2. Finding Up When Your World Is Upside Down

Singing the Sacred  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Core 52 Series through the book of Psalms

Welcome to part two of our sermon series, Singing the Sacred! This series is a part of a larger spiritual growth campaign called Core 52…where we are committed to spending 52 weeks learning and memorizing these 52 key verses which connect our Bibles and point us to Jesus. If you would like to be a part, or get a book to help guide you through these verse, please talk to me or send me an email. I would love to provide you with the needed resources!


My friend Cam is a crazy man! Cam and I became friends while we served as youth ministers in Quincy, Illinois. I vividly remember this story he told me. When he was in High School, he and a bunch of his friends wanted to imitate a Mountain Dew commercial where kids jumped their bicycles off of a ramp into a lake. They were having some success, however they were not able to get the bike to go sideways in the air. My friend Cam had this brilliant idea of tying his shoestring to the bicycle frame so that when he was in mid air, he could turn his body side ways and the bike would as well. His plan worked like a dream! Cam and his bike flew through the air sideways. But then he hit the water and realized that he had just tied his leg to essentially an anchor. Even worse, he was turned upside down and he didn’t know which way was up . He started to panic, but then remembered a trick that divers do…they blow bubbles and see which way is up. So he blew bubbles, discovered which way was up, slipped off his shoe and swam to the surface.
So what’s the moral of the story? Don’t tie yourself to a bike before riding it into the water? That’s a good one actually! No, here is a good lesson from Cam’s experience:
When life is turned upside down, we need a way to figure out which way is up.


Have you ever found your life turned upside down, in water, with your leg tied to a bicycle? For example. You find out that some of your family have COVID-19 and are in the hospital. Or maybe you have been exposed to COVID-19 and you are afraid that maybe your exposed someone more vulnerable to the virus. You come home only to find out that your significant other doesn’t love you anymore. You get a call from work, they don’t need you anymore. Your degree program you are on is ending or changing. The career path you chose, doesn’t feel like the right path. Your child doesn’t want anything to do with you. Your caught in this cycle of toxic behaviors and you don’t know how to get out. Or, I think about one of my friends from college who died on Monday of cancer, leaving behind a wife and two kids. Lives that have been turned upside down, and they feel like they are sinking....and it’s hard to know which way is up.
All of these examples are realities for everyone, no matter if you believe in Jesus or not. A broken and hurting world does not discriminate. The difference is, a believer in Jesus has a way of blowing bubbles and discovering which way is up!
When life is turned upside down, God provides people with a reminder about which way is up. Let me show you what I’m talking about.


If you have a Bible or device, turn to Psalms chapter 2. If you are using the YouVersion Bible app, find the three lines in the bottom left hand corner. Then go to Events. Iowa City Church should pop up. All of the sermon notes and Scriptures will be there for you to follow along.
The book of Psalms was the hymn book for the Jewish people, and to a certain extent, Christians as well. Just like we have different hymns and songs, the book of Psalms has a wide variety of Psalms; there are hymns, lament psalms, thanksgiving psalms, wisdom psalms, and Kingship or what is sometimes referred to as messianic psalms. A messianic or kingship psalm was an understanding that in the future, God would provide for his people a savior king, good, true ruler… a messiah. So they would sing these messianic songs, holding on to the hope that God would provide their savior, their rescuer. You could say that they sang these psalms as a way of “blowing bubbles” to find their way up; to help them when their world was turned upside down. With that in mind, let’s read part of Psalm 2:1-7

1 Why do the nations conspire

and the peoples plot in vain?

2 The kings of the earth rise up

and the rulers band together

against the LORD and against his anointed, saying,

3 “Let us break their chains

and throw off their shackles.”

4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs;

the Lord scoffs at them.

5 He rebukes them in his anger

and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,

6 “I have installed my king

on Zion, my holy mountain.”

7 I will proclaim the LORD’s decree:

He said to me, “You are my son;

today I have become your father.

For the Jewish people, this messianic Psalm gave them hope of a saving king to come. Maybe the closest example we might understand is the hymn Amazing Grace. Most everyone knows the first verse, and we usually sing it at maybe funerals or memorial type services, as well as worship services. It has this way of pointing us back to God. The Jewish people would use this Psalm in a similar way. God was in control, no matter what the circumstance, and one day he would send his anointed, his son to rule. They held on to this hope for hundreds of years…until Jesus showed up. Let me take you to the baptism of Jesus. As Jesus is coming up out of the water, the sky opens up and these words are spoken audibly by God. Here’s how Matthew 3:17 describes it.

17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

To all the people in attendance, their Jewish Spidey senses should have been tingling! This is literally Psalm 2:7 unfolding right in their presence. God the Father is identifying his son, the messiah. Just a simple, yet amazing verse of prophecy being revealed in Jesus. The apostle Paul jumps on this later in his ministry and he is preaching to a group of Jews in Antioch. Jews who would have known and sung Psalm 2 for all of their lives. People who had relied on it to give them hope. Here is what he says, found in Acts 13:32-33.

