Daily Devotions

February 22

Bible Reading: “Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.” (Psalm 91:9-10)

Many will protest from an earthly perspective that they have known saints whom evil befell or plague afflicted. Yet, the Bible assures us that apparent evil in the life of the saint is actually meant for good. Remember Joseph’s words to his brothers, “But as for you, you thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Genesis 50:20). Under the sovereignty of God, the selling of Joseph into slavery by his brothers ultimately led to Joseph becoming prime minister of Egypt. It was as prime minister of Egypt that Joseph was able to save his family from starvation during a seven-year famine.

The Psalmist said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word” (Psalm 119:67). Sometimes a sovereign God allows His saints to be physically afflicted for some greater spiritual good, the consequence of which is a grateful heart for the heavenly good reaped from what first appeared to be an earthly evil.

The Apostle Paul assures us in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Nothing can happen in the lives of God’s saints that a sovereign God does not allow; and the only thing God will allow in the lives of His saints is what He intends for the saints’ ultimate good. Thus, no evil can actually befall the people of God. Apparent evils viewed from a heavenly perspective are actually ultimate goods.

From an earthly perspective, Christ’s death on the cross appears to be the worst thing that has ever occurred. From a heavenly perspective, however, it was meant for the salvation of the world. Even the seeming worst of evils translate into ultimate goods once seen through the prism of divine providence. As the Apostle Paul audaciously acclaims in Philippians 1:21, even death “is gain” to the Christian.

“There is no circumstance, no trouble, no testing, that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God, right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment. But I refuse to become panicky, as I lift up my eyes to Him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart.” (Alan Redpath) 

February 21

Bible Reading: “Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.” (Psalm 91:9-10)

A few years ago, I heard a prominent minister share how God had revealed to him during a life-threatening illness that he was both invincible and invulnerable until God was through with him on earth and ready to take him to Heaven. Likewise, I remember a popular evangelist who traveled around the country for years in spite of the fact that he was afflicted with several terminal illnesses. His spiritual speciality was the subject of faith, which he credited for keeping him alive against all medical explanation.

It’s really not great faith, however, that shields us from all “evil.” Instead, it is a great God. True faith claims no merit of its own; yet, it is rewarded whenever God sees it. Contrary to popular opinion, the strength of faith is not found in its amount, but in its object. With just a little faith in the right object—the Lord Jesus Christ—you can move mountains (Matthew 17:20). On the other hand, misplaced faith, regardless of its quantity, is completely powerless and impotent. It won’t move a thing!

It makes no difference if we live in a lean-to or a fortress, it is only by “making the Most High our habitation” that we can protect ourselves from life’s perils and plagues. It is only those who trust God to tabernacle them in this life that are immune from “evil.” A misplaced faith in any other “refuge” will prove to be wholly inadequate in preventing evil from befalling us.

“God’s protection is available to the saint, but only appropriated by those who are willing to empty their hands of the weapons of self-protection. We must lay down the shields forged by ourselves and pick up the shield of faith in their place. For God to be our refuge, we must take God at His Word.”

February 20

Bible Reading: “Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.” (Psalm 91:8)

The Gospel is a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). It is the fragrance of life to believers and the fragrance of death to unbelievers (2 Corinthians 2:16). This explains its preciousness to the saint and its repulsiveness to the sinner. The one finds it invigorating and the other intolerable.

Unbeknownst to most people, the cross of Christ is two-sided. Although it speaks of the certainty of salvation for all who are willing to believe, it also speaks of the certainty of condemnation for all who refuse to believe. If God spared not His own Son, but poured out on Him the full measure of His wrath for all of the sins of all time, what hope is there of God sparing those who turn their nose up at the crucified Christ and trample His precious shed blood under their feet (Romans 8:32; Hebrews 10:29)?

The sight of God’s inevitable judgment of the wicked will forever remind the saints that God’s refusal to spare his Son from the cross is the only reason He can mercifully spare us. It will also eternally reverberate in our hearts as proof of God’s justice. How can God ever be accused of injustice for refusing to spare from judgment all who refuse to accept the salvation He has wrought for them through His unspared Son?

While the promise of seeing God’s judgement upon the wicked is an unnerving proposition, it is also a necessary one. Only in view of God’s judgment can we truly appreciate the depths of His mercy. It is God’s refusal to jeopardize His justice by letting one single sin slip by unpunished that shows us just how eternally beholden we are to the Savior who suffered on the cross the full penalty for our every single sin.

“…mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” (James 2:13)

February 17

Bible Reading: “A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.” (Psalm 91:7)

A thousand and one threats may be so near us as to be at our side, but yet so far away as not to touch us. Whereas an arrow shot at a venture by an aimless, nameless bowman can be guided by God to deliver the fatal blow of divine retribution to a wicked king (see 1 Kings 22:34), a hail of deadly arrows carefully aimed at God’s faithful children can be divinely reflected so as to miss their target and leave their intended unscathed.

