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God is our refuge and strength

God is our refuge and strength

God is our Refuge and Strength, an ever-present help in trouble. That’s the verse of the day from YouVersion. Lots of Christians know this verse, even if they aren’t aware of knowing it. Martin Luther’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” comes from the Psalm containing that line. But even with the hymn, even with Christians singing the song, how many of us live like we actually believe it? Sadly, the answer appears to be far too few.

God is our refuge and strength

Who
is
our
refuge and strength?

Who is our refuge and strength?

The title comes from Psalm 46. And my question therefore is about how we view Psalm 46. Whether or not we understand Psalm 46. And whether we live like Psalm 46 is in our hearts, and therefore in our lives. Whether we can honestly say that God is our refuge and strength. We’ll look at the entire Psalm a bit later. But first …

The image for this one is perfect. Someone helping someone else reach a place where they are both standing on gold. What does that image mean to you? It’s important.

Does the image show a person helping another person? And are they reaching the place of their dreams? A life of ease and riches, living in the wealth signified by gold?

Or does the image show a “person”, a representation of the Holy Spirit, helping a person reach someplace where the streets are made of gold?

Here’s why the image – and its interpretation – work so well. And why it’s so important to get it right. Below are two verses in the Bible that reference streets and gold. But each is trying to tell us something very different. One is a warning. The other is telling us how to avoid the situation where we get the warning in the other verse.

They’re both about “The End”. But let’s face it – whether it’s the end of our life or the end of the world – the passages apply either way.

Who is our refuge and strength? – The warning

The passage is rather long. But please, read the whole thing. To ignore the warnings in the Bible is to fall victim to them. Below is the passage for those who do not live like God is our refuge and strength.

The End Has Come

Eze 7:1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, this is what the Sovereign LORD says to the land of Israel: The end! The end has come upon the four corners of the land. 3 The end is now upon you and I will unleash my anger against you. I will judge you according to your conduct and repay you for all your detestable practices. 4 I will not look on you with pity or spare you; I will surely repay you for your conduct and the detestable practices among you. Then you will know that I am the LORD.

Eze 7:5 “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Disaster! An unheard-of disaster is coming. 6 The end has come! The end has come! It has roused itself against you. It has come! 7 Doom has come upon you—you who dwell in the land. The time has come, the day is near; there is panic, not joy, upon the mountains. 8 I am about to pour out my wrath on you and spend my anger against you; I will judge you according to your conduct and repay you for all your detestable practices. 9 I will not look on you with pity or spare you; I will repay you in accordance with your conduct and the detestable practices among you. Then you will know that it is I the LORD who strikes the blow.

Eze 7:10 “The day is here! It has come! Doom has burst forth, the rod has budded, arrogance has blossomed! 11 Violence has grown into a rod to punish wickedness; none of the people will be left, none of that crowd—no wealth, nothing of value. 12 The time has come, the day has arrived. Let not the buyer rejoice nor the seller grieve, for wrath is upon the whole crowd. 13 The seller will not recover the land he has sold as long as both of them live, for the vision concerning the whole crowd will not be reversed. Because of their sins, not one of them will preserve his life. 14 Though they blow the trumpet and get everything ready, no one will go into battle, for my wrath is upon the whole crowd.

Eze 7:15 “Outside is the sword, inside are plague and famine; those in the country will die by the sword, and those in the city will be devoured by famine and plague. 16 All who survive and escape will be in the mountains, moaning like doves of the valleys, each because of his sins. 17 Every hand will go limp, and every knee will become as weak as water. 18 They will put on sackcloth and be clothed with terror. Their faces will be covered with shame and their heads will be shaved. 19 They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be an unclean thing. Their silver and gold will not be able to save them in the day of the LORD’S wrath. They will not satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs with it, for it has made them stumble into sin. 20 They were proud of their beautiful jewelry and used it to make their detestable idols and vile images. Therefore I will turn these into an unclean thing for them. 21 I will hand it all over as plunder to foreigners and as loot to the wicked of the earth, and they will defile it. 22 I will turn my face away from them, and they will desecrate my treasured place; robbers will enter it and desecrate it.

Eze 7:23 “Prepare chains, because the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of violence. 24 I will bring the most wicked of the nations to take possession of their houses; I will put an end to the pride of the mighty, and their sanctuaries will be desecrated. 25 When terror comes, they will seek peace, but there will be none. 26 Calamity upon calamity will come, and rumor upon rumor. They will try to get a vision from the prophet; the teaching of the law by the priest will be lost, as will the counsel of the elders. 27 The king will mourn, the prince will be clothed with despair, and the hands of the people of the land will tremble. I will deal with them according to their conduct, and by their own standards I will judge them. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”

As I said, the entire passage applies to what we’re talking about. The particular verse I mentioned is this one:

19 They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be an unclean thing. Their silver and gold will not be able to save them in the day of the LORD’S wrath.

