- How are you actively placing yourself in the presence of God right now?
- Who are you reaching out to? How are you staying connected?
- What will worship look like for you this week?
Good morning Hope City Church! How is everyone doing here at Church Online today? Let us know over in the chat box this morning. In fact, what’s one thing that you’ve been looking forward to about being back here at Church this morning? Maybe it’s been a long week, and Sunday just couldn’t come quick enough. I know I feel that way very often.
There is something special about being here all together digitally. We love seeing your names show up in the chat box and communicating with one another. Let me remind you that this is interactive. There is a button on the bottom of your screen that says LIVE PRAYER. We have church online hosts prepared to pray with you right now. Click that and let someone pray with you today.
Also, don’t forget to share Church Online with others! Invite someone to join you digitally here at Hope City Church. While we are staying at home, and helping to flatten the curve, let’s not flatten our relationships. They can continue to grow and thrive!
Last week I asked you three questions, 1. What has Covid 19 taken from you, 2. What has Covid 19 not taken from you, 3. What has Covid 19 given to you. Well, over here in my house, COVID-19 has allowed for lots of family game time. We’ve been playing games, doing puzzles, getting refreshed in the rules of old games like Rummy, Captain Jack, Mancala and learning new games like Settlers of Catan, and others.
One of the games that sits in our shelf here at home is this one right here: JENGA. You know the premise behind this game, it’s the tower building competition. The whole idea behind this is that you build your tower by pulling pieces out of the tower to grow the tower.
The trouble is that as more and more pieces get removed from your tower, it becomes easily shaken, and it gets susceptible to falling apart.
This is what life has felt like for the past 3 weeks for me. It feels like my life is a Jenga game that is on the verge of falling over and falling apart. There have been so many challenges right?
- Working from home
- Navigating the kids being home
- Virtual Meetings- ZOOM CALLS- and yes, I’m judging the bookshelf behind you
- PREACHING TO AN EMPTY ROOM
It feels crazy! Like brick by brick… what I’ve known and experienced is feeling a bit more unstable. Any of you feeling this way? I wonder, what “bricks” do you feel are being pulled out right now? Let us know… let’s hear it in the chat.
- Missing Friends- where are all my social butterflies? Where’s my
- Making Dinner Every day- Come on… I know there are some of you missing your favorite restaurants right now. Which ones?
- Maybe it’s got you arguing with your spouse… like this video may best represent you and your husband or wife. (DOGS ARGUING)
Maybe some of you are feeling like the entire base of your life has been rocky because your job is insecure.
- Furloughed from your work
FAITH VS. FEAR
Read the Letter:
There is nothing like a Pandemic to prove that you are not in control. Life is shaky at best.
There is a passage of scripture that has been written for these types of moments. This should help us Take Heart even in the midst of the uncertainty. In the face of uncertainty, we have several options. We can try to grab at everything we can to stabilize our life… this is overwhelming. We can also give up trying and let everything fall apart. OR we can lean in and turn to the one who put our life together in the first place. The one who stacked each of these bricks, who built your body in your mother’s womb. The one who is invested in you, who loves you, who cares for you beyond what you could imagine.
This morning I want to direct us to the Psalms, to the book that has been described as a peek into an emotional journal. How do we navigate our way through the emotions? Today we’re going to see that Psalm 91 is giving us a roadmap to navigate the shaky times of life. Turn over to Psalm 91, click over in your YouVersion App, or click over in the Notes Tab here at Church Online to follow along.
Look at Psalm 91:
1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
The psalmist is saying to us this morning, pay attention. Remember… there is a direct correlation with where you choose to spend your time and what you experience. We know this. If we spend all of our time eating pringles on the couch in front of Netflix, we will have a very different experience than if we spent our time enjoying a home cooked meal, and a workout in your garage or a run.
The Psalmist says that where you DWELL impacts how you FEEL. Which leads us to our first point this morning, if you’re taking notes… PT. 1 “GOD’S PRESENCE BRINGS GOD’S PEACE”. When you’re in God’s Presence, a byproduct of that is God’s Peace! I love the statement of faith that the psalmist writes. I WILL SAY OF THE LORD: HE IS MY REFUGE AND MY FORTRESS. The one that I run into and the one that protects me. Then the Psalmist describes how God will cover over us with his wings in the same way that a mother bird spreads out her wings to cover her nest. God’s faithfulness is what will shield you.
When my kids were younger, they used to have night terrors. They would yell out and scream. AH!!!! They would be crying REAL tears, even though the terrors were all in their mind. They were not physically real.
