Anticipate His Compassionate Intervention

Anticipate His Compassionate Intervention

Chapter Three

Anticipate His Compassionate Intervention
Experiencing His Sheltering Care 41 Look For The Sheppard, Stupid 49
Stand Still And See 43 Gaining Strength And Courage 51
A Surprise Birthday Present 45 The Posture Of The Mind 53
Hearing The Voice Of God 47 Discussion Questions 55

Psalms 61:1-4

Experiencing His Sheltering Care

The train was leaving the station, and we were not on it! It was a moonless night in southern India, and my wife and I were found to be on the wrong car, and directed to take our bags along a strange platform to find our assigned seats in a car much nearer the front of the train.

Hastily summoning a porter, we piled our bags and eases into his arms and placed a handbag on his head, then scurried ahead to find our proper place. The train moved faster, but at last we saw the open door of our car, with bands reaching down to lift us up. Breathless, we turned to take our luggage, expecting the porter to be close behind, but alas, he was nowhere in sight!

All our goods, including passports, plane tickets, and travelers checks, were in the handbag on his head. Where was he? Had he taken advantage of our plight and absconded with our documents?

"Stop this train!" my wife shouted, and plunged into the nearest compartment behind her to yank the red cord above the window, reserved for emergencies. Long moments later, the great train slowed and, out of the darkness, our heavy-laden porter plodded into view. The conductor, too, arrived to ascertain the cause of the sudden stop, and saw us into our compartment before giving the signal to proceed.

We had just experienced the "shelter of his wings." We were helpless, and in the midst of strangers, and far, far from home. We bad no tour guide to solve our dilemma. How to know what to do?

The Psalmist knew what to say…

"Hear my cry, 0 God, listen to my prayer; 
from the end of the earth I call to thee, 
when my heart is faint (v. 1, 2a)

There are other dilemmas, perhaps social or spiritual, that call for such a prayer. We may be about to lose something vital to our survival, or be overwhelmed by circumstances beyond our control Then we can pray "Lead me to the rock that is higher than I" (v. 2b) and the band of God sets things right How else explain it? We can sing…

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"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; 
Be has redeemed me and I am his child."

– William Cushing –

"Our Father in Heaven, take our hand and so enable us to trust you, that we may go fearlessly into dark places."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I shall trust him, so as to be safe under the shelter of his wings, at ALL times!

– Eugene Stewart –

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Exodus 14:1-31

Stand Still And See

Sometimes the things we think of as destructive are meant to save us. The setting of Exodus 13 is an awesome chase scene. Pharaoh has finally let the children of Israel out of Egypt. They have traveled far enough that they are beginning to feel safe enough to rest, when they look up and see 600 chariots and all the captains of Egypt and their men. (vs. 7-9) In front of them is the Red Sea. Panic sets in (vs. 10). Fear causes them to whine and blame Moses and heap all their anger on him when just moments before they had been feeling smug about their daring escape and resident super hero. I can almost feel their terror. There seems to be no place to hide and no place to run. Then Moses utters these amazing words: "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord…" (vs. 43) I'm sure they were already running inside. They just didn't know which way to direct their legs. We can all relate to their predicament. Nervous energy oozes out of most of us. We are so busy trying to help God that it's hard to stand still, and to commune in His presence and to observe His power. But, in this case, they had no choice. With the Egyptian army behind them, and the sea in front of them, many of them had already given into fatalism before Moses was able to complete his statement: "The Lord will fight for you and you will hold your peace." (vs. 14) Image their astonishment when Moses lifted his staff over the sea and commanded them to go forward. I wonder if he had to give the first few guys in the line a little shove. The waters of the sea became curtains of protection on either side as they walked across the river bed. That think which they had believed to be destructive became an instrument of salvation for them.

