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Thanksgiving to God

A message summary of November 23, 2014 from Pastor Gus Brown:

The Lord tells us that unless we become like little children, we cannot enter the kingdom of God. (see Matthew 18:4; Romans 8:16)

When will you come to a place to sincerely say “thank you” for what you have, you will begin to see how God is working in your life.

To say “thank you” is a polite expression of gratitude for someone’s words or actions.

God’s will for your life is to give thanks in all circumstances.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in everything,

for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

 

Romans 14:5-7

5 One person considers one day to be above another day. Someone else considers every day to be the same. Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 Whoever observes the day, observes it for the honor of the Lord. Whoever eats, eats for the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; and whoever does not eat, it is for the Lord that he does not eat it, yet he thanks God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.

 

God is your ultimate provider in life. He is able to keep you.

What is it to dismiss the importance of a thankful heart?

  1. A haughty person. A person who has a great pride in himself.
  2. People who expect others to do things for them.
  3. Look to God to always be available without giving Him thanks or recognition.
  4. Lose the ability to show gratefulness to God for helping you throughout the day.
  5. Failure to appreciate God in your life.

 

Psalm 107:1-43

Thanksgiving for God’s Deliverance

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;

His faithful love endures forever.

2 Let the redeemed of the Lord proclaim

that He has redeemed them from the hand of the foe

3 and has gathered them from the lands—

from the east and the west,

from the north and the south.

4 Some wandered in the desolate wilderness,

finding no way to a city where they could live.

5 They were hungry and thirsty;

their spirits failed within them.

6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble;

He rescued them from their distress.

7 He led them by the right path

to go to a city where they could live.

8 Let them give thanks to the Lord

for His faithful love

and His wonderful works for all humanity.

9 For He has satisfied the thirsty

and filled the hungry with good things.

10 Others sat in darkness and gloom—

prisoners in cruel chains—

11 because they rebelled against God’s commands

and despised the counsel of the Most High.

12 He broke their spirits with hard labor;

they stumbled, and there was no one to help.

13 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble;

He saved them from their distress.

14 He brought them out of darkness and gloom

and broke their chains apart.

15 Let them give thanks to the Lord

for His faithful love

and His wonderful works for all humanity.

16 For He has broken down the bronze gates

and cut through the iron bars.

17 Fools suffered affliction

because of their rebellious ways and their sins.

18 They loathed all food

and came near the gates of death.

19 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble;

He saved them from their distress.

20 He sent His word and healed them;

He rescued them from the Pit.

21 Let them give thanks to the Lord

for His faithful love

and His wonderful works for all humanity.

22 Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving

and announce His works with shouts of joy.

23 Others went to sea in ships,

conducting trade on the vast waters.

24 They saw the Lord’s works,

His wonderful works in the deep.

25 He spoke and raised a tempest

that stirred up the waves of the sea.

26 Rising up to the sky, sinking down to the depths,

their courage melting away in anguish,

27 they reeled and staggered like drunken men,

and all their skill was useless.

28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,

and He brought them out of their distress.

29 He stilled the storm to a murmur,

and the waves of the sea were hushed.

30 They rejoiced when the waves grew quiet.

Then He guided them to the harbor they longed for.

31 Let them give thanks to the Lord

for His faithful love

and His wonderful works for all humanity.

32 Let them exalt Him in the assembly of the people

and praise Him in the council of the elders.

33 He turns rivers into desert,

springs of water into thirsty ground,

34 and fruitful land into salty wasteland,

because of the wickedness of its inhabitants.

35 He turns a desert into a pool of water,

dry land into springs of water.

36 He causes the hungry to settle there,

and they establish a city where they can live.

37 They sow fields and plant vineyards

that yield a fruitful harvest.

38 He blesses them, and they multiply greatly;

He does not let their livestock decrease.

39 When they are diminished and are humbled

by cruel oppression and sorrow,

40 He pours contempt on nobles

and makes them wander in a trackless wasteland.

