March 29, 2020

God’s 7 Promises

Psalm 91 Part 7

Rev. Dr. Mark Raeburn Johnston

The first part of Psalm 91 speaks of God’s wonderful protection and provision for those who place their trust in Him. The last three verses reveal seven promises the Lord makes to the faithful.

In the first section of the Psalm, David exhorts us to trust in the goodness of God. In the final portion of the Psalm, beginning with verse 14, God expresses the trustworthiness of His love for us. Referring to His “will” seven times, the Lord proclaims;

“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. 15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him, and will show him My salvation.”  (Ps. 91:14-16)

Those who love the Lord will experience deliverance, will be set on high, will be answered, will be accompanied in times of trouble, and will be honored. They will have long life and they will know God’s great salvation!

Each of these promises should be meditated on by every person who claims to love the Lord.

But how do we love God? How do we ‘set our love’ upon the Lord?

The answers to these questions begin all the way back with verse one;

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High

shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty…”

Dwelling in the Presence of God is not a passive act. Rather, it takes a concerted effort, a decision, to ‘dwell’ and to ‘abide’ in the holy companionship of the Lord.

This effort is rooted in what we actually believe about life, the world and God.

If we believe that God is distant, uncaring and unavailable, we probably will not seek Him. There is no possibility of a personal relationship with a distant, uncaring God.

If we entertain doctrines of devils, uphold falsehoods as truths, and deny holiness as defined by Scripture, we will not enjoy the Lord’s fellowship. Such is unbelief in the teachings of the Lord.

On the other hand, if we believe God’s word and consciously walk with the Lord, attempting, even with all our imperfections and faults, to fulfill the great commandment to ‘love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength’ (Mark 12:30), we will know His promised Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33-39).

In chapter three of John’s Gospel, Nicodemus, a religious ruler of the Jews, came to Jesus and heard the ‘good news’ of God’s great salvation. Jesus told Nicodemus that for anyone to ‘see the Kingdom of God’ one must be born again. Their discussion culminated in what has become known as the ‘little’ Gospel. Jesus said;

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Jesus continued;

 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)

Believing that the Lord loves us, that we can call upon His Name, is the first important step to personally knowing God and dwelling in His Presence.

We who believe are not convinced or swayed by a hostile world that says, ‘there is no God!’ Rather, we believe that God has come into this world through the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus has come to reveal the Father and to give the promised Holy Spirit to those who believe.

Jewish people traditionally recognized the 91st Psalm to be a Messianic promise of God’s salvation. This promise is emphasized in the seven “I will” statements of God for His people. Christians believe the truth of these promises in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth. In the ancient Church, Christians were called ‘believers’ as demonstrated from the Book of Acts;

“And believers were increasingly added to the Lord,

multitudes of both men and women…”   (Acts 5:14)

The promises of God are for any who place their trust in Him. We believe His promises and enjoy God’s protection and wellbeing.

Let’s reread this Psalm in times of trouble and be reminded that our God is a faithful shade from the heat of trial (verse 1); a dependable shield from the arrows of tribulation (verse 4); and our trustworthy Savior who rescues us from the trauma of sin and death (verse 16)! Then, let’s share these wonderful promises with others who desire to “dwell in the secret place of the Most High!”

Message from Rev. Tim Rogers

March 28, 2020


Bishop Holston is extending the call to suspend all in-person worship until the end of April.

You can read the complete statement here:

As there have been numerous questions about communion, the statement clarifies that this suspension extends to communion as well.

These are the central portions of Bishop Holston’s statement:

“After consulting with The Cabinet, and in light of the latest information shared by public health officials, I am strongly recommending that leaders of each local church continue to suspend in-person worship services and all gatherings, meetings and events, through April 30, 2020. Recommendations about events planned for May will be communicated in the coming weeks..”

“Because of the theological nature of communion as something that the body of believers does together in the sharing of one loaf, and because of the practical dangers currently involved in close physical contact, it is strongly recommended that we should not take part in communion until it is safe for us to all come together again to worship as one body.”

Please read the entire statement for a full understanding.

Thank you for your creativity, your faithfulness, and your courage – grounded in the Gospel – as you lead your people and your communities through this season of disruption.



