On Jan. 8, 2020, during a time of prayer and fasting with our church, the Lord gave me the following message, while journaling:
“’Fear not’ – that’s the word for this year:’FEAR NOT!’ This is a word not just to you but to the Body of Christ. There will be many reasons to fear in the days ahead, but I say to you,’FEAR NOT.’ This will be the hour for My people to rise and shine. Darkness, deep darkness, will cover the earth, but it will not come upon those who hide under the shadow of My wings. I AM YOUR HIDING PLACE – YOUR ONLY HIDING PLACE. There will be a greater falling away in the Church, but those who fully trust in Me, will stand in times of adversity. So, fear not! Draw near to Me, and I will draw near to you.
“This is not an hour to take your time with Me half-heartedly. You must come to Me to find strength for the coming days. Many times, last year, I told you to ‘Get ready, be ready, live ready.’ [That was a personal word to me all last year.] I told you to move, not to another location, but to move upward, closer to Me. You are about to enter a time when men’s hearts will fail them. There will be reasons to fear, but those who are ready will not be shaken. So, I say to you,’Pray. Seek My face; learn to live in My presence.’
“Many Christian are running from place to place to hear the latest word. Run to Me, hide in Me, spend time with Me. You need to hear the words that proceed from My lips – the rhema, the now word of God. That is the only way you will be ready. That is the only way you will stand in the face of adversity. Again, My Word to you and the Body of Christ is ‘FEAR NOT!’ Call upon Me, and I will answer you, and you will live ready.”
We are living in a time where there are many reasons to fear. Recently, a tornado unleashed devastation on areas near where we live, in parts of Nashville and Cookeville, Tennessee. In the last couple years we have witnessed major floods, hurricanes, massive wildfires, tornados, mudslides, blizzards, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. Geologists are saying that we are overdue for a major volcano or earthquake in the U.S. Here in Tennessee, we live near the New Madrid fault line that could divide America in two.
Now, of course, we are facing the coronavirus that was recently declared a major pandemic. COVID-19, the name for this coronavirus, has swept the globe sparking fear in the hearts of many. The Stock Market hit lows not seen since 1987. I’m pretty sure the devastation from this outbreak will produce even greater loss and could take years to recover. And then there are the everyday issues we face in life: The sudden loss of a job, struggles in marriage or with family members, a bad health report, just to name a few… There are lots of reasons to fear, and yet, God says, “Fear not.”
The Lord spoke those words to me on January 8th, but He has told us the same thing many times in the Bible. There are approximately three-hundred and sixty-five references in Scripture to fear. Some are direct exhortations to fear not, while others are admonitions against worry or anxiety. In all those references, God tells us to NOT to fear! Why? Because He knew there would be reasons to be fearful. And so, He tells us “Fear Not.” He absolutely does not want us to allow fear to control our life. He doesn’t want us to allow fear to control our thoughts and to dictate how we live. “Fear not!”
Of course, that’s easier said than done…
When Joshua was about to enter the Promised Land, God told him to “Be strong and of good courage: do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) I’m pretty sure that word applies to us today. Joshua had lots of reasons to be afraid. He knew there were giants in the land; he had seen them forty years prior. He knew there were armies better trained and equipped than the children of Israel. And he knew there would be temptations that would draw the people away from God. There were a lot of reasons to be afraid – and yet God said, “Fear Not.”
God knew that the moment they would give in to fear – the battle was over. You see, fear eradicates faith. It robs us of faith and will wipe out a nation faster than disease, calamity, disaster…or even a major pandemic! Once we give into fear, we become its prisoner. There will always be reasons to fear – but God says, “Fear Not.” The question is, ‘How?’ How do we not allow fear to overtake us? How do we avoid the pandemic of fear sweeping the nations today? Psalm 91 gives some great insight into those questions…
It begins with a key to living in safety in troubling times: Verse one says, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.’ The word dwell means to sit down and remain, to take up residence. When we make the “secret place of the Most High” our home, we will find safety. The problem is, that’s a place that not everyone knows about – well, except for God. The secret place Moses was referring to is where God lives…His home. And oh, by the way, he was not talking about heaven, but the place of God’s Presence.
We know that God is omnipresent; He is present everywhere. The Scripture says there is nothing hidden from His sight. He is always aware of every person on this planet. Yet, the secret place in this verse is not referring to God’s omnipresence, but His intimate presence. It’s the secret place where God wants to meet with you. It’s a place where God becomes as real to you as the person sitting right next to you. It’s the place where we don’t just know about Him – but know Him, personally.
Moses ascended Mt. Sinai to meet God face to face. It was there that he received the Ten Commandments. You may remember that the rest of the people were content to stay in the valley. They said, “Moses, you go up and talk to God and we’ll wait here. Just tell us what He said, and we’ll do it.”