41 But He lifts the needy out of their suffering

and makes their families multiply like flocks.

42 The upright see it and rejoice,

and all injustice shuts its mouth.

43 Let whoever is wise pay attention to these things

and consider the Lord’s acts of faithful love.

 

(from Psalm 107:1) Give thanks to the Lord…WHY?

He is good (to me).

His love endures forever (for me).

Romans 8:35

Who can separate us from the love of Christ?

Can affliction or anguish or persecution

or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

 

Who is it that God is looking for to give thanks?

(from Psalm 107:2) The redeemed of the Lord should say thanks for what God has done (and that’s not everyone). Let them declare, “my God is good!”

The redeemed refers to the next of kin (and as such to buy back a relative’s property).

redeemed – ga’al (gaw-al’)

This is how God sees His people who acknowledge Him as Lord. He is the avenger and deliverer that purchases, ransoms and redeems us.

He acts as our next of kin.

See the importance of saying thanks to the Lord:

(from Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, 31, 43) Whoever is wise, let him take heed in appreciation and consider Him. (Think it over and think it through.)

The upright see and rejoice (verse 42). The mouths of the wicked will remain closed. (They don’t know who to thank or express their own pridefulness.)

What does the one who is upright see that the wicked person does not see?

(from verses 4, 7) The redeemed can see the path as they move along. The ones who are not redeemed will wander from place to place without God’s presence.

(from verses 10, 13, 14) Some will see depression and will remain stuck in it (because of rebellion against Him), while those who are redeemed will seek God and he will deliver from affliction and captivity. He is the One who breaks the chains!

His goodness and love endures forever! It endures for you! That is something to be thankful for!

(from verses 17, 18, 20) Our own sin hinders and hampers us. There’s no one to blame but yourself. Thankfully, God will redeem anyone who declares Him to be worthy and whoever repents and turns to sin. He will deliver you into freedom and “He is faithful and just to forgive our sins.” (1 John 1:9)

Do you see God working in your life? Do you see God doing something in your life? If you do, it needs to be recognized with gratitude.

“…Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:20-21)

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Give God Thanks

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

To say “thank you” and have people regard you as a messenger of God is something that we need in the world today. We want people to declare that there is a God in this land and that we can say thank you for His presence.

Psalm 137:1-6
By the rivers of Babylon—
there we sat down and wept
when we remembered Zion.
2 There we hung up our lyres
on the poplar trees,
3 for our captors there asked us for songs,
and our tormentors, for rejoicing:
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”
4 How can we sing the Lord’s song
on foreign soil?
5 If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its skill.
6 May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not exalt Jerusalem as my greatest joy!

The songs that the people of Israel were called to sing by their captors were not considered to be songs that could be sung publicly, because they were considered to be sacred, but what the Jews did not realize was that those songs were an opportunity to witness and proclaim God’s holy name. Like the people of Israel at that time, who were on the banks of the river Babylon in captivity, it is the overwhelming circumstances of the world today that make you stop and weep. Yet, you need to remember and understand how God brings us out of the wilderness is what causes you to be thankful. You need to always remember the importance of God’s presence and not take Him for granted.

Deuteronomy 6:10-12
10 “When the Lord your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that He would give you—a land with large and beautiful cities that you did not build, 11 houses full of every good thing that you did not fill them with, wells dug that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant—and when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful not to forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.

Does this remind you of America today? A nation that was formed and raised up to be a witness of the world. God has called us to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ and be thankful for His presence–even if no one else sees a reason to do so. We are to be His witness to the world in the presence of he sin and evil of the world.

Psalm 9:17
The wicked will return to Sheol—
all the nations that forget God.

Psalm 50:22
“Understand this, you who forget God,
or I will tear you apart,
and there will be no one to rescue you.

The world needs to see us praising His name in spite of our troubles and difficulties. They need to know the power of the living God and see His light, and the hope of the world. We have a song of grace, mercy, love and redemption to sing. He showers each of us with his love, mercy, grace and redemption.