Rev. Timothy J. Rogers

Marion District Superintendent

South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church

PO Box 543

Marion, SC 29571

Phone: (843) 423-1202

Fax: (843) 423-6775


March 26, 2020

Our Victory

Psalm 91 Part 6

Rev. Dr. Mark Raeburn Johnston

“For He shall give His angels charge over you,

to keep you in all your ways.

In their hands they shall bear you up,

lest you dash your foot against a stone.

You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,

the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.”

 (Psalm 91:11-13)

Ironically, Satan quoted Psalm 91 while tempting Jesus, the King of Angels, to jump from the temple mount, saying that;

“…the angels shall bear thee up in their hands,

lest thou dash thy foot against a stone…”

According to Matthew, chapter 4, verses 6-7, Jesus answered;

“It is written;Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God!’”

The Lord asserted the authority of God’s word over the temptations of darkness, winning the victory over Satan. This sets the example we as believers should follow; Know the word; Use the word; Quote the word!

While the devil can quote the scriptures, he doesn’t understand or believe them. It might have been to Satan’s advantage had he read a little further in this Psalm. In verse 13 we also read;

You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.”

There’s the irony!

In the Bible, the terms lion, cobra and serpent are sometimes used as synonyms for the devil. Each of these words are descriptive of destructive powers or deadly forces. According to this Psalm, such evil is to be trampled underfoot, by the very feet the angels are commissioned to protect!

It isn’t that we somehow defeat the evil of this world by our own strength or wisdom. Rather, we join the victory of Christ who defeated all the powers of darkness on the Cross of Calvary, and we do that by trusting in His Name and abiding in His Presence. Christian missionary, martyr, and Olympic champion, Eric Liddell wrote;

“Victory over all the circumstances of life comes not by might, nor by power, but by a practical confidence in God and by allowing His Spirit to dwell in our hearts and control our actions and emotions…”

Our victory was promised by God at the outset of human history to Adam and Eve, our first parents. In Genesis chapter 3 verse 15, we read of God’s promise of our victory over sin and death.  Addressing the Serpent, the Lord proclaimed;

“An I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall crush your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”  

This prophecy foretold a day when the Messiah would enter our world and destroy the Evil One. This is the very first presentation of the Gospel in the Bible, and the hope of this victory was passed down through human history and is included in Psalm 91.

This long-prophesied victory was finally won for us on a skull-shaped mount called Golgotha, also known in Scripture as “the place of the skull” (Mark 15:22).

It was there, in a very picturesque way, that the God of the universe displayed the full impact and meaning of “crushing the head” of the serpent!

The Cross set atop that skull-shaped hill,

Whereupon God bridged joyous Heaven to joyless Earth

That we might all, with true victory fill,

The cup of hope, through eternal birth…

 It also says that the Savior’s heel would be bruised in the process of our redemption. This speaks of the Messiah who would die while destroying the power of death. But death could not overcome the Author of Life!

Jesus was bodily raised from real, physical death in complete and total victory! That victory is now our victory! We share in the victory of Christ through faith in His work, confession of our sins and with an invitation that God come into our lives.  Old preachers used to celebrate this Easter truth by preaching a sermon entitled;

“The Death of Death in the Death of Christ!”

As Christians, we are not determined simply by our history, rather, we are defined by our future! As the beloved Apostle John foresaw and wrote;

“God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away…Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’”

 (Revelation 21:4-5)

My friend, there’s a new day coming! And that day is a day of complete victory over every circumstance you may now be facing! So, today, let’s walk with the confidence of this incredible truth. Let’s trample underfoot every negative thought and every destructive word by quoting God’s promises.

Then, let’s share the ‘good news’ of God’s Salvation with someone else!

A Message from Tim Rogers, Marion District Superintendent


As we move further into the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, our national, state, and episcopal leaders have both urged (and sometimes required) us to comply with a lot of steps that most of us never envisioned in our lifetimes. As part of that, earlier this month Bishop Holston strongly urged that all of our churches suspend all in-person gatherings, including worship services, until the end of March.

