Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the Rock and firm Strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
“I know not, but God knows;
Oh, blessed rest from fear!
All my unfolding days
To Him are plain and clear.
Each anxious, puzzled ‘why?’
From doubt or dread that grows,
Finds answer in this thought:
I know not, but He knows.
I cannot, but God can;
Oh, balm for all my care!
The burden that I drop
His hand will lift and bear.
Though eagle pinions tire,
I walk where once I ran,
This is my strength to know
I cannot, but He can.
I see not, but God sees;
Oh, all sufficient light!
My dark and hidden way
To Him is always bright.
My strained and peering eyes
May close in restful ease,
And I in peace may sleep;
I see not, but He sees.”
Annie Johnson Flint
Today’s Study Text:
“He (she) who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide (remain stable and fixed) under the shadow of the Almighty, whose power no foe can withstand. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean, and in Him I confidently trust!’”
Psalm 91:1, 2
“The Farce We Call Fear” Part 1
“Where Do You Dwell?”
“Only Jesus can silence the fears of trembling hearts.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Right now, as I look around my world, what is it that causes me to be fearful and to worry?
On whom do I lean when fears overwhelm me?
“Confidence in God’s presence is our basic weapon against fear.”
“Fear takes one giant and turns it into a whole population.”
“David and the Dwarf”
Several weeks ago, as I was studying for our upcoming devotionals taken from the book of II Kings, I realized just how much the behavior of the people at that time in history, mimics what we witness around us, right now in the year 2014. Additionally, what really struck me was the way the emotion of fear dominated so much of the behavior of the people.
Frankly, life today isn’t any different. Fear drives us to do some very “weird” things. As Pastor and author Charles Swindoll so insightfully points out: “Fear takes one giant and turns it into a whole population.” What a barrel of truth! All we have to do is look at 1 Samuel 17 where we find that, “all the men of Israel, when they saw the man (Goliath – the Philistine giant), fled from him, and were sore afraid” (1 Samuel 17: 24). I like the way author and teacher Beth Moore describes “fear” for her observation describes perfectly the behavior we view on the battlefield: “Listen, nothing makes us more manic than when we’re tempted to panic…panic is fear on steroids.” All I can say is, “I couldn’t have said it better!”
One huge giant against Israel’s mighty army and everyone scattered! As Matthew Henry describes the scene: “How timorous and faint-hearted the men of Israel were. Though they had, for 40 days together, been used to (Goliath’s) haughty looks and threatening language…they fled from him and were afraid…One Philistine could never thus have chased 1,000 Israelites, and put 10,000 to flight unless they had forsaken the Rock.” This statement alone should give us pause for reflection. When the young shepherd boy, David, arrived on the scene, it was the Rock that he focused his attention on. As today’s study text tells us, “He (she) who abides in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty, whose power no foe can withstand” (Psalm 91: 1, Amplified Bible).
David’s complete lack of fear, in the face of a situation which had totally paralyzed the entire army of Israel, had its foundation in the place where he chose to dwell. As author Erling C. Olsen shares in his devotional book on the Psalms, referring to Psalm 91; 1: “Here is an interesting fact regarding this 1st verse. The promise is given that ‘He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.’ I want to call attention to the word ‘abide.” In the Hebrew, a beautiful thought is expressed. The word literally means ‘stay overnight’ as, for example, when a guest arrives at our home, and we invite (them) to stay overnight, to enjoy the peace and the shelter of our home. Every Christian knows that this world is a night. We live in the night season. How wonderful that they who dwell in the secret place of the Most High, shall spend the ‘night’ under the shadow of the Almighty.”
As I read this passage and thought about the fear that blankets our world, the word “farce” came to my mind. Webster’s dictionary defines this interesting word as a “theatrical composition in which highly improbably plots and humorous characterizations are used for effect.” Thus, a farce makes a mockery of what is being portrayed. The show is ludicrous. Why? Because what an individual witnesses is really a joke being put over on the audience.
Now let’s take this thought and look again at Psalm 91: 1 where we are promised, yes – promised, that if we dwell within the place of the Most High, we will in the darkness of earth and all that the word “fear” congers up in our minds, be protected because the Almighty covers us. That’s enough to make me smile for when I let fear paralyze me, I’ve forgotten that my Almighty Father has me covered with His wings. As Deuteronomy 33: 27 reminds us, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” It was this verse in Scripture which in 1887 assisted Anthony J. Showalter, an elder and principal of a music school. One particular day after school was out, Showalter returned to his classroom to find two letters from former students. Both of them had recently been faced with the tragic death of their wives. Writing to both students, Showalter referenced the words from Deuteronomy 33: 27. After pausing to reflect on these words, he penned a simple stanza, “leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms; leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.” Showalter decided that one of his friends, Presbyterian minister and hymnist, E. A. Hoffman could be of assistance so he sent him the stanza he’d written with a note saying: “Here is the chorus for a good hymn from Deuteronomy 33: 27, but I can’t come up with any verses.” Reverend Hoffman is credited with writing three verses to the well-known hymn, one of which I am sharing with you today:
“What have I to dread,
What have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace
With my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.”
When David confronted the fierce giant of the Philistines, rather that run in panic, terrorized by the “face of fear,” he remembered where he was dwelling – in the secret place of the Most High and under the shelter of the Almighty. Is this where you are dwelling today? Covered by your Father’s arm and protected under His wings? When we choose to have our Father’s protection over us, even in the midst of a dark world, we have nothing whatsoever to fear.
Awake, Our Souls, Away Our Fears
“Awake, our souls! Away, our fears!
Let every trembling thought be gone!
Awake, and run the heavenly race,
And put a cheerful courage on.
True, ‘tis a strait and thorny road.
And mortal spirits tire and faint;
But they forget the mighty God,
That feeds the strength of every saint.
O mighty God, Thy matchless power
Is ever new, and ever young;
And firm endures, while endless years
Their everlasting circles run.”
“A Quiet Mind”
“What room is there for troubled fear?
I know my Lord, and He is near;
And He will light my candle, so
That I may see the way to go.
There need be no bewilderment
To one who goes where (they) are sent;
The trackless plain by night and day
Is set with signs, lest (they) should stray.
My path may cross a waste of sea,
But that need never frighten me;
Or rivers full to very brim,
But they are open ways to Him.
My path may lead through woods at night,
Where neither moon nor any light
Of guiding star or beacon shines;
He will not let me miss my signs.
Lord, grant to me quiet mind,
That trusting Thee – for Thou art kind –
I may go on without a fear,
For Thou, my Lord, art always near.”
If you want to begin your week with a spring in your step and a song in your heart, then take a moment to listen to country star Alan Jackson’s rendition of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” from his terrific CD – Precious Memories.
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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