This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Harold J. Sala
OMF LITERATURE INC.
Finding Refuge and Strength: Daily Guidelines for Finding Shelter from Life’s Storms Copyright 2008 © by Dr. Harold J. Sala
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Other Scripture quotations are from: Holy Bible: English Standard VersionTM. ESVTM. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Holy Bible: King James Version. KJV. Holy Bible: New King James Version. NKJV. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Holy Bible: New Living Translation®. 2nd edition. NLT®. Copyright © 1996 by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Letters to Young Churches. Copyright © 1947, 1957 by Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc.; renewed 1975 by J.B. Phillips. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The Living Bible. TLB. Copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. All rights reserved.
Cover design by Amor Aurelio B. Alvarez Page design by Dorothy Joy Quan Photo credits: Alan Joesel del Campo for January, February, March, April, June, July, October, September and November. Harold J. Sala for May, August and December. Published (2008) in the Philippines by OMF Literature Inc. 776 Boni Avenue Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila www.OMFLit.com ISBN 978-971-511-85-6 Printed in the Philippines
To Orville Sala and Warren Clark
In 1963, these men shared my vision of using the media to proclaim the Good News around the world. Orville, my brother, and Warren Clark, a friend whose mother had been my Sunday school teacher, believed that God would honor His Word as we faithfully proclaimed it, and that He would provide for what He wanted done. Thus, the ministry of Guidelines International was born in the basement of Orville’s home. Since that day, these two men have served on the board of Guidelines, and both have stood alongside me—encouraging me, giving counsel and pouring their very lives and resources into the ministry. While many people have encouraged, helped, and supported the ministry, no other two individuals (along with their spouses) have been more faithful or have meant more to me personally.
SOMEONE ONCE SAID that behind every successful man is a wife and a surprised mother-in-law. The reality is that many individuals—most of whom are behind the scenes—contribute to the success of any major endeavor. For instance, this book has been published because of the help and influence of many people. Elisabeth Moore, a spunky lady who taught a college course entitled “Origin of English Words,” was among the first to help me realize how powerful words can be. Some individuals use them as fiery rhetoric to incite people to a revolution; others choose to use them to bring people comfort, inspiration, healing and hope. Ms Moore inspired me to make my words matter—like flames of light penetrating the darkness of our world. I will always be grateful for her smile and encouragement. Luisa Ampil, my administrative assistant, contributed largely to this book. She carefully transcribed and edited materials that were first used on my radio program, “Guidelines—A Five Minute Commentary on Living.” Thank you, Luisa, for your partnering to bring this book to fruition. I’m also grateful to OMF Literature, who for four decades now has always been behind me, allowing me to write more than 40 books speaking to the hearts and lives of people around the world. Thank you, Paul Aragones, Chief Executive Officer; Yna Reyes, the indefatigable Publications Director, and Beng Alba, my editor, along with her associate Karen Huang, whose careful scrutiny makes me look better than I really am.
ref·uge – protection, sanctuary, secret place, safety, haven, hiding place strength – fortitude, endurance, courage, perseverance, power, resolve, strength of purpose, tenacity, physical and emotional toughness WHERE DO YOU GO TO find help in a world filled with broken promises, broken hearts, broken relationships, and broken lives? When “bad things” happen and your dreams are shattered, where do you go and what do you do? Some adopt the attitude advocated by Job’s wife when his world fell apart: “Just curse God and die!” But others seek refuge and strength. I have been deeply impressed with the many references in the Bible—especially in the Old Testament—depicting God as a stronghold, a refuge, a hiding place and high tower. The Old Testament mentions strongholds or fortresses some 41 times, and David, who spent seven long years as a fugitive fleeing for his life, often fled to a stronghold for safety. Strongholds and fortresses are as old as history itself. They are a reflection of our desire to be safe from our enemies. In ancient days they were often constructed as defenses—ones that kept enemies on the outside and loved ones on the inside. They were built of massive walls of stone and defended with cannons and armament. In the fifth century BC the Chinese built the 4,000-mile long Great Wall to keep invaders out. But eventually it was breached. Ancient Smyrna constructed what many thought was an impregnable wall. It wasn’t. Eventually it was compromised. Hitler had his “Eagle’s Nest” in the heights of the Alps near Berchtesgaden, but today only the foundation of the building remains. You find the ruins of these dilapidated strongholds at the entrance to harbors, in mountains, and in the ruins of ancient cities. Today, in this age of nuclear warfare, we still haven’t given up on building strongholds or fortresses. They are simply buried in the heart of the earth, based on the presumption