I remember a day in the life of my oldest son when what he believed to be destructive actually saved his life. It was a Saturday morning. He was a young teen. He had a lot of friends. Some of them wanted to go to Dallas for the weekend. I didn't tell him he couldn't go because of bad company or a poor chaperone but because of something I couldn't shake. Naturally, he didn't understand. I didn't even understand myself. But in my heart I knew I would always regret it if I let him out the door. He was angry and hurt, and he pouted and fumed and gave me the cold shoulder all weekend. Imagine his surprise when one of his friends called Sunday night to describe the van accident. Two of the boys were still in the hospital. Barrett would have been sitting in the death seat. He came into my room with tears in his eyes and hugged me and said: "Thank you, Mom!" The next day the story came out in the local newspaper. He cut it out and put it under the glass overlay on his dresser to remind him of God's protective love. Today he's 27 years old, and he still stores it in his keepsake box.

Next time you find yourself beside a sea of troubles with enemies on all sides, remember the God of Moses. Let Him fight for you in marvelous and unexpected ways while you "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord."

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"Dear God, when challenges come, give me the courage to trust You and to be still."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: If the God who fought for Moses fights for me, why should I fear?

– Loretta Jenkins –

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Matthew 6:1-34

A Surprise Birthday Present

Last Tuesday was my birthday and I had to go to Tacoma, 40 miles from my home. I do not like to go to a doctor alone. This time I had to get a cat-scan on my chest. My husband could not go with me because he had a doctor's appointment in Shelton. His hip and shoulder have been causing him a lot of pain recently.

I finally called a friend and asked her to go along. She agreed. We had a wonderful time sharing our hearts on the trip. I do not know Tacoma so she helped me find where I was to go.

After the appointment, we had breakfast together as I had not eaten since the night before. I told her it was my birthday and we exchanged stores about unusual birthdays we had. When I took her home, she gave me fresh vegetables from her garden. I was so delighted because I cannot grow anything in my rocky soil.

At home, I found my husband asleep. He aroused just enough to inform me that the doctor said he had tendinitis and had given him some strong pills. Then he slept most of the day.

Thursday, I went downtown and worked at Sonrise, a free clothing store. I volunteer occasionally as my schedule allows. After several hours of continuous work, another volunteer brought me a bath robe with the tag for $39.95 on it. "I think this would fit you; would you like to have it?" she asked. I looked up and all I could say was, Tuesday was my birthday and I had not expected to receive a present. However, for sometime I had been needing a new bathrobe. I had decided to tell my children that is what I wanted for Christmas when they asked in December.

When I returned home, I noticed that the next door neighbor who is moving, had a small fire in her backyard. The three retarded boys from next door were there. I walked to their house and asked their mom if she was aware of the fire and she assured me it was okay. Then she asked, "Would you like to have a piece of cake?" I never bake cakes but I felt I should make one today." All I could say was, "Thank you, Lord." Then I shared my testimony about how our great God hears our heart's desires and answers.

At times we get so caught up in trying to solve our problems ourselves, that we forget that God is with us and cares for us. If I had a lot of money and could have picked out a new bathrobe, I never would have found one so beautiful. It was dark green with red

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and purple Dowers on it. It was long and snapped down the front. I feel like a queen wearing it. Every time I think about this birthday, I will remember God's miracle just for me.

"Thank you, Father, that you know my heart and care about my every wish. Help me to acknowledge and thank you more."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The richest king never owned a robe so beautiful as God created to clothe His child.

– Laura Drewer –

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Isaiah 43:1-5

Hearing The Voice Of God

It was early in the morning of a lonely night in our apartment in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. My dear wife lay in the hospital, awaiting surgery following a cancer diagnosis that hit us suddenly in the midst of our ministry at the Bible Seminary there.

After months of vague symptoms, her doctor had ordered blood tests and x-rays, which revealed the malignancy. She was ordered to hospital immediately and a surgeon was consulted. He had scheduled the operation for the following morning. At 10 p.m. I retired and soon fell asleep.

At about the stroke of 4 a.m., I awoke from a nightmare, having dreamt that the operation was over, and I was consulting the doctor by phone. He seemed to be saying- "Your wife came through the surgery very well; but I am afraid the results are not promising. We did not get all the cancer, and she may have only three months to live."

