Sunday, August 24, 2014

Psalm 27

The new building is progressing nicely.
A dreary, drizzly day outside, but energy is abundant and invigorating here in the sanctuary as we await the start of another service. As people enter the building Pastor Brad Shannon welcomes various members of our church family and greets newcomers. At a certain point in time, he moves to the front of the sanctuary calls us in to begin, tipping his hand that today he will be talking about Psalm 27 and addressing the theme of anxiety.

Gail: We're having a fund-raiser right after church today... A+ hot dogs, cole slaw, and ice cream sundaes.
Brooke:  Sunday school begins September 14 this year. We're seeking volunteers in various capacities... also need help with the nursery, which is for children 1-4.

Ed filled in on piano accompaniment for our worship as Darlene was at a retreat this weekend. After the offering we had a time of prayer, lifting up the needs in our church family while also giving thanks for God's blessings.

"God, it's such a privilege to see You show up in so many ways." ~Pastor Brad

Psalm 27

Brad began by reading this Psalm of David in its entirety. He then began talking about how frequently anxiety is an issue in so many lives. "I talk to many people and anxiety or worry is a major issue. Someone wrote that two thirds of all medical visits are related to stresses caused by worry."

He invited us to turn to our neighbor and ask, "When you worry, what is it that you worry about?"

In Psalm 27 David's lament is that he is surrounded, besieged. How many of you feel surrounded, with no way out?

In verse ten David states that even if his family gives up on him, God will not. For most people family relationships can be a primary source of stress in many lives.

The sources of stress are many. But in the midst of all David says there is also a source of strength. "Though I be surrounded, though I be on the edge of being destroyed, I will not fear, for the Lord is with me." (paraphrase)

Brad's message today centered on verse four which he broke into three components.

One thing I ask from the Lord, 
this only do I seek: 
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord 
all the days of my life, 
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord 
and to seek him in his temple.

First, what does it mean to dwell in the house of the Lord? It means to live with the ongoing reality of God's presence. It is a discipline we commit to, to remember He is ever present in our lives, a reality that is affirmed throughout Scripture.

The second segment is "to gaze on the beauty of the Lord." What does it mean to gaze? Make God the object of your gaze. Turn your worry into worship. Every other object of our gaze is shifting sand.

Brad noted that one frequent cause of anxiety is our feeling that we need to be in control. It upends us when we are challenged in that, that we do not always have the ability to control events in our lives. He illustrated this with the image of a bowler's animated gyrations to make the ball do what he wants after letting it go, even tilting as if the whole earth could be shifted to push the ball back where he wanted it.

Finally David says he will seek God in His temple. I can try to control my life, or I can submit to His lordship. Will we trust God and His wisdom? We seek Him in His word.

Brad shared a Henri Nouwen a story about how trapeze artists work in tandem, with a catcher and thrower. The thrower must not reach or grab, but must trust the catcher. So it is that we be still and trust our catcher, that we trust God.

Brad concluded with the story of how Horatio Spafford came to write "It Is Well With My Soul." Spafford wrote this remarkable hymn after a series of traumatic events. First, he lost his only son to scarlet fever. Then he experienced economic ruin due to the Great Chicago Fire. He had planned to go with his family to Europe but there were business matters he had to attend to so he sent his family on ahead and he would meet them later. Tragically, there was a shipwreck and his four daughters were lost at sea. His wife sent the heartbreaking message from abroad, "Saved alone." As Spafford crossed the Atlantic to be with his grieving wife, he passed the region where the shipwreck took his daughters and felt inspired to write these words:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

We closed singing our usual benediction, "The Lord bless you and keep you..."

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