Today on Fellowship in the Word, Pastor Bill Gebhardt challenges you to become a fully functioning follower of Jesus Christ. Here he uses a few of them and he says, He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, El Elyon, is Most High. It means transcendent. It means surpassing all others. He says, we'll abide in the shadow of the Almighty, El Shaddai. El Shaddai means he is omnipotent.
And he can do everything that he says he can do. Thank you for joining us today on this edition of Fellowship in the Word with Pastor Bill Gebhardt. Fellowship in the Word is the radio ministry of Fellowship Bible Church located in Metairie, Louisiana. Let's join Pastor Bill Gebhardt now as once again he shows us how God's Word meets our world. Nobody seems to feel safe anymore. Everybody seems to be looking for protection. For many, many months, we prayed that they would find a vaccine. And now they have, and now we're praying that we can get the vaccine. Here in America, we're expecting the government to solve the pandemic problem. Then restore the sagging economy. And then deal with the whole plethora of social issues that we have. Also here in America, our people are filled with fear. So much so that I just read this this last week that Americans are drinking more than they ever have. And we're taking more medication now than we ever have. And even worse, a lot of Americans are trying to seek their solutions through social media.
And that's not worked out very well at all. But the part that bothers me, unfortunately, is that Christians are not exempt from this. In fact, we're right in the middle of it all. The question I think that we have to answer at this spiritual crossroad for every one of us is this. Are you moving toward the Lord? Or are you moving away from the Lord? And you might have thought, I haven't really thought about it in terms like that.
But I think when you look and talk to many Christians, I think that their actions and their thoughts betray the fact of whether or not they're involved in thinking this way. Psalm 91 was written. For us, the benefit.
When we're going through really difficult circumstances. And the Lord's trying to tell us something very, very important. So would you open your Bibles to Psalm 91? When you get there, you'll notice that there's no superscription on the psalm. So we know David didn't write it and Solomon didn't write it and Asoph didn't write it. Korah didn't write it. We're not sure who wrote it.
But there is something. And there are other psalms like that, but there's in Jewish tradition. Jewish tradition is that Moses wrote it. And that would be interesting because Moses did write Psalm 90. Which is the first psalm, by the way, ever written. It is by far, by centuries and centuries, the oldest psalm in the Psalter. And what you see here is this is called a psalm of trust. And it's a psalm that is actually written for the very conditions we find ourselves in today. Its purpose is to displace our fear with our trust, which will give us peace.
And so the writer tells us no matter what we're going through, this is the time for us to trust. Typical of other psalms, he starts out with his conclusion. He who dwells in the shelter of the most high will abide in the shadow of the almighty. That's not unusual for a psalm. Remember Psalm 23, a very famous psalm. The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. Then the rest of the psalm describes that.
That's what this is. And so what you have here is he says in verse two, I will say to the Lord, my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust. These two verses.
Are the verses of confidence for us, first an invitation in verse ninety one one and then the confidence we should have. But we overlook these kind of things and they're just impregnated with meaning. Look at the names that are used here for God. I don't know if you thought about that much in the Bible, God's given a little bit over one hundred names. That's a lot of names. All of them have a different meaning.
Here he uses a few of them. And he says he who dwells in the shelter of the most high. El Elyon is most high. It means transcendent. It means surpassing all others. He says we'll be will abide in the shadow of the almighty El Shaddai. El Shaddai means he is omnipotent. And he can do everything that he says he can do.
Then he goes on. And as he says that, he said, I will say to the Lord. Yahweh. I am who I am, God's personal name, what he told Moses at the burning bush, the covenant keeping God.
I keep my covenants. I am Yahweh. He said, my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust. There is the normal word for God Elohim. But the difference of this one just saying Elohim is the word my.
It's the first time he put a pronoun there. The writer says that's my God. He's God, but he's my God. He's the creator God. But he's my God. So you see the fact he who dwells in the shelter of the most high will abide in the shadow of the almighty. Then you see after that the response, I will say to the Lord, my refuge and my fortress, my God, he says whom I trust. There's a condition in that, though.
