For sure, times are tough. There is much uncertainty in the world. Granted, everyone is feeling a little beside themselves over the outbreak of the Coronavirus; add to that the general stresses of day-to-day living, financial matters, and relationships with family and friends.
It is easy to let things bring us down with worry, especially when we don’t know where to turn for answers that help us through the things we are dealing with.
On Sunday, a friend of mine delivered a sermon that delivered the words of Psalm 91. Coincidentally, on the same Sunday, the pastor of my church delivered a sermon on the same passage – Psalm 91. Although I enjoy all of the Psalms, there are several that I rely on for uplifting and extra strength. This Psalm is one of those Psalms that helps me see the promises of God very clearly. God promises not to forsake us. He promises to be with us forever and ever.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 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.”
God is Our Protector
The thing to realize about the Almighty God is that He is not a man who might be prone to fall away from his promises for whatever good (or bad) reason he has. Our God is perfect and He does not lie. His Word is Truth. So when He makes a promise, we can trust He will deliver on His promise. And, because we trust in His Word and His promises, we can live a life unafraid of anything that is happening in our lives and around the world right now.
Verse 1 refers to the Shadow of the Almighty. I quote a portion of my friend’s sermon to share how when we rely on the Lord for protection we are under the shadow of the Almighty.
When I see the word “shadow” I think of a “shade tree” where one can be protected from the burning rays of the sun - a metaphor for care and protection. It also reminds us of a mother bird hovering over her young as they reside in her shadow.
My friend’s interpretation provides a clear picture of how God watches over us and provides a shield of protection over, around, and under us to keep us from harm and danger.
Verses 9 and 10 clearly state that if we claim the Lord as our refuge (Savior) and make Him our dwelling (reside in the Lord) He will protect us from harm.
Psalm 91 is filled with many promises, naming all kinds of danger and harm that could possibly come to us, but no matter what it is and no matter where we are, our God who is omnipresent (everywhere at all times) will be where we need Him to be and when we need Him to be there, and He will protect us.
Have No Fear
Have no fear. Have no doubt. God is your protector, your defender. In whatever you do for Him, He sends angels before you to make a safe path for you.
When you have God as your guide, you have God as your guarantee that no pestilence, no sickness, no weakness, no demon… nothing can harm you.
All you need to do is call upon the Lord. He will hear you and when you make Him your Lord and Savior, He will save you.
Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.
Title: He is With You
Copyright: UMG (on behalf of Sparrow (SPR)); Capitol CMG Publishing, ASCAP, LatinAutor - UMPG, LatinAutor, UMPI, Warner Chappell, UNIAO BRASILEIRA DE EDITORAS DE MUSICA - UBEM, Adorando Brazil, and 6 Music Rights Societies
During Sunday church services I have the opportunity to work in the media booth which is located in the back of the sanctuary. Because of my location, I am in a position to see a lot of things happening among the congregants. It is all fascinating and I learn from watching people interact with each other.
This Sunday was no different than any other Sunday, except that the government had just issued a mandate that people were not allowed to sing or chant during services. This is no big deal to me because I understand the reasons behind the mandates. It seems that singing and chanting causes us to propel the virus into the air beyond the 6-foot area of protection which, according to health officials, protects us from catching the Coronavirus. It seems this challenge of wearing mandatory masks and not being able to sing or chant brought up some scenes that I never thought I would see in a church environment. Here’s what happened Sunday…
A family (not regular members) came in without masks, and by now (in my mind) everyone on the planet knows to wear masks when entering a public place. Well, apparently, not these folks, because when they entered the church, they did not have on masks. They were asked politely, by the pastor, to put on masks. However, one of them claimed to have a medical excuse for not being able to wear a mask. No one faulted this person for that. But, we all were scratching our heads about the rest of the family. And, when the pastor asked them to put on the complimentary masks that were being handed out, they refused. They were hemming and hawing about why they would not or could not wear a mask. And, when the pastor rightfully insisted that they wear masks for the protection of themselves and others, they got up and left. As they exited, all sorts of things were running through my mind. One thought was that they would rather have excuses for not wearing a mask than to stay and listen to the word. It made me quietly ponder why they even showed up in the first place, because certainly, wearing a mask should not hinder their ability to enjoy hearing the word of God. Their dramatic exit created a memorable scene. That incident taught me that when it comes to God and hearing His word, no excuse is big enough to forgo this wonderful opportunity.
