Whoever dwells in the shadow of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty (Ps 91:1).
Today there is so much talk about safe spaces where people are insulated from, well, just about anything that anyone wants to define as harmful, or hurtful, or even just uncomfortable. God doesn’t offer us that kind of isolation; in fact, His word (and my experience) shows that we grow in character and holiness through adversity.
If we look to Him in trust He offers us, not a safe space, but a fortress (v2). He doesn’t remove discomfort; sometimes we need it to grow, but He promises to be with us (v15). He protects us from the enemy’s snare [what are my personal temptations] (v3); terror by night [what are my fears]; arrows that fly by day [what are my arrows]; the plague that destroys [what plagues me physically, mentally, spiritually] (v 5&6–just read Psalm 91, it’s amazing).
Thank You, Father, that You have my back, in fact, You surround me so that “evil can not conquer me and no plague can come near my tent (v10).”
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).
The topic for my most recent bible study was purity — not just sexual, but more so the motives of our heart. Coincidentally, today’s reading from Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, was also about purity. He says that when our hearts are left to their own devises, what proceeds from them are evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornications, false witnesses, blasphemies and that list of ugly things noted in Matthew and 2 Corinthians. Whoa! I don’t do THOSE things, but…
Without the Holy Spirit, we are constrained only either by cowardice (would I really act on my thoughts if I was more brave!?), or that we are constrained by living in a civilized society (so grateful for the morality set in place by our forefathers).
Sometimes I question my motives like am I being manipulative or prideful or selfish. Those I don’t like, but they are “acceptable sins” if there is such a thing. But when we let the Holy Spirit penetrate our heart, we’re appalled at how evil we really are. The Spirit of God uncovers our self-exoneration and excuses and makes us sensitive to things we never recognized, let alone admitted before. We begin to realize how much we need the kind of cleansing that only comes from Him.
Proverbs 16:2 says, Everything a person does seems pure in his own opinion, but the Lord weighs intentions. So I prayerfully repeat O God… see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (I Cor13:4-7).
From the “Love Chapter,” this is a very familiar verse to most people who have attended a wedding. Unfortunately, it is usually rattled off with little attention to the meaning of each phrase. Each part is a gem of wisdom, and if we made a determined effort to apply even just one, our relationships would thrive.
One that I especially need to work on is it keeps no record of wrongs. Sometimes I find myself even years later holding ill-feelings toward someone who I felt treated me unfairly. When that happens, we have choices on how to react (after all, to love is a choice). We can attack back—definitely not a relationship builder. We can get even or retaliate on the same level—also not a loving alternative. Or we can rise above and react kindly and respectfully.
If that last choice seems insincere, then we can first try a little exercise in understanding. Maybe their attack had nothing to do with us—we were just at the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe that person was hurting or confused himself. Our attempt toward understanding can also help with the love is patient, kind and not easily angered phrases too.
I guess second to only Satan, I’m my own worst enemy thinking it’s all about ME. Reflecting on God’s word sure aids in clearing our vision and helps us to take our eyes off ourselves and onto God and others.
But those whose hope is in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Is 40:31).
From time to time, the Lord convicts me of things that I need to work on and change. And when I say “I” need to change, I actually mean that “He” has to change me. That definitely does not get me off the hook though. Although He could zap me into the perfect wife, mother, or friend, in His wisdom that is not how He works.
Easy lessons unfortunately are more quickly forgotten. Most things of great value come to us through struggle. They take self-discipline and persistence on our part, but He provides the power and strength to overcome and conquer.
It is so very true that we shouldn’t be quick to judge others because everyone has a struggle or burden. But blessed are those who have trust in the Lord because our ally is wise, loving, powerful, and will lead us on the most effective path to overcoming.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials because we know they help us develop endurance, and endurance develops strength of character which produces hope (Rom 5:3-4).
It is my deepest desire for my loved ones (and me) to have a closer and closer daily walk with the Lord. I have a confession to make though. I sometimes hold back in my prayers because I know that spiritual growth often comes through experiencing tough situations.
Although He is able, God rarely zaps us with a character quality (i.e. compassion or patience), but rather allows us to go through situations that produce or nurture that trait. Just like a lesson learned the hard way, overcoming a challenge is the more meaningful, worthwhile, effective, and beneficial experience.
I need to trust God more, realizing that He knows what their needs are and what is best for their growth. And He loves them more than I can even begin to imagine.