32 “We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm:

“ ‘You are my son;

today I have become your father.’ o

For the apostle Paul, regarding a Psalm he probably had memorized, a Psalm he had sang holding out to a hope that God would send a messiah…he is acknowledging that Jesus is the messiah, Jesus is that king from God. This is more then just a spiritual statement for Paul, it’s also a political statement. The greatest empire in the world was the Roman Empire, it was vast and powerful. The head of that empire? Caesar…he was like a god. However, in this Psalm and according to Paul, Caesar wasn’t king, Jesus was king. Let that sink in for a moment. Whoever you voted for isn’t king, isn’t the savior. Your political party. It’s not king, it isn’t the savior. The economy, it’s not king, it isn’t our savior. Paul is promoting a realignment of people’s lives; Jesus is King. Think of it this way: When your life is turned upside down, remember, Jesus is King.
With the time we have left, I want to show you how the early Jesus followers, when their world was turned upside down, used Psalm 2 to find their way forward.
In Acts 3, we find the early church thriving! No opposition, no struggle, just immense growth. Then one day, two apostles, Peter and John heal a crippled beggar. A massive crowd gathers and Peter preaches this powerful sermon about the death and resurrection of Jesus as why he is king. The Jewish religious leaders, and Sadducees show up with their armed guards to arrest Peter and John (think Jewish mafia). Keep in mind, this is the first opposition the church has faced…and these mafia types were the same ones who had Jesus killed. So Peter and John face their first real struggle as apostles, and they have a lot to contemplate while they spend the night in jail. It might have even felt like their lives were turned upside down.
The next morning they are brought out before the Jewish authorities, and with boldness they defend their position with clarity and confidence. These uneducated, Galilean fishermen shock the religious leaders…and after conferring, they decide to let Peter and John go without any type of punishment; it was a remarkable turn of events. They went from an uncertain, upside down situation, to a clear path forward.
So Peter and John return to the other believers and they are overjoyed at the amazing turn of events. I want you to listen to how they respond, and the Psalm they use in response to these unbelievable events. Here is the description, found in Acts 4:23-31

23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:

“ ‘Why do the nations rage

and the peoples plot in vain?

26 The kings of the earth rise up

and the rulers band together

against the Lord

and against his anointed one.’ b

27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

For these early Christians, Psalm 2 was like blowing bubbles to determine which way is up. If Jesus is the anointed one, the messiah, the king, then any plotting or rage against them was in vain. It failed with Pilate and Herod. It failed with the Roman soldiers, and it failed with the people of Israel. Why? Because Jesus is King. I just love how the place shakes as the prayer concludes…it gives me goose bumps every time! They were reminded that Jesus is King. When life gets turned upside down, when find our way up, when we sing Psalm 2…because it reminds us that Jesus is King.
This isn’t to say that everything was smooth sailing from there on out. In just a few chapters, a persecution erupts and the church is scattered, however, they had Psalm 2 to hold on to. When your world is turned upside down, no matter what the rage or force or opposition…Jesus is still King.
No matter what is going on in your life today, whether blessing or struggle, this one truth remains: You can move forward with clarity because Jesus is King.


Let me share with you two ways that you can use Psalm Two to help you find your way up with clarity.

1. Incorporate Psalm 2 Into Your Prayer Time

If your world is turned upside down right now, more then ever you need to be spending time praying. To help you in that time of prayer, I would suggest opening your prayer time by reading through Psalm 2. It’s going to put whatever is standing in opposition to you in perspective. If Jesus is King, what can stand in opposition to him and God’s plan? Can COVID? Can cancer? Can financial struggles? Moral failures? Painful addictions? Praying through Psalm two is like blowing bubbles underwater…it reminds us as to which way is up.

2. Psalm 2 Reminds Us That If Not Jesus, Then Who?

Is the economy your messiah? It crashes. Is a political party, president or leader your messiah? The let you down, they make bad decisions, they can’t always be trusted. Is a relationship your messiah? They can hurt you, leave you or betray you. Is your physical or emotional strength your messiah? It can break down. It can fail. It can get sick. When our lives are lived pursuing these messiahs, when they fail, our lives are turned upside down. So answer this question: Who is your Messiah?
No matter what is going on in your life today, whether blessing or struggle, this one truth remains: You can move forward with clarity because Jesus is King.
Here’s what can happen if we begin to embrace this truth.


I mentioned early my friend from college who died of cancer on Monday. He left behind a wife and two kids still at home. I want to read something his wife Miranda wrote when they made the decision to put Shane in hospice.
Dear Family and friends,
With heavy hearts, we want to update you that last week we made the decision as a family to move Shane to hospice care. We are hopeful that this will help relieve his pain and make him comfortable in the last stage of our cancer journey. We are spending precious time together with our kids, extended family and close friends. We are overwhelmed with gratitude for your prayers and support over this past year, and even though God is not healing Shane, we know that his ultimate healing and heavenly home is near. Shane has taught us all to declare God’s praises in all seasons and circumstances, so we ask you to join us in praising our God, thanking Him for all He has done, and pray that His will be done here on earth as it is in heaven.
Thank you for praying and walking alongside us. We love you.
To the very end, Shane (who is a worship pastor) praised and worship God. How was he able to do this? He knew which way was up. He knew Jesus is King. Even cancer…that nasty enemy isn’t King. Jesus is king. His family, as they press forward without their dad, know with clarity their way forward…because Jesus is King.
Not only does this truth change you personally, but is also has the potential to change our community. In a world that is searching for answers, in a community that is looking for messiahs, in a city that is struggling…we can show with clarity a way forward because we know that Jesus is King.
No matter what is going on in your life today, whether blessing or struggle, this one truth remains: You can move forward with clarity because Jesus is King.
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