Bible Study

This is a copy of the Sunday School Lessons presented to an adult class each Sunday.

Location: Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States

Retired, Lobbyist in Washington,DC - Management - BS Chemistry and various continuing education courses

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bible Study - Ministering (2) - Ready to Help the Poor - Deuteronomy 15:1-11 - January 25, 2015

Bible Study - Ministering (2) – Ready to Help the Poor – January 25, 2015

Our focus scripture is Deuteronomy 15:7-11.

Demonstrate GOD’S heart for the poor. This is an interesting subject. Here is where Christians need discernment. There are the needy and the greedy.
I basically have a tender heart toward the truly needy. I say truly needy because throughout the years we, as a family, organizations to which we have belonged and Sunday school classes have helped a number of needy folks. 

Unfortunately, a few were simply scammers.

When we were at another church many years ago, a man visited our men’s Sunday school class. He told us a sad story of being without work, divorced and having two children. He had nothing to cook on but a rusty pizza pan and he described other things which he needed for the mobile home he was renting. Plus, he was behind on his rent. Several from our class visited him and he showed us his rusty pizza pan that he used to prepare his children’s food and the other items he needed for his household. Our Sunday school class caught up his rent and bought some of the things he needed for the place he was renting.

Later, we found out that he had taken all of the things back to the place where we purchased them and got the money for them. It so happened, one of our class members knew the person where we had purchased the items and he told him what the man had done. Needless to say, we stopped giving anything to him. He was a deadbeat and lazy. He left our Sunday school class and simply went to another church and repeated the same scam.

Such experiences can make one callous or make you wise. I for one became callous and if someone in the introductory phase of meeting him or her, told me what a great Christian he or she was warning flags would go up. The LORD had to deal with me. Some people, due to a variety of reasons such as health issues, loss of a job, hours cut, insurance increases, poor economy or being taken advantage of, need help until they get reestablished to better manage their finances. Christians need to use common sense coupled with the gift of discernment.

GOD does not want us to ignore common sense or the prompting of the Holy Spirit but HE wants us to have a heart toward those in need and to help them. The world has learned the Christian trigger words to entice Christians into giving to them or to their projects. That is why I began by stating that Christians need to be equipped with the gift of discernment.

The scripture for this lesson is Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy means “second law-giving.” It is more than a restatement of the laws GOD gave to the Israelites through Moses. GOD was about to remove Moses from leading the Israelites and Joshua would become the new leader. The days of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness was about over and they were poised to enter the Promised Land. Moses would not enter the Promised Land because he disobeyed GOD.

As you may recall, 40 years earlier Moses sent 12 spies to scout the Promised Land and 10 of the spies came back with reports that it was a land flowing with milk and honey but there were giants living there. Two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, gave a favorable report and with faith in GOD they would be victorious. The report from the other ten spies ruled the day and fear prevailed. They did not proceed into the Promised Land because of lack of faith in GOD to give them victory over the current inhabitants. The result, GOD punished them for their lack of faith. The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years and GOD took care of them. Now there was a new generation of Israelites and it was time for them to claim the Promised Land as GOD intended.

Moses reviewed with the Israelites the instructions GOD had given them to put into practice, especially when they entered and were established in the Promised Land such as:
·       They were reminded of their history
·       GOD reminded them of the general laws that they needed to govern their nation, which included the Ten Commandments.
·       Reviewing specific stipulations of the covenant made with the Israelites.
·       Proper worship of GOD – Do not become followers of pagan gods and religion which they will encounter in the Promised Land.
·       Clean and unclean foods
·       Tithes
·       Observing the Sabbatical Year

Let’s read Deuteronomy 15:1-3: (The year of “the seventh year of the cancelation of debt.”

