Posted in blessed, Sermons

God is on Our Side

Psalm 124

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side

—let Israel now say—

if it had not been the Lord who was on our side,

    when our enemies attacked us,

then they would have swallowed us up alive,

    when their anger was kindled against us;

then the flood would have swept us away,

    the torrent would have gone over us;

then over us would have gone the raging waters.

Blessed be the Lord,

    who has not given us as prey to their teeth.

We have escaped like a bird

    from the snare of the fowlers;

the snare is broken,

    and we have escaped.

Our help is in the name of the Lord,

    who made heaven and earth.

This scripture says to me, we have to trust God, our Loving Parent, put our hope in Jesus, our Savior, and be led by the Holy Spirit, our advocate and comforter to share with the world that God is on the side of God’s people.

First of all, we have to trust God, as our Loving Parent. 

Dear Mom,

Scoutmaster Webb told us to write our parents in case you heard about the flood and got worried. We’re all okay. Only one of our tents and two of our sleeping bags got washed away. Nobody drowned because we were all on the mountain looking for Chad when it happened. Oh yeah, please call Chad’s mother and tell her he’s okay. He can’t write her because of the cast on his arm.

I got to ride in one of the search-and-rescue Jeeps! It was neat! We never would have found him in the dark if it hadn’t been for all the lightning. Scoutmaster Webb got mad at Chad for going on a hike alone without telling anyone. Chad said he did tell him, but it was during the fire, so he probably didn’t hear him.

Did you know that if you put gas on a fire, the gas can will blow up? It was so cool! The wet wood still wouldn’t burn, but one of our tents did, and some of our clothes. Boy, Johnny is going to look weird until his hair grows back!

We’ll be home Saturday if Scoutmaster Webb gets the car fixed. It wasn’t his fault about the wreck. The brakes worked good when we left. But he said with a car that old you have to expect something to break down. That’s probably why he can’t get insurance. We think it’s a neat car. He doesn’t care if we get it dirty, and if it’s hot, sometimes he lets us ride on the tailgate. It gets pretty hot with 15 people in the car. He let us take turns riding in the trailer until the highway patrolman stopped and yelled at him.

This morning all the guys were diving off the rocks and swimming out in the lake. Scoutmaster Webb wouldn’t let me because I can’t swim, and Chad was afraid he would sink because of his cast, so he let us take the canoe across the lake. It was great. You can still see some of the trees under the water from the flood. And Scoutmaster Webb isn’t crabby like some scoutmasters. He didn’t even get mad about us leaving the life jackets behind. He has to spend a lot of time working on the car, so we’re trying not to cause him any trouble.

Guess what? We passed our first-aid merit badges. When Dave dived into the lake and cut his arm, we got to see how a tourniquet works. Also, Wade and I threw up. Scoutmaster Webb said it probably was just food poisoning from the leftover chicken. He said they got sick like that with the food they ate in prison. I’m so glad he got out and became our scoutmaster. He said he figured out how to do things better while he was doing time.

I have to go now. We’re going into town to mail this and buy some bullets and more gasoline. Don’t worry about anything. We’re doing just fine.

Love, Your son

God is our Loving Parent.  The spin cycle of sin…Romans 8:31 says, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?”

All kind of calamities are happening.  Fires in California, two hurricanes in the Gulf, and I’m not going to get into the global pandemic and all of the affects its having.  God is not like the Mother who gets the letter from her son.  God is actively engaged in our world today, working things for our good.  

Amy Grant, the Collection, was my favorite CD growing up and her song “Angels,” reminds me of this concept.

God only knows the times my life was threatened just today.

A reckless car ran out of gas before it ran my way.

Near misses all around me, accidents unknown,

Though I never see with human eyes the hands that lead me home.

But I know they’re all around me all day and through the night.

When the enemy is closing in, I know sometimes they fight

To keep my feet from falling, I’ll never turn away.

If you’re asking what’s protecting me then you’re gonna hear me say:

Got his angels watching over me, every move I make,

Angles watching over me!

Angels watching over me, every step I take,

Angels watching over me.

God is ALWAYS, always working for our good, even when it doesn’t seem like it.  Even when we’re under attack.  We are a BLESSED people, writes the psalmist, because we haven’t been surrendered as “prey” (v. 6). Indeed, because of the Lord’s help (v. 8), we have “escaped” (the word is used twice in v. 7).  We’ve got to trust God has our best interests at heart, ever working in the midst.  To sharpen us so that we’ll better persevere, to give us strength and sustenance on the road ahead when we’re desperately tired and parched, to give us a future with hope.

Second of all, we have to put our hope in Jesus our Savior, the only hope we have this side of heaven.   

