March 17, 2020 -Jesus, Our Rock of Refuge! Psalm 71:1-12

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In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame!

In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me!

Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.

Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.

For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.

Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.

I have been as a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge.

My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day.

Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.

For my enemies speak concerning me; those who watch for my life consult together and say, “God has forsaken him; pursue and seize him, for there is none to deliver him.”

O God, be not far from me; O my God, make haste to help me. Psalm 71:1-12 (ESV)

Learning and praying the Psalms is a rich source of learning about God and His character, but even more importantly, they are a rich source of comfort and peace for us in times of crisis and trouble.

The most well known hymn of the Lutheran tradition, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” was written by Martin Luther.  Luther was not a popular man during his lifetime, because he challenged the status quo of the church.  Those who fight error and corruption within a system are seldom popular. Luther knew death threats, the outside influence of plague, and the personal agony of losing his own children, yet by the grace of God he was able to keep the faith and keep pointing others to Jesus and the truth of the written Word that has been given to us.

Jesus is our refuge, our fortress, our safe place. Nothing or no one else is a true refuge.  No one else can defend us and save us from the natural consequence of our rebellion and our inheritance from our first parents.  No one else gives us the gift of eternal life, bought and paid for in His own blood.

May we pray along with the Psalmist:  Jesus, thank You for purchasing me at the cost of Your own Body and Blood.  Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.

January 19, 2018- A Fortress of Love- Psalm 62:5-8, 1 John 4:7-12

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Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:5-8 (NIV)

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:7-12 (NIV)

One of the greatest proofs for God in the world can be found in our families, friends and communities. We find support, accountability and strength in community. Sometimes we as Americans want to follow Jesus with a sort of “me-n-Jesus” loner mentality, but living in God’s kingdom means that we live in the context of community- even when there are disagreements and hardships and in those times when being part of a community isn’t easy.  Jesus said, “I am the Vine, you are the branches.” (John 15:5)  A vine has many more than just one branch.  As Jesus followers we need each other.  The Body of Christ necessarily has many parts that need to work together as a whole.

It is important for us to have a one on one relationship with God that we tend in prayer, study, meditation and in cultivating spiritual disciplines, but it is equally important that our relationship with God is also lived out in our community and in the world at large.

We should find joy and strength and support in our fellow Jesus followers. Because of Jesus we have the capacity to love one another and to live in a way that shows the world Who we belong to.

We as God’s people, God’s community, are meant to be a refuge for each other, not because we are such fantastic people, (we aren’t) but because God loves us. He loved us first. This is an important point.  On our own we aren’t always all that lovable. We can be downright ugly at times.

Forgiveness is a big hallmark of Christian community. All of us are saints and sinners at the same time.  None of us can live up to God’s ideal, but we all have been given the gift of God-with-us as our refuge. We have been given the privilege to experience the presence of God in community.  We pray that we would have the eyes to see others the way God sees them.  We can pray to see others with eyes of love, and to respond to them accordingly.