Psalm 105:1-5
God’s Faithfulness to His People

1 Give thanks to Yahweh, call on His name;
proclaim His deeds among the peoples.
2 Sing to Him, sing praise to Him;
tell about all His wonderful works!
3 Honor His holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek Yahweh rejoice.
4 Search for the Lord and for His strength;
seek His face always.
5 Remember the wonderful works He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments He has pronounced.

Psalm 106:1-2
1 Hallelujah!
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
His faithful love endures forever.
2 Who can declare the Lord’s mighty acts
or proclaim all the praise due Him?

In all things, search your heart and seek the One who is worthy of praise and give thanks. Who else can proclaim the works of God and His saving grace? Only God Himself and the ones He has redeemed.

Psalm 107:1-2
Thanksgiving for God’s Deliverance

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
His faithful love endures forever.
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord proclaim
that He has redeemed them from the hand of the foe.

Our love for God depends upon our obedience to Him. God wants to show Himself as mighty in your life. The psalmist says “God is good.” It does not matter what you have gone through or are going through.

No one else can tell your own story of how good God has been to you. God has given you life, and you should thank Him for it. Your here because of the grace of God.

We need to be a people that sees the world as if we are passing through. While we are passing through, leave the message as to how God forgives, provides grace, and that He is able.

Psalm 107:8, 19-21, 31-32
8 Let them give thanks to the Lord
for His faithful love
and His wonderful works for all humanity.

19 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble;
He saved them from their distress.
20 He sent His word and healed them;
He rescued them from the Pit.
21 Let them give thanks to the Lord
for His faithful love
and His wonderful works for all humanity.

31 Let them give thanks to the Lord
for His faithful love
and His wonderful works for all humanity.
32 Let them exalt Him in the assembly of the people
and praise Him in the council of the elders.

If The Lord is not on your side, who is on your side? If The Lord does not help you, who will? Be assured that The Lord will help you and be with you, because He never leaves us nor forsakes us. What has God delivered you from recently. He guides your steps. He cares for you. He gives you the reason to celebrate His presence and give Him thanks.

Always remember the goodness of God. Thank you, Lord, for who you are and for everything You have done!


The Wayward Child

As an adult with children, I always wanted the best for each of them as they grew up, and I often imagined how life would be for them once they became adults.  All loving parents want to see our children succeed in their education, and once they get older, their careers and even finding the perfect spouse.  Each of these are significant life milestones, and in all of them, it is our hope that our children look to the Lord in all of their life choices and decisions.  That is easily the most gratifying result that we want to see from our children…living a life that is holy and pleasing to God.

Proverbs 22:6

Teach a youth about the way he should go;

even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Unfortunately, the challenge that parents of a Christian household often face with their children is far from what they envisioned when they raised them with the instruction of what it is to follow Jesus Christ.  At one point, it appeared that a son or daughter was obedient and responsive to the instruction, but one day, something must have happened where the tide had turned.  The turn occurs because our children possess the very same thing that we possess…free will.  They have the ability to make choices, both good and bad ones, in the same way we do.   We remember how we came up over the years and the choices that we made, and we don’t want our children to make the same mistakes.  Our prayers have been, and will continue to be, that our children’s good choices will far outweigh the bad ones, and that the bad ones will not be as costly to them.  The proverb of teaching the child is true…the child doesn’t forget what they have learned.  It is not just your desire, but also God’s desire for the child to remember what was learned, to understand it, and to make the decision to completely live for Jesus Christ.

1 John 4:16

And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.

What a blessing it is when our child, who is obedient to the Lord, grows with this same philosophy as an adult!  When our child veers into a different direction–one that is contrary to living a Christlike existence, we are deeply affected because it leaves the parents with feelings of helplessness, and even regrets that perhaps something could have been done differently that would somehow have made the child behave differently.  The reality is that a child raised in a Christlike household may or may not follow that same teaching as an adult, and parents will beat themselves up with regret and blame that doesn’t change the behavior.  This message is about those children who keep parents up at night.  In moments like this, it is very important to remember God’s love and grace, and look at ways to manage our interaction with the wayward child.

