Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Do you know the Bible story about Elisha’s servant?  While trapped by the enemy, Elisha prays for God to reveal to his servant the surrounding army of God. (2 Kings 6:17) That story always excites my heart and encourages me when I feel trapped, thinking all is lost.  God reminds me He is still there, even when I can’t see Him.  He is with me, ready to fight my battle.


Mark Batterson, in his book The Circle Maker, talks about circle promises.  Those are the ones in God’s word that use the word compass.  This word means to encircle or go around, like when Joshua and Israel marched around Jericho or when Elisha’s servant saw the fiery chariots of God filling the mountains around them.  They were compassed about with God’s protection.


Here are a few more verses that use the word compass. 


Psalm 5:12 reads, “For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.” 

The idea is of a group of shields, like a riot squad encircling with shields for protection.  But the verse is talking about favour.  We are encircled by God’s favour, his goodwill, delight, and acceptance!  Sounds to me like a big hug!


Psalm 32:7 says, “Thou art my hiding-place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.”

We are surrounded by heavenly music!  We sing the song of the redeemed.  And, as Albert Barnes puts it, “The birds of the air; the wind; the running stream; the oceans; the seasons, hills, valley, groves,--all, to one redeemed, seem to be full of songs.  The feeling that we are pardoned fills the universe with melody, and makes the heaven and the earth seem to us to be glad.  The Christian is a happy man; and he himself being happy, all around him sympathizes with him in his joy.”


And Psalm 32:10 reads, “Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about.”

Just as we are surrounded by the air we breathe or the sunlight that brightens our day, we find mercy and favour everywhere.  We live surrounded by the eternal mercies of God which are renewed day by day.


It is easy to feel like Elijah’s servant when we listen to the news and watch social media posts.  We begin feeling like we are trapped by the enemy, like our doom is sealed, and we have no help in sight.


But that isn’t true.  Is it?  God is always there encircling us with his loving hug, heavenly music in our souls, and eternal mercies.  Let me share with you Mark Batterson’s comment on these circle promises.


“Long before you woke up this morning and long after you go to sleep tonight, the Spirit of God was circling you with songs of deliverance.  He has been circling you since the day you were conceived, and He’ll circle you until the day you die.  He is praying hard for you with ultrasonic groans that cannot be formulated into words, and those unutterable intercessions should fill you with an unspeakable confidence.  God isn’t just for you in some passive sense; God is for you in the most active sense imaginable.  The Holy Spirit is praying hard for you.  And supernatural synchronicities begin to happen when we tag-team with God and do the same.”  (Circle Maker p 85, 86)


Dear friend, don't forget whose we are.  Let’s ask Him to open our eyes to see flaming swords and the army of God on every hand encircling us with His loving, shielded protection and boundless mercy as we join Him with songs of deliverance.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Week Thirty-Two - F.E.A.R.

I’ll admit I coast Facebook more than I did before this pandemic.  My favorite thing is seeing funny posts that brighten my day.  I avoid the political ones, the negative whining ones, and those that try to draw discussion.  I just want to be entertained!  But sometimes, a post catches my attention and makes me think.  Like this one:

  “FEAR has two meanings.  Forget everything and run or face everything and rise.”  

That simple post got me thinking and comparing.


   Elijah forgot everything and ran when Jezebel threatened.

   The three Hebrew Children faced the fiery furnace and came out unscathed.


   King Saul forgot everything and sacrificed instead of waiting for Samuel.

   King David faced the giant and brought him down.


   Joseph’s brothers forgot everything – their family responsibility.

   Joseph faced his brothers and showed mercy.


I’m sure there could be more, but the point is clear.  Facing our fears has a better outcome than running from them.  When we run, we forget God’s promise.  By our action, we say we are inadequate to the task.  And truly we are, but we are forgetting the power of God within us that counters every fear.

   With all the fear associated with this pandemic, it is tempting to wish it would all go away or dream of escaping to the beach or mountains, but that is not the way to face fear.  Escaping only delays the inevitable.  And, I think of those who cannot escape—the doctors, nurses, and caregivers.  They are facing fear head-on, while we stay isolated in our homes.  I’m so thankful for these people who are not running!

   So how can I face this fear when I am not in the place of responsibility?  I thought of four ways.

1.     We can hold the frontline workers up in prayer.  We face fear through prayer.

2.     We can speak calmly to those around us.  We face fear by exhibiting courage.

3.     We can volunteer where possible.  We face fear by positive action.

4.     We can keep our heads!  We face fear by self-control.


  We must remember that we are not the first people in history to face challenging times.  The Greatest Generation, and others before them, who faced their life challenges with courage and dignity saw a rise or a blessing after their conflicts. 

   Our conflict will pass.  How we come out on the other side greatly depends on how we face the challenge before us.  Will we run?  Or will we rise?