Sunday, October 07, 2012

 

Going Sane in a Crazy World: Some Musings on Rest from a Weary Pilgrim


A little over two weeks ago, I was asked to teach at Gospel Community Church.  I had planned a sermon on worship, but God changed my mind.  God's Spirit had lodged Matthew 11 in my mind and heart for a couple of weeks, and I kept hearing "Come to me all who are weary, and I will give you rest."  I needed that rest, so I went back to Psalm 46 and tried to connect it to Matthew 11.  You can hear what I said on this page (just look for September 23 and listen):  http://www.gospelcc.org/media/media-2012/My notes are below, but they aren't exactly like the sermon.  I hope it blesses you!
 
"Going Sane in a Crazy World"
Psalm 46/Matthew 11:28-30
Introduction
The Tick and Arthur
“You aren’t going crazy chum, you’re going sane in a crazy world”
We live in a crazy world
Economic issues
Crazy election going on
Wars and rumors of wars

Stress is everywhere! And it shows. It shows in our bodiesin our relationshipsincluding our relationship with God.
Is that you today? I know it's an area where I really battle. I want to do everything. So I react in the moment. I say yes when I should say no — forgetting that my time is already allotted to other things. We react in a response of the flesh instead of acting under the Holy Spirit's control.
You see, God knows our pressures and our conflicts. And He has made provision for each and every one of them. And that provision is Himself.  He is our Refuge and our Rest.

Psalm 46:  The Frame is God’s Presence (v. 1) and our Position (v. 10)
When God seems silent, be still and know his presence
When the world turns against us, be still and know his power
When things get hectic, be still and know him
Going Sane means to Rest (Matthew 11:28-30)

When God Seems Silent: Come to Jesus
Psalm 46:1-3
When life goes crazy, where is sanity?  Where is rest?  Where is God?
In what way is God a refuge when life is in tatters?
C. S. Lewis—A Grief Observed
Where is God?  When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be -- or so it feels -- welcomed with open arms.  But to go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find?  A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside.  After that, silence.  You may as well turn away.  The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. . . . What can this mean? Why is God so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in times of trouble?”
God’s presence has not changed, yet we seem to be unable to access it
God seems distant, or at least a bit unconcerned
Our world is shattered, where is the glue to hold us together?
Be still and know his presence
In Matthew 11:28, Jesus commands us to come to him
Who should come? 
All who are weary or heavy burdened
All who think that their lives are over
All who think God has turned his back on them
All who face the awful silence of others and even God
His promise is to give rest
He doesn’t promise results
He doesn’t even promise a “word from God”
He promises “rest”
Rest is a relief from hardship, pain, distress, and turmoil
It is the presence of Christ in our hard times
Come to him and find rest
Col. 1:15-17:  Jesus is the glue that holds reality together
The Psalmist calls us to put our trust in God who holds all things together
The words “refuge” and “strength” speak of God’s security and power
Our security is not in the ground beneath our feet (remember Haiti or Chile?)
God is our ultimate unshakeable reality  and the greatest power of all
Just because I don’t see the sun that doesn’t mean it ceases to exist
When life gets hard, we need to stand still, to desist, to stop striving and to dwell on his presence
We need Jesus’ rest
God is omnipresent, he has gone nowhere
Be quiet, and listen
Psalm 91:7
Be still and know his presence
When the World Turns Against Us:  We Take His Yoke
Psalm 46:4-7:  God is with his beloved Jerusalem
2 Corinthians 4:7-10—Jars of Clay
We are not exempt from hardships, difficulties, and bad emotions
But we are more than survivors (Romans 8:31-39; especially v. 37)
We may be shaken, but we cannot be destroyed
The power by which we live and by which Jerusalem is sustained is the power of God
When things go south, we must learn NOT to rely on our abilities
Our power MUST come from a higher source
God is There, and He is Able
Be still and know his power

In Matthew 11:29-30, Jesus gives two more commands:  “Take my yoke” and “learn from me”
Jesus doesn’t think that rest is necessarily sitting still
This is a work in progress, it is still work
Yoke is what oxen wore
You often put an untrained ox with an older ox in order to help it learn
The yokes were specifically fit to the oxen
So it is with us, Jesus prepares us for the work he has in this world by fitting our yoke just to us, joining us in the yoke, and teaching us how to work—That is Rest!
Jesus’ humility and gentleness in teaching us gives us rest
As we learn to rely on the humble Christ, we find rest
Rest in his yoke, rely on his power
When Things Get Hectic: His Yoke is Easy
Psalm 46:8-11
God's Word to us when we're on the ragged edge of reality:  Be Still, Desist, Cease striving, Stop Struggling, Rest.
Psalm 46:10 says to "Be still," which may mean “rest.” It means to "let your arms down to your side"—to be vulnerable to God.
God also says to "know that I am God." He calls for a cognitive and a personal response.
We cease striving not because we know how it's going to work out, but because we know the God who will work it out.
C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (continued)
"I have gradually been coming to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted. Was it my own frantic need that slammed it in my face? The time when nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just the time when God can’t give it; you are like the drowning man who can’t be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear." 

Come to the Jesus, whose humility led him to die for you
Wear his yoke, do only his work
Do not look around at what everyone else is doing (This is Peter’s reaction at the end of John)
Keep his easy yoke and light burden as your protection
Only do those things God has placed on the yoke you share with Jesus
Remember, he gives rest while he helps bear our load

All kinds of things may be going wrong, but God remains unmoved and unchanged
He is constant, he is there, he is not silent, he has not moved
To know him is to know security even in the most hectic time
To know him requires time and stillness
We must sit with him, spend time with him, learn from him
We need time with our Father
We need to unravel, to experience Selah
His presence is ours, our position is to be still with him
Be still and know him
Now What?
So, life is going crazy
How do we go sane in a crazy world?
How can we find firmness when things seem unsound?
We must begin with a proper focus
Whatever consumes our attention soon overwhelms our senses and colors our perspective
Instead of being consumed by the problem, we should turn our face to the Lord
This week we must schedule time with God
We must stand still on God’s firmness and stability
We must learn to quit striving, to cease kicking, to be still and to be vulnerable to what God may be doing
We must embrace God as our sole refuge, as our primary source of satisfaction
This week find ways to create a space of peace in your hectic schedule. Take time to sit still.
This week, when the bottom falls out, when God seems silent, when the world turns against you, when things get hectic
Be still, and know God’s power, presence, and person
And you’ll find that he is a genuine refuge in time of trouble
Thanks for reading!  


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