UNDER HIS WINGS

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by.

David knew about danger and he found out about divine protection. In David’s life he had escaped from the paw of a lion and a bear, managed to escape the sword of Goliath and the spear of King Saul. He had also stared down armies of Philistine enemies. He knew it was more than his cunning and skillful fighting or just good luck that kept him from being captured. His talent or good fortune could not begin to describe David’s knack at overcoming and escaping from danger. David said that his protection was supernatural. One of the secret places that David hid himself in was the cave of Adullam. In David’s mind this cave was just a picture of his true hiding place. He believed he was literally hidden away in God’s presence. After David became king he brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. It was in worshipping before the ark that David explored the glory of God’s presence. This ark was characterized by the covering wings of the angels. These are the wings David spoke of when he said he was hidden under God’s wings. Here is how Spurgeon describes David and his supernatural protections.

“Yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge. Not in the cave alone would he hide, but in the cleft of the Rock of ages. As the little birds find ample shelter beneath the parental wing, even so would the fugitive place himself beneath the secure protection of the divine power. The emblem is delightfully familiar and suggestive. May we all experimentally know its meaning. When we cannot see the sunshine of God’s face, it is blessed to cower down beneath the shadow of his wings. Until these calamities be overpast. Evil will pass away, and the eternal wings will abide over us till then. Blessed be God, our calamities are matters of time, but our safety is a matter of eternity. When we are under the divine shadow, the passing over of trouble cannot harm us; the hawk flies across the sky, but this is no evil to the chicks when they are safely nestling beneath the hen.”

Worship brings us into an awareness of the presence of the Lord. One of the great blessings we find there is protection from our enemies. David longed for that secret place. For those that find that place it becomes more than a place of protection but a way to live our lives.

NOWHERE TO HIDE

Ps.139:7 – Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?

It’s not like David wanted to flee God’s presence, he is just exploring the majesty of the omnipresence of God and the manifest presence of God. From his early years as a teenager David had experienced God’s powerful presence. From that first day when the prophet Samuel poured the anointing oil upon David, David became stunningly aware of the presence of the Lord. Worshipping in His presence and building a temple for His presence had become his lifelong dream. He had discovered his “one thing” worth living his life for. Here are some thoughts from Charles Spurgeon on today’s verse.

“Where shall I go?” It were well if we all thus applied truth to our own cases. It were wise for each one to say—The spirit of the Lord is ever around me: Jehovah is omnipresent to me. Or where can I flee from thy presence? If, full of dread, I hastened to escape from that nearness of God which had become my terror, which way could I turn? “Where?” “Where?” He repeats his cry. No answer comes back to him. The reply to his first “Where?” is its echo,—a second “Where?” From the sight of God he cannot be hidden, but that is not all,—from the immediate, actual, constant presence of God he cannot be withdrawn. We must be, whether we will it or not, as near to God as our soul is to our body. This makes it dreadful work to sin; for we offend the Almighty to his face, and commit acts of treason at the very foot of his throne. Go from him, or flee from him we cannot: neither by patient travel nor by hasty flight can we withdraw from the all surrounding Deity.”

It’s really impossible for our created, limited brains, to understand the Presence of the Lord. How could He be in Beijing and Fiji at the same time? How could He be touching someone in the Philippines and also someone in Africa in the same moment? Our God is the creator of time and space. Even the greatness of this universe cannot hold all of Him. His glory is spilling out of creation itself. Today, whether you feel Him or not, He is all around you. He is before you and behind you, He is literally in your face, eye to eye. One glimpse of David’s God and you too will spend the rest of your days pursuing that “one thing”.

HIDDEN ONES

Psa. 83:3 They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones.

This is a powerful verse that describes the Lord’s love for us and His determination to protect us. We are actually hidden away from the hand of the enemy. One of the promises given to us in the Bible about giving reminds me of this passage. Malachi goes so far as to say that the Lord would rebuke the enemy on behalf of His tithers. The Lord is serious about His possessions. We are hidden along with our stuff. Think about that for a moment. Not only does He keep us hidden away, He also takes care of our provision, we become off limits to the work of the enemy. Here are some powerful thoughts from Dick Mills on today’s verse.