Governor McMaster has now issued an Executive Order directed at gatherings of more than three people, which includes this provision:

“C. I hereby authorize, order, and direct any and all law enforcement officers of the State, or any political subdivision thereof, in accordance with section 16-7-10 of the South Carolina Code of Laws and other applicable law, to prohibit or disperse any congregation or gathering of people, unless authorized or in their homes, in groups of three (3) or more people, if any such law enforcement official determines, in their discretion, that any such congregation or gathering of people poses, or could pose, a threat to public health.”

If you would like to read the entire order, you can access it here:

I ask that you continue to help your people understand that we are all part of the effort to control this virus as quickly as we can by complying with – and being leaders in – the efforts to keep a safe distance from others, practice good hygiene, and avoid being out unnecessarily. My expectation is that we will set an example for the community by complying in every possible way.  Please remember that people can carry and transmit the virus even when they look and feel perfectly well.

You are in my prayers daily, and I am deeply grateful for all that you are doing to share the hope of Jesus Christ with a world in need.



Rev. Timothy J. Rogers

Marion District Superintendent

South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church

March 24, 2020

Sacred Distancing

Psalm 91 Part 5

Rev. Dr. Mark Raeburn Johnston

Psalm 91 tells us that even though evil and destruction surround us, God is with us! The Lord accompanies and protects us on the journey of life when we walk with Him!

In verses 7 through 9 the Psalmist sings:

“A thousand shall fall at your side,

and ten thousand at your right hand;

but it shall not come near you.

Only with your eyes shall you behold and see the reward of the wicked.

Because you have made the LORD,

Who is my refuge, even the Most High, your habitation,

there shall no evil befall you,

neither shall any plague come near your dwelling…”

Because a plague is rampaging throughout the land, we are being encouraged to practice responsible ‘social distancing’ by maintaining a reasonable distance from one another. This strategy is designed to prevent the cross contamination of the deadly coronavirus, and it is sound advice that we should all heed.

May I suggest that we also practice ‘sacred distancing’ that separates us from the destructive powers found in this world, while simultaneously drawing us closer in our walk with God?

Any of us who would walk the golden highway of heaven cannot walk the dusty roads of this fallen world.

This truth is taught throughout the Bible.

There is a broad road that leads to destruction, and there is a narrow road that leads to life. We must make the decision concerning which path we travel.

Throughout Psalm 91 David uses imagery and words such as dwells in the secret place and abides under the shadow of the Almighty, terms such as refuge, fortress, habitation, and dwelling to speak of our fellowship with God.

The overriding principle being taught throughout this incredible hymn of praise is that those who endeavor to walk close to the Lord will be better protected from the terrors and tribulations that are roaming the world.

Sacred distancing means that we separate ourselves from anything that destroys the soul and ruins the spirit. In other words, we avoid the sin-virus that causes death and destruction.

Those who are vaccinated through the Blood of the Lamb have a responsibility to maintain a righteous relationship with the Holy One through His grace. When we separate ourselves from sinful situations, we position ourselves to receive the blessings of God!

Writing to the Corinthian Church, the Apostle Paul warned;

“You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.”

(1 Corinthians 10:21)

Paul told the brethren to avoid any fellowship that might separate them from the Lord and rob them of God’s blessings.

In like manner he exhorted the Ephesian Christians to;

“have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness…” (Ephesians 5:11)

However, it is difficult to avoid the dangerous temptations of darkness. All have ‘stumbled’ and fallen short of the glory of God!

But, according to Psalm 91, we note that the Lord provides the protection of ministering angels to guard and guide the steps of those who would walk in His light;

“…God will give His angels charge over you and will keep you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone!”

It’s interesting that the devil used this very Scripture when tempting Jesus in the wilderness. In that harsh environment where serpent and scorpion live, where the wild beasts howl, that fallen prince of demons quoted the Word of God to God the Word, and was rebuffed by Jesus with the answer;

“It is written; ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God!’” (Matthew 4:6-7)

Later we read that angels from heaven came and ministered to Jesus after his ordeal (Matthew 4:11). In like manner, angels are ministering to each of us.  Most often we don’t even realize that angels are surrounding us and protecting us!

