If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent. Psalm 91:9-10
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
Holy Scripture is filled with amazing promises. But almost all of them come with conditions. You know the formula…“IF my people…will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, THEN will I hear from Heaven and…” etc. Or…“Trust in the Lord with all your heart…and He will make your path straight.” Most of God’s awesome promises come with a condition of some kind or another, or at least an assumption or implication. It seems to be one of His many wondrous ways.
I read all the wonderful promises of Psalm 91 in that same light. All those promises of God’s protection and provision all hinge upon the very first line (repeated in verse 9): If you make the Most High your dwelling.
When I deal with conflicting parties within the church, I often hear both sides invoke the name of the Lord for their positions. I hear both sides claiming that God is on their side, that He will prevail and that He will bring about what they want. But I also hear both sides in very much a “win/lose” mindset, wherein they will not be satisfied unless they win AND the other side loses. I recall working with a church some years ago wherein one group was very much wanting to get rid of the pastor. They were acting as “God’s agents”. Midway through the process, the pastor accepted a call to another church and resigned, whereupon that group became angry! They had won…but they also wanted him to lose, and he did not. At that point, I’m afraid their true motives, their true hearts, became crystal clear.
Meeting God’s criteria for enjoying His promises is never as simple as merely doing something for God. It will never be enough to say, “I have prayed about this” and therefore expect God’s armies to go before you and to smite anyone who gets in your way. The criteria for God’s promises, more often than not, have something to do with abiding in Him…DWELLING in Him. You cannot hold a handful of prayer meetings with those who all agree with your position and come away claiming God’s anointing and a superior handle on God’s will.
If you have never read Andrew Murray’s devotional book, Abide in Christ, you really must. It should be a part of every Christian leader’s library. He does such a masterful job of exploring just what it means to “abide in Him”. It is a mindset…a condition of the heart…a way of being…a lifestyle…and so much more. I believe that person who is truly “abiding in Christ” actually does have a leg up in terms of wisdom and understanding God’s heart and God’s desires. I know a few people whom I believe fit that description. I trust them implicitly in matters of discernment. But the rest of us will just have to continue doing our best to seek God’s will together and will continue to see “as through a glass dimly”. We will just have to continue to rely on the cumulative effect of hearing God speak through his Word, through prayer, through His people and through the church. And it will NOT be an nice, easy process. It will take time…more time than we want to take. It will require uncommon humility and extraordinary patience.
And when it is all said and done, you and I will both be better for having waited on the Lord and for having walked through the process together. And if we step carefully and prayerfully, at the end of the discernment process, we may well find ourselves one step closer to truly “dwelling in Him.”