Finding Refuge in Times of Trouble

David penned the following words declaring where to go and what to do in times of trouble and oppression.  ‘The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know Your name will trust You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You. Sing praises to the Lord, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what He has done.’ (Ps. 9:9-11)  David’s inspired words are instructive in substance and eternal in relevance. 

Everyone has oppression and/or trouble at times. However in these days, it seems times of trouble and oppression are magnified since few of us live in cultures or nations that lift up the name of Jesus.  If you live in Africa you live amidst tribal influence, Islamic oppression, and political corruption. If you live in Asia, you’re surrounded by government oppression, religious persecution, and cultural animosity. If you live in America you reside amid moral decay, secular mindsets, and spiritual hardness.  Regardless of geographic setting we face individual and corporate trouble. That’s the bad news! But no matter how bad it may seem, there is hope and help for those who lift up the name of Jesus, praise His name, and declare His goodness. 

The promise says...the Lord is a refuge and a stronghold in times of trouble. He is the safe place, the secure foundation, and the strong fortress to defend, uphold , and uplift you at all times! For those who ‘know’ His name…that means those who intimately, deeply, substantively know Him. It is they, it is you and I that will therefore trust and find refuge in Him. We will find security, sanctuary, safety and strength in Him.  He is our place of refuge, our stronghold!  

David then puts action to his spiritual insight. He says that in the midst of all this oppression and trouble we should ‘sing praises to the Lord’. Wow! Our flesh resists praise in the midst of problems. But our spirit, the righteousness of God within us, earnestly seeks to praise and magnify Him in the midst of trouble. Praising Him is one aspect of seeking Him.  Praise is directional. It is directed at someone…Him; the opposite direction of the trouble or oppression. Praise openly gives credit to Him for what He has done, who He is, what He will do. To praise is to literally throw ourselves with open arms toward Him. As we praise Him, our soul moves toward refreshing and revival. In other words we extract our mind and heart from the trouble and enter the refuge and fortress of His presence.  

David then goes farther!  He says to ‘proclaim among the nations what He has done’.  That seems crazy! In the midst of our own problems we are to speak of Him to nations?! Can’t we at least stay in our own backyard? No! We are to live out the great commission (Matt. 28:18-20) even in the midst of OUR trouble.  When we praise the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we take on an assertive mindset rather than reactive mindset. We look boldly outward to advance His kingdom. We know that if God is for us and is our stronghold, we can assertively advance the Kingdom even in the midst of personal or cultural calamity. We don’t have to wait until the culture or circumstances change. We change the atmosphere of the culture as we proclaim Him in the nations.  Today, praise Him and proclaim Him!!


The Sound of Heaven

Today we continue with my series: Worshiping God Up Close and Personal.  The Holy Spirit led me to focus on worship and to take pride in our Father who created, transformed, and redeemed us. I have termed the month of June God Pride Month. We are bragging about our God! We want all creation to know how great and awesome He is. I am continuing this into July because there is MORE to say!! PTL!

Corporate praise and worship bring forth power and fulfill purpose when done in unity. The primary difference between personal worship and corporate worship is that corporate worship sets aside personal preferences in style, setting and sound to bring forth the corporate preference for the day and hour of the gathering. I have a personal preference in music, setting, volume and style for my personal times with the Lord. But when I come to the gathering of the saints on Sunday and other days I set that aside to engage in the direction the Holy Spirit brings through our worship leaders and musicians. When I set my personal preferences aside, I come into agreement with the corporate setting and substance of what the Holy Spirit is doing across the body and beyond the building in which we worship.

We see in the Book of Revelation pictures of corporate worship in heaven and it is awesome!  The sound of heaven is overwhelming as worship and adoration of the Father is declared by angels, beings and the church. Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean was given her to wear.” (Rev. 19:6-8).  The audible sounds of heaven are like the roar of rushing waters in a tumbling mountain river; accompanied by the sounds like thunder-- SHOUTING. Your personal preference for praise and worship may not like ‘rushing waters’ and thunder, but we see this picture in heaven so God must like it! This speaks of the strength and unity as the church worships together with a loud voice.  Praise and worship are vocally and musically loud when there is unity! Our voices convene to produce a decibel level that exceeds normal standards!   We corporately declare His goodness, honor, glory and power forever like rushing waters and thunder! There is great rejoicing in heaven!

When we corporately worship we conduct kingdom business, rather than personal business. Our worship leaders may be led by the Holy Spirit to go into intercession for a nation or tribe. We may be led to worship spontaneously in a new song or new tongue. We may be led by the Spirit to prophetically declare God’s word for a church or denomination. We may be led to speak and bring physical or emotional healing to individuals in the corporate setting. We may draw the two edged sword to do spiritual battle against the rulers, powers of darkness and evils authorities in the spirit realm. We thereby appropriate the Lord’s victory in a specific circumstance. Or we may simply declare how Great God is!!!

I pray that this week and beyond you will bring forth the sound of unity like that of rushing waters and thunder as you declare ‘Hallelujah! For our God Almighty reigns!’