by pastor david
“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling.”
“Where was God when I needed Him?” Have you ever heard anyone say that or something like that? Perhaps there have been troubled times in your life and, before you knew it, that very question came bellowing from your lips.
Well, the Psalmist felt the same way on more than one occasion. The background for the passage above is intriguing. The year was 701 B.C.; the King of Assyria was a man whose name struck terror in the hearts of those in the Mediterranean world - Sennacherib. He intended to expand his kingdom. He had already taken Israel to the north and then his Assyrian troops surrounded the walls of Jerusalem.
They hurled their abuse and sent a menacing letter, which King Hezekiah spread before the Lord. The King left it all with God and he waited. The ominous moments ticked by. Then God intervened! One angel, in one night, and 185,000 Assyrian soldiers were slain. You can read the detailed account in 2 Kings 18-19.
When the break of day came, the men of Judah could hardly believe their eyes. It was a landscape of death. The Bible says, “Behold they were all dead corpses,” (2 Kings 19:35). It was a red-letter day in the nation of Judah and this red-letter Psalm was penned to commemorate it.
I have no idea what you are going through right now, but God does. 185,000 enemies may not surround you but it probably feels like it. Well, not only does the Lord know what you are facing but He also knows exactly what you are thinking and feeling right now.
The promise of Psalm 46 is that, for the believer, God is our source of safety and strength. “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.”
His presence is the source of protection and power, so you can face your difficulties victoriously. We must accept this truth by faith and act on that faith, by trusting Him in and with every situation.
God’s presence is your source of protection and power.
Does life seem to be tumbling in around you? Is the battle raging? Is the storm blowing? Do you need to hide in the shelter of the rock? Well, do not forget that the Lord hides you, that He might help you! Follow the advice of the Apostle Peter, who said you are to be “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you”. (1 Peter 5:7)
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you."
Did you ever say something like this? “I love everyone but there are some people I just don’t like!” As Charlie Brown of the Peanuts cartoon once said, “I love mankind. It’s people I hate.” I think most of us have said something to that effect at one time or another. We certainly do not wish anything bad would happen to anyone, but we just cannot get past something that has been said or done to hurt us.
Ivor Powell, Internationally known as, “The Preacher from Wales”, made an extraordinary statement about this very issue – a statement that will shine much needed light on the subject. He said, “Overflowing compassion is a refreshing rain falling upon the parched soil of human hearts.”[i]
Paul’s inspired instruction in Ephesians 4:32 is placed in the context of his teaching about believers putting on “the new man”. In other words, the ability and propensity to forgive one another is a characteristic of the believer’s new nature. The refusal to forgive others is a characteristic of the old, sinful nature. Yes, I said, “refusal” because the failure to forgive is a choice. Since God commanded us to forgive others, that means we have the choice and ability to do so or refuse to do so.
Churches filled with compassionate, forgiving people are an oasis in a desert of hatred and hostility. This kind of Church is a light in the darkness and a signpost pointing to better things. However, we will only have that kind of Church if we are that kind of people. The key to making forgiveness a reality in our attitude and actions is found in Paul’s phrase, “just as God in Christ also forgave you.”
The thing I try to remember is that no one has hurt me as much as I have hurt Christ. No one has sinned against me as much as I have sinned against Christ and yet He has forgiven me.
The reason we should forgive each other is that God has forgiven us. No matter how much a person has done against us, it does not come close to what we have done against God.
Yet, God has forgiven us. Why? For Christ's sake. Jesus Christ died for us—died for our sins so that we could be forgiven. Therefore, God forgives us. No matter what we have done, God forgives us when we turn to Him in faith and ask for His forgiveness. He forgives us despite our having rejected, cursed, ignored, neglected, and rebelled against Him.
Because of what Christ has done for us, we should forgive others no matter what they have done to us.
An unforgiving spirit will eat at your soul like a cancer, always consuming you, leaving you empty and bitter. The most frightening thing about holding a grudge against a person is that we develop the tendency to do the same thing with everyone! Before long we find ourselves with a long list of people, we will not forgive.
Choose today to move those people you have in your “Unforgiven File” over to the “Forgiven File”. Then, when you are reminded of those hurtful and harmful things someone has done, you will remember that you have forgiven them “just as God in Christ also forgave you”.
[i] Ivor Powell, The Exciting Epistle to the Ephesians, Kregel Publications
Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Anxiety has been called “the official emotion of our age”. It is an increasing and universal problem – even among the followers of Jesus Christ.
Men and women find it equally troubling. Those who are old and those who are young find themselves pulled into the vortex of worry. Neither is worry a problem belonging only to Americans. Anxiety is a worldwide epidemic. Even veterinarians are now treating our dogs and cats for similar maladies. It really is “the official emotion of our age”.
Yet, God’s Word makes it abundantly clear that worry is unnecessary, unproductive, and unhealthy, as well as being a clear violation of an explicit directive from God. Look again at the passage above (Philippians 4:6-7). Underscore in your thinking the word, “nothing”. Now concentrate on the word, “everything”. Those two words give us a practical solution to the crisis of worry and anxiety.
We are to worry about nothing and pray about everything.
In his book, “Transformed by Thorns”, Dr. E. Stanley Jones remarked, “I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt, and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath--these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely--these are my native air”.
I am convinced that Jones has succinctly captured the essence of the problem. Is not worry the product of fear? Is not fear, to some degree, a lack of faith? Yet, the Apostle Paul challenges us with these words, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Today, I want you to be free from worry. God wants you to enjoy the liberty that comes from trusting Him with “everything” and worrying about “nothing”.
(Psalm 46:1-3) “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling.
The next time you feel that characteristic heaviness in your chest and you are tempted to worry, stop! Remember God’s promises and refuse to be filled with anxiety.
Pastor David Boggs
I hope these occasional posts will encourage and challenge you as we grow in Christ together.
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