Friday, August 16, 2019
Scratching the Surface of the Psalms #62
Scratching the Surface of the Psalms
“When You’re Behind the 8 Ball”
All of our worship services on the corner of Lincoln and Main are intended to honor God and help people in honoring God; knowing people are always helped when God is honored.
Our Sunday morning services are a little different from each other and it’s for me not to know and for you to find out for yourself.
Our Wednesday evening service is very, very, very simple and intended for those that want to go deeper into the Word and Sacrament with no distractions and also for those who’ve been turned off by churches and just want to be as alone with God as possible at the table.
If any of that sounds cryptic or even a little crude, contentious, or completely incomprehensible, I’m just trying to say worship services hit people in different ways and you’ve got to experience ‘em for yourself to decide what suits ya.
Getting back to the best liturgical intentions, faith-filled worship services honor God and help people in honoring God; again, knowing people are always helped when God is honored.
Samuel: “God honors those who honor Him.”
The corollary being people/churches/countries that don’t honor God are going to…
Well, that sentence is completed by self-determination.
Getting back to honoring God and getting helped by God along the way, everybody gets behind the 8 ball of life every now and then.
People like me and you spend a lot of time with people behind the 8 ball of life; and, sometimes, we’re the ones behind it.
We like to fix things.
Of course, when I say that, my wife thinks I’m talking about somebody else not me fixing things.
Here’s a typical exchange in our house.
Wife: “We have water coming in through the basement.”
Me acting like George Jefferson: “Uh, so why you telling me?”
Actually, I might ask, “Are you looking for sympathy or a solution?”
Pero I do like to fix things; especially relationships.
Specifically, I like to explain how God can fix broken relationships.
Confessionally, I’ve reached a humbling conclusion.
I can’t fix broken relationships in our world, America, churches, or even my own…
I can’t fix Islam to treat women and gays as the children of God that they are.
I can’t fix churches that make Jesus puke – Hey, hey, hey, read Revelation 3 if that image offends you! – because they don’t walk the talk of grace, mercy, and forgiveness wrapped in love that Jesus said would distinguish His followers from the rest of the world.
I can’t fix people that say they’re Christians then act more like faith-vacuous Democrats and Republicans by their pontifications and practices; appearing remotely related to Jesus by the book.
I can’t fix denominations that are more about self-perpetuating pyramid schemes than advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I can’t even fix myself.
Didn’t think so.
We are so much alike; especially when it comes to needing a Savior named Jesus.
As Francis Chan likes to say, “I’m having a hard enough time getting my act together. How do you expect me to get yours together?”
When it comes to fixing things, my personal batting average is even lower than the collective average of the White Sox.
But, thank God, we have God who specializes in fixing us; and as we honor Him in worship as Father God, Savior Jesus, and sustaining and enabling Holy Spirit, we are helped.
God saves us when we’re behind the 8 ball of life.
Psalm 62 comes to mind.
It’s David’s “fixer-upper” psalm.
Just think of it as 6+2>8.
Everybody’s behind the 8 ball of life every now and then; and when that happens, 6+2>8. 62 beats 8! Psalm 62 is God’s plan to fix up our lives when we’re stuck behind those 8 balls.
Quickly, David probably wrote this one while his son Absalom was conspiring with others to dethrone and destroy him.
In other words, David was behind the 8 ball of life and turned to God to get fixed up and survive and thrive.
The prescription for overcoming the 8 balls of life and living victoriously through life is consistent with the basic theme of the Ten Commandments, Beatitudes, and entire Bible.
God alone is Savior!
God alone can be counted upon now and then and in the end and during the meantime!
An undeniable and unavoidable and terribly repetitive truth of life from which no one is immune is everybody experiences adversity and God alone can be trusted to help us meet the challenges and live triumphantly through them to peace in time and paradise after time.
Psalm 62 doesn’t hide the adversity affecting David or anyone else: “So many enemies want to kill me!”
David doesn’t pretend and everyone knows every day isn’t a hot fudge sundae.
Psalm 62 doesn’t put a lot of hope in anyone but God alone to step up to the plate and hit homeruns on our behalf: “People are like a vapor…windbags and blowbags…Oh, yeah, they say, ‘I’m praying for you’ but don’t…They say, ‘I’ve got your back’ but don’t.”
Human loyalties are so frail and false; or as David said, “They bless with their lips.”
People, David is lamenting, are mostly the same: unreliable, untrustworthy, and willfully unable to do anything that’s any heaven good.
So David concludes, “Place no trust in anyone but God” because God is not fickle and failing to help, intervene, intercede, and save.
The bad news is people are incapable of saving us and most of ‘em are unwilling as well as incapable.
The good news is God!
The good news is what God has done and keeps on doing for us and for our salvation by grace through faith in Jesus.
God saves and God alone!
So David and people like David have that strong calm sanity in the midst of the meanness, madness, misery, and miscreance of life in the modern world: “I am at rest in God alone…My salvation comes from God alone…God alone…Because of God alone, I will not be shaken. Because of God alone, I am like a tree planted by water…Because of God alone, I survive and rise and live triumphantly and victoriously and positively and confidently and certainly…”
That’s the most basic saving truth of life and eternity.
A favorite story comes to mind.
A guy stands at the gates to heaven and Peter asks for the password before admittance.
Nervous but determined, he quotes Psalm 23.
“Popular,” Peter says, “but wrong.”
Again, he tries and quotes John 3:16.
“Popular,” Peter says, “but wrong.”
Finally, after several more failed attempts, the man exclaims in exasperation, “I give up.”
Peter smiles, opens the gates, and says, “Welcome!”
Everybody’s behind the 8 ball of life every now and then.
It’s true, unavoidable, and no one is immune.
That’s the bad news.
Now here’s the good news.
We can be saved and live happily ever after.
We can be saved by God alone when we become wise like magi at the manger and seek God alone as the way, truth, and life!
If we want to fix ourselves – a good place to start – and others whenever behind that old 8 ball of life, we can’t.
The best that we can do as a church is to be honest and say He can what we can’t.
For anyone by grace through faith in Jesus!