Our Hope for Our City
Topic: Stand Alone
Good Morning Damascus Road. While we are connected with several churches in our region, and have people from all over the north end of Snohomish County we are located in a city. God planted this church in Marysville, Wa and in the past 10 days this city has been reeling from two major incidents. First was on Wednesday week before last when a man from Granite Falls began shooting at the police station in Granite, then in Lake Stevens, and finally was subdued in Marysville on his way to the police station here. He had health issues and was about to lose his house. His motive in beginning this multi city shooting rampage was simple “suicide by cop” put simply he was hopeless and he was willing to put other’s lives in the balance if it meant he could end his. In his eyes he was unsuccessful, even mocking the police “I thought ya’ll would be better shots.” And this Friday morning at 10:30 a young man who’s last tweet was “It won’t last…..It’ll never last…” when in to the Marysville Pilchuck High School cafeteria and began shooting other students (killing x) wounding several others before fatally shooting himself. He was hopeless. His lack of hope lead him to extreme violence to others and himself.
God is the author of life, every time we try to grab the pen from Him the only thing we write is death. In both of these our city, our county, merely getting a fresh reminder that this world is broken. Compared to the rest of the world we know we live in relative safety and comfort, we don’t think much about how to deal with actual tragedy and actual suffering. During these time we gather to be reminded we are part of a community beyond our family or ourselves, and we look to our leaders to help guide us and point us to a greater hope, meaning, and purpose in the midst of what we can only see as pain and tragedy. We find ourselves in a desert and we are thirsty for fresh water to renew and refresh so we can have strength to continue on the journey we hope will be to something better. While the school has been granted victory in football, we need so much more than a win, or profile picture, or hashtag. We need real victory, a real picture of healing, and power message of hope.
There have been many very well intention sentiments given buy our city leaders and officials, many who are believers. “People need to be reminded they’re not alone.” “We need to love one another” Don’t be afraid and don’t let fear win.” Who are we not alone with? Because when kids were in the cafeteria they were together so it can’t be just being with others because when we are together/gathered it usually provides opportunities for us to hurt one another and magnify our sin. Why love each other? The shooter wanted to be loved he wanted love from another person and when that person didn’t return love in the way he wanted he felt rejection and that lead to hopelessness. We all want love but when we only focus with loving each other we become self and man-centered. We give people too much power over our lives so what they say to us or about us good or bad defines us.
Why fight fear? Our verses a few weeks ago said people are spiritually dead walking in sin following the course of the world, following the prince of the power of the air. This is another name for satan, the enemy, the evil on. The air this past few weeks has felt a little thicker with the power of evil. We need someone to overcome the evil one. Knowing you are not alone doesn’t matter unless you know who is with you. Loving each other is incomplete if we don’t first know we’re loved. Fear is strong, because sin and evil are real. We need to look to something greater then ourselves and appeal to someone who has the ability to defeat fear. Instead we are so focused on ourselves during these times so it leads us to not find much hope. We have to go deeper, not to who we are and what we do, but back to who God is and what He’s done. Our hope for our City comes from the power of God, the purposes of God, and the promises of God.
Hope in the Power of God
Psalm 46:1-11 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. 6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. 7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. 8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. 10 “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 of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Be still. yes, Let’s cry out. Yes let’s seek answers, then let’s pause, let’s listen, and be ready for an answer! This Psalm is a life ring to believers in times of suffering and pain, when it seems as if the entire world is falling apart around us we can still have hope in God as our Fortress. It shows God is sovereign over all creation, all nations, all wars, and all turmoil, and that we should seek, refuge, peace, and rest in Him, as we find all these things in the person and work of Jesus. Our city has experienced much and feels under siege. We have actually experienced a mountain falling into the water this year, in doing so it is a reminder of the might power of God over every spec of dirt on this planet. His sovereign hand holds all things together. We’ve got to have something firmer that each other and something more hopeful than our community or attempts to improve our society. Confidence in God, in Christ, when creation is raging comes because God, as Creator is still living, active, and sovereign over creation. As difficult, as challenging as it is to consider, God is present in what we perceive as good times and bad. When we look for hope we need to see the picture of God as more powerful than our circumstances.
Psalm 121 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber 4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand 6 The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 8 The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.
I look my eyes up to the hills where does my help come? Yes ask the the question but we've got to have an answer and the answer is the Lord maker of heaven and earth. When we are the problem we can’t be the solution. God wasn’t asleep on Friday or checked out. He wasn’t out of control distant or uninvolved. Heildelberg Catechism – What is the only comfort in life and death? That I with body and soul, both in life and death, I AM NOT MY OWN! When you remember somebody created you ,you remember that you were created for purpose and then when pain and suffering and trials come you could remember that purpose is to draw you back to the one who made you and align your life to His purpose for it. We can have hope because we know we’re not our own but we belong to someone else someone greater, someone mightier, and someone who loves us so much more than we even love ourselves so when we turn to God what we're also doing just giving ourselves joy, peace, and security.
