Tuesday, July 24, 2012


“God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1 HCSB)

Luther knew the need to find a refuge.  The little monk had challenged the power of the Pope.  The mighty monolith of ecclesiastical authority that was the church of Rome was ready to crush him.  Where could he run?  What could he do?  God protected him—and the unthinkable happened—the miracle of the Reformation and the recovery of the Gospel—justification by faith in Christ alone!

Martin Luther’s testimony to God’s protection is preserved in that grand old hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”  The majestic message says:

A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing.
Our helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe.
His craft and power are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing,
Were not the right man on our side,
The man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He.
Lord Sabboth, his name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him.
His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure.
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers
Not thanks to them, abideth.
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also.
The body they may kill,
God's truth abideth still.
His kingdom is forever...

We are told that the words are a paraphrase of Psalm 46.  May the text that inspired Luther encourage us today, as we are on the battlefield for our Lord!


God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple
into the depths of the seas, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil. Selah  (Psalm 46:1-3)

We can trust in God.  The most dreadful enemy cannot destroy us when we flee to Him for refuge!  Our security and strength to withstand Satan’s fury is found in the unchanging character of God.  He doesn’t just give us a refuge—He is one!  Because of His immutable nature, we have an indomitable Helper—note the word “always.”  It is in times of trouble that He is “found.” That is when God most manifests His might to us and for us.  So, don’t expect to be saved from experiencing difficulty, but to be safe while experiencing difficulty.

Faith fortifies us against fear.  It doesn’t deny the reality of the difficulty—trembling ground, teetering mountains, and tempestuous seas.  What faith does is enable us to stand on the solid promises of God when all about us there is turmoil.

Not only do we have faith that conquers our dread, we find HOPE THAT CONQUERS OUR DESPAIR.

[There is] a river—its streams delight the city of God, the holy dwelling place of the Most High.  God is within her; she will not be toppled.  God will help her when the morning dawns.  Nations rage, kingdoms topple; the earth melts when He lifts His voice.  The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah” (Psalm 46:4-7 HCSB)

To look around us at the present could bring despair—it seems at times that everything is coming unglued.  We must instead look above us to our prospects that buttress hope. 

There may be a deluge of evil flooding the land with its polluted waters, but God has something better for us—the hope of a DELIGHT: “[There is] a river—its streams delight the city of God...” a crystal clear river that flows from the throne of God in the New Jerusalem (see Rev.22:1). 

At present this world and its institutions may be disintegrating, but there is a city with foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God—the hope of a DWELLING: “the holy dwelling place of the Most High.  God is within her; she will not be toppled.  It is an unshakable Kingdom (read Heb.12:26-29). 

For now, the darkness may envelope us, but we are promised the hope of a DAWN: “God will help her when the morning dawns.  This is the blessed hope of God’s eternal day! 

“Night will no longer exist, and people will not need lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will give them light.  And they will reign forever and ever.  Then he said to me, ‘These words are faithful and true.’” (Revelation 22:5-6a HCSB)

God has given us faith that conquers our dread, hope that conquers our despair, and more—LOVE THAT CONQUERS OUR DISTRESS.

Come, see the works of the Lord, who brings devastation on the earth.  He makes wars cease throughout the earth.  He shatters bows and cuts spears to pieces; He burns up the chariots.  ‘Stop [your fighting]—and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.’  Yahweh of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah  (Psalm 46:8-11 HCSB)

Jesus warned us that distressing times would come.  He said, “You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, because these things must take place, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.   All these events are the beginning of birth pains.” (Matthew 24:6-8 HCSB)

The turmoil of nations marks these last days in which we find ourselves.  The last century brought two world wars, and we sense that another is to come.  Each global conflict has brought more death and carnage—the soil saturated with blood.  More lethal weapons have been developed and deployed.  The creative genius of man, with minds warped by sin, has engineered this brutality.

These are but the labor pains of a coming Kingdom—the birth of God’s reign on earth.  A last battle—a final conflict—and Christ comes to His rightful throne!

God loves us!  All the seething hate of this world, fueled by the murderous rage of Satan, cannot extinguish God’s indomitable love.  He has a purpose for His children that cannot be thwarted.  His bride shall take her seat along side Him and reign with Him!

“Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were given authority to judge.  [I] also [saw] the people who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of God's word, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with the Messiah for 1,000 years.  The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were completed. This is the first resurrection.  Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years.”  (Revelation 20:4-6 HCSB)

Each of the three stanzas of Psalm 46 concludes with the musical notation, “Selah.”  It is a rest—a call to contemplate what has been said.  Meditate on these truths today.  They will fortify your mind against fear, strengthen your resolve in the fight and remind you of God’s eternal love in the midst of earthly loss.  Luther ended his hymn on that note:

Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also.
The body they may kill,
God's truth abideth still.
His kingdom is forever...

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