And we can't miss it. He who dwells in the shelter of the most high. If you want any of this to be part of your life, the only way you can do it is to dwell in the shelter of the most high. There's no other way. You're not going to do this because you're a child of God.
That's not going to happen. It's only going to happen if you dwell in the shelter of the most high. It reminds me a lot of the New Testament. In John 15, remember, Jesus said, I am the vine, you're the branches. He said, if you abide in me and I in you, you'll bear much fruit.
But if you don't, you can do nothing. The idea of abiding in the New Testament or dwelling here is it's a position you have to put yourself in. And notice, he says, you have to dwell in the shelter of the most high. The question is, where do you dwell? You say, well, I think right now it'd be better for me to say I dwell in a shelter.
Yeah, that's probably true. But do you know what that means? What do you think about? This last year, what do you think about? You see, when you wake up at two thirty in the morning, what do you think about? Do you think about the attributes of God, the greatness of God, all the things? Is that what you think about?
Or do you think about the circumstances around us? When is this going to end? When are the economy going to recover? When is everything going to be right?
When? I don't know. And you become frightened. That tells you you're not dwelling.
See, that's for you. You have to dwell, he says, in the shelter of the most high. God tries to emphasize this so much that he gives all kinds of poetic imagery here. Now, remember, it's very important to understand it's a psalm, which means it's poetry.
It's Hebrew poetry. The other thing, it's in wisdom literature, which means it tells you principles. Not necessarily, but sometimes promises. When you read Hebrew wisdom literature, you realize this is a principle. Christians have made a mistake for a long time of reading everything in Proverbs and Psalms as though it's a promise from God. Let me give you an example in Proverbs. Train up a child in the way that he should go.
And when he's old, he won't depart from it. That's a principle. Are there any kids that have ever been raised in the way they should go and they departed? Yes.
Yes. Because God doesn't have grandchildren, you don't get someone to follow the Lord because you raised them right. You should raise them right by principle, but it's their decision before God whether they're going to follow the Lord or not. And so we have to see it as wisdom literature and Hebrew poetry. But notice the words that he uses here. The first one is he says, shelter. God says, I'll be your shelter. When I was a kid growing up, there was a lot of talk about building a bomb shelter. There was a big nuclear threat and you had to build a bomb shelter.
And so do we take the money? Do we try to build ourselves a bomb shelter that would work? I'm glad we didn't because when I was in Texas, I was talking to a man who knew all about nuclear bombs and stuff. And he said, well, how far do you live from Pittsburgh? And I said, like 25 miles. He said, it wouldn't help you.
He said, everybody within 30 miles of the center of the bomb would be vaporized. So there really wouldn't be much sense in building yourself a nice little shelter to hide in. But we do that all the time. We go to the Midwest. You go up through northern Texas into Oklahoma and Kansas, people build storm shelters.
Why? When a tornado comes, we can go in the shelter. God says, I'm your shelter.
When something like a nuclear bomb or a tornado happens in your life, I'm right here. I'm the shelter. Then he goes on and says, shadow. He said, you need to abide in the shadow of the Almighty. Now, besides water, if you find yourself in a desert. Besides water, what would you like to find? Shade.
Right? Shade. We talked about Jonah a week or two ago, and Jonah, remember, he got that God built the gourd, had the gourd grow, so he got a little shade and Jonah was so delighted that he had it. He said, I'll be your shade.
I'll give you comfort when it's too hot. But he doesn't even stop there. He says, and I will say to the Lord, my refuge. Dictionary version of refuge, a place that provides protection from danger. He said, and my fortress, we all know what a fortress is, my God and whom I trust. It's an interesting set of images that he gives us here. He says that in verse three, for it is he who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadbeat pestilence. What do you mean by that? It's poetry, of course, but what's he mean from that?
