The Lord is Our Refuge

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Bishop Richard Miller 11/26/2023
Intro
There are times in life when it seems like around every corner there is a reason for great concern.
There is danger to our health both mental, physical, and emotional due to a variety of situations. We can see on the news, in our communities or perhaps even know those firsthand or we personally have had to deal with such situations.
There are dangers to us militarily and politically as we can see other nations building up their weapons stockpiles while our government seems to spend more time tearing each other down in pursuit of their own agendas instead of working together.
There are natural disasters around the globe every day from earthquakes to tornadoes to forest fires, tsunamis, hurricanes, and droughts.
This is all in addition to our normal stress of managing spiritual warfare, our family situations, our careers, our ministries and also trying to make some time for ourselves and our own personal happiness.
As you know, there are many more examples in which we could list but the point remains which is what should we as Christians do when we are faced with situations or conditions that are beyond our control and seemingly overwhelming.
Furthermore, not only how do we survive these situations but also how do we thrive during these times and remain in acknowledgement and awe of just how awesome, loving, and powerful our God is and also just how blessed we are.
The answer my friends comes in a word and that word is Faith.
Our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Our faith that God is in control and that He loves us and will never leave or forsake us.
Our faith in the promises of His word and of the power of His might.
Faith that either on this side of heaven or the next that we will in fact have victory when we follow Jesus Christ as our God.
Yes, during these times, we need to have great faith.
The Bible tells us in Romans 10:17 that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
So, while the Bible has many things to say on the topic of faith, today I want us to focus for a moment specifically on Psalm 91.
This is one of the most famous parts of Scripture and a place that every believer should turn to when facing challenges.
Scripture Reference:
Psalm 91 NLT
1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. 3 For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. 4 He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. 5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. 6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. 7 Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. 8 Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished. 9 If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, 10 no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. 11 For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. 12 They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. 13 You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! 14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. 15 When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. 16 I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”
The Soldier’s Psalm
Psalm 91 is one of the most powerful portions of Scripture a believer has in their arsenal. So powerful in fact that Psalm 91 is sometimes called “The Soldier’s Psalm.” It is given this title because many believers over many years have often turned to Psalm 91 during times of trouble.
Upon reading Psalm 91, a person cannot help but to immediately receive the blessing that comes from knowing that God Himself is in fact the protector of His people during times of crisis.
Those of you who know me will often hear me say that “I am too blessed to be stressed.” I don’t say this to declare my super spiritually or because I am naïve to the trouble of life but rather, I say that because I can honestly declare that I have come to a point in my walk with Christ that while many times I do not know how everything is going work out, I have faith that the Lord will bless me.
Many times while counseling people I have conclude our discussions by saying “everything will be alright.” Again, that is not because I am dismissing a situation or that I don’t fully realize someone’s pain, but rather I am 100% confident that God loves His children and as long as you follow Him, then things will work out for the best. Many Scriptures, especially Psalm 91 reinforce this fact.
Written in Three Parts
When reading Psalm 91 it is worth mentioning that there are three voices speaking in succession.
Verses 1-8 are the opening verses and begin with a person declaring their trust in God.
Verses 9-13 are next, and those verses are spoken from an audience to the first person mentioned in verses 1-8. This audience describes God’s protection and care.
The most powerful portion of Psalm 91 in my humble opinion comes from verses 14-16. In these closing verses, God Himself speaks to the faithful person and promises to protect Him. This promise applies not only to the faithful person in Psalm 91 but also to all of us as children of God who have put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Confidence Comes from Living in God’s Presence
Verse 1 begins by stating that those who live in the shelter of the Highest will find rest in His shadow.
When we think about our relationship to the Lord, we should strive for an all-encompassing personal relationship not one where our Spiritual life is just a part of our lives but rather where we live in God’s shelter and rest in His shadow.
The Hebrew text referred to His shadow as the shadow of Shaddai.
El Shaddai is a name for God, meaning Our Lord God Almighty.
This is important for us to remember because during difficult times we can be comforted knowing that our God, El Shaddai Himself is the Almighty one and there is no other as powerful as Him including our situations or circumstances.
In verse 2 the individual declares that the Lord is his refuge, place of safety, his God and that he trusts God.
In any relationship we have whether it be at work, home, romantic or most importantly our relationship with the Lord trust is a key critical component of a healthy relationship.
To develop trust, others must demonstrate to us that they have integrity, steadfastness and honest intentions.
Integrity is doing what someone says they will do.
Steadfastness is being dependable and reliable.
And honest intentions mean that they do not operate with an ulterior motive.
With God, His character is that of perfect integrity, steadfastness and truth combined with a pure holy love for us.
Therefore, when we put our trust in God and fully surrender to Him and live in His ways, we can trust Him no matter what the circumstances because He is in fact trustworthy and will never let us down.
Situations may not always look the way we want them to or happen when we want them to happen, however we can in fact have peace when resting in the shadow of the Highest because we trust Him.
Our God is God alone and there are no other gods besides Him.
He alone should be the place in which we find refuge and safety during the good and trying times of life.
The Psalmist continues to proclaim his trust in God in verses 3-8.
There are many moving examples such as verses 3 and 4 which declare that the Lord will rescue us from every trap and disease and that we will be sheltered by His wings.
