Devotional Week 42 Tuesday
“Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.”
Psalm 1: 12
“But if you make a run for God - you won’t regret it.”
Psalm 1: 12
The Message Bible
“There is blessedness in having confidence in the perspective of the Highest, in sharing His viewpoint from eternity: ‘He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision’ (Psalm 2: 4). He laughs, not because of the madness and misery of mankind in rebellion; on the contrary, it is because He is undismayed, unperplexed, unafraid of the wrath of demons and of men…The Lord’s own know the blessedness of trusting in Him, because of their confidence in His eternal purpose. Beyond the tumult and confusion of godless rulers and restless masses, they hear the still, small voice of the Spirit…Be the earth ever so restless and rebellious, with every possible effort made that this King shall not rule…yet He will so do!...So we trust the unconquerable Prince of Peace, whose triumph is sure; and even now we have the blessedness of sharing that triumph by faith.”
V. Raymond Edman
The Delights of Life
Today’s Study Text:
“For the Lord had made the Syrian army hear a noise of chariots and horses, the noise of a great army. They (the lepers) had said to one another, ‘the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to come upon us.’ So the Syrians arose and fled in the twilight and left their tents, horses, donkeys, even the camp as it was, and fled for their lives.”
II Kings 7: 6, 7
“God Will Take Care of You” Part 7
“The Testing Side of Trouble”
“”Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity of magnifying His own power; His time to appear for His people (for you and for me) is when our strength is gone.”
In my own life, have I ever gotten to a point when I thought all was lost and yet, that was just the moment when God stepped in to deliver me?
What has God’s rescue on my personal behalf taught me about trusting my Father’s guiding hand?
“The hardest part about letting God fight your battle is that He sometimes waits until the eleventh hour so you will have no doubt of where the power is coming from.”
“The great need of the present hour is Christians who have learned to sing the song of deliverance on the testing side of trouble.”
“Right Son, Wrong Side”
(2009 – Sermon)
It happens to be one of my favorite stories in the Bible. Found in Acts 16, the Biblical record shares that Paul and Silas were imprisoned because of the witness they gave of Jesus’ life and resurrection, and because the healing they performed on a “slave girl” who was possessed by a spirit of divination (claiming to foretell future events). We also are told “she brought her owners much gain by her fortunetelling” (Acts 16: 17).
The problem with the healing of this young woman was that at the core, she was a moneymaker for the individuals who owned her. And not wanting to let go of their “cash-cow,” they incited a riot and had Paul and Silas dragged before the city authorities. The Bible underscores the fact that “the crowd also joined in the attack upon them.” Consequently, “they struck them (Paul and Silas) with many blows, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely. He (the jailer) having received so strict a charge, put them into the inner prison (the dungeon) and fastened their feet in the stocks. But about midnight, as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them, suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the very foundations of the prison were shaken; and at once all the doors were opened and everyone’s shackles were unfastened” (Acts 16: 22-26, Amplified Bible).
Although stripped of their clothing and whipped unmercifully, what do we hear? Praises and songs to God! What do we make of people who sing “in spite” of what is going on around them? As I’ve repeatedly read this story, I have wondered if possibly Paul and Silas sang the words of Moses found in Psalm 90 – “Lord, You have been our dwelling place and our refuge in all generations…a thousand years in Your sight are but as yesterday…O satisfy us with Your mercy and loving-kindness in the morning, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days…Let Your work (the signs of Your power) be revealed to Your servants, and Your glorious majesty to their children. And let the beauty and favor of the Lord our God be upon us; confirm and establish the work of our hands” (Psalm 90: 1,4, 14, 16,17, Amplified Bible).
Just imagine for a moment two melodious voices, echoing through the prison, from the deepest depths of a dark dungeon up to the heights of the prison, invading every crevice in the jail. I can just hear the praise: “Satisfy us Lord…may we reveal Your beauty and favor.” But then, without any warning at all, an earthquake set every prisoner free. An earthquake – of all things!
We need to be aware that when Paul and Silas began to sing and praise God, they were on the wrong side of deliverance, so to speak. And this is exactly why I chose the words of Pastor David Wilkerson to get our Inspiration off on the right foot. I’d like to repeat his words, taken from a sermon he preached in 2009: “The great need of the present hour is Christians who havelearned to sing the song of deliverance on the testing side of trouble.” What Pastor Wilkerson is telling us is that there’s something special when, with God’s power in our lives, we are able to be stranded in the wilderness of life - and yet, we sing! Or when we are in total darkness and we don’t know what to do next – and yet, we sing! Or even when we are locked in the deepest dungeon with our feet shackled to the floor – and yet, we sing!
