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Grace Nuggets: Simple reminders of God’s great love for you.

In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. John 14:20 (NASB)

Psychologists tell us that security is both a feeling and a reality. On the one hand, you can look at security in a mathematical fashion. For example, you may think the odds of being mugged on the street of a large city at night are more likely than being mugged on the street of a small town in the middle of the day.

Security is also a feeling. You can feel insecure even when the mathematical likelihood of being in danger are minimal. In the same way, you can have a false sense of security and tell yourself you are safe even though you are in dire danger.

Why is it important to feel secure? Feeling secure enables us to be who we are. Fear cripples us; security frees us. Fear keeps us from being all we could be; security empowers us to try new things. Fear keeps us from building strong relationships; security allows us to let other people into the darkest recesses of our souls. Fear paralyzes; security empowers.

There are all sorts of phobias out there. People are afraid of failure, of their past, of the future, of darkness and light, of animals and bugs and…fear itself. Fear is a hole in our soul that can only be filled with faith in Jesus Christ. We can seek security in money or relationships or crowds or the being alone in the wilderness.

Jesus paints a picture of true security for us. A picture of security that nothing will penetrate. The word picture is best envisioned by working backwards from his description. Jesus says we are in him and he is in us. It’s as though he is protecting us from the outside (we are in him) and protecting us from the inside (he is in us).

But it doesn’t stop there! Our protection is made stronger by the fact that we both are wrapped in the arms of a loving Heavenly Father. The God of the universe wraps us up in his arms of love and protection, while, at the same time Jesus is protecting us from the inside and the outside! We are double wrapped; double secured!

What shall separate us from this protection, this love of God? The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 8. Nothing. Nothing will penetrate the shield of protection we have in God the Father. And, if by some chance it does? Jesus is the next line of defense.

Don’t let fear cripple you. Don’t allow fear to keep you from being all that you can be. Trust the double protection of the King of Kings to see you through any obstacle in your past or in your path.

PRAYER: Almighty God. I confess to you that all too often I allow fear to affect my actions and my attitude towards you and others. Empower me by your Spirit to act with courage and wisdom when fear tries to cripple me. Amen.

Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. Psalm 32:6

As I read Psalm 32:6 a picture came into my mind. It was a home video taken during the horrific Japan Tsunami of 2011. As flood waters came into a small seaside village, sirens wailed and residents took shelter on a small hillside, running to the safety afforded them by a single set of stairs. We all watched with amazement and horror as the sea crept down the streets, then gained momentum and began to sweep cars, truck, boats and other debris ahead of it.

The water rose higher and higher, endangering the small group of people taking shelter there. They were safe, but the destruction around them was a stirring testimony to the power of nature and the frailty of life

“Surely, the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them,” is a promise those of us that are believers in Jesus Christ can hold on to. Flood waters will come. Those earthy things we hold dear may be taken from us. Those things that have provided us security may falter or even fail.

Relationships we thought would last a lifetime end in divorce or death or job changes. Careers once though secure will end abruptly. Freedoms we hold so dearly too may be in danger or taken completely from us. The winds of time and age will change the lifescape we have always known.

Those who put their faith completely in God, who trust in Jesus Christ and build their security on the word of God and prayer, need not worry when the flood waters approach. We may lose all of our earthly possessions. We may watch as the world we once knew gets swept away. But our souls remain secure in the promise of Psalm 32:6.

Here’s the true beauty of this promise. Sometimes the flood waters that threaten us are our own doing. Sometimes they are the result of evil in the world. God’s promise of protection isn’t affected by the reason for our struggle. His promises are based on his character and strength, not ours.

When you see those flood waters approaching. When everything you held as secure crumbles or is swept away, remember that the God of the universe has promised to be a refuge from which the raging waters of the sea can not reach you.

PRAYER: Father, we are surrounded by adversity and pain and trials. It seems sometimes as though our hopes and dreams are being swept away in flood of adversity. During those times may we run to you for refuge and strength. We praise you for your promise of ultimate protection. In Jesus name, Amen.