Hope in the Purpose of God
2 Cor 4:16-18 16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
God is at work in suffering, he is preparing us for greater glory. So everything we suffer, everything we endure, everything that tells us we don’t want this is never without purpose. On Friday night I was with another pastor and he was telling me about an active shooter situation at his high school he was involved with that also ended with a self-inflicted fatal shot. He said, it was dark, it was painful to be in the school as that happened until he saw the news on Friday morning he had no idea why he had been a part of that situation. He realized it was so he would be able to empathize and minister to the students in their darkness and pain. This story isn’t over. We don’t know what God purpose is in what has happened in our city but we do know that he calls us not to fear but to hope, in love. Not a general love, but a specific love. A women shouted “We love our kids!” yes, yes we do, and He loves them more!! Are we going to try to lock our kids up for their safety. are we going to be our kid’s god, our are we going to trust God?
1 John 4:18-19 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.
There is a city of people and a tribe of people and a county of people who need to know how to love knowing we are loved by God first in Jesus Christ. You don’t think there are more people today that are searching for hope and meaning today then there were before Friday morning? God should have our attention because we will forget, something else will captivate us or distract us we’ll lose this moment.
Eph 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Hope in the Promises of God
Jesus is the answer for evil. Knowing we are without hope Jesus willing puts His life on the cross so others could have life. This was promised by God in the Old Testament. Numerous times Jesus told his followers that he would have to suffer and die according to the scriptures to atone for man’s sin and rebellion against God, but not to worry because the Father would be with him and he would be raised. He told them trail and suffering were coming and yet not to worry. Told them the world as they knew it would be turned upside down and yet not to worry. It was never worse than when Jesus was in the tomb. Look on Saturday. Most of us are functional atheist that will turn to anything but God in trials. Money, family, jobs, sex, hobbies, health, food, are all substitutes for God. For the disciples, like us, they forgot or lost faith in the promises and power of God in Christ after seeing Jesus, the man the believed to be God, humiliated and murdered by the authority of the nations of Israel, and the Roman Empire. Even if they knew and believed God was in control of it all it’s unlikely on Saturday they would have understood it. Saturday for them would have been a day of fear, pain, darkness, confusion, and anxiety. During suffering we spend a lot of time living on Saturday. We may be angry, or in denial about things could seem so hopeless. Knowing God is in control, and there are simply things that God allows or even ordains that we just aren’t capable of understanding, should be comforting enough for us. But when we’re in the midst of trail and suffering we cry out “Why!?” “God is in control” can sound more like when we tell our kids “Because I said so! That’s why!” like God is on some sort of cosmic power trip, indiscriminately dealing out wrath and pain. God isn’t just powerful, he is also merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Exodus 34:6
Romans 8:37-39 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God, for no other reason than his Grace, Love, and Mercy, gives us hope in Him. I am sure Saturday seemed like an eternity for those who hoped on Jesus and saw his Crucifixion. When you’re in pain days seem longer. But Sunday morning came. Jesus rose from the dead showing that he was not only has power over storms and earthquakes, but he has power over death. He spoke to the disciples telling them they’d be given strength and help by the Holy Spirit. He restored Peter, who had decided to go back to fishing. He ascended to Heaven and promised his return and restoration of all things to himself.
The men who had been scattered on Friday, hopeless on Saturday, rejoicing on Sunday, we’re instilled with courage and confidence by the Holy Spirit to boldly proclaim the Gospel of reconciliation and restoration in Christ. While there were still times of trial ahead for the disciples as there will be for us God, he is with us in all strength and power.
Our Friday looked like death, our Saturday looks like hopelessness, It’s Sunday there is hope on Sunday.
1 Thess 4:13-14 13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
The cross means the death of death, that means for those who place their hope in the person and work of Jesus Christ can look at death and say we know it’s not the end because it wasn’t the end for Jesus. He rose, he’s alive and he promises us both new and eternal life. With that hope he sends us to bring hope.
Matthew 28: 18-20 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age
We are not citizens of this city we are called to this city as citizens of the kingdom to point those in this city to that kingdom. When we see people and places avoiding the rule and reign of Jesus they become preview of eternity, an eternity without Jesus is hell, where everyday is a Friday in in a lunch room. In Jesus we’re pointed to something different then what we’ve experienced recently. Jesus tells us to go and make disciples of all nations and the reason he does is he wants all nations to have hope.
In Christ we are no longer alone. He tells us to go and be salt and light go and make disciples knowing that disciples have hope and disciples bring hope. But Jesus it’s hard, there is suffering there is tragedy are we alone. No, you’re not. We need to point I was city to a better city This is not the shining city on a hill, but there is one coming.
Rev 21:1-4 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
What would it look like if the people of our city knew how much they were loved by God through Jesus, that rather then believing this is all there is and they are alone, they would be so secure in their identity of sons and daughters of the King and started to love each other like Jesus loves us. That type of love bring hope to the hopeless. What if it was radical enough to make this city look more like the city that is to come so when people in our region, state, world, hear of Marysville, they don’t think of hopelessness and death but they thing of the hope there is in Christ.
This is both a sad and difficult time for our city. While a surprise to us, today is no surprise to our Lord. While we weep, He also weeps. While our city is recently reminded our world is broken, God had a plan before the beginning to fix, heal, and restore. When we are hopeless we will sin violently against ourselves, God, and others. Jesus who is God, suffered violence on the cross so we could have hope Jesus is the plan, Jesus is alive, Jesus is on the throne, Jesus will return. Trust Jesus!