We Are Surrounded

“But you LORD are a shield surrounding me, my glory,

and the One who lifts up my head.”

Psalm 3:3

 

As I read Psalm 3 this morning, the word that caught my attention was ‘shield’. What is a shield anyway? In Ephesians 6 we read about the armor of God which includes the shield of faith. That shield is one that we lift up for protection from the enemy rather than dragging it behind.

But Psalm 3:3 tells us that we are surrounded by a shield. That shield is God Himself. It is not one we have to lift up. It just simply is a fact. The shield is for protection and defense. This verse tells us that God is our protection and defense.

We need to know that today. We need to trust this today. God has entrusted us with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and will protect that within us. It is permanent and eternal.

But because of the decay of society by sin, there are times when we question God. We question our faith and become ensnared by the horrible things going on around us. When that happens, we don’t look like Christians. Our witness is damaged by our actions and words.

When we feel surrounded by evil and fear for our safety, we need to remember that God is everywhere present. He is our shield of protection, not just in front of us, but all around us. We are surrounded by Him! If I back away from a difficulty, He is there. If I move forward to face the circumstance, He is there. If I turn to the left or right, I will hear His voice saying, ‘this is the way – walk in it. He is there guiding, protecting, defending and speaking.

With the world in turmoil, with death and destruction taking place to terrorize us, it is hard to see God’s shield of protection sometimes. But we need to trust that it is there. We need to protect the cause of Christ by speaking and acting like Christians in spite of what social media tells us. Respond in love asking ‘what would Jesus say’. We must check the facts before speaking so we are speaking truth that benefits rather than assumed truth that harms. As believers in Christ, we simply cannot continue beating each other up with our words. Rather, we should trust the one who surrounds us to guard and protect our hearts in Christ Jesus.

When King David penned this Psalm, it was at a time when his own son was trying to kill him and take over the throne. But when others said of him, ‘there is no help for him from God’, David claimed the Lord as the shield of protection surrounding him. He claimed God as his shield and the One who lifted his head when despair and discouragement threatened to overpower him.

I believe this is a lesson we can all learn from. God will not allow us to linger in despair, but instead will lift our heads to press on knowing He is all around us to guide and protect. As we trust Him, He gives peace. It may not be what we perceive peace to be, but will be peace as God intends.

From Designing to Defending Women

Designing  Defending Women

Recently I saw a video clip from an old television show called “Designing Women”. In the clip, one of the Sugarbaker sisters, Julia, was defending her younger sister, Suzanne from a fellow beauty contestant. In looking back to this clip, I noticed several interesting things.

First, through the entire tirade, there was not any foul language. She got her point across without resorting to crudity. In addition, her delivery of defense was confident. It was passionate. It was sustaining.

This clip reminded me of my own sister through the years in her defense of who I am. She would not allow anyone to be critical of me in a way that was hurtful and destructive. If I shared my hurts with her, she carried them as if they were her own.

I thought of that this morning as I read Psalm 55:22. “Cast your burden on the LORD. And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” NKJV

This verse is telling us to throw down or, throw away those thoughts, difficult relationships or circumstances that have become so heavy on our heart and mind that we are paralyzed from moving forward in what God has for us. But, the Psalmist completes this phrase by telling where to throw those heavy burdens. We are to throw them on the Lord. Why? Because He will sustain you. That means He will hold you up when you are weak and weary. He will nourish your dry spirit and take upon Himself all you have thrown His way.

Why would the Lord do such a thing? Because He does not want us to be weakened in our faith or to fall into despair. “He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” The promise for you and me as believers is security. No matter what struggles we are dealing with, God will not give permission for our faith to be overthrown, dislodged or carried away. He is there to defend us and to catch us when we begin to waver and fall.

In those moments when you feel like giving up because things are hard, you will read something, see something or hear something that will draw you back to lean on the Lord. Those are His reminders to you that He is with you always. He will not allow you to be moved from your position of relationship with Him. You are secure in His loving arms. He is your defense and will always defend your cause according to His will. He is passionate about you. He is confident in you as His child, and He will sustain you by His power that you may endure whatever hurts and pain come your way.

And then finally, what if we as believers were as quick to jump to the defense of our sisters in Christ who are facing criticism and mockery as the Lord in His defense of us? As we sit in our church pews, we are surrounded by those who have like minds. But when we go into our communities, we are surrounded more and more by those whose words and thoughts are in stark contrast. Mockery and criticism abound in the secular world. We must take up our cause for Christ in a way that defends the rights of our brothers and sisters in the faith. We must do it with passion, confidence and in a way that lifts up one another to fight the good fight of faith.  

Can I Be Worry-Free? (Part 1)

Reference Text: Matthew 6:24-33

As women, we worry about our bodies. We’re too tall, too short, too big, too small, too old, too young; or our health, obsessed with our weight, diet, exercise, and so on and so on. What is at the root of all that worry? It is what we look like to others. What others think about us.

Yes, we need to be concerned about our bodies for the sake of our health. But to be obsessed with our body for our looks is to put undue anxiety and worry into our minds that distract our focus away from what the real concern is for our bodies. And that is to understand that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit of God who is in us, and are therefore to be treated as such. It is not how we look on the outside that is most important. It is what we look like on the inside that matters to God. Jesus said “do not worry about your body”. Don’t become fixated on the constant physical improvements to your body. But be concerned with healthy choices for the body that replenish and refresh the spirit.