1 “At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. 2 This is how to cancel debt: Every creditor is to cancel what he has lent his neighbor. He is not to collect anything from his neighbor or brother, because the Lord’s release of debts has been proclaimed. 3 You may collect something from a foreigner, but you must forgive whatever your brother owes you.
The Sabbatical Year is still in effect. In this day and time it began September 25, 2014 and will go to September 13, 2015. It is the Jewish year of 5775 since creation.

We will see that this command can be problematic for those loaning money because the seventh year is a fixed time period. In another seven years there will be another Sabbatical Year. This would mean the person loaning money would be best served to lend it in the first year following the end of the Sabbatical year. As the Sabbatical year approaches, the more reluctant the person loaning money could be to loan the money.

GOD cautions HIS chosen to be careful and examine their attitude as they ponder whether or not to loan the poor person money as the Sabbatical year approaches. If they do loan the money as they approach the Sabbatical year, they need to look at the loan more as a gift because it is unlikely that the loan will be paid back.

Notice that the “foreigner” or “non-believer” is not included in the Sabbatical Year directive. Notice the distinction between the “foreigner” or “non-believer” and the “brother” or “believer.”   

Let’s read Deuteronomy 15:4-6:

4 “There will be no poor among you, however, because the Lord is certain to bless you in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance— 5 if only you obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow every one of these commands I am giving you today. 6 When the Lord your God blesses you as He has promised you, you will lend too many nations but not borrow; you will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you.

The Hebrew language has several words for “poor.” The word used in this verse means materially and socially poor. It is our relationship with GOD and HIS blessings that result in us not being materially or socially poor. The Jews are good about helping each other.

GOD blesses what HE gives to HIS children and GOD would give them the Promised Land. In response to GOD’S blessings, HIS chosen are to obediently follow HIS commands. This directive has not been fully realized because of sin, thus there are poor among GOD’S chosen, which includes Christians.

The Jews have long believed that those who prosper have GOD’S blessings. Those who do not prosper have done something to offend GOD. This scripture implies this understanding.

I am grateful that, as Christians, we live under GOD’S grace but that does not excuse us from confessing, repenting and staying in relationship with GOD through our faith in CHRIST when we sin.

GOD blesses HIS chosen in order for them help others but HE does not bless HIS chosen for them to be disobedient and live foolishly.

The nation of Israel could lend money but it could not borrow money. Those who borrow from those who do not have the same values as HIS chosen will find themselves being ruled by those to whom they owe money. This, in turn, could result in them being made to compromise their commitment to GOD. 

This is good advice for us today.

Handling finances is critical for people and nations, especially when it comes to borrowing money. GOD’S desire is for HIS children to be wise in all of their financial matters. Wisdom comes from GOD; therefore, it is wise for HIS children to maintain an intimate relationship with HIM.

Finances coupled with the right relationship with GOD means the right use of our resources. 

King David wrote Psalm 37 and verse 25, copied below, gives us insight into GOD taking care of HIS own. It raises a question when those who claim to be such Godly people are begging. I know I likely hit a sensitive spot. This applies to those who do not use their resources wisely and the able bodied who are not willing to work. That is why we need discernment. This does not mean we cannot help them but we need to help them in the right way and not enable them. What do you think? How would you define begging?

25 I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread

It is vital that Christians maintain their relationship with GOD through CHRIST and obediently follow HIM.

Let’s read Deuteronomy 15:7-9:

7 “If there is a poor person among you, one of your brothers within any of your gates in the land the Lord your God is giving you, you must not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. 8 Instead, you are to open your hand to him and freely loan him enough for whatever need he has. 9 Be careful that there isn’t this wicked thought in your heart, ‘The seventh year, the year of canceling debts, is near,’ and you are stingy toward your poor brother and give him nothing. He will cry out to the Lord against you, and you will be • guilty.

This scripture addresses a fellow Israelite or Christian who is poor and you know about it. Again, the Hebrew word used here for “poor” means materially and socially poor. They are what we used to call “down on their luck” people. Often, our first thoughts are: “Is this person lazy?”, “Does he or she have a problem with addiction?”, “Is this person a poor money manager?” And the questions go on. The point of helping a person is not to help him or her out but to help him or her up. They may need more than money, they may need counseling or a job or a better job or education and the list goes on.

GOD’S people are admonished not to be “hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother.” The “hardhearted” are those who know what is the right thing to do but refuse. The “tightfisted” are those who have the means to help the poor but refuse to do so. They are tightfisted.

Pay special attention that the poor person in this scripture is a “brother” or “fellow believer.”

GOD’S people are admonished to “open up their hands” and release their resources to give a helping hand to those in need. Again, it is not giving a hand out but a hand up and to be discerning. Christians are not to be enablers.

GOD’S people must guard against letting the approaching “Sabbatical Year” prevent them from meeting the needs of the poor because the debt would be cancelled in a short time. Such an attitude reflects the true heart of the person being prompted to meet the financial needs of the poor.

If you give into your own selfishness and not give the loan, they will cry out to the LORD and you will be guilty of not meeting the need of that poor person. You have sinned. You have missed the mark of GOD’S expectations for you in representing HIM because HE has blessed you to be able to help others.

Can we as Christians hide behind the church or some other organization by saying go to such-and-such place for assistance? Yes and I am guilty because I do not want to get involved. Safety and security are factors to consider but if we direct them elsewhere, do we support the places we tell them to go? But there are still times when GOD calls us to respond as individuals. If he does, will we or are we hardhearted and tightfisted? Again, I urge caution because the days are evil. Let someone know what you are doing.

If we have a bad attitude toward the poor, we are to confess it to GOD and ask HIM to help us get beyond negative attitudes toward the poor. Also ask HIM to give you the gift of discernment.

There are a lot of wolves in sheep’s clothing and you do not want to be a victim. Always let someone know what you are doing or about to do. If you suspect something is wrong, don’t do it. Call someone who might know how to advise you such as a charitable organization, the police, sheriff’s office or local media to check it out. Scams are wide spread. There are those who use the tenderheartedness of people to take advantage of them.

I read recently of those preying upon women.  They place a doll in a baby carrier on the side of the road near a wooded or grassy section. This is a trap to get mostly women to stop to see about the baby and the whereabouts of the parent only to be snatched, robbed, raped and possibly killed. If you see such call 911 and report it.

Let’s read Deuteronomy 15:10-11:

10 Give to him, and don’t have a stingy heart when you give, and because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you do. 11 For there will never cease to be poor people in the land; that is why I am commanding you, ‘You must willingly open your hand to your afflicted and poor brother in your land.’

GOD’S people are admonished to open their fists and stingy hearts by lending to the poor person even if the Sabbatical year is approaching. When GOD’S people give without being stingy, GOD rewards them.

The poor will always be in our communities and GOD’S people are the solution to helping those in need.

JESUS said in Matthew 26:11:

11 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.
Because the poor will always be with us it is no excuse not to help them, but it is an opportunity to give them a hand up and not a handout. Be wise and discerning. Blessings!!!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Bible Study - Ministering (1) - Ready When Injustice Prevails - Exodus 23:1-9 - January 18, 2015

Bible Study – Ministering (1) – Ready When Injustice Prevails – January 18, 2015

This is lesson one (1) in our series entitled “Ready: Ministering Life to Those in Crisis.”

GOD calls us to defend those who can’t defend themselves. GOD has given civilization HIS standard and basis for laws governing mankind. Absent GOD’S requirements, where would mankind get its guidelines? Would laws be based upon the whims of the ruling mass or class? Without GOD’S basis for governance, I think the world would be in chaos. 

Our focus scripture is Exodus 23:1-3, 6-9.

When the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt, they were under the dictates of Egypt. When GOD led them out of bondage, HE knew that HE had to guide them to establish a set of governing rules to exist as HIS chosen and to represent HIM to the world.

Before Pharaoh agreed to let the Israelites go, GOD demonstrated HIS power to Pharaoh, the Egyptians and the Israelites. After GOD led them out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, HE led them to Mount Sinai. On their journey from Egypt to Mount Sinai HE revealed Himself to them in many different ways.  

When they got to Mount Sinai Moses was GOD’S advocate to the people. GOD told the Israelites that HE chose them as HIS people provided they agreed. The Israelites agreed. GOD’S desire was to speak to them directly as HE had spoken to Moses. The Israelites agreed at first but they backed down and wanted Moses to continue to be their emissary. GOD established a covenant relationship with the Israelites.

Notice that GOD offered the Israelites a choice. HE chose them but they had the opportunity to choose HIM. That is true even since the passion of CHRIST. GOD gives all humans that same opportunity to choose salvation by placing their faith in CHRIST and experience the miracle of rebirth.

GOD gave the Ten Commandments to Moses to present to the Israelites. With the Ten Commandments in place, GOD built the governing principles for an orderly society which reflect HIS values, expectations and guidelines for living as HIS chosen people.

The King James translation uses “Thou shalt not” or “Thou shalt” in our focus verses. Doing so reflects their tie back to the Ten Commandments. The specific commandment which reflects the basis for our focus scripture is Exodus 20:16:

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. (KJV)

“Thou shalt not” reflects a particular form of law referred to as “apodictic law.” Apodictic law is a statement in the second person that presents a specific behavioral principle without setting conditions or citing consequences.  Thus “thou shalt not or shalt” in our focus scripture reveals that this scripture is an application of the Ten Commandments.

GOD’S intent for HIS chosen was for them to speak the truth and be depended upon to speak the truth regardless of what speaking would do to the outcome of a situation. Truth honors GOD and GOD honors truth. Truth was to be an integral part and characteristic of GOD’S chosen.

It is not different today but I am afraid twisting the facts has become the hallmark of some who think that misspeaking is fine as long as it justifies the end result. It is sad that not speaking the truth or distorting the truth for political gain has become a way of life for many political leaders. This, in turn, spreads through much of all society. When foundational principles are compromised: so goes the nation.

We can see what Sharia law and many other laws, not founded upon the principles of the One True GOD and CHRIST, have upon humanity and in particularly women. 

GOD’S desire was for Israel to be a nation of people who could be counted upon to speak the truth and represent truth because they were GOD’S chosen. Christians are GOD’S chosen and the same standards of conduct apply to us as well.

Christians are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Light dispels darkness and salt makes one thirsty. The world is in Spiritual darkness and Christians are Spiritual light. Christians should so live that others thirst for the Spiritual water that quenches Spiritual thirst, which is placing one’s faith in CHRIST and walking as the Holy Spirit leads.

This should establish a background for us to explore our focus scripture.

Let’s read Exodus 23:1-3:

Laws about Honesty and Justice

1 “You must not spread a false report. Do not join the wicked to be a malicious witness. 2 “You must not follow a crowd in wrongdoing. Do not testify in a lawsuit and go along with a crowd to pervert justice. 3 Do not show favoritism to a poor person in his lawsuit.

This scripture focuses on five principles of justice:
-         Do not spread a false report.
-         Do not join the wicked to be a malicious witness. The word join carries the idea of not extending your hand to the wicked to shake their hand to seal a deal with someone hostile to GOD and the ways of GOD to prevent justice. Here is where “political correctness” can raise its head when a GOD fearing person shades the truth so a certain person will avoid the justice that he or she should face.
-         Do not follow a crowd in wrongdoing. A mob mentality must not to be confused with truth and justice.
-         Do not testify in a lawsuit and go along with a crowd to pervert justice.
-         Do not show favoritism to a poor person (materially poor) in his lawsuit. Justice is to be applied equally to the poor, the wealthy or those with authority.

This scripture reflects GOD’S guidance to Israel for establishing a solid foundation of governance, which is based upon the ninth of the Ten Commandments. The intent of the ninth commandment is concerned with a person’s participation as a witness in court.

