- Sermon Notes
A year from now if I asked you to think of a time you were really in a tough place – many of you would un-doubtedly say Covid-19…
Right now, all of us have had to come to grips with how to cope and get through this pandemic.
Everyone is learning how they handle stress? How are each of you getting through?
My father, at the age of 42, had a heart attack caused by stress – an AF Officer working at the Pentagon…
• Everyone needs a place of refuge, from difficult times.
• Everyone has one – although some the wrong one.
• What is your Refuge – your safe place?
• In the Bible, a refuge is “an elevated fortress” a place to go to be safe – a high place, rock, a refuge…
Sherri and I celebrated our 38th Anniversary Friday…
• At age 21, we wanted our faith in Jesus to be our refuge. We have expressed our thankfulness for that over and over again these many years.
• Some of you/many of you, are in a challenging place right now and should be asking yourself, what is my refuge – do my actions reflect that God is my refuge?
• As believers in Jesus we have some amazing prom-ises from the Word of God that we can lean on dur-ing dark times – promises we can find hope in – promises we can literally take to the bank.
• However, to truly find this refuge in Christ we must abide in Him. Are you abiding in Him right now in order to call Him your refuge?
• Isn’t there something powerful about knowing with absolute certainty that He is your refuge.
A refuge – what a wonderful place of protection.
How exactly do we take refuge in God?
• What is the meaning of refuge? A refuge is defined as “shelter or protection from danger or distress.”
• Taking refuge is like finding a safe place during a storm, or getting comfort in a time of trouble.
The Hebrew title for Psalms is simply “Praises” – a fit-ting title because Psalms is about praising the Lord in every situation – on every occasion.
The Gospels tell us Jesus went to the mountain to pray – The psalms tell us what He prayed.
The Gospels tell us Jesus was crucified – the psalms tell us what He was thinking while He was on the Cross.
The Gospels tell us He went back into heaven – the psalms tell us what He’s doing in heaven.
I. Trust In God Alone
These initial verses are all about the Lord’s protection. Not only protection, but such confidence in His pro-tection; “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!”
• Our Lord desires to gather us under His wings – He sees darkness coming – He wants to protect us.
• He wept for His city of Jerusalem for the same rea-son
Luke 13:34; “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing
Where do you go for comfort?
Not everyone chooses wisely; King Asa.
2 Chronicles 16:12; In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians.
When we engage in debate over the current state of our country – does our passion leave any doubt that we put our trust in God?
He is our refuge – if not, who is your refuge?
Psalm 46:1-3; God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.
A. Abide in the shadow of the Almighty
He who dwells – he who abides – – gets His protection.
Are you abiding? How do we abide?
• Obedience to His Word
• Talk to Him – prayer
• Walking uprightly
• Trusting Him
Be steadfast in your love for Him
John 15:4-6; Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.
• When we abide we are in His care.
• Do you have alone time with Him?
• Most of us have more time now because of all these shelter in place restrictions.
• When’s the last time you prayed with your spouse.
B. Weakness empowers traps
Illustration: A very common threat & trap to our fami-lies when they are not abiding finds its way into my counseling office.
When we say, “In Him I will trust – we must know it – must believe it…
Where do people turn for trust today – What are the traps?
• “I’m a good person – I’m good enough”
• Human vices & pleasures
• Do you know what or where your traps are?
These are hard times – So how about you? What are you putting your trust in?
In v5-6 the passage goes on to describe those things that stalk us – that bring fear…
• Terror by night – we lay awake and dwell on things – He says don’t worry.
• Our day’s filled with pestilence around us – unfore-seen threats – we just don’t know.
He watches over us – He’s in control day and night – He is our refuge.
Set our hearts and minds on the things above – choose to abide and not dwell on bad things or circumstances.
Colossians 3:2; Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
• We are all being taught lessons during this pandemic – let’s not miss the lesson to set our hearts and minds on things above – we all have a choice to make.
II. Refuge Comes With Responsibility
It’s so important to remember the principle that we can not be out on our own, doing things our own way, filtering our decisions through what we think we de-serve or our definition of what is right and wrong – –
• Claiming God’s promises for refuge and protection – – but not abiding…How can we blame Him?
I know we get distracted – actually frustrated – when we see what appears to be evil being rewarded. Now is not the time to review what those things are but we still have refuge from these things.
Just read Revelations 20!
A. Trust God’s protection always
I say “always” because even Jesus trusted His father when satan was present!
• Do v11-12 sound familiar? These words are familiar because Satan quoted these words to Jesus while he was in the wilderness for 40 days/nights.
• “If you are the son of God cast yourself down…Jesus said you shall not tempt the Lord your God.
• Wasn’t what God asked Him to do was it? Had His father asked Him to do so He would have done it.
In life & ministry it is not unusual to encounter some-one who made poor choices…
1 Peter 5:8; Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
When we are abiding we can conquer these – have vic-tory over satan – have refuge.
B. His love gives us refuge
The last 3 verses of our text are speaking directly to us – those who listen to Him, His promise.
I love the idea of clinging to Him, being attached, He knows who I am.
The Book of John, chapters 14, 15 and 16 refer to –
- If you love Me you will do what I say, you will keep my commandments…
- Abide in Him – He provides a Refuge
- He will be with you in spite of bad things happening around us or to us.
God never said we would have no trouble – actually He said the opposite.
John 16:33; “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.”
James 1:12; Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
1 Peter 4:12; Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
Covid-19 is all three of these;
• “under trial”
• “fiery ordeal”
C. His refuge is personal
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see what He has for you in this message – are you in a place of worry or fear or Refuge?
Perhaps you need to confess that your refuge is the wrong place?
• That you need to change the way you think about these trials, this pandemic, we are living through right now.
Psalm 91 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;
Of the pestilence that [a]stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.
You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.
[b]For you have made the Lord, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your [c]tent.
For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and cobra,
The young lion and the [d]serpent you will trample down.
“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.
“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in [e]trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
“With [f]a long life I will satisfy him
And [g]let him see My salvation.”