Beware the Stolen and Secret

“Wisdom has built her house;
    she has hewn her seven pillars.
She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine;
    she has also set her table.
She has sent out her young women to call
    from the highest places in the town,
‘Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!’
    To him who lacks sense she says,
‘Come, eat of my bread
    and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Leave your simple ways, and live,
    and walk in the way of insight…’

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
For by me your days will be multiplied,
    and years will be added to your life…

The woman Folly is loud;
    she is seductive and knows nothing.
She sits at the door of her house;
    she takes a seat on the highest places of the town,
calling to those who pass by,
    who are going straight on their way,
‘Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!’
    And to him who lacks sense she says,
‘Stolen water is sweet,
    and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.’
But he does not know that the dead are there,
    that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.” Proverbs 9:1-6,10-11,13-18

Because the devil parades as an angel of light, it takes God-given discernment to recognize his wiles and distinguish his voice. Folly mimics Wisdom in strategy and language, and each has her superficial allure to the simple and needy. Only the trained heart and careful ear hear the subtle differences in their motives and promises. (2 Corinthians 11:13-14)

It is Folly who targets the simple, preying on their vulnerability in attempt to seize on their lack of foresight. She promises a sweetness in her shade, her undercover seduction, knowing that sin tempts with its temporal pleasures, and disguises, or hides altogether, its biting consequences. Every ‘hit’ with temporary physical satisfaction awakens desire for the next, and more, so the stolen and secret become an entangling, destructive habit. Those without the Holy Spirit are easily tricked by Folly. (1 Corinthians 2:14; Hebrews 11:25)

Wisdom also recognizes those who are short-sighted and lacking sense. She, however, sets an inviting table with uprightness, order, precision, and delectability. She appeals to the simple to leave their limited vision and foolish ways behind to come to her feast. By her nature, she doesn’t settle for mediocrity and a life of simmering in the stew in sin. She elevates desire, delivers insight, calls the simple out from complacency to grow and develop as God’s children.

So what about us? Do we settle for stolen advantages and secret ways that get us nowhere good? Or do we want to think biblically, to understand God’s truth and recognize spiritual error? This presents a life-long determination as well as a daily mindset, and our will sets our direction and commitment. If we would yield to the Holy Spirit and resolve to examine God’s word, He will hone our ability to distinguish folly from wisdom as we go along our way. (Deuteronomy 4:6; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 5:13-14)

Gracious and worthy Father, spur me on to maturity in my will and thinking. Teach me to discern Your best, and grant me courage to choose it always over the foolishness of the world.

Length of Days: Sought and Savored

“O Lord, in your strength the king rejoices,
    and in your salvation how greatly he exults!
You have given him his heart’s desire
    and have not withheld the request of his lips. 
For you meet him with rich blessings;
    you set a crown of fine gold upon his head.
He asked life of you; you gave it to him,
    length of days forever and ever.
His glory is great through your salvation;
    splendor and majesty you bestow on him.
For you make him most blessed forever;
    you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
For the king trusts in the Lord,
    and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.” Psalm 21:1-7

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.” Psalm 23:6

There is much David could have reasonably asked from the Lord. Anointed as a boy, then hatefully pursued for years by the one he would replace, David might have understandably requested vengeance, special favors, or fame. But those years of waiting to become Israel’s king brought about deeper and higher desires that transcended most human thinking. David learned that satisfaction, joy, and strength for whatever was required lay in his relationship with his Sovereign.

David’s heart desire was to know the Lord, and to live fully in salvation’s riches all his days. He asked for life, and was given splendor and majesty and a quality of life beyond this world. He sought godliness, knowing it held value and hope for this life and the next. He was secure in his position because he had the joy of God’s companionship, and was richly blessed with His steadfast love, goodness, and mercy spanning into the future He held. (1 Timothy 4:7-10)

As we begin our days, what is our heart’s desire? Are we quickly drawn to the here and now? Do we pause a moment to run through a duty list, practical needs for ourselves and those we love, to ask for enough of us to get through? Are we limiting our requests because of earth-bound vision and 24-hour plans? What would happen if we asked the Lord to expand our vision to a longer view? What would change in the understanding of our purpose, the quality of our hours, the vibrancy of our hope, if we developed an eternal perspective? How might we work and minister differently if we savored longer, broader, richer life in every day entrusted to us?