“The hidden ones (in our times) are believers that make up the bride of Christ. This verse refers to more than concealment. It has to do with watchful care and protection. This word hidden in the original Hebrew is tsaphan. It computes as: “protected, covered over, secretly hidden”. It indicates those who are made inaccessible by the protection of God, those guarded and defended by the Lord. It is the Lord’s personal love for us that qualifies us to be His tsaphan. It is because we are dear to Him and considered precious to Him that He hides us from the assaults of the enemy. One time during a period of fasting and prayer, the Lord gave me an overview of a great fortification. Outside, the devil was viciously raging, ranting and roaring- threatening to destroy anyone that ventured out. The Lord reassured me that my life was hid with Christ in God and that He was my place of refuge. This word is a term of endearment. The NIV uses the word cherishes, the NASB says we are His treasured ones, the NKJV says we are the sheltered ones. To the Lord we are of value, to the enemy we are off limits.”
I really love this promise. I am cherished by the Lord, I am one of His treasured ones, and I am also one of His sheltered ones. This verse brings out the tenderness of the Lord and His affection for you. You can take this verse very personally. I am loved, cherished, treasured, and sheltered by the Lord.

HE LIVES IN THE STORM 

And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
Matthew 14:25
What a day it had been for the disciples. They had seen some incredible miracles. Blind people, deaf-mutes, paralyzed, lepers and those tormented by demons… all had been healed. The crowds were immense. Jesus had fed over 5000 people with just a little boy’s lunch. What a day! But now, all those miracles seemed like a distant memory. The disciples were rowing their boat across the sea, and Jesus was off praying on some mountain. It was dark, incredibly dark. The wind was blowing and waves were crashing over the bow. Their lives seemed to be in danger. The miracles of the day had become a distant memory. That warm afternoon sun, the joyful singing and the incredible teaching all seemed so long ago. The waves and wind had swallowed the joy of the afternoon, and now they looked like they were about to swallow the disciples themselves. Suddenly, the disciples saw something coming toward them on the water. Was it a ghost or some sort of demonic manifestation? Surely their lives were over. But then Peter recognized Jesus. Jesus was coming to them, walking on the water. Jesus was coming, cloaked in the turmoil of the storm. The Lord loves to hide Himself in the storms of our lives. Just when all seems lost, there He is. He knows that when we are at the bottom, our hearts can begin to open to Him like never before. Maybe you are in a great storm today. All seems lost. What else could possibly go wrong? If you will look out into the darkness of your storm, you may see Jesus coming your way.

Job was a man also familiar with storms. Storms of one sort or another had stolen everything

that was precious to him. Adding insult to injury he could see another storm approaching on the horizon but this one proved to be quite different. Out of this storm Job heard the voice of the Lord, he heard the Lord say something like, “Get on your feet and face me like a man”. Job was about to have a God encounter. The other storms had stolen his family and his property, this one a was about to give everything back. What was the difference, the Lord was walking in the midst of this storm. Maybe you feel like you have lost so much you have nothing left to lose, sounds like you are ready for a divine visitation.

UNDER HIS WINGS

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.
Matt.23:37
We live in a dangerous world. I’ll never forget the snorkeling trip we took on vacation several years ago. Our guide was telling us that we were going to try another place today because the normal place (where we were at the time) was a little rough. Just about that time I heard a commotion and looked into the water just in time to see a twelve foot tiger shark grab a giant sea turtle and head for the bottom. Yikes!!! Glad we picked another spot for today. Needless to say, snorkeling was ‘different’ that day. The truth is, the animal world is always dangerous. Creatures learn early to stay alert so not to become someone’s lunch. Luther talked about the Lord’s role in protecting us in his comments on today’s verse. We must have enough sense to run to Him for shelter.
“In this passage, Christ gives us a beautiful illustration of faith. In this picture, we see how we should act toward Christ. It shows us how he can help us, how we should make use of him and enjoy him. If we watch how a hen behaves with her chicks, then we will see Christ and ourselves depicted better than any artist can paint. Our souls are the chicks, and the devil and evil spirits are the hawks in the air. Except, we aren’t as clever as the chicks who flee under their mother hen. Also, demons are more skillful in attacking us than are the hawks in grabbing chicks. I previously taught how it isn’t enough to be devout, do good works, and live in grace. For not even our righteousness, let alone our unrighteousness, will endure before God’s eyes and his judgment. I have said that faith, if it is genuine faith, doesn’t rely on its own ability to believe but holds on to Christ and places itself under his righteousness. Just as chicks don’t rely on themselves and their own quickness but simply flee under the hen’s body and wings, so we must run to Christ and let him be our shield and protection.”
So don’t venture out too far today, stay close to the Lord. He is our refuge and shield to protect us from the predators looking for a quick lunch. Stay under His wings, He alone is our refuge.

CAVES OF REMEMBRANCE

MERRY MONDAY- BY PARRIS BAILEY
PSALM 57- “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: For my soul trusteth in thee: Yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, Until these calamities be overpast.”

