Safe Passage

Psalm 138: 7

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will reach out with Your hand . . . and Your right hand will save me.

This reminds me of the Twenty-third Psalm. Even as we find ourselves surrounded by trouble, we can rest in confidence knowing the Father’s hand is nearby. As I ponder this verse, I also find myself thinking of Isaiah 30: 21, “Your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.” One of the ways the Lord saves us is by speaking to us and warning us from paths of danger. During the bombing of the train in England and the 9/11 bombings in the US, multiple reports emerged from people saying they just had a feeling to get off a stop earlier than normal or not to go to work that day. Our Father guides in the way to go, steering us from trouble.

Sometimes, though, it is hard to get out of the path of danger, as has been the case for the last twelve months. Still, your Father is there with you to guide and protect you. He may give you instructions or ideas that keep you safe. It is imperative that we continue to grow in our ability to hear His voice because one thing is sure, there will always be trouble. Jesus said so. In these days it seems the trouble is increasing exponentially so we need Him close, more now than ever before.

He has not abandoned His people. Even as we look back over the last twelve months and the horrible suffering and loss, we can know that our Father was with us. He is with us now and that confidence in His attendance helps guide us deeper into His presence. As we continue to passionately seek Him, we will get better and better at hearing His voice and recognizing His touch.

We certainly need Him walking alongside us day by day and, fortunately, He has promised to do just that. You have His word that He will save you in the midst trouble. It is a promise upon which you can rely. Never tempt the Lord your God by putting yourself in harm’s way. Do not fail to listen to His wisdom for you. It might mean walking home by a different route or any number of seemingly small details, but His hand is there to guide and save you. Bless His name for His good promises and mighty hand.

Shield of Faith

Psalm 3: 3 – 4

But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head. I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah.

In verses one and two David decries the number and aggressiveness of his enemies. This psalm was written when David’s son was chasing him. How forlorn David must have been. His own son had turned against him in a grab for power. Though David spent the first two verses lamenting his dire situation, by verse three his spirit arose to declare the goodness and faithfulness of God.

He recognized Yahweh as a shield which surrounded him, guarding him from the menace of his many enemies. Though he must have gone around for some time with his head hanging low, God embraced him and held his head high. There is no shame because our God is our Father. He causes us to hold up our head when others would be bowed low.

The Passion translation of verse 4 is beautiful, “I have cried out to you, Yahweh, from your holy presence. You send me a Father’s help. Pause in his presence.” This is a good place to pause and consider. David had real trouble, real enemies. His problems eclipse most of ours. At least most of us don’t have people pursuing us to kill us. Despite his troubles, and in the very depth of them, he recognized the voice and hand of a loving Father. My point is that if David can receive the love of God in the midst of his dangerous circumstances, then we can too.

David triumphed over his enemies time and time again because he recognized that God was his hero. He trusted in God as his shield and that brought him the victory. Though he may have spent a little time mourning his situation, he never remained in that pitiful state. He would always put his mouth to work declaring God’s goodness. In the end, it was his belief in God’s faithfulness that delivered him. It will work for us too.

Gospel Boots

Romans 8:37           (NIV)

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

In 2002, I went through a terrible time. It was months’ and months’ worth of crazy challenges. Just one of the situations I had to deal with was three car accidents in as many weeks. Then there were the big national banks whose checks to the Law Firm bounced. It went on and on like this, one thing after another. Then my pastor reminded me of Isaiah 54: 17 which reads, “No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper.”

