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Date: 09/04/05
Text: Psalm 29:10-11
Title: When the Flood Comes
Theme: Since we live in a fallen world, by God's grace we learn to live according to God's sovereignty and power in the midst of calamities.

(245k died in the Tanshan, China earthquake on 7/28/76, 221k died on December 26, 2004, in the worst tsunami in Asia. On August 29, hurricane Katrina, caused the greatest natural disaster in the US history by killing hundreds of people and literally submerged the city of New Orleans under water. The entire city has been evacuated. Many have arrived at Houston and other cities in Texas. Astrodome, Reliant stadium and Convention center are now opened to receive residents from La. This recovery process will take years. ) SEE VIDEO
One week ago, none of us would have imagined the destructive power of Hurricane Katrina. Now, the entire nation is shocked by the resulting tragedy. In any tragedy, the best and worst are brought out in us. We see families opening up their homes to receive strangers. State governments and businesses are providing extensive services to the LA residents. We also see nations such as Australia, China, Japan, Singapore, Cuba and Venezuela offering assistance to US. However on the other hand, we also see individuals taking advantage of the situation to steal, rob and violate the fellow citizens.
In moments like this, we are all tempted to say something. There are the nay sayers voicing this is the end of the world. Then there are the positive thinkers saying ‘today is one more day closer to normality” or “you must have faith that everything will turn out well…”
So, what do we do in moments like this? This morning I want to share with you some basic principles that will give us a handle on how to face these and other disasters that come our way.

I. In a broken and abnormal world, disasters are an integral part of human experience.

In vs.10, we read that, “10The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.” A Flood is a destructive natural force. The only other time it is mentioned in the OT is about the great flood in Noah’s time. The Psalmist simply assumed that flood occurred in life. Not if it comes, but when it comes. The scripture is rather silent on the reasons behind natural disasters. The closest we can come to is to go back to Genesis. In Chapter one we learned of God's creation. Even though we do not know the details of how he created the heavens and the earth, yet one thing we know for sure; everything that was created, the heavens and the earth, the man and woman, God considered them as good. That is, according to his most perfect standard, everything was good.
However, as we continue with the creation story, in chapter 3 we learned of men’s deliberate disobedience to God. Because of this disobedience, sin entered the world. What was good, normal and perfect had now become imperfect, abnormal and broken. In Genesis 3:17-18, “….cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;…” What we see is a broken natural world. There is no more harmony between man and the world he lives in.
Our world history, is a record of brokenness .

We live in a broken and abnormal world. Jesus did not try to explain the whys of pain and suffering, he simply stated: John 16:33, “33"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Its not that you may have tribulation, but you will have tribulation. Apostle James in 1:2, “2Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,..” Again, please note; it is not, if you meet trials of various kinds, but when. Because we live in an abnormal world, therefore trials, natural and or man made disasters are a part of life.
If we think our world is a normal world, we respond to disasters by asking: why? It is not fair. Where is God? How can you do this to me? If we know our world is fallen, broken and abnormal, then we ask: How should we then live? What can we do in such situations. A part of our worldview is that this is a broken and abnormal world.

II. In a broken and abnormal world, children of God learn to develop a belief system with focus on God's attributes

Living in this abnormal world, facing the tragedy and the damage Katrina has brought to us, what then is our belief? I want to share with you a few thoughts on this:
1. To recognize human limitation. First, natural disasters always brought man to the realization of our limitations. In the 21st century, we pride ourselves of our technical know how. We have the entire sequence of human genome. We know how to clone a cat, cattle, sheep and even a human being. But we are powerless when nature unleashes its destructive force. A survivor of last year’s Tsunami said, “Mother nature slapped us on our face.” In the face of nature, we experience our humiliation and finiteness.
2. To recognize God's sovereignty in the created world. Psalm 29:10, “10The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.” When nature unleashes its destructive force, when countless lives are lost, properties are damaged, God still sits on his throne. He is still in control, he is the king and ruler of all When we bought a new car, a new house, got promoted or found a new job, it is easy to recognize God's sovereignty. But during the down times, in those terrible moments, in experiences no one wants to repeat or plan, it is very difficult to believe God is in control. It is easy to ask: God, where are you? Where is your power? Are you that weak that you can't even stop this hurricane and have it dissipate in front of our eyes? When the waters are raging, he sits in his throne. Yes, the natural world seems to be angry and ruthless, yet our Lord is still in control.. The world can change, but he never changes. His power and authority remain the same. We may not fully understand this, but this is the bedrock of our faith.
3. To recognize God's attributes. Again, in good times, when things go our way, it is easy to believe in God's love, faithfulness, provision, protection and presence. But in the down times; when our homes are destroyed, possessions are gone, loved ones disappeared or died, how dare you tell me God is love, kind and faithful. Circumstances and environments have changed, but God has not. Yes, it is indeed very difficult to believe, but this is what the Bible is about. In Psalm 23, we read that the Lord is my shepherd and I shall not want…Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear not evil, because you are with me.” The scripture never promises we will always have the mountain top experience, but when we are in that dark valley of shadow of death, a place of darkness, unknown, uncertainty and unsafe, there is the assurance that the Lord, the shepherd will be with us. In Isaiah 43:1ff “ Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. ……. 4Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, ….. 5Fear not, for I am with you;…” In the midst of the water and fire, is the promise and assurance of ‘I love you, I am with you, you are very precious to me…’. This is what we are to have faith in. yes, it is important to think positively, that dark times will not last forever, but true faith is never about setting our eyes on things will get better. True faith is to believe that even in the worst of times, God is sovereign, loving, kind and faithful. Even in that deep dark valley, when we cannot feel nor see his presence, we believe he is loving, faithful and is with us. This is faith; not faith in the present or future circumstances, but faith in the God who loves and cares.

