Psalm 46 (NKJV)
46 God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
A couple scriptures have really weighed on my heart over the course of the fire that I just have to write down while they speak so loudly to me.
During the midst of the fire…
Matthew 6:19-21King James Version (KJV)
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
As I considered during the evacuation warning last week, of losing everything yet again… the above scripture kept repeating over in my head..
At the aftermath, seeing how the fires seemed to only destroy buildings and cars, but so many trees and even sometime land went untouched. As I drive by the semi scorched hills on my way to work, I see only blackened grass, but the trees look the same except for some charring at the bottom. If the grass wasn’t burned, you can hardly tell there had ever been a fire??? Never seen anything like it.
It just resonates with Revelation:
Revelation 7:3King James Version (KJV)
3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads
It appears Portugal is currently experiencing it too…
I don’t know… it just feels unreal to see fire burn so hot that it melts cars to asphalt but mostly leaves nature untouched around it.
I also am simply heartbroken for those who have lost homes, and loved ones during this tragedy. I do not in my perplexity forget for a moment, the staggering actual devastation these fires are causing in their wake.
And hang on to your hats, it appears a hurricane is developing which appears to grow to the size of the US in the coming days…. It could dissipate, as some have done over the past months, but good to keep an eye out and really keep the heart ready.
Let’s keep our prayers going for all who have been or will be affected by ongoing disasters.
It’s been a tough week for us in California. Where we live, the fire took out all communication for 2 days and seemed to be boxing our town in. We are still without gas for cooking or hot water. But praise the Lord they were able to bring our immediate area somewhat under control. We aren’t out of the woods yet, but I have faith God is in control no matter what happens.
My friend was evacuated a few miles away from us. But they are safe and their home survived. I also have a family friend a few towns away who had to evacuate. It seems everywhere I go this week, so many are personally affected by this fire.
My heart breaks for all who have and continue to loose homes, pets and people close to them in this force of nature. I pray comfort and peace for everyone in the eye of the “storm”. As the Lord continues to allow devastation in one form or another in more and more states… I continue to pray for comfort and peace in the midst of tragedy.
Personally, I am thankful that even if the fire revives once more near me, as it has done a couple times so far…. I know that nothing will separate me from His ever watchful presence… not even death.
So, I continue to be thankful and praise The Lord, come what may.
Some might wonder why God thought so highly of David. Part of the answer is that, in spite of his lapses, David usually wholeheartedly sought God’s will. He didn’t withdraw from the responsibilities of life. The biblical record shows that, the more conditions around David deteriorated, the more he grew in character.
David remained faithful to God throughout his life. His loyalty to His Creator was beyond question. Read about his reliance on God in the psalms of David. He was “the sweet psalmist of Israel” (2 Samuel 23:1).
Luke writes in the book of Acts the assessment of the apostle Paul, that David was a man after God’s own heart. God, wrote Paul, “raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will’ ” (Acts 13:22). What a tribute to the former shepherd boy who became king!
Further, a great scripture to meditate on is found in Job. In God’s own words, He makes known His majestic supremeness, worthy of our reverence same as David had….
Job 38 (NKJV)
The Lord Reveals His Omnipotence to Job
38 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:
2 “Who is this who darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
3 Now prepare yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer Me.
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements?
Surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 To what were its foundations fastened?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
7 When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
8 “Or who shut in the sea with doors,
When it burst forth and issued from the womb;
9 When I made the clouds its garment,
And thick darkness its swaddling band;
10 When I fixed My limit for it,
And set bars and doors;
11 When I said,
‘This far you may come, but no farther,
And here your proud waves must stop!’
12 “Have you commanded the morning since your daysbegan,
And caused the dawn to know its place,
13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth,
And the wicked be shaken out of it?
14 It takes on form like clay under a seal,
And stands out like a garment.
15 From the wicked their light is withheld,
And the upraised arm is broken.
16 “Have you entered the springs of the sea?
Or have you walked in search of the depths?