19 They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be an unclean thing. Their silver and gold will not be able to save them in the day of the LORD’S wrath.

Who is our refuge and strength? – The alternative

If you don’t like the outcome above, and who really does, here’s the alternative. Again, the passage isn’t exactly short. But once more I feel it’s important to read the whole thing. The difference between the two passages we’re looking at couldn’t be more stark. This passage is for those who live like God is our refuge and strength.

The New Jerusalem

Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Rev 21:5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Rev 21:6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Rev 21:9 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Rev 21:15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17 He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits thick, by man’s measurement, which the angel was using. 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.

Rev 21:22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

As I said, this passage is very different from the first. Instead of the golf being useless and even “unclean”, we read:

21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.

Who is our refuge and strength? – The choice

Which one do you choose? The useless gold? Or the city of gold? This world. Or Heaven? It is our choice. Your choice. Who is your refuge and strength?

Who is our refuge and strength? – The Christian choice

For us as Christians, we should know the right choice. We should know that God is our refuge and strength. However, knowing that in our heads and living like it’s in our hearts can be two very different things.

Who is our refuge and strength? – Psalm 46

Earlier, I said we’d get to Psalm 46. It’s time. Once again, I urge you to read, and even pray over, this Psalm.

Psalm 46

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song.

Ps 46:1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Ps 46:2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
Ps 46:3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

Selah

Ps 46:4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
Ps 46:5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Ps 46:6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

Ps 46:7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Selah

Ps 46:8 Come and see the works of the LORD,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
Ps 46:9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields with fire.
Ps 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

Ps 46:11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Selah

OK – now that you’ve read it, and hopefully prayed over it, let’s look at some parts of it in more depth.

Psalm 46

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song.

Ps 46:1 God is our refuge and strength,

Of course, this is our title. God is our refuge and strength. Words written by the Psalmist. Words sung by so many Christians in services. And words probably known, to some degree, by many Christians. However, are they words that are known in our hearts? Words that are evident in the way we live our lives?

As I said, I fear not. It’s so sad. And yet, far too true. And something Jesus warned us all about. However, our English translations and our watered-down contemporary “knowledge” totally misses the point. For more on that thought I suggest you read, carefully, Are we supposed to Believe God, Believe in God or Follow God?

The bottom line in there is that our belief in Jesus isn’t just head belief. It’s not just memorizing some words. It’s totally about knowing what they mean and believing in them so strongly that the words Jesus uttered, with the intention Jesus said them with, drives every part of our lives.

The sad reality is that this kind of belief just doesn’t exist all that much. That’s why Jesus told us to walk the path to the narrow gate – not to the wide one. But too often, we don’t.

an ever-present help in trouble.

Jesus told us we’d have trouble in this life. Jesus also told us He would always be with us. And so, we should know this line is true. And we should live like it. But do we?

Look around. Look in the mirror.

How often do we look to ourselves when we have trouble? That’s not living like God is our refuge and strength.

How often do we look to our political leaders when we have trouble? That’s not living like God is our refuge and strength.

In those times that we look to political leaders to solve perceived problems related to God, that’s especially not living like God is our refuge and strength.

Ps 46:2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
Ps 46:3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

And yet, not only do we fear, we entirely forget that God is always with us. We seem to forget that He even exists. Or maybe it’s just that we think our political leaders are stronger than God? Why else do we turn to them instead of God? Why else do we turn to our political leaders instead of God?

Ps 46:4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
Ps 46:5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Ps 46:6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

Once again, do we really believe this? Believe it n our hearts? Believe it in a way that others can see it? We are, after all, supposed to be a light on a hill. A light in a way that shows us to be different from non-Christians. Better, not the same. Better, not worse.

Why then do we turn to a leader who is loved by white-supremacists? And just in case we think that’s OK – remember that Jesus was a middle-easterner. In spite of pictures you may have seen with a brown or even blonde Jesus, with blue eyes, and pale skin – reality says He probably had black hair, brown eyes, and dark skin.

Why then do we turn to leaders who don’t care about record numbers of people who are sick, jobless, homeless, hungry, and even dying? And no – they don’t care. It’s obvious. At least it would be if we take the time to honestly look around us.

Take the time to pray. Not pray to Fox News. Not pray to One America News. No. Pray to God. Ask God what He thinks of the way He treats His children. I’m embarrassed and greatly saddened by the way we treat His children. Both in our own country and around the world. God’s own Son – Jesus – would have been hated by so many in this country.

