A warm welcome to another edition of Brooklands Digital Church.
The message is given by our Pastor Karl Stanfield, and can be listened to as audio using the LISTEN button above. An audio MP3 is also available via the SAVE button.
The Bible reading is taken from Psalm 46.
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We celebrated Pentecost last week. Michael Kane reminded us how there was a period of time for God to ‘Break In’ so that the church could Break Out! We recognized the emphasis upon the believers to be together in one place and to wait and pray. How true it was for them (as Mick said last week) to wait and be still. My focus-verse, printed in bold, is from Psalm 46. Here it is: ‘“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”’ (Psalm 46:10).
The Psalm begins with such a degree of assurance; ‘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. Selah’ (Psalm 46:1–3). Here is the image of an impenetrable fortress.
Then we come to verse 4: ‘There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.’ This river is one of ‘gladness’! The key thought of the passage is being kept in an impregnable fortress where God reigns supreme in the very middle of utter chaos!
He is the Almighty after all. We recall that occasion when, fast asleep in the stern of a boat his disciples awaken Jesus in the middle of a raging storm. When asked by his disciples if he ‘did not care’, Jesus commanded the storm to stop! The forces of nature obey immediately. One wonders which unseen storms – many that frighten people today – come under his eternal authority. Storms that cannot disturb His peace, but ours maybe!
This is part of what I want you to see this morning; to see in this verse an incredible invitation from the Lord Almighty to Stop, ‘Be Still and Know… that He is God’ – period – right in the middle of the chaos. Here are a couple of possibilities when you see it this way…
1) In your Ceasing, Trust!
Sometimes in life, in ministry, in troubled times you must Stop and Trust. It is harder for some than for others. While the Christian faith is very much about doing something to show our faith, this verse requires something different; it’s about stopping what you are doing completely – and holding on to that resolute truth – ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble’.
The difference may well be summed up this way. You are about to come under an onslaught from your enemy. You have built a fortress big, and strong. The walls are metres wide and tall. You are feeling pretty safe and secure, but are you?
The second Fortress is God, not the work of your hands and ingenuity. We may not be able to see this fortress, but you believe that God is indeed – God! You have read the declaration in the psalms, ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble’!
I wanted to say this morning that when we stop what we are doing, and we trust what God is doing, I believe the congregation of Heaven stands and gives glory to the Lord Almighty too. This is the heart of this Psalm. The Psalmist lived to tell the story and he had every reason to praise the Lord. . . . Secondly…
2) In your Silence, Know!
Both Ceasing and Silence – to the evangelical Christian are exceedingly difficult. The cessation of activity feels like we have let God down. The silence means we must stop talking and telling people what to do. In your Ceasing (you allow God to work), and in your Silence (you allow God to speak); it is then, truly that we come to Know; as the Lord says here, ‘That I AM God!’
There is that lovely story, following Israel’s liberty from slavery and their long walk through the wilderness, where God leads them to the borders of the Promised Land. Their first obstacle had real fortifications – Jericho; the earliest continuously occupied city in the world, going back to 9,000 BC.
I am sure that not a few of Israel’s soldiers felt uneasy being asked to walk around the city walls in silence for seven days! When on the seventh day, and they’d walked around seven times, they were commanded to give a shout of victory to bring the walls down! Do not trust in walls, trust in the Lord!
Jesus began his ministry with Silence, with Prayer & with Fasting – and that for 40 days in the wilderness. Alongside these three spiritual disciplines, Jesus engaged in a battle (‘not against flesh and blood’ either); ‘but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.’
When we get to verse 10; ‘Be still, and know that I am God…’, we encounter incredible lessons: Faith is like a Fortress; and Stillness in the Hand of God moves mountains! ‘Be still and know that I am God’.
Blessings to all!