Seeking Shelter?

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Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2

Today will be short and sweet, but I pray a powerful reminder of the God we serve and the provision He promises those who seek and obey Him. So often, Satan will try to bind our hearts and minds with lies of shame, fear, distrust, guilt, anger and desires for us to feel all alone in our struggles, temptations and lives. When we are isolated the lies grow louder and louder. They overcome and overwhelm us leaving us with a feeling of defeat.

Satan strives to make us feel alone and vulnerable. He wants us to think we aren’t good enough so that we don’t have the courage to move forward from the past and climb out of the pit, BUT our God is cheering for us!

1 Peter 5:9 says

Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

David penned Psalm 91 after Saul pursued him and promised him death, but God prevailed and opened Saul’s eyes through David’s noble decision not to harm or disgrace Saul (1 Samuel 24). David is giving praise to God for delivering him from his enemy (Saul). In these verses are some amazing reminders of the protection God promises if we are dwelling and abiding in Him.

Verse 4 – putting us under His wing

Verse 5 – gives us confidence so we will not fear

Verse 11 – promises us assistance from His angels

Verse 14 – promises to rescue and protect us IF we love Him.

He doesn’t promise to remove us from the battle or the conflict BUT if we are dwelling in Him, He promises protection. But how? Where do we start? How do we make it happen? Over & over He tells us to ask . . . .

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Luke 11:9

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:5

 

What should we do if we need wisdom, faith, healing, peace, courage, discipline? Ask! – Just ask. There is no special form and no fee, just ask with a willing heart.

Read Psalm 91 in its entirety below and each word and promise soak in to your heart today.

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High     will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,     my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you     from the fowler’s snare     and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers,     and under his wings you will find refuge;     his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night,     nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,     nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side,     ten thousand at your right hand,     but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes     and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”     and you make the Most High your dwelling, 10 no harm will overtake you,     no disaster will come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you     to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands,     so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;     you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;     I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;     I will be with him in trouble,     I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him     and show him my salvation.”

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David Rocks!

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David rocks, literally (pun intended)! As we continue in 1 Samuel we see how Saul (appointed to take over after Samuel) makes some disappointing choices and goes against God’s commands. This causes God to withdraw His anointing from Saul and he has Samuel anoint David as the future leader of His people. David has a long and arduous journey to the throne. I will write about that more in the upcoming weeks, but today I want to talk about that old story most of us have heard a hundred (or more) times growing up in the church ~ the story of David and Goliath.

As I read these verses again something new stood out to me. First, David was met with great doubt by those around him. His brothers and King Saul all quickly reminded him that he was only a young boy with no experience (1 Sam. 17:33). However, this had no effect on the faith and trust he had in God saying, “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” (v. 37) Even Goliath (the Philistine) looked at David and “despised him because he was just a youth, healthy and handsome.” (v. 42)

Clearly David was one with total confidence and trust in God. He boldly stood up to Goliath (who was 9’ 9” tall with armor weighing 125 pounds, 1 Sam. 17:5) when no one else would. Not only did David take on Goliath, he took him on with absolutely no armor (because it was to big and bulky for him) and only a slingshot and five smooth stones instead of a sword.

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. (v.35)

Again, just like God did with Moses, (see my Why Harden Their Hearts post here) he set the stage for the miraculous to happen so there was no denying that His hand is upon David and the Israelite people. It wasn’t even a close battle. As we know, David slings that first rock and lays Goliath out only then taking the sword to remove his head.

A sling and a stone held by a boy took out a giant. That’s the God we serve! He doesn’t need us to conquer the giants, He only needs a willing heart that trusts He will show up and conquer the giant through us, but with His strength and might. What is the giant you are facing today? Maybe you have placed yourself before the giant or maybe you have found yourself standing before one by no choice of your own. Whatever the case may be, will you trust that the mighty God we serve can take it down for you, with only a sling and a stone, through your trust in Him?

