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Worship Series: Psalms - For the Season of End Times
Worship Theme: Psalm 91 - Why Does God Pound on Me?
Lesson & Sermon Text: Psalm 91 (EHV)
Gospel: Matthew 25:1-13 (NIV)
Music: Here I Am to Worship, I Was Glad, CW 440 On Eagles’ Wings, Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) (in worship folder)
Song by Grades 5-6: The Lord Is My Salvation
Message Notes & Growth Group Questions
Our livestream system had issues this weekend, but we were able to record the service from the pews.
Message: Psalm 91 - Why Does God Pound on Me?
Five years ago, my heart broke for my cousin, Breanne and her husband. Their little one year old son, Lincoln, somehow fell into a bucket of water and drown. A bucket of water. As I understand it, the family used that bucket to wash off their feet after they were done playing outside. Lincoln fell in and couldn’t get himself out. He was rushed to the hospital where he held on for a few days while the family and countless thousands around the country held on to Jesus in prayer for a miracle. And a miracle was given...not a physical healing came. A spiritual one did. One week ago today, Little Lincoln breathed his last shallow breath and went home to Jesus.
The family is in shock. Their friends and extended family are at a loss of words over their unimaginable, unexpected tragic loss. Suddenly, life can take a sharp turn you never expected. And when it does, your head and heart seem to spin out of control.
Death can happen at any moment, any second. This last week we had a knock on the door at church. It was someone requesting food from our food pantry. As she selected the items that would work for her taste buds and for the situation she was in, we talked about life and Christ. When she was leaving, she told me, “You know we only have 31 days.” Curious, I asked her, “31 days until what?” She simply smiled and said, “31 days. Pray to God to protect you and your family.” And I am. I always do. When those 31 days come and go...and I’ll be honest I’m looking at the world a bit more cautiously right now...something might happen after 32 days or 32 weeks or 32 more years. We never know. But we do know this. Pain and problems are around every corner, after any minute or even from a simple bucket of water.
Do you dread death? Are you fearful of your future death? And is your dread of death robbing your joy of life? It can. It did for a young woman named Florence. At the age of 37 she told her friends that her life hung by a thread that might snap at any moment. So she went to bed afraid that she was soon to die. And she stayed there. Her death prediction proved true. She did die...53 years later, at the age of ninety!
Doctors could find nothing wrong with her. Most diagnosed her as a hopeless hypochondriac—dreading death, ever obsessed by its imminence. Except for three years, Florence was controlled by her fear of death. But during those three years, she made a name for herself, not as one who suffered, but as a friend of those who did. History’s most famous nurse, Florence Nightingale, lived as a slave of death!
What about you? Is your fear of dying robbing your joy of living? Health problems can become a huge stress in our lives. They can remind us that our bodies are only going to last so long. That we aren’t perfect. That we are mere mortals. Health problems can make us think that all is wrong with our life and the world.
So can any kind of hardships. Marital stress. Conflicts in relationships. Loss of job. Divorce. Death of loved ones. Fear for your safety. Persecution because of your faith. All of these can take the joy out of living. All of them can bring stress and make us worry. Is no one watching over me? Is no one taking care of me? If you are a person who seems to encounter one challenge after another, life can get pretty hot with hardship. Has health trouble and hardship made life unbearably hot for you? Can’t stand the heat?
Then turn to God’s Word. Psalm 91. Did you notice the word that gets repeated again and again? Will. God will. If you are wilting under the heat of hardship, know that this is what God will do for you: He will provide you rest. He will be your Refuge. He will save you. He will cover you. He will shield you. His angels will protect you. You will trample the serpent (through Jesus!) The Lord says: I will rescue. I will protect. I will answer. I will be with you. I will deliver you and honor you. I will satisfy you.
When God says “will,” do you think He means it? Always has. Always will. We can count on His protection. Some students got rained out when a violent storm disrupted their picnic. As they drove away, the driver slowed to a stop. He gestured to a tender sight on the ground. A mother bird sat exposed to the rain, her wing extended over her baby who had fallen out of the nest. The fierce storm prohibited her from returning to the tree, so she covered her child until the wind passed. That poor little bird was terrified. Bit and pieces of the wind still pushed against it and it could hear the full force of the storm. As the rain drops poured off the mother’s wing it splashed up upon the little bit making it even more scared. It felt like it was getting pelted and attacked but it was only feeling some of the affects. It’s mother bird was sheltering it.
God is protecting you; sheltering you. Many times you and I have no idea all the peril and pain He kept away. The office gossip heading toward your desk is interrupted by a phone call. A burglar headed to your house gets a flat tire. A drunk driver runs out of gas before your car passes his. God protects you; He shelters you. Our text explains it this way, “He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find Refuge.” (vs. 4)
“But does He?” you ask! “Then explain my job layoff. My dysfunctional family. The health problem I’m suffering with. Why someone broke into our house. Or the death of our child.” If God is guarding us, if He is our Refuge, then why do bad things happen to me?