Many Christians today are content to live in the valley, to let someone else go and talk to God on their behalf. But God says, “Draw near to Me and I’ll draw near to you” (James 4:8) He wants us to come into the secret place, where He can reveal Himself to us. God, Himself, invites us to enter His dwelling place – the place of His presence – but where is that today? Here’s the good news: It’s in the heart of the believer!
King David was not content to worship God from far away, because he longed for the presence of the Lord. So, he set-up a tent in his backyard for the Ark of God. He wanted to be as near to God as possible to spend quality time in His presence. Moses valued God’s presence, as well, and refused to go into the Promised Land without Him. (Exodus 33:14-15) He knew that in God’s presence there was safety and security. He didn’t just write about it in Psalm 91– He lived it! God’s presence was EVERYTHING to both David and Moses.
Psalm 91:1 continues to emphasize the fact that we not only need to enter the secret place, but we need to stay there, learn to live in His presence. It’s not enough to stop by and visit God occasionally. We must abide under the shadow of the Almighty, stay connected, stay attached. Jesus told us in John 15, that if we don’t abide in Him, we will become like a dead branch that is chopped off and thrown into the fire. We must discover how to live in His presence, under the “shadow” of the Almighty. It’s a picture of sitting under a tree – shaded from the sun and heat…in this case, shaded from fear all around us.
Verse 2 says, “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” God alone is our refuge, our shelter, our place of safety. When we dwell in the secret place, it will be like living in a fortress, shielded from all our enemies. God alone is our refuge and our fortress, especially in times of trouble – not our job, bank accounts, investments, etc. He alone is able to save us to the uttermost, as we draw near to Him.
The rest of the psalm tells of the benefits of living in His presence. Basically, God will deliver us from the snare of the fowler and from perilous pestilence. ‘Snares’ in the Bible can refer to the traps of everyday life. They include the love of money, riches, possessions, and other things we can become addicted to – things that can own us. Pestilence is a term for plagues, like the coronavirus and other types of sickness and disease. God has promised to deliver us from those things…IF we abide in His Presence. He doesn’t say we won’t experience difficult times – but He does say He will deliver us in times of trouble.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.” (Isaiah 43:2)
Verse 4 illustrates this with a picture of a bird protecting her young. “He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.” I raised pigeons as a kid and, for the most part, they are nice birds – until you mess with their young. If you do, you will get pecked! God says, if we choose to live in His presence, He will be a shield around our life. If someone messes with us, He will mess with them.
Here are some of the other ways He will protect us, in verses 5 and 6: “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.” We need not be afraid of enemies attacking us at night…even night terrors. Nor of the warfare in the streets during the day. Rest assured, He will protect us day and night.
He continues in verses 7-9, “A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you.Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked. [WHY?] Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place.” Again, we are reminded of what Moses told us in verse one and two.
And, verses 10-16 conclude it with yet more promises…
“No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; 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. 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.He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.”
Wow! Those are amazing promises! All of this has to do with where and how we live. All the promises found in Psalm 91, have to do with living according to the first two verses: “He who lives in the safe place of the Most High will be in the shadow of the All-powerful. I will say to the Lord, “You are my safe and strong place, my God, in Whom I trust.”(New Life Version) Is God first in our life? Are we living every day to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness? Those are important questions that determine how we live.
We may be coming into the greatest and most challenging time to be alive. Isaiah 60:1 says, “Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.” As the world gets darker our light needs to shine even brighter. Church, this is our hour to shine! Smith Wigglesworth said that, in the Last Days, God would raise up a generation that would be flames of fire – a people who would be passionate about God and one another, willing and ready to run into the fire to save others. We may be coming into the most fearful time to be alive, and yet, it’s an opportunity for the Church to run into the fire!
Shortly after news of the coronavirus became public, a testimony surfaced about the Christians in the city of Wuhan, China. They were out in the streets giving out masks, praying for people, and sharing the gospel. I got so excited, when I heard that! That’s what you call “running into the fire,” loving not their lives, even unto death. (Revelation 12:11)
As fear sweeps the nation, we, too, may be called upon to live fearlessly. If you’re marooned on a cruise ship with coronavirus, you may have a great opportunity to run into the fire with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Or, you may be called to go out into the streets to give out gospel tracts and tell people about Jesus. He is the only way, the truth, and the life. People need to hear that, today. But here’s the question: Are we ready?? In order to run into the fire and save others, we have to live ready. It all comes down to living close to Him…in the secret place.
In one sense, God has promised us a place of safety and security – and yet, we are not called to hide our light under a bushel. The real test of our faith may be in how we respond in this critical hour of history. If we want to live ready, we must spend time in His Presence, daily, to set our heart and mind on seeking His face through prayer, the Word, and in praise and worship.
John Wesley was asked why people would come to hear him preach, and his response was, “Every morning I set myself alight and people come for miles to watch me burn.” My prayer for you and I is that we would do the same. We need to abide in the secret place of the Most High to intimately know God, filling up on the new wine of the Spirit – and asking Him to strike the match! Then, as Daniel said, “…those who know their God shall be strong, and do great exploits.”