 

I “Heart” This Reminder

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As Samuel began to phase out of his kingship, God revealed that Saul would take over and lead the Israelites. During this time of transition, Samuel shares with his people a great reminder:

“Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21 Do not turn away to follow after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. 22 For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own. 23 As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. 24 But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 1 Samuel 12:20-24

These words especially hit home for me today after a close friend confided in me about a very challenging and sinful situation their child was involved in. As we talked and prayed together, I was reminded of the times in my life I strayed from God and lived in a rebellious state through a sinful nature. Maybe you can relate too. During these times we can be afraid God won’t forgive us, that we have gone to far this time, that our sin is to big to start over. . . and we turn to idols of busyness, greed, success, fear, materialism, alcoholism, retail therapy . . . pick your poison.

BUT, no sin is ever to big for God to conquer if we allow Him into our lives and hearts to do His work. It’s never to late to turn away from useless idols and turn back to God. He is always there waiting for our return so He can restore us, heal us and make us whole again. Look at these great reminders we can pull from Samuel’s message to the Israelites and use in our lives today:

  • Do not be afraid
  • You have done evil things, but don’t turn God away
  • Serve God with all your heart
  • Turn away from useless idols that can’t rescue you
  • God will not reject you, you are His child
  • Consider all the great things God has done for you and serve Him with a faithful heart

If I could tell my children, friends and others just a few things . . . it would be these truths Samuel spoke so long ago. When we consider what our lives would look if we followed this wise advice it’s overwhelming. It seems to simple to be effective or real. The challenge is putting faith into action and holding onto God’s provision and promises. I’m praying with God’s strength we all begin to live our lives in the way Samuel encouraged the Israelites to live thousands of years ago.

 

Picnic with an Angel

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Many times people have asked me, “Why don’t we see angels anymore? They talk about Angels coming to share a message from the Lord with someone often in the Bible. Do they still come?” As I read through Judges, something struck me about the visits from the angels of the Lord. When they arrived to speak to the people, they had no idea until sometime later that they were even angels. Let’s look at two specific angel appearances.

First, let’s take a look at the angel that comes to visit Gideon who I wrote about last week. He was chosen by God to free the Israelites from Midian after being under their control for 7 years.

The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” 13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” 14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” Judges 6:11-14

I love how the Angel of the Lord just takes a seat under the oak tree and waits for Gideon to come by. No bright lights or fancy entry here. In fact, what’s amazing is that is isn’t until after a conversation and when he returns to bring an offering of meat and bread that the realization he has been speaking to an angel hits him. Then . . .

the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared. 22 When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!” Judges 6:20-22

Later in Judges, we meet Manoah and his wife who learn from a “man of God” that after years of not being able to conceive she finally will. The angel gives her very specific instructions (Judges 13:3-5) including they are to never cut the child’s hair and he (Sampson) will have favor with God and save Israel from the Philistines. She tells her husband and he prays God will send the man again so he can hear the news for himself. God answers and Manoah prayers, he meets the man, hears the news of a coming baby with his own ears and in gratitude he offers to prepare a young goat for him.

16 The angel of the Lord replied, “Even though you detain me, I will not eat any of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the Lord.” (Manoah did not realize that it was the angel of the Lord.) 17 Then Manoah inquired of the angel of the Lord, “What is your name, so that we may honor you when your word comes true?”18 He replied, “Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding.” 19 Then Manoah took a young goat, together with the grain offering, and sacrificed it on a rock to the Lord. And the Lord did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched: 20 As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame. Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground. Judges 13:16-20

Yes, both angel encounters ended with an amazing feat that made it very clear the angels were sent from the Lord. However, until that occurred (in both cases) Gideon, Manoah and his wife had no idea they were in the presence of angels. It makes me think: they must have looked very normal, average and humanlike for them not to suspect anything until that miraculous moment of realization. If that’s the case then couldn’t we still be in the presence of angels now, just as God’s people were then? Just because we don’t get the miraculous signs doesn’t mean they don’t walk among us. With all the noise and business of this world, I can see how we would even miss the miraculous if it was there. I would like to think the angels do walk among us daily. Either way, we have the Holy Spirit within each of us when we accept Christ. We are never without our God of Angel armies.