In Luke 2:14, it says : A multitude from heaven was praising God and saying: Glory to God in the Highest and Peace on Earth towards men The Gospel – the good news – is glory to God in Heaven and Peace to us on Earth. The promise of Jesus is a promise of peace. That’s not all it is – it brings division, I know – but it is a promise of peace. In Luke 1:76-9, Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, prophesies that his son John will be a prophet for Jesus - that he will go before Jesus to prepare the way for him, and that Jesus will give his people the knowledge of salvation the forgiveness of their sin… and that Jesus will guide our feet into the path of peace." Peace on Earth towards men – guide our feet into the path of peace. – That’s the good news. But the bad news, or reality perhaps, is that my life doesn’t always feel that peace filled. Reality is that most of us run around like crazy – grabbing hold of whatever it is that offers even a moments peace – chocolate, cappuccinos, ice cream? Success at work. Or in relationships. Sports teams – how about television? How often do I turn on the tv, and restlessly surf from channel to channel; shopping, eating, porn, manipulation, addictions… The world we live in is crying out to feel peace – and so are most of us Christians God desires for us to seek peace – to be peacemakers; to bear peace to the world – and so we to figure out the way of peace How do we realize the Gospel promise of peace from Luke 1 (JTB, way of peace) & Luke 2 (Glory to God in the Highest, peace on earth) - how do we find that peace in our lives? Can our lives even look like that?
Psalm 46 To the choirmaster. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. A Song. The choirmaster (or chief musician – the worship leader). The Sons of Korah were a division of the priests, the Levites. According to Alamoth means either that it was to be sung by virgins, or more likely by sopranos. That tells us that is some sort of chorus or praise song – perhaps it was sung regularly. But it is intended to be used as part of a liturgy – a song for the worship service. Now before we read the Psalm – I’d like us to read it correctly – liturgically. And at the end of vv. 3, 8, 11 – it says Selah. Most scholars believe this is intended to tell the music to pause – it may also be a pause for the congregation to stop and think - to consider the lyrics that we just sang.
Our first point, before we’ve even read the text: 1. What’s Selah got to do with it? Selah means stop, think, consider…Now, finally, let’s read from Ps 46 – as I read, I’m going to pause after each
READ PSALM 46 - SELAH
I love this Psalm. Clearly there three sections, separated by our Selah - pause In each section we are assured of God’s presence – in the middle of everything going on v. 1 – God is a very Present help in trouble – our refuge and strength – in the midst of the cosmic troubles – the earth is melting away; mountains falling into the sea – the oceans roaring – God is well-proved, He is very present – He has preeminence, supremacy even as our entire earth is literally being destroyed – yet God is present In the 2nd section, the Psalmist is writing about Jerusalem – the city of God – the location of the Temple – when Israel thought of the Temple they think the presence of God – the Jews came from all over Israel and beyond to seek God in the Temple – where His presence was – we read that God is in the midst of this city – think God and His people And this river running through it is God’s provision – it’s His grace, it’s Him Then in verse 7, The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our Fortress – it’s His presence in the midst of this chaos and the nations raging, the earth melting – God is there in the middle of it – God is there for His people – His presence is felt In the third section – discussing God’s works as He makes the wars to cease – destroying the bows, spears and chariots – in the midst of that God speaks – which we’ll come back to – and in verse 11 we hear the same refrain as verse 7, The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress – 2. A Pattern of Presence and Peace There is a ton going on in these verses – it seems that there is some sort of battle against God’s people – so God becomes our fortress – we are hiding in Him while the earth is melting away, the nations and kingdoms warring and raging – through all of it God in His overpowering presence is steadfast – and the psalmist encourages the people – God is with us – a very present help – our refuge – our fortress – the same God who was the God of our fathers, the God of Jacob – He is the Lord of Hosts – He is our God – He is here – And as the psalmist is reinforcing again and again – God is here – in the midst of disaster after calamity after attack – God speaks "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" God says – stop – remember who I am…. And the repetition is powerful – I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" God is insistent It reminds me of Isaiah 48 9 For my own name's sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to cut you off. 11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another. God is insistent on reminding us that when our salvation is on the line – it is more than just our lives that are at stake – it is His name I will be exalted among the nations, I will not yield my glory to another. I will be exalted in the earth!" The Presence of God is our Fortress – our defense – And our confidence is from God – When His presence is there we can find peace. “Be still, know that I am God” – I will be exalted