Have they? Have bad things really happened to you? You and God may have different definitions for the word bad. Parents and children do. A middle-schooler defines “bad” as “pimple on nose,” “Friday night alone,” or “pop quiz in geometry.” “Dad, this is really bad!” the child says. Dad, who has been around awhile, thinks differently. Pimples pass. Quiet Friday evenings are actually kind of nice.
What’s bad to a child isn’t always bad to a dad. What you and I might rate as an absolute disaster, God may rate as a pimple-level problem that will pass. God views your life the way you view a movie after you’ve read the book. When something bad happens, everyone in the theater gasps at the screen. Not you. Why? You’ve read the book. You know how the good guy gets out of the tight spot. God views your life with the same confidence. He’s not only read your story...He wrote it. God’s perspective is different, and His purpose is clear. And the more you read His story, the more you’ll understand the movie of your life.
God uses struggles to toughen our spiritual skin. He tells us in Zechariah 13:9-10, “I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call upon My Name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’” One of God’s best cures for a weak faith is a good, healthy struggle!
Have you ever seen a silversmith work? He places an ingot of silver on an anvil and pounds it with a sledgehammer. Once the metal is flat enough for shaping, into the furnace it goes. The worker alternately heats and pounds the metal until it takes the shape of a tool he can use. Did you know that the smith in silversmith comes from the old English word smite? Silversmiths are accomplished smiters. So is God. Once the silversmith worker is satisfied with the form of his tool, he begins using smaller hammers and abrasive pads; pounding and rubbing more. And no one stops him. No one yanks the hammer out of his hand and says, “Woe, go easy on that silver! You’ve pounded enough!” No, the craftsman pounds the metal until he is finished.
So does God. Heating, pounding. Heating, pounding. Strife, stress. Loneliness, layoff. Heating, pounding. Heating pounding. Conflicts, clashes. Lives out of balance, loss of a loved one. Heating, pounding. Heating, pounding. Can’t stand the heat? Can’t stand the heat of hardship and health problems? Well actually... this heat is good! God is using these things to refine you, to strengthen you, to make your trust in His love and guidance stronger! He is working on you for your good!
Spiritually speaking, heavenly focusing, you don’t want Him to stop pounding away! Some silversmiths keep pounding and polishing until they can see their face in the object they are making. So when will God stop with you? When He sees His reflection in you! When God has pounded on you so much that you only trust in Him for love, forgiveness, and salvation, He looks into your heart and sees the perfect reflection of His Son, whose life was given in your place. God sees Jesus in you. That perfect reflection will only truly happen when He takes you from this life to your eternal life. Until then, He will continue to keep refining and reshining the love of Christ into your life.
It might take some pounding to get there, though! And sometimes it isn’t very comfortable. It might even be painful. All the heating and pounding might make life pretty hard at times! So if you are having difficulty handling the heat, here is something to remember: God is always with you, protecting you, even when health and hardships pound away at you! He isn’t going to let you melt away but grow stronger in Him!
In the book The Dance of Hope, Bill Frey tells of a blind student named John, whom he tutored at the University of Colorado in 1951. One day Bill asked John how he became blind. The sightless student described an accident that happened in his teenage years. The tragedy took not just the boy’s sight but also his hope. He told Bill, “I was bitter and angry with God for letting it happen, and I took my anger out on everyone around me. I felt since I had no future, I wouldn’t lift a finger on my own behalf. Let others wait on me. I shut my bedroom door and refused to come out except for meals.”
This surprised Bill, because John never seemed bitter or angry. So he asked John to explain the change. John credited his father. Weary of his son’s pity party and ready for him to get on with life, John’s dad reminded him of the upcoming winter and told him to put the storm windows onto the house. “Do the work before I get home or else,” the dad insisted, slamming the door on the way out. John reacted with anger. Muttering and cursing and groping all the way to the garage, he found the windows, stepladder, and tools, and went to work. “They’ll be sorry when I fall off my ladder and break my neck.” But he didn’t fall. Little by little he inched around the house and finished the chore.
The assignment achieved dad’s goal. John reluctantly realized he could still work and began to reconstruct his life. Years later he learned something else about that day. When he shared this detail with Bill, his blind eyes started welling up with tears. “I later discovered that at no time during that day had my father ever been more than four or five feet from my side.” The father had no intention of letting his boy fall.
Your Father has no intention of letting you fall, either. You can’t see Him, but He is there. He may allow hardships to challenge you—to strengthen you and your faith in Him, but He will never leave your side while those hardships are challenging you. So if you can’t stand the heat, remember God is using it to bring you closer to Him. And growing closer to God is what our life is all about. Amen.