First, before you interact with your child, you need to examine your own behavior.  You cannot effectively minister to other people, let alone your child, unless you are paying very close attention to your level of obedience to Jesus Christ.  You need to go through a self-examination of your life and your attitude.  This allows you to truly listen to what the Spirit is saying to you and be aware of the leanings of the Spirit.  It starts with the most important commandments as noted by Jesus Christ:

Matthew 22:34-40

34 When the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. 35 And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Him: 36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”

37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command.

39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

In order to love your wayward child (and you do love the child even though there are times when you are disappointed or angered by his or her behavior), you need to draw upon the basic principles of your faith in Jesus Christ–loving the Lord with all of your heart, soul and mind, and loving your neighbor as yourself.  Both of these commands of Jesus Christ have a profound effect upon your life and the consistency of your behavior.  Others, who observe your behavior, and especially your child will see your love for God.  What is the one thing that you do that can have an adverse effect on your child and how he or she responds to you?  It’s your inconsistent behavior.  As a prime example, you can’t address the sin of another person without addressing your own sin.

Matthew 7:1-5

1 “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. 2 For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3 Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? 5 Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Let’s look at the context of this verse when coupled with the second great commandment that Jesus mentions in Matthew 22:39 (Love your neighbor as yourself) with where He draws it from in Leviticus 19:

Leviticus 19:9-18

9 “When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap to the very edge of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 You must not strip your vineyard bare or gather its fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the foreign resident; I am Yahweh your God.

11 “You must not steal. You must not act deceptively or lie to one another. 12 You must not swear falsely by My name, profaning the name of your God; I am Yahweh.

13 “You must not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages due a hired hand must not remain with you until morning. 14 You must not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but you are to fear your God; I am Yahweh.

15 “You must not act unjustly when deciding a case. Do not be partial to the poor or give preference to the rich; judge your neighbor fairly. 16 You must not go about spreading slander among your people; you must not jeopardize your neighbor’s life; I am Yahweh.

17 “You must not harbor hatred against your brother. Rebuke your neighbor directly, and you will not incur guilt because of him. 18 Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am Yahweh.

This part of the message is very important when it comes to the nature of developing a loving and consistent interpersonal relationship with your child.  God’s love is always to be the foundation of your interaction with anyone, let alone your child.  You must remove any hint of hatred or animosity in your dealings with your wayward child, for it is when they see your love and concern it paves the way for your ability to minister to them in the truth of God’s Word when the Spirit provides the opportunity to do so.  Your sin and transgressions that God commanded the people of Israel not to do in Leviticus 19 can block your ministry to the child and show you as less credible in their eyes.

Hebrews 10:22

…let us draw near (to Jesus Christ) with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.

Another important point to consider here in this relationship is to take the focus off of yourself, which essentially means you need to give yourself a break.  What does this mean?

1.  Acknowledge that you did the best you could as a parent.  You weren’t perfect, but you presented the gospel message to your child, and they heard what was necessary for them to effectively discern right from wrong.  There’s no good energy spent in regret over the past or what might have been.

2.  Acknowledge that you can’t control their behavior.  The choices the child makes are on the child alone, and not you.

When you decide that you did everything you could as a parent and that you can’t do anything about your child’s behavior, it comes down to taking the humble approach and doing the most important thing that you can do for your child…prayer.  Your communication to God is the natural response when God communicates with you through His Word and through His Spirit.  Your prayers make a difficult situation bearable and put your faith and trust in God in action.  He hears your prayers in the midst of your affliction and provides, first and foremost, peace to your soul and rest for your body.

Psalm 31:7-8

7 I will rejoice and be glad in Your faithful love

because You have seen my affliction.

You have known the troubles of my life

8 and have not handed me over to the enemy.

You have set my feet in a spacious place.

Matthew 11:28-29

28 “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.

Isaiah 40:30-31

30 Youths may faint and grow weary,

and young men stumble and fall,

31 but those who trust in the Lord

will renew their strength;

they will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary;

they will walk and not faint.

