In Psalm 142, we read a statement that some people really couldn’t truthfully speak if saying what was truly on the heart. It is a statement that makes a decision that we each have to make. Some people will never reach this prayer.
First, the Psalmist prays, “You are my place of refuge.” We often will embrace this. We often will pray for this refuge. We will claim God is the One who provides safety and protection. But the Psalmist continues, “You are all I really want in life.” This separates people. This divides families. This causes chaos at work and school. This bold statement overflows from the heart of one who truly desires God. This is the desire we should all have.
Can you today say God is all you really want in life? Or is your life still the “God and … life”? Can you pray this prayer or is there something still between you and God? Is He all you really want? Ask the Spirit to reveal anything that may be keeping you from this prayer. Ask Him to remove anything that hinders this desire. May He be all you really want.
“Then I pray to you, O LORD. I say, ‘You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life.’” – Psalm 142:5 [NLT]
I rarely get to sleep in as I like to be up early in the morning during the school week to be sure the kids are prepared for their day. As well, Sunday mornings I start out early once again so I have time to read my Bible and prepare myself for worship. Only on Saturdays do I have an opportunity to catch a few extra winks; however, some weeks the schedule doesn’t allow for it. Since the school year is almost over, I had this great idea – I thought perhaps I can sleep in a little. Wouldn’t that be nice?!?
Today, I was delivered some news. My daughter handed me her schedule for practice. Looks like the very week school ends, practice begins. Not only is practice Monday through Friday, but it’s also on Saturday. I went from having this hope for a day or two extra to sleep in, but instead I have no chance to sleep in until the middle of October. The plan has failed.
We often make plans, but things don’t go as we plan. This can be frustrating and even discouraging. Remember that God has a great plan and He understands the big picture. Our thoughts and ways are very different from God (Isaiah 55:8). Our plans fail again and again; however, His plan will always be seen to completion (Philippians 1:6). We may try to plan our steps, but God determines them (see Proverbs 16:9). In this world, there will be suffering. We are promised it. There will be things we don’t understand. It’s guaranteed. Today, remember to rest in Him. Allow yourself to feel His loving embrace as you cling to His promises and trust in Him. Remember that though we stumble, we don’t completely fall for He holds us up (see Psalm 37:23-24). Today is going to be a good day!!
“God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.” – Psalm 18:30 [NLT]
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 [NIV]
The other morning I had a rude awakening. It was 3 a.m. so I was out cold. All of the sudden I heard barking. Max doesn’t bark for fun. He is not very vocal unless there is a problem. I quickly ran downstairs to find a neighbor’s friend was wandering around to the wrong house, attempting to get into our home. When Max started barking, he realized he was at the wrong place. I could even hear the fear in his voice when he asked the neighbor to let him in. Max is a good guard dog and he’s usually on duty, even at three in the morning.
God is ALWAYS on duty. The Psalmist wrote that “The LORD himself watches over you.” He watches over you. He doesn’t need to have someone else do it. He personally does it. He wrote further, “The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.” Not only does God watch over you, but He stands beside you. He is with you. And He protects you.
These aren’t promises on pages—these are real truths. Take these words to heart my friend. God watches over you. I could write books about the many, many times He was watching over me, and that’s just the moments I noticed. Imagine when I wasn’t paying attention! Let us thank Him for His protective shade and His watchful eyes. Let us thank Him that He always is with us through it all.
“The LORD himself watches over you! The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.” – Psalm 121:5 [NLT]
When I worked in the area of childcare, I remember how we would walk with the children. There would always be an adult leading the way and there would always be an adult at the end of the line. Having an adult at the front of the line would not only provide leadership but also protection. The leading adult could be sure to watch out for danger lurking ahead. The adult at the back of the line had the job of making sure all the children were in the line and no one was left behind. The adult in the back also provided protection for the children because he or she had a different perspective.
Isaiah wrote that the Lord went ahead of the people and that the Lord protected the people from behind. There was protection all around, almost as if the people were in a giant protective bubble. But this bubble is real. God goes before us and he goes behind us. We are always under his protection.
Knowing that the Lord is with us always, that he is always before us and behind us and with us, can help us all to press forward with confidence. We can walk in faith, knowing that he is in control and that we are always under his protection.
“You will not leave in a hurry, running for your lives. For the LORD will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind.” – Isaiah 52:12 [NLT]
When I took Max for a walk, I noticed a cicada sitting on the sidewalk. I saw Max looking in the direction of the cicada and told him to let it alone. Max decided instead to look more closely at the cicada. The cicada made the familiar noise it is known for and Max jumped in the air in fear.
Max did not listen to me though I told him not to look further. I told him it was bad. He did not listen. Instead, he continued to look at the cicada and got even closer to it, allowing it to touch and frighten him. This reminded me of how we find ourselves not listening to God’s Word and the Spirit’s promptings, and instead we decide to continue down a path we were not supposed to travel. We do not realize the harm until we are up against the cicada.
Today consider what God is saying to you and trust Him when He is telling you not to do something. God is not watching to stop us from having joy and happiness in life. He wants us to have joy and happiness and so much more. He is not trying to prohibit us but to enable us.