17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you?
Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death?
18 Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth?
Tell Me, if you know all this.
19 “Where is the way to the dwelling of light?
And darkness, where is its place,
20 That you may take it to its territory,
That you may know the paths to its home?
21 Do you know it, because you were born then,
Or because the number of your days is great?
22 “Have you entered the treasury of snow,
Or have you seen the treasury of hail,
23 Which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
For the day of battle and war?
24 By what way is light diffused,
Or the east wind scattered over the earth?
25 “Who has divided a channel for the overflowing water,
Or a path for the thunderbolt,
26 To cause it to rain on a land where there is no one,
A wilderness in which there is no man;
27 To satisfy the desolate waste,
And cause to spring forth the growth of tender grass?
28 Has the rain a father?
Or who has begotten the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb comes the ice?
And the frost of heaven, who gives it birth?
30 The waters harden like stone,
And the surface of the deep is frozen.
31 “Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades,
Or loose the belt of Orion?
32 Can you bring out Mazzaroth[a] in its season?
Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs?
33 Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you set their dominion over the earth?
34 “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
That an abundance of water may cover you?
35 Can you send out lightnings, that they may go,
And say to you, ‘Here we are!’?
36 Who has put wisdom in the mind?
Or who has given understanding to the heart?
37 Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
Or who can pour out the bottles of heaven,
38 When the dust hardens in clumps,
And the clods cling together?
39 “Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
Or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
40 When they crouch in their dens,
Or lurk in their lairs to lie in wait?
41 Who provides food for the raven,
When its young ones cry to God,
And wander about for lack of food?
Most of us like to see results and we prefer it if they come quickly. When God placed a hold on King David’s proposal to build a temple, David accepted it easily. That is a sign of his humility and wisdom. We’re not talking about a delay of a few months or years; David would never see the temple, an unborn son, Solomon, would build it. David knew better than to pursue a project that God had not anointed.
For David, project evaluation hung on one question. What’s the point of a temple if God’s presence does not fill it? We know that David made God’s presence a priority because one of his first acts as king was to relocate the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. David also listened to God. He understood what his son Solomon expressed later in a Psalm: “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Ps. 127:1). David did not intend to waste time on the empty shell of a religious structure. Unless God blessed the project, the temple would add nothing to anyone’s spiritual life; God already met with His people in the tabernacle.
When God speaks of His dwelling place, he does not point to the temple, and he does not limit Himself to heaven. God dwells with people of humility and contrition:
Thus says the high and exalted One
Who lives forever, whose name is Holy,
“I dwell on a high and holy place,
And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit
In order to revive the spirit of the lowly
And to revive the heart of the contrite.” (Isa. 57:15)
“To this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” (Isa. 66:2)
To be contrite means to acknowledge our limitations and failures (sins) and to turn from them.
Lowliness, or humility, is an acknowledgement of who we are in comparison to God. God is bigger than anything we can understand, better than the best we have experienced. In humility, we pursue Him for more of Himself.
It takes humility to turn from our well-intentioned and noble tasks because God tells us to, with little explanation as to why we should stop. And that is what trembling at God’s word is all about. It means to take Him seriously, to listen with the intention of obeying. David dropped his plans as soon as God said so.
Our buildings and programs need to be seen in perspective. Our ministries might be thoroughly worthwhile and even successful but temples and churches, with all their activities, bear little fruit unless people who cherish the presence of God fill them. People filled with God are used to accomplish His eternal purposes. God promises spiritual revival to those who live in humility and contrition.
When King David laid aside his ambitious dream, he made way for something vastly better; through Solomon, God began building His eternal kingdom on earth (1 Chron. 17:14).