James 1:5

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.

This endeavor is not a sprint…it is a marathon.  Your in it for the long haul because you want the best for your child, and you don’t know or when God is going to reach your child to change the behaviors and, eventually, the outcome.  This will always be part of God’s mysterious ways that He draws people near to Himself, but always remember that He loves your child more than you ever could, and He wants the very best for all of us.

Jeremiah 29:10-11

10 For this is what the Lord says: “When 70 years for Babylon are complete, I will attend to you and will confirm My promise concerning you to restore you to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

I deliberately included verse 10 here to show that even as God has plans for our hope in the future, we need to remember that our time and God’s timing can be much different.  In our prayers, we can certainly pray for change, but we must respect God’s timing in everything, including how He acts as a change agent for our wayward child.

An important aspect of your ministry to your wayward child is how you interact with your child.  No matter how you feel about what he or she is doing, you are to always show yourself to be open for the child to come home or to have social time.  You don’t condone their sin, and you establish ground rules as to behavior if the child is there for a period of time, but they should always see the love of Christ in you when they look at you.  Love the child in the midst of your disappointment.  This is admittedly tough to do, but with God’s help, you can do it, and you can shine for Christ while doing it.  You are to regard your child in the same way God sees you (1 Samuel 16:7b“Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.”).

Understandably, your ongoing prayers for help and guidance in maintaining the proper attitude will go a long way in this area.  Pray for the right words and the boldness to remain steadfast in righteousness.

Proverbs 16:7

When a man’s ways please the Lord,

He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

In the same way that you are looking for the right words to say, keep your communication open with your child.  Send emails and texts to keep in touch when you can (texts are brief, while emails will have more substance).  Take an interest in the things that interest them (as long as they are not contrary to living for Christ).  Have lunch or dinner with them, and keep the conversation as light as possible.  All of this is to build upon your relationship.  Even though this is your child, it is still an adult-adult communication that is taking place.  Keep your focus on the love of Christ throughout your communication, and keep the lines open, free and clear.

All of this effort is to keep the focus on the saving grace and love of Jesus Christ.

1 John 4:16

And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.

John 10:7-10

7 So Jesus said again, “I assure you: I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

In order for you to keep the door open for the child to enter the door for Christ, you have to provide the path for the child to pursue Him at the appointed time.  We have the blessed assurance that Jesus Christ will welcome your wayward child at a moment’s notice.  That day will indeed be a day of praise and thanksgiving.  Keep your child before the Lord and bathe the matter in prayer, but remember to seek Him with righteousness in everything that you do, and God will hear your appeals.

Psalm 34:17-18

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,

and delivers them from all their troubles.

18 The Lord is near the brokenhearted;

He saves those crushed in spirit.

Proverbs 15:29-30

29 The Lord is far from the wicked,

but He hears the prayer of the righteous.

30 Bright eyes cheer the heart;

good news strengthens the bones.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


A Study of Psalm 91

The following is the text of a sermon presented by Melvin Gaines at Akron Alliance Fellowship Church on August 5, 2007:

I was leaving work Friday evening and had just finished walking to my car when a gentleman who was dressed in slightly dirty clothing approached me. He was headed for a shelter up the street to take a shower and he asked for some money to get himself a meal for the evening. I told him that I was sorry but I could only spare two dollars, but that was enough to get himself a couple of burgers on the dollar menu at McDonald’s.  He said thank you, and he went on to explain his present circumstances.  He said that he was here looking for work and that he had been through a great deal of difficulty over the last few days.  He had no money and was looking for his wife who was somewhere in the area, but they lost track of each other and she was missing. She had just gotten out of prison within the last week or so, and she had tried to steal some wine from a grocery store in East Cleveland, and she also deliberately tried to get arrested right in front of some police by violating an open container law.  The gentleman went on to say that he was starting to smell and needed to get a shower, thanked me for my generosity, and then he continued on to speak with more information about his own circumstances. He said that he has run into a lot of people here that have called him all kinds of names and treated him poorly. He said he was called a crack head and a dope addict, but he seemed to not mind very much about this because he felt as though he still had protection from the Lord.  He said this because he had a verse he was claiming in the midst of all of his troubles and difficulties, and that verse was Psalm 91. He then finished up stating again that he had to go because he really needed a shower.  I told him that he would be in good hands if he remains focused on Jesus.  He said thanks again, and I asked him if he had a bible.  He said that his wife had it with her in her purse.  I gave him a bible and told him to take it so that he could once again focus on the Word and Psalm 91.  He had a wonderful smile of gratitude on his face as he left and expressed joy in the midst of sadness.

