Scripture: “Be still, be calm, see, and understand I am the True God. I am honored among all the nations. I am honored over all the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (The Voice)
Welcome and Announcements
Call to Worship
The earth shakes, the mountains quake—tempting our hearts to fear.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Storms rage, winds swirl—destroying schools, hospitals, homes.
Still, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Violence comes to light in our communities and violence continues around the world—causing us to wonder if our prayers for peace are futile.
Yet God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
For those mourning and rebuilding after the storms.
God is their refuge.
For those living in fear of their neighbors.
God is their strength.
For those dreading the hiss of a drone–fired missile.
God is present.
For the distraught and displaced and dismembered in Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
God is a very present help in trouble.
Therefore, we will not fear.
Therefore, we will lay down our weapons and worship our God.
This could be a vocal selection, dance, or online video that can be included as part of congregational worship.
“Every Giant Will Fall” by Rend Collective https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIUlIbCTtG4
Praise and Worship
All of these songs are available on YouTube.
- “Our God” by Chris Tomlin
- “Tell the World” by Joel Houston, Jonathon Douglass, and Marty Sampson
- “10,000 Reasons” by Jonas Myrin, Matt Redman
- “King of My Heart” by John Mark McMillan
Include prayer for your community, the ministry of The Salvation Army, and the soldiers of the corps who bear the name of Christ wherever they go.
Giving of Tithes and Offerings
“Cornerstone” by Reuben Morgan (YouTube)
“Just Be …”
Time of Reflection
Song #836* “He is Able, More than Able”
Song #1* “A Mighty Fortress is our God”
*The Salvation Army Song Book
Prayer and Benediction
Holiness Meeting Message
Scripture Reading: Psalm 46:1–11.
Today there is a lot of talk about discovering our true identity. When difficult circumstances take over our lives, who we really are is most evident. Trials reveal our character and our instincts. We notice it, and those around us do as well. Who we are and the way we respond to difficulties as God’s children is different from the rest of the world because we are different. We have been transformed by the power of God. Sometimes we don’t know who we really are or what we’re capable of until we’re pressed on every side. When we face difficulties, our most natural response should be one to which God would give His approval. During our best and worst moments, who should we be and how should we respond? Who should we be while we are living in this imperfect and difficult world?
The only place where we can look for true answers to these questions is in God’s Word. In Psalm 46 we see a world marked by chaos and trouble. Natural disasters and wars between the nations brought chaos and uncertainty to people, and these events can still shake our world today. But there is no fear in this Psalm, and neither is there despair. Let’s look at this Psalm to answer the question of who we should be when our world is filled with trouble.
Just Be Confident—God is Known to Us (v. 1, 7, 11)
From verse 1 of the Psalm, we see that we can just be confident because we know the unchanging character of God and understand our relationship with Him. The same message is repeated in verses 7 and 11. God is our refuge, our strength and our fortress.
Our refuge—He is the one who hides us and keeps us safe when there is danger or trouble. If someone pursues us, we can hide behind the Almighty.
Our strength—He is powerful enough to fight every enemy that opposes us. Nothing can win in a battle against God. He fights for us, and He gives us strength to press on and continue in the fight.
Our fortress—He is our protection. Nothing outside the fortress can get in. There is no crack in the wall or secret tunnel through which the enemy can get to us. We can be confident that God will keep us safe in His care.
Looking back at Psalm 46, we see the personification of confidence in the imagery from nature. Instead of feeling like the chaotic river or quaking mountains of verse 3, we are the glad river in verse 4 and the one who will not fall in verse 5. Because of the deep understanding we have about God as the one who fights our battles and who protects us during our storms, we can trust Him and have confidence in the One who will never let us down.
YouTube Video: CEO stands behind his bulletproof technology
Play the video clip from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxzJYqUiXS0, stopping at 0:37 to show the face of Peter Fabian.
The CEO, Peter Fabian, demonstrates complete confidence in his product. He shows us exactly what it looks like. He believes in his bulletproof technology. It has withstood testing. He is sure that if he is standing behind the glass, the bullet will not harm him. Consequently, he does not even flinch when a gun is fired in his direction. That is confidence.
In a spiritual sense, this is right where we are; standing behind a bulletproof glass, completely confident that God will protect us. We can withstand anything that Satan can throw at us because we are within a fortress that cannot be penetrated. He gives us strength and protection. We can just be confident when we are standing behind our God.
Just Be Comforted—God is With Us (v. 7)
It is important to note that even though God is our fortress and we can be confident He will protect us, that does not make us invulnerable to attacks. Even with God fighting for us, we will surely face all kinds of dangers and trials. Just as we can be confident in Him, we can also be comforted by His presence.
When we are going through times of great difficulty or chaos, we can’t always see the end of the battle. A sense of despair and weariness doesn’t mean we lack confidence in God. It does, however, acknowledge the reality that fighting is draining physically, emotionally and spiritually. But the great truth from Psalm 46 is that none of these metaphors about God—He is our strength, our fortress, our refuge—would exist if God’s people never had a need for Him to be those things. Until the day of His return, God’s people will always need someone to run to who will be able to give them respite and strength.