A few years ago, Las Ultimas Noticias news reported what many have come to believe was a miracle of divine protection.

According to the story, several illegal immigrants have tragically lost feet or legs trying to enter Chile through a restricted area along the Ecuadorian border. Filled with deadly land-mines, there are warnings posted to not cross this wilderness place at risk of injury or death.

Not realizing the danger, Jorge and Soledad Jaramillo and their three small children traveled some sixteen miles through the mined area. They never saw the posted notices that warned of the terrible menace surrounding them.

After a full day’s walk, they finally reached a Chilean military checkpoint, where soldiers were amazed that they hadn’t all been blown up!

The family wept when they were told of their escape!

There are many times we don’t even realize that the Lord is guarding our steps. Because God loves us, He seeks to protect us. Why not pause a moment and thank the Lord for His manifold mercies and protection? And then, commit to sacred distancing, in so doing, you will draw others to the blessings that come when we walk with the Lord!


March 23, 2020

Because Jehovah is Still God

Psalm 91 Part 4

Rev. Dr. Mark Raeburn Johnston


“…His truth shall be your shield and buckler…

You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.”   (Psalm 91:4-6)

Psalm 91 speaks of cosmic warfare and God’s protection over all who place their trust in Him. God’s truth, described as a shield, deflects the destructive lies of the enemy who would capture our souls just as a fowler traps a bird.

Truth dismantles the power of the lie. The truth sets us free from error and leads us upon the paths of righteousness and eternal life.

When fear threatens us with the worldly notion that God is not to be found, that we have somehow been abandoned by heaven, we simply point to Scripture truth, our shield.

We proclaim, “I belong to the Lord!” and we stand upon the promises of His Word! It is written in His word that He will never ‘leave us nor forsake us” and that God will protect us. Consider these promises from the Scriptures;

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you.

He will not leave you nor forsake you.” 

(Deuteronomy 31:6)

“… ‘For He Himself has said,

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.’

So we may boldly say:

‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can anyone do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6)

We need not fear what this Psalm calls, the terror of night, the arrow of day, the pestilence that walks in darkness nor the destruction that wastes at noonday!

Saint Augustine identified these four evils as demons that war against humanity.

In medieval times these demon-spirits were thought to manifest at the cardinal times of midnight, dawn, noontime and sunset in accordance with the Psalmists’ description.

But greater than our twenty-four day is the One who created all time and eternity, the heavens and the stars. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End!  He is our God and the Author of our faith! The Lord is our Helper in our time of need!

In “The Hidden Price of Greatness” the story of Chinese missionary Gladys Aylward is presented as an example of such trust.

Evacuating Yangcheng during the Japanese invasion of China during World War II, Gladys guided over one hundred orphaned children through the treacherous terrain to safety and eventual rescue.

But her long journey was filled with anxieties, fears and difficult trials.

One evening during that journey, finally stalled by discouragement and exhaustion, she despaired of any hope of completing her mission.

Then one of the children reminded her of Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea.

“But I am not Moses,” Gladys responded.

“Of course, you aren’t,” the child replied;

“but Jehovah is still God!”

Because Jehovah is still God, we are still protected! Because Jehovah is still God, we have a living hope!

Our enemies, no matter who or what they are, will not overcome God’s truth and love!

Let’s remind one another that God can and will set us free from the fearful power of the terror of the night, the arrow of the day, the pestilence in the darkness and the noonday destruction. Let’s not forget that the Lord still knows how to deliver those who are called by His Name! Finally, let’s take a few moments and thank the Lord in prayer! Jehovah is still God!


March 22, 2020

A Mighty Fortress is Our God

Psalm 91 Part 3

Rev. Dr. Mark Raeburn Johnston

“Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence.4 He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.”  (Psalm 91:3-4)

In the 91st Psalm David sings of God’s protection over his children in the midst of trial and tribulation! This theme resonates with each of us because we’ve all been engaged in the war against the Coronavirus. Many of us are rightly concerned about what safety measures to take that will protect us from this terrible pestilence.

