SOMETHING TO READ: Psalm 91:1-13 The Message
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!”
That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
under them you’re perfectly safe;
his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
drop like flies right and left,
no harm will even graze you.
You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God’s your refuge,
the High God your very own home,
Evil can’t get close to you,
harm can’t get through the door.
He ordered his angels
to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they’ll catch you;
their job is to keep you from falling.
You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes,
and kick young lions and serpents from the path.
SOMETHING TO THINK: You who sit down in High God’s presence do not need to fear.
There is something very very good about abiding in Christ, in “abiding in the vine”, about growing the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, about finding “rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (verse 1b of the New Living Translation). Reading daily news, there is way too much sad and distressing news happening around the globe at the moment. It is similar to events in Psalm 91 above which indicates plenty of sad and distressing news that could pounce at any time (or has already tried to). The Psalter is saying “you who make time to sink into the armchair of God, you who allow God to wrap His arms of love and protection around you. Even though there may be sickness or wolves and other things out there. You do not need to fear.” Likewise, for us who spend time in the presence of God, we do not need to fear.
As we spend time exploring the fruit of the Holy Spirit, think about the difference between bad fruit and good fruit. Sweet juicy tasteful fruit: good fruit equals colours that are rich, the flavours are delightful. It reminds me of Ps 34 “Taste and see that the Lord is Good.” Growing in Fruit of the Spirit is a huge protection for us and our culture and society. It brings out the good in life and in each other. Conversely, bad fruit is bad; if in a pile it begins to stink and attract flies (or worse). Bad fruit makes people sick.
At last Sunday’s and Wednesday’s church service we had Break Out Rooms (small discussion groups) with the question ‘what the opposite is to Fruit of the Holy Spirit “Joy”’. It became very clear no one wants the opposite of Joy. It nearly sounded like living in a Zombie movie in some kind of half-life like state, miserable, shadowy and grey. It is clear no one wants the opposite of the Fruit of the Holy Spirit – no one likes rotten fruit.
With COVID19 and other things, it seems people are more fearful than usual regarding life at the moment. Add to that, no one I know likes rotten fruit. Here in Nelson and districts right now is an idea time for you to talk with your friends and neighbours about the hope that you have in God. Each of us know that we can rest and sink into the armchair of God’s love and be safe. That we can be in God’s presence, abide in Christ and enjoy good fruit and the blessing that brings to our lives. And the good news of this is huge – for us personally and for the wider community. The good fruit is the opposite to the hurt and hate and rotten stink of bad fruit.
Here’s the thing.
1) We who sit down in High God’s presence do not need to fear.
2) We need to share that good news of no fear.
This coming August our parish is running the Alpha Course. This is an excellent and easy way to explain why we do not need to fear and how we rest and sink into God. Please pray about who you can bring to Alpha. Please pray for that person and pray God will ease their fears as they meet God.
SOMETHING TO PRAY:
May God, who began a good work in you,
continue to be at work in your life,
guiding, teaching and equipping you
until Jesus Christ returns.
May your love and compassion continue to grow—
a love that is full of knowledge and wise insight,
so that you will be able to recognize what really matters,
and live a pure and blameless life.
May you live a life centered in the Holy Spirit,
a life that bears rich fruit –
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
generosity, faithfulness, tolerance and self-control –
all the good things that come from following the Spirit,
for living this way will bring much glory and praise to God.