I do not know the gentleman’s name, and I doubt that we will ever cross paths again, but he mentioned Psalm 91 as being the verse that he was clinging to at this time in the midst of his difficulty.  He was very clear in his communication to me that he was going through an extreme difficulty, and yet he still managed to smile.  How can a person manage to smile when there is nothing but bad news and trouble all around?  The gentleman had problems that he spoke openly about…his wife was missing…and may have even created problems on his own, but when all was said and done, he seemed to understand that life was not centered around his own circumstances, but on the One that was greater than himself, his enemies, and his problems.

Let’s examine Psalm 91 in greater detail, and we can learn some truths that relate to where faith really matters.  We will look specifically at verses 1 and 2, and then later examine His promises to those that show true faith in Him.

Psalm 91:1-2      

The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

This psalm begins with a statement of who God is.  He is the God who is all-powerful and is our protection, that is, if we choose to live under His care and protection.  What is protection?  It is a covering.  It is shelter.  An umbrella has great symbolism in demonstrating this truth.  We know what an umbrella can do, but in order for it to be effective, we have to open it, and not just open it, but stand under it or walk beneath it for protection from the rain or the hot sun.  It requires a simple act of opening it and then holding it over our heads.  In the same way, God is our protection, but we have to do a very simple thing in order to realize His protection…we have to make a decision to come under it.  We have to submit to Him and to His will.  In order to be protected by Him, we have to see the need for His protection and then take refuge in it.  Look at Isaiah 25:4-5 to describe how God is like the ultimate umbrella of protection:

Isaiah 25:4-5

For You have been a stronghold for the poor, a stronghold for the humble person in his distress, a refuge from the rain, a shade from the heat. When the breath of the violent is like rain against a wall, like heat in a dry land, You subdue the uproar of barbarians.  As the shade of a cloud cools the heat of the day, so He stills the song of the violent.

Going back to Psalm 91, verse 2, the key word used to connect the protection of God is the word “trust”.

The word trust is an action word that requires movement…taking a position.  It is a word that is claimed when making a decision as an act of faith.  This has everything to do with putting on the full armor of God that we have studied in Ephesians 6:10-19.  When we put on the full armor of God, we are relying upon His strength, His energy, and His protection to withstand the enemy, the Devil.  We have faith that His protection is sufficient for us, and when we realize His covering, we rejoice in it.  We are able to, as stated in verse 1, “rest in the shadow of the Almighty”.  When you are running for cover when you are trying to get out of a hard rain, what is the feeling that you experience once you reach shelter?  You feel a sense of relief, of course.  We can rejoice when we feel rest in His shadow and relief in His covering.

To rejoice is a mindset of faith.  The joy in your life is the distinction that others see when you are in the midst of God’s covering and protection.  This is not about how God blesses you or shows you favor, for the one that is going through a hard time yet still able to find rest in Jesus is experiencing anything but favorable circumstances.  To rejoice is indeed a choice, but it is a choice that is made with the conclusion that God is greater than any and all of our circumstances.  Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22         

Rejoice always!

Pray constantly.

Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Don’t stifle the Spirit.

Don’t despise prophecies, but test all things.

Hold on to what is good.

Stay away from every form of evil.