I was not prepared for the storm that hit the Metro Area weeks ago. I was over at Marysong ministering to them, when I received a text to “take cover, because a tornado was near”. The girls were already on edge because of the high winds, sky turning green to a scary black. I was trying to set them at ease by lighting candles, praying and listening to worship music when the power went out. Then I got the text to “take cover” I knew things would deteriorate into full force fear. We all went into the hallway and begin to recite the Psalms. Most of the girls were holding up pretty good as the storm passed, but two of them were overcome with fear. I wondered how my grandchildren were making out at the school and daycare on our property. The students lined up in the bathrooms some singing and some crying. Our administrative staff helped holding babies and calming the little ones. Thank God the storm passed and all was safe! Power was out in the area for hours, later we heard the train cars in Elmwood blew off the high bridge and trees down all over. Amazing how quickly a storm can come and mess up your world!

David faced these kind of storms again and again when he was being chased by King Saul or  his own son taking over his throne. He learned to make the caves that sheltered him feathered with God’s wings! Instead of looking at the darkness and hopelessness  he saw that an almighty force was in control. Makes me wonder how many caves had inscriptions of David’s plights and when he came across them again, he would recall the past deliverance?

Expositor Bible says, “That faith is blessed, and cannot but be strong, which is nurtured by the remembrance of past acts of rewarded faith, as the leaves of bygone summers make rich mould for a new generation of flowers. So the singer betakes himself to his shelter till “destructions are gone by.” Possibly these are likened to a wild storm which sweeps across the land, but is not felt in the stillness of the cave fortress. Hidden in God, a man “heareth not the loud winds when they call,” and may solace himself in the midst of their roar by the thought that they will soon blow over. He will not cease to take refuge in God when the stress is past, nor throw off his cloak when the rain ceases; but he will nestle close while it lasts, and have as his reward the clear certainty of its transiency. The faith which clings to God after the tempest is no less close than that which screened itself in Him while it raged.”
“When you sigh

The wind becomes a sonnet

When you laugh

The storm around me ceases

You whisper

And all my enemies are scattered

You surround me

With angels on assignment” (Amanda Cook)

HIDING PLACE

PSA. 32:7  You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.

Years ago when Parris and I still lived in California we went to see a movie called ‘The Hiding Place’. It was a  powerful movie about the Nazi persecution of the Jewish people during WWII. It was also about a simple Christian family who chose to hide some of the Jewish people and the horrible price their love cost them. They had a hiding place in their home that was ultimately discovered. Not only were the people who were being hidden taken away, the entire family of Christians were also taken away. The movie was ultimately about our true Hiding Place, that place that is found by faith in the cleft of the Rock. David had a cave which was his hiding place from King Saul. It was in that cave that David found his true shelter. It was in the presence of the Lord that David hid himself. He had access into that place with his songs of deliverance. Here are some thoughts from Spurgeon on today’s verse.
“What a golden sentence! The man is encircled in song, surrounded by dancing mercies, all of them proclaiming the triumphs of grace. There is no breach in the circle, it completely rings him round; on all sides he hears music. Before him hope sounds the cymbals, and behind him gratitude beats the timbrel. Right and left, above and beneath, the air resounds with joy, and all this for the very man who, a few weeks ago, was roaring all the day long. How great a change! What wonders grace has done and still can do! Selah. There was a need of a pause, for love so amazing needs to be pondered, and joy so great demands quiet contemplation, since language fails to express it.”
Do you feel like you are encircled by your enemies? The world is dark and cold and the enemies are abundant.That same hatred that drove Saul to chase David and caused the Germans to execute millions of Jews is still active in the world today. It despises the Lord and His people and will stop at nothing to hinder God’s work. What shall I do ? I have no choice, I must dance and sing like David and run quickly to the place of refuge. The Hiding Place is calling out to you, there is protection and rest there from the enemies of your soul.

UNDER THE SHADOW

UNDER THE SHADOW

Psa. 91:9-10 ¶ Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge— no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your

This world can sometimes get to us. There are troubles on every side, and they can be quite intimidating. If sickness and tragedy surrounds you, it is easy to fall into a despondency thinking you might be next. That happens to the best of us. Young Charles Spurgeon was visiting a large number of church people who were dying from the plague. He became afraid until The Lord encouraged him in a strange way. Sitting in a shop window was today’s scripture verse The Lord used it to encourage him in The Lord. Here is some of that story in his own words.

“The effect upon my heart was immediate. Faith appropriated the passage as her own. I felt secure, refreshed, girt with immortality. I went on with my visitation of the dying in a calm and peaceful spirit; I felt no fear of evil, and I suffered no harm. The providence which moved the tradesman to place those verses in his window I gratefully acknowledge, and in the remembrance of its marvelous power I adore the Lord my God. The psalmist in these verses assures the man who dwells in God that he shall be secure. Though faith claims no merit of its own, yet the Lord rewards it wherever he sees it. He who makes God his refuge shall find him a refuge; he who dwells in God shall find his dwelling protected. We must make the Lord our habitation by choosing him for our trust and rest, and then we shall receive immunity from harm; no evil shall touch us personally, and no stroke of judgment shall assail our household. The dwelling here intended by the original was only a tent, yet the frail covering would prove to be a sufficient shelter from harm of all sorts. It matters little whether our abode be a gypsy’s hut or a monarch’s palace if the soul has made the Most High its habitation.”