God still makes a difference between Egypt—the world—and the “Land of Goshen” within it—the church (Exodus 8:22; 9:26). While this Christ-rejecting world will certainly suffer the final plagues of God’s wrath (Revelation 15:1), the Christian, who has received Christ and is therefore not appointed to wrath, will not be touched by them (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

It is always Sennacherib’s army—the enemy of God’s people—that is blasted by the blight of God’s destroying angel (2 Kings 19:35-36). Meanwhile, Jerusalem—the people of God—sleep on in restful repose while being divinely delivered from the amassed forces arrayed against them. Inside Jerusalem it is a peaceful night, but outside the city’s safe refuge it is a night of stark terror.

Would you come into the ark of God’s safety today, or will you remain outside under the darkening sky and gathering clouds of the approaching end time tempest? If you refuse God’s offer of grace, there is no escape from His judgment, but if you receive the gracious gift of salvation afforded you in Christ, then, there is no reason to fear any weapon that is forged against you (Isaiah 54:17).

“Our God His chosen people saves

Amongst the dead, amidst the graves.”

February 16

Bible Reading: “Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.” (Psalm 91:6)

The Psalmist portrays pestilence as walking in darkness. Truly, it is shrouded in mystery, both in its cause and in its cure. Like an enemy stabbing in the dark or an unknown assassin who may strike anywhere at any moment, pestilence enters you know not where or how and may be contracted anywhere at anytime. How can anxiety be escaped in a disease-infected place where one may inhale with any given breath the fatal virus?

Along with the dark danger of pestilence, there are also the dangers of noonday. Many perils of life are fearfully straightforward, not lurking invisibly like the infectious disease.  There is the horror of wars approaching drumbeat, the darkening sky of the gathering tempest, the initial tremor of an earthquake, and the parched land and failing crops proceeding famine. All of these are causes of great anxiety that afford our foeman fear the opportunity to seize our hearts.

According to the Psalmist, it is only those brave souls who seek shelter in God who can rise above fear. Anxiety can lay no hold on them, not even in plague-stricken places. They remain calm in the stormy tempest. They know inner peace, even when outwardly surrounded by bloody war. They remain unshakable when the earth trembles and spiritually well-nourished in a famine-stricken land. Neither terrors by night nor horrors by day can scare them, since their security is in their Savior’s sheltering arms, not the sterility of their environment nor the clear skies of an uncloudy day.

He, His shadowy plumes outspread,

With His wing shall fence thy head;

And His truth around thee wield,

Strong as targe or bossy shield!

Naught shall strike thee with dismay,

Fear by night, nor shaft by day.

February 15

Bible Reading: “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day.” (Psalm 91:5)

Although the night should be a time of sleep and quiet, it is for many a time of fear and horrors. Instead of being assured of the presence of guardian angels, many are anxious at the prospect of demonic visitations. Thus, the time of rest and rejuvenation is turned into a time of apprehension and anxiety. Rather than looking forward to the season of repose, many dread the night as a time of frightening apparitions.

For every real danger in our lives, there is a thousand imaginary ones that haunt us. These conjured-up specters are prolific thieves who steal not only the night’s needed repose, but also one’s daily peace of mind. According to the Psalmist, the fear of nightly terrors and daily dangers—real or imagined—evaporate in the face of a real faith in God. This is not to say that those who trust in God will never struggle with daily dreads or nightly nervousness, it is only to say that they shall not succumb to them.

Safely cradled in the hollow of the Father’s hand, the child of God need not fear any hail of daily arrows or howling of nightly hoards. No peril can touch us without passing through the Father’s fingers, and the Scripture assures us that any peril that does is meant for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28). “Why,” then, as a famous hymn queries, “should I feel discouraged [and] why should the shadows come…when Jesus is my portion…and I know He watches over me?”

“Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death.” (Anonymous)

February 14

Bible Reading: “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” (Psalm 91:4)

God’s truth provides the believer with double armor. It is a “shield” and a “buckler”; that is, body armor. Deflected by the shield of truth, every fiery dart of doubt, which the enemy hurls at us, falls harmlessly to the ground. No weapon forged against us by our adversary can cut through the buckler of God’s truth to inflict us with a mortal wound.

In the New Testament, Paul describes “faith” as the “shield” and “righteousness” as the “breastplate” of the armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-17). How about truth? It, according to the great apostle, is the belt that keeps all of our armor intact. Without it, all of our protection fails and we are left vulnerable to “powers and principalities…the rulers of the darkness of this world…[and] spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Jesus taught us in His High Priestly prayer that God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). Truth is what God says. To be protected by the truth one must be a pupil and practitioner of the Word of God. Otherwise, we are most susceptible to the lies of the father of lies and to the deviousness of the subtile serpent (John 8:44; Genesis 3:1).