This scripture is focused upon not spreading false information and giving false or compromised testimony. I think this extends outside of the court and includes gossip. There are groups who relish in ruining a person’s repetition by spreading false information.

Bullying fits this category – do not join wicked groups to be a malicious witness – do not follow a crowd in wrong doing – do not pervert justice. Do not show favoritism to the rich or the poor. There is a tendency to either take advantage of the poor or to twist the truth to give the poor a break. This same instruction applies to testimony given in a court where a wealthy person or a person of influence and power is on trial. Don’t twist the truth in either case whether the person is poor, wealthy or politically connected but be truthful so justice can prevail. Be a person who can be trusted to tell the truth regardless of the stature of the person before the court.

Recently, we have seen mobs gathering and calling for justice. These crowds influence and incite others to act violently such as looting, arson, and injuring or taking the lives of others. Such acts are designed for those in authority to ignore the facts and give favor to certain groups of people. Justice must prevail or there is anarchy.

Muslims are defending the Prophet Mohammed by killing others. It seems to me that thinking Muslims would question why Mohammed and his writings cannot defend himself. Truth prevails but lies die. Radical Muslims are using their religion to justify their cause of murdering innocent people, raping women and children. They are blinded by Satan, just as any religious people who ignore the truth and follow the dictates of their flesh.

We must keep in mind that religion is manmade. Some people make Christianity a religion but true Christianity is CHRIST in you. Joining a religious institution does not make you a Christian. Asking CHRIST to forgive you for your sins, believing that HE gave HIS life to pay for your sins and asking HIM by faith to come into your life transforms your earth life into eternal life through the miracle of rebirth in your spirit. The process of rebirth happens in a flash and your spirit is transformed from spirit to Spirit. You become GOD’S Son or Daughter, a citizen of Heaven and have eternal life.

Keep in mind that Christians worship a risen Savior and at last check Mohammed, Buda and other religions people are following are still dead and buried. CHRIST conquered death. 

Christians are GOD’S chosen and they are to honor GOD by being truthful and seek justice. Do not let others form your opinion. We live in times where political correctness is being defined which can be both good and bad. Court decisions based upon “political” or “politically correctness” sets a dangerous precedent. Let your words and actions work for justice and not against it. Two wrongs do not make it right, such as killing COPS or other fellow humans to satisfy your own definition of justice or your testimony setting free a person who needs to be punished for his or her crime.

When we testify in a court of law, we place our hand upon the Bible and “swear or affirm that we will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me GOD.” When we don’t tell the truth, we are accountable to 
GOD and in some cases to the system: perjury.

If we take GOD out of our world, what becomes the basis for being accountable? The basis for human decency comes from GOD and not just any god but the One True GOD and Father of The LORD JESUS CHRIST.

Let’s read Exodus 23:4-5:

4 “If you come across your enemy’s stray ox or donkey, you must return it to him. 5 “If you see the donkey of someone who hates you lying helpless under its load, and you want to refrain from helping it, you must help with it.

HIS chosen are to treat the property of his or her enemy as they would any other fellow human. If an enemy’s animal has strayed and you see it, return the animal to him or her. It is all about a person’s attitude toward others, which, in turn, reflects his or her heart and honors GOD. Doing the right thing often builds bridges and an enemy may become a friend. But if not, the person doing the right thing brings honor to GOD and often is a positive influence on others.

The same is true for those who hate you. You are to help the helpless animal by helping the person who hates you. Help the person who hates you take the burden off the animal. Often, we gloat when something happens to those who hate us. That is the wrong attitude.

GOD’S desire is for HIS chosen to be in right relationship with HIM and when they are, they have the right attitude toward others and reflect HIM to others.

JESUS said in Matthew 5:43-48:

43 “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your • brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Let’s read Exodus 23:6-7:

6 “You must not deny justice to a poor person among you in his lawsuit. 7 Stay far away from a false accusation. Do not kill the innocent and the just, because I will not justify the • guilty.

