Word Alive! © 2021 Winter Series
You Can Begin Again!
Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton
Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 16 March, 2021
Max Lucado, “Begin Again” Lesson 8, (Chap. 8)
Devotional Time: “Begin Again” (pp. 57-63)
Protection – During the height of the global health pandemic in 2020, people were introduced to a long-standing procedure, called “Shelter-in-Place” (SIP). The procedure, well utilized by the American Red Cross, involves “remaining inside” of one’s living space, as protection against certain forces or elements that threaten health, life and safety. Although some people were reticent about adhering to this policy, it proved successful in protecting people against the neuro-coronavirus. From earliest civilization, there has been a need to feel protected. The Scriptures, both explicitly and through figurative language, portrays a God who protects His children. David describes God’s people as being sheltered by Him, and assured of protection against any calamity or disease (cf. Psalm 91:1-4, NLT). People generally remain where they are, as God protects them. There is little need to flee from trouble, because God remains with us when we’re in difficulty (cf. 2 Chronicles 20:8-9, NLT). Before God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, the people were told to shelter-in-place in their homes. The blood over their doors, and the sheltering, protected them and caused the plague of death to passover their households (cf. Exodus 12:12-13, NLT). This event would be memorialized in the hearts, minds and culture of the Israelites. Reliving memories of protection and deliverance, later became a part of the worship liturgy of the church (cf. Psalm 124:2-4; 7-8, NLT. In his devotional, Begin Again, Max Lucado comments: “God offers more than the possibility of protection or the likelihood of protection on your journey. He guarantees he will guard you. Your serenity matters to heaven. God’s presence encapsulates your life. Separating you from evil is God, your guardian.” In His instructional prayer, Jesus directs us to pray for protection from the evil One. Jesus said, “And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one (cf. Matthew 6:13, NLT).” In the prayer, Jesus teaches us to pray for immediate protection. In the earlier English translations of the Greek text, the word deliver was used. The Greek word used in the text is rhuomai (hroo-om-ahee), which means literally, “to rush to one’s side,” or, “to rescue.” We are admonished in the Scriptures to do what is right and just. Our faith in God gives us the assurance of His care and protection. As David said, “You are with me.”
You Matter – God protects us because He loves and cares for us. Moses said, God finds us, protects us, and takes us to safe places (cf. Deuteronomy 32:10-11, NLT). It is because we matter to God, that He does so much for us (cf. Psalm 18:17-19, NLT). Although we are complete in Christ, in terms of our status as sons or daughters of God through faith in Him (cf. Colossians 2:10, NLT), we are still being perfected. The psalmist says, “The Lord will work out His plan for my life – for your faithful love endures forever (Psalm 138:8, NLT).” The “working out” is a continual process. The challenges and crises we experience, can be used by God to strengthen us. Max Lucado says, “God uses struggles to toughen our spiritual skin.” Because we matter to God, even tough experiences will result in something beneficial for us. Jesus warned us to avoid excessive worry. He assured us that the heavenly Father will take care of our varied needs. Jesus says the Father is intimately familiar with our needs (cf. Matthew 6:30-34, NLT). It is interesting that Jesus focuses on “needs,” and not merely desires. Jesus said further, that we have “greater value” to God (cf. Matthew 10:29-31, NLT). The fact that we matter to God does not mean that we’re exempt from some of life’s challenges. The Apostle James advised the early Christians that disruptions which could occur in their lives, should be considered as a test of faith and endurance. The troubles confronting us are not an attack from God; rather, God uses our challenging moments to bring us into fuller maturity (cf. James 1:1-4, NLT). Max Lucado observed that the silversmith pounds on the metal until it is smooth, and the silversmith can see his reflection in the finished product. That’s a wonderful analogy for how God works our rough areas so we can reflect His image. Pastor Lucado says, “God guards those who turn to him. The pounding you feel does not suggest his distance but proves his nearness. Trust his sovereignty. Hasn’t he earned your trust?” When I was a young child, I wondered aloud about the verse which says, “Whom the Lord loves He chastens.” I thought, “If God loved me, why would He make me cry?” As I matured, I read further in the scriptures that God’s discipline corrects, but doesn’t harm us.
What We Believe
God Protects What He Loves: We Matter To Him
1. God will keep us safe during and from harm!
2. God perfects us through our trials!
Palm 91: 1-4, NLT
“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord:He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God and I trust Him. For He will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with His feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.’
2 Chronicles 20:8-9, NLT
“Your people settled here and built this Temple to honor your name. They said, “Whenever we are faced with any calamity such as war, plague, or famine,we can come to stand in your presence before this Temple where your name is honored. We can cry out to you to save us, and you will hear us and rescue us.”
Psalm 124:2-4;7-8, NLT
“What if the Lord had not been on our side when people attacked us? They would have swallowed us alive in their burning anger. The waters would have, engulfed us, a torrent would have over-whelmed us… We escaped like a bird from a hunter's trap. The trap is broken and we are free! Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
Deut. 32:10-11, NLT
“He found them in a desert land, in an empty, howling wasteland. He surrounded them and watched over them; He gathered them as He would guard His own eyes. Like an eagle that rouses her chicks and hovers over her young, so He spreads Hi swings to take them upland carried them safely on His pinions.”
Psalm 18:17-19, NLT
“He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. They attack-ed me at a moment when I was in distress, but the Lord supported me. He led me to a place of safety; He rescued me because He delights in me.”
Matthew 6:30-34, NLT
“And if God cares so wonder-fully for wild flowers that are here today and thrown in the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.”
James 1:1-4, NLT
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way,consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”