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(Part 127)


July 6, 2015

Today’s readings:
Genesis 28:10-22
Psalm 91:1-15
Matthew 9:18-26

We know we can be secure under God’s protection. We know God can work wonders in our lives. God can bring miraculous healing, as in the case of the woman suffering hemorrhages for twelve years, with just a touch of the tassel of his cloak (Mt 9:20). God can even raise the dead, as in the case of Jesus bringing back to life the official’s daughter (Mt 9:18,25).

What is needed is faith. The suffering woman said, “If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured.” (Mt 9:21). The official said, “My daughter has just died. But come, lay your hand on her, and she will live.” (Mt 9:18b). Jesus told the woman, “Your faith has saved you.” (Mt 9:22c).

Now we do have faith. We have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord. But have we accepted the way of Jesus for our lives? Are we truly living Christ? And do we have the faith that can move mountains? These are important if we are to experience the fullness of God’s salvation, of His protection, of His care.

Let us examine ourselves. Are we really living Christ?

One, do we recognize God in the seemingly ordinary places we visit anywhere and everywhere, which He sanctifies by His presence? God is not only to be encountered in the church or our prayer nook or a retreat house, but certainly in our homes, our workplaces, our schools, our places of recreation. But oftentimes we can become quite worldly or secular, or at least unmindful of God, when we are outside the normally-recognized places we connect with God. “Truly, the Lord is in this place and I did not know it!” (Gn 28:16b).

Two, do our lives reflect the simplicity of God or the extravagance of the secular world? Are we satisfied with the basics or do we constantly seek what the world holds important but are not really so in God’s eyes? Do we focus on our wants beyond our needs? What are basics? For our human needs, these are food, clothing and shelter. Jacob looked to God to “give me food to eat and clothes to wear, and I can come back safely to my father’s house” (Gn 28:20b).

Three, do we truly look to God for our provision or do we look to our own devices and our own ways of securing ourselves and our future? God says He will provide, but do we insist on expending too much of our time and energy in providing for ourselves, in the process missing out on living out our community covenant or serving God? Do we recognize that everything comes from God, including our ability to earn a good living, and that we are mere stewards of what we “own,” but we do not return to Him, by way of a tithe? “Of everything you give me, I will return a tenth part to you without fail.” (Gn 28:22b).

If we fail in the above, and in other instances when our faith in God is tested, then we may not experience the fullness of God’s protection and provision.

Now does not God tell us, “No evil shall befall you, no affliction come near your tent.” (Ps 91:10)? But this is not our experience at all. We have many afflictions in life. Can we really in faith entrust our lives to God? But of course. “Say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust.’” (Ps 91:2).

Here is the reality. God is indeed there for us, but is about re-making us in His image and likeness. “I am with you and will protect you wherever you go .... I will never leave you until I have done what I promised you.” (Gn 28:15). But given our human nature, when all is well, we very easily forget about God and neglect our obligations to Him. On the other hand, when there are afflictions, then we turn to God. The greater the affliction, the more our turning to God. Since God is journeying with us and intends to form us and bring us to holiness, then He allows afflictions.

So how can we be fully secure under God’s protection? Let us continue to examine ourselves. Do we have the faith that can move mountains?

Do we really look to God for our protection? Do we “dwell in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shade of the Almighty.” (Ps 91:1)? Do we really look to the Lord as our “refuge and fortress” (Ps 91:2a)? Do we really understand it when we say that the Lord is “my God in whom I trust.” (Ps 91:2b)? Have we really “made the Most High (our) stronghold” (Ps 91:9b)? Do we really “cling to (God)” (Ps 91:14a)? Do we really know his name (Ps 91:14c)?

Oftentimes we provide for our own devices. We trust in our own strength. We look to what the world values, such as power, money and position, rather than to servanthood, humility and simplicity of lifestyle. Do we then really know God? Do we then truly put our trust in Him?

The fullness of all God’s promises are dependent on the extent of our faith and putting our lives fully in God’s hands and not our own. “Because you have the Lord for your refuge and have made the Most High your stronghold, no evil shall befall you, no affliction come near your tent.” (Ps 91:9-10). God says this of us: “Because he clings to me I will deliver him; because he knows my name I will set him on high.” (Ps 91:14).

To become fully secure under God’s protection will be an awesome thing. As awesome as being miraculously healed or even being raised from the dead. Especially for those who engage in spiritual warfare, in the work of evangelization and mission, we can experience dramatic effects.

One, protection from the enemy and serious illness. “He will rescue you from the fowler’s snare, from the destroying plague” (Ps 91:3). As such, we need never fear anything, whatever is happening in the world. “You shall not fear the terror of the night nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that roams in darkness, nor the plague that ravages at noon.” (Ps 91:5-6).

Two, assurance of divine presence, with God’s angels around us keeping us safe. “No evil shall befall you, .... For he commands his angels with regard to you, to guard you wherever you go.” (Ps 91:10a,11).

Three, victory in battle over evil forces. “You can tread upon the asp and the viper, trample the lion and the dragon.” (Ps 91:13). The evil one can throw all his greatest forces against us--the serpent, the roaring lion, the dragon--but we will prevail. This is because God will “fill (us) with (His) saving power.” (Ps 91:16b).

With the victory comes the great honor accorded by God, the exultation by the saints, the heavenly applause by the angels. “I will deliver him and give him honor.” (Ps 91:15c).

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