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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Church sign
A timely Scripture message we passed yesterday in rural Lebanon County, PA.

"In Times of Trouble"

Due to chaplaincy duties we were unable to post a message yesterday.

Message summary: Hear the word of the Psalmist, "Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge" (Psalm 62:8). Today let us experience great assurance in our steadfast refuge!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him" (Nahum 1:7).

This last weekend I took our friends Jesse and Anna Ruth and five of their children to visit relatives in upstate New York. It was a long drive of over 300 miles and we had a special request from 7 year old Lizzie who had told her dad that she wanted to go through a tunnel.

So on the way back to Lancaster County we took the PA turnpike which has a long tunnel under Blue Mountain. We had a full fifteen passenger van which also included a group of youth who rode along to visit their friends for the weekend. When we got to the tunnel I issued a challenge to see who could hold their breath the entire time we drove through the tunnel! Most managed to do so.

After we got through the tunnel two year old Stephen informed his mom, "I want to go through the tunnel again". Now going through a long road tunnel may be fun, especially for a child, but few to none would never elect to go through the tunnel experiences of life for a second time around! Actually the turnpike tunnel was well lit but in many of the hard tunnel experiences of life we have darkness all around us, and sometimes we can't see light at the end of the tunnel. As a country and throughout the world we are presently in a tunnel of uncertainty regarding a virus unheard of by most just a couple of months ago.

Like many of you we continue to be barraged with information concerning the covid-19 virus. What effect will it have on many areas of life; our health, our families, our social settings, our finances, our jobs, etc. At times like this especially we may wonder how this will all work together for our good.

Of course in reality every day things like this happen somewhere throughout the world in various scales. It just really hits us when it’s either personal or, as in this case, on a scale that is being called pandemic.

Today we share a word of hope and encouragement from one of the most obscure Old Testament prophets. Nahum served and spoke for God during very troubling times, as Assyria was tormenting the people of God. This oppression surely caused a troubling, yet frequently asked question for all generations; Why does God allow such evil and inhumanity? Now of course we make a distinction between human-caused evil like a terrorist bombing from natural disasters like a tornado but both result in "times of trouble".

In different ways we may ask the same question, particularly during "times of trouble". We often consider our Christian brothers and sisters throughout many parts of the world who are being persecuted or are otherwise suffering. On a personal level you might be in the heat of a difficult trial and you may wonder, “Where is God when I hurt?”

In today’s message let us consider our refuge in times of trouble.

The prophet Nahum speaks through the Holy Scriptures, the inspired and inerrant Word of God, with three great truths for us and for our brethren around the world. Let us consider them during this current time of trouble:

1) "The Lord is good!" This divine attribute may be so well assumed that it’s taken for granted by most. But what if the Supreme Being of the universe was not good? That’s a thought I find hard to even comprehend and have no desire to ponder in depth just how dreadful life would be if it were true. But Psalm 100:5 reminds us, "For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations". That includes our own generation!

2) He’s "a refuge in time of trouble". The text does not teach that there will not be times of trouble for such has always been the experience of the human race. The Hebrew word for refuge conveys a fortified place; a defense: force, fortress, rock, strength. What a great assurance during the inevitable times of trouble! Jesus is the rock in a weary land. He is an anchor in the times of storm. "The way of the LORD is a refuge for the righteous, but it is the ruin of those who do evil" (Proverbs 10:29).

3) "He cares for those who trust in Him." Here’s our part; we are called to trust God. When we are in the middle of a tunnel, with darkness behind us and darkness before us, God still calls us to trust, to lean hard on Him. When we’re in the valley of deepest despair we must trust. When we’re on the spiritual mountain we still must trust! A very familiar New Testament verse many have memorized instructs the believer not to carry the heavy burdens of life in our own strength but to "cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you" (I Peter 5:7). Our Lord Jesus is the great Burden Bearer.

Finally today, hear the word of the Psalmist, "Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge" (Psalm 62:8). Today let us lean hard on our steadfast refuge!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we want to trust You at all times – in times of rejoicing and times of trouble.  You promise to be our refuge who will rescue us from danger. Certainly we don’t read anywhere in Scripture that we will not face danger, for it is in these intensely dangerous situations that we find refuge in the shadow of Your wings. Daily we witness Your rescue from dangerous situations on this side of eternity, but we also daily witness (by faith) Your rescue that takes place on the other side of eternity, when a believer crosses over from this sin-filled, weary world and steps onto the eternal green pastures of glory land. May our faith increase and our devotion deepen as we lean hard on You until that promotion day. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"You are my Refuge"  Video  Shannon Wexelberg, Matthew Ward

"Refuge"  Video  New Creation Worship

"God Is My Refuge"  Video  Mountain Faith

Randy Alcorn's book titled, "If God Is Good" delves into many of these issues and we recommend it to our Daily Encouragement readers who may want to go deeper on this subject. Of course no book we’ve read ever has or likely ever will read will satisfies all our questions but this one has some interesting perspective.

This last weekend I was in a very rural part of New York state (west of Albany) that is altogether different than what most people think of when they hear New York (city). Over the last fifteen years Amish from Lancaster County as well as Plain groups from other areas have moved and established settlements in this area restoring abandoned farms and establishing small businesses.

Mennonite churchgoers in New York 3/15/20
A Mennonite family heading to church in upstate New York. If we are not old-order we may have trouble distinguishing between the various old-order groups but if you are an old-order group you identify them right away! The Amish group in our van immediately noted the distinctions!

Sunken truck in New York 3/15/20
It appears this old truck has been parked for awhile! Kind of looks like it has sat in this field so long it has taken on camouflage colors to blend in with its surroundings.

Lighted truck in New York 3/14/20
This owner keeps his truck lit up, though I'm not sure how he lights up the headlights.

House in New York 3/15/20
This stately old home has a flat roof, characteristic of many homes in this area.

Finally today:

Store sign in Lebanon County 3/17/20
A signs of the times seen yesterday on a store entrance in Lebanon County! The cashier indicated some shoppers last week were hoarding these goods and they wanted to make sure they weren't returned after they realized they didn't need so many supplies.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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