I think what he means there, and it's pretty clear, is simply this. The unseen enemy. The first one is the snare of the trapper. That's the whole point of trapping. If you trap a beaver, how's his life going right up until he gets in the trap? Pretty good.
Then all of a sudden there's a snap and the next thing you know, he's caught. He said, yeah. He said, I protect you from that. What about pestilence? Do you think Moses knows anything about pestilence? Anything about plagues?
You see, he knows all about that. COVID-19, unseen. And yet it's fearful, wouldn't it? Because you have no idea. You don't know if you're going to catch it. Then you don't know what you're going to get.
You're going to get no symptoms, some symptoms, a lot of symptoms. Or you're going to be in a hospital or find yourself in a ventilator. And it's the unknown that makes you afraid. You see, that's pestilence. God says, I got that covered. He said, he will cover you with his pinions and under his wings you may seek refuge. That word, pinions, is eber in Hebrew. And it actually means literally to hold you tight.
Now, that's interesting. He says, he will cover you with his pinions and under his wings you may find refuge. Now, remember, it's poetry. I can't tell you how many times in all the years I've been in ministry, people have said to me, doesn't the psalmist teach that God has wings? God could have wings if he wanted wings. But he doesn't need wings. When you're on the present, you really don't need wings from that point of view. It's poetry.
But it gives you a beautiful image. Some time ago, Velma and I were driving down on West Espinade and there was a mother docking. She had maybe six or eight small ones. And something happened. They were up in the grass and she was over here and they were all over here. They just took off. All of them ran as fast as they could. She stood up. They all ran up against her and she sat down on them.
And every one of them was protected from her wings. God said, that's what I'll do for you. Just come here. I'll hold you tight. He said, that's what I'll be able to do for you.
And he said, not even done. He goes on and he says after that, his faithfulness is a shield. We know what a shield does.
It stops the enemy's arrows from the outside and a bull ark, which is outside the fortress, usually some kind of ramping or something to protect it. In other words, what is God saying? I got you every way it's imaginable. I am your shelter, your shadow, your refuge, your fortress, the pinions under the wings. I am your shield. I am the bull ark or the rampart. I'm here for you. I cover every present danger, every invisible danger.
I cover them all. Now, if you really dwelled in the shadow of the Almighty, this is what's going to happen to you. Verse 5. You will not be afraid. You will not be afraid.
Wow. Have you been afraid? See, if you've been afraid in the last year, I can tell you from this psalm, you haven't dwelled in the shadow of the Almighty. You may believe in the Almighty.
You see, you may be a child of God, but you don't dwell in the Almighty. You see, and that, in a sense, makes you full of fear. He said you will not be afraid of the terror by night or the arrow that flies by day. You won't be afraid night and day.
What else is there? If you're not afraid at night or in the day, when would you be afraid? Never. You won't be afraid, he said. If you believe, if you dwell in the shadow of the Almighty, that's what will happen with you. He said of the pestilence that stalks in the darkness or the destruction that lays waste at noon. He said there's going to be no fear for you if you apply your faith. Now, the next verse is a little bit troublesome to a lot of us. He said a thousand may fall at your side and 10,000 at your right hand, but it shall not approach you.
It sounds like, wait, I think he's guaranteeing something. If you and I are believers in Jesus Christ, you'll never have a problem in your life. Never. You'll never have a problem.
He'll always take care of you. Now, that makes you a little suspicious because you're alive and you've lived your life, so you know what life's like. But I want you to think about this from a little bit different perspective. It'll come up in the next verse. If Moses wrote this, and there's a good chance he did, look back at Psalm 90 for just a moment. Look at verse 6. Moses is writing, and he says, In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew.
Toward evening it fades and withers away. What's he talking about? You. He's talking about you and me. That's our life. You get up in the morning, you start your birth, you're born, everything's going great. Moses will all say there, all things being equal, if you get 70 years, you're average.
If you get 80, you're blessed. And then you're gone. That's life.
