Gladness in Sorrow | April 18-19, 2020 Series: Forget Not – Eric Geiger Sermon Transcription – starts at 16:29
Welcome to my office. I know that some of you are already thinking, “Man, our Pastor is such a nerd. He’s got books hanging on the wall. He’s in the nerd herd.” I mean, and I own it. I have books hanging on the wall in my office. Some people mount animals. I mount books. I mean, that’s what I do.
And actually, these are not all my books. These are just the ones that have impacted me the most. My dad is an engineer, and he put this together for me. And you’ve heard me quote, you’ve heard me quote from some of these books. I mean, this is Bonhoeffer, Spurgeon, John Stott, C.S Lewis: Mere Christianity and then I’m going to mention this book here in a moment. This is Blaise Pascal in his famous pensées, which means his “thoughts”.
Blaise Pascal was this famous mathematician and philosopher, and he was well respected in society. He was influential and affluential. He had everything seemingly going for him, but he was empty inside. All the things he chased after, they didn’t satisfy him. They didn’t make him happy until one moment completely changed his life. And he actually wrote about the moment, and we know exactly when the moment was.
It was November 23rd, 1654 at 10:30, at night. And how do we know when this moment was? Because he had these words sewn inside, the inside of his jacket. This encounter that he had with God on November 23rd, 1654 impacted him so much that he marked that moment, so he would never forget it. And he wrote these words inside of his jacket. And after he died years later, people found these words written. And he wrote these words about the moment when everything changed for him. When he met Christ as his Savior, and he was filled with joy.
Last week, many of you watching, this was your moment. This was your Easter because you met Christ last week. We had 327 of you, last week, text “Believe”—that you received the grace and forgiveness of Jesus, and believe on Him. And our church has been praying for you. We sent a gift to you this week. We’re so excited for what the Lord’s doing in your life.
But this was Pascal’s moment. This is when he met the Lord and received forgiveness. And I love what he wrote, and it was inside of his jacket. He wrote this,
From about half past ten at night to about half an hour after midnight, FIRE. “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob”, not of philosophers and scholars. Certitude, heartfelt joy, peace. God of Jesus Christ. God of Jesus Christ. The world forgotten, everything except God. “O righteous Father, the world has not known You, but I have known You” (John 17:25). Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.
So he marked that moment, and wrote that and put inside of his jacket, so he would remember that no matter what he faced in coming days, that he could look back and forget not that he was filled with joy because of his relationship with Christ. I’ve always loved this quote, because it reminds me that the things of this world, when I chase after those things, they will leave me with sorrow. But the God of this world will satisfy me. The things of this world will leave me in sorrow. But the God of this world, he is the one who will ultimately satisfy me.
Now, that quote, it means a lot to me now, even in this midst of a global pandemic, and in moments where I have been sad. I have been sad, lately.
This has been a crazy last four or five weeks. And as a leader, the first several weeks of this crisis, I was filled with adrenaline—trying to solve problems, trying to figure out how we could serve you, how our church could serve our communities. And some of you, you’re this way too. You lead in different spheres of life and when a crisis hits, you’re filled up with some adrenaline to problem solve and make things happen. And that was me for the first couple of weeks, and then I hit a wall. And I was just sad. And I’m confessing with friends that I am sad.
I had a breakdown moment in this office sitting on this couch. I had all of our Shepherding Elders on this Zoom call, and I just lost it, and cried and cried. I could barely get through the call because I saw all their pictures on that Zoom call, and I missed them. I missed them so much.
And I miss you, I miss seeing you when I teach. I’m going to teach the scripture here in a moment. And I know you’re on the other side of that camera, and I know the Lord’s doing something. But I don’t get to see it. I don’t get to see your eyeballs light up when you get something new from the Scripture. I love that so much, I miss that. I miss seeing you on the patio. I miss it so much.
And then I’m sad for stories I’m hearing—stories of uncertainty and of job loss. Or scenarios that you had planned for this season in your life that don’t look at all like you have had planned. And I’m sad.
And so, this is not a moment when I enjoy being around the people who are, “everything is awesome”. You know those people, the guys who drop Christian clichés in moments like this, “How are you?” “Man, I’m great, man. I’m great. I’m too blessed to be stressed.”
This is not a moment to be the “too blessed to be stressed Christian cliché guy”. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. And so please, don’t fill your social media feeds with these nice little quotes that separate us from the reality of the pain that we are in. We are in a painful situation, yet, we can be filled with gladness in the midst of sorrow.
So Blaise Pascal, he wrote these words, “Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy”. And the tears I have cried in the last several weeks, they haven’t been tears of joy. But I want to hold on. I want to hold on to the gladness that Jesus gives, that Jesus provides. And that’s what we’re going to see today.
We’re starting a series. And for the next six weeks, we’re going to be in this teaching series called “Forget Not”. It comes from a verse in the Psalms, Psalm 103. The scripture instructs us to forget not his benefits. Don’t forget. Don’t forget all the good things that God has for you. Don’t forget.
Blaise Pascal, he wrote the words inside of his jacket. And when tough times came, he could remember that he still was glad, that he still had joy, because the joy came not from the things of this world, and not the crises in this world could take what he had away from him, because his ultimate gladness and his ultimate joy was in the Lord. And that’s what I need.
I need to be reminded of the Psalm we’re going to study today. That times in the last several weeks when I felt sad, that yes, it’s appropriate to be sad. But I can still be glad because my hope is ultimately in the Lord. I can grieve, but I don’t grieve as those without hope because my hope is ultimately in Him.
So the Psalm we’re going to look at today is Psalm 16. If you have your bible, I invite you to turn there because we’re going to see this incredible psalm. It’s really a happy psalm. It is a psalm about where our joy and our gladness ultimately comes from. Psalm 16, here’s verse 1, “Protect me, God, for I take refuge in you. I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord, I have nothing good besides you.””
