by site founder, Connie Rice
What is an umbrella of protection and how do we utilize it? Does it protect us from everything? When we submit control of our lives to the Lord, accepting His free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ and choosing to trust Him and obey His teachings in the Bible, we can abide in Him, which allows His Spirit to empower and guide us. God takes care of those who belong to Him. It’s amazing to me how with every command God gives us, He also gives us the power to obey through the Holy Spirit. We just need to choose His way over our own (not an easy road, but one that leads to truth, peace, joy, correct identity, and sense of purpose). That allows us to live under His umbrella of protection and blessing. That umbrella does not include a promise of physical protection or comfort in this world (although God may still choose to provide them). What God does promise to provide us with through Jesus Christ is that our needs will be met, that we will have access to the peace and joy that every person longs for in this life, and the promise of eternal life with Him in heaven in the next (death is not the end of us). He has been honest with us that we should expect difficulties in this world, but if we follow the path He created for each of us, at least we can minimize the added trouble we can otherwise bring on ourselves. There really is good and evil in this world and God is good. He has placed this knowledge in our hearts.
“They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.”Romans 2:15-16
“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.
They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.”Isaiah 5:20-21
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”Jesus’ words in John 16:33
My pastor recently used an analogy of the experience of his new puppy being outside and how the puppy could play and frolic safely when he stayed close to his owner, but when the puppy wandered farther away and ignored calls to come back – he ran into danger from a wolf. Isn’t this exactly what we sometimes do with God? We can drift and sometimes not even realize it’s happening. When life’s struggles overwhelm us, we can begin to doubt God’s goodness or that He’s even there. We are easily distracted from the path He created for each of us to pursue. It reminds me of the dog in the movie, “Up” with his “squirrel?” distractions. Life is so full of things that can distract us or deceive us and draw us away from God’s umbrella of protection. As our nation moves farther away from God and His Word, we are seeing so many lies that are unfortunately deceiving a lot of people, even some in the faith. I don’t think it’s any accident that the New Testament has multiple warnings against being deceived in the end times. God is Creator of heaven and earth and made humans in His image, so is the only One who can correctly determine what is right and what is wrong. He is unchanging and His Word is truth. To develop discernment and avoid our being deceived, we must know Scripture. It is the primary way God reveals Himself to us and He never changes – that is so comforting in a world that is endlessly shifting.
“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all He created.”James 1:13-18
“Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves Me will obey My teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love Me will not obey My teaching. These words you hear are not My own; they belong to the Father who sent Me. All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid’.”John 14:23-27
The prince of this world uses whatever he can to draw us away from God and to doubt His Word. He is the father of all lies and is skilled at making wrong things sound preferable and even good, “masquerading as an angel of light” (see verse below). This is further explained in an article from “Got Questions”. God has given us so many promises and is faithful to keep them, but it’s important to note that His promises many times are conditional upon choices that we make. I’m afraid many believers depend on God’s promises and doubt His faithfulness when they do not receive them, but don’t realize that although Jesus’ offer of eternal salvation is a free gift and available to all who will receive it, other blessings are contingent upon our obeying and trusting Him. We first need to understand the context of the promise (was it to a particular person/people in a particular time) and then if the promise isn’t directly to them and does apply to us, to check for a condition related to the promise. Chances are it’s not God who is being unfaithful, but us. The farther away we drift from God, the more danger we can encounter and the fewer blessings we will experience. My experience is that life is hard enough without creating more challenges for ourselves through our disobedience to the Lord’s teaching.
“Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on My own; God sent Me. Why is My language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me! Can any of you prove Me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe Me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”John 8:42-47
“And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”2 Corinthians 11:14
“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”
As time goes on, the confusion in the world is increasing and we are seeing culture intensify their push against God and His teachings. It is clear that the end times are upon us which should break our hearts for those caught in the lies and deceptions that this world is so effective in promoting. We are in a time where we must be diligent and intentional to seek the Lord with all of our heart, mind, strength, and soul and trust in His sovereignty, timing, and perfect plan. May the Holy Spirit empower each of us to lovingly and graciously share the truth of God’s plan of salvation obtained through Jesus’ sacrifice and victory over sin and death so that others may also receive the free gift of eternal life in heaven with their Creator. Although salvation is a free gift, each person must choose to accept it. And let us not be so quick to claim God’s promises without understanding that we may have a part in whether or not we experience God’s blessings. Words in following verses reveal the conditional aspects of each particular promise and are in bold print:
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”Matthew 6:31-33
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”Romans 8:28
“Now if you obey Me fully and keep My covenant, then out of all nations you will be My treasured possession. Although the whole earth is Mine, you will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”Exodus 19:5-6a
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.”Psalm 103:11-12
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked nor stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night.”Psalm 1:1-2
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’. The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.Romans 8:14-17
“If you love Me, keep My commands. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.”John 14:15-17
“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. If you do not remain in Me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.”John 15:5-8
For the first half of my life, I depended on my own wisdom and understanding and was influenced by the world’s teachings. After finally getting to end of myself (God sometimes allows struggles in our lives to bring us to a place where we recognize that what we need is Him), I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior and chose to follow His plan. The second half of my life has included numerous difficult times, but the Lord has been with me and filled me with His peace, joy, strength, & unconditional love, and given me a sense of purpose. I would never go back.
“We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ – the things God has prepared for those who love Him – these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”1 Corinthians 2:6-10
“If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. If you keep My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”John 15:7-12
May you also experience God’s goodness and fully realize His love for you through your Savior, Jesus Christ, so you too can live under God’s umbrella of protection and experience the fulfillment of His promises, His love and goodness, and His blessings on your life. May you look forward with anticipation to the next step of His adventure for you here on earth and also to eternity with Him in the new heaven and new earth. God is sovereign over the affairs of men and sovereign over nations and sovereign over the future. The world’s claims of finding freedom through selfish means are lies. True freedom comes through following Jesus. Another article from “Got Questions” further explains this concept.
“To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:31-32
© Constance Rice 2021