Sermon August 28, 2016 Psalm 93 “Is Your Confidence in a Sandcastle or in a Lighthouse?”

Psalm 93                                                                                                                August 28, 2016

Sermon Series: “Short and Sweet Summer Psalms”

Today’s Sermon: Psalm 93       “Your Confidence: A Sandcastle or a Lighthouse?”

Pastor Louis Prontnicki       Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church

 The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
the world is firmly established; it cannot be moved
Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.

The seas have lifted up, O Lord,
the seas have lifted up their voice;
the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea—
the Lord on high is mighty.

Your statutes stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days, O LORD.

We’ve all seen it: a hurricane is approaching, and the TV crew is sent to the shore to give us a picture of how the beach and the waves look as the storm approaches. The TV reporter is holding on to her hat; the trees and traffic lights are blowing back and forth, and a few die hard surfers are trying to catch a few big ones.  The TV camera focuses in on a large sandcastle that some ambitious boys constructed before they were ordered to leave the beach, and here we see the ocean waves pounding this castle and overwhelming its walls. Soon there will no trace that it was ever there. And all this time the wind is furiously whipping the waves as they crash upon the big rock breakers, and we are in awe of the power of this storm.

Yet as the camera pans away from the shoreline, we see in the distance a lighthouse, a tall structure that has stood its ground in the face of scores of brutal hurricanes. This lighthouse has been firmly established since before anyone in this town was born, a beacon of light and safety for sailors. It’s a majestic tower that captures our imagination and gives us assurance that there are a few things mightier than this storm.

That’s what’s going on in Psalm 93. On the one hand we have a poetic rendition of the ocean waves relentlessly pounding the coast, lifting up their voices, and unleashing their powerful forces against anything in their way… including all the sandcastles on the beach!

 Let me ask you: what storms are pounding away at you right now? And where do you go for protection and security when you are being pounded? Where is your confidence?

On the other hand, we have in this psalm a contrast to these powerful waves, namely, the reign and rule of the Lord, which has been firmly established forever. Our attention is drawn to the Lord as he reigns in majesty, in holiness, and for eternity, similar to how our attention is drawn to a tall and solid lighthouse, anchored on the rock, in the face of a storm.

And the point of this short psalm is that it is calling us to look in two directions. First, to look at the mighty forces of the waves of the ocean, and then, when we are thoroughly impressed with those waves, to lift up our gaze to the One who is much mightier and more majestic than the tumult of any storm, the Lord Himself.  For He is our confidence, our security, when we are pounded by the waves of the storm. The Lord Jesus is the ultimate Lighthouse, the Light of the World, the Solid Rock!

Furthermore, at the end of v. 1, we note that even the firmness of the created world “the peopled-world” owes its stability to the permanence and strength of the Lord’s rule over his creation. The earth’s firmness and stability are derived from the Lord’s faithfulness and permanence. Everything that is stable in this world is so, only because the Creator has ordained it to be so. (Let that be a guiding principle for our scientific endeavors, and how we view the world!)

In a similar way, in v. 5a, we learn that the infallibility of Word of God rests on God’s eternal integrity; that is, the Lord’s own steadfast character witnesses to the everlasting faithfulness of the Bible’s truths, promises, prophecies, and more. The shift from the seas in v. 4 to the statutes in v. 5 may seem unexpected, but we find a similar shift in Psalm 19, as we move from the created nature to the decrees of the Lord. Note that there is always a correspondence, a connection, between the Lord and His Word and His world. Therefore all that the Lord is and does and says is firmly founded. “The world He has created, His own inherent greatness, and the Laws He has uttered, may all be described as firmly established.”

So as you think about the image of the mighty ocean waves demolishing a sandcastle on the beach, you need to ask yourself: How much of your time, energy, and money is spent building “sandcastles”? Conversely, how much of your time, energy, and money is spent investing in the “lighthouse” of the Lord’s Kingdom?

When our sons were younger, we would often build large sandcastles at the beach, and when the tide came in, we would throw our bodies in front of the oncoming waves that threatened to overwhelm our castle! What a picture of what many of us do in real life: we throw ourselves into efforts and careers and building up nest eggs for retirement, even though it’s as futile as trying to stop the tide with our bodies!

But as we invest our time, energy, and money into the Lord’s work, it’s like participating in the building of a lighthouse, which stands firm on the rock, and will be used to save lives and guide people to the true Light of the world! As Paul reminds us in 1 Cor. 15:58 “Always give yourselves fully to the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Earlier this month Lynn and I spent a few days at the Jersey shore, and each day the ocean waves were particularly tall and powerful. Though I managed to body surf a few of them, many of the waves completely threw me and pounded me into the sand. I was no match for even these relatively small breakers. That’s a picture of how you sometimes feel, right? You are being pounded by health problems, by physical and mental decline, and by demands on your life that seem overwhelming.

But the Lord comes alongside you and points you to Ps. 93:4-5: “Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea— the Lord on high is mighty.Your statutes stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days, O LORD.”  Do you believe that the Lord is mightier and bigger than the waves that are pounding you?

Think about a time when some waves pounded Jesus’ disciples on the Sea of Galilee.

Mark 4:35-41 recounts the story of Jesus and his disciples in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, a body of water notorious for sudden squalls at mid-afternoon. The disciples, though veterans of many such storms, were afraid, as the waves broke over their boat. “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still” then the wind died down and it was complete calm.

Jesus said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (The only possible answer is: the Creator God is in the boat with them!)

You see, the mighty waves of the sea were no match for the incarnate Son of God back then, and still today, the waves that pound you are no match for the Lord Jesus Christ.

But here’s a question for you: does the Lord always calm the seas, and order the pounding waves to cease, so that you can get some peace? Not always!

When the prophet Jonah sought to run away from the doing the Lord’s will, the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and a violent storm arose that threatened to break the ship. (Jonah 1:4)

In Psalm 107:23-31  we read that the Lord stirred up tempest in the sea, that lifted high the waves…so that they sailors reeled and staggered like drunken men; “they were at their wit’s end” (That is, all their skills were useless). Why did the Lord do this? So that God’s people would cry out to Him in their trouble, and after He had calmed the seas, they would give thanks to Him for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds.

“The storm shakes us into seeing that in a world of gigantic forces, we live by (His) permission, and not by our good management.”

Another wise sage added: “Let those that would learn to pray go to sea.”

And then there is the storm, the northeaster, and the shipwreck recorded for us in Acts 27, where Paul and the others jump overboard and eventually reach the shore of Malta in safety. Here, the Lord uses the storm and Paul’s bedrock faith in the Lord to be a witness, a lighthouse, to the nearly 300 pagan sailors and fellow passengers on board.

So…our God is mightier that the waves of the sea; He can calm the worst storms on the sea; but He will also send storms and shipwrecks into our lives, to get our attention, to show his mighty power to save, and/or to put us in situations where we can give glory to God in the midst of a hard place.

So let me ask you again:

     What storms are pounding away at you right now? And where do you go for protection and security when you are being pounded? Where is your confidence?

    How much of your time, energy, and money is spent building “sandcastles”?  And how much of your time, energy, and money is spent investing in the “lighthouse” of the Lord’s Kingdom?