God’s word is more powerful that we know. In an unexpected moment from an unexpected source The Lord met Charles Spurgeon that day. Rather than ministering to the dying in fear he was greatly encouraged in The Lord. Maybe you feel like evil has surrounded you on every side. In Christ, you have a place of refuge to hide in. What is that refuge? It is the shadow of the Almighty God. Finding that shadow can become the lifelong pleasure, your greatest quest in life. The amazing thing is that shadow is mobile; you can find it on a country road or in a downtown busy street. You may find it on the bus or in your secret place of prayer. Find that place. Under the shadow is a place of refuge in the greatest of all storms.

BLACK ICE

BLACK ICE

Deut. 32:35 To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.

We had a recent bout in Southeastern Louisiana with a very unfamiliar situation for us known as black ice. Southerners rarely deal with winter type weather and when it happens it can get quite ugly. I remember my first driving encounter with black ice. I was living in New Jersey and I was seventeen years old driving my father’s 1968 Dodge Charger. Need I say more? I hit the ice at the top of a hill and spun out into our neighbor’s front yard. Luckily, the only casualty was the neighbor’s mailbox.
In a similar way, all of mankind is living their life on a spiritual version of black ice. Everything looks okay, but at any moment he could slip into eternal destruction. The Lord has put us in slippery circumstances. Jonathan Edwards preached his famous sermon, Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God, from this passage about slippery places. Check this out.

“Their foot shall slide in due time,” seems to imply the following things, relating to the punishment and destruction that these wicked Israelites were exposed to.

1. That they were always exposed to destruction, as one that stands or walks in slippery places is always exposed to fall. This is implied in the manner of their destruction’s coming upon them, being represented by their foot’s sliding.

2. It implies that they were always exposed to sudden unexpected destruction. As he that walks in slippery places is every moment liable to fall; he can’t foresee one moment whether he shall stand or fall the next; and when he does fall, he falls at once, without warning.

3. Another thing implied is that they are liable to fall of themselves, without being thrown down by the hand of another. As he that stands or walks on slippery ground, needs nothing but his own weight to throw him down.

4. That the reason why they are not fallen already, and don’t fall now, is only that God’s appointed time is not come. For it is said, that when that due time, or appointed time comes, “their foot shall slide.” Then they shall be left to fall as they are inclined by their own weight. God won’t hold them up in these slippery places any longer, but will let them go; and then, at that very instant, they shall fall into destruction; as he that stands in such slippery declining ground on the edge of a pit that he can’t stand alone, when he is let go he immediately falls and is lost.”

Our only place of safety from this spiritual black ice is to be hidden away in Christ. He is our refuge and our only place of safety. Are you roaming the streets of life away from God? Come home today to your place of refuge found only in Christ.

ROCK OF AGES

ROCK OF AGES

Song 2:14 “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the secret places of the cliff,
Let me see your face,
Let me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet,
And your face is lovely.”

Some of the greatest hymns ever written came out of the revival in the 1700’s. One such song was written by Augustus Toplady. This song, like many others from this era carry something of God on them because they were composed out of an encounter with The Lord. This song, Rock of Ages is filled with great theology as well as the anointing of the Spirit. Check out the first verse of this song.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Save from wrath and make me pure.

In these few, short, powerful lines there are some powerful thoughts. It speaks of the wounds of Christ, about being hidden in Him, the power of the water and the blood, the double cure of salvation and healing, and deliverance from the wrath to come. Wow! Such a short verse, what powerful revelations. The second verse continues, loaded with God’s Word.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

This verse talks about the central theme of the gospel, salvation comes not by human works but by grace alone through faith alone. Only Christ offers salvation to the ungodly by grace. Verse three also is loaded with divine truth.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
The third verse talks about our helplessness in saving ourselves. We come to Him with empty hands, He saves us, washes us and clothes us. The final verse sums it all up, our life is not about this physical world.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eyes shall close in death,
When I rise to worlds unknown,
And behold Thee on Thy throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

Death and life is what this life is all about. Toplady tells us about being ready for our last breath. Are you ready for your last breath? It may be closer than any of us realize. Then he tells us about what heaven is really about. Its about the One Who is seated on the throne, He is what makes heaven, heaven. Toplady obviously had glimpsed the glory of the other side, that’s why his song is still being sung almost three hundred years later. As we run our race in this crazy world we can find comfort from the words of this song, “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee”. Hidden in Christ, that’s how we live our lives.