That was the beginning of my breakthrough. I needed to be reminded that Jesus had made a way for me to overcome this turmoil. I began to recall the Word to my mind and mouth. It was if a ray of light broke through the darkness and all I had to do was follow it. Then I was able to open wide the crack through which that light shown and my life resurrected out of the chaos.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that I saved me but in remembering what Jesus had already done for me I was able to stand against the storms that were battering my life. I didn’t have to stand there and get battered by the storms, I had the rock and as soon as I began standing on the rock again, those storms had nothing for me and they went away. It is just as amazing and exciting looking back on it as it was then. I took quite a beating until I realized that my Father and my Jesus were well able to protect me and to defeat every weapon the enemy sent against me. I don’t know, but it seems like the devil just realized he couldn’t get at me any longer so, as he did Jesus, he left me for a more opportune time (Luke 4: 13). I am not saying I am bullet proof, I just have a clearer understanding of Jesus’ victory in my life and that I don’t have to tolerate the devil’s shenanigans. Now it is a matter of applying what I have learned.

It is a difficult paradigm to grasp in its fullness. There is a balance which must be struck between understanding that Jesus has already defeated the devil and knowing what we must do in order to live in that victory. It almost seems like it should be one or the other. If Jesus beat the devil, why do we have to fight at all? Here is an illustration that may help.

If you sue someone and win your case the Judge will enter a judgment in your favor. That judgment represents the victory. However, until the order is executed, it makes no practical impact. You have a judgment in your favor the minute the judge rules but the effect of it is not immediate. It will be of little or no value if not executed. This is the way it is with Jesus’ victory. You already have a judgment against the devil. You have an order entered in your favor against every one of his tricks, attacks or fiery missiles. However, if you do not enforce, or ask the authorities to enforce, your rights under the order then there is little practical effect.

We have the victory. Jesus already won it for us but we must hold that order up in the devil’s face and refuse him access to our lives. We have the choice whether to enforce the judgment or not. If we do not, the devil will run all over us. This is why knowing the truth is so important. Once you know that he does not have any legal authority over you, then you can push back and resist him. When you resist, he will flee as he did with Jesus and as he did even with me. You have to know your authority though. When you do, you are the overcomer Jesus gave you the right to be.

There is no demon or devil in hell that can overcome the blood of Jesus and you knowing that is the power of Christ in you. Overcoming the schemes of the devil is a partnership between you and Jesus. So, put on your armor. Shine up your gospel boots and stand against the schemes of the devil. Put him to flight because the one who is in you, already won. Yahoo!

Page Two

Lamentations 3: 22 – 25

The Lord’s lovingkindesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I have hope in Him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.

I didn’t want to leave you with the woe of Israel. Some of you remember Paul Harvey and his radio broadcasts. He used to say, “Page Two” as he moved on with his story telling. There is often a page two in life. As you see in these verses, Jeremiah knows, and tells, “the rest of the story.” He knows from where salvation comes. And let us not only think of salvation as the divider between heaven and hell. God wishes to save us from every unfavorable situation. In these verses, God’s saving grace is exposed and proclaimed.

There is trouble in life. Jesus told us that. Read David’s psalms and it becomes clear. Of course, there is an entire book of lamentations. However, at the end of the day, at the end of the book, behind every worry there is the faithfulness of God. He is always there to scoop us up and carry us away from the turmoil and tribulation. He is our shield and our fortress. We really can hide in Him while the world spins away.

In the Old Testament, specifically the Psalms, we read about our Father as the stronghold, the fortress, our refuge. These are all places into which a person can retreat and find security. In the New Testament, Jesus calls this being “in Him.” In Christ and in the Father, is fullness of compassion and hope. We have a promise here in Lamentations that God shows His goodness to those who wait for Him, to those who seek Him. So, the way I hear this is that God has little choice. I have power in this situation. If I seek Him, if I wait for Him, He will pour out His good upon me. I mean, the formula is already there, just plug in the variable over which you have control and it has to produce its equivalent counter-part which is the goodness of God.

Our father waits on high to pour His goodness out upon us. He longs to show us His tender mercies and benevolence. He is so overflowing with lovingkindness that it is without end or limitation. Each day He begins with goodness to give to us. So, though there is trouble in the world, there is goodness, salvation and kindness is our Father. We do not have to reside in the trouble, we can choose to move into God’s loving nature.

