May 23, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Psalm 46)

Submitted by Ray W. from Gracepoint Minneapolis Church

Psalm 46

Key Verse

1 God is our refuge and strength,

an ever-present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way

and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

3 though its waters roar and foam

and the mountains quake with their surging.

God is …

God is my refuge, strength, and an ever-present help in trouble.  These truths about God tell me that I do not need to fear no matter what calamity is in front of me.  Even if the things I take security in, such as my abilities and competence, my health, or my job “give way”,  I do not need to fear because who God is remains true and prevails.

God is our protector.  The psalmist talks about the city of God (vv.4-7) and how it cannot be destroyed because He is in it and protects it.  In other places in the bible, we see God also dwells in each believer.  1Corinthians 3:16 we are God’s temple and his Holy spirit dwells in us.   No matter what we face, I can take comfort that God shall protect me because He dwells in me too.

God’s voice transcends our troubles.  Verse 6 describes things that we often assume to be secure, but end up falling apart and becoming out of our control (nations in chaos and kingdoms crumbling).  Even in midst of these kinds of catastrophic events, God’s voice can override and transcend them all, like how a loud thunder booms louder than any other noise.   God can end wars as He pleases, he can bring about desolation at will and break any man’s weapons.  God’s sovereignty is plain to see in these examples and therefore his sovereignty extends into any trial in my life too.

God is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies (v.11, NLT).  This draws the notions that God is militaristic, active, strong, assertive, and conquering.  In A Place of Healing, a book by Joni Erikson Tada, she describes how recently God led her to depend on him in a deeper way through a large increase in debilitating severe pain and in her battle with cancer.  She says sometimes we can have a view of God as only gentle and meek.  She says that in our trials we need a warrior Jesus in order to be comforted through the pain and to lead us in our battles.  Verses 7 and 11 describe this aspect of God.   What kind of power and force must Heaven’s Armies possess? What does such an army look like?  It must be the most awesome and powerful force to be reckoned with.   If God, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, is among us, then there is no situation or calamity or uncertainty that God cannot control and intervene in.

The Psalmist concludes in v.10 with “Be still and know that I am God!”  What an appropriate conclusion given who God is!  Because of these attributes of God, I can truly be still and trust in the Lord.  Being still before God is not a fanciful idea or wishful thinking because it is anchored on who God is.

Lessons for me …

Objectively, my life doesn’t have any calamities on the scale of a world ending level.  But subjectively, my fears can spiral out of control and it can feel like “the end of the world” for me.  Recently my fears about my health and uncertainty about my future has taken a life of its own.  They grew to master my heart and my mind.  These fears caused me to become self-focused, unloving, and have no room in my heart.  They caused me to ignore God’s command to love him with all my heart and to love others as myself because I was so preoccupied with my fears.

Psalm 46 shows me that the answer to my fears lies in God himself and truths about who He is.  God never changes no matter what I face.  As it says in v. 2, because of who God is, I will not fear.  Practically speaking, this means I need to proactively remind myself about God’s promises, truths about his character, his heart, my testimony, and his worldview.  When my fears seize me, I need to hear God’s voice most of all.  His voice of truth transcends and thunders louder than the voice of my fears.  There is no other solution except God.  A practical solution may alleviate my circumstance temporarily, but fears can still reign in my mind.  When I see who God is, the One who is the Lord of Heaven’s armies can march in and slay all the pessimistic thoughts and faulty assessments that I have fallen for.  I need to immerse myself in his word and read passages like Matt 6:25-34 (do not worry).  Conversely, I need to not focus on my fears.  Matthew 6:22-23 says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”  This speaks to how my fears can grow extremely dark and consuming if I focus on my fears instead of focusing on God.  Once God’s truth drives out my fears, then I can be still before God and have room to love God and others.