Our Psalm opens with the assurance that God is our shelter of grace, our safe refuge, our impenetrable fortress. But there is more. God also delivers those who place their trust in Him! Not only is He our Defender, He is our Rescuer! The Lord delivers us from the ‘fowler’ who we can identify as Satan, the evil one and the adversary of God.

Martin Luther’s famous Hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” is based on this truth;

“A mighty fortress is our God,

A bulwark never failing,

Our helper amid the flood,

Of mortal ills prevailing

For still our ancient foe,

Doth seek to work us woe,

His craft and pow’r are great,

 And armed with cruel hate,

On earth is not his equal.”

Luther composed this great hymn at the outset of the Protestant Reformation around 1527. During that time, Martin Luther was a hunted man whose life was in constant danger. His faith was frequently tried by those hard circumstances that he ascribed to Satanic persecution.

One of the stanzas of his great hymn that we don’t often sing addresses the victorious power of God over the powers of darkness;

“And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! His doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.”

Luther’s faith rested not in his ability to avoid the harsh circumstances that threatened him, but rather his faith centered upon the One who with “one little word’ could ‘fell’ or topple the dark, demonic powers that sought his ruin.

The deliverance of our God from the snares and traps of sin and death comes through His truth. The Psalmist tells us that God’s truth is a protective shield and a buckler, a protective high wall, that stands between us and those evil powers that seek to snare us. God’s love guards us from the deadly disease that threatens us. The Bible contains God’s truth, and our faith and trust in the Lord can be strengthened by reading the holy Scriptures. As the Apostle Paul writes;

“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God!”

(Romans 10:17)

Just as Martin Luther recognized that true evil originates from the unseen realm and manifests in the world, Psalm 91 teaches us that there is Someone greater than ‘the world.’ There is One who has overcome the evils of this world. That One is the Lord Jesus Christ. The words of our Savior to His disciples are worth quoting;

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Because our Savior has overcome the world, we can rest in the assurance that we will also overcome these difficult times as long as we remain within the protective fortress of His word and grace. We do this by centering ourselves through prayer, by the reading of the Bible, and by abiding in His truth. Then, like Marin Luther, we can also sing;

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth is his name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle!



March 21, 2020

“I Will Say of the LORD!”

Psalm 91 Part 2
Rev. Dr. Mark Raeburn Johnston

I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.   Psalm 91:2

The confession of the Psalmist, “I will say of the Lord” is based on David’s own personal experience. David had fought many physical and spiritual battles. He had escaped many attempts on his life by those who hated him. In all of this, David never forgot the One in Whom he trusted.

According to the record of Second Samuel, chapter 22, David composed a song of praise that recalls the faithfulness of God;

“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior!”

So many of these beautiful words can be heard again in Psalm 91!

Yet it’s David’s testimony “I will say of the Lord” that perfectly summarizes his belief in God’s incredible, unconditional love, His protection and care.

This truth was repeated some three hundred years later by the Prophet Nahum who declared;

“The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.” (Nahum 1:7)

Along with Nahum, and countless others, we can also confess that God is our refuge and our fortress.  Because the Lord loves us, we can be assured of His care and guidance. We can rest in the knowledge that the Lord Himself will surround us with the protection of angels while we journey in this world. A little further down in Psalm 91 we read the following verses;

Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place,10 No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; 11 For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. 12 In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”  (Psalm 91:9-12)

There are stories of young Native American boys who endured ceremonial tests designed to fully initiate them into young adulthood. One purpose of these tests was to engender confidence in what they had been taught as children. Sometimes these youth were tested by being led into the wilderness to a secret place and abandoned to survive a day and a night on their own.

Once at that strange location, the daylight was used to build a shelter. Then, for an entire night, the young boy would remain alone in the darkness, listening to every little sound, wondering if he would be devoured by some wild beast.  Fear and anxiety made the night especially long and the darkness especially dark!

But the surprise came when, as the morning sun appeared, so too was the familiar figure of the protective father who had been on guard through the entire evening!

The youth learned that he’d never been left alone!

This is similar to our relationship with the living God and the world around us. Sometimes our faith is tested when we feel most vulnerable, especially when we feel abandoned and alone. But no matter how dark the night, we are not alone. No matter how strange the world, our heavenly Father is near us, watching over us.