that there people can be safe. Yet David discovered long ago that the safety of a man-made stronghold could eventually be compromised and the only true refuge from the enemy was God Himself. He wrote, “The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you” (Psalm 9:9). The psalmist learned from experience that God alone can be trusted. He added, “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2). When dark clouds appear in the sky, your stronghold is compromised, and your world falls apart. Do you run to Jesus with all your might, or do you run from Him, blaming Him for what has happened to you? A friend had to answer this question when her husband was dying of an inoperable cancer. She had to either flee to the open arms of her Savior or turn and run away. Was she tempted to turn her back on what she knew was the right thing to do? She wrote, I have been tempted to just run away, pretend nothing is going on, take my credit card and just drive to escape. Or maybe I can lash out at those around me . . . Or eat until I can’t eat anymore . . . Or go somewhere where nobody knows my name, and buy whiskey and go down that back road—just to forget for a while. Or lock my doors, go to bed, and literally pull the covers over my head—indefinitely! Or even drive my car off a cliff just so this problem will go away, and let someone else deal with it. Many things have crossed my mind. But, no, she did none of these things. Rather she took these fleeting thoughts to the foot of the cross and left them with a compassionate Savior, adding, “I don’t know how anyone
could get through this without the strength of the Living God. The pain by itself is unbearable. The future is terrifying and uncertain. The present is a living nightmare. But God is Good! I know my Redeemer lives, and ever lives to intercede—for me!” She learned what the prophet Nahum discovered when his world was falling apart, “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble. And He knows those who take refuge in Him” (Nahum 1:7 ESV). Don’t wait until your world is falling apart to take refuge in the only real stronghold. Do it day by day! Finding Refuge and Strength is what this book is about. He is the only absolute security you will ever have in this fragile, uncertain world.
Before you lies a new and uncharted year with surprises and challenges. Realize, though, that nothing takes God by surprise. He knows what each day holds for you. Walk with Him in pain and pleasure. When storms buffet you or difficulty knocks at your door, Run to Him for refuge, for shelter, and for help.
The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
PSALM 9:9 NKJV
The New Year
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY of the year and it’s quite scary staring another year in the face. Looking back we think, “What happened to the resolutions we made a year ago?” Looking ahead, we have hopes that things will be better, yet sometimes our hopes are laced with cynicism. What if we just see a rerun of the past? But we should remember this: Nothing will happen to us this year that is unknown to our Heavenly Father. Nothing will come as a surprise to God—whether it is about nations at war or the personal struggles we face. He knows. Have you ever seen a young child and his father go for an early evening walk? As long as there was light, the son ran ahead of his father, playing and not thinking of him. Yet as soon as the darkness closed in, he would run back and reach for his daddy’s big hand. Just like the young child trusting his father, yield your future to Him who holds the future. Instead of stubbornly holding out for what you want, start praying, “Lord, have Your way in my life.” God’s grace is ladled out on a daily basis—just for today. Corrie ten Boom often said her father never gave her the ticket until it was time to board the train. That’s how God dispenses His grace—just enough for today. He knows what you need far better than you do. You can count on the faithfulness of the Lord no matter what life brings.
Promises for the New Year
Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.
SUPPOSE THAT WHEN YOU WOKE up today an angel stood before you and said: “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8). Would you be afraid to face the new year? Those words were actually spoken by Joshua to God’s people as they prepared to cross the Jordan. We, too, can claim the promises contained in this verse: PROMISE 1: The Lord goes before you. All you have to do is stay close enough to walk in His footsteps. It’s like following someone who carries a torch through a dungeon. Stay close and you won’t stumble, but lag behind and you are quickly engulfed in darkness. PROMISE 2: The Lord will be with you. Would you hesitate to face your problems if you knew the Lord was with you? Even if you’re facing a Goliath, one plus God makes a majority. PROMISE 3: The Lord will never leave you nor forsake you. As Jesus walked up the Mount of Olives for the last time He said, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.” We usually fear what we don’t understand, but God is telling us as we face the unknown: “Do not be afraid and do not be discouraged.” Where are you in relation to this passage in Deuteronomy? Write your name next to the verse and say, “As for me and my house, I will serve the Lord no matter what this year brings.”
A New Year Lifestyle
Elijah was a man just like us.
I LIKE WHAT JAMES SAID! Imagine, Elijah, the prophet, “just like us!” He had his ups and downs and God used him. He can use you, too. Interested in developing a lifestyle that is peaceful and fulfilled? Here are eight steps that can make a difference: 1 Let God direct your course. This was the motto of Oswald Chambers, author of My Utmost for His Highest. Don’t make God your co-pilot. Instead, let Him take over the controls. 2 Simplify. You don’t have to have the latest PDA, iPod or laptop. Clean out the closet and garage, delete your unwanted e-mails, and throw away the pile of magazines you will never read. 3 Pull the plug on distractions. It’s a noisy world. Turn off the phone for dinner or try leaving the TV unplugged for 24 hours. 4 Turn your assets over to God. If you really believe what you have is a gift from God, sign it over to Him and ask Him how you can use it wisely. 5 Get out of yourself. Count the number of times you say, “I”, “me”, or “my” in a conversation. Then stop talking and start listening. 6 Touch someone’s life. Baby-sit. Volunteer at an orphanage. Visit a convalescent home. Write a check for a charity. Take a meal to a sick neighbor. Do something. 7 Don’t sweat the small stuff. Remember, it’s all small stuff. Trust and don’t worry, just for today. 8 Give up anger and thoughts of revenge. They are killers. God’s big enough to handle the person who wronged you. Follow these eight steps and pursue a lifestyle that is genuine and meaningful.
The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble.
NAHUM 1:7 NKJV
VISIT CORREGIDOR IN THE PHILIPPINES, and you will find a deep tunnel. Originally built to store arms and ammunition, Malinta Tunnel was also a stronghold that bombs of the enemy couldn’t penetrate. It served as a haven for wounded soldiers and as headquarters for General MacArthur. Strongholds are important because they provide protection. They allow you to sleep at night without fear for your safety. When David was a fugitive from Saul, he hid in strongholds in the desert. He learned that safety is not the absence of danger, but the presence of the Lord. Repeatedly he referred to the Lord as his fortress. In Psalm 18 he wrote, “I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge” (Psalm 18:1–2). You will never understand that God is a refuge until you run to Him and throw yourself upon His mercy, until you pound on His door and say, “Take me in. I need Your protection and help!” Yet far too many stand outside the door thinking, “I can handle this on my own.” If someone were chasing you with a weapon, and he was getting closer, would you stand outside the fortress and wonder if it was strong enough to protect you? You may be thinking, “Having God as a fortress worked for David, but I’m not sure it’ll work for me!” How would you know unless you try? I’ve never heard anyone say, “I threw myself upon the Lord and He closed the door of help in my face.” Need a refuge? Most earthly strongholds have massive doors and can be entered by walking. The refuge God provides is entered by kneeling.
Taking Your Emotions Out on Your Family
And now a word to you parents. Don’t keep on scolding and nagging your children, making them angry and resentful. Rather, bring them up with the loving discipline the Lord himself approves, with suggestions and godly advice.
A MANAGER COMPLAINED, “I just can’t seem to leave my stress at work. I come home angry and take out my emotions on my family. What can I do?” Here are some guidelines to make your home a place of refuge and safety. GUIDELINE 1: Get your values straight. Your family is forever; your job is not. There’s an issue of fairness that comes into the picture. You can’t take out your hostilities on your boss (or at least, it isn’t a good idea to try), so what right do you have to inflict them upon the innocent members of your family? GUIDELINE 2: Love your family more than you dislike your boss or fellow workers. Is your love for your husband or wife not stronger than your dislike of a job situation? GUIDELINE 3: Tell your emotions where to get off. Leave your feelings of unrest and irritation at work. Don’t pack them in your briefcase for you to take out at home. Sometimes saying, “Look, I’m not upset with you. I’ve had a hard day at the office” helps you clear the air and release what annoys you. GUIDELINE 4: Be your own person. Nobody can make you lose your cool unless you allow others to take it from you. If you have detractors at work, view them with pity and pray for them. GUIDELINE 5: Look for another job when all else fails. Your kids would rather have less money and enjoy a parent who smiles and laughs than have more money and have you react like drops of water on a hot skillet.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?