Prayer

Dear heavenly Father, forgive me for giving into my fears and not bringing them to you.  When my fears hit and threaten to get out of control, please remind me of who you are.  You are the Lord of Heaven’s armies.  Please conquer my fears and worries so my heart can be freed up to love you and others.    Thank you God for reigning in the midst of my trials, my fears, and my worries.  May my meditation on who you are be like “the river whose streams make glad the city of God.” May I find joy in who you are.  Thank you Lord that such a mighty God like you would promise to be with a sinful man like me.


Submitted by Eunice L. from Gracepoint Minneapolis Church

Key Verse

1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

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 Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

God is …

Vv1-2. God is our refuge, he is the One we can run to whenever we find ourselves in despair or trouble and when we are overwhelmed by the burdens we carry. In Him we can find strength whenever we feel weak and frail.  His help is ever- present, so we don’t have to wonder whether God will help us this time around or whether the problems or adversities we face are too much for Him to handle. God is not a temporary refuge but one that is everlasting who can provide strength for us in all circumstances.

There are a lot of things in this uncertain world that can bring fear to our hearts.   Every time we hear about the natural disasters, from Tsunamis, earthquakes in the news, to tornadoes or blizzards here in the Midwest,  we can feel sober minded about our human frailty and tragedy of death, and wonder when we will be the next victims of some calamity or misfortune. But more closer to home would be when we face decay and death or unfortunate events of our loved ones, uncertainties of our jobs or finances, or when feel stuck in our daily spiritual battles, or just feel like nothing seems to be going right in our life moments.  We can feel so easily shaken and fearful, but the fact that God is our reliable refuge and strength, we are reminded that we do not need to fear. Or when we have these fears, we don’t have to be overcome by them but we can run to him and experience relief from Him knowing that He is so ready to sustain us and provide the help we need.

vv.10-11. God is mighty and all powerful. With the same power that created the universe and every living creature, He also was mighty to save us and deliver us from our sins and rescued us from death through Jesus. No matter what kind of struggles we face, we can be still and know that He is God.     He is above all creation, above all our struggles, nothing is beyond Him. There is rest and assurance that comes from God who is in control of our futures and our very own lives.

I have learned that the well-known hymn, “Our mighty fortress is our God,” was inspired by this Psalm 46. It was written by Martin Luther during the time of Reformation. This powerful hymn was a great source of strength and inspiration for those who were persecuted and even martyred for their convictions.  And it still has the same level of impact with the trials that we face today. These are two of the four stanzas:

A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and pow’r are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

Lessons for me …

This Psalm gives me comfort and strength in my own life. Though I may not have the same weight of difficulties or persecutions that the early Christians faced or other Christians who are struggling around the world today, I find daily that need to rely on God for source of strength to carry on my calling as a minister, no matter the season of life I may transition to.  Even if I feel weak because of some health issue, or drained because of some tough conversations I’ve had, stressed by growing responsibilities, burdened by what others are going through, or discouraged by circumstances that’s not in my control, I don’t have to feel defeated or remain too wearied to continue, but find renewal from God who is my refuge and strength. Just going to God in prayer and releasing all my burdens and concerns from the day brings me to a proper place before God, that I am this needy, this helpless to handle anything on my own. I can reliably experience comfort from the truth that He is always there to help, and receive just what I need to push through setbacks or difficulties.

I feel grateful, that I am never alone, but His presence is always near. I feel anchored once again, when I think about the salvation I have received and the eternal hope He brings, so that I can face whatever challenges ahead, without fear.  I am reminded of the recent psalm passage, that the Lord is my light and salvation, whom shall I fear?  In the same way, the Lord is my refuge and strength and ever- present help, whom shall I fear?   As I have tendencies to be anxious about uncertainties in life and not feel at peace until situations are settled, I am reminded once again through this passage that I need to just be still and know that He is God and not try to take matters into my own hands first or be distracted and miss out on what is most needed–that is to be still in the presence of God and know that He is God.  I can have quiet confidence in Him who is mighty to handle and bring relief to whatever complications in life that I want to prevent or control on my own.  Before God my troubles seem so trivial, and I am thankful that God brings me proper focus and perspective again in what is most important.

