CHURCH OF NIGERIA
PROVINCIAL STANDING COMMITTEE MEETING
BIBLE STUDY II FOR SEPTEMBER 20, 2018.
THEME: GOD, OUR REFUGE AND STRENGTH
TEXT: PSALM 46:1-7,9
TOPIC: THE GOD WHO IS SUFFICIENT
Every creature needs a place of security for his life, property and other belongings without which the life will be in danger and at a great risk of probable extinction. Refuge is a hiding place or fortress where human being could run into when threatened.
Ability to run and how far we can run is dependent upon the strength available at the disposal of the person at a particular point in time. In search of refuge people have run into so many troubles and it is upon this background we are considering this Psalm 46. Everyone through the ages have known the pressure of being under attack. The nation of Israel has continually been threatened with extinction and yet God has remained faithful to those who are the true Israel and put their trust in Him. This is the case from the attack of the Assyrian King Sennacherib in the days of Hezekiah 2 Kings 18-19.
As God’s people today, we experience different forms of pressure and attack everyday. There are much that distracts our attention from security and confidence in our God. Our hearts are easily disturbed and blown about with the winds of anxiety and fear.
The earth may quake, the oceans may swell, the mountains may crumble into the sea. Things may be in complete chaos, a total uproar all around you. “But because of my Word, you’ll have peace like a river” says the Lord. While all the nations rage, powerful streams of joy will flow to my people. It will fill their hearts with gladness. “Right now, the whole world is in a fearful time. Nations are trembling over terrorism; no region is immune to threats. Personal troubles and sufferings are mounting. Yet, in the midst of it all, Psalm 46 echoes to God’s people in the world over: “I am in your midst, I am with you through it all.” My people will not be destroyed or moved. I’m going to be an ever-present help to my church. We all encounter turmoil, temptations, times of confusion that cause our souls to quake. His message for us here in psalm 46 is meant for such times. Simply put: if we give in to fear – if we become downcast and full of despair – we’re living absolutely contrary to his present reality in our lives. Peter writes “By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Fruitful Growth in the faith”(2 Peter 1:4). Supernatural peace is a part of God’s divine nature. And of all his wonderful promises, Psalm 46 is the one word we need to obtain his peace like a river.
THERE IS AN EVER PRESENT EVIL
Paul attests, “I find then a law, that, when I would do good evil is present with me” (Romans 7:21). “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12) There is a very real enemy of our souls. And this enemy is at work against us, day and night. From Genesis to Revelation, the entire Bible warns us not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices. This doesn’t mean we’re to fear or magnify the devil’s power. But Satan is still “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). And he rules an evil empire of demonic powers. These principalities do their constant bidding, continually harassing God’s people. It’s extremely dangerous to be blind to Satan’s ways. We simply have to accept that our present battle isn’t a human one. It doesn’t matter what struggle we face, what besetting sin we wrestle with. We have to realize. Satan’s powers and principalities never sleep. They never let up in their lying, conniving, and working of evil against us. Their one goal is to destroy our faith and bring us to destruction. This is why peter urges us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour: resist him, steadfast in the faith…” (1 Peter 5:8-9). Peter experienced this firsthand. Jesus had warned him, “Simon! Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat”(Luke 22:31). Christ knew the devil wanted this apostle. And Jesus gave Peter ample warning about what was to come.
Satan and his rulers will come after you with accusations, hindrances, lies that flood your thoughts. You’ll be tempted, persecuted, interrupted in your prayers. It’s all a conspiracy of the devil aimed straight at your faith. Paul states very clearly, “…Satan hindered us…” (1 Thessalonians 2:18). Satan won’t bother harassing his own children. That’s because he has no controversy with them. Jesus says of such people, “You are of your father the devil, and desires of your father you want to do…” (John 8:44). The devil’s weapons are aimed at a select few. He’s after those who have set their hearts to seek Christ. Who are determined to walk in the Spirit and to obey His every Word. There will be great tribulations at this end time. Matt.24:21-22 “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened”, 2 Tim. 3:12, Matt.5:11, Luke 21:12, Mark 13:19 “For in those days there will be tribulation, such as not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time nor ever shall be”, John 16:33, 1 Pet.4:12.