I want you to notice in verse 1, there are two different words for the word Lord there. Just to emphasize this, we’re going to have it circled on the screen in front of you. The first LORD, all caps, do you notice that? Anytime you see in your bible, all caps with the LORD, that in the original language is the word “Yahweh”. And this is the proper name for God. He is the LORD—the self-existing One, the King above all Kings, the God above all “little g” gods. He is the LORD. The second Lord, notice in your Bible, it’s not all caps. And then in the original language this is the word “Adonai”, and it means master, boss, ruler.
And so here’s what David is saying … “You are the LORD, whether you’re my Lord or not. You are the LORD—the self-existing One, the King above all Kings. You are the Lord, whether you’re my master, ruler or not.” But this is why David’s going to be happy. This is why he’s going to be filled with gladness, because he’s saying to the Lord, “LORD, you’re my Lord. You’re my Lord.” And He is the LORD, whether he’s your Lord or not. He is the LORD, whether he’s my Lord or not. But David, at this point in his life, he’s learned the secret to his gladness, the secret to his joy is that he says to the LORD, “You’re not only the LORD, but you’re my Lord. You’re my Lord.”
Now verse 3 (Psalm 16:3), “As for the holy people who are in the land, they are the noble ones. All my delight is in them. The sorrows of those who take another god for themselves will multiply; I will not pour out their drink offerings of blood, and I will not speak their names with my lips.” And in these verses, David contrasts those who are glad and those who are filled with sorrow. David is saying, “The reason I’m filled with gladness is, I have nothing good that is besides you, God.”
Now here’s what he’s saying, “There are other good things in my life, but the other good things in my life, they aren’t equal to you. God, you are the ultimate good in my life. Yes, I have other blessings.” He even mentions noble people in the land. “I have great relationships. I have other blessings you’ve given me. But the good things you’ve given me, they aren’t beside you. They don’t compare to you. They don’t equal you. You are my ultimate good thing, God.”
And this is why David, in this moment, is filled with gladness because he finds his joy in the one thing that can never be taken away from him, and that is God. But he says that sorrows for those who take another “little g” god, they multiply. That people are filled with sadness, because they are finding their worth and their identity in something else.
Augustine wrote of this passage, and this is actually really encouraging. He says, “When our sorrows multiply, when we chase after something other than God, it’s actually God being really good to us because he’s showing us our pain, so that we’ll go to Him.” He’s pulling us to Himself as a doctor points out pain, so that we will realize we don’t want to chase after those other things. That ultimately, we want to go after the Lord.
When I lived in Miami, there was a good friend of mine who was a chiropractor. And I would go to him frequently to be adjusted. But sometimes I would get really busy, and I wouldn’t go as frequently, as he believed I should go, to be adjusted. And so, one time, I went to him. It had been a long time, and I was in pain. I had tweaked something playing basketball. And Mark was his name, and he sat me down, and he spent all of this time. It felt like forever talking to me about how pain was the signal that would lead to my healing, and that I needed to identify with the pain.
I’m thinking inside, “Mark, man, can you just lay me down and adjust me. I am in so much pain.” But he was using the pain to shepherd me towards a solution. And that’s what God is doing to us in this passage. When our sorrows multiply, it is actually God helping you recognize that when you chase after something other than Him, that thing won’t satisfy. And so, this is what David is saying, “I’m glad because ultimately the LORD is my Lord.”
Then in the next part of the Psalm, and we’re going to read this together, he’s going to give us three reasons why the Lord makes us glad even in the midst of sorrow. And I’ve shared, I’ve been sad at times in the last several weeks but even in the midst of sadness, I can be glad. Even in the midst of sorrow, I can hold on to my joy, joy, joy because ultimately, the LORD is my Lord.
And so three things we’ll see in this passage, we’re going to see that the Lord is your cup, number one. We’re going to see that the Lord is your Counselor, number two. And we’re going to see that the Lord is your Conqueror. I want you to press in and see this in the passage, and this is why you can have ultimate joy in the Lord.
The Lord is your Cup.
Look at verse 5 and 6 (Psalm 16:5-6), David prays, “LORD, you are my portion and my cup of blessing; you hold my future. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” He says, the boundary lines for me are pleasant, are pleasant. And what is he meaning?
Well, in ancient Israel, there would be stones that would mark your boundary lines. Similarly, today would be like going on Zillow and looking at the plot of land that you own or seeing the square footage in your condo or your apartment, just understanding how much space that you have. And David is saying, “The boundary lines are pleasant for me. Everything is pleasant for me. They’re pleasant. The job I have is pleasant. My relationship status is pleasant. My portfolio, it’s fine. The plot of land that I have, it’s fine.” I mean, this is a big statement. He looks at life and says, “The boundary lines for me, they’re pleasant.” And how can you say that?
The only way, I want you to see this in the verse … The only way you can say, verse 6, the only way I can say verse 6, that life is pleasant, is if verse 5 is first true. If verse 5 is not true in your life, then verse 6 won’t be true. But if verse 5 is true in your life, then verse 6, the boundary lines are pleasant, will be true. Look again at verse 5, this is the only way we can look at life when things are crazy and say it’s pleasant. This is the only way.
Verse 5 (Psalm 16:5), “LORD, you are my portion and my cup of blessing. You hold my future.” David is saying, “The reason the boundary lines are pleasant is because I’m not looking for the boundary lines to satisfy me. I’m not looking for those blessings to quench me. I’m not looking for those other things to be my hope. Those things can be pleasant, because You’re my cup God. You have already given me joy. You have already quenched me. You have already satisfied me. And because You have, then everything else can be pleasant. You, Lord, are my cup of blessing.”
