Thursday, March 26, 2020

Unprecedented Peace in Christ Alone ~ Guest Post by Beth Willis Miller

"The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; the God of my rock; in Him will I trust: He is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my savior; Thou savest me from violence."
2 Samuel 22:2,3


My dear friend, Beth Willis Miller, so kindly offered us to use her latest blog post by permission for this series of encouragement.  Her words brought such comfort and hope to my heart in these troubled times.  I have added emphasis to parts that were especially meaningful to me, and at the end of this post, I will be sharing a very special personal story about Beth!  

"Krista Hamrick’s beautiful artwork inspired me during this time in which we are living, which is being called “unprecedented” in our lifetimes. The eyes of the connected world have simultaneously widened on a common enemy called COVID-19. What do we do when we feel threatened? When our normalcy is upended? Krista’s artwork reminded me of an old hymn I sang as a child, based on Psalm 62, and helps us look to God’s Word to shed light in these uncertain times.

As a little girl growing up in church, I can vividly remember holding the church hymnal with my parents, and singing, “On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand.” The lyrics which Krista illustrates so beautifully in her artwork, speak directly to our hearts in this unsettling time: “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' Name. When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil. His oath, His covenant, His blood, support me in the whelming flood. When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my Hope and Stay. When He shall come with trumpet sound, oh may I then in Him be found. Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne. On Christ the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.”

This led me to a word study of Psalm 62:6:

"He only is my rock and my salvation: He is my defense; I shall not be moved."

Pastor Steven J. Cole writes: "The difficulty with applying Psalm 62 is that very few of us have ever been in the desperate straits that David was in and so we cannot truly relate to what he says here. Evil men were threatening David’s life and scheming how, not only to topple him as king, but also how to kill him. They were trying to murder David. They were saying, “He’s like a leaning wall or tottering fence. Just push and he’ll go down!” Under that real threat of death, David’s mind was wonderfully concentrated to write this psalm. The message is: 
In life’s most threatening times, you will be at peace if God alone is your salvation and refuge.

The main theme of the psalm is the right and wrong objects of faith. If we trust in God, we’re secure. If we trust in men or in things, we’re depending on that which is lighter than breath (62:9). Interestingly, even though David was in a life-threatening situation, the psalm contains no prayer.

Pastor H. C. Leupold writes, “There is scarcely another psalm that reveals such an absolute and undisturbed peace, in which confidence in God is so completely unshaken, and in which assurance is so strong that not even one single petition is voiced throughout the psalm.” Of course, David experienced this peace through prayer, and he exhorts God’s people to pour out their hearts before Him (62:8). All of us want to have this same peace that David had in this crisis. At the heart of his peace is his confident trust in God alone.

The word “only,” which translates a little Hebrew particle, is also a recurring theme in this psalm. It occurs six times, four in reference to God. Each time it begins the sentence for emphasis. The word itself conveys emphasis and may be translated in different ways, depending on the context. Sometimes it is translated but it sometimes means “surely” or “certainly.” The most authoritative Hebrew lexicon and most modern translations translate it in Psalm 62 as “only” or “alone.” By repetition, David hammers home the concept that we will enjoy God’s peace in the midst of life’s most threatening moments when God only—God alone—is our salvation and refuge. Since we all struggle to get to that place—and as we’ll see in the psalm, David himself struggled to remain there—let’s focus on how to come to that place of complete trust in God.

While David begins with his calm waiting on God (62:1-2), it’s helpful to work our way back by looking first at the fierce enemies that were threatening him: Some think that David wrote this psalm in the context of Absalom’s rebellion, but we can’t know for sure. The attacks seem to have been prolonged, as seen by David’s cry, “How long?” The New King James Version translates verse 3b, “You shall be slain, all of you, like a leaning wall and a tottering fence,” making it David’s words against his enemies. But the ancient versions and most modern versions take it as David’s enemies’ words against him. They were counseling together how to thrust him down from his role as king by assassinating him. They were spreading falsehoods and using flattery, telling him that he was a great king, while inwardly cursing him. The Bible never promises exemption from such attacks. Rather, it shows us what to do when you’re under attack. David begins (61:1a), “My soul waits in silence for God only.” Commentaries helpfully explain what David means by “silence.” “The silence intended is, in short, that composed submission of the believer, in the exercise of which he acquiesces in the promises of God, gives place to his word, bows to his sovereignty, and suppresses every inward murmur of dissatisfaction.