"My God, what are you telling me?" I cried, "Is this dream a warning of hard times ahead for us?" Then there came a voice, clearly speaking these words,

Fear not, I am with you, Oh be not dismayed, 
For I am thy God, and will still give you aid. 
I'll comfort you, strengthen you, and cause you to stand 
Upheld by my gracious, omnipotent Hand.

Joshua 10:25, Isaiah 41:10

When through the deep waters I call you to go, 
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow. 
For I will be with you, your sorrows to bless 
and sanctify to you your deepest distress.

Isaiah 43:2, Psalms 18:16

I immediately arose, took my Bible and read a Psalm, then tried to repeat the words of the hymn I knew to be "How Firm A Foundation," but I could not repeat them. I had to find a hymnal and memorize those lines.

In the days that followed, a confirmation of His presence came many times as she recovered. Radiation was prescribed, and an appointment was made for treatments. As we sat in church a few days later, the pastor called for this hymn. As we looked at verse four, I whispered to my wife, "Honey, this verse is for your ordeal tomorrow."

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When through fiery trials, your pathway shall lie, 
My strength all sufficient shall be your supply. 
The flames shall not hurt thee, I only design. 
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

1 Peter 4:12, 2 Corinthians 12:9

"Father God, help me to trust you to 'walk me through' every life situation. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God speaks in clear, distinct ways that provide support for my spirit in difficult times.

– Eugene Stewart –

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John 10:1-21

Look For The Sheppard, Stupid

Picture a sheep being taunted by a wolf. The wolf lunges toward the sheep as if to bite it, then stops short and gives a low throaty growl. The sheep, frightened, looks to the left and right for help; it sees none. Panicked now, it starts to run. The wolf ambles alongside and pokes his nose against the sheep's side just to scare it. The sheep tries to run faster but is awkward, while the wolf runs easily and casually nips at the legs of its terrified victim.

I don't like this picture because in this scene I am the sheep – fearful, vulnerable, weak- and the wolf has all the power and control that I want but do not have.

But that is not the whole picture. Sometimes there are many wolves!

What do we sheep do in these situations? The typical responses: Fret and sweat. Panic, worry, and hurry. Run. Whine and cry. Look for a hiding place. In haste and with urgency we try to take care of ourselves, and we make a potentially fatal error: we forget the shepherd.

For us, the shepherd is always near. Silently and invisibly the shepherd moves with us where ever we go, always near. How does he do it? That's a mystery. Why? A bigger mystery!

Jesus gives the answer. He watches over us so that we can have good lives. He said, "I have come that they (which refers to you and me) may have life and have it to the full". (John 10:10) Life to the full!

Life to the full includes, joy, friendship, being curious about a mystery and then delighted with its resolution, exercise and rest, mental and emotional stimulation and gratification, humor and laughter, and a multitude of other pleasures.

But life to the full may also include such wolves as fear, pain, enemies, confusion, depression and death. "I am the good shepherd," Jesus said then, and says today to you and me (John 10:11 a). He will not let the wolves devour us. "The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep". (11 b)

His care is so intense and complete that it is hard for us to understand, but it comes well recommended. "Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall" (Psalms 55:22) Will that work? Peter, who found (and created) more than a fair share of hassles believed it. He must have relied on God's promise from Psalms, because he wrote the same thing in his first letter: "Cast all your anxiety on him

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(God) because he cares for you". (1 Peter 5:7) That's an impressive endorsement of God's continuing love for us, his sheep.

There will always be wolves and we will always be vulnerable to them. But we don't have to be alone; we can be within the care of a shepherd. In the protection of The Shepherd we are safe indeed. Forever.

"Thank you, great heavenly Father, that you created me a sheep. Thank you for the provision of your son, Jesus Christ, who has promised to protect and nurture me in spite of dangers that lurk all around. I love you. Thank you for loving me first and for protecting me; I can't do it for myself. Amen."

AFFIRMATION OF THE DAY: Close to the shepherd, I am safe; completely safe.