I thought about this, this week, and so this is my favorite coffee cup. I use it several times a week in the mornings. It’s a Mariners Church Huntington Beach coffee cup. I don’t know why the Irvine crew didn’t hook me up with one, but the HB crew did and I use it. I use it multiple times a week. And every time I use it, I think about people I love at our Huntington Beach congregation. People, who some of you know, I don’t know your names but I see your faces and sometimes your faces will come into my mind in the morning, and I’ll pray for you. And I think about our Shepherding Elders there … I think of Jeb, and of Dan, and of Tomas. I think about people on our staff there … Monique, and Tracey and Kyle, and I pray for you when I will have a HB sponsored coffee in the morning. And this is a cup.
David is saying this, he says, “God, you are my cup of blessing.” He’s not saying, “God, you give me my cup of blessing.” And I want you to understand there’s a huge difference there. It’s not just a nuance and language. He is not saying, “God, you give me cups of blessings” as if the blessings are outside of God, as if the things God gives us are better than God Himself. David says, “God, You’re the cup. You’re the cup of blessing. You’re my ultimate blessing.” Do you see the difference?
If you believe that God gives you cups of blessing or he gives you happiness outside of him, then we can actually start to love the things God gives us more than we love God Himself. We can start to long for the blessings of God more than we long for God Himself. And this is why David can say in verse 6, the boundary lines are pleasant for me because he says, “God, you’re my cup. You’re aware I am satisfied. You’re aware I have joy. God, You don’t give me joy. You are my joy.” God is not just a dispenser of happiness and a dispenser of joy. God Himself is joy.
C.S Lewis said it this way. He said, God can’t give us happiness… I just dropped the cup in the middle of my sermon, hold on a second… CS Lewis said,
“God can’t give us happiness apart from Himself because there is no such thing.”
Ultimate joy and ultimate happiness comes from the Lord. Number one, He is our cup. Is He your cup? Is He your cup?
Have you said to the LORD, “You’re my Lord? You’re my Lord.”? It’s one thing to understand that he is Lord, but not really view him as your cup, as your Lord. But happiness for you, joy in the midst of sorrow, gladness in the midst of grief, is going to come when you believe that the LORD is your cup of blessing. Number one, He is our cup.
He is our Counselor.
The Lord is our counselor. Look at the next verses, verses 7 and 8 (Psalm 16:7-8), “I will bless the LORD who counsels me—even at night when my thoughts trouble me. I always let the LORD guide me because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
David is not the “everything is awesome guy”. He’s not the “too blessed to be stressed guy”. He’s not trite. He’s not trivial. He is being honest right here that, at night, he has thoughts that trouble him. And for those of us who wrestle with thoughts, it’s a nighttime, isn’t it? I mean, isn’t that when you are flooded with emotion? Isn’t that when you are overwhelmed with uncertainty? Moments for me are at night. And David, too. A man after God’s own heart, struggled. And yet he says, “God, you are my counselor, and I won’t be shaken. I won’t be shaken.”
I’m so grateful for the counselors that we have in our lives and in our church. And when you go to a therapist or a counselor, you leave the session and it feels like a whole weight has been lifted from your shoulders. You have a new perspective. Someone’s helped you see things differently, but you still leave the office. You leave wherever it is that you meet with the counselor or the therapist. This is really good news because David is saying, “The Lord is my counselor. He’s always by my side. I will not be shaken because He never leaves me. And so I can be filled with joy, and I can be filled with gladness because I have a 24/7 counselor. The Lord Himself is right next to me, and He’s never going to leave my side, therefore I won’t be shaken.”
Number one, this is why you can be filled with gladness in this season. The Lord is your cup. The Lord is your counselor, he’s always with you. And then I want you to see this.
The Lord is the Conqueror.
I really want you to press into this passage. This is so crazy beautiful right here. I want you to see this, because this is the Psalms. And if you’re new to the Scripture, the Psalms are in the Old Testament, which means this was written before Jesus came. And I’m about to read to you some verses that are a prophecy about Jesus, before Jesus came.
In fact, these verses are so incredible that in the New Testament, authors and prophets spoke these very words. The Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul, both, use these words and sermons that they gave. And this is going to be this prophecy about Jesus, and I’m giving it away even before I share it to you. But it’s incredible, and I want you to see this. We’re going to see that Jesus is the one who conquers.
Verse 9 (Psalm 16:9), “Therefore my heart is glad and my whole being rejoices; my body also rests securely. For you will not abandon me to Sheol; you will not allow your faithful one to see decay. You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures.” You will not allow your faithful one to see decay.
David writes this. And I believe as he’s writing this, he doesn’t even realize the magnitude of what he’s writing. The Lord is carrying his hand as he writes it, and he says, “God, you won’t let your faithful one see decay.”
Who is David writing about there? I mean, surely, he’s not writing about himself because after David died, his body did see decay. In the book of Acts, the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul took this very passage, and I’m going to paraphrase, but to a large group of people one day, both of them, in two separate occasions got up and said, “Hey, remember that passage you used to study, and your grandparents told you about, and your parents told you about, and you’re passing down from generation to generation? That famous passage in Psalm 16 when David says the faithful one won’t see decay?”
David wasn’t speaking about himself because we can show you where David’s body is buried, and his body has seen decay. But guess whose body hasn’t seen decay? Jesus Christ, the ultimate faithful one. Because David wasn’t fully faithful, and none of us have been fully faithful. But there is one who is fully faithful. Jesus Christ, the righteous One and His body never saw decay. And so, this is why David is saying he is filled with joy because he knows there is victory. He may not even understand what he’s writing down, but he knows that there is a conqueror. And Jesus Christ is our ultimate conqueror.
In a season like this when things are crazy, we long for victories. We long to attach ourselves to stories of victory. When September 11, 2001 happened, people longed for sports to come back. I remember watching the World Series Game 3 of the Yankees, President Bush comes out and throws out the opening pitch and everybody goes crazy. Mayor Giuliani is behind home plate during that World Series, and it was a symbol for our country. And people were gathering together and celebrating, and they were attaching themselves to victories.