Let Him pour Himself out to you. He is without end. Everything you need or want in this hour is in Him. Seek His face, even right now in this moment. Let Him hear your voice and let Him be a loving Father.

Lean on Me

Isaiah 41: 12

You will seek those who quarrel with you, but will not find them, those who war with you will be as nothing, and non-existent. For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, who says to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.”

How can you not love the book of Isaiah? There is so much encouragement in this book. In fact, if you haven’t read the entire 41st chapter recently, I strongly recommend it. It will lift your spirits.

One of the things I know about each of you is that there is some sort of challenge pressing on you right now. If you sit and talk with a person for even a few minutes you will often discover some area of their life which needs God’s blessed touch. Therefore, when you read this verse I want you to read the first sentence in a particular way. Do not focus only on people who quarrel with you or who are thorns in your flesh. Think also of the situations in your life right now that are trying. Your Father is every bit as cognizant of the situation as He is of the people who are bothersome.

Now, hear Him saying about that situation that He will help you. “Do not fear,” He says, because He is right there in that circumstance with you. Those challenges will be as nothing and non-existent because He is the Lord; He is your God. It is He who holds up your hand when you are too weary or even just because you are smart enough to use His strength instead of your own. Do not fear because He is going to help you with this. You are not alone. He is right beside you right now and He will not leave you. Lean on Him.

Enough is Enough

Psalm 88: 2-3

Let my prayer come before Thee; incline Thine ear to my cry! For my soul has had enough troubles.

I suppose most everyone has felt like the psalmist here at one time or another. Have you ever felt that you have had enough troubles? Well, the good news is that God is there at your cry. When your soul is overburdened and over wrought, then empty it of all of its care by calling upon the name of the Lord. Sometimes we need to get to the end of our rope before we will give all our care and worry to the Lord. When we do, He is faithful to carry those burdens for us. Do not wait until you cannot bear up any longer. Empty your mind and emotions to Him in his throne room and allow Him to care for you as a loving father. It is his desire to care for you anyway. You do not have to do it all on your own. Are you tired; weary? Call upon His name and allow him to help you.

The Rescuer

Psalm 91:15

He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him, and honor him.
    
This is an absolute promise from God and it means that when you were in trouble, God was with you. Whether or not you were aware of his presence, He was with you. He has promised to rescue you from your trouble. He has said it so he will do it. We have only to believe and receive it.  

We do not receive with our eyes though; we receive with our hearts. We don’t look with our eyes to see what God will do or what he is doing. We receive with our hearts despite the way the circumstances around us appear. No matter what someone says about the circumstances the truth is in God’s promises. You cannot convince me that our Father is not present in my time of trouble. Nothing you say will persuade me. That is what it means to be fully persuaded by God’s promises. We choose to believe God’s promises over any other evidence that anyone can present. God said he is with us in our time of trouble and that settles it.

Just this weekend I was with someone who has been challenged. Some weeks ago her husband fell asleep while driving and their young child was in the car with him. He crossed over into oncoming traffic, crossed back to his side of the road, went into a ditch and flipped the car. He had to be cut out of the car and the child seat is a total loss. Both the father and the child are afraid to get back in a car. I asked her how she would explain to her child that God is looking out for them and protecting them. In response she showed me the photographs of the damaged car. Without the Lord they would both be dead instead of banged up. She has an understanding that God didn’t cause the accident. She also knows how bad things would have turned out if He had not shown up on the scene the instant they needed Him.  

Her recent experience is why you can’t look with your eyes or your reasoning to discern God’s presence and help in the time of need. One with less discernment and less wisdom could easily conclude that God was not with her son and husband on that fateful day but her heart knows the truth and she cannot be persuaded otherwise.  

Thanks be to God who is with us every day and who answers every time we call, who is always with us in times of trouble; the God who rescues and honors us.