Also, we are reminded that the Lord’s faithful promises are our armor and protection.
It is ever so important for us to remember that God’s promises are eternal.
We can clearly see this fact explained in
2 Corinthians 1:20 NLT
20 For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.
Do Not Be Afraid
Verses 5-8 remind us not to be fearful of things that may terrify us or by attacks from our enemies nor from dreaded diseases or disasters that are yet to come.
The Hebrew word used in verse 5 for terror is pachad which describes an intense debilitating fear.
There are times in this life when we may see some intense events, but we cannot let them make us so fearful that it shakes our faith in the Lord or our resolve to live in His ways.
Verses 7 & 8 use wartime illustrations with a thousand dying at our side or ten thousand dying all around us yet, we can be confident that evil will not and cannot harm us if we trust God, open our eyes to see that the Lord will judge evil and also will make a path to redemption for us through our Lord Jesus Christ.
You see in the conflict and apparent chaos of our world the Lord is still in control and is actually issuing judgement to those who oppose Him and wish to harm or pollute His people. It is important to understand that it is the Lord’s desire that all people repent and follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Unfortunately, some people will not follow the Lord and instead will continue to reject God and seek to harm His people. Therefore, the Lord will have justice both in this world and at the end of days.
I believe that the Lord wants us to pay attention to the signs of the times and have an urgency to not only get ourselves right but also as many people that will be saved.
There is no doubt that Jesus is coming back soon and if we open our eyes to what is happening around the world the signs are plain to see.
This should be a wake-up call to all Christians.
We should not be content to say the end is here but be active in living for Jesus, sharing the Gospel and praying for another revival in our land. We know that Jesus is coming back soon but we do not know the day or the hour and our heart should be that He would take a little longer so as many people as possible can have the opportunity to have heaven as their home.
Unfortunately, for far too long some churches have allowed sin in the camp by an overindulgence of religious syncretism and pride.
They have allowed the ways of the world and culture to become the culture of many churches and denominations instead of standing firm on the truths of Gods word.
Many progressive teachings rely, primarily on messages that only encourage and do not challenge or grow the congregation in any major way because to be quite honest some of the congregation just wants to feel good and doesn’t want to be preached at in a way that makes them uncomfortable. Therefore some of today’s church leaders are just worrying about keeping the seats full and avoiding offending people both inside and outside of the church.
This is not the way the church should operate pure and simple.
Please listen to your Pastor today when I tell you that the message of the church today should be the same message the church has always taught which is that we are all sinners saved by God’s grace and that we must be separate from the world, turn from our wicked ways and ask Jesus Christ the sinless, spotless, lamb of God who is also the righteous judge to forgive us and save us from the penalty of sin by His atoning blood.
In addition, our culture is to serve others in selfless love and focus on their needs instead of our comforts or personal preferences.
As the body of Christ we are to love one another in word and in deed. Not for an agenda but out of pure Christlike love for one another.
There is revival coming to our land and the Lord is teaching His people to slow down, remove the distractions and the showmanship and refocus and return to that which is most important which is having a right relationship with Him through His son Jesus Christ. Amen! And as we are discussing today when we seek the Lord and walk in His ways then He will protect us. Glory to God!
God’s Protection is Absolute
Moving on, in verses 9 and 10 we can see the absolute nature of God’s protection.
Demonstrating that even during a moment of great conflict instead of being fearful, we as Christians can trust God, take refuge in Him and reflect upon our relationship with Him knowing that the judgement facing the world or even just the difficult times we are experiencing will not defeat us.
Verses 11 and 12 state that the Lord will order His angels to protect us wherever we go.
And in verse 13 we are reminded that in addition to the Lord Himself protecting us and also sending His angels to protect us, that He has also made us very strong so that by the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of us that we can trample lions and serpents under our feet!
The Lord’s Promise
Closing out this powerful Psalm are verses 14-16 where the Lord Himself makes a covenant with us as believers by promising us help and blessings if we follow Him.
First of all, the Lord says that He will rescue those who love Him and protect those who trust in His name.
This emphasizes an intimate knowledge of God and not just a label for God.
This intimacy helps us to know His character and love for us which again provides comfort, confidence and peace in our lives.
Next, the Lord says that when we call on Him, that He will answer. He will not only hear us, but He will rescue us and honor us.
Lastly, God makes us a covenant promise which is that if we seek Him and live in His ways then He will reward us with a long life and give us salvation. We can see this promise perfectly demonstrated through the life, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Jesus we receive not only a long life but eternal life and not only do we receive protection but salvation! Praise the Lord! Hallelujah!
Closing
In closing, all of us on some level are dealing with something. For some, there are circumstances which you have been dealing with for quite some time and perhaps for others there are lifelong struggles in which to bear.
Whatever your situation today, be comforted that God loves you and that He will protect you from all things which seek to harm you.
Today’s times require strong faith which comes from hearing the word of Christ. Some great ways to hear God’s word are coming to church, the regular study and application of the Bible in your life, worship, prayer, and fellowship with other believers.
You are not alone and together with God you will not only survive this life, but you will thrive in this life.
Prayer
Thanks for joining me today and remember our joy is in Jesus!
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