Take Refuge in God, and Exalt Him Among the Nations

Before you read this blog go read Psalm 46 then come back. Psalm 46 is a beautiful Psalm describing the gracious protection of God as our refuge and strength. This Psalm teaches us that God is a rod of stability in an unstable world. In the time of ancient Israel, there was great political instabilitiy. At any moment a nation could rise and conquor the known world. Their was great unrest and the people lived in great fear of unsuspected attack from a pagan empire.

In the midst of this, the Psalmist writes that God is a refuge for those who are suffering. He is a refuge in times of hardship. As a result, we do not fear (v. 2). Why? Because God reigns supreme over all the nations. Even in the midst of political turmoil and constant war. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter. God utters his voice, the earth melts (v. 6). God is our protection. He rules over the nations. He is not threatned by them.

However the really amazing thing is what happens starting in v. 8. The Psalmist gives an invitation to the quarreling nations to come and behold the works of the Lord. Through a first read of the Psalm you might wonder, why in the world would this Psalm turn into an invitation to the nations? What does this have to do with God as a refuge? Never the less, God invites the nations to, "Be still, and know that I am God".

You see, this section reveals to us one of God's purpose for hardship and tumoil. Our trusting in God in the midst of suffering serves as a visible invitation to a lost and dying world. As we trust God as our refuge, we invite the quarreling world to come take refuge in God as well. We invite them to exalt in God. Trusting God in suffering serves as a visible evangelistic call to the world. We invite them to behold the works of the Lord. We tell them that God will make the wars cease. We tell them that God can be their refuge as well.

You see, God "will be exalted among the nations" (v. 10). God wants to fill this whole world with his worshipers. He proclaims that His glory will be spread across the earth to every tribe, tongue, and nation! You see God isn't our refuge so we can escape from the world, but so that we can invite the world to take refuge in Him too.

As we trust God as our gracious protection and fortification, we invite others to find protection in the arms of God. The Lord of Hosts is with us. His name is Immanuel. His name is Jesus. In his arms we rest, and under his gracious protection we invite the nations to join us in his loving embrace.

Run to Jesus

Hebrews 4:14-16 is a passage that never ceases to be an encouragement to me.  Here is what it says:

"Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
This is a beautiful reminder that God is for me, and that in the midst of my ever present weakness, Christ identifies with me.  He is sympathetic of my shortcommings.  Jesus has faced temptation as I have faced temptation.  He knows what its like to be human and to experience incredible suffering.  The beauty of this passage is that it reminds me that in my troubles I can run to God not away from God.
I'm sure you can relate, but when sufferings come my sinful impulse to be self sufficient. I come up with a strategy to get myself out of this mess.  I put in place a 5-step plan to suffer no more.  If it is with tempation, I come up with a rigerous accountability system to help stifle any possibility of sin.  Often times I isolate myself and try to take care of my problems with my own strength.  However this is so contrary to the truth of the Gospel!
Jesus, as my high priest, means that I can run to him, not away from him.  This means that I can approach his throne and find grace and mercy in my time of need (which is literally every second).  The Gospel means I trust in Christ's strength, not my own.  Everyday, I have to remind myself of this truth and take a spoonfull of Gospel before I head out the door. The root of self-sufficiency is pride, and the Gospel is a medicine that quelches the egotism of my sinful heart.
In you suffering and in your sin run to Jesus.  He is the Kingly High Priest and he loves you and cares for you.  Therefore, boldly approach him with confidence and you too shall receive mercy and grace to help you in your time of need.

Take Comfort in God’s Power

The world we live in is a treacherous one. Tragedy will strike.  A loved one will get diagnosed with cancer, a friend dies unexpectedly in a car accident, or we find our selves laid off without any way to pay the bills.  So often events like these cause us wonder if God was sleeping when all these terrible events were happening.  How could God have let this happen? Is he really all powerful and all knowing?  These questions can rise up all too often in our minds.  As always, we can find answers in God’s word. In Isaiah 14, God begins to announce his oracles against the foreign nations who were enemies of Israel.  The next few chapters following chapter 14 of Isaiah are harsh judgements against these pagan nations for their treacherous idolatry and sin. However, in Isaiah 14:26-27 Isaiah makes a powerful statement about the sovereignty and power of God, even over the great nations of the earth.  Here is what he says:

 This is the purpose that is purposed concerning the whole earth, and this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations.  For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?

So often we forget that the God of the Bible is all powerful and all controlling over the history of the world. You see, God isn't caught off guard by anything that happens in your life. He isn't distracted or taking a cat nap when calamity strikes. Our God is a sovereign king and moving all things into motion according to his plan and purpose. Our God has the power to crush nations by the sheer force of his will. He knows all and controls all that happens in this world. God is not surprised by your circumstances, but rather he purposes them for your good and His glory (Rom 8:28).

Therefore, as we live our lives, let us rest in the complete sovereignty of God. When we are dealt a hand of suffering, let us rejoice because we know that "the testing of your faith produces steadfastness" (James 1:3). When we are out sharing the Gospel to friend we know that we are responsible to share it, but God is the one who saves a man's soul. When we are concerned about the state of national affairs, let us rest in the comfort of God's sovereignty to which nations are but mere drops in a bucket (Is 40:15).

Although suffering is not easy to endure, and the divine purpose of events are sometimes concealed from us, and take rest and comfort in the goodness and power of God's almighty will.