There is something you must realize: you will never be free from the devil’s assaults. He wants you to doubt God’s faithfulness. So he’ll bombard you with troubles and trials until finally you wonder. “How could the Lord be with me in the midst of all this?” Many lifelong servants of Christ today have begun to doubt the Lord in the midst of their trial. They simply don’t understand what they’re going through: The enemy’s attacks are especially fierce in these last days. In my opinion, our generation needs God’s direction more than ever before. Because the more your commitment to God, the more trouble you face. Nigeria is no longer safe for anyone especially the Christians, many of us has paid the supreme price both in the Northern and the Southern part of the country. Some of our bishop’s had experienced kidnapping.
THERE IS A RIVER
“There is a river…” Jerusalem is one of the few ancient cities not built on a river. Ancient cities needed water close at hand, especially during a siege. When Sennacherib attacked Jerusalem, he was sure that their lack of water would ultimately drive them to surrender. But unknown to Sennacherib, Jerusalem had a source of water. Wise King Hezekiah had built an underground tunnel which secretly brought water 1,777 feet through solid rock from the spring of Gihon to the pool of Siloam. That little stream supplied all of their needs during the siege. That river is a picture of the greater spiritual resource of the Lord Himself: “God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved” (46:5). He is the living water who alone can quench our spiritual thirst. He is the God who is powerful enough to quell the uproar of the nations by simply raising His voice. “The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted”(46:6) Jesus told the woman at the well: “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:14). The water flows continually. Jesus also said, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scriptures said, ‘from his innermost belly shall flow rivers of living water.’ (John 7:37-38). He was referring to the Holy Spirit, who is given to every believer.
WHO IS THIS GOD?
OUR REFUGE AND FORTRESS
Before the Romans brought peace to Palestine. Unwalled villages were clustered around walled strongholds cities. Residents in the region would flee in times of wars. Psalm 91 describes God as a place of refuge during siege, also a place of personal refuge. The Ancient-Near East like today in Nigeria was plagued by bandits, gangs of marauding raiders who would pounce on an unprotected villages, take their plunder, rape their women and perhaps took their slaves or slaughter the inhabitants. In time like this, God is seen as a great rock in which to hide. Psalm 18:2 “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold”; Psalm 144:2 “My loving kindness and my fortress, my high tower and my deliverer, my shield and the One in whim I take refuge, Who subdues my people under me”. In the New Testament, Christ takes on the image of our rock “Therefore it is also contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame…”(1 Pet.2:6ff); “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.”(1 Cor.10:4).
- A hiding place and shade Psalm 91:1a; 31:7;119:114 “You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word”
- Our shield. Gen.15:1; Deut33:29; Psalm 115:9-11;3:3
- Our refuge, strength and salvation. Psalm 28:7-8 “The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him”, Jer.16:19 “O Lord, my strength and my fortress, My refuge in the day of affliction”; Psalm 118:14 “The Lord is my strength and song, and he has become my salvation”, Isaiah 12:2 “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; ‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my ”; Psalm 14:6; 18:1-2 “I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold”; 62:7-8 “In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people, Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.”;142:5 “I cried out to You, O Lord: I said, ‘You are my God, My portion in the land of the living”
- Our Rock 2 Sam.22:2 “And he said: ‘The lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer’; Psalm 18:2;144:1-2; 31:2-3;61:2-3
- Our Keeper Psalm 121
1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
2 My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
8 The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
- Our Strong Tower Psalm 61:3; 71:7.
Ps.46Vs 2-3 “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, through the mountains quake at its swelling pride.”
The two verses highlight the steadfastness of confidence based on God’s power and adequacy of the power to withstand any attack or aggression.
The instrument of attack Satan use against Christian is weapon of fear to paralyse us and prevent us from stepping out in faith and aggressively trusting the Lord to accomplish great things for Him.
Possible areas of fear by the devil would include the following:
- Fear of failure
- Fear of attacks
- Fear of inadequacy
- Fear of people’s opinions
- Fear of financial ruin or of loss of our health
Examples abound in the Scripture about the position of our Lord Jesus Christ on fear in any circumstance.
Matt. 10:28-31 “Fear Him who is able to destroy both souls and body in hell” But fear of God is antidote for the negative fear of men.
This was all about seeking the kingdom of God and not being anxious about the provision of your physical and material needs. – “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. In John 14:1 as Jesus comforts His disciples in light of His soon departure. “Do not let your heart be troubles; believe in God, believe also in Me.”
All we need to do is to remember the person of God as our Refuge , our Strength and our Deliverer in all situations. If we remember what God did for King Hezekiah and the city of Jerusalem, against the unbelievable odds of the forces of King Sennacherib of Assyria then we will be convinced that our God is enough to run to.