The key word there is “submission.” When difficult things happen to us, we can either angrily complain to God, “I don’t deserve such treatment!” Or, we can submit to Him, agreeing with His promises, giving supremacy to His Word, bowing before His sovereignty, and suppressing our tendency to grumble. There is no more remarkable demonstration of this than that of Job. When God inexplicably took his possessions, his ten children, and his health, Job humbly proclaimed (Job 1:21b), “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” While the rest of the book of Job shows how he wrestled through his pain and his complaints against God, by the end of the book we find Job again in a posture of worship, bowing before God’s sovereign hand (Job 40:4-5; 42:1-6). So, humbling yourself “under the mighty hand of God” (1 Pet. 5:6) is a key element in experiencing God’s peace when you’re under attack.

David adds (62:1b-2), “from Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.” In this context, salvation refers to God’s deliverance from David’s enemies. And yet we’re not amiss if, with Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon, we apply this to God being the only source of our salvation from sin and judgment. He preached two sermons on this psalm. In one (“God Alone the Salvation of His People,” Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit he writes, “If anyone should ask us what we would choose for our motto, as preachers of the gospel, we think we should reply, ‘God only is our salvation.’” Then he adds, “I cannot find in Scripture any other doctrine than this. It is the essence of the Bible. . .Tell me anything that departs from this and it will be a heresy; tell me a heresy, and I shall find its essence here, that it has departed from this great, this fundamental, this rocky truth, “God is my rock and my salvation.”

If God alone is your salvation from eternal death, if He raised you from death to life and gave you the faith to believe in Jesus Christ, then you also can take refuge in Him from less threatening trials. As Paul puts it in Romans 8:31-32, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” So if you know God as your only source of salvation from sin, then when problems hit, submit yourself to His sovereign hand and trust God alone as your salvation and refuge from the problems.

In verses 5-7, David repeats what he already said in verses 1-2, with a few variations. Why does he do this? In verses 3 & 4, he has been thinking about his enemies and the extreme threat that they represented. So, he may have been a little bit shaken (not, greatly shaken, v. 2). “Here it is to be remembered, that our minds can never be expected to reach such perfect composure as shall preclude every inward feeling of disquietude, but are, at the best, as the sea before a light breeze, fluctuating sensibly, though not swollen into billows.” In other words, we never reach a place of perfect composure, where severe trials don’t affect us. And so we have to fight to regain our peace in God. But how?

First, David talks to himself (“My soul”). They say that talking to yourself is a sign of senility, but the Bible often tells us to do this very thing. In Psalms 42 & 43, the psalmist repeats (42:5, 11; 43:5) the refrain (43:5), “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” The opening chapter of Pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ wonderful book, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure, is on Psalm 42. He asks, “Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?” He goes on to explain that rather than just going along with the thoughts that come to you in the morning, which bring back all of the problems of yesterday, you’ve got to take yourself in hand, preach to yourself, and question yourself. You ask yourself, “Why are you cast down?” Then you exhort yourself to hope in God. Lloyd-Jones continues, “You must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: “I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.”

That’s exactly what David does in Psalm 62. He piles up description after description of who God is. After telling himself to wait in silence for God only (62:5), he adds (62:5b-6), “for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be moved.” This time he does not say, “I shall not be greatly shaken” (62:2), but he advances to, “I shall not be moved” at all! Then he goes over it again (62:7), “On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.”

Don’t miss the pronoun, “my” (9 times in vv. 5-7). Also, God is either directly named or referred to with the pronouns Him or He five times in these verses. David knew God personally as his hope, his rock, his salvation, his stronghold, his strength, and his refuge. If we want His peace in severe trials, we must know God personally and experientially as our God and remind ourselves of who He is. David is fighting here, while under these life-threatening attacks, to put these comforting truths front and center in his mind. We say we’re trusting in God alone, but then we quickly scheme how to deliver ourselves, rather than waiting on Him! It’s not that it’s wrong to think about how to get out of a difficult trial, or to use methods to do so. In fact, more often than not we should use plans and methods in dependence on Him. But it’s wrong to give God a token nod of trust and then set Him aside while really, we trust in our schemes and methods. Rather, with David we must fight to make God our only source of deliverance: “He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold.” Then, “I shall not be shaken” (62:6). If we trust in plans and methods we’ll fail. But if God only is our rock, we will stand firm.

David can’t contain the joy of knowing God as his salvation, so he writes (62:8), “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” What a wonderful verse! David isn’t giving out pat, useless advice! He’s telling us how he endured this terrible attack on his life by these fierce, cunning enemies. He trusted in God; he poured out his heart to God; he took refuge in God. He’s telling us to do the same. What God was to David in his extreme trial, He can be to you in your crisis.

