Grow Deep: Reformation 500 Edition, Week 1
Week 1: October 1 - 7
A Mighty Fortress
“The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” - Psalm 46:7
Our family is planning a vacation that may include a side trip to the Hoover Dam. Having never been there, I decided to brush up a little on my knowledge of that structure. One of the things I learned is that Hoover Dam is an arch-gravity dam built in a narrowing canyon on the Colorado River. It is designed to direct the pressure of the water against the rock walls of the canyon and away from the concrete structure itself. As a result, the dam is made stronger.
Isn’t that a picture of how our relationship with God should be? When Martin Luther wrote the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress,” he was no stranger to pressure, hardship and trouble. Yet, clearly as he penned the words to that battle hymn of the Reformation, he knew that God, and God alone, was his Strength, Fortress, Refuge and Rock.
I have not faced the same kind of pressure that Martin Luther faced as a young priest who stood up to the corruption and false teaching of the Roman Catholic Church in the 1500s. But, I have faced my share of pressure, trouble and hardship … financial struggles, problems in relationships, pressures to measure up, challenges with children, physical disability, serious illnesses and death of loved ones. I have been battered by temptation and struggled against the lies that Satan would have me believe about myself. And, like Luther, I know in my heart that God was and is there with me through it all. In any time of trouble, I know He is my “very present help” when I choose to “wedge” myself firmly against Him … when I allow Him to carry the weight and force of the pressure coming against me. When I am wedged against my Rock, Jesus, the stronger I am able to stand!
As you read and reflect this week, think about the ways that Jesus is your Fortress and Rock on a daily basis.
Sunday, October 1
Read: Psalm 46
Psalm 46 is a “song” that expresses confidence in God as our Refuge, Rock, Protector and Strength. God is the answer to all our fears; He never changes. He is God! He invites us to come before Him and be still, confident that He will never fail us and will shelter us in the storms of our lives.
Reflect: Think about the pressures and hardships you are facing right now. How can God become your Fortress, your Rock, your Refuge? Why are we able to “be still” before God in the midst of our troubles? Thank God for His strength.
For the Family: This section of Scripture says that God is a refuge and a fortress. What do those words mean? Why would God be called a refuge and fortress? Talk about times when you need to remember and thank God that He is strong for you.
Monday, October 2
Read: 1 Peter 2:4-12
In his writings, Peter reflects on the relationship of God with His church through Jesus, our Rock and Savior. He assures his readers that God has saved us for a purpose … to be His “living” stones,” stones upon which God is building His church. He more clearly defines our calling as God’s chosen. We are to “declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.”
Reflect: Why does Peter refer to us as “living” stones? In verse 9, how does Peter refer to us as believers? How do those words influence your daily walk with Jesus?
For the Family: Jesus is called a “cornerstone.” What is a cornerstone? Why is the cornerstone the most important stone of a building? Think of other words to describe Jesus.
Tuesday, October 3
Read: Ephesians 6:10-17
Whether we realize it or not, we are daily engaged in an ongoing battle. Our own battlefield may not be a physical one, but we battle against temptation, emotional attacks and the devil’s schemes. God has not left us defenseless, though. He has provided the way to defend ourselves in the battle; He has given us His spiritual armor. As we “suit up” in His armor for battle, we have all that we need to be victorious through Him.
Reflect: What makes you “strong in the Lord and in His mighty power” as you face hardships and troubling situations? Who is the adversary? Why is it important to “fight” robed in God’s armor rather than your own?
For the Family: What is armor? Name all the pieces of armor listed in this passage and what they protect. How is the last piece of armor different from the other pieces of armor? How can it help you when you are tempted?
Wednesday, October 4
Read: Romans 8:31-39
In this section of Scripture, Paul outlines three areas of your relationship with Christ where you can have absolute confidence: (1) No matter what or who comes against you, God is for you. He gave up His Son for you; He will take care of you. (2) You can be sure of your eternity because there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. He has already paid the penalty for your sin and declared you to be “not guilty.” (3) There is no separation with Jesus. His love will never change or fail. While our devotion to Him can be “fickle,” Christ’s love is sure and eternal. He has made us more than conquerors!
Reflect: How can trouble or hardship separate you from God? What does it mean to be “more than a conqueror” in Christ? List something that causes you to be fearful. Ask God for His strength and peace in the face of that fear.
For the Family: The Bible says we are conquerors through Jesus and that nothing can separate us from Him. Who is our enemy? Who turns us into conquerors? Can you name some other conquerors in the Bible (i.e., David, Daniel, Gideon, Moses and others)?
Thursday, October 5
Read: Psalm 144
This Psalm of David is a praise and a prayer for God’s strength and help in battle. He begins in the first verse by praising God, who is his Rock and who is the One who equips and prepares him for battle. The next 10 verses are a prayer for victory as David and his armies are about to go into battle. But in verse 12, David shifts gears and prays for blessing from the Lord, beginning with blessings for the sons and daughters of Israel. He prays that their sons would be strong like well-watered plants, and their daughters would be strong like pillars. He ends this “battle” psalm by acknowledging that all blessings come from the Lord.
Reflect: How has God trained and equipped you for “battle”? Consider what it means for your son to be a well-nurtured plant and your daughter, a pillar that adorns a palace? Pray now for your children/grandchildren to be strong in the Lord.
For the Family: Why is David giving praise to God? Have each member of the family thank God for protecting and taking care of themselves.
Friday, October 6
Read: 2 Samuel 22:1-4, 32-40
These verses from 2 Samuel are nearly the same as words found in Psalm 18, written by David after he became Israel’s King. David is reflecting on God’s goodness in fulfilling His promises and for providing protection. David recounts how God is the One who gave him victory by setting him on the “high places” and giving him what he needed to defeat his enemies. David acknowledges that it was not his own strength and might that brought victory, but God’s.
Reflect: List all the words that describe God in the first four verses of this reading. In what ways has each of these terms been applicable in your relationship with God?
For the Family: Who gives David the victory when he is in battle with his enemies? How do we know that? Can you think of a way that God gives you victory?
Saturday, October 7
Read: Genesis 15:1-6
In these verses is the first reference in Scripture to God as our Shield. If you look back at Chapter 14, you will see that these verses come after God’s rescue of Lot and the “deal” for riches offered to Abram by the King of Sodom. Abram refused; he trusted God and allowed Him to be his “great reward.” Abram trusted God’s promise to be his shield and trusted Him to fulfill ALL His promises.
Reflect: What does it mean that God is our “very great reward”? Think of a time when God was your reward. How did it make you feel? How did you respond to Him?
For the Family: What was the promise that God gave to Abram? Was it hard for Abram to believe that promise? It can be hard sometimes for us to believe God’s promises. How do we know His promises are always true?