“You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
2 will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence;
4 he will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
or the arrow that flies by day,
6 or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
or the destruction that wastes at noon”
What beautiful words of promise are in this passage – who God is, what God will do, and an invitation to leave behind fear as we live in the presence of God. We are invited to live with one another under the shelter of God, in whom we can wholeheartedly trust with our lives.
- What does it mean to you that God is your refuge and fortress?
- Who are you in community with in the shadow of the Almighty and what does that look like?
- What would you like to ask God to do today?
Gracious God, you invite us to abide with you and find shelter. As we find our security and hope in your presence, may we live in our worlds as agents of your love and faithfulness, free from the fear that blinds us to the needs and hearts of others. May we carry your comfort and your presence into the world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only look with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 Because you have made the Lord your refuge,
the Most High your dwelling place,
10 no evil shall befall you,
no scourge come near your tent.
Sometimes we attach names to “the wicked,” which is most likely what the writer of this psalm was thinking or imagining. But what if it also meant the influence of Satan in and around us? This passage is filled with promise of God’s power and will to overcome evil and an invitation to live in the presence of God in faith that God has overcome.
- Where do you see God at work, contending with the wicked influence of Satan?
- How is your closeness to God freeing you from fear and allowing Him to protect you?
- Who do you know who needs to be invited into the refuge of God? How can you reach out to them today?
Gracious God, we can sometimes feel like we are surrounded by evil and that somehow it is our job to overcome and fight each battle. Thank you for the reminder in this passage that it is you who overcomes wickedness and that you invite us to find refuge in you and in your presence experience safety. Help us to live as those who are protected by you, and free to love others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder,
the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.
14 Those who love me, I will deliver;
I will protect those who know my name.
15 When they call to me, I will answer them;
I will be with them in trouble,
I will rescue them and honor them.
16 With long life I will satisfy them,
and show them my salvation.
Read these verses several times, allowing the beautiful promises of God to soak into your soul. In a culture where fear and anxiety hangs in the air like humidity, we are invited to see through the haze and find a God who has the capacity to be present with each of us, comforting, guiding, rescuing, and satisfying.
- What causes you to be fearful and anxious?
- Are there sources (social media, news, etc.) that feed your anxiety?
- What would it look like to let go of these sources and embrace more fully the God who is sovereign?
Gracious God, thank you for your promise to bear us up, comfort, guide, rescue, and satisfy us. We confess that much of our time is spent trying to do that for ourselves. Help us to cultivate touchpoints in our lives where we remember what you do for us and, in response, what is ours to do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Jesus reminds his followers that they are living their lives before God and God alone. Then he provides examples of what it looks like to do this, starting with the giving of our resources. He has harsh words for those who seek the praise of others and invites us to find contentment knowing that God has seen.
- When are you tempted to seek to impress those around you?
- What brings you back to being content with God’s watchful eye over you?
- Where can you open yourself up more generously, content to be acknowledged by God alone?
Gracious God, you so lavishly bless us with all that we have and so often it goes unnoticed by us. Help us to have eyes to see your goodness and out of gratitude, give back to you and the work you are doing here on earth, free from the need to be affirmed by others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Matthew 6:1, 5-6
““Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
In each of these teachings that Jesus gives, he uses the word “when,” not if. We are encouraged to pray as part of our spiritual practices, but in this case, the context is important because it keeps us from the distraction of the people around us and helps us focus our attention on our Father in heaven and what God may be saying to us.
- How are your prayers in private different from your prayers in public?
- What are you praying for in private now?
- How do you experience God’s presence in your prayer life?
Gracious God, thank you that you meet us when we pray, hearing our words and our hearts. Help us not be so concerned with what we are saying that we miss the sacred space of praying in your presence. Remind us that our prayers are to you and you alone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.