“God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.” – Psalm 18:30 [NLT]
I love to read about the parting of the Red Sea. As the Israelites were traveling, it must have been awesome to have this presence of God in the form of the pillar of cloud. That pillar of cloud and pillar of fire went before them and led them all the way. I think that’s so awesome to consider—God’s presence in those forms leading the way of the people.
When the Egyptians approached the Israelites after Pharaoh decided he no longer wished to allow the Israelite slaves to leave, something happened which I see happening again and again in my own life. In today’s key verse, we read that the angel of God as well as the pillar of cloud moved from the front of Israel’s army and went to the back to stand between Egypt and Israel’s armies. The presence of God right there, blocking the enemy from attacking. Amazing.
Sometimes we expect that God will be leading us in a particular way, but He is repositioning to fully do what only He can do to bring about His plan. Sometimes we cannot see what God is doing in our lives, even to the point that we wonder if He is doing anything at all, when He is actually repositioning to do something great. Don’t ever forget that He is always there—He’s always at work seeing His great plan fully achieved.
“Then the angel of God, who had been leading the people of Israel, moved to the rear of the camp. The pillar of cloud also moved from the front and stood behind them.” – Exodus 14:19 [NLT]
“He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” – Psalm 91:4 [NLT]
When walking the dog, a cat came into view. My dog immediately got excited to “make friends” with the cat. I do not think that the cat was too eager for this friendship and she ran away. What struck me as funny was the fact that she ran and stopped beside her family’s dog and got herself comfortable beside the dog, as if the relax in her protection. She looked at peace lounging beside the dog. My dog noted the change of situation and kept on walking. It’s not so often that I see a cat lounging at peace beside a dog.
As the dog offered great protection to her family’s cat, so God offers us great protection. We are able to run to Him and rest in Him. We can be sure that when we are covered with His wings, we are safe—we are secure. Nothing can pluck us from His hands (John 10:27-28). The Bible tells us over and over again to fear not. Why? Because He is with us and He is in control (1 Corinthians 3:16, Proverbs 19:21). Because He loves us and He has promised us a hope and a future (John 3:16, Jeremiah 29:11).
Today may be one of the hardest days of your life—rest in Him. He will bring you comfort. He will bring you strength. He will provide you all that you need. He always does.
“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” – Psalm 46:1 [NLT]
“Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.” – Nehemiah 6:4 [NIV]
People were trying to intimidate Nehemiah so that the building project would cease. The Bible says that messengers came down a total of four times to basically harass Nehemiah, and his response was that he couldn’t come down because he was doing a great work. Then Sanballat, the governor of Samaria, sent his aide with a letter and again with the same message. The fifth time, the response didn’t change. Nehemiah was not leaving the project to meet with the group trying to halt the work. He sends a message, a very short message (why waste time writing a dissertation when there is no need) back telling Sanballat he was making things up. He prayed and continued to work.
Talk about standing firm. Nehemiah understood what he was supposed to do and he did not let anyone try to tell him otherwise. He kept pressing forward with the project God gave him to do and allowed God to handle the rest. He did not leave his work for a moment to go talk to these troublemakers to try and change their minds. He didn’t spend time pointing fingers at those trying to cause friction, but kept on pressing forward.
When we are doing a good work, we too have people around us trying to get us to stop. Whether it is on purpose or without thinking, people do try to thwart our good works at times. The question is, do we respond like Nehemiah, firmly planting our feet to get the work done? Do we allow the threats, the lies, and the words spoken to simply roll off our backs and continue onward? Or do we stop the project to spend time defending the project and ourselves? Remember, this isn’t about us—and God does not need us to defend His work.
As a parent, a dog owner, and a former caretaker, I have made an observation. When there is something that may seem to be dangerous to a person or a pet, people and animals feel safer in the situation if there is someone between them and the danger. I can note that my best friend would most likely jokingly say that if I was between the danger, it gives her a chance to push me toward the danger and run. All joking aside, the truth is that we feel comfort knowing we are not alone with the situation, and there is this protective barrier that causes us to feel safe as well. My children were not so scared to approach the scary looking clown when they were little if I was standing on the side closest to the clown. It gave them security. They knew they were safe with mum.
We have a barrier of protection from God our Father. We are facing much more than scary looking clowns in this life, but God promises us that we are under His protective wing. “He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge” (Psalm 91:4a NASB). The Bible says that “He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11 NASB). Isaiah 49:2 says that the shadow of God’s hand conceals us, and we can rest knowing that our walls are continually before Him (v.16).
God is between us and the world, protecting us from evil. This is not saying that evil will not come our way. It simply means that He will keep protection of our soul. When we are His children, we have the promise of victory in Christ. We have the promise of everlasting life with Him. There will be evil– bad things will come your way– but you can find comfort knowing that God is between you and the evil. He is your barrier of protection. You are able to seek Him at all times and at any location to help you walk by whatever is trying to break you down, cause you to fall, and disrupt your life. We never need to do life alone.
“The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.”
– Psalm 121:7-8 [NASB]