In this season, it’s troubling because we don’t have sports. We can’t attach ourselves to victories, and so people are watching old victories on television. People are watching Kobe’s 81-point game, and they’re watching former World Series and former NFL Super Bowls, trying to find some hope but trying to attach themselves to victory.
This weekend, “The Last Dance”, the documentary series about the Chicago Bulls is coming on TV this weekend. It got pushed up to give us something to watch where there’s victory. And all of those victories are great, and I’ve enjoyed watching them but they’re nothing compared to the ultimate victory that Psalm 16 is talking about; that the faithful One of God, Jesus did not see decay.
He did not see decay because after He put Himself on the cross, in our place, for our sin, and He was buried, on the third day, He rose again. And this is why we can ultimately have joy. He’s our cup. He’s where we find blessing. He’s our counselor who never leaves us. But He’s also the conqueror because He rose from the grave, we can have everlasting life. Because He conquered death, we can have eternal life. Because He conquered the grave, we have hope and joy. He promised that He would overcome the grave. There was a prophecy written hundreds of years before He came that He would overcome the grave, and He delivered on His promise.
Other people have promised that they could, perhaps, overcome death. That they could, perhaps, speak from the other side. And others have failed to deliver on the promise. But Jesus kept His promise. And because He keeps His promise, He can be your cup. He can be your counselor. And He is the conqueror.
Harry Houdini, the famous escape artist. He made a promise about coming back from the other side, and he failed to deliver. Here is his story:
Harry Houdini is still considered to be the world’s greatest escape artist. When you’re watching basketball, and hopefully that will happen again, and you see a player make this incredible move, you may hear the announcer say, “That’s a move like Houdini! He can escape anything!” And Houdini was renowned for that, because he began escaping straight jackets and handcuffs and ropes and chains. But as he grew in popularity, Houdini graduated in his escape artistry to coffins buried in water. He believed that he could escape anything.
When he was 52 years old, his appendix ruptured and he knew that he was about to die. And as Houdini was on his deathbed, he made this harrowing promise to his wife, Bess. He said, “I believe I will be able to communicate to you from the other side. I’ve been able to conquer straight jackets and chains, and perhaps, I can conquer death. Perhaps, I can communicate to you from the other side of the grave.”
And so, after he passed away, which was Halloween day, 1926. Every single year, his wife would hold a séance where she would long for him to communicate to her from the other side. And every single year she would wait, and there was nothing but silence.
On the 10-year anniversary of his death, there was this one final séance. It was actually broadcast from Hollywood on radios all across the country. And the host of the broadcast, he starts saying in the broadcast speaking to Houdini, “Houdini, can you hear me?”
“Houdini, are you here? Are you here, Houdini? Please manifest yourself in any way possible.”
And there was nothing. Finally, the host looked to Houdini’s wife and she said, and these words are painful to hear, she said, “All my hope is gone. Houdini did not come back.”
Jesus, like Houdini declared to his followers that He would conquer the grave. Jesus, like Houdini, left hope in His followers that Jesus could overcome death. But unlike Houdini, there would not be 10 years of silence, and 10 years of waiting, and 10 years of hopelessness. Because on the third day after being crucified on the cross for our sin, Jesus conquered the grave and he walked out of the tomb and He is our risen Savior, and He is alive. And because He is the Conqueror, He can deliver hope to us. He is our cup, who satisfies us. He’s our counselor, who’s always with us. And He is our conquerer, who overcomes all things on our behalf.
Jesus, You are who we need, You are what we long for.
Thank you for joining us today. Do you remember the story Eric told at the beginning of his message about Pascal, and how he did not want to forget the truths that he knew about God, and so he had him sewed inside of his jacket? Well, we don’t want you to forget them either. So we have a special card if you visit our website, our “Forget Not” page, where you can download that card and you can keep these truths with you. They can be with you throughout the day.
I want to thank you. I want to thank you for your generosity. The way that you have loved our church generously has allowed us to serve and love our cities and Orange County. Thank you. If you haven’t moved your giving online yet, we encourage you to do so.
And before you leave, I want to bless you. So, whether you’re watching on a couch with others or whether you’re by yourself, maybe even watching on a phone, just extend your arms for a moment and receive a blessing from God.
May the Lord bless you, and keep you. May He make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. And may He turn his countenance towards you, and give you peace.
Security in Insecurity | April 25-26, 2020 Series: Forget Not – Doug Fields Sermon Transcription – starts at 18:18
Well, hey Mariners Church! How great was that? 125,000 meals. When I was watching Eric in the Food Pantry, there was three things I was focusing on: the cereal, there’s a lot of cereal, I couldn’t believe that whole pallet of Muscle Milk because I think I’m going to go down there as soon as I’m done speaking right after that, and I love the fact that he’s in a hat and sweats, and I just thought, “How ironic is it that he’s at church in a hat and sweats?” Because for the last several weeks on the weekend, I’ve been at home in a hat and sweats watching him at church.
As a matter of fact, I brought a picture of my granddaughter. [Image] This is us watching church on a Sunday morning. And super, super cute. Although when I go to sing, she’s not real thrilled about that. And she says, “No Papi, no sing, no sing.” And she’s not even two years old and she knows that I don’t have a very good voice.
But as I was walking here just to be in the Worship Center to film this for you this weekend, I just miss being at our church. For those of you that don’t know, I’ve been the Youth Pastor here. I’ve been speaking at Mariners forever, but I’ve been the Youth Pastor for the last several months, and I really miss watching our Junior High-ers come into the Youth Building.
Because if you’ve never seen it before, you need to see it because it’s super fun, it’s super cute. As a matter of fact, you should join me, come be on my Volunteer Team and be in the very center of God’s will. But that’s another message at another time. But these 6th, 7th and 8th graders, they walk in and there’s just this amazement and wonder, and curiosity. Some run in, some stroll in, some of the 6th graders, they’re so tiny and cute. You want to put them in a basket and they’re like, “Hi Doug.” And then immediately afterwards there’s an 8th grader that you look up to and has a whole different, “Hi Doug.” and she’s just as cute.