You're born, you live, you die. Now, when you're 12 years old, 15 years old, 21 years old, you say, yeah, but that didn't even hardly apply because, man, life is long. I mean, it's so long.
But how about anybody in here over 60 or 70 or 80? Not as long as you thought, is it? It's just not that long.
It happens quickly. But notice what else Moses says. In verse 9, he said, For all our days have declined in your fury. We have finished our lives like a sigh. Moses said, that's kind of the way you go on.
That's pretty much it. See, he's not talking about that. He's talking about something else. Notice he says then, he said, You will only look on with your eyes, in verse 8, and see the recompense of the wicked. What's he mean by that? He's looking at it from the eternal perspective.
The temporal, eternal. You see how it all turns out. Let me think about it this way.
If this was a promise for every circumstance of your life, that would be great for you. Is there anyone in the Old Testament that you would know? In the New Testament, we know Jesus did this. We suspect Paul and Peter and the apostles did it.
But anyone in the Old Testament you know abides in the shadow of the Almighty? Anybody? Yeah, Job.
How do I know? What did God say? Job is the most righteous man on earth. He's number one. He's not 11th, 27th. He's one.
So to be one, you'd have to be abiding, right? So let me ask you, how did Job's life go? You see, did God protect him from everything that could happen?
No. In fact, that's the whole story of the book. He just goes through one unbelievable thing after the other. You see, that's not what he's talking about. Does God ultimately protect Job?
Yes. Just like he does us. Hold your place here and go with me to Romans chapter 8 in the New Testament. Romans chapter 8. This is Paul's take on this. Paul says this, and we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God and to those who are called according to his purpose.
That's us. So how many things in your life and in mine will work for our good? According to that verse.
All of them. There's not anything that's exempt. That's called redemption in the Bible. God can take everything that happens to you or I and turn them all ultimately for good. Now, that's for us as believers. If you don't want to believe in God and you're a God rejecter, then it's going to get much, much worse for you.
And that's a dilemma we face. If you remember Psalm 73 is the Psalm of Asaph. And Asaph's conclusion in the Psalm is a lot like you and I talk.
Basically, Asaph says, you know what? Life's not fair. It's not.
Well, it isn't. He said, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked, he said, why is it the people that hate God and are wicked are prospering and I'm not? You see, why is that the case? Why do the God haters seem to get more out of life than we get?
That's a legitimate question. But he said in Psalm 73, until I went into the temple of the Lord and I saw the outcome of it all. And once I saw their destiny, it changed my mind. Well, that's kind of what Paul was saying. We know that God causes all things that work together for good are those who love God to those who are called according to his purpose. For us as believers, God will take COVID in our lives and turn it for good.
That's what he said. It's one of the all things. Then he goes down to verse 31 to reassure himself.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who could be against us? You can listen to Fellowship in the Word online. At that website, you will find not only today's broadcast, but also many of our previous audio programs as well. At Fellowship in the Word, we are thankful for those who financially support our ministry and make this broadcast possible. We ask all of our listeners to prayerfully consider how you might help this radio ministry continue its broadcast on this radio station by supporting us monthly or with just a one time gift. Support for our ministry can be sent to Fellowship in the Word 4600 Clearview Parkway, Metairie, Louisiana 7006. If you would be interested in hearing today's message in its original format, that is as a sermon that Pastor Bill delivered during a Sunday morning service at Fellowship Bible Church, then you should visit our website, fbcnola.org.
That's fbcnola.org. At our website, you will find hundreds of Pastor Bill's sermons. You can browse through our sermon archives to find the sermon series you are looking for, or you can search by title. Once you find the message you are looking for, you can listen online, or if you prefer, you can download the sermon and listen at your own convenience. And remember, you can do all of this absolutely free of charge. Once again, our website is fbcnola.org. For Pastor Bill Gebhardt, I'm Jason Gebhardt, thanking you for listening to Fellowship in the Word. ... ... ...
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