Strength And Shield

Psalms 28:7
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him.”

Years ago I injured my knee and required surgery. Before the operation, I was given a detailed description of the human knee. I learned how it was constructed, how it functioned and how mine was damaged. When the surgery was completed, I was even given a video of the operation. If I wanted to, I could have watched on the big screen as parts were cut away and replaced. I learned things I never really wanted to know.

David expresses praise to God for being his strength and his shield. It is important to keep in mind, the only way to know the strength of the Lord is to encounter your own weakness. It was the times when David reached the end of himself that he would come face to face with the reality of the power, strength and enabling of God. All of us want to know God’s power, but we need to realize He only gives it when we are facing things that our own strength cannot handle. Paul prayed to know the power of the resurrection. He needed that because he was constantly in situations where his own power was insufficient. Those who truly know the power of God, are those who have come to realize their own weakness.

The same concept is true regarding a shield. What sounds like beautiful poetic expression, also has a real and practical backstory. David knew God to be his shield because he faced situations in life where he was forced to hide from the attack of others. He had to duck from the spear of Saul, hide in the caves of Adullum, and even flee outside the borders of the land. It was in the times of greatest attack that David learned he could hide himself under the protective shield of His God.

Whatever you are facing, it is good to know that your strength does not have to be sufficient. You can break, and when you do, you can find the strength of the Lord to be enough. No matter what the enemy hurls at you, the shield of the Lord is a fortress that will not fail.

Pastor Jim

 

A Safe Place 

Revelation 14:1
“Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty- four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.”

The tribulation years will be the most difficult time period the earth has ever known. Any hardship we have ever experienced, will pale by comparison, to say the least of the trials during those few years. It is prudent that we each do everything we can to avoid being left here when these events begin to transpire. The way out is to trust in, and surrender to, Christ as Lord and Savior. If you have not yet made the decision to receive Christ, stop reading and pray. Invite Him to forgive your sins and be your Lord.

That being said, Chapter 14 gives a glimpse into the life of 144,000 believers, living and serving God through these dark times. It is particularly striking to me, that these individuals have the seal of God on their lives which, among other things, is certainly a seal of protection. With all the opposition to Christ and His followers, these believers remain untouchable as long as they “follow the Lamb wherever He goes.” (Rrevelation 14:4) Their lives serve as a great example that the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.

I am reminded of David as he walked into the valley to face Goliath. Unarmed and untrained for battle, there was no safer place for Him to be than face to face with the giant. I think also of Gideon, with only 300 men at his side, and facing an army too large to number, he was both protected and victorious in battle. Conversely, I also think of Jonah. He was a man who knew the danger an Israelite would be in if he walked into the city of Nineveh. Unwilling to yield to the way of the Lord, he found himself in even graver danger.

While we are not to live foolishly, seeking adventure for adventure sake, we must not let the fear of the unknown or the threat of the “what if” keep us out of the center of God’s will for our lives. Just as these men were marked by God, and protected until it was time to call them home, so is the child of God who is walking in the will of God. We need never fear as long as we are following the Lamb wherever He goes.

Pastor Jim

 

Refuge

Numbers 35:12
“They shall be cities of refuge for you from the avenger, that the manslayer may not die until he stands before the congregation in judgment.”

God established a system in Israel which ensured the safety of a person who had accidentally caused the death of another. Instead of allowing vigilantes to run rampant, Moses was instructed to have six cities built where a person could flee, find protection, and await his day in court.

Four things stand out to me about the cities of refuge. First, we are told the cities were to be distributed throughout the land for easy access. Second, in Deuteronomy 19:3, we read that good roads were to be built and maintained, so nothing would hinder a person from reaching the city. Third, these cities were for all people, whether they were the Children of Israel, foreigners, or travelers. Fourth, the person must remain in the city until the High Priest died; then their crime was forgiven, and their guilt forever removed.

It is not difficult to see the parallels between the cities of refuge and the work of Christ. The death of Christ provides a way for all men to have their sins pardoned. No matter what our background might be, nothing hinders us from coming to Christ and being forgiven. Those who hide in Christ will never face the avenger of death. A person who fled to the city of refuge was a marked man. All others knew he was only safe because of the provision of God. If he ever left the city, he was no longer safe from the avenger. The same is true of us. Our hope is found in Christ, where we are constantly reminded to abide (John 15:4). As long as we sit under the shelter of the cross, there is no sin that can harm us. We are marked men, and the whole world should know that our hope is in Christ alone.

However, there is a contrast worth noting. The cities of refuge were only for the innocent, while the cross is designed for the guilty. There is no sin, no matter how great, or how frequent, that cannot be forgiven at the cross.

Hebrews 6:18
“… we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.”

Pastor Jim

 

Agents Of Shield

Genesis 15:1
“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’”

2015/01/img_1305.jpgAbraham had every reason to be afraid. He had just mounted a surprise attack against the forces of king Chedorlaomer and stole back all the spoils of Chedarlaomer’s victory over the king of Sodom. It seems obvious, this king would soon return with his armies and attempt to wipe out Abraham.  I love that God wastes no time in coming to Abraham with a promise to be his protection against the enemies attacks.

Abraham’s fears may have been compiled by the fact that he had just rejected all the spoils offered to him by the king of Sodom. In an act of great, perhaps even heroic, faith, Abraham resisted the temptation to take a financial gift from the king. He chose, instead, to boldly declare he would rather trust in the provision of God, than to have anyone think it was the king who  made him rich. What a blessing to hear God declare He would be Abraham’s reward.

No matter what circumstances we might be facing, we can be assured that God wants to provide protection and provision. Just as He held back the vengeful hand of Chedorlaomer, He is able to work out the troubling circumstances which seem to be drowning you. God is faithful to be our shield and our reward.

Pastor Jim