Bethel Baptist Church
Worship Service @ Home
22 March 2020
Welcome – we seem to be unanimous in agreeing that for the foreseeable future we should follow the recommendations given regarding the Corona virus and not meet up. It has been suggested that I put together a short service /sermon for distributing to help us worship together, each week, ‘absent in body, present in spirit’ (Colossians 2:5). If you are able to, please go through this short service at 11a.m. on Sunday
Reading Psalm 46:1-10.
The above hymn, “A mighty fortress is our God” was written by Martin Luther during the Reformation & was inspired by Psalm 46.
Ultimately we are going to look at the text “Be still & know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) but first we will look at its context.
Right at the beginning of this Psalm we have a statement of great truth, some great theology, “God is our refuge & strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Such requires a response in practice and in Psalm 46:2 we see that wonderful word: “Therefore.” What’s it there for? Therefore, I will respond: “I will not fear.”
What follows in verses Psalm 46:2-3 reminds us of Jesus teaching on the End-Times, the Last Days (see Matthew 24:1-51; Mark 13:1-37; Luke 21:5-36), v 2 “though the earth give way & the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar & foam & the mountains quake with their surging. It’s in such circumstances that the Psalmist is saying, “I will not fear.” And why won’t he fear? Because “God is our refuge & strength an ever-present help in trouble!”
More frightening events follow in verse 6: “Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall.” But before & after it we have these great assurances in verse 4: “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. 5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” There is no river in Jerusalem, but there is in the ‘New Jerusalem’, the Bride of the Lamb, the Church, and the river is the Holy Spirit. The Church in Christ with the Holy Spirit in her will not fail or fall. “God will help her at break of day” brings to mind, Exodus 14:27-28:
“Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing towards it, and the Lord swept them into the sea. 28 The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen – the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.”
Note in Exodus 14:13 the people were all panicking & Moses spoke the word of the Lord to them: “Stand still & see the salvation of God.” Again in 2 Kings 19:35:
“That night an angel of the Lord went to the Assyrian camp & killed 185,000 soldiers. At dawn the next day there they lay, all dead!”
God is our refuge, strength, fortress, an ever-present help in trouble; He is Sovereign over the nations & the life of faith should be lived continually in commitment to God’s sovereignty, rule & ultimate exaltation over the nations. It is into times of crisis, calamity & corona virus that He says, “Be still & know that I am God.” Some versions put it like this: “Cease striving & know that I am God” (NASB).
The picture of the disciples panicking that they were going to die & of Jesus stilling the storm in Mark 4:39 perfectly captures this whole meaning: “Jesus stood up & commanded the wind, “Be quiet!” & He said to the waves, “Be still!” The wind died down, & there was a great calm.” We are to be still before the One who can still the storms of life!
Finally the ultimate assurance: “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” summed up in the promise in Habakkuk 2:13-14: “Has not the Lord Almighty determined that the people’s labour is only fuel for the fire, that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing? 14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
Let’s Pray: “Our Father, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth. You are our refuge & strength, an ever present help in trouble. Forgive us when we forget this, when we fear & take our eyes off you. Thank you, that through Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, & by Your Holy Spirit living in us, we can continually abide in you. Help us to do so more & more. We acknowledge that You are Sovereign over all & that You are bringing about Your good, pleasing & perfect will.
We pray for all those who at this time are fearful, very ill, weak, lonely [add people’s names & situations that you know of]. We pray, Lord, that they may reach out to You at this time & realise that they can be still & know that You are God. Reveal Your Son Jesus Christ to them & by Your Spirit draw them into that wonderful relationship with Yourself. For all our brothers & sisters in Christ throughout the world who are suffering at this time we pray that You will be especially near to them, that you will strengthen them & sustain them, & that all our lives will bring glory to Your name. Thank You for the tremendous hope that lies ahead & that one day the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of Your glory, in & through Jesus Christ,