Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe”
Scripture: Psalm 46:1-3 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
I would like to take a quick poll. Raise your hand if you do not lock your doors at night. When Nikki and I moved to Pennsylvania the realtor who sold us our home claimed that the area was so safe that folks around there didn’t have to lock their doors at night. Maybe it was the fact that he was a salesman but somehow I just couldn’t bring myself to believe that was true. Yes most of us lock our doors at night. And when we get into a car we buckle our seat belts. My wife has a little trouble with that one. Most of us place our money into the bank rather than hiding it under the mattress. And if we have surgery we want someone to come and pray over us before we are rolled into the operating room.
Because we believe that locking our door at night makes us safe. Buckling our seatbelt makes us safe. Seeking God’s blessing brings a sense of safety and security into our lives. We do all of these things and many, many more because safety is important to us. We want our children to be safe. We want our spouses to be safe. We want our homes to be safe. We want our country to be safe. And the truth is not only do you desire safety and security for your family God wants us to be safe as well. We know this because within the pages of our Bible we find God continually expressing the fact that He wants his children to be safe. He points us toward safety. He leads us toward safety. He provides for our safety. He yearns for our safety. He died for our safety. It’s true. He died for our safety.
Do you know what the opposite of safe is? No, it’s not unsafe because that would be too easy. The opposite of safe is vulnerable, dangerous, harmful or unprotected. And in spite of the fact that God wants us to be safe there are millions within this world Christians included who continue to place themselves in dangerous situations, vulnerable and subject to harm; without the protection, peace or security God yearns to provide. We hold tightly to the things of this world and loosely to that of our God. We place our trust in the physical and turn a cold shoulder to the spiritual.
BIBLICAL DEFINITION TIME: Trust – Beyond that of faith, BIBLICAL trust has a broader perspective within the Bible; one that speaks of our assured reliance on the strength, ability, wisdom, and truth of God above and beyond anything else (Faith – concept, theory, idea,).
CHECK THIS OUT: In Proverbs 3:5 Solomon writes: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” There it is; the battle for control. Do we lean on God or rely on self? I don’t know about you friend but more times than not relying on my self has led to complete and utter failure.
- According to scripture it is the Lord in whom we are to trust, not ourselves; certainly not the world’s wisdom or devices.
- According to scripture we trust in the Lord because He and He alone is trustworthy.
- According to scripture we are to trust Him with all our hearts, committing every aspect of our lives to Him.
- According to scripture we are not to trust in ourselves because our understanding is temporal, finite, and tainted by our sinful nature.
Earlier this year as Nikki and I were flying home from Boston our plane flew through a bit of turbulence and as it did I reached out and grabbed Nikki’s arm. I wanted her to feel safe. Thousands of feet above the ground; subject to the wind, the weather, the mechanics of this flying machine, and the skill of an unknown pilot I wanted her to feel that she was safe and so I grabbed her arm. And that’s a good thing; that we would want to bring comfort to one another in our time of stress and anxiety is a good thing. But as much as I want to be the one to make her feel safe, God’s Word teaches us that our safety in this world will not be determined by how tightly we hold to our spouse, our children, our job, or our possessions. What the Word of God is teaching us is that our safety will be determined by how tightly we hold onto Jesus and how loosely we hold the world.
Turn with me to Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Friends I believe that the Gospel is simple. God made it that way. And if you’ve heard me speak over the years you know that I have a saying about the simplicity of the Bible and it is this “God made the Gospel simple for the simple minded” and when I say that I always point to myself. God made the Gospel so simple that even I can understand it. And as I look at this verse here in Psalm 46:1 I am able to decipher that there are two things that God is saying to us.
One: he is saying that there will be trouble in this world. He’s not sugar coating it. He’s not hiding it from us. God wants us to know that in this world there will be trouble. In our lives there will be trouble. In our family there will be trouble. In this church there will be trouble. People, Christians included experience and will continue to experience trial, trouble, sorrow and pain until the day the Lord returns that’s number one.
Two is this: In spite of the fact that there will be trouble God is an ever present help willing and able to shield us, protect us, lead and guide us in and from the trouble that will come.
In Job 14:1 Job shares with us a little insight into life itself saying that “our days are few and full of trouble.” For some people the trial, trouble or affliction will come in the form of physical illness or injury (cancer, heart disease, birth defects, or disability) for others it will be in the realm of finance, still others will face a multitude of problems and issues; tribulations that will shake the very foundation of their lives. No one ever started out in this life believing that they would one day be incarcerated, molested, drug addicted, poor or destitute. But these and a host of other ungodly conditions are the troublesome reality of many who live in this world.
For more than a year now Nikki and I have participated in a ministry called Remedy Live and have been trained as what is called a Soul Medic volunteering our time to have meaningful conversations with young people regardless of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, or religion. Our purpose is to bring them hope in the midst of their pain and hopefully over time connect them with the one who can alleviate it altogether: our savior Jesus Christ. On many occasions I have had conversations with people who have been through traumatic experiences having dealt with issues such as neglect, incest, or rape. Many others deal with bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts. A great number of these young people think about, wonder, and contemplate the existence of God but in many cases they dismiss the reality of God because they believe that His presence is something that they have neither seen nor experienced. Because their reality is one of trouble, heartache, and pain. And their disillusion can best be summed up in the words of Job “our days are few and full of trouble.”