So there’s lot of adorable stuff going on and I can’t wait ‘til we’re all together. And I actually saw something this week and I thought, “When we come back together as a church, I think this is what it’s going to look like.” Watch this [Video].
I love it. I can’t wait to be back together. As a matter of fact, I’ve already picked out my favorite face mask that I’m going to wear.
And if you are a regular at Mariners Church, you just have to know that we’re in good hands. I mean, not only is Eric an amazing teacher, he’s a fabulous leader, and has been doing such a great job. And we have an Executive Pastor, her name is Beth Ganem and she’s brilliant and she’s godly, and she’s wise. And I am just so proud to be a part of Mariners Church.
And I’m also proud of Mariners people, the way that you’ve responded and the way that you’ve just showed practical displays of love in our community, and great things are happening. Our teenagers are collecting food to put into the pantry and there’s just good news happening, and that’s what we need.
I know you’re the same way. You’re just tired of bad news. And that’s why this is so popular, John Krasinski, his “Some Good News Network” or no, “Some Good News”. [Image] And the reason it’s so popular is because we’re tired of bad news and there’s nothing bad on that.
As a matter of fact, we were so inspired by this as a family, that on Easter, just two weeks ago, my family, who we haven’t seen my in-laws in about 40 days, we went over to their house and we serenaded them with a song. Now when I say we, I’m behind the camera, I’m filming, so you don’t have to hear me sing or dance. But just welcome to the Fields family. Watch this [Video].
I love it. And, you know, when I’ve been talking to people that everybody’s struggling with this. Last week, Eric talked about finding joy in the midst of sorrow and people are juggling their emotions. And as I’ve been talking to people, I’ve been reminded of two truths. One truth is this, is that
Crisis can crush people!
We’ve seen that a lot of people, that uncertainty and fear, it’s just crushing them. But we also see this, is that.
Crisis can change people!
And I’ve watched that. I see people getting kinder and more loving, and more servant-oriented, and more neighborly. But here’s what I also know to be true, and I almost didn’t even want to tell you this, but I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t, is that
We are forgetful people.
All the stuff that has been changing, all the good that’s happening in our lives, for many of us, we’re going to forget it. I think it’s just going to be easy to forget all the good stuff that happens when we come back all together.
Now, speaking of all together, I’m standing on the stage that we’re normally at when we’re all together, and in this point, I would say something like this, I would say, “How many of you are forgetful?” And you would raise your hand. And I would be able to see that and we’d laugh, and you’d be nodding like, “I’m forgetful. How does he know that? He’s such a wise man!” Well, the reason I know that is because I’m super forgetful, too.
I mean, just this morning as I get dressed, see, what I do is I put on my shirt first before I put on my deodorant, because if I put on my deodorant first and then I put on my shirt, I leave that little white mark that would embarrass my mom, who has been dead for 10 years. But I put on my shirt first and then I do all the other hygiene type stuff. I brush my dentures and I put a little hair gel in. I blow dry my hair, which takes about five seconds. I put that stuff on my face to make my puffy eyes disappear. I do all of that stuff you’re supposed to do. I trim the nine-inch ear hair that appeared out of the middle of nowhere. And then I get to the end of that time and I think, “Did I put deodorant on or not?” And I have to reach under to check. And I can’t tell you how many times I have forgotten that, and that’s just the beginning of the day.
And there are other times where I’ll do something like this. I’m like, “Hey, has anybody seen my cell phone? Does anybody know where my cell phone is?” And then I realized like, “Oh, it’s [in my hand]…” I’m sure you’re not as forgetful, but I am a forgetful person. Here’s what’s worse, is that
I’m spiritually forgetful, too.
See, I have been a follower of Jesus and His teaching since I was a teenager. And I can honestly say to you that I have experienced hundreds, if not thousands, of God’s blessings. God has showed me so much favor and I’ve received so many blessings from Him. I’ve seen that God is good and that He’s personal, and that He’s powerful, and that He’s wonderful. And I can’t tell you how many times, probably a day, I say this. I say,
God is good!
I say that all the time. But then, BAM, adversity hits, crisis comes into our world, this pandemic appears and all of a sudden, life gets chaotic and my 401k drops with the stock market. I lose about 30% of my income for the year because I speak a lot and as a speaker, everybody canceled all of that. And what happens is this door of uncertainty kicks open and fear comes just charging in. And here’s what can happen if I’m not careful. This idea that “God is good!” can change to
God is good?
God is good? And it becomes a question.
And maybe you felt that way, that you forget God’s goodness and God’s faithfulness, and God’s power in your life. And if that has happened to you, just know that you are in a long legacy of people in our faith that I call what they have “spiritual amnesia”. They just forget of God’s goodness.
If you’ve never read about in Exodus where Moses’ leadership and the Israelites, and how God keeps showing up all the time, and they just … I mean, you read it and you go, “How can these people be so stupid?” And then you realize, “Oh, I’m one of these people.” And that’s why we’re in this series, Forget Not.
That in Psalm 103 it says this, “Bless the LORD oh my soul,” which we have a song about that. “Bless the LORD oh…” I won’t sing. “Papi, no sing.” (Psalm 103:2) “Bless the LORD oh my soul and forget not His benefits.”
And as a people of faith, one of the things that we’re called to do is to not forget, to remember. I mean, think about it, that’s what communion is. Why do we celebrate communion? Because we don’t want to forget what Jesus did on the cross as a payment for our sins. And last week, Eric started the series on teaching on Psalm 16 where you’re going to have joy in the midst of sorrow. And this week’s Forget Not comes from Psalm 46.
And Psalm 46, what happens is scholars are all over the place on this, they can’t agree on what particular historical event the Psalmist is writing about. The Psalms were written over 900 years, but you don’t have to know the exact historical context to understand that this Psalm was written to God’s people in the midst of crisis.