Now they were more afraid than ever and said to each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4:41 (CEV)

When you need to make the winning shot, or score the winning touchdown you look to your ‘go to guy’ the MVP, the one who seems to thrive on the excitement and tenseness of the situation. In most cases you don’t put the rookie into that situation. He doesn’t know the game, he lacks confidence, and he may choke under the pressure.

I remember watching a professional basketball game on TV one time. The underdog team had played its best game of the season and was within a point of tying the game with a few seconds left. They were playing the defending champions on their home court. As you can imagine, the crowd was going wild.

On the free throw line stood the home team’s rookie sensation. He was the one that had been keeping them in the game all night. As he prepared to make that shot to tie the game, a veteran player from the other team walked past him and slapped him on the back. The TV cameras just happened to zoom in at that moment and you could see the veteran smile and say “Don’t choke.”

That’s all it took. The rookie shot the ball, bounced the game-tying shot off the front of the rim, and it was rebounded by the veteran to end the game for the home town team! He listened to the words ‘don’t choke’ and focused so much on what was said he missed an easy shot to tie the game.

When you are in the midst of battle you don’t want someone who is going to choke. You want someone that you know will get the job done. There will be close games. There will be battles and struggles to contend with. But with your ‘go to guy’ in the game you know the outcome is more likely to end in your favor.

In life, my ‘go to guy’ is Jesus. Unlike a sporting event, I don’t go to him because he is my best hope; I go to him because he is my ONLY hope. Unlike a sporting event, putting Jesus on the line doesn’t give me a better chance of victory, it guarantees my victory.

The disciples were in the boat. It was dark. Most of them were fishermen and knew the dangers of the storm. Perhaps they’d even lost a friend or two at sea. As their terror mounted, Jesus slept. He knew the outcome. He wasn’t concerned.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, the storm I’m going through now has me more than a little worried. I’m scared! I can’t fight the battle ahead of me without your help. I need you in control of this situation. Empower me with your Spirit to rely on you for the outcome. I put all my hope and trust in your ability to work all things out to your good. Amen

You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror. Psalm 10:17-18

There are times in our lives when we just need a hug. Not the hug that leads to passion, nor the hug that says ‘everything will be alright’. There are times when things won’t ever be the same again. There are times when passion is the furthest thing from our minds. Times when we just need the hug that says, “No matter what has happened between us in the past, no matter what happens in the future, I’m here for you to walk be your side. To give you my full attention, to encourage you on in life, to listen to your heart and protect your very soul from attack.”

That’s the message your Heavenly Father wants you to hear. There are plenty of people around that want you to think about the Judgment and wrath of God; that remind you of the consequences of a life lived for yourself and not for God; that will give you a whole checklist of things that you need to do/have/feel in order to win the attention of the God of the universe.

Make no mistake. He is a Holy God. There are consequences for our actions when we don’t repent and come to him for forgiveness. But your heavenly Father is not a God of vengeance or condemnation. Jesus himself reminds us that “I did not come into the world to condemn the world but to give the world life! (John 3:17)

To be held by your Father in Heaven doesn’t mean you will be free of trouble. To be held by your Father doesn’t mean pain and sorrow won’t come into your life. To be held by your Heavenly Father means that as you go through the trying times his arms will be around you. Walking hand in hand with God is a marvelous thing, but there are times when nothing but a hug will do. Nothing but being held in his arms will suffice.

To be held in the arms of our Father means He:

Hears us- We will never be ignored.

Encourages us- When the battle gets the toughest he is our number on cheerleader!

Listens to us- Hearing means to hear the word, but listening means he hears our heartfelt feelings.

Defends us- The father provided far more than economic gain. He was the one that mentored you. He was the only one that was educated. He was the one that gave you hope for the future.

The enemy of your soul wasn’t you to think you are in this alone. The voices deep within remind us of our failures, try to take away our hope. Your Father holds you in his arms so that when the attacks come you are safe in his protection and grace.

PRAYER: Father, there are so many times I feel alone. So many times it seems like the battle raging around me is more than I can take. My efforts to succeed, even in serving you, fall short. My past haunts me and my future scares me. Thank you for holding me in your arms. Amen.

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