Whatever pressure and attacks we might face can never be as great as what the psalmist pictures here; yet his point is that God’s Power to protect His people is sufficient even against such a great adversary like Boko Haram, Kidnapping, Political upheavals, etc, therefore, we must not Fear!
We will never be disappointed if we put our trust in the Lord and His saving power; so let’s not fear but be strong in our security and confidence in the Lord, our Fortress.
GOD PROMISES IN TIME OF TROUBLES: Psalm 46:1-7, Need Matt.6:25-33, Loneliness Romans 8:39; Illness Psalm 139:13-16; fear Psalm 34:1-7; Broken Relationship Heb.12:14, uncertainties Eph. 3:16-21; weariness Matt. 11:28-30, worry 1 Pet.5:7-11; Temptation 2 Pet.1:3-4; Grief Rev. 21:1-4, etc.
THE CITY OF GOD WILL NOT BE MOVED (SHAKEN) because God is in her midst Hos.11:9; Zech 2:5 “For I, ‘says the Lord, ‘will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’”; Heb.11:10 “For he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God”; Heb.12:22;13:14.
A NEW DAY IS COMING
(i) The Prince of Peace Isaiah 9:6;66:12; John 14:27;16:33
(ii) A day of exaltation for the merciful God of creation, when all nations will acknowledge Him Isaiah 2:2-4; 25:5-9.
I believe Psalm 46 is a picture of the New Testament “promised land.” Indeed, it represents the divine rest referred to in Hebrews: “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God” (Hebrew 4:9). It speaks of God’s ever-present strength, His help in time of trouble, his peace in the midst of chaos. God’s presence is with us at all times, and his help always arrive on time. Yet Israel rejected this rest: “They they despised the pleasant land, they did not believe His word” (Psalm 106:24). The church today is much like Israel. In spite of God’s great promises to use – his assurances of peace , help and full supply – we don’t trust him fully. Instead, we complain, “Where is God in my trial? Why does he keep letting these hardships pile up on me?” He said of Israel’s murmuring, “Therefore was angry with that generation, and said, they always go astray in their heart; and they have not known my ways… Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:10,17-19). Likewise, we are warned: “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it…Let us labour therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (4:1,11).
Today, I hear the Lord asking His Church, “Do you believe I still speak to my people? Do you believe I desire to give you my help and guidance? Our response has to be like David’s. That godly man shook all of hell when he made this statement about the Lord: “For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Psalm 33:9).
QUESTION FOR DISCUSSION
- How can we turn Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) into “The city of God on earth? Rev. 21:24-27 “And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gate shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the lamb’s Book of Life. ”; 22:2 “In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations”; Psalm 46:4 “There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High”.
- Is it true that the deliverance of Nigeria is in the hands of the Church? Why? And How?
Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because he has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor, He has sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed”;
1 Timothy 2:1-2 “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence”;
2 Timothy 4:2-4 “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers”.
Who your refuge is determines who you will run to in times of difficulty and distress. The sure refuge is our God who cannot be attacked or fought or even be defeated. Christ Jesus is the only refuge against eternal condemnation and the only way is to run unto Him. “I heard the voice of Jesus say …” (Church Hymnal 264)
- I heard the voice of Jesus say
“Come unto Me and rest,
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down
Thy head upon My breast”
I came to Jesus as I was
Weary, and worn and sad,
I found in Him a resting-place
And He has made me glad.
- I heard the voice of Jesus say
“Behold I freely give
The living water, thirsty one
Stoop down and drink and live”
I came to Jesus, and I drank
Of that life-giving stream
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived
And now I live in Him.
- I heard the voice of Jesus say
“I am this dark world’s Light
Look unto Me, thy morn shall rise
And all thy day be bright”
I looked to Jesus, and I found
In Him my Star, my Sun,
And in the Light of life I’ll walk
Till travelling days are done. Amen
Yahweh is not only a means of escape from pressure and trials. He is also Lord over them. He is not an escape from history, but the one who is working out his purpose in history. And he is therefore not just a Saviour to be trusted, but also a Lord to be acknowledged. Thus, the psalmist goes on: Stop fighting, and acknowledge that I am God.
We may see the horror of death and even martyrdom. But our defender has not failed us, He knows that for us to be absent from the body is to be with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8) and that is far better (Philippians 1:23). Our final defense is vindicated before God’s, judgement and at rest in his presence.
MEMORY VERSE: Psalm 46:2-3
Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.