Two Resolves God Wants Us to Have from Psalm 46

There are many suffering people in our church, just as there are in every church.  We are still on this side of Heaven.  But sometimes it seems that the suffering comes in waves.  There are currently five ladies that I know of in our church fighting cancer, and we just found out about three of them in the last two weeks.  Add this to other forms of physical struggles, marriages and parents that need encouragement, a continued weak economy for many workers, and persecution that some feel for following Christ in their families, schools, or jobs, and Jesus’ words feel stronger right now: “In the world you will have tribulation.” (John 16:33)

When you go through times that it feels the earth has fallen out from under you, or just when you are having a bad week, there are two resolves that God wants you to have that I want to remind you of from Psalm 46.

1) We will not fear.
Psalm 46:2 declares, “Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea…”  Why, specifically?  Verse 1 explains, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  Sometimes the cancer goes away.  Sometimes the relationship struggle gets better.  But sometimes it doesn’t.  We will not fear because God is our fortress.  There is no better reason to not fear.

2) The LORD of hosts is with us.
In the Psalms, when a theme is at both the beginning and end of a Psalm–and especially if it is in the middle too–that is an important point that the Lord does not want us to miss. God is not just a refuge and strength, He is also a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).  Verses 7 and 11 also echo this promise: “The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

The reason that we will not fear is exactly because of Who is with us in all of our trouble.  He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  But it gets even better–as believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, we are privileged members of the New Covenant.  “The LORD of hosts is with us” would have been enough–but you are identified so closely with Christ now that God loves you like He loves Christ (John 17:26)!  This assurance would be enough, but the Holy Spirit actually indwells you–yes, lives IN you (1 John 3:24)!  The same One who promised, “In the world you will have tribulation,” then assures us: “But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

These are resolves that God wants us to have.  In our fear, He alone is our fortress–so we will not fear.  And His presence is all we need.

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The Preacher

preach the wordNote:  This is part of an on-going series as I blog through D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ “Preaching and Preachers.”  I did not reach my goal of blogging through “Preaching and Preachers” by the end of the “Fall Semester,” but I realized that I am now a pastor, not a seminary student, as people, discipleship, and upcoming teaching and preaching are more important than my blog.  That does not mean I am not a student though!  The pastor is always a student–so I press on through “Preaching and Preachers” for the benefit of my own soul and the people that I have the privilege and joy of preaching to.

If you are not a pastor, Chapter Six, “The Preacher,” may at first seem to not apply to you.  But I encourage you to read on as there are several helpful points for anyone who listens to a sermon every Sunday, as well as for those searching for a church home.

A Concern for Souls
Lloyd-Jones points out several factors that a man considering the call to preach must take into account:

The true call always includes a concern for others, an interest in them, a realisation of their lost estate and condition, and a desire to do something about them, and to tell them the message and point them to the way of salvation.  (117)

Surely this concern for the souls of others is of utmost importance.  As Lloyd-Jones has reminded us before, the pastor is to be shepherding people to God in Christ–which means there will be a concern for either their salvation or discipleship if they already profess Christ as Savior.

Four Indispensable Things
After discussing the importance of a thorough seminary education including Bible knowledge, theology, original languages and church history, Lloyd-Jones discusses the ability to speak publicly as a consideration.  Then he boils it all down to four indispensable things that a preacher must have:

The chief thing is the love of God, the love of souls, a knowledge of the Truth, and the Holy Spirit within you.  These are the things that make the preacher.  If he has the love of God in his heart, and if he has a love for God; if he has a love for the souls of men, and a concern about them; if he knows the truth of the Scriptures; and has the Spirit of God within him, that man will preach.  (131)

What About Those Listening to Sermons?
Pray for your pastor!  My overwhelming sense as I read this chapter was one of inadequacy, which he addresses as he points to the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:3, where Paul openly admitted that as he preached God’s Word he had a sense of weakness, fear, and trembling.  I praise God that Paul also pointed to the sufficiency of Christ: “Who is sufficient for these things? … as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:16b-17)  Pray that your pastor would find his sufficiency in Christ rather than himself–any pastor worth listening to would be grateful for those kinds of prayers.  And if you are looking for a church, look for the kind of pastor who has a humble boldness that depends on and points to Christ (1 Corinthians 2:2), seen through his reliance on God’s Word as he preaches, and a concern for the souls of people.

But in the end, Lloyd-Jones does not leave those who listen to sermons off the hook.  What attitude should we have when we come to hear God’s Word preached?

It is always the Word of God, and no one should ever listen to it except in a spirit of reverence and godly expectation of receiving a message.  (130)

Source:  Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn.  Preaching & Preachers: 40th Anniversay Edition.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.