This Psalm describes all kinds of troubles that can shake a person and destroy everything that would normally be a source of stability—earthquakes, rough waters, and wars with enemy nations. But hear this word in verse 7, and let its truth become your reality, as it was the reality for the Psalmist: “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” He is the Lord Almighty, sovereign over all the earth. He is the God of Jacob, who is faithful to keep His covenant of love with His people. This is the God who is with us, for us, on our side, bringing peace and comfort despite the circumstances. In verse 9, God is further described as the one who makes wars cease. He is the God of peace and of hope, and He will bring an end to every battle. There is great comfort in knowing this all–sovereign God of faithfulness, love and hope is the God who is with us.
Illustration: Presence brings great comfort.
Most of us can remember feeling afraid or incredibly sad as a child. Maybe thunderstorms terrified you, or you were saddened over the death of a pet, or worried about a sick grandparent. In those moments of trouble, the first thing children usually do is call out for mommy or daddy. They want to be held by their parent and to know that their parent is close to them. In the arms of their parent, the child calms down almost instantly because just their presence brings great comfort.
As children, we are quick to cry out to be comforted, but we should understand that even as adults it is ok to need comfort sometimes. We still need people with us when we’re going through difficulties. Sometimes we can still reach out to our parents, sometimes to our spouses or close friends. Having someone there, even if they don’t know what to say and can’t fix the problem, makes the situation a little better because we know we’re not alone. Their presence brings great comfort.
In our darkest moments, we can know for certain that, “The Lord Almighty is with us” (verse 7). There is nothing like the presence of God to bring us peace, hope, and a sense of calm. In any circumstance, He can just comfort us.
Just Be Expectant—He will be exalted! (verse 10).
When we look at the big picture of God’s Word, taking all Scripture together, we see a similar picture as is represented in this Psalm. We see everything working together to bring about God’s plan of salvation. In this Psalm His people are invited to “come and see” what God has done, and then the psalmist gives specific examples. We see His judgment on evil (“the desolations He has brought on the earth” in verse 8) and we see His peace and redemption (“making wars cease to the ends of the earth” in verse 9). Over and over we see these themes because God always has the final word on judgment and on salvation. We see the evidence of it throughout Scripture and in the testimonies of our lives. Because we have all this evidence, we can just be expectant about how the end of our story will turn out.
Through most of this Psalm the writer is speaking, but in verse 10, God interjects. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.” In reading this I ask, “To whom is He speaking?” He is speaking to the quaking mountains and the raging waves—be still! He will be exalted in the earth by silencing them and bringing calm to the chaos. He is speaking to the nations who are at war with one another—be still! He will be exalted among the nations when He lifts His voice and ends their fighting. He is speaking to His people—be still! When we are in a time of trouble or chaos, it is tempting to look elsewhere for victory. However, God has broken down every weapon and shield that we think might protect us. Persevere to the end, fully expecting that God will bring salvation to His people.
God will be exalted, just as He promises here. And so, God’s people can be expectant that even when evil appears to be winning, God will be exalted, and He will be sovereign over all the nations.
Illustration: 1 Kings 18 (Elijah at Mt. Carmel)
Take a look at Elijah’s story in 1 Kings 18. The circumstances were dark and oppressive. People struggled to find enough food for themselves and their livestock during a severe famine. The ruler of the nation, King Ahab, had led them into following false gods. His wife, Jezebel, killed the prophets of the Lord. Many of God’s prophets were hiding in caves, living in fear of the king and his wicked wife.
Elijah, however, knew God was sovereign even over these godless rulers. He challenged the 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah to a duel. Elijah and the prophets each prepared an altar with sacrifices, and Elijah said to them; “You call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.” The false prophets prayed, danced, and did everything they could to summon their god to respond with fire, to no avail.”
Elijah, expecting these gods to fail, and expecting God to demonstrate His sovereignty, taunts the prophets. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”
When no one answered these prophets, Elijah took his turn. Again, demonstrating what he expected God to do, he poured water on the altar and the sacrifice until everything was soaked. Unlike the prophets of Baal, he did not strain to get the attention of God. Instead, he expectantly prayed a simple prayer and God responded with a fire that consumed the sacrifice, altar, water and everything around it.
Elijah expected God to be sovereign. He knew what danger could befall him for opposing the king, and yet he chose to stand on the side of the Lord. He expected God to be victorious and that, through this event, the people who saw His demonstration of power would exalt God. Elijah was not disappointed.
Martin Luther, famous for bringing spiritual reformation to the church in the 1500s, experienced both great inner turmoil and outward persecution for his opposition to the corruption in the church. In the darkest moments of his life, Luther would say to his friends, “Come, let us sing Psalm 46.” As he reflected upon its truths, Luther drew strength from the words and was inspired to write his great hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is our God.”
No matter our circumstance, this Psalm can be an encouragement and a strength for us as it was for Luther. We are reminded that we can:
Be confident in what God can do for you now during times of great difficulty. God is your rock, your strength, your fortress.
Be comforted when you are weary from the battle and there is no end in sight. God is with you.
Be expectant about how this time will end—God will say, “be still,” and He will be your peace and your victory. He will be exalted as the sovereign Lord.
Invitation and response