This truth is the basis of our testimony. Together with the saints of old, we can “say of the Lord” that He is faithful, merciful and gracious. We can “say of the Lord” that our trust is well placed because He loves us and He is our refuge and our fortress!

During these difficult times, let’s share our testimony of hope with others and remind them that there is a loving, living God who will never abandon us, a Savior that prompts us to praise. Then let’s compose our song beginning with, “I will say of the Lord!”

March 20, 2020

Shelter in Grace

Psalm 91 Part 1

Rev. Dr. Mark Raeburn Johnston


He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD,

He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”

Psalm 91:1-2

In times of danger and uncertainty, where can we go for sanctuary?

In our present crisis, a virus identified as COVID-19, or Coronavirus, has become a life-threatening pandemic impacting and terrorizing the entire world.

In the United States, schools have been closed, restaurants shuttered, and residents of nursing homes quarantined from receiving outside visitors. Every institution in society has adjusted to this new reality. Churches have suspended services, the economy has suffered, hospitals are strained and the government is limiting personal travel.

People are being told to ‘shelter in place’ by remaining in their homes for an unforeseen period of time. This is a desperate attempt by public officials to limit the spread of this deadly virus. While we ‘shelter in place’ I want to also suggest that we ‘shelter in grace.’

We shelter in grace when we turn to the Lord and call upon His Name, when we seek God’s mercies and restorative love. When we shelter in grace we are acknowledging that our ‘help comes from the Lord, the One who made heaven and earth.’ As the opening verses of the 121st Psalm puts it; “I will lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence comes my help? 2 My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.”

In similar fashion, the 91st Psalm speaks of God’s protection upon all who trust in Him. That protection comes when we ‘dwell’ in the secret place of the Most High. As verse 1 says; “He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

Written by King David, this Psalm may reflect his experience with King Saul who sought to kill him. Saul became increasingly envious of David, the shepherd boy who slew the giant, and planned the young man’s death. In First Samuel chapter 19, verse 2, we read of Saul’s son and David’s close friend, Jonathon, warning David; “Saul my father seeks to kill you: now take heed until the morning, and abide in a secret place, and hide yourself.”

David was hunted by an evil and insane king that wanted to kill him. It seemed that there was no place in the entire land where David might escape the wrath of the king. But as the Psalm indicates, David found a secret place where he could hide from these dangers and stand in the presence of God!

Through faith we can shelter in grace, the secret place that allows us fellowship with God. The secret place is where the weary rest, where our burden is light and our yoke made easy. It’s where the Lord Himself is found, standing by to protect all who trust in Him!

When we shelter in grace, we discover the faithful covering of the Almighty who assures our hearts with confidence and with a ‘peace that passes understanding’ (Philippians chapter 4, verse 7).

In John’s Gospel, we read of Nathaniel’s first encounter with Jesus of Nazareth. When Nathaniel was first told about Jesus, he replied, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John chapter 1, verses 44-51).

Nathaniel expressed the common sentiment that the village of Nazareth was a back-water town with very little to offer. But Nathaniel’s sarcasm turned to worship and joy when Jesus revealed he had seen Nathaniel under a certain fig tree, a secret place, where Nathaniel communed with God! Nathaniel’s ‘secret place’ was a place of prayer, of seeking God and being found by God.

Nathaniel discovered that something better than good had come from Nazareth. Grace had arrived from heaven. The prophesied, promised God and Savior had finally come into our world to redeem humanity from despair and death.  With Jesus, we shelter in grace by placing our trust in Him.

God searches for all who seek Him, and our seeking often occurs in those private spaces and places where our prayers and petitions are reverently made.

Often, it’s in the secret place that our trust in God is forged, and God’s grace is realized.

In a small room in the Capitol building, just off the main rotunda, is a secret place for Congressional members to pray.

Closed to the public, it has a stained-glass window with an etching of George Washington kneeling in prayer, and the words, “Preserve me O God, for in thee do I put my trust.”  Our national leadership has a secret place where they can meet with God!

In this time of global tribulation, lets ‘shelter in grace’ by locating a private place where we can pray and meet with the Lord. It’s no secret that God wants to meet with you!