This is about accountability of those with authority. The word used for “poor” here carries the meaning of a person who is both materially and socially poor. This poor person has no social or political clout, whereas the poor person in verse three was materially poor.

GOD’S chosen in certain positions of authority, such as a judge or lawyer, are accountable to HIM. The person of authority must not deny justice to those who have a legitimate lawsuit.

They are to stay away from prosecuting a person based upon false charges. Some wealthy or influential people can get the courts to falsely charge innocent people with a crime. False charges will kill an innocent or just person. If you falsely accuse an innocent person, you will be accountable to GOD. GOD is the final judge and HE knows those who are guilty. HE knows the intents of the hearts of the poor person and the one who denies the poor person’s justice.

Today there are organizations, law offices or law schools that take on efforts to review the cases of those who may have been wrongly convicted and put into prison. Most everyone in prison say they are innocent and some are. It is a blessing to live in a society that searches for truth and justice.

Let’s read Exodus 23:8-9:

8 You must not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and corrupts the words of the righteous. 9 You must not oppress a foreign resident; you yourselves know how it feels to be a foreigner because you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.

GOD makes it clear that HIS children are not to accept a bribe, gift, money or certain favor for testifying in a court because in doing so puts pressure on the person testifying to possibly twist the truth and corrupt the righteous person’s testimony for GOD.  

You are not to oppress a foreign resident. Oppress means to squeeze tightly. A foreign resident means a person who has the right to be in that community.
GOD admonishes HIS children to recall when they were foreigners in Egypt. They started out in Egypt as welcomed guests but as time went on and the pharaohs, who knew Joseph, died off. The Israelites grew in numbers and the Egyptians feared them. The Egyptians enslaved them to control them but GOD heard their cry and delivered them.

All people are enslaved by the bondage of sin and GOD hears the cry of those who desire to be rescued from certain eternal death. GOD gives each person an opportunity to be freed from the bondage of sin by giving them the opportunity to accept JESUS CHRIST as his or her Savior. If you have not made that decision, now is your opportunity. Blessings!!!

Friday, January 09, 2015

Bible Study - Storm (6) - Shelter of GOD'S Protection - Psalm 91 - January 11, 2015

Bible Study – Storm (6) – Shelter of GOD’S Protection – January 11, 2015

This is lesson six (6) and our final lesson in the series entitled “Storm Shelter: 
Psalms of GOD’S Embrace.”

Our focus scripture is Psalm 91:1-4, 9-11, 14-16.

GOD is our ultimate protection. Yet, we see bad things happen to “good people.” I put “good people” in quotes because we measure and apply the title of “good” or “bad” to people based upon our concept of “good” or “bad.” GOD is the ultimate judge. The point being, GOD will be with all of HIS children when they go through troubling times. Verse 15 gives Christians that assurance. Their earthly body may die but GOD will be there with them shepherding them through the shadow of death, which is fearful to the lost but glorious to those who have been redeemed by the shed blood of CHRIST.

This Psalm was written with the intent of building up the faith of those who place their trust in GOD. In the “Leaders Guide” Bible Studies for Life, published by LifeWay, One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234, winter 2014-15, pages 90-91, Dr.  Stephen J. Andrews, Professor of Old Testament, Hebrew, and archaeology and Director of the PhD Program at Midwestern Seminary, Kansas City, Missouri wrote an excellent overview of Psalm 91. Stated below is a condensed version of Dr. Andrews’ writings.

The Psalm 91 has three speakers:
-         The Believer, who trusts in GOD, offers a first person testimony in verse 2.
-         The psalmist/worship leader exhorts the believer in the second person throughout the bulk of the psalm - verses 1, 3-13.
-         GOD speaks at the conclusion of verses 14-16.
-         The shift of speakers may indicate the psalm was used in the temple worship, but the precise setting is not clear.