So Psalm 46, we’re going to start with verse 1. Read this with me (Psalm 46:1), “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.”
Now, the only thing wrong with this Psalm, in my opinion, is that, I mean, right out of the gate, he throws away the punchline, because this is the whole “forget not”. This is the thing that we’re not supposed to forget.
I would have just done one verse. I just say, Psalm 46 would have been a one verse song. Throw a jingle on it, make it real catchy. It’s a “one verse wonder” because this is what we don’t want you to forget. Now, there’s other verses and we’re going to look at some of those, but they’re all really secondary to this thesis statement that God is our refuge. Now, what is a refuge? I mean, a refuge is that place of safety, that place of security. It’s where you go when you’re wounded or hurt, or afraid.
I mean, think to when you were a child and you’re playing in the front yard, and you get hurt. You’re hurt. You’re crying. You run in the front door. And who do you yell for? You yell for mom. Because mom, in a traditional family, is the person of refuge and security and strength. Nobody yells for dad. Why? Because dads don’t care. My dad would say, “Shake it off. Rub some dirt on it. I’ll give you something to cry about.” And moms, moms are this picture of security and refuge.
A theologian preacher from the 1800s said this, Charles Spurgeon said,
“Others want their castles placed on strong rocks and secured with iron gates, but God is a far better refuge than these.”
We want this sense of physical safety and be protected, but God is a far better refuge than these. And that’s what the Psalm was saying. God is our refuge and our strength, and he uses the word … Let’s go back to the first verse, he uses the word “always”, “always our refuge”. Meaning that God doesn’t tire. He doesn’t expire. He doesn’t go away.
Now the Psalms are in the Old Testament. You move to the New Testament and we have a picture of this when Jesus tells the story of the Prodigal Son. And if you don’t know it, the son basically asks for his inheritance early. He just throws the dad to the side. He goes and he wastes all his money, blows it. He bottoms out. He loses everything and he goes back home to a place of refuge.
Now, Jesus is describing a picture of God and notice what Jesus says here in Luke 15:20, he says, “So he returned home …” this is the son, “… to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father…” this is the God character that Jesus is telling the story, “His father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.”
This is the picture that God is our refuge, our loving Father, always available for us. That, for many of us, what we do is we look for other options of security, but they don’t pan out. And instead of turning to God, we look for all these other things that we think are going to make us more secure, but they don’t.
Now let’s go to Psalm 46:2-3. He continues in the Psalm. Remember verse 1 is the one we don’t want you to forget. Verse 2 and 3, “So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!”
Now what’s happening here is the Psalmist is writing about some natural disaster and some natural chaos. These are actions that are outside of our control. Almost feels like Southern California, if you think about it. If you threw in wildfires and Coronavirus, you’re pretty much describing us right here. But he says in the midst of all this crazy stuff happening, watch, “We will not fear.” Easier to read than actually to live out. We know this. For people of faith, we’re told all throughout the scripture, fear not, do not be afraid. Why is that a common theme of the Bible?
It’s a common theme of the Bible because
Forgetful people become fearful people.
What we do is we forget God’s faithfulness in the past. And when you and I forget God’s faithfulness in the past, what happens is we become fearful in the present. And what I’ve learned in my own spiritual journey is, is this,
The strength of my fear … reveals the depth of my faith.
The strength of my fear, when I’m real, real afraid about things, it actually reveals the shallowness of my faith. See, I move into a place where I don’t see God is my refuge and my strength. And so instead what I do is I turn to worry or fear, and those never promise to be very good options.
We’ve read verse 1, verse 2 and 3. Let’s look at what Psalm 46:4-5 says. “A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it.”
Now what you’ve got here is you’ve got a little bit of a change of tone. The Psalmist is painting a picture of God’s presence. He’s not talking about natural disasters anymore. He’s actually talking about a peaceful river. A peaceful river that flows from the house of God and distributes joy and security everywhere it touches.
It says, “… the sacred home of the Most High.” Sacred home of the Most High. He’s talking about God’s residence, specifically Jerusalem, either the temple or the tabernacle. And it’s the tabernacle and the temple was a symbol of God’s presence with His people. And the Psalmist is saying, “As long as you’re in the presence, you’re safe. There is no fear to those who dwell with God.”
Now again, Psalms are in the Old Testament. We move to the New Testament. This picture changes a little bit in the New Testament in that God’s dwelling, God’s presence is not in a building, the temple or the tabernacle. God’s presence is in our lives.
In 1Corinthians 3:16 it says this, “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?” The spirit of God lives in you. When you stake your life, when you put your faith in the redeeming work that Jesus did on the cross, God promises to indwell you, to live within you with His Spirit. Romans 8:11 says it this way, “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you.”
Two weeks ago, we talked about the resurrection of Jesus. The power of the resurrected Jesus actually lives in you. That’s the dwelling place of God.
What the Psalmist is saying, he’s saying, “Hey, everybody, step back, step back and take a look. The world may be totally chaotic, but God is your refuge. And there’ll be some things out there that are super fearful, but God is your refuge and your strength.”
Now you can read the rest of Psalm 46 on your own. It just repeats itself a little bit with some of these themes. Here’s the big picture themes is that there’s two ways to go. You can find
Chaos in the world Confidence in God’s power/presence
He’s saying, “Life is unstable, but God is stable. Life brings insecurity, but God is secure.”
And then you get down to verse 10 in Psalm 46 and it says this, love this, “Be still and know that I am God.”
Now, I know some of you are sitting there going, “Doug, I know that one. I’ve heard that one. I’ve got it on a cup. It’s hanging in my house.” It’s super popular. Why? Because it resonates with everything that we long for in our life. That we want to, in the midst of all the chaos and the craziness, we want to slow our lives down and we want to be still, and we want to recognize that God is God and we’re not. I mean, that’s why we love to come here and worship collectively. We hit pause on the busy-ness of our life and we recognize God for who He is.