How does pouring out your heart to God (62:8) fit with waiting silently for Him (62:1, 5)? Obviously, they’re not contradictory. Waiting silently for God only, as we’ve seen, is to put our hearts in submission to His sovereign love in the face of trials that seem to contradict either His sovereignty or His love. It’s an attitude of trustful submission. Pouring out our hearts is to unburden ourselves in prayer, where we empty all of our anxieties and confusion and pain onto the Lord, while still remaining in submission to His sovereign love. As 1 Peter 5:7 puts it, “casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”

How prone we all are to keep our troubles pent up in our hearts until we’re driven to despair. We show much anxiety and ingenuity in seeking to escape our troubles without God. But in so doing, he says, we only get ourselves into “a labyrinth of difficulties.” The answer is to pour out our hearts before Him, taking refuge in Him, because He cares for us. David has shown us that we can be composed or at peace if God alone is our salvation and refuge. He has reaffirmed it, showing that it is usually a battle to get to this place and remain there in the face of difficult trials. He concludes with a contrast, showing us what not to trust and repeating again who to trust."
The main reason that we should “fight” for God’s peace in threatening times is not so that we will be at peace, but so that God will be glorified and others will be drawn to Him through us. God’s peace comes to us in life’s threatening times when He alone is our salvation and refuge.

In this psalm David pours out his heart to God, describing his difficulties, the enemies that are trying to kill him, and the lies and curses others have spoken against him. But on the battlefield of life, in the midst of every trouble, David has a Godward focus. He is honest about his complaints and problems, but he has purposed to direct his gaze to the God of all faithfulness, putting his trust in the One who alone is his rock, salvation, fortress, and refuge. He then can wait quietly before God because he has put his hope, and his very life, in the Lord’s hands. He doesn’t trust in human nature because it is no more secure than a breath. He doesn’t put his hope in riches because he knows that wealth will not save him. His hope, confidence, and trust are in the Lord Almighty. If, like David, we are waiting for God to act when we are in the midst of trouble, we can wait frantically or impatiently. But to wait quietly in hope takes a deep confidence in knowing the One we are waiting for. He will never disappoint us. This psalm is an open invitation to be honest and deeply real with the Lord. It calls us to take our masks off and pour out our true thoughts and feelings to God, to be there before Him telling it like it is, not how we think things should be. How freeing it is to realize that we can be totally honest with God and express our sadness or joy, our fears, our faults and weaknesses, our pain, desires and dreams, and to know that the contents of our hearts are really safe with God, our refuge. This psalm also reminds us that although the specific patterns or formats for prayer are excellent principles for individual or corporate prayer times, we don’t have to follow them in order for God to hear us, nor do we have to hide our negative emotions and attitudes just so we’ll look good. God already knows all that we are feeling and struggling with, so we can come to him just as we are and pour out our hearts “at all times.” He invites us in the midst of conflicts, stresses, responsibilities, and frustration to seek him as our closest confidante, our intimate friend.

"Heavenly Father, I lift my eyes up to you, my rock, my salvation, my fortress, and my refuge. Quiet my heart to wait on you, for my hope is in You. Help me to wait for You in this unprecedented time, in the storms, in the light, and in the darkness. Let my confidence not be shaken by what my heart may feel, circumstances may say, or my mind may think. I thank you that my confidence rests on the One who is my rock and that you will never be shaken. How thankful I am for the confidence and security that You long to hear from me and to comfort me. You know and understand all the thoughts of my heart better than I do myself, and you invite me to pour out my heart to you even now in this unprecedented time. I trust You with my eternity—I will trust You today with my next breath, my next heartbeat. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen."

Look Up—meditate on Psalm 62:6 … pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In—as you meditate on Psalm 62:6 … pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on Psalm 62:6 …pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.

* If you liked this post, you’ll love this book – Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ.

Bio:  Beth Willis Miller, M.Ed., author of Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ with Illustrator, Krista Hamrick; contributing author of Under His Wings: Truths to Heal Adopted Children's Hearts; 21 Stories of Generosity: Real Stories to Inspire a Full Life; A New Song: Glimpses of the Grace Journey; married with two adult children, and two adorable grandsons.




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Dear friends, be sure to visit Beth's wonderful blog by clicking HERE.  You will find that every post is packed with deep spiritual edification and encouragement.


In Christ Alone ~ David Wesley

Now for that special story about Beth....
I have followed Beth's blog for a long time.  I don't even remember how she and I connected, but over the years, she has become a dear friend, and her blog has proven to be such a blessing to me.  A few years back, she shared an exclusive interview with us that you can read by clicking HERE!

