Monday, May 5, 2014
No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent.
For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
to guard you in all your ways.
Where do you live? What does your house tell me about you? Are you neat and organized? Or is your house more of a mishmash of clutter? Does music fill your home? Is your style traditional, modern or eclectic? Do you like bright colors or are you more comfortable in a sea of cream?
Where you dwell tells a lot about a person.
Our verse this week is a wonderful promise that at first glance seems almost too good to be true. Because of our sin-encrusted world, how could God possibly keep us from evil or plagues? As a matter of fact, I know many God-loving people who are battling the plague of cancer at this moment, so what in the world is this verse talking about?
I have three words for you that will help you understand: context, context, context.
Okay, so maybe it's just one word but you get the point. When you read something in scripture that doesn't seem to make sense, take a step or two backwards and look at the whole passage.
Psalm 91 is probably one of the most encouraging passages in all of scripture. It speaks of God as a fortress and a refuge, a deliverer from snares and describes His faithfulness as a shield. It heralds the protection that comes from being hidden under the wings of God and underscores the security that comes from an intimate relationship with the God of the universe. But all of this is conditional upon the first phrase of the chapter - "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High God will abide in the shadow of the Almighty."
It's a dwelling passage. This chapter can be summarized like this: If you dwell with God then you will enjoy His protection. Now this is not a salvation passage - it is not describing the substitutionary atonement of the cross and it is not talking about the broad way to destruction versus the narrow road to glory. It is an exhortation to examine where you live.
The sad truth is that although through the gift of faith, we all have the opportunity to dwell in the shelter of the Most High God, we choose to just vacation there every once in a while. We are busy with our life, we stop by His house on Sundays for an hour or two and then when things get really bad, we might go and stay with Him for a few days or weeks until we feel better, but then we are back to the busyness of our life. We don't choose to live in His shelter - we run under His heavenly awnings when the rain starts to fall, but quickly head back to the shelter of our own making until the next storm hits.
But this is not the life Jesus saved you for - He wants the intimacy of living with you, having you dwell or live in His shelter full time. He wants you to die to your old self and find your new life completely in Him. Like the first verse says, He wants us to live in His shadow - but we don't like to live in anyone's shadow. We like to be center stage, and that location removes some of the Father's protection from our life.
By now you might be thinking, "Okay, Kristen, what in the world are you talking about?" So let me get to the point: As believers in Jesus Christ, we need to surrender everything to Him, including where we live. We need to dwell - live - with Him. In our verses above, it talks about evil and plagues - when you dwell with the Father, no matter what comes your way you will have a protection and a perspective that is way different than if you are far from Him. When the doctor says cancer, you trust in God's plan for your life because you live with His goodness on a daily basis. When you are persecuted, you receive the disdain with joy because you know your eternity is secure. You are an heir of greater things and the uncomfortableness of trials and temptations are but a passing pressure that pales in comparison to the glory that awaits you.
But when you don't live with Jesus, you quickly forget who you are in Christ and the storms of life can quickly overwhelm and produce anxiety and fear, where trust and long-suffering should be found.
So how do you dwell with Christ? You've got to hang out with Him - listen to Him talk, learn about Him, talk with Him, sing to Him, laugh with Him. You've got to do this every day - think about the people in your home. If you have no conversation with them during the day, do you really live together? Living equals relationship and if you desire a life that is not overwhelmed with the effects of sin, then you need to walk closely with your Savior.
I haven't even touched on the second half of the verse, because it is too wonderful to even imagine. So I'll just let you marinate on that truth on your own, but remember, these words are meant to encourage the child of God who dwells with Him - lives with Him - is fully immersed with the things of the Lord. This is not a promise for the one who simply calls on Him when life gets tough. There is a difference.