Rest in the Shadow

It’s May here in Arizona and we have already hit 100 degrees in temperature! I can tell you that after being outside for my son Connor’s last baseball game a week ago… it is certainly heating up out here already!

When I arrived at Connor’s game last week, I planted myself at the end of the dugout because the dugout fence and the tree just behind it created a shadow that provided me with just the right amount of shade to stay cool.

Shadows can be quite interesting. It’s funny how during the day we are always looking for the shade created by shadows to stay cool…especially during the hot summer months! And how at night shadows cast dark images on the walls and may tend to be frightening…especially when you have 2 little boys like I do!

Whether you see a shadow during the day or at night…the definition for the word “shadow” remains the same.

The word “shadow” can be defined in the dictionary as “an area of darkness created when a source of light is blocked.”

So at the baseball game, I purposefully placed myself in the shadow where it created shade…to keep me cool…to keep me protected from the heat…so I could rest and enjoy Connor’s game!

And isn’t it true that sometimes we too need to be protected from not just the literal heat from the sun…but the heat of life…the pressures of life…the challenges of life…the fears of life…and even the dangers of life…so we too are able to rest?

Psalm 91 is an absolutely amazing psalm about God’s protection! Check out Psalm 91:1 as our focused scripture for this devotion. I have included 3 different bible versions to emphasize specific aspects of this verse.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. NIV

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. WEB

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand]. AMP

I can’t wait to dig deeper into this scripture with you and gain a greater perspective and understanding of the protection God provides for us!

Whoever dwells…

Whoever means “anyone that or whatever person that” and therefore indicates that it doesn’t include everyone. It is for whoever…anyone that…dwells. It is for whoever chooses to dwell.

And the word dwells is very significant. Why? Because dwell means “to abide, to live or reside permanently” To drive this point further…it doesn’t mean to just visit, profess, or wish.

And this dwelling…abiding…residing permanently must be in the shelter…or secret place… of the Most High. Who is the Most High and what exactly is this secret place?

…in the shelter [or secret place] of the Most High

“The Most High” in Hebrew is the word El-yon, meaning “the Supreme One”, the owner of heaven and earth … the God who is over and above all things that are.

The word translated “shelter” in Hebrew means “covering, hiding place, or protection.”

The “secret place” refers to God’s Temple…and in the Old Testament…the secret place was the tabernacle also known as the Tent of meeting…which was actually a portable version of the Temple. And the Temple was considered the earthly dwelling place of God’s presence.

For in the day of trouble He will hide me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; Psalm 27:5

When God delivered Israel out of bondage in Egypt, they traveled in the wilderness for 40 years before they reached the Promised Land. During this time, they lived in tents as part of a large camp.

They camped in a circle around the tabernacle…aka the Temple…aka the Tent of meeting…and thus the secret place. The tabernacle was surrounded by the 12 tribes of Israel, three tribes on each side, and was known in Hebrew as the Mishkan,which literally means to dwell and it was here where the God of Israel revealed Himself to the Israelites and dwelled among His people.

The significance of the first part of this scripture… He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High… is that we can reside permanently in the secret place of God…but it is a choice.

Are you dwelling in the shelter…in the secret place…of the Most High?

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High. He who has his thoughts always on God is said to “dwell in him” – to “make his abode with him” – to “sit down in his secret place.” He has the Almighty, as it were, for his constant companion. Pulpit Commentary

As Christians, we have a choice after we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior…to dwell…to reside…in the secret place…or not. To dwell or abide in Christ…or not.

Dwelling…or abiding… in Christ demonstrates our devotion to Him…through keeping His commandments…resting in His love for us…and bearing fruit as we are connected to Christ and filled with His Spirit.

Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. 1John 3:24 ESV

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1John 4:15-16 ESV

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5 NASB

…will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I find it interesting that the Amplified bible version uses the words remain stable and fixed in place of the word “rest.”

The Hebrew word translated for “shadow” means “shade or protection.”

So by dwelling in the secret place of the Most High….we can rest…remain stable and fixed under the protection of the Almighty…referring to God.

During the time that David reigned as king, he would literally take shelter in the tabernacle where the Ark was. As nighttime fell, the setting sun would cast a long shadow over the Ark, and King David would abide under that shadow. As long as he remained there, no one could find or disturb him.

“The shadow of the Almighty” is a picture of taking our place of rest in the tabernacle where the Ark was…in the secret place.

Resting and remaining in the shadow of the Almighty is to lean upon Him and to embrace His ways and His directions. Just as I purposefully placed myself in the shadow for protection from the sun’s heat…we too must purposefully place ourselves in the shadow of the Almighty for God’s protection so we may rest.

Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. This is not “tautology.” What is meant is that “loving faith on man’s part shall be met by faithful love on God’s part” (Kay). God will extend his “shadow” over the man who places himself under his protection.Pulpit Commentary

“Dwelling in the secret place” is an indication of our devotion to God. We are choosing where to dwell…where to live…where to establish our home…in Him. And this implies that we are not trying to live on our own or away from His protection.

When we choose to dwell in the secret place of the Most High, we will rest in the shadow of our Almighty God and this consequently places us under the protection of God.