“How,” might we ask, “is it possible to sing praises to God when we are on the “testing side of deliverance?”
It’s not just a question for Paul and Silas. This is the question I’d like to have asked the prophet Elisha whose faithfulness to God was unquestionable. He’d left the easy life, some might call it the “good life,” to become an apprentice for Elijah. And then once Elisha had the “mantle” of service passed on to him, he was faithful every day to the call of God. Even with Syrian bands of soldiers and chariots blocking his way and even with a knife-wielding emissary of the king of Israel at his door preparing to separate Elisha’s head from his body, Elisha’s faithfulness was and still is a shining beacon down through history. How is this possible? It’s because of who these heroes of earth keep their eyes fixed on and who they chose to listen to. The center of Elisha’s life as well as the center of Paul and Silas’ lives was on their heavenly Father and His will for them.
In his informative book, Then Sings My Soul, author Robert J. Morgan shares the experiences behind some of the greatest hymns ever written. In 1719, hymn writer Isaac Watts book Psalms of David Imitatedwas published. This book contains a favorite song of mine, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” written by Watts and based on Psalm 90. I’d like to give you a little background regarding this piece of music’s history. “This is perhaps Watts’ most bracing hymn. It was played on the radio by the BBC as soon as World War II was declared, and was later sung at the funeral service of Winston Churchill. Some of the original verses have fallen into disuse, but as you read them, think of the ailing hymnist, sitting at the desk in his room at the Abney estate, pouring over Psalm 90 and penning these words:
O God, Our Help in Ages Past
“O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.
Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.
Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.
A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone,
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun…
Like flowery fields the nations stand
Pleased with the morning light;
The flowers beneath the mower’s hand
Lie withering before it’s night.
Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.”
As Elisha kept his eyes on his heavenly Father and listened for the voice of deliverance, God was at work. Deliverance was on the horizon – less then 24 hours away. As Matthew Henry so descriptively writes: “How was the siege of Samaria over? Not by might or power, but by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts, striking terror upon the spirits of the besiegers. Not a sword was drawn against them, not a drip of blood shed, it was not by thunder or hailstones that (the Syrians) were discomforted, nor were they slain, as Sennacherib’s army before Jerusalem by a destroying angel. But, I, the Lord made them to hear a noise of chariots and horses…God knows how to work upon every sense, pursuant to his own counsels – as He makes the hearing ear and the seeing eye…Whether the noise was really made in the air by the ministry of angels, or whether it was only a sound in their ears, is not certain. It was from God, who both brings the ‘wind out of His treasure,’ and ‘forms the spirit of man within him’…God can, when He pleases, dispirit the boldest and most brave…those that will not (reverence) God, He can make to fear at the shaking of a leaf.” In the words of the Apostle Paul to his son in Christ, Timothy: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (II Timothy 4: 18, N.I.V.).
This past Friday evening, my college roommate, Shari, called from Canada. We had a fantastic three hour verbal marathon. Much of our conversation was centered around what we surmised our future plans would be like. We’ve hit the age barrier where you look around you, specifically in your home, and ask yourself, “Why did I ever think I needed all this stuff?” Let’s just say we were using words like de-clutter, simplify, down-size. I think you get the picture. We both have come to the same conclusion that we want to journey lightly for deep in both our hearts is the belief God is at work in our lives. I shared with her that Jim and I had felt this way for several years. And Shari revealed that in the past year, she’s watched things fall into place in her life in ways she could not have predicted. What we both heartily agreed on was that God works in His way on His own time-clock and it’s always for our best good. This is why keeping our eyes on our heavenly Father and our ears open to His voice is so critical. Not just once in awhile but every day. And while we are on the testing side of trouble – we’ll keep trusting, praising and singing as we go!
Thy Hand Will Hold Me Fast
“O Thou who art my quietness, my deep repose,
My rest from strife of tongues, my holy hill,
Fair is Thy pavilion, where I hold me still.
Back let them fall from me, my clamorous foes,
From crowding things of sense I flee,
and in Thee hide.
Until this tyranny be overpast,
Thy hand will hold me fast;
What tough the tumult of the storm increase,
Grant to Thy servant strength, O Lord,
and bless with peace.”
“Son of God, who did marvelous things of old,
Be favorable in our day also.”
Scots Celtic Prayer
“O God of earth and altar,
Bow down and hear our cry,
Our earthly rulers falter,
Our people drift and die;
The walls of gold entomb us,
The swords of scorn divide,
Take not Your thunder from us,
But take away our pride!
From all that terror teaches,
From lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches,
That comfort cruel men,
From sale and profanation
Of honor and the sword,
From sleep and from damnation,
Deliver us, good Lord.”
G. K. Chesterton
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
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