And as their Daddy, I would come running into the room throw the door open and see their little body lying on that big bed… tears coming down their face and I would pick them up and hold them close. And then I would say, “It’s Okay… Daddy’s HERE.” I would wake them up, and HOLD THEM, and say it again so they could hear it this time. “YOU’RE okay. Daddy’s HERE.”
I would stay with them and rock them back to sleep. Their bodies which once were tense and tight, you could feel them relax as they slept in the arms of their father.
The same thing is true for the follower of Jesus, your heavenly Father is present in your life. The Holy Spirit is inside of you right now. And It’s as if God is saying, It’s okay… YOU’RE OKAY. I’m HERE.
Get in God’s presence.
Psalm 84 says it this way:
1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty!
2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
The Psalmist says, I can’t wait to be back in God’s presence. Get me to God’s place to experience God’s peace!
10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
Even just a day in God’s presence is better than 3 years somewhere else. Let me just hold the door open… Let me just be near the entrance of God’s place. Why? Because the Psalmist knows that God’s Presence Brings God’s Peace. In troubling times, when life feels shaky, you need to GO TO GOD’S PRESENCE.
Read Scripture daily. We’ve made it possible for you through several tools… of course there is the YouVersion App. It’s free there are bible reading plans over there. Or you can sign up for a free 60 days with the DWELL BIBLE APP. It’s scripture beautifully read to you set to music. DO THIS! In fact, Church online hosts, can you please put that link in the comments right now again? I want everyone here today to have access to this. Because I want you to get in God’s Presence to Experience God’s Peace.
Psalm 91 continue though… Because there is another word there for us this morning., for those of us who Dwell in the Shelter of the Most High God…
5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
These things that the Enemy wants to bring your way, stand no chance when you are in God’s presence. There is terror at night. There are arrows in the day. No disease or plague or VIRUS can shake you when you’re in god’s presence. These are the assaults of the enemy. This is the desire of your spiritual enemy, Satan, is to get you to doubt God. To doubt His POWER, to doubt His POSITION, and to doubt his PROTECTION.
But Peter, are you saying that because we follow Jesus that we won’t get sick? You probably read in the news about a mega church in our area that continued to have services even when the CDC and the government has advised that we limit our gathering size to less than 10 people. Doesn’t Psalm 91 say that they won’t get sick? NO!
Can I be real with you? This past week has been hard for me. One of my SPIRITUAL FATHERS is laying in the hospital right now fighting for his life in NYC. I’m gonna ask you to pray for John. John is a man of God that lives and breathes scripture. He walks with Jesus. When I was the age of our Hope City Kids John was my hero. He invested in me, paid attention to me. He prayed for me. He pointed me to Jesus. And now He’s fighting for his life.
And yet, I can tell you with CONFIDENCE that if John were to wake up right now, be taken off of the ventilator, and if His body was clear from COVID-19, he would look me square in the eye and repeat after Paul in Philippians 1:21-24.
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
Even with the threat of COVID-19, WE DO NOT NEED TO FEAR because CHRIST HAS DEFEATED FEAR. EASTER IS COMING… I better stop, before I PREACH next week’s Message.
Here’s what we know from Psalm 91: PT. 2 FEAR DOESN’T GET THE FINAL WORD.
I know that in the shakiness of this time, whether you’re fearful that you or someone you love will contract Covid, or you’re fearful that you’re not going to be returning to work and you don’t know how this is going to work out. Or you’re fearful of the unknown, whatever that may be- KNOW THIS “FEAR DOESN’T GET THE FINAL WORD.”
Increase your worship! If you want to decrease your worry, increase your worship. We’ve made a playlist on Hope City’s YouTube Channel of our band worshipping. We’re consistently adding to that playlist. Go subscribe to our YouTube channel right now. Get that playlist on your T.V. play it in the background everyday…
I’ve also put together a playlist on both Apple Music and Spotify of some of our favorite worship songs here at Hope City right now. Church online Hosts would you share those links with our church right now?
I’m not kidding you, if you want to get in God’s presence, increase your worship. Worship isn’t just calming music…. It is the act of telling God who He is in your life. It is the act of ascribing WORTH to Him.
This week, I stood in this very spot on Monday afternoon when WORRY had a grip on my heart. Life looked SHAKY. The bricks were starting to come out of my tower, and I put my ear buds in and cranked this playlist ALL THE WAY UP. Like piercingly loud. Because I needed WORSHIP to PIERCE my heart. And I sang at the top of my lungs. Like I shouted these words! I shouted them till I believed them. I was in the Presence of the MOST HIGH, and it allowed me to REST in the Shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91 concludes with this, look at this:
9 If you make the Most High your dwelling— even the Lord, who is my refuge—
10 then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
When you run to God, do you know what happens? You become UNSHAKEABLE. Not invincible. You become UNSHAKEABLE. You can’t be swayed by the harm that comes along with life, why? Because verse 15 says, that even in our TROUBLE… we’re going to have TROUBLE… God will be with him.
