The other night, I was talking to my kids at dinner about all of the places that were closing…
…and they said back to me, “What do we normally do when this happens?”
And I said, “Guys, this has never happened…not in my lifetime anyway.”
We are living in challenging times.
And for many our anxiety and stress levels are high….and they run high all day.
I feel like my heart rate or my blood pressure (or something!) is consistently running higher than usual…I can tell I’m not as settled…
And I’m not normally a fearful person.
And as I was processing it with my wife the other night, I said:
“I think if they just told us, ‘Listen, the schools are closed for 5 weeks, the following institutions will be closed as well, and just wait it out for 5 weeks, we can assure you that things will be back to normal.”
I think if they were able to tell us exactly what it will look like and how long it will last, I think we could all tough it out
But what increases our anxiety is that the story seems to change every day.
More things shut down…every day.
More of you lose your jobs…every day
How long they think this will last seems to get longer…every day
And what that does is that it increases our uncertainty
And makes us feel like we have less control than ever.
And that, creates this stress and anxiety that almost all of us are feeling.
WE NEED AN ANCHOR
Here’s another way to look at it:
Imagine that you are a ship in a port…perhaps in some bay.
You are on the sea…but very near to the land
And in your normal life (say a few weeks ago)…the seas are fairly calm.
The tides come in, the tides go out…but you have roughly the same view.
You feel safe …life is relatively under control
But now…it feels like a storm is coming.
You can feel the wind picking up and the waves are starting to get really high…
In fact, they’re starting to pull you out to sea.
And you’re nervous that if the storm pulls you out to sea…you won’t know what to do.
What you need…is an anchor.
Something, that will secure you to a fixed point…and keep you from drifting out and feeling the full effects of the storm.
That is precisely what many of us need right now.
So for the next 3 weeks, we are going to do a 3-week teaching series called “Anchored.”
The anchor is a metaphor that the Bible itself uses:
(Hebrews 6:18b-19a) – NEW LIVING TRANSLATION!!!
Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. 19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.
Those who trust in God have an anchor for their souls.
Even if the world is going crazy around them and it feels like life is trying to blow them out to sea…
…it says that their hope in God is an ANCHOR for their soul.
GOD IS IN CONTROL
Well, how does that work?
It starts with remembering WHO God really is.
Remembering that will be key to letting your hope in Him be an anchor
And in this 3-week series, we’re going to focus on 3 different things about God (1 each week) that are critical to understand if your hope in Him is going to be an anchor.
Here is the first one:
God is in control.
(Show Anchor Image with “God is in control” on the left arm of the anchor)
One of THE main teachings of the Bible is that God is in control of all things, at all times, and in every situation.
We call this the “Sovereignty of God”
That means God is the Sovereign/The Ruler of all things.
He sits on the throne…and is in control.
If God is not sovereign and in control, then I assure you that He is not worthy of your worship and devotion.
If God is in heaven right now, somehow going, “Oh no, Coronavirus…what will I do?!?”
Then that is not a “god” worthy of your time.
No, the Bible is clear that God is sovereign and in control.
(Isaiah 46:9-10) – NIV
9 Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
10 I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please.’
(Psalm 103:19) – NIV
The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
There are many of the stories in the Bible demonstrate that God has control over even the minute details of our lives, and He weaves them together for grander purposes.
God is on the throne…right now.
He is in control.
Pastor John Piper once said that God is probably doing 10,000 things in your life right now, but you are only dimly aware of perhaps 3 of those things.
Now, those numbers are arbitrary, but the point is absolutely right.
We only have a tiny idea of what God is doing through all of this.
We’re like little kids peering through a keyhole trying to make sense of God’s bigger picture.
And we can’t mistake that “sliver” of perspective, and sliver in time, for the whole spectrum of reality & history.
*But often it can be hard to trust that God is in control when we’re in the midst of a crisis that affects us…but if we look objectively at it…like when we’re not personally in a crisis, it is easier to see.
For example, if I would have asked you, 6 months ago, “Do you believe that God is in control?”
Many of you would have said, “Yes.”
And you would have answered “yes” even though, intellectually, you know that history is chalk-full of tragedies and crises…(albeit ones that didn’t personally affect you)
And yet, we believe, and have believed….through it all…that God is in control.
God was in control when your beautiful child was born.
God was in control you lost your job
God was in control when you got a new job, and then got promoted
God was in control…even in times like September 11th.
The same God that we believe is in control and blessing us in the good times, is the same God that is in control when we don’t understand what He’s doing in the difficult times.
And now that life has rapidly become difficult for us…we must ask if we trust that God is still in control.
And perhaps we haven’t asked this on such a widespread global level since maybe back in WWII…
When many were asking that of God while firebombs rained down on their city, or they sent their sons off to war, and went to the front lines themselves.
Speaking of WWII, one of the greatest books to come out of WWII is Corrie Ten Boom’s “The Hiding Place.”
Corrie and her family were Dutch Christians who hid Jews in a makeshift, hidden closet they made in their house.
