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The Call for Help
- Y. Joe Kim
August 14, 2022
Psalm 80:1-2 & 8-19
“Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth 2 before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. 8Stir up your might, and come to save us! You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it. 9 You cleared the ground for it; it took deep root and filled the land. 10 The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches; 11 it sent out its branches to the sea and its shoots to the River. 12 Why then have you broken down its walls, so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit? 13 The boar from the forest ravages it, and all that move in the field feed on it. 14 Turn again, O God of hosts; look down from heaven and see; have regard for this vine, 15 the stock that your right hand planted. 16 It has been burned with fire; it has been cut down; may they perish at the rebuke of your countenance. 17 But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand, the one whom you made strong for yourself. 18 Then we will never turn back from you; give us life, and we will call on your name. 19 Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.”
1. 2022 VBS
Last week, our Vacation Bible School hosted 18 children for a wonderful week of VBS. About half of the children are from our community. Isn’t that wonderful? We are grateful to the 10 teachers and helpers who made VBS a reality. Would you give them a round of applause?
During VBS, the children learned about the heroes of the Bible who had a strong faith in God and Jesus. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stand true (Daniel 3). David defeats Goliath (1 Samuel 17). Peter walks on water (Matthew 14). Paul and Silas sing praises at midnight in prison (Acts 16). VBS children learned that people throughout the Bible reflect faith in God’s amazing power.
For the past several months, Erin Wilcox and Deb Linehan and teachers and volunteers have worked together for VBS 2022. They have been like farmers, planting seeds of faith in the hearts of the children. I am sure their labor of love has had a big impact in the lives of these children. Don’t you think that the children in VBS would become men and women of faith in the Lord?
2. Appeal to Israel’s Shepherd
Our passage today comes from Psalm 80. Psalm 80 is a prayer for restoration after Israel’s national tragedy. The psalmist laments the awful calamity brought on them by their enemies. Although the psalmist does not tell us the historical background, it is known that it was written after the Assyrians’ invasion of the Northern Kingdom, Israel, in 722 BCE. The Israelites were exiled to Assyria, and the people assimilated with the Gentiles and Israel ceased to exist as a nation.
In verses 1-2, the psalmist says, “Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock!” The psalmist appeals to the Lord, the Shepherd of his chosen people, to help them in their distress. Everyone knows that shepherds are essential to the lives of sheep. Shepherds lead their sheep to pasture and water and protect them from a host of dangers, including wild animals. The writer of Psalm 80 asks the Lord, their shepherd, to lead them as God took care of them in the past.
The psalmist says, “we will never turn back from you” (verse 18). The Israelites promise that they would be faithful to the Lord. Then in verse 19, he prays, “Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.” The psalmist asks God to take care of the nation and restore his people in his favor.
3. Challenges in Life
Throughout their lives, the children that came to VBS will face many challenges. How do you think they will overcome such situations? At VBS, the children learned what Paul said in Ephesians 6:10: “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power.” They learned that they can be strong in the Lord because God has the power to help them.
4. The Call for Help
If you watch the news, you may have seen that there were several floods that impact people around the world. The people in Kentucky, Las Vegas, Washington DC, and even South Korea have been subject to flooding, causing emergencies and impacting their lives. When these events happen, people don’t hesitate to ask for help.
5. Calling 911
When we have an emergency, we dial 911. We tell the operator what happened, and emergency responders are sent to help. If we don’t make the call and let them know that we are in emergency, police, and fire can’t come to help us. At VBS, the children learned to “just call on God for help” when they need help. God is the one to call.
There is an old joke that begins, “there was a flood.” “The water had covered the first floor in a man’s house when a boat came by. ‘Jump in,’ they called out. ‘No’ said the man, ‘God will save me.’ The water rose until the man was on the second floor, when another boat came by. They called out for the man to get in. ‘No,’ he said, ‘God will save me.’ The waters rose higher until the man was on his roof. A helicopter came by and dropped a ladder. The man refused, saying, ‘No, God will save me.’ The man drowned. And when he got to heaven, he questioned God. ‘Lord, why didn’t you save me?’ God replied: “Gee, I sent you two boats and a helicopter. What did you want?”
This joke tells us that God helps us through other people. This joke also teaches us that God would use us to help others.
Why is VBS important to the children? When the children face challenges, they need to ask for help. Romans 10:13 says, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” How can the children call on the name of the Lord? Verse 17 says, “faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” If people have no faith in the Lord, they will not ask for help. The children at VBS learned that God would help them through other people. They also learned that God could use them to help others.
What we did at VBS may not look significant. But we need to remember that all we do in our ministry impacts God’s kingdom and those around us. The faith of the children may look tiny today. However, their faith in the Lord would make a big difference not only in their lives but also in the lives of others.
Everyone faces many kinds of challenges. And everyone needs help.
If we know where our help comes from, we will be ok no matter what. Whenever the Israelites have troubles, they recite Psalm 121. “I lift up my eyes to the hills-from where will my help come? 2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 80 reminds us of what God has done for Israel and what God will do for us. God is ready to help us because the Lord is our shepherd. Ask the Lord for help when you are in trouble. Amen.
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