We’re not experiencing TROUBLE in your life because God is ANGRY. No, in our TROUBLE, God is present. Oh man, I wish we were all together, and I could look you eye to eye and tell you how much God loves you. Tell you that in the midst of your trouble, God is saying, “IT’S OKAY. TAKE HEART. I’M HERE.”
This is good news, because in Psalm 91 we see that PT. 3 “YOU ARE UNSHAKEABLE IN HIM”. In God, you are UNSHAKEABLE.
It’s like this Jenga Game. What happens, the game developers created this box to keep the tower protected. The box comes around the tower on all sides and keeps the pieces in place. It prevents it from falling apart.
When you go to God’s presence you experience God’s peace and you find that you are UNSHAKEABLE. Is COVID-19 scary? Yes. Is this time we are living in scary? Yes. But do we need to be controlled by fear? NO! You’re not invincible, you’re going to face the lion, and the cobra… the LION represents that public, large problem… It may be something that everyone sees around you, they may even see it coming. But that Cobra, that’s the inner turmoil, that’s the silent sneaky kind. YOU’RE UNSHAKEABLE. You will not fall apart.
Pray Regularly. Prayer is communicating with God. It’s using your ordinary, everyday language to tell God what’s on your heart, your mind, and to tell him Who He is to you. So, Pray CONFIDENTLY. After all, you are going before the Heavenly Father in JESUS NAME. We don’t stand before God in any other way than because of Jesus. Go Confidently.
Pray humbly. Remember, you are in communication with the Most High God, the ALMIGHTY, the creator of Heaven and Earth, not a cosmic vending machine. Remember, confidence and humility can go hand in hand.
Above all else, pray honestly. God isn’t concerned about the words you use. He’s concerned with your heart attitude. Too many of us put our hearts on pause and our mouths on auto when we pray. Sometimes it may be worth shutting our mouths, till our heart has something to say.
When your life is SHAKY, when you are scared and worried, TAKE HEART. Because, (BIG IDEA) NOTHING CAN SHAKE YOUR HEART WHEN JESUS IS THE LORD OF YOUR HEART.
So, what does this mean for you? Today, if you’ve never placed your faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior I’m going to give you an opportunity to do that in just a few minutes. When we say that Jesus is the LORD of our life we are saying that JESUS has the auth0rity in our life. That Jesus is in control of our life. That the way we live is informed by JESUS.
I want to invite you right now to Place your faith in Jesus… Maybe you’re saying Peter, I want that. I want God’s presence in my life. Then right now you can pray, communicate with God, in your own words something like this.
I’ve been trying to hold my life together on my own. Living on my own, for my own. I recognize my need for Jesus, to forgive me from my sins. Today I place my faith in Jesus. Help me to commit my life to you. AMEN.
Let me tell you, that if you prayed that with me right now, I want to encourage you! PRAISE GOD for you. If that’s you, in the chat right there in church online you can “raise your hand” and identify that you’ve trust Christ today. We want to celebrate with you!
Do you know what else is worth celebrating though? When someone makes a decision to come back to God. Maybe today you would say, Peter I’ve already trusted Christ…. But I’ve strayed pretty far from God. I’ve not been DWELLING in His presence or in His House. Well let me tell you that today you can change that. You can come back to God. He’s not there waiting at the front door with consequences for having been gone. He’s there waiting to welcome you home! Come back home!
And maybe there is someone else that I want to encourage you to STAY HOME. You may be tempted to walk out on God. To wander away from God. You’re asking God where are you? Don’t miss this, GOD IS WHERE HE HAS ALWAYS BEEN. In control of all things. Stay in His presence.
Can you imagine what it would look like if all of us moved into God’s presence today, and regularly? We would see our anxiety decrease. We’d see our worry dissipate, we would see the church worrying less about themselves and have the opportunity to take care of others.
TAKE HEART. Don’t give up. WOULD YOU TAKE A STEP TOWARDS GOD’S PRESENCE TODAY? When you feel exposed, vulnerable, at risk, or are filled with worry, move towards God’s presence and I believe that you will hear God’s word say to you, “TAKE HEART FOR I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD.”
Can I pray for you this morning?