Sometime in November or December of 2017, Beth and I were exchanging emails, and she happened to mention that a friend of hers had offered her and her family a stay in a timeshare in our hometown!!  Beth didn't even realize it was where we lived and that we had moved there the year before!  My jaw dropped open as I read her words, and I quickly wrote her back to tell her we lived there and how wonderful it would be if we could meet face to face.  She told me she would contact me when she and her family arrived and got settled. 

Fast forward to December 26, 2017, which was Zach's 17th birthday and the very day we lost my brother-in-law, LDThat was the day the Holy Spirit had Divinely appointed for Beth and her family to be in our hometown!  Obviously, there was no way any of us could have ever known ahead of time what we would be facing and going through on that late December day, but God knew.  It was all by Divine providence, and He had planned it out far ahead of time.  Our hearts were so broken as we met Beth and her sweet family that evening at our local Chick-fil-a.  We found our way to a table at the back corner where we could talk privately, get better acquainted, and pour out our hearts, and Beth even prayed with us right there in our booth.  I could never put into words what a precious comfort she was to us during such a sad time in our lives.  She is a dear, precious child of God who means so much to my family and me!  Her faithful prayer support is a Divine gift, and we are so blessed that she is a part of our lives!

Zach, me, and our special friend, Beth Willis Miller

God bless you all in these troubled times!
Keep your eyes on Jesus, and know that He is always by your side.

14 comments:

  1. Wow, Beth, your post is a Bible Study, counseling session and massive encouragement all rolled into one! Thank you and also to you, Cheryl,for highlighting spots I need to make sure I don't miss. I love your story of meeting up in person and the photo is cute.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind comments! Many blessings to you!

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  2. Cheryl, thank you so much for this invitation to have a guest post here on your wonderful blog, Homespun Devotions. It has been such a joy to get to know you over these past few years. I'm so glad you shared our Divine Appointment back in 2017. Truly, only God could have orchestrated the timing of our getting to meet in person and join together in prayer for you and your sweet family that night. Many blessings to you as you continue to encourage us all with your inspiring words.

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    1. Thank you so much, Beth! A Divine Appointment, indeed! I will never forget how you blessed us that night! YES! Only God could have worked that out. Many blessings to you, too, and may God keep you and your sweet family safe and healthy always!

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  3. Oh how precious this tonight.. and it's so wonderful as I read dear Beth's post on "God only ".. two things came to mind.. of the Word I've seen beautfully illuminated "Jesus only", which is actually an exceprt from Matthew 17:8
    And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.
    Jesus only.. how wonderful if when everyone looked at us they saw Jesus or God only!
    Then next thought was the hymn Christ alone by Stuart Townsend.. and the lo! There it was. Thank you dear sisters and thank you Lord for being our Refuge, our Strength, our High Tower, in Whom we may trust and rest!
    Thanks for sharing, and may God bless you and all you love, and keep you well in these troubled times. In God we trust.
    Hugs, Shaz in Oz.x

    {Wonderful Words of Life - Shaz in Oz}
    {Calligraphy Cards - Shaz in Oz}

    Bea

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    1. Amen, Bea! I so agree with you! Thank you so much for stopping by! Many blessings to you!

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    2. It surely is a precious word of encouragement, Shaz! So very thankful that we when Christ is all we have, we find that He is all we need. He is so dear to my heart, and knowing He is holding us all brings immeasurable comfort in these difficult days. God bless you!

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  4. Beth I'm going to need to print this out and put it in my Bible. Thank you so much and thank you for being there for Cheryl and her family. And thank you Cheryl for posting more words of encouragement.

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    1. Thank you, dear Regina, for your contribution to the encouragement and for your faithful support. Many blessings to you!

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    2. Regina, thank you for your sweet words of encouragement...it is always my prayer that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will encourage others with my little posts. Many blessings to you!

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  5. Oh what precious encouragement and strength we gain when we focus on Christ alone, our only solid rock! Thank you for sharing these precious words. And thank you for sharing the precious story of how God allowed you to meet and share at just the right time. What an amazing gift from Him. Blessings to you both, Cheryl and Beth!

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    1. Oh, it surely was such precious encouragement that Beth shared with us here! I drew much strength from it. I am so grateful you enjoyed our Divine appointment story, dear Bettie. I trust you are feeling better, my friend. Praying for you.

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    2. Thank you, Bettie, for your precious comments. It is truly such a joy to share our love for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with our fellow sisters-in-Christ. Many blessings to you!

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  6. So much encouragement and truth in these words, Beth!
    Trusting that this finds you healthy and hopeful!

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