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November 11 -- "God Is Our Refuge; God is Our Strength"

Psalm 46:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns. The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Come, behold the works of the Lord; see what desolations he has brought on the earth.

He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.

Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations; I am exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

The turning point in the life of Martin Luther King Jr.’s ministry came late one night while he sat alone at his kitchen table. Here is his recording of the moment: “I was ready to give up. With my cup of coffee sitting untouched before me I tried to think of a way to move out of the picture [the beginning of the civil rights movement] without appearing a coward. In this state of exhaustion, when my courage had all but gone, I decided to take my problem to God. With my head in my hands, I bowed over the kitchen table and prayed aloud. The words I spoke to God that midnight are still vivid in my memory. ‘I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right. But now I am afraid. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they too will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I’ve come to the point where I can’t face it alone.’ At that moment I experienced the presence of the Divine as I had never experienced Him before. It seemed as though I could hear the quiet assurance of an inner voice saying: ‘Stand up for righteousness, stand up for truth; and God will be at your side forever.”’ Almost at once my fears began to go. My uncertainty disappeared. I was ready to face anything.”

The Psalmist declares at the start of his great Psalm, “God IS our refuge and strength … THEREFORE, we will not fear.” Why won’t we be fearful? Because God is our refuge; because God is the strength we lean on (not our own); because God is present with us in our troubles.

When the Psalmist looks at the overwhelming size of the burden, he is carrying which he pictures as “Mountains trembling and falling into the sea. Nations in an uproar and kingdoms are tottering,” he concludes that the whole earth is collapsing and he is overwhelmed … right up until he remembers that God is present and with him. Yes, these massive problems, could easily overwhelm him, but he remembers they cannot shake God, and therefore he knows his foundation is strong and sure. He will live through the difficult days and experience the power of God. “Yes,” he concludes, he, and all God’s people, will survive because, “The Lord of hosts is with us!”

Martin Luther King Jr. was having a Psalm 46 crisis in his life when God came to him and reminded him that though everything seemed to be falling apart, He was with him.

Yes, people God is with us!

We are, and will be, going through some turbulent times as individuals, church, community, nation and even on a world-wide level in the coming months. It can overwhelm us. It can seem like it is too much for us. It can seem like the powers shaking the world are too much for us. But then God comes to us in Psalm 46 – and if we read the Psalm slowly and let the words move from our head, into our hearts, and from our hearts into our souls, we will find that NO MATTER what we face, God is with us and THEREFORE we will not only be alright, but we will be a people who will bring holiness to hate, comfort to places of distress, and peace in the middle of chaos. We can do this because we have God as our foundation, our fortress, our refuge and HIS strength.

~ God bless, Dan

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