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Friday, February 27, 2015

God | Our Refuge and Strength

AGod is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble…”
(The Lord declares in…) Isaiah 41:10
AFear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.@

AThe Lord is near to all who call upon Him...@
And there are even times when we are with those close to us that we do humorous things. When we are with family – we tend to reveal the innocence and humor of our heart. 
I was speaking with the Margrett and Maurice (who I have come to know as Bubber) just yesterday and was told a great story about Milton. 
When he was just a boy – he lived with his family in the Poe Mill Village. It was here that he first heard about Christ. His father and mother would carry him (along with the rest of the children) each week to the Poe Baptist Church. 
Well, one father’s day weekend the church had a guest evangelist come through and speak. And, Earle Cooper (Milton’s Daddy) was taken by the spirit of the preacher that he invited him home for dinner
While enjoying dinner and conversation – the evangelist made several references to “Fathers” and how fathers were so important in the homes. It was at this time that Milton in his innocence spoke up and declared – “We don’t have a father in this house.” 
You see he had only known his father as Daddy. He didn’t know what a father was!

Psalm 91 reads:
The apostle Paul asked the question in Romans 8:31 AIf God is for us, who can be against us?@ The fact is - Paul new the answer - ANo one!@ No one can stand against us if God is on our side. 
Paul - much like the Psalmist who penned the words I read to you a moment ago was expressing a great confidence and hope in God – and in God alone.
There is no denying the fact that the Psalmist (the one who penned these words that we just read in PS. 91) had observed and experienced many difficult times in his life. Yet his mind was not caught up in these perils, the problems, the heartaches and struggles of his life – but rather in the security and the comfort of the AMost High.@ 
Refuge and safe haven is not found in the human defenses - but rather in the shelter of God. Security and peace of mind is never accomplished by what we can do for ourselves. It is always found in God.

He and He alone will be our refuge and our fortress and He promises that He will deliver us from all of the things that try to defeat and discourage us.

The Psalmist painted a beautiful word picture of God=s protection as that of a mother bird who would stretch out her wings to cover her young with her feathers. It is an image of warmth and peace.

All of us need to find hope in something that goes way beyond this time and this place. We must have hope. 
Hope is the which allows us to carry on in life with confidence and dignity. 
In this very sad setting today, here in the midst of grief and loss, we need a vision that will carry us beyond this moment. 

And, God has given us this hope in the resurrection of His son Jesus Christ. He taught us through His action of love and sacrifice – that He is a caring God. 

He also taught us through the simplest of words that this world is not the final resting place of our souls. For those who choose to follow Christ, He promises an eternity of great joy. 

In fact John writes in his gospel that Jesus made this fact very clear. Again, let remind you, Jesus says, AIn my father=s house are many rooms...I am going there to prepare a place for you.@

It is the desire of Jesus that you choose to follow Him with this life so that you may inherit an eternity with him in the life to come.

You can be certain of this - death in this life is not an end in itself! There is a promised eternity that will follow. We are here today to simply attest to the fact that life is short and it is only a preparation for something more. 

We place our hope in this life to come upon the authority of Christ himself. As we consider everything that Jesus had to say about life and death we find that He spoke very little about the dead. At least, He did not go into great lengths to explain the details of life after death. However, He offers a consoling word to those who would inquire.

He said, AGod is not the God of the dead but the God of the living@ in Matthew 22:32. 
We are also reminded by the words of Saint Paul that no eye has seen and no ear has heard all of the things that God has prepared for those who love him (1 Corinthians 2:9). 

So I say to you - our life on this earth is only a beginning. And because of this, the essence of Jesus= teaching is that we should put our hope and trust in God. 

Listen once again to the reassuring words of Psalm 91, AHe who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, >He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.= 
We live in a changing world - I know. Nothing remains the same. Our communities change, our children change, our seasons change. We live in a world which is constantly changing.

Change has become a natural part of our life. But there is one thing that will never change. Our peace and comfort which is found in Jesus Christ will forever future we can be sure that the love, the comfort, the protection of God will never move, it will never diminish – it will never change. 

Jesus said, AI am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live.@ (John 11:25
And so, if you put your faith in Christ - even the change from life to death will not separate you from His love and protection.

So, as you try to process and deal with the pain and the emotions of the loss Milton - a father, a brother and a friend – I want to remind you that security and hope, peace and promise, comfort  

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