“My son, do not forget my teaching,
    but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life
    and peace they will add to you…

Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
    and the one who gets understanding,
for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
    and her profit better than gold.
She is more precious than jewels,
    and nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
    in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
    and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
    those who hold her fast are called blessed.” Proverbs 3:1-2,13-18

Lord, help me seek You and Your face all my days, counting You my highest joy and strength forever. And may I spend those days for Jesus’s sake and glory. (Psalm 24:5-6; 73:25-26)

The ‘Alls’ of Prayer

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.” 1 Timothy 2:1-8

“May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!.. O Lord, save the king! May he answer us when we call.” Psalm 20:5,9

First of all. Above and before making plans, getting going, and other efforts, prayer must be our priority. And it is all- encompassing, including both requests and thanksgiving. It is not a one-way list of wants or begs, but spans from gratitude to groaning.

Pray for all. All people, all leaders. Not just loved ones or liked ones or voted-for ones, but all whom the Lord has placed for His purposes, in order that they be touched by the divine hand of prayer. Pray that God will use them to benefit society, and realize this may come about in ways we would not expect or even desire. Praying for this and trusting the Lord to answer His way increases our dependence on Him and our faith in Him as ultimate King. (Matthew 5:44-45; Romans 13:1-7)

Pray for all people to be saved, even those we deem beyond redemption and not deserving. Are we? Jesus came to seek and save the lost, to heal the sick sinner, and His grace is wide-reaching. If we have a superior attitude, pray for Him to convict us of that pride and save us from that snobbery. He died for it too. (Mark 2:17; Luke 19:10; Romans 5:8)

Pray His ransom for all is taught clearly and powerfully, and is understood and received as life-changing truth. Pray that the message of Jesus as sole mediator between God and man, that His perfect life served to pay our deserved penalty, go out and penetrate our families, communities, cities, and nations.

And pray in all places. Wherever we live, work, serve, and recreate. Where we travel in body, and in our minds. Pray for imaginations, dreams, conundrums, the present and future. There is no limit to what or where we are to call out to the Lord and seek His work and trust Him to perform it. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Lord, the proper time is now. Keep my hands lifted high, and my heart and mind set on Thee, focused in prayer that spans people and places and every concern. May all of me trust all of Thee, to the end that You are known and praised.

Never Get Over It!

“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.  To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:12-17

Paul never forgot who he had been or what he had done, and how the immeasurable grace of God in Christ Jesus had swallowed both. As he writes to his spiritual son Timothy, having matured over many years as an apostle through faithful serving and powerful teaching, he still considers himself the foremost of sinners, and thus magnifies the splendor of his Savior’s patience and mercy. The more he says of his former life without Christ, the more he is overwhelmed with the Lord’s bountiful grace to him, and the more praise wells up within. He spills over with the benediction of glory to his King eternal. (Philippians 3:4-8)

Paul was a remarkable orator, a gifted church-builder, and much-loved. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews, with every credential a traditional Jew could want or boast. He easily could have let his human greatness go to his head and infiltrate his perspective on ministry and relationships. But Paul was in love with Jesus. He never got over the extent to which Jesus stooped to save him, and he wanted to honor Him with his life. (Acts 20:35-38; 2 Corinthians 11:17-31)

As we go about our work, how often do we remind ourselves who the Lord is and what He has done for us? A regular and deliberate appointment early each day will set our minds on Him. Time on our knees in humble meditation helps us recall our sinful nature- our bent to selfishness, impatience, ugly thoughts- and proceeds to confession. Time of thanksgiving and praise lifts our sights upward to the Giver of every gift, and fills our hearts with gratitude.

Maybe we recite a familiar chorus or hymn, a verse or passage. “Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul, thank you, Lord, for making me whole, thank You, Lord, for giving to me my great salvation so rich and free.” Would we tuck in these Godward thoughts early and often to permeate our thinking and doing through our hours? (1 Thessalonians 5:18; James 1:17)

“When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.” ~Isaac Watts (1707)

Lord, let me never get over Your redeeming grace and love.

Charged by Love

“To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

“As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine,  nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions…

“This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience.” 1 Timothy 1:2-7,18-19

“For the love of Christ compels us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Paul is infused with love for his son in the faith, Timothy, and for their Savior, Jesus. His heart, conscience, and faith are inextricably connected to the vibrant truth and power of Jesus, who is love Himself. This love that won him is his compulsion and aim. It charges his drive to spread good news, amidst a range of false teaching, societal myths, and vain discussions, that is laced with energy through its words and message. (1 John 4:8)

Charge: Electrify; to fill or furnish fully; to impose a task or responsibility on; to command, instruct, or exhort with authority.

