Stylos is the blog of Jeff Riddle, a Reformed Baptist Pastor in North Garden, Virginia. The title "Stylos" is the Greek word for pillar. In 1 Timothy 3:15 Paul urges his readers to consider "how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar (stylos) and ground of the truth."
Image (left side): Decorative urn with title for the book of Acts in Codex Alexandrinus.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
The Vision (4/18/13): God is our Refuge and Strength
As I sat down to write a pastoral note for this week’s Vision, I thought of all the unsettling
things that have happened over the last seven days, with the bombings in Boston
and now the tremendous explosion in West, Texas.I debated whether or not to address the
subject.On the con side was the fact
that I already had some quotations on the life of Jesus I was planning to
share.More importantly I began to
wonder how many other ministers would attempt to write something about these
events in their pastoral epistles this week and also about how hard it is to
write about such things without sounding unoriginal, trite, or clichéd.
Then, I remembered our Lord and how in his earthly ministry
he was asked about tragedies of his day (some Galileans killed by Pontius
Pilate; a tower that fell and crushed eighteen people; see Luke 13:1-5).Some were asking Jesus whether those who
suffered were being punished for their sins.Jesus’ answer was that those who suffered these things were no worse
than any other sinner who deserves God’s wrath every moment of every day.Yet the Lord in his mercy spares most of us
from the daily experience of such tragedy.We rarely are aware of his constant mercy in shielding us from such
things, much less do we stop to express thanksgiving to him for these ordinary
graces.Jesus’ challenge to those who
asked about the tragedies of his day was this:“but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5).If Jesus used such occasions to encourage
clear and sober thinking then perhaps we may as well.
Here are at least two lessons that come to mind:
First, when we hear of such terrible things we are reminded
that it is the Lord who has given us every moment of peace and stability we
have ever enjoyed.We are
correspondingly convicted that we have too often taken our security and
prosperity for granted.Did you go
through your day today with no worries that your life or the lives of those you
love might end suddenly and tragically?In that case, God is to be thanked.
Second, we are also reminded that whatever the turmoil and
hardship of life we have a shelter and refuge in the Lord.In the days after September 11, 2001, many found
comfort in the opening verses of Psalm 46:
God is our refuge and
strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore will not we fear,
though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst
of the sea;
waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake
with the swelling thereof. Selah.
They still hold a lot of weight.The apostle Paul could write from a prison
cell:“for I have learned, in whatsoever
state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11).
May the Lord grant us wisdom and discernment as we process
and evaluate all that we see, hear of, and directly experience in the world to
make us more grateful to God and more content in his blessings.