Based on what the Lord has done in the past and who He’s described to be as our refuge and our strength, and where He dwells on a daily basis, today, you and I can be confident. We can be confident of this, that
I am secure in God.
Based on what we know about God from His word, what we sense from the presence of His spirit, that He’s got you. There’s nothing that you can do that’ll take away that security that you have in God. He’s got all the craziness too. I don’t know how it’s all going to pan out, but He does.
Here’s why I want you to get this and I don’t care whether you’re a teenager or you’re an old person, because if you and I, we don’t live in the shadow of sensing that we’re secure in God, what happens to us is we actually don’t live the preferred life that God has for us. I view it like this. When insecurity hits, this is how I feel at times,
This is not a good picture of life. This is like what you feel like when you walk through a haunted house or actually when you walk through the Fields’ house, we live in the perfect scary house.
There are five spots. There’s five in the Fields’ family as we were growing up that I could scare you at the front door. You walk in 10 feet, somebody is going to jump out of the coat closet, scare you. You turn the corner to go into the kitchen, somebody is going to scare you around the corner. Then you get to the end of the hallway and there’s two places, we can actually add another, two places you’re going to be scared. If you turn to the right to the kitchen, somebody pops from behind the counter. All that to say, we love to scare people. We’ve done it all the time and it’s like every week, somebody is walking through our house with this picture of being unstable, off-balance and afraid.
And when you parallel that to life, nobody wants to live life that way. I’ve also found this too, that when I’m insecure, I’m
And as a matter of fact, these words describe me the last, I don’t know, the last week or two. I have been dreading this teaching. I haven’t been dreading the teaching because I don’t like teaching the Bible. I love teaching the Bible. I’ve been dreading this teaching because I like people, and there’s no people here. There’s a camera guy with a face mask and gloves that I can’t even see. I like people. I’ve invited my family. My family’s right over there. I need people here.
I was telling my wife as we were driving here, I said, “I feel like I’m a singer and this is forcing me to dance, to speak to a camera with no audience.” And then I notched it up a little bit. I said, “Like, I’m a rapper. I’m a rapper and I have to do ballet.” But anyway, I have been doubting whether I can do this, whether… I mean, and then here’s the thing that happens, when doubt enters in, defeat enters in, it just gives birth to insecurity. And you know what adds to insecurity? Oh, I’ve experienced this, is
That over the last five weeks, I mean, if you’ve been watching, you know that Eric is a total pro at this, that he just makes it look so easy.
He must have a photographic memory because he has no notes at all, and he’s just a great teacher. And then last week at my house, one of my kids said, “Eric looks so good on TV. He looks so young.” Oh great. I mean, he is younger, significantly younger than me. Plus, he didn’t grow up in Southern California, so he hasn’t contracted sun damage. I mean, you could play Tic Tac Toe and Connect the Dots with this sun damaged face. I’ve actually had people who make leather furniture ask if they could borrow my face. All that to say HD TV is not good for my face.
But here’s what happens when you compare, every time you compare, you lose. That’s just the truth of life. Because you compare everything you know about yourself to what you really don’t know about the other person. But comparison, actually, now that I think about it, it should be comparison to the second power, or the third power, or whatever, math is impossible, times something equals expanded or amped up in insecurity.
Comparison = Insecurity
See, insecurity happens when everything is about me and I take my eyes off of God, and I maximize me and I minimize God.
What I hope you’re thinking is this, I hope you’re thinking, “Well, Doug, I live with insecurity, but how can I have security? I mean, how can I have the knowledge of that security in the midst of my own insecurity?” And I’m glad you asked that. I want to move us to some things that I’ve been thinking about and wrestling with this week as I’ve been kind of trying to really hang on to God as my refuge and my strength. And they’re action-oriented words are for you to experiment with this week.
First is this, is to
Absorb God’s promises
And I wanted to use the word “meditate” here because I think meditate is a good word, but when you use meditate, some people think of like chanting and incense, and crossed legs. But what I mean by is meditate, chew on, ruminate, ponder, think about … basically, don’t forget. Don’t forget that God is your refuge and your strength. I mean, we’re only taking a look in this series called Forget Not, we’re only taking a look at six. That doesn’t even scratch the surface of the hundreds that are in the Bible.
And I created something for teenagers at Mariners because I love them more than you. But if you were to join our Youth Ministry Volunteer Team, I’d love you just the same. Anyway, it’s an app. And it’s an app with 365 of God’s Promises. It’s free. The information is on the screen of how you can get it. You can get it too. [To download the app, go to promises.marinersyouth.com.]
But what I tell teenagers is every time you open up Instagram, how much time you spend on Instagram? And I like Instagram. Nothing against Instagram. Instagram is fun. But Instagram always makes … I mean, if you want to feel bad about yourself, it just ignites all this insecurity.
Now, if you follow me on Instagram, I won’t make you feel insecure unless you have an ugly grandchild. And then that’s on you. But when I go to Instagram, I’m just always feeling like, “Oh.” Like for example [Image]: Why even try? Right? Why even try to work out? Because look at that guy, he’s older than me and I’m like, “Okay, I’m done. Okay. I can’t get there.”
Or how about this one? [Image] Last week Eric was talking about the phrase, the Christian clichés, “Too blessed to be stressed”, and people put their quiet time on there, and the Bible and journal, and pens, and memorization… I mean, nothing against that, but people are so stressed right now. Those of you that are homeschooling and you’re sending your pupils on suspension, and they’re reporting their teacher for drinking. I mean, it’s crazy times right now. And sometimes you look at that and you go like, “I am so stressed.”
Or how about this one? [Image] This is the one that’s getting me because the Fields’ family is running out of toilet paper. And I don’t know that the Coronavirus causes diarrhea, but it sure seems like everybody else thinks it does. And I just know, let’s put it this way, before the Coronavirus, I used to pull that toilet paper off the deal like I was playing Wheel of Fortune and now it’s like I’m cracking a safe and just… and anytime you want to feel bad about yourself, just go to Instagram.