Peter J. Gomes, chaplain of the Memorial Church at Harvard University, wrote a book titled The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus Christ: What Is So Good About the Good News? (New York: HarperCollins, 2007). He tells about a time some years ago when South African novelist Alan Paton spoke at Harvard. At the time, the apartheid regime of Paton’s home country appeared to be close to collapse, and a black majority government would soon take over. Many people feared that massive bloodshed was imminent. During a question-and-answer time, a woman asked Paton, “Given all that you have said and we have heard, are you optimistic about the future of your beloved country?” Paton replied, “I am not optimistic, but I remain hopeful.”

Gomes writes that he has thought much about that distinction between optimism and hope ever since. He recalls that Dietrich Bonhoeffer once warned against cheap grace. Similarly, Gomes warns against “cheap hope.” He explains: “Hope is not merely the optimistic view that somehow everything will turn out all right in the end if everyone just does as we do. Hope is more rugged, the more muscular view that even if things don’t turn out all right and aren’t all right, we endure through and beyond the times that disappoint or threaten to destroy us. Something of the quality of that hope is found when the psalmist asks, ‘Why are you cast down, O my soul? Why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.’”

Such muscular hope comes with a price, writes Gomes. It’s the kind of hope that requires work and effort, with no real guarantee of when, how or even whether we will see a positive return. Citing Romans chapter 5, he states, “Paul’s sequence reminds us of this: We pass from sufferings that are not avoided to ignorance, which is the quality that allows us to keep on when it would be easier to quit. The process of enduring produces character, that inner quality not to be confused with image or reputation, that is who we are when no one is looking. It is from character that hope is produced. This is where the old aphorism comes that says, ‘Show me what you hope for, and I will know who you are.’”

Miss Congeniality was on this weekend.  Sandra Bullock’s character plays an FBI agent, gone undercover in the Miss USA as Gracie Lou Freebush.  She jokes that she’s hoping for world peace.  I’m not talking about that kind of hope, I’m talking about this muscular hope, where we actively work with Jesus to make it happen in the world.  If we’re hoping for world peace, we better be actively working for peace on our own lives in word, deed and Spirit.  If we’re actively working for muscular hope, we show that in our own lives, we radiate that hope, and we point people to the hope in Jesus.

Thirdly, we have to be led by the Holy Spirit to blow hope, peace, love and joy to a world that is so stressed out, angry, and battered.

Rabbi Hugo Gryn used to tell of his experiences in Auschwitz as a boy. Food supplies were meager, and the inmates took care to preserve every scrap that came their way. When the Festival of Hanukkah arrived, Hugo’s father took a lump of margarine and, to the horror of young Hugo, used it as fuel for the light to be lit at the festival. When he was asked why, his father replied, “We know that it is possible to live for three weeks without food, but without hope it is impossible to live properly for three minutes.”

May the world know that the church exists not to raise hell, or give ’em hell, but raise hope and give ’em hope. As Psalm 124 reminds us: “Blessed be the Lord .… Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (vv. 6, 8).  We’ve got to show people through our very lives the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” 

It’s easy to give in to anger, strife, and the ceaseless complaining of this world.  It’s much harder to be a city on a hill that stands for light in the ever-growing midst of the darkness.  Don’t give in.  Trust God to provide, cling to the robust hope in Jesus, and let the Holy Spirit guide and lead you to who you need to talk to, giving you the words to speak, and using words to inspire and create a spirit of cooperation and unity, not divisiveness and dissatisfaction.

Isaiah 51:1-6

Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness,

    you that seek the Lord.

Look to the rock from which you were hewn,

    and to the quarry from which you were dug.

2 Look to Abraham your father

    and to Sarah who bore you;

for he was but one when I called him,

    but I blessed him and made him many.

3 For the Lord will comfort Zion;

    he will comfort all her waste places,

and will make her wilderness like Eden,

    her desert like the garden of the Lord;

joy and gladness will be found in her,

    thanksgiving and the voice of song.

4 Listen to me, my people,

    and give heed to me, my nation;

for a teaching will go out from me,

    and my justice for a light to the peoples.

5 I will bring near my deliverance swiftly,

    my salvation has gone out

    and my arms will rule the peoples;

the coastlands wait for me,

    and for my arm they hope.

6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens,

    and look at the earth beneath;

for the heavens will vanish like smoke,

    the earth will wear out like a garment,

    and those who live on it will die like gnats;

but my salvation will be forever,

    and my deliverance will never be ended.

Our help and our hope is in the Lord our God who will always be on our side.  If we trust God, put our hope in Jesus and let the Holy Spirit guide our steps, we will truly be the body of Christ in the world.

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