And yet David reminds us that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in our trouble.” God does not sugarcoat the fact that there will be trouble in this world but wants us to know that He is “…an ever-present help” in the midst of it. In Psalm 46 verses 2-3 David speaks of the instability of the world around us saying “… though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging” God is there; in all of the situations in life God is present.
Has anyone ever read the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? From the moment Alexander wakes up, things just do not go his way. As he gets up, the chewing gum that was in his mouth the night before it ends up in his hair, he trips on the skateboard and drops his sweater in the sink while the water is running.
In the carpool on the way to school, he doesn't get a window seat. At school, his teacher criticizes him for singing too loudly, and publicly scolds him for skipping the number 16 at counting time. His best friends, Paul, Albert, and Philip, desert him and there is no dessert in his lunch bag. The dentist tells him he has a cavity; the elevator door closes on his foot; someone pushes him into a mud puddle and the day is only half over.
Alexander wanted very badly to run away and hide and several times within the book he is heard saying that he wants to move to Australia as if bad days don’t exist there. If that were true it would be Australia and not the United States wanting to build a wall. What Alexander really wanted was a refuge, a place of safety, an umbrella in the midst of the storm. What he really wanted to know was that in spite of all of the issues he had experienced that day… things would be ok; life could get better.
David like Alexander had those days as well. And like Alexander David wanted to run. But David also understood that God is not the one that we should be running from he is the one we should be running to. In Psalm 27:5 David wrote “For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.” And in Psalm 62:8 David writes “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”
The word “Refuge” calls our attention to sin and the wreckage it causes. When the Old Testament speaks of refuge, it is always in the context of a threat, something wrong or dangerous in the world. Sometimes the threat is:
a. as in seeking refuge from a rain storm (Job 24:8; Isaiah 4:6),
b. shade from hot sun (Judges 9:15),
c. or protection from adversaries (Psalm 61:3).
2. In other instances, the threat is spiritual or emotional,
a. as in a refuge from shame (Psalm 31:1; 71:1)
b. or loneliness (Psalm 142:4).
But in all these cases, the Bible’s use of “refuge” reminds us that we live in a world wrecked by sin—a world of danger on the outside and brokenness on the in. And what we must come to terms with is the fact that We cannot avoid these realities but we can seek shelter from them. That’s what I want to tell the young people I talk with at Remedy Live, that’s what I want to tell a world full of lonely, depressed and hurting people. We cannot avoid these realities but we can seek shelter from them.
Lets’ talk about the word Refuge for a moment: The meaning of the Hebrew word refuge is a place of shelter. As if God is our shelter in the midst of the storm (umbrella). This doesn’t mean that He removes us from the storms of life but rather He shelters us while we are in its midst. Nor does it mean that He will never lead us into difficult or dangerous situations. Jesus led the disciples into a boat, knowing full well that a violent storm was brewing; the disciples were terrified, but Jesus, their refuge, calmed that storm (Matthew 8:23–27). Friends when we are in step with God’s will, we must trust that we can face even the most dangerous situations, because God is with us. And: If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31
No matter what our circumstance, our safest place will always be with God our refuge. And not only does He shelter us from the troublesome issues of this life God’s will is that we would seek His protection from the eternal consequence of sin. God provides us a shelter in the time of storm, friendship in times of loneliness, light in the midst of our darkest of days. But even more significantly, the Lord is our refuge in the Day of Judgment. Though He will bring a day of reckoning for sin, He grants His people forgiveness and gives them refuge from His wrath (Nahum 1:7; Deuteronomy 32:37). Indeed, the greatest need of all mankind is a shelter from the horrible consequences of sin, and this word Refuge reminds us that God offers such shelter.
Not everyone receives this shelter though. The Hebrew verb “to seek refuge” implies placing one’s trust in the source of shelter in order to receive its benefits. Job 24:8 speaks of people clinging to rocks in a rain storm to find refuge, and in Psalm 104:18 badgers find protection from danger by seeking refuge under rocks. Most of the time, however, the trusting implied by this word is spiritual in nature, especially in the Psalms. Those who seek protection from ruin and judgment by trusting idols are foolish (Deuteronomy 32:37). Those who seek shelter from the consequences of their sin by lying about it will be destroyed (Isaiah 28:15-17). Those who depend on their riches for deliverance from sin’s curse likewise will be ruined (Psalm 52:7). Only those who seek refuge from judgment by trusting God and following Him will be sheltered from eternal ruin. The Bible says that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1) but the reality is God cannot be our refuge and strength unless we allow Him to be.
HERES A BIBLICAL QUESTION: “How do I make God my refuge?” It’s easy to picture a physical refuge protecting us from some danger, but how can we make God—whom we can’t see—our refuge?
An easy way to make God our refuge is simply to invite Him to be. David said, “Pour out your hearts to him” and that’s what David did all the time. He poured out his heart to God sharing with Him what was going on in his life and asking God to intervene. When we turn to our God for help or protection, we begin to know Him as our refuge.
And when you think about it the Old Testament’s use of “refuge” is, in a sense, an old covenant rendering of John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” calling to mind the fact that clinging to Jesus as our Lord and Savior is the only way to find shelter from the consequence of sin.”
Yes God wants to be our refuge, our safe place in times of trouble; but more than that he wants to be our place; our place in good times, our place in bad times, our place all the time. God wants us to come to him, to accept his love and forgiveness, and to be part of his family. And when we are part of His family we won’t need to run to Him because we will already be there.