Life on the Rock
Jesus told a story, a foolish man, built his house upon the sand, and the rain came tumbling down. The rain came down, and the floods came up and the house on the sand fell flat.
But there was also a wise man, A wise man built his house upon the rock. And the rain came down, and the floods came up. and the house on the rock stood firm.
Of course, Jesus wasn't really talking about houses or where to build them. He was talking about you and me. He was talking about where we build our lives, and what we build our lives upon.
If we build our lives upon the Bible, God's word, if we are trusting in God; if God is our rock and our strength, then whatever comes, we'll be able to stand firm.
But if we build our lives on anything else, if we look to anything else to be our strength. Then one day, our lives will fall flat.
So let me ask you this evening, what have you built your life upon? What is your foundation? What are you trusting in to be your rock and your strength?
Psalm 46 is a song. A song that was written, to be sung by people who have built their life on God and His word.
Psalm 46 is a song, about what life looks like, when you build your, Life on the Rock.
The question for us, as we look at this Psalm 46 together this evening is…is this our song?
If you have built your life upon the rock, then God is your strength in calamity. That's the first thing we see in this psalm
God is our strength in calamity, v1-3
Look at v1. For those who have built their life on God, He is their refuge, their safe place. Knowing Him, believing in Him, and trusting in Him keeps them safe. When they're anxious, they find safety, knowing that God is in control. When they're afraid, they find safety, knowing that God holds them in his hands. When they're confused and unsure, they find safety, knowing that God will guide them, in his time and his way. And when they feel lost, they find safety in the knowledge that they have purpose and meaning, because they were made by God, to live their lives worshipping Him, and one day he will take them home to heaven.
Proverbs 18 v 10 says,
"The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe."
When times are hard, people who have built their life upon God, the Rock, find that they can run to Him, and He will keep them safe.
And…he will give them strength. Not only do believers know that God controls all things, and loves them completely, they also know that he is with them.
"If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."
God, as it says in v1, is
"an ever present help in trouble."
A Christian is never alone. God is with us.
And "Therefore," they say in v2a, "we will not fear."
If Almighty God, is your refuge and your strength, if He is always with you, "an ever present help in trouble." Well then, why would you ever be afraid? Instead, you can say… "We will not fear."…even if everything else in our lives falls apart. Look at v2-3…
I wonder if you've ever been in an earthquake? I've only been in a very little one, but I can tell you that it's a weird feeling. Not just because everything begins to shake, but because we're so used to the ground beneath our feet being solid and un-moving!
Do you see?
The psalmist chooses the two most solid, most unchanging, things he can think of, the earth and the mountains. And then he says, even if they give way and fall down, I will not fear. Even if the most solid, stable, dependable things in my life give way, I will not be afraid. Because God is my refuge and strength.
Those who can sing this psalm have built their lives on God, the Rock.
Therefore they will not fear, even if the earth gives way.
They will not fear, even if their parents get a divorce…or they go through a divorce.
They will not fear, even if their closest friend betrays them.
They will not fear, even if their unborn child is diagnosed with an incurable disease.
They will not fear, even in the face or terrorist attacks.
They will not fear, even if a loved one is taken from them.
Because God is their refuge and strength, and He never fails.
If you build your life on the Rock, then God will be your strength in calamity.
So let me ask you this evening, do you know that? Can you say that? Is Psalm 46 your song?
Secondly, if you have built your life upon the rock,
Then God is your Strength in Community.
God isour strength in community, v4-7
In v4 the song changes. Its focus shifts from the individual's experience of God, to the nation of Israel's experience of God.
In the Old Testament, largely speaking, God's people were a nation, called Israel, and the capital city of Israel, was Jerusalem.
Look at v4…
What is it that brought life to the city of Jerusalem? Well, physically speaking, it was the stream that flowed under the city. (Called the spring of Shiloh if you're interested in that sort of thing) That's where they got their water. But spiritually speaking their life came from God. At the heart of the city was the temple, "the holy place where the Most High dwells." The temple was where God met with his people. And so they sang in v5-7
The Israelites were God's people and He was their God. And all the way through the OT we see the Israelites being attacked on every side by enemies. The Amorites, the Midianites, the Amalekites, the Philistines, the Assyrians…
And the thing that saved them, the thing that meant that Israel and Jerusalem stood firm, whilst the nations and kingdoms around them came and went. The thing that sustained them and gave them strength, was God.
It wasn't their army, it wasn't superior size or strength or skill. It was God who kept them safe. In fact, his name, the LORD Almighty, in v7, literally means 'the LORD of hosts' or 'the LORD of armies'. He was their strength, he won their battles for them, he defeated their enemies. God, they sang, is our strength in community.
And so it is today.
A lot of things have changed since Psalm 46 was written. When Jesus came, he showed that instead of people having to come to Israel to learn about the God of heaven, now the good news of the gospel was to go out to the nations. God's people, God's kingdom, would no longer be one nation in one geographical place, now they would be his people all over the world. It's what the Bible calls the Church (with a capital 'C')
So the way God's community look has changed since Psalm 46 was written, But the source of our strength has not. Christians can now sing these words about the Church, v5-7
We might feel, in our day and age, that the Church is weak?