– Richard Walters –

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Joshua 1:1-9

Gaining Strength And Courage

Their beloved leader is dead. The status of the encampment is precarious. There are enemies on every side who want the Israelites banished from their midst. It is time to move forward, and God has a message for them.

Joshua is the man of the hour. In prayer he receives his marching orders "Go over this Jordan… to the land I am giving… to the people of Israel" (v. 2)

The leader of a nation is a lonely person, isolated by both power and responsibility. Joshua felt it keenly, but was given the utmost in reassurance, "…the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (v. 9)

Joshua had experience. He led the group of twelve that reconnoitered the promised land, forty years earlier. He had learned how difficult it was to persuade the reluctant and fearful. He had successful battles with hostiles in the land; he saw the consequences of moral failure inside his own camp; he watched as Moses had dealt with rebellion and complaining all too frequently.

Joshua had the promises of God, which had led the Israelites out of Egypt, over the Red Sea and through the desert of Sinai to their present place in Moab, facing the promised land, Canaan, over the river to the west.

But there was more, he had 'the book of the law' in his hands. (v. 8) The record of Moses' encounter with God was a source of inspiration, but was it enough to move the multitude, against all odds to the other side? Prosperity and success was promised, but at what cost would they be obtained?

Three times Joshua hears God say "Be strong, and of good courage" (vv. 6, 7, 9). The Lord was speaking. His people now must move forward.

The Christian message here is the name Joshua, a name which becomes 'Jesus' in the New Testament. Joshua led the people of God into the Promised Land: interceded for them when they went astray; and led them to victory over the forces of evil. Likewise, Jesus is the captain of our salvation who intercedes for His people, captain of our salvation who intercedes for His people, brings them into the promised rest, gives them an inheritance, and makes victory over sin possible.

Do you have a 'promised land' before you? You have the Book in your hand, and the Holy Spirit speaking to you. What hinders your taking the prize?

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"O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, do be our help in days to come, and our eternal home."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: With the Bible in my hand, the Lord by my side, and His Spirit in my heart, I will not be afraid.

– Eugene Stewart –

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Isaiah 26:3

The Posture Of The Mind

The Christian lives in a knock-a bout-world as any other person. He or she is not exempt from testing, taxes, troubles, tempests, tragedy, and turbulence. He has peace with God because of sins forgiven and Christ's abiding presence within.

The posture of the mind toward a circumstance in life has much more to do with our peace than the circumstance itself. This is not a grin-and-bear-it attitude, nor whatever- will-be-will-be, nor of unconcerned acquiescence.

The heart and will may be thoroughly Christian, yet the mind be in turmoil from outside forces. Oswald Chambers in his devotional book, My Utmost For His Highest asks: "Are you painfully disturbed just now, distracted by the waves and billows of God's providential permission, and having, as it were, turned over the boulders of your belief, – and you still finding no well of peace or joy or comfort; is all barren?" Is this your station now; or an experience from the past?

A. B. Simpson writing about inward peace says: "While we are burdened with our own cares, He cannot give us His. While we are occupied with ourselves, we cannot be at leisure to serve Him. Our minds will be so filled with our own anxieties that we would not be equal to the trust which He requires of us, and so, before He can entrust us with His work, He wants to deliver us from every burden and anxiety."

A gem from God's Word will enable you to regain peace of mind. Isaiah 26:3 "Thou dost keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusts in thee." Align this with 2 Corinthians 10:5 b – "…take every thought captive to obey Christ…" The stability of "the Lord God (who) is an everlasting rock" (Isaiah 26:4), enables the mind to have something/someone steadfast to which it may be anchored.

Peace is dependent in large part upon the posture of the mind. If you prefer another word or phrase – the attitude or the frame of mind.

Perhaps the following suggestions will assist you concerning peace of mind:

  1. As a Christian you have peace because of God's forgiveness.

  2. Upon awakening in the morning, immediately think beyond those things that may annoy or disturb you. With anticipation think of some little thing you will do this day – something you really enjoy doing.