Without love as our charge, we are spiritually limp, lifeless. Our vision is limited, our focus self-ward, our passions earthly. But once plugged into and charged by the vitality of Jesus, by the truth He embodies and speaks from His word, our whole life takes on fresh meaning and vivacity. We are compelled to proclaim clearly the gospel in contrast to falsehoods all around, even as we are led to charge others to do the same.

Has holy desire and urgency for proclaiming God’s truth grown lethargic? What doctrines and speculations issuing from the world have we allowed to creep into our minds, distracting our affections, numbing us to the Word, and distorting our understanding? In an emotion-incited culture, have we begun to fear humans more than the Lord, and thus squelched desire for and limited intake and development of wisdom from above? If there is anything that preempts our passion to share Jesus’s love and make Him known, our loves are disordered. (Proverbs 9:10; James 3:17)

“A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify,
A never-dying soul to save,
And fit it for the sky.

To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfill;
Oh, may it all my pow’rs engage
To do my Master’s will!

Help me to watch and pray,
And still on Thee rely,
Oh, let me not my trust betray,
But press to realms on high.” ~Charles Wesley (1762)

Father, keep my heart pure, my conscience clear, and my faith sincere. Compel me by Christ’s love to charge others effectively regarding Your gospel, to the end that You be received, known, and loved.

Secure on Strong Shoulders

“They made the onyx stones, enclosed in settings of gold filigree, and engraved like the engravings of a signet, according to the names of the sons of Israel. And he set them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod to be stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel, as the Lord had commanded Moses.

“He made the breastpiece, in skilled work, in the style of the ephod, of gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen. It was square. They made the breastpiece doubled, a span its length and a span its breadth when doubled. And they set in it four rows of stones. A row of sardius, topaz, and carbuncle was the first row; and the second row, an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond; and the third row, a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; and the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. They were enclosed in settings of gold filigree. There were twelve stones with their names according to the names of the sons of Israel. They were like signets, each engraved with its name, for the twelve tribes…

“Thus they attached it in front to the shoulder pieces of the ephod… And they bound the breastpiece by its rings to the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue, so that it should lie on the skillfully woven band of the ephod, and that the breastpiece should not come loose from the ephod, as the Lord had commanded Moses.” Exodus 39:6-14,18b,21

There was no part of the adornment of Israel’s priests that had not significance. He was called and anointed to serve all people of Israel, without favoritism, a priest for every tribe, and his dress represented each one with deliberate care and beauty. His shoulder pieces held twelve stones of remembrance, and attached to those pieces was an intricate breastpiece bearing jewels assigned to each tribe over his heart. What a loving picture of our Great High Priest!

Jesus, who upholds the government of the world on His shoulders, also personally holds each one of His children close to His heart. Just as the shoulder joint is a remarkable combination of strength and flexibility with a wide range of motion, His arm is mighty, able to save and to bear all our burdens. As our great High Priest, He has carried the weight of our sins and their penalty to the cross, sustains all who are saved in everlasting life, and reigns ready with mercy and grace to help in our times of need. (Psalm 55:22; Isaiah 9:6; 59:1; Zephaniah 3:17; Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:24-27)

What rocks our security today? World events, health crises, personal fears? What heavy load are we trying to carry alone? Are there circumstances that have left us reeling in loneliness, sorrow from betrayal, a feeling of failure or worthlessness? Consider the shoulders of our Great High Priest. Drawing near to His throne of grace, and welcoming His ministry of atonement and redemption, will readjust our thinking. He remembers and upholds and intercedes for us by name. This Lord, who is faithful to His promises, offers confidence, full assurance of faith, and unwavering hope through His priesthood. (John 10:3; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 10:19-23)

Eternal God and Great High Priest, impart to me faith and stability to live on Your strong shoulders, upheld by Your everlasting arms, showing forth Your excellencies. (Deuteronomy 33:27)

When a Heart Stirs

“Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the Lord’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. So they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects, every man dedicating an offering of gold to the Lord. And every one who possessed blue or purple or scarlet yarns or fine linen or goats’ hair or tanned rams’ skins or goatskins brought them. Everyone who could make a contribution of silver or bronze brought it as the Lord’s contribution. And every one who possessed acacia wood of any use in the work brought it. And every skillful woman spun with her hands, and they all brought what they had spun in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen.  All the women whose hearts stirred them to use their skill spun the goats’ hair. And the leaders brought onyx stones and stones to be set, for the ephod and for the breastpiece, and spices and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense. All the men and women, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the Lord.” Exodus 35:20-29

