Refuge & Strength - Psalm 46 Sermon From July Prayer Service
Prayer Service, Wed July 1st - 2015. Rev. Ted A. Giese, Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Regina SK. Psalm 46
Psalm 46: TO THE CHOIRMASTER. OF THE SONS OF KORAH. ACCORDING TO ALAMOTH. A SONG.
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
He utters His voice, the earth melts.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come, behold the works of the LORD,
how He has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
He burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. St. Paul in his letter to the Romans says, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" Well these day it seems like there are many who are lined up against us. The World with its popular opinions, Sin both legalized and illegal, Death both imminent and threatened, they are all lined up against us; quietly in the back ground with the puppets strings in his hands lurks the devil, that hard to fathom foe, who likewise is against us; right up in our face is ... our face ... as plain as day and easier to see - we can, and often are, double minded, and we ourselves are against us. That's a lot. If these things are not picking a fight with you personally they are picking a fight with God's Word upon whom you stand. The Word of God, not just Holy Scripture itself, the Word of God whom St. John confesses, "became flesh and dwelt among us," this Jesus, the Christ who St. John testifies to along with the rest of the Apostles' saying, "we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." Your enemies all line up against Jesus. Jesus says as much when He tells His disciples “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you." Add to that what Jesus says next, "If you were of the world ... the world would love you as its own, but because you are not of the world therefore the world hates you," Take courage in the face of the World and all your enemies, Jesus says, "I chose you out of the world." Jesus is your "refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." - "If God is for us, who can be against us?"
Today is Canada Day: we will sing "God save the Queen" and as we sing, we sing it as a prayer, an earnest prayer for our head of State. A remarkable woman, 89 years old, and on September 9th, 2015 of this year - if God allows it - Queen Elizabeth II will become the longest-reigning Canadian monarch ever. This record was set by Queen Victoria, who the city of Regina is named for. Queen Victoria is Queen Elizabeth II's great-great grandmother and Queen Victoria is the Queen under whom Canada became a Dominion in 1867, a Confederacy, a Nation. Today we sang "God keep our land glorious and free," again this is a prayer to God, an earnest prayer, and in the additional verse we sang, "Almighty God, Who hearest humble prayer, hold our dominion within Thy loving care, Help us to find, O God, in Thee a lasting, rich reward, as waiting for The Better Day, we ever stand on guard." This too is a prayer. It is fitting to pray for our Queen and those in authority, St Paul commands us to do so in his first letter to Timothy when he says, "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour." In Psalm 20 we pray, "O LORD, save the king!"
So today we pray for Queen and Country - but as Christians we don't put all our eggs in one basket, not in the basket of our Queen for Scripture also says, "Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation."  Nor in the basket of our Nation, for Jesus says "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." Psalm 46 says, "The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; He utters His voice, the earth melts." - "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling." The Christian is called to be careful not to place not their trust in the World or in a Nation or in a government but rather to place their trust in God, in His Word, in Jesus Christ who "is our refuge and strength, [our] very present help in trouble."
Psalm 46 is also the inspiration for the Hymn "A Mighty Fortress is Our God," written by Martin Luther. It's hard to nail down the exact moment or event which spurred Luther to write this familiar hymn because there are a number of events that could have led to its writing. "When Luther was forty four years old he suffered his first kidney stone attack ... [In] the same year ... the plague of 1527 came to Wittenberg. As a result of this plague the university at Wittenberg temporarily moved to [a neighbouring city]. Luther’s first child, Hans, became so sick [around the same] time that it was feared that he was going to die. [Then there's] the opinion of a number of other Luther researchers ... that Luther composed this hymn on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the 95 theses being nailed to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. At that time Luther wrote to a friend [saying]: “Our one great comfort, that we can stand against the rage of the devil, is this - that we have the Word of God which saves souls even as our bodies are brought asunder. Pray for us that we might bravely bear the hand of God and conquer the power and cunning of the devil whether it be through death or through life.” Perhaps the best dating for the hymn might be the year 1521. [When] on Maundy Thursday Pope Leo X placed the name of Martin Luther onto the catalogue of heretics under the ban of the church and the faculty at the university in Paris declared itself in open opposition against Luther. ... [So] Luther had many occasions to compose this song in order to express the confidence of his faith, his security in God, and his great trust for God." 
"Though hordes of devils fill the land All threatening to devour us, We tremble not unmoved we stand: They cannot overpow'r us ... God's Word forever shall abide, No thanks to foes, who fear it."
What are you facing today? Kidney stones? Cancer, death, family problems, trouble at work, sin? What enemies line up against you? Do feel unmoved in the face of trouble? Are you worried that your house, goods, honour, child or spouse are in danger or that your very life might be wretched away? Then Psalm 46 is a prayer for you. Pour your anxieties into this prayer - give your anxieties and fears to Jesus. Jesus who had His life wretched away at the cross and yet lives, Jesus who's risen to eternal life; a life He freely gives to you no matter what your trouble might be. Give all your anxieties and fears to Jesus who is your "refuge and strength." He is the LORD of Hosts and He is with you, He says to you “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” On the Last Day every knee will not bow to an earthly King or Queen, or to a nation, No on the Last Day "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow [to Him], in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Our gracious Queen Elizabeth II will kneel alongside the rest of humanity on That Day, and That Day is The Better Day of which we sang in the additional verse of O Canada.
Today we pray for peace, order and good government, but we know that these things are transitory. We must with the Psalmist put our trust in Jesus, "the God of Jacob, [Who] is our fortress," and when we fail to do so, for we are weak and He is strong, remember that where we fail to trust perfectly Jesus trusted His Heavenly Father perfectly and Jesus has forgiveness for the repentant heart that knows that it is enticed by public opinion and the temptations of the world, forgiveness for the heart that folds under the pressures of public opinion and peer pressure. His forgiveness is for each of us when we fear the foes that circle around us, when we forget that we are baptized into Christ Jesus and that He stands between us and our enemies.
We are not asked, or told, to face our enemies alone: In the waters of our baptism we stand behind the walls of our Fortress, we stand in Christ, and if Jesus is for us, who can be against us? This same Jesus promises you, "I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  "Therefore we will not fear." Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Romans 8:31
 John 1:14
 John 15:18
 John 15:19
 1 Timothy 2:1-3
 Psalm 20:9
 Psalm 146:3
 Mark 13:31
 Adapted from Richard Krause's essay, "A Mighty Fortress is our God: The Song of Martin Luther."
 Philippians 2:10-11
 Matthew 28:20