FROM PASTOR PHIL'S LEATHER JOURNAL: "THE LORD IS PRESENT"
"The Lord is Present"
(Used by Permission)
Please enjoy “The Gospel” from “The Leather Journal” of Rev. Dr. Phil Newton. He pastors the South Woods Baptist Church in Memphis, TN. Other sermons can be heard at https://www.southwoodsbc.org/sermons. This is a service of the https://www.invertedchristian.com/ A ministry of The Duke Consulting Group drrogerdduke.com
“God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride” [Selah.] (Psalm 46:1–3)
What is the solitary help for Christians facing trouble and difficulty in a fallen world? It is that the Lord God has come near to be present in His enabling might when trouble assails us. The psalmist doesn’t tell us the predicament that led to these immortal words, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” It could have been the cataclysmic effects of a natural disaster as the earth changes and “the mountains slip into the heart of the sea.” That may be hyperbole to express some situation grave enough to feel like the earth’s collapse. In this case, the appearance of natural disaster pictures the staggering sense of life collapsing around us, the norms and typical experiences of daily life broken into by devastating and shocking changes.
We might say, ‘Oh, could it be _____?’ then insert the massive trial disrupting the sanity and rhythm of daily life we face. Indeed, when the psalmist calls it a time of being “in trouble,” the word expresses being squeezed or being in a tight place with no wiggle room. The second and third stanzas speak of nations in uproar, kingdoms tottering, wars needing to be ceased, and weapons of war needing to be broken. Into these scenes of life, the Lord comes.
A “refuge” is a secure place, somewhere to hide or to remove oneself from immediate danger. Lightning strikes, so one rushes to find refuge in his home. A tornado barrels toward someone and he finds refuge in a securely reinforced spot. “God is our refuge.” He is the One to whom we run and find a secure place when all around us is chaos.
Yet, we would continue in fear if He were not our “strength.” While a refuge is a secure place, strength is an inward enabling to bear up and face whatever may come. Instead of cowering in weakness and fear, the Lord who is mighty gives His children the measure of strength, fortitude, and ability sufficient for the time. As a refuge, He gives security; as strength, He gives active ability, the energy and power needed to act or endure or lead or give thanks or worship or speak the gospel or live in joy, even in the midst of the cataclysmic experiences disrupting life. What we need in such times, the Lord is.
The psalmist encourages trust and confidence in the Lord, “Who is a very present help in trouble.” When life squeezes, rather than fretting, complaining, or cowering, look to the Lord as your refuge, strength, and very present help. Is that not the promise of Christ who said, ‘Behold, I am with you even to the end of the age,” and who spoke through the writer of Hebrews, “I will never desert you nor will I ever forsake you” (Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5)? Believe Him. He’s faithful to His promises.
The Lord is present. Rely on Him.