Psalm 461NIV New International Version Translations
1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. 5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. 6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. 7 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. 8 Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. 10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 11 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
The Story of Psalms 46, 47 and 48: We do not know who wrote these 3 psalms or when they were written. What we do know is that something happened that saved the city of Jerusalem. What was it? We are not sure, but many Christians and Jews think that it was when Sennacherib attacked Jerusalem in 701 BC. God protected the city. One night, 185 000 Assyrian soldiers died. We do not know why. It was a strange illness, but we do not know what it was. This is found in 2 Kings 19:34-36. If Psalms 46-48 are from this date, then perhaps the author was the prophet Isaiah. Many of the words in these psalms are also words that Isaiah used in his book. What is more important, however, is that they tell us that God can protect His city. The city of Jerusalem represents a picture of God’s people.
This psalm encourages us to hope and trust in God; in his power and providence, and His gracious presence with His church in the worst of times. We may apply it to spiritual enemies, and the encouragement we have that, through Christ, we shall be conquerors over them. He is a Help, a present Help, a Help found, one whom we have found to be so; a Help at hand, one that is always near; we cannot desire a better, nor shall we ever find the like in any creature. Let those be troubled at the troubling of the waters, who build their confidence on a floating foundation; but let not those be alarmed who are led to the Rock, and there find firm footing. Here is joy to the church, even in sorrowful times. The river alludes to the graces and consolations of the Holy Spirit, which flow through every part of the church, and through God’s sacred ordinances, gladdening the heart of every believer. It is promised that the church shall not be moved. If God be in our hearts, by his word dwelling richly in us, we shall be established, we shall be helped; let us trust and not be afraid. (Ps 46:6-11)
Items for Discussion
- Why are people so reluctant to give credit to God for His protection?
- If God protects us from our enemies, how does God protect us from ourselves?
- How do we sort out our enemies when many of them all claim to be listening to God? Could we be their enemy?
- Does this earth have any hope that does not include God? Why or Why not?
- What is the responsibility of the following to protect a nation?
15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
Paul dictated his letter to Tertius (Romans 16:22) during his stay in Corinth, probably about 57 A.D.. Paul established churches in many cities, but he was careful not to upset anyone else’s work (Romans 15:20). However, the church in Rome was not the result of the work of any one particular person. So Paul would not be upsetting anyone’s work if he visited Rome. And for many years, Paul had wanted to visit the Christians in Rome. He had completed his work in the east. There were elders to take care of the new churches. Paul wanted to make this visit to Rome on his way to Spain (Romans 15:23-24).
There were several reasons for the letter:
- to prepare the church in Rome for his visit.
- to give a clear explanation of the gospel.
- to give the truth about the Christian faith to any Christians in Rome who had false ideas about it.
- to give practical advice about how Christians should behave towards each other (chapters 14-15).
- to give practical advice about how Christians should behave towards their rulers (Romans 13:1-7).
- to unite Jewish and Gentile Christians. In many churches, there had been serious arguments between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. The Jewish Christians said that God had given his law in the Bible. So they told the Gentile Christians to obey it. But the Gentile Christians said that God had given them freedom. So, they did not want to obey any Jewish rules or traditions.
- to urge the Christians in Rome to help Paul in his work. He might need their help in order to continue his journey to Spain (Romans 15:24). And he needed the Christians in Rome to support and to encourage him by their prayers (Romans 15:30-32).
Paul’s words about the gospel were bold and clear. Whatever other people said, Paul would declare the gospel’s message. The gospel is essential because it is God’s message. It is a message for everyone, from every nation. And the gospel is essential because it is powerful. It changes people’s lives. It causes people who were God’s enemies to become God’s friends. There are other important messages that Christians teach. But the gospel is the most important message. It is the message about how people can become real Christians. It is the message about what Jesus achieved by his death and resurrection.
So what is the gospel’s message:
- Everyone has done wrong things (called sin) against God (Romans 3:23). We all deserve God’s punishment (Romans 6:23). And we cannot save ourselves from that punishment by our own efforts. We cannot even save ourselves by good works or by religion (Romans 3:20). So our situation is hopeless. But God did not leave us in our hopeless state.
- God sent his son, Jesus, to this world (John 3:16). Jesus lived a perfect life, without any sin (Hebrews 4:15). He deserved no punishment. But when Jesus died on the cross, he suffered the punishment for our sins (Galatians 3:13; Romans 5:8; Romans 5:18). But we cannot benefit from his death if we do nothing.
- We must be humble. God will forgive us if we confess our evil deeds (sin) to him (Acts 3:19). We must invite him into our lives. And we must simply trust him. Then God will change our lives (2 Corinthians 5:17). Repentance, as it is called, requires us to change the direction of our lives. This cannot be done alone but with God’s help, completes the hope of salvation.
Items for Discussion
- Why are Christians reluctant to share the gospel’s message?
- How can you tell the gospel’s message without quoting references to Scripture?
- What are the reasons that you have heard people give for not believing in the gospel’s message?
- How do you equip the people of the church to be effective witnesses of the message of hope and salvation?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations