Good morning Church,
I wish I was addressing you in better circumstances, but it seems Irma is headed right at our city. With such a storm comes dangers and uncertainties and fears about what will happen to our homes, our neighbors, and our city. With all of this in mind I think some gospel encouragement is needed. So go ahead grab your Bibles and open to Daniel 3 and Psalm 46. You there? Great.
Remember the context of Daniel 3? It’s the famous story of the Fiery Furnace. Daniels three friends were commanded to worship King Nebuchadnezzar, they refused, and for it they were sentenced to be thrown into a white hot furnace. After being sentenced this is how they responded to the King: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18).
We truly believe God is able to move Irma away from Florida. He is Lord over all the earth, He made the world and can wield the world to whatever purpose He ordains. “I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. There is nothing too hard for Me” (Jeremiah 32:27).
But what if He doesn’t move it? What if He allows it to hit us? How these three responded to the King is how we respond to Irma. In the face of the furnace they resolved to still praise God, so too, in the face of Irma we must resolve to still praise Him. Let me say it again, we will still praise Him if He allows Irma to hit our home.
Now turn to Psalm 46, where we find vocabulary to fill our prayers in light of Irma. These are the words that inspired Martin Luther to write the hymn ‘A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.’ The Psalm reads as follows:
To the choirmaster, of the sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. A Song:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
God is our fortress, our refuge, our very present help in trouble (v1). Even when the created order seems to be falling apart (v2-3) and even when nation rises against nation (v6-9). In all of this – we can be still. Why? Because God will still be glorified and made much of in all the earth (v10). Therefore, the Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress (v11).
On this side of the cross we can say more. In light of Christ, in light of Immanuel, God with us, we can say that God’s ultimate presence with us is in Christ. Thus, Christ is our refuge, Christ is our fortress, and Christ will be glorified among all the nations. In Christ God is not only with us, in Christ He is forever for us, in Christ we are always safe, in calm or storm.
His presence is our peace – Let’s praise Him still.