Today’s Lectio Divina: Excerpts from Psalm 91. (MsgB)
You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,
Say this: “God, You’re my refuge. I trust in You and I’m safe!”
“If you’ll hold on to Me for dear life,” says God, “I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust Me.
Make no mistake. God’s agape love for us is unconditional. No beginning. No end. No preset limits or pre-existing conditions. No exclusions or exemptions. No ifs, buts or ands. But, let’s be honest here. While God’s agape love for all of His children is freely available 24-7, 365; His on-going, unshakable, unchangeable presence and protection in times of trial or trouble are not. Yes, my friends, there are some aspects of God’s character and nature that are conditional. And quite honestly, Psalm 91 spells it out pretty concisely here when it says, “IF”.
I call it the BIG IF. So big is this BIG IF, it makes so much in life a bit clearer, if we can come to understand it.
As I see it, I will always be loved to the very core by my Poppa in heaven. His unconditional love is never in question. Never negotiable. Romans 8: 38 and 39 is right.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
But, here’s the rub.
While God’s love in Christ Jesus is never in doubt, His powerful presence and protection in the midst of trials and hardships is not.
The BIG IF says that I must do something on my end in order for me to experience God’s active presence and power in my life. According to Psalm 91, there are several pre-requisites that I must be aware of. Pre-set, God-directed conditions that will determine the level of God’s protective care over my life. Let’s review them here…
The BIG IF says that I must follow through on six specific activities…
1) Sit down in the High God’s presence, (versus a quick how-do-you-do once a week).
2) Spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, (versus a quick 2-minute prayer while watching TV).
3) Believe that God is my refuge, (versus believing that money, power and prestige will save me in times of trouble).
4) Trust in Him for my safety, (versus looking for a rainy day fund or the next get-rich scheme to keep me secure).
5) Hold on to God for dear life, (versus walking down my own life path of choice).
6) Get to know and trust my God. (versus a marginal relationship based on religious hearsay and spiritual smoke & mirrors).
Sounds a bit more involved than simply checking in at church on Sunday morning for an hour or so, doesn’t it? A shade more detailed than simply tipping my hat to the Man Upstairs? Just a tad more complicated than slipping a $20 bill in the collection plate, don’t you think?
In truth, the BIG IF says that God will do His part (be my high God and my unshakeable protector), as I do my part (see six steps above).
Now please, don’t mis-understand me here. I’m not saying that salvation is based on my works. Salvation is achieved by grace alone. It’s Christ’s blood that saves me. Not my religious activities.
But as one wise pastor once told me…“Salvation and the love of God, Marty, is free. No charge. Available to all. It’s everything else in the Kingdom that costs everything!”
So. Gotta go, guys. Time to do some more sittin’ in God’s presence. I’ve got my lawn chair and my sleeping bag with me this time. Pullin’ an all-nighter with the King!
My prayer: Holy God, forgive me when I take advantage of Your unconditional agape love and rarely do my part in practicing Your presence or trusting You as my only refuge in life. Jesus, I want to respond to the BIG IF found in Psalm 91 and find myself actively pursuing You for the rest of my days. Empower me, Holy Spirit. For Your Name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: Where am I guilty of resting passively on the truth of God’s unconditional agape love alone? While I never want to see myself as securing my salvation through my good works, how might I become aggressively active in responding to the BIG IF found in Psalm 91? What might it look like to take the six steps of pursuing God found in this Psalm and making these activities more apparent in my life?
So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?
Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Contemplative Activist network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.
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