Thursday, August 14, 2014

in or out?

(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for today: Psalm 18:1-30
mark this: Proverbs 18:10
"The Name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe."
I still remember the feelings clearly. Anticipation. Nervousness. Excitement. Fear.
I remember all the questions that would race through my mind. Can anyone see me? Is there a better spot? Can I make it there? Did they really count all the way to 100?
And then the moment of truth arrived. You've been spotted. You were almost there, but your cover was blown. There was no chance of hiding again. Here was your one chance run like heck or just stand there paralyzed. The only question that mattered at that point was did you have it in you to outrun the seeker? Your heart was beating like crazy. You were tired and out of breathe. Your nerves were shot from adrenaline. Let's play again!
There is a reason that hide & seek is a perennial favorite since the dawn of time. It never gets old, we just do. As a child I think the kids in our neighborhood played hide & seek every night we could over the summer. And central to Hide & Go seek is the concept of a “home base”, the place where you try with all your might to get there, and once you’re there- you are safe. Our home base was always the lamppost right in front of my house. That poor thing had to be replaced because of all us kids dashing into it and clinging for dear life.
As we look to today's passage, the first half of Psalm 18, I want you to keep that idea of home base in mind. We have here a song written by a man who knew what it meant to be hunted and chased. At the time when David was a fugitive, always running from the relentless Saul. Though he was innocent in the matter, he spent the better part of a decade hiding as public enemy number one. Notice the language he uses in here.
David looks to God as his:
- strength v. 1
- rock v. 2
- fortress v. 2
- deliverer v. 2
- refuge v. 2
- shield v. 2
- salvation v. 2
- stronghold v. 2
- support v. 18
In verses 4-19, David vividly describes how Mighty God rescued him.
The key in this Psalm is found in verse three, David "calls to the LORD.... and he is saved..."
That truth has huge implications in the rest of the Bible as well.
In his sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter proclaimed that which the prophet Joel had written: "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (1)."
The apostle Paul later echoed that same sentiment in his letter to the Romans (2).
So, what does it mean to call upon the name of the LORD?
We humans like to make things complicated, but the Bible keeps it simple. Calling upon the name of the LORD means we trust in God as our fortress and we enter into His protection.
That is salvation- when we stop trusting in ourselves or our good deeds or our religion or our pedigree or our church or whatever, and instead accept and received and remain and cling to the shelter that Jesus Christ provides. He is the fortress, the rock, the strong tower. We run to Him and are saved.
But remember, any place of protection only works if you bring yourself into it. It did people no good to camp outside Noah’s Ark. They were either in or out. In the Old Testament, if you were fleeing to a City of refuge- you had to go inside. Putting down roots in a nearby suburb would not cut it. You were either in or out. The same is true of this passage- you are only safe if you get in that strong tower, into that fortress, behind that shield, inside that fortress. Anything less is disaster.
Jesus Christ is the only "home base." That's why today's psalm is much more than mere poetry or even David's own story, it is the very Gospel message. The question then becomes- is this your story as well? Are you in or out?
(1) Acts 2:21; Joel 2:32
(2) Romans 10:13

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