I think I would like to dive deeper into the heart of David. After all he was a man after God’s own heart…
10 Reasons David is Called “A Man After God’s Own Heart”
The following words describe the heart of David as seen in his own writings:
(All verses New International Version)
Humble – Lowborn men are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie; if weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath. Psalm 62:9
Reverent – I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. Psalm 18:3
Respectful – Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. Psalm 31:9
Trusting – The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1
Loving – I love you, O Lord, my strength. Psalm 18:1
Devoted – You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. Psalm 4:7
Recognition – I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. Psalm 9:1
Faithful – Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:6
Obedient – Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Psalm 119:34
Repentant – For the sake of your name, O Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. Psalm 25:11
Sometimes, people ‘fast’ – that is they go without food or other things – as a spiritual discipline, and it can be a stimulating and moving experience to fast for a day while reflecting on the idea that God feeds His children that goes beyond the physical.
The image of the bread of life can work on different levels, and it should. At it’s simplest, inspire us to think about what we ‘feed’ on in our daily lives, both literally and metaphorically. Are we watching what we eat and treating our bodies as a temple?
What kinds of stories and images do we consume through watching trash-TV ceaselessly? Where are we going to look for our soul food? How does our popular culture make us feel when we have ‘eaten’ too much of it? Where can we go to feed ourselves in such a way as to stop feeling hungry?
Excerpt from the book “Searching 4 Faith” by Brian Draper
Satan’s understanding of who we are in Christ is evidenced by his repeated attempts to get us to submit to fear. When we are fully aware of the truth of who we are in Christ, we will not be afraid. The only thing Satan can do is to distract us from this truth. He does this by attempting to re-direct our focus, from our riches in Christ, onto our seemingly fearful circumstances. Satan knows he can’t rob us of our riches in Christ, so he has no choice but to encourage us to lose sight of all we have and all we are in Christ.
Though we may lose sight of this, at times, God continues to prove Himself faithful in our lives. Remember when the Armenian army surrounded the Israelites camp? (2 Kings 6:15-17) A fear struck servant came to Elisha with the disheartening news. However, Elisha assured the servant. So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2 Kings 6:16 NKJV) Elisha prayed and instantly the servant’s eyes were opened to see the hills, all around, covered with horses and chariots of fire. The truth was that God had provided the Israelites more than enough protection from the Armenians. Elisha’s eyes were on what was true while the servant’s gaze had been distracted by the surrounding enemy. I wonder if the servant would have seen God’s army from the start had he not allowed the enemy to distract him from what was true.
Though, in Christ, I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37), on occasion, I allow intimidating circumstances distract me from this truth, and I submit myself to fear. Just as the turbulent waves of the sea distracted Peter from Jesus’ invitation to walk on water, causing Peter to be consumed by the waves, when I focus on the waves in my life overwhelming feelings of helplessness rob me of doing the impossible through Christ. Like Peter, when I fix my eyes on Jesus I am able to confidently rise above my fears and miraculously walk to Jesus, by faith, on what previously were my fears.
All throughout the Bible, God instructs people to not fear. Though we may feel sometimes this is easier said than done…
Whenever you find yourself overcome by fear, remember that there are more than 365 times the bible says not to…
Many people say, “It’s a nice thought to say that there are 365 ‘Fear not’s in the Bible, but it’s not true.” Indeed, there is not a version of the Bible that 365 times says, quote unquote, ”Fear not.” For instance, the King James Version says “Fear not” or “Be not afraid” 103 times, but not 365 times.
So why do I say that there are more than 365 “Fear nots” in the Bible?
“Fear” is spoken of over 500 times in the KJV. Furthermore, in addition to the “Fear nots” many times it’s saying “Fear God,” which really means reverence God alone and do not fear anyone or anything else. Expanding the search to look at verses encouraging us not to worry or not to be anxious would add many, many more “Fear not” Scriptures. This is why I say that there are more than 365 “Fear nots” in the Bible.
Perhaps this is God’s way of telling us never will we face a day that we will ever have a valid reason to be afraid. May our faith in Jesus shine so bright, extinguishing all ungodly fears, that those who don’t know Jesus will marvel at our boldness and know, as the Sanhedrin did after witnessing the boldness of Peter and John, that we have been with Jesus. (Acts 4:5-13)