- Sermon Notes
A PLACE OF REFUGE AWAITS
January 2, 2022
Let’s be honest, we are living at a time in our nation that’s not as friendly or safe or healthy as it once was.
People in America are met with all sorts of international conflict or health challenges, the only thing consistent is the inconsistency of the messages. Many are filled with fear – minimally they make us weary.
Surveys tell us three of four Americans feel less safe than a year ago. Major cities are overrun with lawlessness, international tensions have returned to some historical lows. In the US, people have left certain states in droves for all kinds of reasons – many attached to crime, politics, taxes or pandemic mandates.
Here we are launching into 2022 together and I suggest there’s no better time to go out and show people there is a living God in charge, that when we walk with Him, there is calm and serenity and peace attached.
All of us should be able to help create a platform in our circles, in this city, that tells people what makes us different.
Jesus runs our lives and if we are in obedience to Him, nothing brings us fear. We cannot let fear and uncertainty steal our joy or compromise our faith.
The life of the Apostle Paul – what a great example and teacher for us to grasp this whole concept of having a place of refuge in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We have to look at these times not as Americans, but as followers of Jesus. What does the Bible say to us, what does the Lord say to us about our personal safety as followers of Jesus?
If you find yourself uneasy these days or a little frightened, you have come to the right place.
Background for Acts
Paul has been to Philippi, to Thessalonica, to Berea – he’s preached in each one of these places – led thousands to Christ, started churches – then went south to the city of Athens, where he preached to the intellectual elite of the ancient Roman world, now he’s in Corinth where you see that he goes to the Synagogue in town every sabbath – sharing the truth that Jesus was the Messiah.
I. “Do Not Be Afraid”
- These unbelievers want to do battle with Paul – the unbelieving Jews – a powder keg topic – Paul’s safety is in serious jeopardy but his refuge is firmly planted in the Lord.
- God comes to him in a vision and says do not be afraid – stay and preach – Do we not face these same choices Paul did?
- Follow God’s will for our life.
- Worry about conflict for the sake of the Gospel?
- And he then stayed another 1.5 years
A. Develop a Godly mindset
Apostle Paul had a mindset on how he lived his life – not about personal comfort or safety – Priority was on being where God wanted him to be and doing what God wanted him to do.
Question was not where are the threats to avoid, but what is the will of God so I can walk in it. He considered personal threats as trivial, as long as he was where God wanted him to be and doing what God wanted him to do.
He talks about this later in Acts 20, talking to the Elders at the church of Ephesus;
Acts 20:24, But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of God’s grace.
Paul knew the unbelieving Jewish community in Jerusalem despised him and would most likely try to hurt or kill him. He was in the most unsafe place on earth for him at this time – Jerusalem.
Why be there and stay there?
v9…he was compelled by the Holy Spirit, because with all of his heart he believed this was God’s will for his life.
Paul’s mindset as a follower of Jesus doesn’t come from ridding yourself of external pressure, but personal refuge comes from being in the center of God’s will for your life…
Illustration – A powerful example here in our church and local community.
B. Refuge in God awaits
I believe the Apostle Paul’s mindset is exactly the biblical mindset God wants from every follower of Christ in every generation – as followers, God wants us to realize our personal refuge doesn’t come from eliminating human conflict, or from avoiding it – rather personal refuge is a gift, that God gives every follower of Christ who is going where God wants and doing what God’s wants until the day appointed for each of us arrives to join Him in heaven.
God wants us to understand the safest place of refuge is right in the middle of God’s will regardless of the dangers presented to us.
Biblical examples – These biblical greats had the exact same mindset as the Apostle Paul.
Genesis 12:1,4, The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. So Abram went away as the Lord had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
- God appeared and said leave your country, your people, your household…an unsafe situation, no army or money or human protection.
- If you & I are fearful of following God, we don’t do what Abraham did.
- Can’t we be missionaries in our neighborhoods or at work?
Genesis 12:1-3, Now the Lord said to Abram,
“Go from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you;
And I will make you into a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great.
And you shall be a blessing.
And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
- Was happily married, everything was going great, and a bush speaks to him…I am the God of your father…He sent him back to Egypt where he had a price on his head – to tell Pharaoh to let his people go.
But in Exodus 4, Moses chose to embrace God’s will over his own safety.
- A young lady living in modern day Iraq and a stranger shows up and says he’s been sent to find a good woman, to introduce her to and marry Abe’s son Isaac…
- To Rebekah, the servant basically says, So its God’s will for you to come with me and marry Isaac.
- Ladies, would you go for that?
- Rebekah had a choice to make. How important was that decision to the Kingdom of God? She said yes, and not only did she become a great woman of the faith…
- Choosing to follow the will of God for your life can have an eternal impact.
- Every one of them made the same choice that Abraham, Moses, Rebekah and that Paul made – they chose God’s will over personal refuge and comfort – they understood the place of refuge was in God’s will.
II. God’s Will Is Always Best
Personal Application –
If you and I are living out God’s will in our lives to the very best of our ability, we’re going and doing what God asks us to do, we are as safe as we can be…
- Driving a bus, or leading your boardroom – if that means you are trusting God with your decisions and convictions…you are as safe as you can be.
A. The Bible is our roadmap
2 Kings, chapter 6, a great illustration…
Background – King of Syria at war with King of Israel. The Syrian King set up ambushes to pounce on Israel’s forces…but what happened – the prophet Elisha was informed by God to inform the Israel King so they could go around the Syrians. The King of Syria thought for sure there was a mole in the camp – where is he? – advisors told the King, there’s no mole, it’s the prophet Elisha. Where is he – he sent his army to find Elisha and surround him in Dothan.
2 Kings 6:15, Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “This is hopeless, my master! What are we to do?
2 Kings 6:16, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are greater than those who are with them.”
- Then Elisha prayed…the servants eyes opened and saw the heavenly forces of God all over the hills, all around Elisha and the Syrian army…
B. With God who can be against us
- When we are walking with God the way Elisha was we are protected just like he was…maybe not all seen with our naked eye, but they are there for us, God assures us of it.
When we begin to believe this, to adopt this mentality – it radically changes our daily behavior as we encounter the challenges of this life. We are more at peace – calm – even relaxed, because we know that those who are with us are greater than those who are against us.
Be in God’s will, be confident, find refuge and be safe.
Jesus wants to liberate you and set you free from letting fear and anxiety disrupt your life. That freedom is only found in a personal relationship with Jesus.
C. Find rest in God’s will
Fellow believers, may I suggest to you that in 2022 God doesn’t want fear to replace your faith either. There are always things to be concerned about…unsafe to do or not to do.
- Is that the correct question to ask first though? Or is the correct question to ask, what is the Will of God? The answer may lead you differently.
The most dangerous place to be in life is always living and doing those things outside the will of God.
That being true, people are still scared and fearful. So it’s up to us and your Christian friends and family to show others there’s a better way to live, to show people what makes us different.
But we can’t do that unless we adopt the mindset modeled here by the Apostle Paul. This may change your behavior and choices. Not the world’s way – but Jesus who runs our lives.
Pray He reveals to you in a powerful way what His will is for your life – and then live out your life in His will.
His place of refuge awaits you.
6 But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood is [a]on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 Then he left [b]the synagogue and went to the house of a man named [c]Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord together with his entire household; and many of the Corinthians, as they listened to Paul, were believing and being baptized. 9 And the Lord said to Paul by a vision at night, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many people in this city.” 11 And he settled there for a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.