The Psalm has three types of images:
-         The dominant image of refuge in verses 1-2 and 9 focus upon GOD’S presence in the temple.
-         Protective images include a hiding place, a fortress, verses 1-2; a bird protecting its chick’s verse 4 and angel’s in verses 11-12.
-         Lastly, threat images depict a hunter and disease, verse 3, battle weapons verse 5 and dangerous animals in verse 13.
-         The LORD is portrayed as protecting the believer from these and other threats.

The psalm is in three main sections: (1-8, 9-13, 14-16)
-         The first two begin with a confession (verses 1-2) or the report of a confession of trust in the LORD as a refuge – (verse 9).
-         Then each describes protective actions of the LORD in verses 3-4, 10-12 and promises for the believer’s security verses 5-8 and 13.
-         The last section, verses 14-16, contains a prophetic oracle where GOD Himself declares the kind of shelter HE will provide.

Let’s read Psalm 91:1-4:

The Protection of the Most High

1 The one who lives under the protection of the • Most High dwells in the shadow of the • Almighty. 2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 3 He Himself will deliver you from the hunter’s net, from the destructive plague. 4 He will cover you with His feathers; you will take refuge under His wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield.

The person who “lives” or walks in step with GOD receives GOD’S protection. The person who lives in step with GOD is in relationship with GOD and his or her trust in HIM has resulted in GOD being his or her refuge and fortress.

The psalmist refers to GOD as the “Most High” (Elyon or El Elyon) which means “the Supreme One,” “HE is sovereign,” “omnipotent”; “Almighty” (Shaddai) which refers to GOD as being the most powerful; LORD (Yahweh) which is the personal, covenant name of GOD. GOD (Elohim) is the general Hebrew word for a god but in the Old Testament, Elohim most often refers to the one true GOD.

GOD is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent and HE delivers HIS children from the things that will ensnare and cut their lives short. We must keep in mind that GOD gives HIS children the freedom of choice.

GOD’S banner of love and protection is like that of a mother hen who covers her chicks with her wings to protect them. GOD can be trusted to protect HIS children. Will we seek HIS protection?

Yet, we know that GOD does not seemingly protect all of HIS children from bad things happening to them. Most of us know of a number of faithful followers of CHRIST who have lost their lives through accidents, disease, violence, and such, while obediently serving GOD.

Many years ago after reading the book “Tortured for Christ” I got onto GOD’S case. I told HIM that I was better to my children than HE was to HIS children. If I were GOD, if someone harmed a hair on one of my children’s head I would zap that person.

The LORD allowed me to rant and rave and when I finished, the still, calm voice of GOD said, “Suppose, I did zap anyone who harmed a Christian, why do you think that a person would become a Christian? Would it be because that person saw the need for salvation or because of the protection I would give him or her?” I said, because of the protection. GOD said, now think upon that.

GOD’S protection is available to all of HIS children but HIS to administer according to HIS plan and purpose.

It is very difficult for us in the flesh to accept that GOD is sovereign when HIS path takes a different path than the path we think is or would be best according to our plan and purpose.

 The psalmist continues in verses 5-8:

5 You will not fear the terror of the night, the arrow that flies by day, 6 the plague that stalks in darkness, or the pestilence that ravages at noon. 7 Though a thousand fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, the pestilence will not reach you. 8 You will only see it with your eyes and witness the punishment of the wicked.

When GOD’S chosen are secure in HIM, they are not to be afraid at night or day. But it does not mean they will not be in the midst of fearful things. They are not to fear the things they have no control over such as plagues or pestilence. Those who have built a trusting relationship with GOD will see HIS protective hand at work when they look around and see others falling. We have to know that in order for HIS chosen to witness GOD’S protection, we need to be in the midst of the things that are happening but kept secure in HIM.

Let’s read Psalm 91:9-11:

9 Because you have made the Lord —my refuge, the Most High —your dwelling place, 10 no harm will come to you; no plague will come near your tent. 11 For He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways.

