In part 1 of "Fenced in By Love," we saw that God keeps and preserves His own "sheep"--the souls of those who love Him and are in a personal relationship with Him.
Today, we're considering HOW and WHY God keeps His people.
This is important, because I (Dawn) think there is sometimes a misunderstanding when people think God has forgotten them in their difficulties. The truth is, God is always up to something beyond what we might be able to see or understand.
So let's continue . . .
3. HOW is the the Lord keeping His people?
This goes back to the words "keep" and "preserve." Does being kept by the Lord mean God's people will never suffer? No, it's clear from scripture that believers will suffer (Psalm 6:6-7; Psalm 71:20a).
The harmful effects of the Fall in Genesis 3 will touch all of us this side of heaven. We may suffer persecution and even death. But we can be steadfast in the midst of the most desperate trials (James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:6-9).
The Christian's perspective on suffering is far different from those without the Lord. Instead of fighting the testing process of our circumstances, we can ask for our Father's will to be accomplished, learn to see life's trials as a blessing as we seek His perspective, and ask Him for wisdom to proceed.
We are never left alone in this process. Our Father knows we are weak and this is an uncertain world, and we cannot fully protect ourselves.
He is "watching over the way of His saints" (Proverbs 2:8). I have no doubt, if we could lift the veil between heaven and earth, we would see His care and protection in countless ways: the car that missed hitting us, the poison we missed ingesting, the thief who somehow couldn't find our front door, etc.
Yes, many things do happen to us in this sinful world, but ...
We are proud people indeed if we think we are not in God's constant, loving watchcare.
Back to Psalm 121:7 for a moment. The tense of the word "keep" in that verse includes the future. It means God will keep us both now and forever. He is with us and helping us in our current troubles, and and He will ultimately rescue us from ALL our troubles.
God, in His perfect and loving will, may not rescue us from all our troubles in the here and now, but the Lord has promised protection from our ultimate enemy, sin (Romans 6:14). Sin no longer has the power to enslave us or determine where we will spend eternity, if we are in Christ. But we do have a choice about sin.
In other words, our future is secure in Christ, and no one can snatch us out of our Father's strong hand! (John 10:28-29); but will we trust Christ and live now under His provided protection, or will we go beyond the fence of His love and "sleep with the enemy," giving in to sin's control?
4. WHY is the Lord keeping His people?
Way back in Genesis, God told Jacob, "I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go ... I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you" (Genesis 28:15).
God has always watched over His people, not only because He loves them, but also to accomplish His purposes in and through them.
God absolutely has the ability to deliver His people, but it is not always His will to do so. For example, in His love He may allow a physical trial or some other trouble in order to purify us (James 1:2-3) or to show Himself strong in our declaration of faith (as happened with the patriarch, Job).
Sometimes Christians pay the ultimate price for their identification with Christ and their witness, as did the first Christian martyr, Stephen (Acts 6:8-7:53). God doesn't ask everyone to make the ultimate sacrifice, but He does call us to be faithful soldiers in the battle, wherever that leads us (Ephesians 6:12-20; 1 Peter 3:15).
Romans 8:28-30 explains God's ongoing and ultimate purpose for ALL of His children (the "saints" of verse 27):
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified."
Our Father wants us to be like His Son; and He lovingly, faithfully chisels away anything that doesn't look like Jesus.
So we read these powerful words in verse 31: "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?"
- It's not that we will escape bodily harm (v. 36)—we may even be called to martyrdom;
- but rather, we are "more than conquerors though him who loved us" (v. 37)—we have spiritual and eternal victory in Jesus;
- and nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God in Jesus, our Lord (vv. 38-39). We are sealed for eternity through the indwelling Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14).
No matter our circumstances, God is watching and involved with eternal purposes for our lives.
We are forever fenced in by God's love!
Are you struggling with a deep problem? How does a fresh perspective on God's purposes for you encourage you today?
Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is the creator of three blogs:Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is the Director of the San Diego chapter of Network of Evangelical Women in Ministry (NEWIM San Diego) and is a contracted researcher for Revive Our Hearts. She and her husband Bob have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.
Church graphic adapted from pixabay.com.
Chisel graphic adapted, Image courtesy of bugtiger at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.