These verses are some of the easiest that you could ever begin to memorize, and yet carrying out the action of these verses is very difficult for a person who cannot get beyond their circumstances.  You will not be able to rejoice or pray if you are not looking to the Lord for comfort.  The greatest obstacle to putting on the full armor of God and coming under His protection is to in some way, shape or form have total focus on yourself.  Self-focus is the greatest hindrance, and Satan’s greatest ally, to following Christ and to remain in the faith.  You will not accomplish the message of these verses without faith in Jesus, who is our rest, refuge and protection beyond our circumstances.

In Psalm 91 there is an important “if-then” statement that is better than a guarantee because the Lord is faithful in His promises.  The first statement is about faith in the Lord as a refuge and what He does for us in return:

Psalm 91:9-12    

Because you have made the LORD—my refuge, the Most High—your dwelling place, no harm will come to you; no plague will come near your tent.

For He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways.  They will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.  You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the young lion and the serpent.

Do you believe in angels?  Angels are real.  Angels are God’s servants that are moved and dispatched about the earth to assist in your covering and protection.  The angels are God’s agents of protection for you.  They are there to assist you because you take the step to have faith that the Lord does indeed protect you.  We need His protection because Satan knows these very words in Psalm 91:12 and tried to use them in the tempting of Jesus (see Luke 4:9-12).

What does this mean as far as our act of faith in the Lord?  My interpretation of this is that if Satan himself is quoting Scripture, doesn’t it make sense that we are as prepared as we can be with the knowledge of God’s Word?  What is one of the components of having the full armor of God?  Look at Ephesians 6:17 (Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s Word).  Ephesians 6:10-11 is what I call a battle cry, which begins with encouragement in its statement that the Lord is strong, much the same way that Psalm 91:1 declares His strength.  Verse 11, however, implores us to put on His armor to withstand the tactics of Satan.  How did Jesus respond to Satan’s temptation?  With Scripture, of course!  How are we to defeat Satan?  With God’s protection fortified by Scripture.  In order to have Scripture as a resource, you have to take the time to read and study God’s Word!  Don’t expect to be consistent and successful in your practice of faith if you remain anemic and weak in your knowledge of God’s Word!

Psalm 91:14-16 summarizes the faithful believer’s reward for following Jesus Christ and trusting in His protection:

Psalm 91:14-16

Because he is lovingly devoted to Me, I will deliver him; I will exalt him because he knows My name.  When he calls out to Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble.  I will rescue him and give him honor.  I will satisfy him with a long life and show him My salvation.

God promises that our trust and faith in His protection goes beyond our circumstances and that He will remain with us through our difficulties.  His promise of salvation is referenced by Peter in Acts 4:12, where he states “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.”  Peter referred to Jesus Christ, which is the Cornerstone of our faith.  The cornerstone of a building has an important function in that it is strong and provides support for the structure.  The structure of our faith remains strong when we rely upon Jesus.  Our strength in overcoming adversity is our trust and faith in Jesus.

Jesus keeps all of His promises, but we will never reach our fullest potential when we are inconsistent in our faith.  How much more can we do in our own attitudes about our expression of Christ in our lives when we look at someone like the gentleman who had two dollars and a Bible, and yet he could still smile in the midst of his tears?  It is not about how much we have, but it is about much we can have with Jesus in our lives.  He is our refuge, our strength, our protection, and our salvation.

Thank you, Jesus.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.


Thank You, Lord, For Saving Me

Psalm 73 and Hebrews 2:1-3
Do you understand that you are truly saved by grace? Throughout your early years, it was God, through His love, that kept you and preserved you until you recognized the need to follow Christ. He loved you before you could begin to love Him.

We are to see the importance of recognizing the gift of salvation and its truth.

Hebrews 2:1-3
1 We must therefore pay even more attention to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away. 2 For if the message spoken through angels was legally binding, and every transgression and disobedience received a just punishment, 3 how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was first spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.

