does he pray that things would go his way and that he would get all the credit? No. He prays that Jerusalem would be saved and that everyone would know that it was God who fought this battle for them!
They were in trouble, yet Hezekiah trusted in God. The Psalmist writes that the Lord is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble! Aren’t you thankful that whenever you are caught in trouble or whenever you are being tempted to do something wrong, or whenever things aren’t looking good, God is your refuge? Isn’t this good news!
It doesn’t matter what your past looks like, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done or what’s going on in your life, there is no one too far gone for the grace of Jesus Christ! There is no one who has done something too bad that you cannot find salvation at the feet of the cross. Maybe you’re hear this week because you were forced to come by a parent or friend and you’re unsure as to why you’re hear. I don’t know the specifics, but I want to encourage you that God is real. He is a refuge in times of trouble and, as we’ll look at tomorrow night, there is salvation through Jesus and through Him alone!
In times of trouble, trust in God. Hezekiah does exactly this in this difficult moment and the Lord shows up in a mighty way as we’ll look at in a few minutes.

In Times of Uncertainty: Trust in God (4-7)

There are times whenever we are in trouble and it’s a joy to know that the Lord is our refuge and strength. There are other times, though, where we are confused and we don’t know what to do. Have you been a little confused this year? This year was confusing for everyone. What should we do? What are the rules? What can we do? This was a year of uncertainty and confusion. This year has been a year of change and many of us don’t do very well with change.
Think of some of the things that looked a little different the last year and a half. Stores ran out of toilet paper, everyone had to wear masks at school, church looked different than we are used to. It’s been a strange time. It’s also been an uncertain time. Have you noticed that over the last 15 months, everyone has been looking for answers to things? People wanted to know what COVID was, people wanted to know how to not get it, they wanted to know what the symptoms would be like, they wanted to know what is safe and what is not, now people want to know how long will it be until things get all the way back to normal. We have lots of questions because things just aren’t the way they normally are. This has caused lots of people to look for hope in things. They put all their hope in a person/leader, a shot, a mask, a thing. While we can find hope in some of those things, ultimately, as a Christian, we don’t need to be afraid of anything because we trust completely in the Lord!
We have hope that our God still provides and the Psalmist arrives at his climax in verse 7 by stating that the Lord of Armies/Hosts is with us! We’ll look at this tomorrow night, but if God is for us, what do we need to fear?
Nations rage, people get stressed out, there is uncertainty all around us! But for those of us who belong to Jesus Christ, we don’t need to fear. Just as God was within and helped the city of Jerusalem when they were surrounded, we know that God is with us and that He fights the battle for us. Does this mean that things always go our way? No.
How many of you are familiar with the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in Daniel 3? These 3 (along with Daniel) were faithful followers of God in Babylon and were servants of the king Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar built a golden statue and there was a command that all the people had to bow down and worship this golden statue. Whenever the time came, the king’s servants, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refused to bow and worship the statue. Why? Because that was idolatry. They stood up for what was right whenever everyone else was doing what was wrong. Was their a consequence for this? Yes! The king called them up and reminds them of the rule and that if they refuse, they’ll be thrown into a fiery furnace. Most people would go ahead and do it at this point but these 3 say this. Nebuchadnezzar, our God can save us… We believe He will save us… But even if He doesn’t, we’re not going to bow down to you. We will serve God.
These young men were willing to die for their faith in God! Lots of people are good to stand up for what the Bible says in the easy times or when it helps us out. Some believe that God always makes our life easier and that He never would allow something bad to happen to us. They agree with the first 2 points: I know God can save me and I believe He will - after all there’s a song called Do It Again that says, “I’ve seen you move the mountains, and I believe I’ll see you do it again.” I believe that! But, what if He doesn’t? Does God have to do what we ask of Him? No. He is God and we are not… Therefore, we have to pause. And remember that God is the one in control. Even if He doesn’t do what we want, He is for us. He has a plan and His plan is for our ultimate good as Romans 8:28 shares with us! Even when we can’t see that He’s working or even when it seems like things aren’t going our way, we trust in God.

