At certain moments throughout history, God literally shook the earth. The ground quaked as His Son died on the cross (Matt. 27:51), and there will be an even greater upheaval in the future when Christ returns (Zech. 14:4).
But even in our present day, the Lord often lets the various foundations of our world shake—whether political alliances, financial systems, or other forms of human security. That’s when we can see the flimsiness of the institutions on which we’ve based our hopes. Not to mention that our personal lives can also be rocked by financial crises, relational conflicts, illness, or loss. If we’ve relied on the fragile footing of human wisdom, achievement, or pride, things may look good for a while, but a weak foundation cannot withstand the storms of life.
The believer, however, can have peace even in the midst of instability. That’s because we know God always has a purpose for the upheavals He allows to occur. Hardships have a way of shaking us out of our apathy and self-centeredness, and they serve as reminders not to trust in ourselves or the temporary institutions of this world. There is only one secure foundation: a genuine, saving relationship with Jesus Christ, which will carry us through any and all turmoil.
Something that sounded like firecrackers roused Joanne from sleep. Glass shattered. Wishing she didn’t live alone, she got up to see what was going on. The dark streets were empty and the house seemed to be okay—then she saw the broken mirror.
Investigators found a bullet only a half-inch from the gas line. If it had struck the line, she probably wouldn’t have made it out alive. Later they discovered it was a stray bullet from nearby apartments, but Joanne was afraid to be at home. She prayed for peace, and once the glass was cleaned up, her heart calmed.
Psalm 121 is a reminder for us to look to God in times of trouble. Here, we see that we can have peace and calm because our “help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (v. 2). The God who created the universe helps and watches over us (v. 3)—even while we sleep—but He Himself never sleeps (v. 4). He watches over us day and night (v. 6), “both now and forevermore” (v. 8).
No matter what kind of situations we find ourselves in, God sees. And He’s waiting for us to turn to Him. When we do, our circumstances may not always change, but He’s promised His peace in the midst of it all.
“Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place The Lord Will Provide, as it is said to this day, ‘In the mount of the Lord it will be provided’” (Genesis 22:13-14).
When God provides for a believer, He’s being true to His name.
The Old Testament gives God many names, but one of the most lovely is Jehovah-Jireh, translated in verse 14 of today’s passage as “The Lord Will Provide.” It is so much a characteristic of God that it’s His name. We would never question that God is love and great and mighty and holy and just and good. But some question whether God provides. They doubt and are afraid that God isn’t going to meet their needs. That is exactly what the Lord speaks to in Matthew 6:25-34 when He says, in summary, “Don’t worry about what to eat, drink, or wear.” The Lord is still Jehovah-Jireh. That is His name, and it is synonymous with one of His attributes.
God is a God who provides, and that is why David said, “I have been young, and now I am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, or his descendants begging bread” (Ps. 37:25). The world digs and scratches and claws to make sure it has enough. Unlike the world, your Father knows your needs, and He will always give you what you need.
You don’t have to own everything, and you don’t have to control everything to meet your needs. You can receive what God gives you to invest in His eternal kingdom and put away all anxiety about your needs. Worship God with your life, and rest assured in His promise to provide for you.
Suggestions for Prayer
First Timothy 6:8 says, “If [you] have food and covering, with these [you] shall be content.” Does contentment characterize your life? If not, confess that to the Lord, and thank Him for the many ways He so faithfully provides for you every day.
For Further Study
Read the following passages, which show God’s faithfulness to provide: Deuteronomy 2:7; 1 Kings 17:1-16; 2 Kings 4:1-7. In what different ways does He give that provision?
For the Lord gives skillful and godly Wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
— Proverbs 2:6 (AMPC)
God wants us to use wisdom, and wisdom encourages patience. Wisdom says, “Wait a little while, until the emotions settle down, before you do or say something; then check to see if you really believe it’s the right thing to do.” Wisdom is grateful for what you already have and patiently moves into what God has for you next.
Emotions urge us toward haste, telling us that we must do something and do it right now! But godly wisdom tells us to be patient and wait until we have a clear picture of what we are to do and when we are to do it. We need to be able to step back from our situations and see them from God’s perspective. Then we can make decisions based on what we know rather than on what we feel.
Prayer Starter: I thank You, Father, that patience is a fruit of the Spirit I can demonstrate in my life. With Your help, I am determined to make decisions today with wisdom and patience. Thank You for guiding me along the way.
Among all the saints whose lives are recorded in Holy Scripture, David possesses an experience of the most striking, varied, and instructive character. In his history we meet with trials and temptations that are not found, as a whole, in other saints of ancient times, and as a result he provides us with a shadowy picture of our Lord. David knew the trials of all ranks and conditions of men. Kings have their troubles, and David wore a crown. The peasant has his cares, and David handled a shepherd’s crook. The wanderer has many hardships, and David hid in the caves of Engedi. The captain has his difficulties, and David found the sons of Zeruiah too hard for him.