Paul said in Romans 12:1 that we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – “this is your spiritual act of worship”. Wow! How did I not catch this before? We are to bring our bodies before the Lord, giving ourselves to Him saying something like, “Lord, I am giving my all to you.” To truly worship God is to say “I am yours” “My body is yours to do with as you will” I surrender all…

Jesus said “do not worry about what you will wear”. Let me just stop right there for a moment. Really! Who didn’t stand in the closet this morning and worry about what to wear today. Ok, maybe worry is a little strong. Who didn’t have to make a choice this morning about what to wear? That is a constructive concern. It moved you to make a decision. But sometimes, we can take that a little too far and the choice becomes a concern that grows into anxiety that causes panic that steals our joy. Jesus said “Your life is more important than food, the body and clothes.”

These things; money, food, physical body and clothing are temporal, they are not eternal; but life in Christ is eternal. Our life is most important, therefore we are to be concerned with our spiritual life in a way that prepares us for our eternal future rather than be so caught up on the things of this world that they weigh us down and steal the joy God intends us to experience while on this earth. If we are dwelling on a problem to the point that we are all stirred up with negative emotions all the time, that is worry and it is counterproductive to the life God wants us to live. Jesus said that you are not going to add one single hour to your life by worrying.

Please don’t misunderstand that what Jesus is saying is don’t exercise, diet or that clothing can’t be pretty. What He is saying is don’t worry about these things.

But if we are thinking about a situation in a way that moves us forward toward a solution, that is care and concern and it is productive. It is preparing, not panicking. The promise we have from Christ about all these things is that God has dressed the lilies of the field and fed the birds of the air but He cares much more for you than these. And furthermore, He knows you need food and clothing. He knows your needs! Just as He provided for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, He will surely provide for you. The life you have in Him is more important than any of these temporal things.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink,

or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food,

and the body more important than clothes?” Matthew 6:25 NIV

Does Wishing Make It So?

If you have ever shopped online at amazon.com or any other online shopping store, you’ve probably seen a space called the WISH List in addition to the shopping cart. The wish list is where you place the items you wish you had but for whatever reason, you are not getting today.

What is a wish? The dictionary tells us it is “a hope or desire for something”. You can wish for things present as well as in the past. I don’t know about you, but wishing for something to be so does not make it come to pass for me. And you can wish all day long, but anything you wish about the past will never be so. Wishing for something in the past is simply not realistic. We can’t change the past. But we can learn from it for today and the future.

There was a rhyme we recited as children when we saw the first star at night. It went something like this:

WishStar light, star bright,
The first star I see tonight;
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight

Obviously wishing upon a star will not make it so either. So let me ask you a question. What do you wish for? The good news is, there is a wish list you can have today.

1. WISDOM. What is wisdom? Vines Dictionary of New Testament words defines it as, “understanding, prudence, and right use of the mind.” If we think about wisdom in action as being the right use of the mind, it changes the way we think and speak. It can also change the way we ask God for wisdom. “Father, provide the thoughts for me today to use my mind in the right way for your purposes.” Make a note of this promise from God in James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given.” God will give you all the wisdom you can handle and He will give it when you ask.

2. IDENTITY – We live in a modern culture where identity is often questioned and skewed. But Ephesians 2:10 is clear in telling us that we are God’s workmanship. That means we are works of art and a masterpiece to God. The next phrase says, “Created in Christ Jesus.” This is your identity. If you are a believer in Jesus, you are identified with Him as His creation. It is by faith this occurs as God pours His grace on you through Christ.

3. Security – This is a big one in your wish list I am sure. We all want to feel secure don’t we? We want to know that we are loved by our husband and family. We want to know that the bills can be paid, we want to know there is hope for the future; in fact, we want to know what the future holds for us and our family, and that the future is secure. The root of insecurity is fear. There were two verses God used to teach me not to fear but to trust Him. The first is Matthew 6:33 “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” What things? The prior verses list food, drink and clothing. God gives reassurance that those things will be provided as we seek Him and live in a right relationship with Him. And then verse 34 sums it up by talking about the future. It says, don’t worry about tomorrow. Do what needs to be done today and trust God for tomorrow to give you the courage to face whatever the future holds. The second verse that made a difference in my life and helped me to overcome fear is 2 Timothy 1:7. “God did not give us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and a sound mind.” (self-control) If fear is not from God, what can you learn from this? Your future is secure with Him. You do not need to fear for the future, God is already there.

4. HOPE – And the last thing on our wish list that we can have today is HOPE. In proverbs 24:13-14, it tells us that wisdom is like honey to our soul. It is like something sweet and nourishing to us. Then it goes on to tell us that, “if you find it, then there will be a future and your hope will not be cut off.” That means destroyed.

Hope is the confident expectation of something good. But when we are not applying wisdom to our thinking, that hope can be destroyed. How? By believing lies about God, about ourselves, about our circumstances. These lies cause doubt and questions that weaken our faith and trust in God. And so begins a downward spiral of fear and despair. When we find ourselves in that condition, it is important to capture those negative thoughts by taking them to Christ in prayer. Lay the discouragement at His feet and trust Him to lift us up once again in hope. Ask Him to take control of our thoughts and fill us with His wisdom. Because the wisdom of God is sweetness to your soul, and you can follow it to a secure future.

Wisdom, Identity, Security, Hope – the wish list you can have today as you seek the Lord and trust Him for your future.

To grow your faith through Bible Study, click here.