And here is the truth. The truth is this:
You will increase your security when you absorb God’s promises.
Take them in, read them, let them sink into your soul and swirl them around, and be reminded that God is your refuge and your strength. Absorb God’s promises.
The second thing I want to encourage you to do is to
Connect with God’s people.
Now, if this stay-at-home quarantine hasn’t reminded you that you need people, you’ve been watching way too much Netflix and not thinking deeply enough. That you and I, we were created by God, in our DNA, that we need other people.
That when you become a new creation in Christ, like 350 of you did two weeks ago at Easter, you became a new creation in Christ. Here’s what you need to understand. Other people are important to your sanctification, which is the process of you becoming more and more like Jesus. And friends, I know Mariners is a big church, but we have so many ways to make it feel small and for you to be known. And I know right now what the norm is, is that
Social distancing is the norm, but social connections is the need.
Why is connecting with other people so important?
Because if you have some insecurities, think about this, if God’s spirit dwells in you, why wouldn’t God’s spirit know what I need as your friend? That I need that encouragement, or that empathy, or that presence. That God’s spirit in you knows what I need. And so, we need one another to grow spiritually.
And if you’re not in a Life Group… I mean, if this whole thing hasn’t pushed you to want to connect with other people, I don’t know what you’re waiting on. If you’re not in a Life Group, let us help you. We are starting new Life Groups every single day and the information is on your screen to text to it. [For more info on Online Groups, text “Connect” to 949-267-3131.]
And if you started one that we don’t know about, let us know that one too, because we can resource you and help you take it to an even better place. And we want to help you. We want to help you do that. Because if there’s a second wave of this, which I obviously hope there is not, we just need people badly.
Absorb God’s promises. Connect with other people. And lastly, is
Find a daily time to be still … cease striving.
Remember verse 10, “Be still and know that I am God.”? In some translations it doesn’t say “Be still”, it says, “Cease striving”.
Which I like that picture as well, that if you’re at home, you are creating a new normal. And this is the perfect opportunity in that new normal for you to develop some new habits. Some new habits that will help you transition your fears from yourself onto the refuge of God that will help you take your focus off of yourself and put it on to God, to be still and know that He is God.
See, when we do the Instagram or compare our lives to other people, everybody looks better from a distance, but with Jesus, Jesus looks more beautiful and He looks bigger up close. And when you are still and know that He is God, He begins to do something in your life that just makes your life a richer, more loving, more peaceful, more secure follower of Jesus.
I have a friend, his name is Mark. He’s one of those people. This is Mark Beeson. [Image] He’s a pastor at a really great church in Granger, Indiana. And in September, he was diagnosed with stage 3 pancreatic cancer. And I heard about it from one of the staff. I’ve spoken at his church a bunch, and I texted him this: [Image]
“I’m your biggest fan in Orange County, CA and I’m cheering you on to Jesus right now.
Much love my friend. [doug fields]”
And I don’t normally write my name to a text. I just didn’t know for sure whether he had it or not. I let him know, Doug Fields. And then he says this right back, [Image]
“Dude, God’s got this … and I love that you are with me cheering HIS great work and redemptive love! You’re a good man. Thank you.”
And I just like, “God’s got this.” I said, [Image]
“That’s what I would expect you to say “God’s got this!””
Because he lives that kind of life. God’s got this. And he says,
“Oh yeah … I shortened the sermon to the “Cliff notes” … and the basic theme is, “GOD IS AWESOME!” So … I’m following Him.”
How great is that? God’s got this.
Now those words come from a place of refuge and strength. That doesn’t mean he’s not afraid. It doesn’t mean he’s not insecure over the whole thing. He just knows who is his security. And that’s the difference that Jesus makes in the life of someone who ceases to strive and is still, and is just reminded that God is God and you’re not. I just spoke at his church a couple of months ago and he’s doing pretty good.
And I had this fictitious conversation in my mind. I mean, that was the actual text messages, but the one that went in my mind went like this. I would say, [Image]
“Mark, you sure have more faith than me.”
Which is true. I really think that he does. But when I say that, he might say this, [Image]
“No, I just have more experience with a faithful God.”
Friends, we have the opportunity to have more experience, more time to be still with that faithful God who is our strength and our refuge, and is always willing to help in that time of trouble. I don’t want my life to be crippled by insecurities and I don’t want that for your life either.
As a matter of fact, as I was driving over here, I thought I didn’t put them in this order, but if you want to remember them, they’re ABCs: Absorb God’s promises, Be still and Connect with other people. Try that this week. Try the ABCs and see what happens to your faith.
As a matter of fact, I think this might happen. I think you might go from
God is good?
God is good!
All the time. I can’t wait to be with you again.
Jesus, may we not be the same people when we stop watching this. May we be different because we’re reminded of your refuge and your safety, and that You provide security into the life of a believer. That You are always willing. That You’re not distant. That You’re always willing to infuse Yourself and dwell in our lives. Thank You for Your love for us that is not based on our performance or our past. That You love us because we are Your people, and for that we’re thankful. It’s in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
He is good. Even when we don’t see Him working, He is still good. And Mariners Church, I want to pray for you and pray a prayer of blessing over you, that this week you will sense each moment, His goodness towards you. Will you extend your hands and let me pray a prayer of blessing over you?
Father, I pray for Your sons and daughters. I pray this week that You will bless them. I pray You will keep them to Yourself and cause Your face to shine on them. I pray that once again, You will prove faithful as You always do, that You are the helper who comes to us in our time of need. Lord, stoop low to my brothers and sisters who need to sense Your help this new week. I pray that You will be their refuge, the strong and sturdy one to which they can run. And so, Lord, bless Your sons and daughters this new week in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen. Go in peace.