A few months back I had a student in my office – he was overwhelmed – normally a calm guy –he was scatterbrained and nonsensical – he was saying “Mike I’m freaking out, I’ve got figure out my classes, I’ve already changed two, and I don’t know if I’m coming back next year, and my room is destroyed, I need to clean it – I don’t have time I got to go to work in a few hours and homework, and I don’t know what I’m going to do…my car and my finances, and my room’s thrashed” – the words were just spilling out I just said – Adam, chill out, man. Stop. Take 10 deep breaths. Go to your room, clean it. No music on. Just think. And be quiet. Pray. That’s what I need. I think that’s a lot of what this Psalm is saying.. God’s saying to us – in the midst of whatever you are doing – stop – Know that I am God I easily overwhelmed. I’m really bad at pacing myself – my energy comes in spurts – days or hours or even weeks and months of going hard – as youth pastor I worked insane hours in the summer – 70 and 80 hour weeks spending time with kids, and then I would crash and just be exhausted. And I never learned to take care of myself. . And a few years ago I was so tired – I was a college pastor, out 4/5 nights a week with students and I was doing seminary part-time on the side and not resting ever – and ran out of energy. I never took care of myself – this of course affected me spiritually, and my ministry. So last year when I started working at the college – I was on campus every day of the week, including four nights a week, so I began practicing a Sabbath – taking time each Sunday to rest – I tried to learn my lesson For me, last year, I would sleep in on Sunday – wake up late – 10am or so. I would do my laundry, clean my house, make some coffee and listen to a couple of sermons by Mark Driscoll, and maybe end by heading to Starbucks and reading my Bible or journaling. BY 3pm I felt like I could tackle anything for the entire week. And then I headed to church for the night service at Uptown. It changed me. To rest and recalibrate. Physically, emotionally – spiritually. But then I went to Ecuador last winter to speak at a high school down there – I was staying with some close friends who are missionaries, and I attended a meeting with about 30 missionaries in the room. There was a group discussion – what are you learning right now – and I talked about my Sabbath – my rest – and the point certainly wasn’t we all need to take ½ of a day off – for most people that would be very difficult if not impossible – but we need to take an hour a week or even 10 minutes a day to stop and recalibrate. To get our bearings. And one missionary – a woman I know and respect – kind of scoffed and said – “it must be nice” I can’t afford to have that mentality… we can’t as Christians – what about “Selah”? What about 46:10 – Be still and know that I am God. If you can’t stop at least somewhat regularly and remember who Jesus is in your life – then something has to change. Because we have to do more than just stop – and that’s my third point:
1. First point was what does Selah have to do with it
2. A Pattern of God’s Presence and our Peace
3. The one word path to peace: Believe
Turn forward in your Bible to John 14 if you will. In John 14, Jesus just created communion, the last supper – he and the discples are in the upper room, and he ate and drank with them, washed their feet, and now he is giving instructions to the 11 – Judas already left. And Jesus foretells Peter that He will deny Him. He then turns to the disciples and says in John 14:1 John 14:1 Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me Their world is about to turn upside down. Jesus is about to be arrested, then tried and killed. And what does Jesus tell them. Let not your hearts be troubled. (HOW?) Believe in God; believe also in me Believe. Persist in your faith. Believe. That’s it. He doesn’t promise them that everything will be okay – in fact, all of them will die a martyr’s death except John who dies of old age in exile on an island 50, 60 years later. He doesn’t make it all go away. He doesn’t make it easy. Don’t freak out – Believe in Me In the midst of cancer – believe in Me Divorce, and relational pain – believe in Me Recession, job loss, uncertainty – believe in Me Later in John 14 Jesus says - John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Shortly after this, according to Matthew 26, Jesus took off to pray to God, Jesus had to get His bearings! He had to seek God’s presence to have the strength and resolve to face what the day would bring Mathew 26:39, same night, Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." The message today is not – go to church each week, read your Bible everyday, or isolate yourself from the world in religious asceticism and you will find peace. The message is believe in Jesus! Believe the Gospel! Believe that God is here! He is present for His people! Believe His promise to love you, to forgive you, to guide and protect you. Believe Him that He is who He says He is. He is who He says He is! That is our source to peace. Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me – Jesus says Be Still and Know that I am God – I will be exalted on the earth We must apply this to our own lives in order to be effective ministering to our city, San Diego. Here at Harbor, this is part of our mission statement – On the frontpage of the Harbor Downtown website it read, We believe that God’s power is alive in the city of San Diego! God is working to renew our city socially, economically, culturally, and spiritually. We participate in God’s renewal by first experiencing his renewal personally through the good news of Jesus Christ. As we see God’s power at work in us, we see what’s possible for our city. This moves us to action, loving our neighbors, communities, and work environments, and being agents of peace and reconciliation This must happen in our lives so we can be effective in the lives of others. WAGE PEACE – bumper sticker – WAGE it – that sounds right – initiate peace – it’s a battle to believe in God. Wage it well. As we close, I ask, Who is God in your life? Do you know Him? Have you trusted Him for life and forgiveness - Then put “glory to God and peace on earth” into practice. You need to find peace – put God on the throne in your life – to believe in Him. Life will still be brutal and confusing and complex – but there is hope – God is in control – you can find peace in God. As we approach the new year, will you WAGE peace? Maybe Instead of losing 10 pounds or having a better portfolio, or impressing people or stockpiling wealth, maybe part of our resolutions should be to set time aside to remember who the Lord is, what He has done, and where He is – in the very midst of our lives. You are the people of God. He is here with you – set time aside, believe in him - regularly Selah. Tune your heart to God. May we be still. Know that He is God and He will exalted. And So find the way of peace