But eventually Corrie’s family was caught and they were all sent to a concentration camp.
The woman’s barracks that Corrie & her sister were put into was swarming with fleas.
One morning, Corrie Ten Boom and her sister Betsy were reading their Bible that they had snuck into the concentration camp
And the passage was from 1 Thessalonians 5:18, which says “Give thanks in all circumstances.”
They began to give God thanks for many things:
They said, “God, thank you that we’re still together.”
“God, thank you, that we have our Bible”
And then Betsie said, “And God, thank you, even for the fleas.”
Too which her sister Corrie replied, “Uh, no, I can’t pray that.”
But Betsie said, “It says give thanks in ALL circumstances. Not just pleasant ones.”
Because that’s a way that we acknowledge that God is in control of everything.
If you can only give thanks for some things, then you might be liable to think God made a mistake with the other things.
Give thanks in ALL things!
A few days after the Ten Boom sisters thanked God for the fleas…Betsie came into the barracks with her eyes twinkling.
She proceeded to tell her sister, “You know how we’ve never understood why we’ve had so much freedom in the barracks (why they don’t come in when we’re having Bible Study)”
She then added: This afternoon, a few of us were having a dispute and we asked the guard to come into the barracks and settle it.
But the guard wouldn’t come in. And you know why?
Because of the fleas!!
The guard said, “That place is crawling with fleas!”
And she said, “So Corrie, the only reason we’ve been able to comfort all of these women and lead many of them to Christ with God’s Word…is because of the fleas!
God was in control.
And He still is today.
And I just know that He is going to use this difficult time in ways we can’t even imagine
ANCHORING TAKES EFFORT
So, believing that God is in control…acts as an anchor for your soul in turbulent times.
But you still have to let your anchor down.
There are many people out there right now who say, on paper, that they believe in God…but they aren’t anchored in remembering that God is in control.
And so their minds are going out to sea right now…they’re drowning in fear and worry.
See, anchoring takes effort.
It doesn’t happen automatically.
But with God’s help, we can be intentional with lowering our anchor down deep into that truth that the Bible teaches
As our passage in Hebrews said, “we must “HOLD TO THE HOPE”
We don’t just say we believe it once and be done.
You’ve got to grab onto that hope this week and let that anchor sink down and into your soul.
And that will take action on your part.
More than ever, you need to be in the Word of God…the Bible…every day.
That is where you are going to find the truth, that God is in control of the past, the present, and the future…and you’ll find it over and over again.
If you’re not used to reading the Bible, you can start the 100 chapters in 100 days Bible reading plan on our Renovation Church app.
Or just starting reading in the Book of Matthew and learning from Jesus.
And also, don’t just practice social distancing each day, but do some social media distancing, and some media distancing…each day.
And then anchor yourself to Jesus in prayer each day
Bring your fears to Him…talk to Him about it.
Take this Psalm and write it on your mirror or put it as a post it note on your computer:
(Psalm 56:3-4) – NIV - LEAVE UP TO NEXT GREEN LINE.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
4 In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
Do you see the process of actively putting your anchor down?
He starts out afraid…but puts his trust in God…(puts his anchor down) and then is not afraid.
He’s reminding Himself that God is in control!
VERSE OFF SCREEN
And this is a discipline, a habit, that we should engage in both proactively and reactively.
In other words, proactively reading God’s truth every day, is like putting down your anchor every morning.
It’s a positive habit.
But sometimes throughout the day, we need to REACT
When the wind really picks up in the afternoon or late in the evenings, and you start to fear again…
React, and put the anchor down.
Speak truth to yourself, maybe even recite Psalm 56
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you”
Say “I know you’re in control…you know the future…and you’ve got this.”
Put your life in his hands to control…not your own
And for those of you that are listening to this…and you’re not sure you have an anchor…
You can have one.
You can have a relationship with God…you can know His love and care for you.
(Show Anchor Image with “God is in control” on the left arm of the anchor. Leave up until next blue line.)
One thing I want you to visually see in our “Anchored” series is that it’s the cross that holds all parts of the anchor together.
Do you see that?
What will help secure you in difficult times, more than anything, is the cross of Jesus Christ.
See, the cross proves that God is in control.
All of Jesus followers were devasted when he died on it…
(take image down)
They had to have been thinking, “But God, how could you? Why would you do this? You’re making a mess of things!”
But He wasn’t.
And 3 days later, He proved, more than ever, that He was, and always has been, and always will be…in control.
Jesus died upon that cross…because He loves you.
He has seen every sin of your life…every mistake.
And yet He died in your place…for your punishment.
And if you would believe in that, and turn your life over to Him, the Bible says you can be completely forgiven and start a relationship with Him.
And He, can be an anchor in your life.
And you will have hope…even as the sea rages.
I pray that you invite him into your life today
And if you’ve done that for the first time, send us a message on Facebook or an email, and we can help you get started in your relationship with Him.
Let me pray as we wrap up our message portion.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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