I Take Refuge

Wednesday, January 08, 2014, 8:11 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me this morning with the song “Songs in the Night” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalms 13-16 (NIV). The Lord stopped me at chapter 16.

Apart From You

Keep me safe, my God,
for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land,
“They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”

As we know from reading the life of Jesus Christ, and that of the prophets before him, and that of the apostles and his followers after him; as well as from reading the Biblical instructions and teachings given to us by Jesus Christ and by the writers of the New Testament - those divine instruments of the Living Word of God - we are not promised complete safety from harm. In fact, Jesus Christ said we would suffer just as he suffered, and that we should expect to be hated, persecuted, despised and rejected of men, and even killed for our faith in and our testimony for Jesus Christ and his gospel. Scripture teaches that we are destined for trials and tribulations which test our faith, but which help to train us in godliness (Heb. 12:11), purify our hearts, make us holy, mature us in Christ, and develop within us patience, character, hope and perseverance (Rom. 5:3-4).

That is not to say, though, that there won’t be times in our lives when God will miraculously intervene on our behalf and will prevent us from some calamity. He did this often for people throughout Biblical history, so we can certainly pray for safe keeping. Yet, I believe the way in which our Lord keeps us safe continuously is in keeping us safe from the ill effects that such trials and tribulations might have on our lives emotionally and spiritually. In other words, we can always count on him to deliver us emotionally and spiritually through difficult circumstances in our lives as we choose to take refuge in him, and we choose to trust him and to rest in him during times of great trouble and hardship.

Attitude makes or breaks us many times. Oftentimes we buckle under the weight of our difficult and troublesome circumstances in our lives because of faulty thinking and wrong concepts about who we are or who God is. Sometimes we get this notion that, as followers of Christ, that life should be one big party, or that things should now go great for us because we have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives. Or, we may have an entitlement mindset, thinking that God or others owe us something, or we set our expectations beyond what is promised, and so when things don’t go the way we think they should, we buckle, and sometimes we fall hard.

Or, we may think that God should always rescue us from difficulties, and so when he doesn’t, we get angry and thus rebel in our spirits, or we retreat back to our old ways. Yet, if we have the right attitude and thinking about who God is and who we are, it should change how we respond when the rubber meets the road. We should realize that all that we have comes from God and that apart from him we have no good thing, and we should thank him and praise him for his goodness to us instead of complaining or arguing with him when we face those bumps in the road. And, we should also realize that he is absolutely sovereign over all things, and that nothing will come into our lives but what he allows, and he allows for a purpose, so instead of fighting him, we should yield to his purposes.

After Other Gods

Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
or take up their names on my lips.

“Other gods” (idols) are not merely statues which someone carves out of wood or stone and physically bows down to. “Other gods” can be anything to which we give our hearts, devotion, commitment, enthusiasm, passion, desire, time, energies, thoughts, praise, adoration, money, and/or our bodies, over and above or in place of giving ourselves to God Almighty. They may be sinful things, in and of themselves, or they may be good things, but when we allow them to be our “gods” over and above God or in place of Jesus Christ, then they become sinful for us. God does not approve of such idols in our lives, and we can have no fellowship with our Lord when we drink the cup of Satan at the same time (See I Co. 10:1-22). There is no fellowship between light and darkness. Thus, when we choose to chase after “other gods” it will hurt our fellowship with our Lord, with the body of Christ, our testimonies for Christ, our own spiritual lives, and our relationships with others. Jesus Christ demands exclusive loyalty and commitment to him and the Father as our only God.

My Portion and Cup

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.

Only with God will we find the peace, joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment we so long after. If only we could learn truly to make him our portion and our cup, i.e. that which fulfills, delights, enthralls, satisfies, and that which sooths us and brings comfort to our souls. So many times we run or chase after “other gods” of entertainment, self-gratification, food, physical training, possessions, careers, adulterous relationships, etc. to bring us joy, peace, and satisfaction, but they will ultimately leave us empty, unfulfilled and always craving more and more, and send us deeper and deeper into sin and depravity.