Prayer

Dear God, thank you for being my personal refuge and being the ever present help in my life.  Your words bring comfort to me as I’ve seen the folly of trying to resolve my own burdens on my own or delay coming to you, but rather I can freely come and bring to you all that weighs heavy on my heart and find relief.   Your are the Lord Almighty and my fortress whom I can find strength in times of need or when I feel at my wits end and receive that sense of security when I face times of fear and uncertainties.   Lord, when I feel anxious, distracted, or overwhelmed, please help to just be still before you in your presence and know that you are God, that you reign over all my circumstances and over this entire life.  Thank you for the timely words of assurance of your active presence in my life.   Amen.

Submitted by Roy L. from Gracepoint Minneapolis Church

Psalm 46
Key Verse

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

God is …
God is the only true source of security in this life.  In the Old Testament, the Israelites could have this kind of confidence in God as people whom had God chosen out of all the nations to be his treasured possession, to dwell with them and be their God.  As the Psalmist expressed, those who trust in God can stand firm in the face of fear, because the Lord Almighty is with them.  Even when seemingly firm and sure things–such as mountains, nations, and kingdoms–rise and fall, God’s people are not shaken because God is greater than them all.

In the New Testament, Jesus is Immanuel, God with us.  His total triumph over death gives all of us the assurance that he can make good on his promise to be with us always, even to the end of the age.  And since Jesus has destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light, we know that he has the power to overcome the world, to make wars cease to the ends of the earth, to restore everything and be exalted at the end of all things.

Lessons for me …
I need to cling on to these unchanging, grand truths when I face difficult or uncertain situations.  As I continue to serve in ministry, I know I will only face greater and more unfamiliar challenges.  For example, in a couple of weeks I have to lead a one-day youth retreat for our Interhigh church, and I’ve never done that before.  More than ministry, with the added responsibilities of a husband and father, I know that life in general will only present more opportunities for fear.  What would I do if I lost my job, or I got in an accident and can’t support my family?  What if something happened to my child at daycare? What if I do or say the wrong thing in some ministry context and offend somebody or give him the wrong impression about Christianity?

As a disciple of Christ and a child of God, one way I must distinguish myself is by refusing to fear what others fear.  As God told the prophet Isaiah,  “[D]o not fear what they fear, and do not dread it.  The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, and he will be a sanctuary.”  Isaiah 8:12-13.  My relationship with the Creator God, the Almighty God, the Everlasting God, ought to give me a great measure of confidence and hope.  His presence and gaze upon my life as my Father in heaven means I do not need to fear or fret, or spend myself providing for myself, making plans for every possible contingency.  For people who do not know God, it makes sense to spend their lives providing for themselves, and to be concerned by the rise and fall of kingdoms, or the stock market, or their bank accounts.  But for the people of God who put their trust in Him who cannot be shaken, these things do not need to cause them fear.  What makes me fear?  To the extent I am still afraid of the same things that everyone else is afraid of, I’m still not relying on God to be my refuge, fortress, and strength.

In the end, God will triumph.  He will make wars cease to the ends of the earth.  He will be exalted among the nations and in all the earth.  In light of that firm and sure future, I can have peace even in trying circumstances because the drama of my life is, in the end, really insignificant in the grand scheme of God’s plans.  Not that God doesn’t care, but objectively whatever ministry, work, or life can throw my way should all be counted as light and momentary troubles that Christ himself is helping me to bear.

Prayer

Lord, thank you for being the Almighty God, but also Immanuel God.  Thank you for being the only true and reliable source of refuge and strength.  Although times and circumstances and people change, thank you for being the same yesterday, today, and forever–the unchanging, faithful God.  Lord, help me to trust in you more and trust in myself less, because my own strengths and abilities and resources are no match for the storms of life.  But you, Lord, have overcome the world.  So when things do not go well according to my plans, help me to be silent and know that you are God.  Let me not speak and arrogate myself to telling you, O Lord, what you ought to do in my life.  Help me be content with your presence in my life and the promise that you will be exalted among the nations and in all the earth.

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