Please Note: With the summer approaching, I will be spending more time with my family and children so I will be posting new devotions twice a month. I am so thankful for you all. I am truly encouraged and blessed by your continued support of Sweeter than Honey Blog!

Reflection Points:

  1. Do you ever face the heat of life… the pressures of life…the challenges of life…the fears of life…and even the dangers of life and pray for God’s protection in the midst?
  2. Have you read Psalm 91…an amazing psalm of God’s protection?
  3. What does the first verse in Psalm 91 mean to you?
  4. Are you dwelling in “the secret place of the Most High?”
  5. What exactly does it mean “to dwell in the shelter [secret place] of the Most High?”
  6. Do you understand that we have a choice in placing ourselves in the secret place of God and thus receiving His protection by doing so?
  7. What can you do different in your life to “dwell in the secret place” of God so that you may “rest in the shadow of the Almighty?”

Action Points:

  1. Read Psalm 91.
  2. Meditate on Psalm 91:1 and review the notes above for a deeper understanding.
  3. …“dwelling in the secret place” is an indication of your devotion to God. We are choosing where to dwell…where to live…where to establish our home…in Him. And this implies that we are not trying to live on our own or away from His protection.
  4. If you struggle with “dwelling in the secret place” …begin devoting yourself wholeheartedly to Christ by spending time each day reading His Word and in prayer. Make an appointment with Jesus each day!

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

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Finding Hope…In His Plans

As Mother’s Day is upon us…it has certainly taken on a different meaning for me in the past 6 years. You see…I became a mother approximately 6 years ago when I had my first child. And shortly after I became a mother…my very own mother passed away.

And oh the many times I wish she was here…not just as a grandmother to my children…but as a mother full of love, wisdom, and guidance helping me as a young mom through my frustrations and times of not knowing just what to do!

My hope was for her to see both my children grow up…she never did live long enough to see my second child born…to see them go to school…to watch them perform their school musicals…and to cheer them on at their T-ball games.

That was my hope…my plan. And clearly it was not God’s.

Are you facing a current situation where you are having difficulty believing or seeing the hope in God’s plans? Are you facing a challenge in your life and struggling to find hope in God’s plans?

Life is full of challenges and unfortunately there are many who lose hope when their plans…their dreams…their vision…for their lives do not go the way they had expected.

Maybe that’s you today…maybe you have lost hope because your expectations were not met.

Where does your hope lie today?

Unfortunately, we live in a world where many put their hope in people, objects, positions, careers, their plans, their agendas…really just about anything! And then we wonder why we find ourselves disappointed.

The word “hope” comes from the Greek word elpis and means “favorable and confident expectation” and is similarly defined in the dictionary as “to desire with expectation of obtainment; to expect with confidence.”

When we put our hope…when we put favorable and confident expectation…in the things in this world, we will many times face disappointment. Why?

Because this world…and the people and things in it…are not secure! The world…people and things…are always changing. People come…people go…things come…things go!

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21 NIV

Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:17-19 NIV

Our hope must be in our God…and His plans. Our hope must be anchored in an unchanging…secure…immoveable God.

Just as a ship anchor holds firmly to the seabed, our hope in God is the anchor for our soul, firm and secure.

The word “anchor” is defined “something that serves to hold an object firmly; a person or thing that provides strength and support.”

We need our hope anchored in God to keep us in place in times of disappointment…to keep us from being swept toward the rocky shore…to keep us from capsizing and sinking.

We are in this world as a ship at sea, tossed up and down, and in danger of being cast away. We need an anchor to keep us sure and steady. Gospel hope is our anchor in the storms of this world. It is sure and steadfast, or it could not keep us so… Christ is the object and ground of the believer’s hope. Mathew Henry’s Concise Commentary

How can we have our hope anchored in God…and His plans?

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7 NLT

Our hope in God…and His plans will grow when we follow him…when we are rooted, built up, strengthened in faith, and overflowing with thankfulness. Checkout a previous blog devotion called “Metaphors of Growth” for a deeper understanding of Colossian 2:6-7

We must find Hope…in His plans.

H= His

O=Organized

P= Plans

E= Excel

I will celebrate this Mother’s Day…celebrating my mother who is no longer in pain and suffering here on this earth…but healed and rejoicing in heaven with our Heavenly Father!

I may not always understand God’s plans but one thing I do know is that my hope anchored in God is secure and firm…and that His plans for my life are way better than my plans for my life!

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

Reflection Points:

  1. Are you facing a current situation where you are having difficulty believing or seeing the hope in God’s plans? Are you facing a challenge in your life and struggling to find hope in God’s plans?
  2. Have you lost hope because your expectations were not met?
  3. Where does your hope lie today?
  4. How can we have our hope anchored in God…and His plans?

Action Points:

  1. If you have difficulty believing and seeing the hope in God’s plans, pray that God would increase your faith and strengthen your trust in Him. Read God’s Word regularly to grow in your faith. (Roans 10:17)
  2. Understand that finding hope in the people and things of this world will disappoint you. Find your hope in God who is secure…firm…and immoveable.
  3. HOPE= His Organized Plans Excel
  4. Anchor your hope in God and His plans for your life…Read and study Colossians 2:6-7. Review the blog devotion called “Metaphors of Growth” for deeper understanding of these scriptures.