Only in Christ Jesus and God the Father and in his Spirit within us can we find the living water which will satisfy our thirst, and which will give us the love, affection, hope, peace, comfort, direction, and joy which we, as humans, so long after, and can only experience in true fellowship and communion with our Lord. Yet, so many who profess Christ turn to idols, as did God’s children of old, to be their portion and cup instead of the one true God, and they only end up hurting themselves, their relationships with their Lord, their testimonies for Christ, and the lives of those whom they impact, especially the lives of those closest to them. Why must we be so stubborn and rebellious? True joy and peace can only be found in submission and in surrender to God and to his will for our lives.

Even At Night

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

I can testify to the fact that God does counsel us in the night if we are willing to hear him and to do what he says. He may do this while we are yet awake, or he may speak to us in our sleep, even through our dreams. Or, he may wake us from sleep with a thought, a scripture or a song. I think sometimes he speaks to us best when our minds are more relaxed and not so occupied with so many other things. I know he often speaks to me through a scriptural song he places in my head. Sometimes I am just thinking about something and have not even yet voiced it to him, and already he answers me through scripture put to music. And, the words to the song hit right to the center of what was on my mind, and they will instruct, counsel, encourage or even rebuke or correct me, at times.

So, what does it mean to keep our eyes always on the Lord? I believe it means to be focused, alert, ready, willing, to keep watch, observe, to have a sense of, and to give attention to him 24/7. How do we do this? First of all we must believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives, thus be filled with the presence of his Spirit within us, then we must devote time and attention to listen to him speak to our hearts and to doing what he says – all in the power and strength and wisdom of the Spirit living the life of God in and out through us, as we yield control of our lives over to our Lord in submission to his will.

And, we must not be given over to sinful practices or to chasing after “other gods,” in order that we can hear him speaking his words to our hearts, and so that we will be inclined of his Spirit to want to obey. If we are truly focused on him and not on our circumstances (the waves of life), and not on our own worldly passions and desires, we can’t be shaken, because our trust is in him and not in our own resources, strength, possessions, wealth or other things of this world.

As believers in and as followers of Jesus Christ we have the hope, not only of his presence with us in this life; of his counsel, guidance and protection; of his peace, security, love, mercy, grace, and joy while we are still on this earth, but also the hope and promise that we will not see eternal punishment (death), but will have the hope of eternal life with God in glory. Amen! And, in that we can certainly rejoice, not only in the promise and hope of eternal life in glory, but in the hope and security of a relationship with Jesus Christ while we are still here on this earth.

Not only did our Lord Jesus die for our sins so that we might be free from bondage to and the control of sin over our lives on a daily basis, but he freed us from the destiny of hell, and he freed us, too, to walk in his Spirit and in his righteousness and holiness via the life of the Holy Spirit within us living out the life of God in and through us for the praise of his glory. Amen! And, in that we should certainly rejoice and give him much praise!

Songs in the Night / An Original Work / December 18, 2013

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God,
And the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV ‘84

Lord, I praise You forevermore.
You, my Savior, I now adore.
Hope in heaven awaiting me,
Because You died at Calvary.

I have been forgiven,
And I’m bound for heaven.
Jesus set me free from
All my sin, I say.
I will praise Him always!

Lord, I love You for all You’ve done:
Overcame death, my vict’ry won!
Jesus saved me, and now I’m free!
I rejoice in His love for me.

I will walk in vict’ry!
My sin is but hist’ry!
I am free to please Him
With my life today.
I will love Him always!

Lord, I thank You for giving me
A new life bought at Calvary.
Loving Jesus, I meet with Him.
Tender mercies now flow within.

Lord, I am so thankful;
Through my Lord, I’m able
To sit at His table;
Fellowship with Him.
I will thank Him always!