The psalmist also faced trials from his friends; his counselor Ahithophel forsook him: “[He] who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.”1 His worst foes came from his own household: His children were his greatest affliction. The temptations of poverty and wealth, of honor and reproach, of health and weakness all tried their power upon him. He had temptations from without to disturb his peace and from within to mar his joy. David no sooner escaped from one trial than he fell into another, no sooner emerged from one season of despondency and alarm than he was again brought into the lowest depths and all God’s waves and billows rolled over him. This is probably the reason that David’s psalms are so universally the delight of experienced Christians. Whatever our frame of mind, whether ecstasy or depression, David has exactly described our emotions. He was an able master of the human heart because he had been tutored in the best of all schools—the school of heartfelt, personal experience.
As we are instructed in the same school, as we grow mature in grace and in years, we increasingly appreciate David’s psalms and find them to be “green pastures.”2 My soul, let David’s experience cheer and counsel you today.
1) Psalm 41:9 2) Psalm 23:2
C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.
“When God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself.” (Hebrews 6:13)
Have you ever heard someone say, “I swear that it’s true!” Maybe your parents have even told you not to say that, because “swear” is used nowadays as another word for “curse,” and we should not curse. Well, your parents are right to forbid you from swearing, too – it really is enough for you just to say, “What I’m saying is true.”
Sometimes it’s important for a person to make a very serious promise. For example, if the bank lends your parents a lot of money to buy a house, your parents sign a contract that promises to pay all the money back to the bank, a little at a time.
In Old Testament times, a lot of agreements weren’t written down; two people would just make spoken promises to each other. So instead of signing a contract, someone who made a promise would say something like, “I swear by the king,” or “I swear by the temple.” When a person did this, he wasn’t using dirty language. Instead, it was strong promise language. The person was saying that he would be as reliable as the thing that he swore by. Kings were expected to be very trustworthy, and the temple was expected to last forever. In the same way, the person making a promise was saying that his promise was trustworthy, and that it would last forever.
There is something else you should notice about these promises. The king and temple are greater than the person making the promise. In fact, Hebrews 6:16 says that when people make these serious promises – when they swear (in the good use of the word) – they always swear by something or someone greater than themselves.
But if God wants to make a solemn promise, by whom or by what would He swear? Would God swear by a human king? Of course not! God is the One Who made the man into a king. Would God swear by the temple? No! God is the One Who designed the temple and gave strength to the builders and supplied all the building materials. Would God swear by the universe? Surely not! God made the universe, and everything in it!
So does God swear by anybody? According to Hebrews 6:13, when God made a promise to Abraham, He did swear by someone. The book of Hebrews says, “When God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware [swore] by himself.”
When God makes promises, He bases His promises on His own greatness and reliability. Because no one and nothing is greater than God, no one and nothing can stop God from keeping His promises. Those of us who are God’s children can look for God’s promises in the Bible, and we can know that God will keep them!
God is greater than everything and everyone else, and He will keep all the promises that He makes.
My Response: » Can I name any promises that God has made me in the Bible? Do I believe that God will keep them? » Can I think of any promises God has made that would make me live differently if I believed them? (For example, when Jesus told His disciples to go into all the world with the Gospel, He promised that He would be with them.)
Author Andrew T. Walker, an associate professor of Christian ethics and apologetics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, offers this definition: “Religious liberty is the principle of social practice wherein every individual, regardless of their religious confession, is equally free to believe, or not to believe, and to live out their understanding of the conscience’s duty, individually and communally, that is owed to God in all areas of life without threat of government penalty or social harassment. It is nothing short of grasping truth and ordering one’s life in response to it.”
That includes people of every religious belief, or none at all. Religious liberty, in Walker’s view, “helps us manage social and religious differences” in a pluralistic culture.
More importantly, there can be no decisions for Christ without freedom of choice.
The gospel and religious freedom
“We Christians should extend religious liberty to everyone, because everyone is pursuing truth, even if incorrectly,” Walker wrote. “In a secular and increasingly pluralistic age, we need to allow falsehood a space to be wrong in hopes that individuals will ‘come to the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Tim. 2:4).
“This does not mean we refrain from naming moral wrongs or fall captive to empty-headed relativism. It means we do not seek to criminalize, persecute, or marginalize people whose beliefs are sincere and are animating them toward lives of purpose, meaning, and goodwill (and there are checks and balances to consider when convictions pose risks and harms to civil society).”
Only Christ can judge religious convictions. The just state’s job is to guarantee freedom of choice. But even in an unjust society where Christians are persecuted, the gospel has shown throughout history an ability to thrive. “The government may possess the authority to kill the body, but it cannot damn the soul,” Walker wrote. “The martyrs of the early church went to their deaths knowing that from death came life.”
A day of judgment is coming. Until then, governments should allow religious freedom.
“If the gospel is true, the gospel does not need government preference,” Walker wrote. “Why? Because in the scope of history, truth wins.”
Life feels stuck when life makes no progress. When you battle the same discouragement you faced a decade ago or struggle with the same fears you faced a year ago. When you wake up to the same hang-ups and habits. When heartache becomes a permanent mailing address.
Jesus sees you, my friend, and he has a new version of you waiting to happen. He says to you what he said to the man at the pool of Bethesda: “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” (John 5:8 NLT).
Stand up. Do something. Write a letter. Apply for the job. Reach out to a counselor. Stand up. Pick up. Pick up your mat. Make a clean break with the past. And walk. Set your sights on a new destination, and begin the hike. Getting unstuck means getting excited about getting out.