GOD bestows HIS protection upon those, who like the psalmist, make HIM their refuge, their Most High and their dwelling place. When they do, “no harm will come to that person; no plague will come near their tent.” Tent means where they live.

“Because” we have made a decision to place our trust in GOD, through faith in CHRIST, then “no harm”; “no plague” will come near where we live.
I have heard it taught that the most important person in any community is the person who is faithful to GOD because GOD’S protective care extends to the area around the faithful person. Yet, we know of destruction coming to areas that appear to have a number of Godly people in it. We also hear of many people who bear witness of GOD’S protection during disasters. It is hard to keep in mind that GOD is sovereign. Some are destroyed and die and some are spared.

GOD gives orders to HIS angels or ministering spirits concerning each of HIS children or those who will be HIS children to protect them until HIS plans and purpose are fulfilled.

In Hebrews 1:14: (Amplified)

14 Are not the angels all ministering spirits (servants) sent out in the service [of God for the assistance] of those who are to inherit salvation?
Many of us know that angels have watched over us and yet, apparently not watching over others. But we must keep in mind that GOD is sovereign; Easy to say but hard to accept.

When we are spared from situations that should have taken our lives, we often ask “Why did GOD spare me?”

 The psalmist continues in verses 12-13:

12 They will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the young lion and the serpent.

GOD’S angels are under HIS command and they will physically protect HIS children. As you recall, Satan used this scripture when JESUS was tempted to prove Himself as found in Matthew 4:5-7:

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
GOD watches over and protects HIS children but HIS children are not to test GOD by doing foolish things.

Let’s read Psalm 91:14-16:

14 Because he is lovingly devoted to Me, I will deliver him; I will protect him because he knows My name. 15 When he calls out to Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble. I will rescue him and give him honor. 16 I will satisfy him with a long life and show him My salvation.

This special protection is based upon our relationship with GOD through faith in CHRIST and building upon that relationship by walking with HIM as the Holy Spirit leads. It is in the daily walk that HIS children build trust in HIM and this in turn builds their relationship. When we are in such an intimate relationship with GOD, we know whether we walk upon earth or walk in heaven we are in step with GOD. Physical death becomes a mute point.

First, those who place their trust in GOD, through faith in CHRIST get to know HIM. The sin barrier has been broken and whoever receives CHRIST as their Savior becomes a child of GOD. That is the beginning of the Spiritual growth and the maturing process or sanctification. This relationship is not that they know about HIM but that they know HIM as they build the right relationship with HIM through obedient service.

All children of GOD build their relationships with HIM through interactive, dynamic and real activities which are based upon each being honest with each other. GOD will do HIS part in the relationship and we must do our part by confessing our sins as we journey with HIM. GOD does not want anything to come between HIM and HIS children.

GOD will respond to those who are in right relationship with HIM. GOD is the giver of life and HE gives those who are in right relationship with HIM long life and continues to reveal Himself in their lives.

These have been interesting lessons. Each of us could write a Psalm expressing our journey with GOD through faith in CHRIST. Building an intimate, loving relationship is vital to experiencing GOD. GOD desires to be our best friend and best friends share intimate details with each other and support each other through thick and thin. JESUS told HIS disciples in John 15:11-17:

11 “I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. 12 This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you • slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father. 16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. 17 This is what I command you: Love one another.

Do you know JESUS as your Savior and best friend? If not, now is the time to ask HIM to forgive you for your sins and ask HIM to come into your life. As we begin a new year, begin it with CHRIST as your Savior and allow HIM to be your very best friend through an intimate, loving relationship. It is a process of sanctification or being made more Saint like.

Keep in mind that you are the clay and HE is the potter. All the clay has to do is to be available to the potter. It is the potter who is the master designer for what the clay will become.  Allow GOD to make and mold you into HIS image. GOD has a plan and a purpose for your life!  Blessings!!!