Moses had given the people of Israel, whoever is of a generous heart, God’s commands to contribute toward the tabernacle. This was the mobile dwelling of their LORD who traveled with them, their place of worship and sacrifice. Each was encouraged to contribute to its beauty and service, and the Spirit blew mightily through his words among them to bring forth all that was required. (Exodus 35:4-19)

When the Holy Spirit moves a spirit to be made willing, resistance dissolves and God can have His way. When the Spirit stirs a heart, things happen. Beautiful things happen. Fingers loosen, fists open, arms unlock, bitter roots get pulled and discarded. Mindsets are transformed, interests are elevated, language is exalted. Sacrifices flow, grace issue forth in glad, bountiful measure. All, everyone. Contributions, all sorts of objects, offerings. Signets, skills, stones, spices. A will stirred by God’s wind offers freely anything and everything for God’s holy purposes and glory.

Where do we need the Spirit’s stirring, or strong blow? Are there areas in our lives we hold too closely out of insecurity, or shame, or greed? Are we afraid to yield our guarded secrets and ingrained sins to His transforming affect? What holds us back from the freedom and joy He longs for us to know?

“Spirit of the living God…
We want to know You more and more
We’re hanging on every word

‘Cause when You speak, and when You move
When You do what only You can do
It changes us
It changes what we see and what we seek
When You come in the room
When You do what only You can do
It changes us
It changes what we see and what we seek” ~ Vertical Worship (2015)

Spirit of God, stir me, purify what I see and seek, and fill me to overflow to build up and bless Your church.

The Glory and Beauty of Consecrated Service

“Bring near… Aaron and Aaron’s sons. Make holy garments for Aaron, for glory and for beauty. Speak to all whom I have filled with a spirit of skill, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him for my priesthood. They shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a coat of checker work, a turban, and a sash. They shall make holy garments for Aaron and his sons to serve me. They shall receive gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen.

“Make the ephod of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and of fine twined linen, skillfully worked… Take two onyx stones, and [as a jeweler engraves signets] engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, six on the one stone, and six on the other, in the order of their birth… Enclose them in settings of gold filigree… on the shoulder pieces of the ephod…

“Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment on his heart, when he goes into the Holy Place, to bring them to regular remembrance before the Lord… Make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, ‘Holy to the Lord.’ Fasten it on the turban by a cord of blue… Anoint them and ordain them and consecrate them.” Exodus 28:1-6,9-12,29,36-37,41

There is something beautiful, and almost hushed and reverential, in this description of adorning and consecrating the Lord’s priests. Those who were to lead Israel in worship of the Most High, and offer the sacrifices of atonement and thanksgiving and peace, and instruct the people in God’s way, were to be dressed for glory and for beauty, not to draw attention to themselves, but to reflect the magnificent splendor of the One they represented and served. Their setting apart for service was a holy consecration designed by God Himself, and executed in practical ways through His gifted people.

It is a glory and a beauty to honor the King. It is a glory and a beauty to reflect God’s created loveliness. It is a glory and a beauty to bear up one another before the Lord. It is a glory and a beauty to be regularly adorned with a pure heart and eager expectation for meeting God in the Holy Place of worship, repentance, sacrifice, and prayer. It is a glory and a beauty to reflect God’s holiness in our artistry and exercise of our skills, to display His supremacy and make His name known. It is a glory and a beauty to seek and be clad in God’s wisdom, and to do all our work as unto Him. (Proverbs 4:4-9; Colossians 3:23)

What part do we take in adorning our spiritual leaders with glory and beauty through prayers that undergird their work, support of their heavy responsibilities, and the blessing of encouragement? How can we add to the honor they offer God by affirmation, application of their teaching, or ready obedience?

And how appropriately are we fitted for royal service? Would we esteem our King’s worth and reputation above all, and ‘dress’ accordingly- in respect, wholesome speech, biblical wisdom, and habits that reflects His? Do our actions and attitudes enhance, or contradict, our beliefs, and His greatness? (Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 3:12-17; 1 Peter 3:8)

Holy God, consecrate me daily by renewing my mind. May I walk distinctly from the world, worthy of my calling, honoring Your glory and beauty. (Romans 12:1-2)

Unless I See Scars

“Now Thomas, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.’

“Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” John 20:24-28

From our 21st century perspective, it’s easy to baffle at the dense thinking of the disciples- hadn’t Jesus told them repeatedly what would happen? But putting ourselves where they were in time and place, we understand better their confusion and doubt. How would a deliverer King allow himself to be crucified, and who would raise Him from the dead as He’d raised Lazarus? It seems plausible, and even reasonable, that Thomas insisted on seeing His scars as proof of His resurrection. (John 11:17-44)

This side of the cross, we can tend toward the Thomas in our minds: eager, forthright, earnest, but doubting. Wanting proof that God really is and does what He says. If He really is all powerful, why is my life out of control? If He really does forgive, why do I still feel condemnation and shame? If He really has good plans for me for hope and a future, why can’t I seem to get ahead, or even a foothold? If He really cares, and works all things for good, why am I, or my loved ones, suffering? If the government really is on His shoulders, why is my national situation so bleak? (Isaiah 9:6; Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:1,28)

The proof of Jesus’s life and sovereignty in all these situations is His very scars. Scars etched with our sorrow, guilt, regret, weight of oppression, and darkness of depression. He bore these all and rose victorious over them! (2 Corinthians 4:16-18; Colossians 1:13-14)

Once convinced our Savior’s scars apply to us, will we clasp His healed hands with faith to go the distance with Him, to bear Him before our world, even if it means suffering? Do we love and trust Him enough to bring His victory into broken relationships, failures, and enemy strongholds? What scars tell our story of His mercy and redeeming love?

“Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land;
I hear them hail thy bright, ascendant star.
Hast thou no scar?

Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers; spent,
Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned.
Hast thou no wound?

No wound? No scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And piercèd are the feet that follow Me.
But thine are whole; can he have followed far
Who hast no wound or scar?” ~Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)

Lord who bore all for me, may I bear Your scars to the watching world, that many may know Your love and be healed.

The Test that Enables Sleep

“O Lord, how many are my foes!
    Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
    ‘There is no salvation for him in God.’

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
    my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord,
    and he answered me from his holy hill.

I lay down and slept;
    I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
    who have set themselves against me all around.

Arise, O Lord!
    Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
    you break the teeth of the wicked.

Salvation belongs to the Lord;
    your blessing be on your people!”

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
    for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 3; 4:8

The setting is terrifying: many foes, rising up and against, snarling thousands versus one, and all around. But there’s something else encircling, a shield and glory, and no one can touch the child of God nestled there. The LORD, covenant keeper, envelops His own, lifts their heads in gentle love to see His face above the fray, and grants sweet rest.

We see, we sense, we hear, enemies visible, invisible, and audible. Taunts at our faith and sharp swipes at our security, while angry and menacing, have no power over those safe in salvation. Whether troubles arise unbidden, or are of our own doing, we can lie down, our Savior guarding all vulnerability, and sleep, His calm covering our minds. The cry for help is a cry heard and held by the omnipotent Lover and ever-vigilant Keeper of our souls. (Psalm 121; Ephesians 6:12)

While we are in the world, our Almighty protects us from the world’s influences as we abide in Him. He shields us from the fiery arrows of Satan, is our bright glory in darkness, and lifts our hearts and minds to remember His victory over these foes. Untouched and kept in His salvation, we are blessed and at rest no matter what looms or comes. (John 17:11,15; Colossians 3:1-2)

What enemies of doubt approach and bully, what vicious scoffing rattles our confidence in the unchanging God? Where have flabby disciplines, glib commitment, and shallow study left our faith exposed to lies from our culture, to unsettling mixed messages that pester and confuse? What doors to worldly thinking do we leave ajar in our entertainment and education? What can we practically do to stem our exposure to the drone of manipulated headlines and fear-laden news, and thus limit our vulnerability to worry?

We can be proactive and careful to guard the gift of rest, but in this life will always wrestle with the prince of darkness. Still, the righteous need not fear, and can soundly sleep. We are tested to make our hearts firm and steady, because we trust God’s word to us. He rises to help, He holds at bay the wicked, He carries us on His wings in every storm. (Deuteronomy 33:12;26-27; Psalm 112:7-8)

Loving Father, keep my head lifted toward You, and cause me to rest in the blessed salvation You so graciously give. Grant sweet sleep so Your glory abounds in all my waking hours.