Staying in the Shade of God’s Influence

Monday, March 01, 2010

Dr. Dennis Burke

 

        There is a deep satisfaction that comes from knowing we are in a strong relationship with God that cannot be broken by the daily conflicts we might face or the problems that arise. In fact, if we are willing to pursue that kind of relationship with the Father, we’ll find that it’s possible to enjoy a life filled with true contentment and freedom—one that is capable of withstanding and overcoming every storm that life may throw at us.

         Psalm 91:16 sets the target for us. God said of the person who will pursue Him: “With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.”

         God’s promise of long life isn’t merely referring to living a long time. Multitudes of people become disappointed with life and, as the years pass, grow old and bitter. They may have lived a long time, but they have also been miserable and most likely have made those around them miserable as well. In contrast, God’s promise is not only for a long life, but one that is full, peaceful, and contented as well.

         There is an art to living contented—one that the Apostle Paul discovered in his own walk with God. Paul could be rich or poor, living in comfort or in less-than-comfortable conditions—yet through it all, he remained content. How did he do it? He learned an important truth: Contentment isn’t a product of our surroundings or circumstances—it’s a product of our position in Christ and our perspective.

         Paul’s strength to maintain the right perspective was the result of his decision to keep God’s Kingdom at the center of every experience and God’s promises in view every time things got tough. Paul said it this way: “I have learned the secret…I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me” (Philippians 4:12-13 TEV).

         Contentment is a powerful force. On the other hand, so is discontentment—capable of robbing us of both energy and joy. So where will we live—in the tent of contentment or the tent of discontent? It’s our choice. True contentment is not the result of the conditions around us but of the condition within us—and the fruit of true contentment is joy, confidence, and strength.  

        The journey into lasting contentment begins right where we would think—in the presence of the Almighty God.  

        Psalm 91:1-2 describes it best:  

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.’”   

        Dwelling “in the secret place of the Most High” is our invitation to intimacy with God Himself. In Christ we now have private access to God’s presence. Prayer time should therefore become a joy-filled time of true communion, fellowship, and conversation with the Lord. In the process, the “secret place of the Most High” becomes our ongoing dialogue with Him.  

        The psalmist provides a powerful picture of what this process accomplishes. He states that we will “abide [or remain] under the shadow of the Almighty.” In other words, we will live every moment in such a close, intimate place with God that His influence will be felt and will affect us in every situation. 

        The picture of abiding under God’s shadow makes me think of standing under an umbrella. Historically, the umbrella was first designed to protect a person from the sun. The Latin word for “shade” is umbra—the word from which the umbrella derived its name.  

        Think about it—we are carrying around our own personal umbrella of God’s influence! Everywhere we go, we have His “shade” of influence surrounding us, as well as all the situations we’re involved in. Staying under His influence will empower us to stand strong in the face of conflicts, negative reports, threats to our well-being, or any other move Satan may make against us.  

        Psalm 91:2 gives us a key concept for maintaining that strong stance. It says, “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.’” If we will fix our eyes on God as our place to run for refuge and protection, He will surround us with His protection from threats and attacks of every kind.

        The first epistle of John adds a very powerful promise in this regard: “The God-begotten are also the God-protected. The Evil One can't lay a hand on them” (1 John 5:18 Message). The enemy can’t lay a hand on us as long as we stay in the “shade”!    

        The psalmist also gives us another important insight along this line. He makes it clear that this is something we say. It is more than a thought or something we know. God’s power is released by the words we speak—in our prayers, our declarations of faith, and our daily conversation.

        God is our Refuge, our Fortress, and our Protector. He guides and keeps us, and we follow His lead.

        There is something so powerful in saying just what God’s Word says about us. In the beginning of Scripture, God Himself created everything with His spoken words. Throughout the first chapter of Genesis, the Bible declares: “God said, let there be…and there was….” In fact, for each of the first six days of creation, everything that came into existence was the result of God’s spoken word. 

        Now we find the same principle in operation on our behalf. Our words set God’s power into action and become our means of abiding under the shade of His influence. 

        There is power in your spoken words when they come from a heart of faith in God’s Word. When your words totally agree with the promises God has given to you, you have taken the strongest position of faith possible—and faith moves God. 

        Those words, “I will say of the Lord,” can be your declaration preceding every promise God has given to you in the entire Bible. You can declare with confidence: “I will say of the Lord that He is my Protector. He is my Provider. He is my Healer. He delivers me from the hand of my enemies. He is my righteousness, my shield, my joy.” 

        We can find out in the Word who God says He is and boldly declare that He is that to us. In fact, Jesus is to us only who we say He is. He is our Savior only when we declare that He is. He is our Healer only when we say He is. He is our Baptizer in the Holy Spirit only when we say He is. We are the ones who establish how much of Jesus’ influence He can bring into our lives.       

        Who is Jesus to you, and what are you saying of the Lord? Are you consistent in what you say? Are you letting the problems you encounter in life dictate what you believe about God’s promises? The answers to these questions will unlock a great deal of understanding if you’re not receiving God’s blessing on the level you desire.  

        Begin saying of the Lord who He is in your life. Then watch Him rise up within your heart and your life to be all you have declared!

 


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