  3. You must accept whether you like it or not, and by God's grace you and God together will work through this difficult situation.

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  4. Someone has said: "Are you looking unto Jesus now, in the immediate matter that is pressing, and receiving from Him peace? If so, He will be a gracious benediction of peace in and through you. But if you try to worry it out, you obliterate Him and deserve all you get."

"Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin? The blood of Jesus whispers peace within." – Edward H. Bickersteth.

"Dear God, I thank you for the peace you give. But in the difficult circumstances of life enable my mind to remain steadfast and trustful. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: If difficulties come my way today, I will trust God, and discipline my mind to keep stayed upon Him.

– Floyd Cooper –

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Discussion Questions

  1. Share a social, physical, or spiritual dilemma in which you felt overwhelmed by circumstances beyond your own 'control', that motivated you to cry out in "desperation" for the Lord's mercy and powerful intervention. (Notes Psalms 61:1-2)

  2. Can you think of a time in your life (or in the life of someone who is "near and dear" to you) when you experienced "God's protective love" (i.e., a time when you realized that God or His protective "angels" spared you from a serious physical or spiritual "calamity")?

  3. Have you ever received "God's protection" or "God's blessing" through what seemed to you (at the time) as something "painful" (such as the discipline and punishment of a parent, or the rebuke and reproof from a close friend, or the counsel of a pastor, etc.)?

  4. Have you ever experienced a time (or an occasion) when you felt overwhelmed with a sense of God's presence and with an overflow of God's "good gifts" (material and social and spiritual gifts)? As a result of God's "amazing grace", were you "lost in wonder, love, and praise"?

  5. Share a time in your life when you faced a "crisis" (physical illness, death of a loved one, financial loss, job loss, impending surgery, transfer to a new community and separation from relatives and friends, etc.), and in which you experienced a special outpouring of God's love and comfort and strength and companionship. During such a "crisis", did you find encouragement through meditation on Scripture, or through recitation of hymns, or through counsel with a friend, or through meditation and prayer?

  6. Why do believers (sheep) often forget their "Good Shepherd" during times of "crises" and "calamities", focusing more on the 'problems' (circumstances of life) rather than on the 'salvation' (the power and protection and intervention of the "Good Shepherd")?

  7. According to Psalms 55:22 and 1 Peter 5:7, what are believers commanded to do, during their times of "crisis" and "calamities"?

  8. According to John 10:1-21, what specific provisions does the "Good Sheppard" make available to "Sheep" (believers)?

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  9. Just as God promised the land of Canaan (i.e., "the land of milk and honey") to Joshua and the Israelites, do you believe that God has a "promised land" of new opportunity and ministry for you "to possess"? Since you (as a believer) have the Book (Bible) in your hand and the indwelling Holy Spirit in your heart, what hinders your taking the "prize"?

  10. Tell to what extent you agree (or disagree) with the following statement: "The posture of the mind toward a circumstance in life has much more to do with our peace than the circumstance itself."

  11. Do you think it is possible for the 'heart' and 'will' of a person to be thoroughly Christian and, at the same time, for the 'mind' of such a believer to be in turmoil from outside forces? Why or why not?

  12. Why is it difficult, if not impossible, for a believer to be preoccupied with his own troublesome burdens and anxiety-ridden mind (thoughts), and at the same time to be concerned with the "Lord's Work" and "Kingdom Causes"?

  13. What have you found as "helpful aids" during your times of "crisis" and "calamities" and "troubles"? (Note Isaiah 26:3; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:6-9)

  14. Does the stability of "the Lord God who is an everlasting rock" (Isaiah 26:4) give you assurance of a reliable "anchor" for your soul, amidst all the changes and chances and calamities of life?

  15. Give your personal response or reaction to the following quotation: "Are you looking unto Jesus now, in the immediate matter that is pressing, and receiving from Him peace? If so, He will be a gracious benediction of peace in and through you. But if you try to worry it out, you obliterate Him and deserve all you get."

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