Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of February 24, 2019

Sermon: “Shooting at the Sun”
Text: Psalm 37

This winter southern California has seen its share of storms.  We have had more rain this year than in the recent past and many of the effects of our long term drought seem to be improving. 

At first I heard the welcoming words as the rain fell.  “Boy do we need the rain.”  “We haven’t seen rain like this for years; I hope it sticks around a while.” “All these storms are good for the snowpack.”   But storm after storm have come and the attitude is starting to change. 

“When will it ever end?”  “Had enough rain yet?”  “We should think about building an ark.”  We are such fickle people. 

Back in 2017 in one of the most devastating hurricane seasons on record, some people in Florida had had enough.  As hurricane Irma was ready to make landfall a Facebook event popped up called, “Shoot at hurricane Irma” and everyone in Florida was invited. 

I’ll let the New York Times pick up the story from here:

On Tuesday, Ryon Edwards of DeLand, Fla., created a Facebook event page about the imaginary gathering. In it, [he said] “LET’S SHOW IRMA THAT WE SHOOT FIRST.”  Mr. Edwards’s show of comic bravado was a hit. His friends started signing on and making jokes. Then a few strangers joined, and then a few more. On Sunday, more than 55,000 people had visited the page and expressed interest in attending.

Mr. Edwards said, “I guess that a lot of people just connected to the joke, and the more it got shared, the more attention it seemed to get,” he said on Sunday. On Facebook, some people posted pictures of themselves with rifles and promised to charge directly into the eye of the storm. Related Facebook events popped up with names like “Everybody Points Their Fans at the Hurricane to Blow It Away” and “Why Don’t We Just PUSH Florida Somewhere Else!!”

Mr. Edwards said that the tens of thousands of “attendees” of his event seemed to be in on the joke. After all, he said, “There is no way I’m going to be out in a windstorm wielding a firearm.”

Still a few commenter’s criticized Mr. Edwards, appearing to take his post literally. Some expressed alarm that he might inspire someone, somewhere, to fire ammunition into hurricane-force winds.  The sheriff’s office in Pasco County, Fla., tweeted a stern warning against shooting weapons at Irma: “You won’t make it turn around & it will have very dangerous side effects.”

I know it shouldn’t shock me anymore that the sheriff’s department had to make that tweet.  It just makes no sense! 
There was a meme going around the internet last summer during some of the hottest weather on record showing a handgun pointed at the sun and a person demanding, “Enough!”  It was done in fun and it makes no sense, but once again, some thought it was serious.  You know, humanity is known for acting illogically. 

You know, this is not a modern phenomenon.  People have been acting in ways that defy logic for centuries.  When life does not go as planned; people like to take life in their own hands. The author of our text is no stranger to this kind of behavior.  Listen to the words of the 37th Psalm,

Do not be preoccupied with evildoers.
Do not envy those who do wicked things.
They will quickly dry up like grass
        and wither away like green plants.
Trust the Lord, and do good things.
Live in the land, and practice being faithful.
Be happy with the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Entrust your ways to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will act on your behalf.
He will make your righteousness shine like a light,
        your just cause like the noonday sun.
Surrender yourself to the Lord, and wait patiently for him.
    Do not be preoccupied with an evildoer who succeeds in his way
        when he carries out his schemes.
Let go of anger, and leave rage behind.
    Do not be preoccupied.
        It only leads to evil.
Evildoers will be cut off from their inheritance,
    but those who wait with hope for the Lord will inherit the land.
(Psalm 37:1-9)

In the book titled “The Sinner/Saint Devotional – 60 Days in the Psalms” Donavon Riley writes the following:

When we struggle and our faith seems to be eggshell fragile, it is often hard to see God at work anywhere.   When it seems that every moment of the day throws more temptations and afflictions at us, we wonder when God is going to step up and do something to help us. 

And why does God allow wicked people to curse and mock us?  It even appears that wicked people who do not trust God or believe in him, catch all the breaks while we fight to just get out of bed each morning…

This is our great comfort, especially in suffering and trials.  The righteous person is not the one who never struggles, never falls into sin, and is applauded for his saintliness. A righteous person is righteous because he trusts only in what Jesus does, and therefore God declares him to be righteous for Christ’s sake.   The enemies of the Gospel lean on their abilities, skills, gifts and strength.  In fact, they end up trying to drive away the righteous because he trusts only in God’s promises of forgiveness, life, and eternal salvation, not in anything he has done, good or bad. In fact, when we try to impress God with our doing, we are like a man who tries to bring down the sun by shooting it with a pistol. 

There are many who think that they can impress God, that by their own righteous efforts they can earn an eternal reward.  It makes about as much sense as staving off a hurricane with a handgun or taking aim and shooting the sun. 

Listen to Paul’s words from his letter to the Philippians.  Paul has just recounted his many righteous acts done in this world and then continues, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.” (Philippians 3:7-9) 

While shooting sun is not the answer, we do find salvation in the Son who has targeted you.  He is not impressed with your effort or acts but he targets you as a recipient of grace and love and mercy. 

Donovan Riley continues:

The true saint who clings to Jesus’ bloody suffering and death for his justification will be the target of slander, cursing, gossip, false accusations, and the like.   Only trust in Jesus’ saving work for us is of any lasting value in this life and into the new creation.  God does not care about the size of our house, how many cars are parked in the driveway, how many friends surround us, or the number of people at church who call us “saint” and hold us up as an example of the God-pleasing life…

God holds us up in all suffering and affliction.  He will not let our faith be taken from us.  He will not allow us to sink irretrievably into hopelessness.  His arm and hand are over us and have an unbreakable grip on us…And through faith in Christ Jesus alone, no matter how rough the going gets, we will be vindicated.  God is on our side, so who can be against us?  Who can overcome us? 

No one, because the one who overcame sin, death and hell for us will never leave us or forsake and in him alone we live, move, and yes, even suffer…because we trust that God will act on our behalf.

When things go wrong and storms come, we don’t take aim to shoot the sun, but we trust that we have been targeted by the Son who took all the shots the devil had and in so doing takes your sin and gives you the strength to face the storms of life and more importantly he give you his righteousness so that you stand forgiven, and for that we are profoundly thankful.
-Pr. Seth Moorman


Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Hit Counter