During the same service, another incident caused me to ponder. Again, I cannot imagine that anyone missed the mandate that the government issued, stating that we shall not sing or chant in church. Well, this Sunday everyone in attendance (except one person) abided by that mandate. And, when that one person began chanting (speaking in tongue) that person was politely reminded that we are not allowed to do that. Well, the person became irate, loudly blurted out a comment to show dissatisfaction of the mandate, and then excited the building in a huff.
The incidents described above are not normal activities in our church. To be perfectly honest, our church is filled with the most honorable, enjoyable, God-fearing individuals. The Holy Spirit permeates throughout and the love that pours out of that little church is undeniable.
Sunday’s incidents taught me that we can have all the excuses in the world, but none of these excuses will matter when we are standing in the ultimate presence of God. The next time you have an excuse for not being in church because you have to wear a mask, or not worshipping God because you cannot worship out loud, ask yourself this one question, “Is this excuse good enough to pass the test of God?”
In 1 John 2:28 (King James Bible) we read...
And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.
I would never claim to be perfect. I make mistakes on a regular basis. I repent every day for something I have thought, said, or done and I do try to learn from my iniquities. So, I would not judge other people for the decisions they make. Everyone has their own reasons for deciding this or that.
When I was sick with a fever, I had a good reason for not going to church. And, there are many other reasons for not going to church. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, when I'm making excuses for this or that, I've got to ask myself, "Is this excuse good enough to pass the test of God?"
Today's Video: Here in Your Presence
Copyright: 2014 Integrity Worship Music
I don’t know about you, but whenever I sip on a cup of tea, it brings feelings of relaxation to me. It rejuvenates me and helps me to carry on with the rest of my day in a more serene state of mind.
Tea is made from the leaves of a small shrub or tree. The leaves are delicate, so even today tea leaves are harvested by hand, then laid upon a tray to dry in the sun.
There might be some legitimacy as to why I feel better after consuming tea. I read a verse in the bible that indirectly mentions the leaves of trees being used for healing.
And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.
For the past few months the lives of people everywhere have been unleveled by the numerous changes caused by COVID-19 and you are not alone if your mind is filled with fears and uncertainties about the future of the world.
Almost everything we do must take into consideration the mandates in place regarding staying safe during this COVID-19 pandemic. It can be overwhelming and it can cause us to become emotionally fatigued to deal with this and surrounding issues day in and day out. No human can endure this kind of stress on a long-term basis and so it is important to do what you can to de-stress yourself.
Take care of yourself
We all need to take care of ourselves both physically and mentally. For example, to stimulate your physical well-being a light walk may serve to rejuvenate your body. Stretching exercises may help circulate the blood through your body, giving you a more refreshed feeling. Eating healthy foods, for example incorporating fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet may bring wellness. And, just about every nutritionist will advise you to stay hydrated by drinking more water.
Your mental well-being may come from knowing that God has everything under control. Knowing that God will take care of you can be the start of bringing peace into your soul.
Whenever I need to remember that God is my shepherd, that He loves me and He takes care of my needs, I sit quietly, sometimes with a cup of tea. I enjoy listening to worship music such as the one embedded in this post. The song, “All Who Are Thirsty,” brings me to a place where I can allow the Holy Spirit to come into my heart and give me peace of mind.
As I mention drinking a cup of tea (made with water), I am reminded of the following verses.
John 4:14 (NIV)
But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life.
Isaiah 55:1 (NIV)
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
I encourage you to take a break from all of the turmoil going on in the world around you. Prepare your favorite cup of tea. Sit, relax, and enjoy. Know and believe with all of your heart that God is in control. He knows how to protect you. He will see you through this and all things.
Rest in the goodness of God.
Today's Video: All Who Are Thirsty
Performance by: Charlie Hines