Be Still… And Trust in God (8-11)

In context to Psalm 46, we see that God shows up in a mighty way and delivers Hezekiah and the city of Jerusalem in a miraculous way. Isaiah 37 shows us what took place here
Isaiah 37:33–36 CSB
33 “Therefore, this is what the Lord says about the king of Assyria: He will not enter this city, shoot an arrow here, come before it with a shield, or build up a siege ramp against it. 34 He will go back the way he came, and he will not enter this city. This is the Lord’s declaration. 35 I will defend this city and rescue it for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.” 36 Then the angel of the Lord went out and struck down one hundred eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians. When the people got up the next morning, there were all the dead bodies!
God sent the Angel of the Lord to destroy 185,000 Assyrian warriors. They didn’t enter the city. They didn’t fire off an arrow. They didn’t kill a single Israelite! This is nothing short of a miracle and the Psalmist says in verse 8 to come behold the mighty works of the Lord.
Whenever you are troubled. Whenever you are uncertain. Whenever you are confused. Let your response be that of the Psalmist in Psalm 46, come behold the works of the Lord. Remember what He has done!
In Psalm 46, He rescues His people from the Assyrian soldiers. In Genesis, we see that God rescues His servant Noah from a worldwide flood. In Exodus, we see that God rescues His people from the Egyptians. In the Gospels, we see that God rescues His people from their sin as Jesus Christ lived a perfect life and died the death that we deserved to die! We know that God continues to provide for His children today as well!
As one song puts it, “You turn graves into gardens, you turn bones into armies, you turn seas into highways.” How has God provided for you?
Charles Spurgeon, one of the greatest preachers of the last 500 years, once said this, “We have all things and abound: Not because I have a good store of money in the bank, not because I have skill and wit with which to win my bread, but because the Lord is my shepherd.” Psalm 23:1 tells us
Psalm 23:1 CSB
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I have what I need.
We might not have everything that we want, but we have everything we need because God promises to provide. He promises to work all things together for the good of those who love God - who are called according to His purpose. When life gets you down, remember all that God has done!
Whenever you do this, be still. Cease striving. Stop fighting! God is in control!
As one pastor put it, “Stop talking. Stop questioning. Stop doubting. Have faith. God is in control. He’s got this.”
Does this mean we have nothing to do? We just sit on the sidelines and let God work? No! He calls on us to be salt and light. He calls on us to make known the works of the Lord! We trust in God and we make Him known!
Be still and know… These are easy words to say, but how do we put them into practice? Several years ago, I came home from college for spring break and my mom fell down and genuinely had no idea who I was. She had a septic infection and the doctors didn’t know if she would pull out of it or ever regain her memory… Be still and know. What about whenever a loved one suddenly and unexpectedly passes away? Be still and know. What about whenever things don’t go your way? What about when the world rejects you? Be still and know!

Conclusion

Do you know the story of Elijah on the mountain l in 1 Kings 19:9? Elijah is on the mountain and he’s waiting to hear from the Lord. There’s a fire, an earthquake, strong wind and God’s voice is nowhere to be found. Then there’s a gentle whisper that follows. How often do we find ourselves busy and running from one thing to another? How often do our schedules get so full that we fail to do what matters most of all? What is the first thing that gets kicked from our schedules, sadly? Our intentional time with the Lord! We wonder, God, where are you? He’s here. He hasn’t left us. Hebrews 13 reminds us
Hebrews 13:5 CSB
5 Keep your life free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for he himself has said, I will never leave you or abandon you.
Once you belong to Jesus, you’re firm in His hand! Yet, sometimes we run so fast that we wonder where He’s at whenever we’re the one who has shut Him out. What should we do? We must pause.
How can we pause more effectively?
5 pieces of application as we close:
Understand that we don’t know everything
Understand that God has everything under control
Remember that God is with us through the fire
Prioritize time with God above everything else
Follow God’s plan, not your heart
Just because we pause, there is still work to be done. We will still go through tough times, but we have hope because we’re not walking through them on our own! He is with us. He is for us. He has saved us! He is redeeming and changing us!
Do you know Christ as your Lord and Savior? If not, what is holding you back? Understand what the Bible teaches about Jesus and about our sinful condition. We have sinned and fallen short. We require a savior and Romans 5:8 tells us
Romans 5:8 CSB
8 But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
You don’t require a helper, you require a savior. You must repent and put your faith in Him!
If so, how can you do a better job of pausing and following Christ?
Let’s spend some time in prayer and ask God to help us pause and reflect on where we stand. Are there some areas in our life that we need to surrender and repent of?
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