Perhaps we feel the attack of the 'New Atheists'? Those people, like Richard Dawkins, who are clever and confident, and who have no hesitation challenging our claims, questioning our beliefs, and mocking those who hold a Christian faith. Perhaps we feel pressure of the world around us? Telling us that you don't need God and that life is great without him, and at the same time saying that they are loving and inclusive, and we are bigoted and arrogant to say that anything is right or wrong. Or perhaps we feel the weakness of the Church in the face of Islam?
But Psalm 46 says, we don't need to be afraid, because God is our strength. The strength of God's people, the strength of Israel back then and the Church today, is not our numbers, or our leaders, or our social media presence, or anything else. Our strength comes from God. Because, God is our strength in community. Do you know that? Can you say that?
Is Psalm 46 your song?
Now let me add just one thing before we look at the last few verses.
Some of you may be thinking, as we read vv4-7, (at least I hope some of you are thinking, as we read v4-7) but Jerusalem, the city of God, did fall. It's all very well singing,
But in 586 B.C. Jerusalem was captured and destroyed by the Babylonians. And even after Nehemiah and Ezra had rebuilt it, in A.D. 70 it was destroyed again, this time by the Romans.
So where does that leave Psalm 46? And how is that supposed to make us feel about the Church today?
Well to help us understand, let's quickly look at a few verses from the New Testament.
In the book of Colossians, the Apostle Paul is writing to the church in Colossae when he writes…
"Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – "
He's reminding them that they've been saved by God through Jesus Christ. You're safe, he's saying, you've been saved. You're part of God's people, the Church. But then he adds in v23...
"- if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel."
God was the strength of the people of Israel, and Jerusalem their capital. And God is the strength of his people, the Church, today. But only if we continue in our faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope help out in the gospel.
God is our strength in community, but only if we keep trusting in Him. Only if we keep believing in Him, and following Him. If we reject Him, like Israel did in the years leading up to the attack of the Babylonians in 586 B.C., or if we refuse to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, like the Jews did just a few years before the Romans came and destroyed Jerusalem again in A.D. 70, well then, God doesn't promise to save us.
But if we continue to trust in Him, as long as we trust in Him, He will not let his people fall. God is our strength in community.
God is our Strength in Eternity, v8-11
At first glance v8 and 9 seem strange. In v8 the song changes again and starts to talk about the destruction that God brings. And then in v9 it carries on but now it talks about the peace that God brings. Look at v8-9
So what's going on, and what's it talking about? Well, to help us understand, I think we need to read the next verse, v10…
In v10 it's clearly talking about a time to come in the future, a time when all peoples, from all the earth, will see that God is God, and give him glory.
It's talking about the time when Jesus comes back to judge the earth.
And that helps us to understand vv 8-9, because when Jesus comes back, there will be destruction. Those who have stood against Jesus in this life, who've rejected him, like those clever and confident New Atheists, will be punished for their rebellion. Those who've rejected God and chosen instead to worship the gods of this age, money, sex, power, status, experience, who've rejected the idea of God and decided for themselves what is right and wrong, they will be punished for their rebellion. And those who've rejected God by choosing to follow man-made religions, like Islam, will be punished for their rebellion.
There will be destruction when Jesus comes, but there will also be peace.
Jesus will not return to wage war, no-one can stand in rebellion and fight against him No, Jesus will come to bring punishment to those who have rejected him in this life, and to bring peace and safety and joy to those who have followed him in this life.
When he returns, when God comes to judge the earth, those who are trusting in Him will have nothing to fear, because, v11…
Whatever we've done, however we have sinned, if we are trusting in Jesus and following him, then when we stand before God and our lives are laid bare, Jesus will speak in our defence and say, 'Father, I've already taken the punishment they deserve, they can go free.'
There is nothing we need to, or can do, to earn our place in heaven. If we're trusting in Jesus then we only need to Be still, and know, to trust and believe that God is God.
He is our strength in eternity.
Do you know that?
Can you say that?
Is Psalm 46 your song?
The foolish man, built his house upon the sand, and the rain came tumbling down.
And the rain does come tumbling down. Disappointments, disease, depression, death, they touch each of our lives. The rains come down, and one day the floods will come up too. Jesus will return. We will, all of us, be judged by God.
And if you've built your life on anything but Him, if you've found your strength in your abilities, or your career, or your friends, or your spouse, or your money, or your luck, Those foundations will be washed away. and the house that you have built will fall flat.
But if you have built your life upon God, the Rock. Well, when the rain comes tumbling down, and it will. You'll find your house stands firm. Whatever rains come down, whatever calamity comes, you will have the strength to stand. Because God is our strength in calamity. He will not let his people fall, God is our strength in community.
And when the flood of his judgement comes, even then our house will stand firm, because he is our strength in eternity.
Do you know that?
Can you say that?
Is Psalm 46 your song?
I hope you can, because we're going to have the chance to sing that song now.
And if this is your song, then let me encourage you to sing it with all your might.
And if it's not yet your song, then listen to the words,
…and why not ask God, even tonight, to make it your song?
Let's stand and sing.