Today’s AMI QT blog, originally posted on May 2, 2013, is written by Pastor Matt Ro, who formerly pastored Journey Church in Atlanta.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“God is With/Among Us”
Psalm 46:1-3; 8-11
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. 8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. 10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Introduction: God was always displeased whenever the kings of Israel—under attack by hostile nations—would seek the help of neighboring kings (e.g., 2 Chron. 16:7); God desired that Israel would seek Him first. What about us? What do we typically turn to when facing troubles? Friends? Facebook? Google search? Today’s blog shows why it is sensible to turn to God first.
Psalm 46 is a song declaring, “God is with (among) us”; a Mighty Fortress indeed is our God. V. 1 speaks of God as being our “refuge and strength” in times of trouble. Since the security that the world offers is fleeting and imperfect (vv. 2-3), we ought to look to God for real protection, for He alone is our true security.
Repeatedly (v. 1, 5, 7, 10, and 11), the theme of “God being with us, among us, and for us” is stated. We need an inner strength to be able to overcome minor troubles to the most troubling circumstances (v. 2, 6, 9). Though mountains may fall and the earth may be reeling, God is still God in the midst of life’s turmoil.
The Psalm points to the final day in which wars will cease and all things will be brought low. This sounds similar to Psalm 2:2-3: “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”
Directed to those who oppose God, it concludes with a call to “be still, and know that he is God,” thereby declaring that he reigns among the nations and over all the earth. The “Lord of hosts,” one who delivers, stands with us.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, that in any circumstance, we are reminded that your presence and help are always near. A Mighty Fortress indeed is our God as we think about your abiding presence with us. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: John 10 (Luke 23)
Lunch Break Study
Read Ephesians 1:3-14: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
Questions to Consider
- What do you think “heavenly places” refers to (v. 3)?
- Think about all the “spiritual blessings” that Paul refers to in vv. 4-14. How can an understanding of those truths impact our lives as believers?
- In the heavenly realm that is “among you” or “in your midst,” are there any blessings and truths that need to replace urges that were placed by the enemy? Take some time to dislodge the enemy’s lies with weighty spiritual truths. Consider how great our God is. More than the blessing, we desire the blessor. Conclude in praise and thanksgiving.
- When Paul says that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, he is not referring to heaven. Heavenly realm is a reference to the invisible realities of our lives, such as our thought life, conflict, pressure, struggle, security, and peace, where, according to Chapter 6, the principalities and spiritual powers can attack us. The heavenly realm is a place where not only are we subjected to attack but also the place where God can release His blessings and deliver us. It is also a place where the Holy Spirit reaches (i.e., can affect) our intellect, emotions, and will.
- Paul lists election, predestination, adoption, redemption, forgiveness, wisdom, revelation, the counsel of his will, the word of truth, the Gospel of salvation, and deposit of the Holy Spirit as blessings from God, which ought to produce many inner surges of the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). These are much more than mere theological ideas. They are facts, that is, foundational truths that undergird us in every moment of our lives. And unless we understand those facts, we can’t utilize or benefit from them. In that way, they are like impersonal natural laws, which operate regardless of how we feel. Of course, it is never impersonal since God personally delights in blessing us.
- There are foundational truths that undergird us every moment of our lives. Have we moved past mere theological ideas to appropriate the Life we were designed to live?
Take a moment to recall in what ways God is your refuge and strength. Living in the materialistic world that desensitizes our desire for God with an illusion of security, we need to remember that we have access to every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. Focus on the things that bring us eternal security.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for these vast truths. I pray that my understanding may be made equal to them. I can’t grasp them properly apart from the work of Your Spirit, and I pray that You will open my eyes and help me to see that these things are true indeed. Thank you that even when we find ourselves in difficult circumstances and emotions, you are a God who blesses us, and as we realize how blessed we are, you begin to turn our mourning into dancing. Amen.