What causes one to lose attentiveness to God and His Word? What are the distractions? Sin is a powerful but destructive measure that puts the focus on personal pleasure and satisfaction. It is the distraction that keeps one from recognizing the need for a Savior. God loves each and every one of us. The purpose of salvation is to “save” the person who is condemned because of sin. Sin is what separates a person from having a fulfilling relationship with God. Jesus Christ’s death on the cross takes the place of our sin that condemns us.

The distractions that keep us from God are many, including the appearance that others are succeeding in their wickedness.

Psalm 73:1-28
A psalm of Asaph.

1 God is indeed good to Israel,
to the pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet almost slipped;
my steps nearly went astray.

3 For I envied the arrogant;
I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

4 They have an easy time until they die,
and their bodies are well-fed.

5 They are not in trouble like others;
they are not afflicted like most people.

6 Therefore, pride is their necklace,
and violence covers them like a garment.

7 Their eyes bulge out from fatness;
the imaginations of their hearts run wild.

8 They mock, and they speak maliciously;
they arrogantly threaten oppression.

9 They set their mouths against heaven,
and their tongues strut across the earth.

10 Therefore His people turn to them
and drink in their overflowing waters.

11 They say, “How can God know?
Does the Most High know everything?”

12 Look at them—the wicked!
They are always at ease,
and they increase their wealth.

13 Did I purify my heart
and wash my hands in innocence for nothing?

14 For I am afflicted all day long,
and punished every morning.

15 If I had decided to say these things [aloud],
I would have betrayed Your people.

16 When I tried to understand all this,
it seemed hopeless

17 until I entered God’s sanctuary.
Then I understood their destiny.

18 Indeed You put them in slippery places;
You make them fall into ruin.

19 How suddenly they become a desolation!
They come to an end, swept away by terrors.

20 Like one waking from a dream,
Lord, when arising, You will despise their image.

21 When I became embittered
and my innermost being was wounded,

22 I was a fool and didn’t understand;
I was an unthinking animal toward You.

23 Yet I am always with You;
You hold my right hand.

24 You guide me with Your counsel,
and afterwards You will take me up in glory.

25 Whom do I have in heaven but You?
And I desire nothing on earth but You.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart,
my portion forever.

27 Those far from You will certainly perish;
You destroy all who are unfaithful to You.

28 But as for me, God’s presence is my good.
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
so I can tell about all You do.

If you fail to understand God’s working in your life, you will ultimately drift away from Him. To understand God’s will and how He is operating in your life, you must study His Word and learn more about Him every day. We should not be deceived by the appearance of those who believe that they are prospering in their sin. In reality, their prosperity is short-lived…in fact, they are miserable.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you” —[this is] the LORD’s declaration—”plans for [your] welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

For the person who follows the Lord Jesus Christ, God has a plan for you. For the person who does not follow the Lord, there is no plan for them other than their destruction.

There is no escape from sin and its destruction without God. Remember the gospel and what God commands for each and every believer.

Romans 1:16-17
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. 17 For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.

If you give heed to the gospel and follow Jesus Christ in obedience, you escape the pain of sin and its consequences. Don’t allow the wicked to affect your heart and the way God has called you to live.

Psalm 73:21-23
21 When I became embittered
and my innermost being was wounded,

22 I was a fool and didn’t understand;
I was an unthinking animal toward You.

23 Yet I am always with You;
You hold my right hand.

Psalm 23:1-6
1 The LORD is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
2 He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.

3 He renews my life;
He leads me along the right paths
for His name’s sake.

4 Even when I go through the darkest valley,
I fear [no] danger,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

6 Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
as long as I live.

Everything that we receive comes from God. What we have is because of who we are in Jesus Christ.

Psalm 32:8
I will instruct you and show you the way to go;
with My eye on you, I will give counsel.

God is always with the believer, no matter how things appear to be. When you reflect on the goodness of God and all that He has done, you cannot help but be thankful for His preserving and protecting you.

John 10:28-29
28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

When we remind ourselves of what God has promised for us, we can remained focused on His gift of eternal life for all of us who trust in Jesus Christ as his or her personal Savior.

John 3:16-17
16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.