“In today’s world, I fear that far more people shield themselves from the truth than shield themselves with it. Don’t you be one of them.”

February 13

Bible Reading: “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” (Psalm 91:4)

Do you remember the words of Jesus over Jerusalem? “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not” (Matthew 23:37).

Just as she had rejected the sermons of the prophets, Jerusalem also rejected the protection of her Savior. He would have covered her with His impenetrable protection, but Jerusalem refused to come into His sheltering arms. Therefore, she fell into the hands of Titus the Roman and was destroyed in 70 AD; and all because of her foolish rejection of God’s eternal safekeeping.

Chicks covered with their mothers protective pinions fear neither hawks in the sky nor snares on the ground. Both are equally harmless to a little brood nestled together under its mother’s protective plumage. Likewise, Christians have no need to fear when tabernacled by Christ. Truly, there is no need for alarm beneath the sheltering “wings” of the Almighty. What danger or devil would dare to try to get at us there?

Still, there are those today, like Jerusalem of old, who foolishly spurn the Savior’s eternal safekeeping. In doing so, they leave themselves defenseless against temporal dangers and doomed to eternal destruction. Perhaps, the famous Quaker poet, John Greenleaf Whittier, had the rejection of Christ by yesterday’s Jerusalem and by today’s lost souls in mind when he penned his most famous words: “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’”

UNDER HIS WINGS (Ira D. Sankey)

 

“Under His wings, I am safely abiding,

Though the night deepens and tempests are wild;

Still I can trust Him—I know He will keep me,

He has redeemed me and I am His child.

 

Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow!

How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!

Often when earth has no balm for my healing,

There I find comfort and there I am blest!

 

Under His wings, O what precious enjoyment!

There will I hide ’til life’s trials are o’er;

Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me,

Resting in Jesus I’m safe evermore.

 

Under His wings, under His wings,

Who from His love can sever?

Under His wings my soul shall abide,

Safely abide forever.”

February 10

Bible Reading: “Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.” (Psalm 91:3)

We certainly live in a health-crazed society today. We constantly hear about low-fat diets, lowering cholesterol, daily exercise and vitamin supplements. While there is nothing wrong with taking care of ourselves, there is something wrong with leaving God out of our healthcare equation. To hear most people talk today, cholesterol has more to do with our life expectancy than Christ does.

Do we really believe, as the Psalmist did, that God can protect us from the “noisome pestilence”? Or are we, like the world, relying more on a swine flu shot? Vaccinations are fine, as far as they go, but divine inoculations are far better. The man who has received a divine immunization is invulnerable to all viruses.

When you feel a pang of physical discomfort, what’s normally your first inclination? Do you pick up the phone and call for an appointment with your family physician or do you consult the Great Physician in your prayer closet? Remember, only one of them can guarantee deliverance “from the noisome pestilence.”

“God does the cure and the physician takes the fee for it.” (Benjamin Franklin)

February 9

Bible Reading: “Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.” (Psalm 91:3)

In one of his magnificent hymns, Isaac Watts writes:

“Satan, the fowler, who betrays

Unguarded souls a thousand ways.”

Truly, the snares of the devil are multitudinous. If he cannot ensnare us one way, he has countless others to resort to. Only the guarded soul is safe from Satan’s divers snares.

According to Proverbs 25:28, an undisciplined man is like an unwalled city. The walls around ancient cities protected them from enemies, thieves and wild beasts. It is discipline in the Christian life that protects us from our enemy (Ephesians 6:12; 1 Peter 5:8), from the thief (John 10:10), and from wild beasts (Matthew 7:15; Luke 10:19; 1 Peter 5:8). Any undisciplined area of our lives is unwalled and vulnerable to Satan who prowls the earth looking for easy prey.

As Nehemiah wept over Jerusalem’s vulnerability and broken down walls, we should weep over our vulnerability and broken down walls—lack of discipline (Nehemiah 1:3-4). We should also follow Nehemiah’s example when it comes to praying and fasting (Nehemiah 1:4), confessing our sins (Nehemiah 1:5-11), surveying the ruins (Nehemiah 2:11-16), rebuilding the walls (Nehemiah 2:17-6:16), and posting a guard (Nehemiah 7:1-3).

It’s not enough to discipline ourselves and drive the enemy out of our lives. Once the devil has been driven out, we must continuously guard the gates of our lives and keep him out.          

“When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles. When he stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs. When he stops praying, the devil shouts for joy.” (Corrie ten Boom)