Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

December 23, 2021

Peace and good will.

Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you.

Psalms 91:5-7 NLT

It’s Christmas. We should be enjoying some eggnog and the company of our loved ones as we prepare to celebrate the incarnation of the Son of God. I hope that’s what you’re doing. If, however, you have been following the news you may have been distracted from your holiday cheer. For many, the atmosphere is not filled with light and the smell of cookies and scented candles. Instead, there is the smell of fear. If I listen to the media long enough, it starts to stir up two things. One, of course, is fear – “You’re all going to get the virus, and the hospitals will be too full to care for you.” The second, is anger. For the vaccinated and masked, “The unwashed multitudes are contaminating our world. They must be shunned!” For the unvaxxed, “They’re trying to control you and force a dangerous drug into your body. We must rise up and resist!”

Addressing the second issue first, no matter which camp you’re in, the vaxxers or the resistors, surely Christmas should remind us that “God so loved the world.” It’s never OK to hate people and wish their demise, but it’s especially unacceptable at this time. Please, take a minute to turn off the TV or the computer or the phone and check your heart.

As to the fear issue, just a few days ago, I was lying awake in the night thinking about the arrival of a new virus scare. As I prayed in the Spirit, I heard such a gentle voice on the inside quote from Psalm 91: “A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you. (Psalms 91:7 NKJV)” God was reminding me that He provides a safe space for His kids. In fact, our “safe space” in His presence is referenced throughout Scripture. Let me share a few with you for your own meditation:

  • You can be sure of this: The LORD set apart the godly for Himself. The LORD will answer when I call to Him. (Psalms 4:3 NLT)
  • For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. ( Exodus 33:16 KJV)
  • Then GOD will bring back the ancient pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night and mark Mount Zion and everyone in it with his glorious presence, his immense, protective presence, shade from the burning sun and shelter from the driving rain.(Isaiah 4:5-6 MSG)
  • Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.(Psalms 57:1 NIV)
  • “‘But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the LORD, am in this land. I will make a distinction between my people and your people. This sign will occur tomorrow.'” (Exodus 8:22-23 NIV)
  • There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any person or animal.’ Then you will know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. (Exodus 11:6-7 NIV)

God repeatedly told His people that there was s difference between them and the unbelievers around them. He provided a place in His presence that marked them as His and protected them from judgment when it came. He encouraged them to call on Him in their distress, clean up their act if they needed it, and expect Him to provide and protect. This idea spills over into the New Testament. Jesus talked about it and prayed about it:

  • And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ (Matthew 6:12-13 NIV)
  • I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. (John 17:14-15 NIV)

The Apostles gave instruction on it:

  • Paul: But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3 NIV)
  • Peter: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:7-9 NIV)
  • John: We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (1 John 5:18-19 ESV)
  • James: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:7-10 ESV)

Somebody Said: The safest place in all the world is in the will of God, and the safest protection in all the world is the name of God.

Warren Wiersbe

Here’s the point: God makes a safe place for His people. That place is His Presence, near to His side. His part is to provide and protect. My part is to draw near and live there. In the midst of chaos it takes intentional focus to do whatever is necessary to live close to the Master. When the enemy screams and fear rises, I have authority and responsibility to command him to shut up and go.

The word “Goshen” means “drawing near.” That gives greater force to Joseph’s words to his brothers: “You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute. (Genesis 45:10-11 NIV)”

Let the drawing near begin!

Merry Christmas!

Pastor Virgil

3141 W. Ironwood Hill Dr.

Tucson AZ 85745

520-792-FCFT

For Pastor Virgil books, visit the FCF Tucson Bookstore

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