III. In a broken and abnormal world, children of God learn to help others to relieve some of their pain and suffering.

Facing disasters, amidst chaos, we believe that our Lord in still in control, he sits on his throne. But there is more. In the first century church, there was a famine in Jerusalem and Judea. When believers in Macedonia heard about it, they collected some money and sent it to Jerusalem. What is unusual in this situation is that the Macedonian church is young and poor. They did not give according to what they had. They gave out of what little they had. They gave sacrificially to help the believers in Judea. On Friday, I received a call from a Ca minister and friend; asking how they could help. Since they are going on a mission trip tomorrow, they said they would just write a check to HCC and let HCC decide what is the best way to help. In situations of need, we reach out to help.
The last few days, we see images after images of people reaching out to help each other. A family in Minnesota offered to take in one family from the Astrodome.
In our bulletin, there is a list of things that the church is doing or planning to do. There is also a list of things that we can do.

I am so glad to know that many of you have already started to help in various different capacities.. As you go home today, may I encourage you to discuss this with your family, pray about it and make a decision what is the best way for your family to help.
As we take part in different aspect of helping those in need, I would like to remind us a very basic and important principle: we are to treat others, no matter who they are, with respect and dignity. Please do not treat them as objects to satisfy our own need to help others or as targets of our evangelization. Please take a look at this passage which I have referred to quite often. 1 Thess. 2:8, “8So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” Paul said, we love you so much, that we are willing to give our lives for you and also share the gospel with you.” It is not because we want to evangelize you, therefore we love you. No, it is this: because we love you, we want to share our lives with you, we want to share the gospel with you.
We serve the needy ones, because we love them. Love must be the primary motivation for you, for me, for HCC to reach out to others.

IV. In a broken and abnormal world, children of God learn to experience God's persevering power.
Yes, living in this broken world, we’re to trust in God's faithfulness and love. But, how about God? What does he do? Psalm 29:11, “11May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!” He not only sits on his throne when the water is raging, he also gives us strength to overcome our difficult situations. He pulls us out of the emotional dark valley. He gives us strength to help each other to locate jobs to make a new beginning. He enables us to continue believing in his faithfulness and goodness
Not only this, the Lord will give his people peace. When the waters are raging, when the circumstance is anything but peaceful, the Lord promises to give his people peace. This peace transcends all circumstances. In John 16:33, “33"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
In these two verses in Psalm 29, we learn that in the midst of human calamity, our Lord sits on his throne. He is still the King, the one who rules and controls all. In the midst of human calamity, he is the one that gives peace and strength to us.
However, there is more in this psalm. The psalmist is also pointing to a future day, when this flood will turn into river that brings life and wholeness. There will come a day, when God's children will be gathered in his kingdom in heaven. Where they will be no more flood and deaths. God's children will live in God's presence, where there is eternal power and peace. There is peace within and without. Where once again, the creation will be restored to what it was like when first created. That according to God's standard, is good, it is very good.

Katrina has affected everyone, directly or indirectly. While the water is raging around us, we learn to focus on the Lord who sits on his throne. We ask for God's help, encouraging one another to believe in his love, care and faithfulness towards his children. This faith is difficult and at times seemingly unreasonable. Remember the words of a well known hymn writer, William Cowper, “Behind a frowning providence, by faith is a smiling face.”
And you know what? As you and I do our best to help those needy ones that are around us, we may just become the means by which people see God's smiling face.
As I close, there are these suggestions:
Pray for those who have lost everything
Pray for HCC that we will have wisdom to do the right thing at the right time
Pray to see how you and your family can help:
Opening your home
Volunteering at the various centers
Providing the needed items
Do not react to the situations: there are immediate and long term needs
Do not be cynical and critical to the decision makers
Be kind and gentle to one another in times of crisis
(Our true characters surface in times of crisis)