Including too many people who claim to be Christians. How can we be Christians if we don’t love our neighbors? How can we be Christians if we live like we don’t even love God? We can’t. And we aren’t if we turn to people, rather than to God.

Ps 46:7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Here’s a question. Have we forgotten, or did we never believe, that Jesus promised to be with us always? Do we not believe the Holy Spirit, the mind of Christ, as Paul wrote, is always with us?

As I’ve already said, it seems that we don’t believe it. Or never bothered to learn enough about the religion we claim to be part of to know that these things are true.

Jesus told us that of the ten men He healed of leprosy, only one was saved. Do you know what that means? It means only one out of ten who claim to be Christian will actually be saved! One out of ten. And that’s 1/10th of Christians, not 1/10th of the population.

On average, that means more than nine out of every ten people who read this, more than one out of every ten people who go to church, will not be saved. Do you know yet why I’m so sad? Why I feel so sick when I see what’s happening in the world today?

Enough of Psalm 46

I need a break. I cannot go on with this. It’s too sad. Too depressing.

No more of Psalm 46 for me. However, there is more. And unless you’re 100% sure that you are truly living as Jesus would, I urge you to keep going. If you feel no sadness over what I’ve written, I urge you instead to go read about The Beatitudes. We should all be sad over the state of Christianity in this country.

If you’re feeling defensive over what I’ve written, then I really urge you to go read Psalm 139. All of it. And then pray Psalm 139. All of it. As often as it takes for you to feel sad. Because if you don’t care about what’s happening to people in this country for the last four years, you don’t love your neighbor. And I pray for you.

I really do need a break. Time to, as the part of Psalm 46 that I couldn’t write about says”

Ps 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God;

Conclusion – God is our refuge and strength

OK – let’s finish this thing off.

I’ll give you just one example of what I’ve been trying to point out. My mother. Remember that I didn’t – couldn’t – finish off Psalm 146. One portion that I left off is: Ps 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God.

That was one of her favorite verses. She said it often. It was hanging on her wall.

And yet, she was never able to do it. She was constantly afraid that something would go wrong. And she always looked to other people to make sure they did what they were supposed to do. Also looking to still other people to let them know that the first group of people wasn’t going to do what they were supposed to do. And on and on and on it went.

In spite of “Be still, and know that I am God, she never was still. And if she did know that God was God, she certainly didn’t look to Him for either solutions or for strength and refuge.

Eventually, near the end of her life, she claimed she made a deal with God. One that somehow would make her life better, The thing is, for someone who could read the Old Testament in Hebrew, she should have known better than to think that anyone could actually make a deal with God that would actually change anything. Think back to Abram’s bargain with God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. Please see Genesis 19 if you don’t know about it.

Here’s the thing. She wanted to be able to just be still – know that God is God – and everything would just go smoothly while she lived her solitary life in peace and comfort.

Sorry – Jesus never promised that. Jesus told us we would have trouble. And that we should look to Him. Jesus also told us to go out into the world. Not to become part of the world, but to be the light of the world that would point others to Him. And that we should look to Him to accomplish that.

Jesus did not tell us to look to ourselves.

Jesus did not tell us to look to the government.

Jesus did not tell us to hate certain groups of people.

And while Jesus did say that we’d always have poor people, He did not tell us to make more people even more poor.

And while everyone Jesus healed eventually did die, He also did not tell us to make more people sick.

Nor did He tell us to be so uncaring as to allow and even cause more of those sick people to die because of our own actions.

Just like Jesus didn’t tell us to sit in our room, do nothing, turn everything over to someone else, Etc, Jesus told us to go out. Ourselves. To be His representatives on earth. And when we were tired, Jesus is to be our refuge and strength. When we mourn over the lack of response, Jesus is to be our refuge and strength. And when people reject our message, we are to remember that they aren’t rejecting us, but that they are rejecting Jesus. And in all that, Jesus is to be our refuge and strength.

Ultimately –

Stop thinking the government – any government – any political party – any political person – is going to do God’s work!

Stop thinking that the government- any government – any political party – any political person – even cares about God’s work!

Yes, they will say they care. But they don’t. They care about themselves. Their master isn’t God. Their master is whoever paid them enough to allow them to win the election. Their master is money. And in case you forgot – Jesus made it very clear that we cannot love both God and money.

So love God. Do God’s work. Don’t pawn it off on someone else. Do God’s work – not with the government or through a political party. No – do God’s work with God! And when you get tired, when you have troubles, be still and know that He is God.

And remember that He is our refuge and strength. And when we’re ready – we go back out again. With God!


Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay


The post God is our refuge and strength appeared first on God versus religion.



This post first appeared on God Vs Religion, please read the originial post: here

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