DO YOU HAVE A HIDING PLACE?

“Shelter in Place” has now become a common expression. A few weeks ago we would have asked “What is that?” Now we know!! This idea prompts a very critical question. Do you have a sheltering place, a hiding place for your soul, your heart, your mind? The old hymn entitled “A Shelter in the time of storm” seems very appropriate today.

“The Lord’s our Rock in Him we hide, A shelter in the time of storm;
Secure whatever ill betide, a shelter in the time of storm.
A shade by day, defense by night, A shelter in the time of storm;
No fears alarm, no foes affright, A shelter in the time of storm.

The refrain continues:

“Oh, Jesus is a rock in a weary land, a weary land, a weary land.
Oh, Jesus is a rock in a weary land, a shelter in the time of storm.”

We certainly live now in a weary land in need of a rock shelter. The man who wrote that, Vernon J. Charlesworth, was the man who headed up Charles Spurgeon’s orphanage. He knew first hand what storms can do to your heart and he had a hiding place. Christ was a more than sufficient hiding place for him and He is that for us too. Come to Christ for your salvation.  He is the only sure rock in the shifting sand of this world’s troubles (1 Corinthians 3:11; 10:4)!

There is another song that comes to mind written by Annie Johnson Flint entitled: “He Giveth More Grace.” She wrote this in the midst of great pain with sores all over her body needing eight pillows just to bear her body up. (You will recall she was also blind and subject to many other illnesses).

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done;
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

Refrain:
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His pow’r has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

The Grace of God is an incredible hiding place (2 Corinthians 12:9). The generosity of this God in giving his grace to sinners is overwhelming! But it is true!! Trust the grace of God to be sufficient for your battles!

Are you still a bit shaky? Then consider the following texts of Scripture. Think about what the psalmist had discovered about God being his hiding place and what that means:

Psalm 17:8
Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings.

Psalm 27:5
For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.

Psalm 31:20
You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.

Psalm 32:7
You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.

Psalm 61:3
For You have been a refuge for me, A tower of strength against the enemy.

Psalm 64:2
Hide me from the secret counsel of evildoers, From the tumult of those who do iniquity,

Psalm 68:20
God is to us a God of deliverances; And to GOD the Lord belong escapes from death.

Psalm 119:114
You are my hiding place and my shield; I wait for Your word.

Psalm 143:9
Deliver me, O LORD, from my enemies; I take refuge in You.

Oh what a hiding place the Word of God is for us who know Christ! The psalmist testifies that when his heart is “melting away” with sorrow, the Word of God strengthens his soul (Psalm 119:28). He confesses that the Word of God is well tried (Psalm 119:140) and  that it is life-giving, reminding us of God’s great mercy (Psalm 119:156). He also tells us that God’s Word brings great peace to those who love it, and they will be guarded from stumbling (Psalm 119:165)

The Son of God, the Grace of God, and the Word of God…what astounding “hiding places” for the soul. Have you gone there yet? Flee, go there quickly, rest there!! Come to Christ for your salvation. Trust the Grace of God to be sufficient. Go to the Word of God for your strength and hope.

Nothing prepares us for the outside battles like having a safe inside retreat. Think it thru




How did Jesus handle “the difficult people”?

Jesus was not above the issues of his day and even debated the Pharisees, lawyers, and Sadducees on occasion. Yet there is no mistake, that as difficult as these people were, Jesus loved them. We are called upon to deal with sexual issues in our culture that come flying at us from difficult people too.

Andrew Walker in his book entitled “God and the Transgender Debate” observes that “All kinds of people came to speak with him [Jesus]  during his time on earth…those whose lives had been messed up by others, and those whose lives had been messed up by themselves. And Jesus loved them all, made time for them all, and respected them all. He didn’t always agree with them but he always loved them.”

We find an amazing verse in Matthew 12:20 where Jesus described his approach to difficult people by applying an Old Testament text to his own life and ministry: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench.”

Let’s face it. Whether we are talking to an individual who supports abortion or someone defending transgenderism or gay issues we must remember behind those eyes and that voice is someone whom Jesus loves. The way we love is by extending grace to people who live contrary to the Biblical truth we believe.

GRACE LISTENS. I am amazed how sensitive questions can open a person’s heart to hear the truth. Questions like: Tell me how you arrived at your belief? Tell me how that belief has sustained you and helped you? Have you ever considered an alternative to your belief?  The believer in Christ should be the greatest listener in the world.

GRACE LOVES. Sometimes the people who resist us the most are people who have never seen true Christ-like love extended to them. Extending love does not mean embracing their beliefs, decisions, or life-style. Extending love means not letting people crumble or become buried under the weight of their struggles. We know sin never ends well. Along the way as we shine the light of the love of Christ to them, we can pray the Spirit of God will help them see the difference between what they embrace and what Christ brings to them.

GRACE NEVER HIDES THE TRUTH. Showing grace does not mean we are compromising the truth. After all Jesus said it is the truth that frees people. We don’t hide the truth because we understand how  dangerous and deceptive their condition really is. We cannot hide the truth because we know there is no other ultimate solution to the number sin has done on us as a human race.  We dare not hide the truth because we know that God’s Word is a totally reliable compass and road map for all the detours the human heart can invent.

Walker put it this way: “It’s about people: precious people made in the image of God who are hurting, who are confused, who are angry, who are scared, who may have been told by their family that they are unwelcome….There is no hurting person he [Jesus] would mock, or shun, or insult, or sneer at. He is so determined to pursue what is best for all of us that he died—excluded, mocked and rejected—to secure it.”

This is the day of the church. Let’s not miss the power and privilege of extending grace. Not all will receive. Some will push back, but some…oh…some may just come weary and disillusioned to Jesus! We need to be there for them. Think it thru

IS IT FAIR THAT THE WICKED GET GOOD STUFF?

life not fairThis question raises a lot of resentment in the heart of one who works hard to live for God and please Him. Often the short-term reward for such commitment is disappointing. In fact it can even inflame us against God Himself.  Asaph spoke about this troubling thing in Psalm 73. Asaph was David’s music director. He was a faithful believer and walked close to God as he led others in worship. Yet he confessed in Psalm 73:2 “My feet had almost sllipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.”  Why did he make that candid confession? What was happening to him?  He had noticed how well the wicked were doing in life, despite their evil life-style. It appeared to him that God was allowing the wicked to do well. God seemed to be much kinder to the enemies of God’s  people than He was to His own people. Asaph’s struggle was like many of ours: Why keep putting yourself out for God and living a pure life if God is not going to deal with the wicked? Where is the justice or fairness in that?

Recently I was reading something Colin Smith observed in his little book entitled Jonah: Navigating a God-Centered Life: “They were angry with God about grace.”  God reminds us that he causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust [Matt. 5:45].  The blessings bestowed on the wicked are the result of the grace of God that could lead to their repentance.  The next time we get a bit “ticked off” about how well God seems to let my wicked neighbor do, let’s stop and think about the overwhelming grace we have unworthily received. Then, pray for our neighbor that God’s grace on him would lead to his salvation. And let’s not be angry with God about grace. Think it thru