Monday, May 18, 2015

Taking Refuge in the Lord

I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust" (Psalm 91:2)

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27 NIV).

Have you gone through (or are you currently in) a crisis or stressful situation – with finances, a relationship with someone you love or loved, relatives, friends, job, or other circumstances, and have you been seeking comfort and relief by watching TV endlessly, spending a lot of time on social media, YouTube, texting, eating junk food, shopping, drinking alcohol, or other worldly outlet? If so, my friend, you are seeking shelter in false refuge.

Several times in the Bible, we are encouraged to take refuge in God. What does this mean? The online dictionary defines a refuge as “a place of shelter, protection from danger or trouble, and safety; anything to which one has resource of aid, relief, or escape”. In this brief article, we want to encourage you to find your safety, relief, and place of escape in the Lord – He alone is “our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). We also want to reiterate that, as Christians, God is able to take care of us and supply all our needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

Drawing Strength from God

Every single day, Christians are faced with the temptation to focus on other things (or take refuge in them), instead of first seeking the Lord Jesus as the Bible exhorts us (Matthew 6:33). This temptation often happens when one decides to seek the Lord in prayer, worship, or Bible reading which is ideal in drawing strength from God (Psalm 84:1-12). Have you experienced moments when you are planning to seek the Lord and suddenly you feel like sleeping or watching an interesting “Christian” program on TV or YouTube? Also, when we feel offended, stressed out, angry, down, in despair, scared, or frustrated, it may seem like a good idea to call someone to vent, check out the latest world news, watch more TV, eat unhealthy food, go shopping, read a secular book, etc. In those times, while it may feel comforting to seek those things, they do not really solve the problem or help us in determining a peaceful solution. As a matter of fact, this is leaning on the arm of the flesh, and it only weighs us further down and makes us feel dry and depleted (Jeremiah 17:5-8). Focusing on such things or seeking people for answers first instead of seeking the Lord can also be a form of idolatry, which is sin. As we have discussed in previous articles, Television and Social Media are not only false refuges, but can also be idols and they have many pitfalls to draw you further away from God.

At such times when we feel helpless and hopeless, we need to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ more than ever (Proverbs 3:5-6). The Bible says: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10). The Bible is very clear that “As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him” (Psalm 18:30). Even when in dire distress or oppression “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9). Furthermore, The Lord is a sure refuge when we are poor (Psalm 14:6), feel weak (Psalm 28:8), under attack (Psalm 31:2; 91:2; 94:22), despised (Psalm 71:7), afflicted (Jeremiah 16:19), in times of calamity (Psalm 57:1), or ultimately even when facing death (Psalm 18:1-6).

Sometimes, making the choice on where to go and find peace seems challenging. Some may choose to walk or run many miles, or even move far away altogether, for example, but as we choose to simply go to God, we choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19). Additionally, as we draw near to God by seeking Him, He protects us (Proverbs 30:5; Isaiah 14:32), shields us (Psalm 18:30), keeps us safe (Psalm 16:1), helps us overcome our trials (Isaiah 25:4), cares for us (Nahum 1:7), blesses us (Psalm 2:12; Psalm 34:8), makes us glad and full of joy (Psalm 5:11), saves us from our enemies (Psalm 17:7), and most kindly keeps us from being condemned (Psalm 34:22). The Lord helps us to be grateful, less irritable, humble, having soft hearts, easily forgiving others, and serving Him. The Lord is truly our true peace! (Ephesians 2:14).

In the Bible, we see several examples of people who sought refuge in the Lord.
  • King David often poured out His complaints as He cried out to the Lord for help in times of trouble (Psalm 7:1; Psalm 11:1). Over 40 times in the Book of Psalms alone, King David affirms the Lord as His refuge and He encourages us to do the same:
Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8).
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold (Psalms 18:2).
  • When King Hezekiah was in trouble, he took refuge in the Lord (2 Kings 19:14-19).
  • Likewise, when King Jehoshaphat was surrounded by a vast army, instead of sending urgent messages to friendly neighbors for help, he sought refuge in the Lord. The king “resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him” (2 Chronicles 20).
  • When Daniel learned of the conspiracy against him, and that that the decree had been published forbidding anyone from worshiping God, he did not use his influence to appeal to the king. Instead, he sought audience with the King of Kings, and so “...three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (Daniel 6:10).
  • The Lord Jesus Himself is our example; when He was in deep distress on the impending crucifixion and death, He took refuge in God the Father (Matthew 26:36-39).
The Bible declares that God is not impressed in man’s physical strength, fighting prowess or power. Instead, He delights in those who fear Him and put their hope in His unfailing love (Psalm 147:10-11), because He is our strength, shield, refuge, fortress, and very present help in distress or trouble (Psalm 28:7; 46:1; Jeremiah 16:19).

Staying the Course toward Heaven

The Lord Jesus urged us to “enter through the narrow gate” because “wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Many God-fearing Christians are looking at the signs of the times and eagerly awaiting the Lord’s coming. However, while searching for answers, many resort to seeking refuge on the Internet and here there are many traps and temptations to steer you off course, since gossip and other worldly “news” that appeal to the flesh and defiles one’s spirit are only a click away. With wickedness lurking everywhere, we should heed the Bible’s warning that the righteous who give way to the wicked are like a polluted well or muddied spring (Proverbs 25:26). Therefore, it is important to be discerning and careful not to let the enemy of your soul, Satan, lead you into seeking or watching demonic, idolatrous, and worldly pleasures that appeal to the flesh and contaminate or defile the spirit (James 1:27; 2 Corinthians 7:1).

As we see great deception in the church (Matthew 24:5;11;), intense earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven (Luke 21:10), wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6), Nations rising against nations and kingdoms against kingdoms (Matthew 24:7), increase in wickedness and the love of many growing cold (Matthew 24:12; 2 Timothy 3:1-5), Christians being persecuted (Luke 21:12) and hated for telling the truth (Luke 21:17), signs in the sun, moon, and stars; nations worried about the roaring and tossing of the sea (Luke 21:25), the Lord forewarned us and said that in these days we should "Stand firm, and you will win [eternal] life" (Luke 21:19).

Since we are increasingly seeing these signs (birth pangs) and know that our redemption is drawing near, we should take refuge in the Lord and let His words abide in us, that we may be among those who are able to stand before Him, redeemed (Luke 21:27-28; 36; John 15:5-8).

Finally, anyone who knows about birth pangs knows that they intensify, lengthen, and get closer together as the baby gets closer to being born. As we yield to the Lord’s ways, He is faithful to cleanse us, purify us from worldliness, and refine us until He comes at the appointed time (Daniel 11:35; 12:10). Therefore, let us, like King David, “long to dwell in [God’s] tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of [His] wings” (Psalm 61:4) and this is best achieved through intimate prayer, worship and Bible reading times.

If you are not yet born again, please get started by praying this Prayer of Sincere Repentance. For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

God’s Peace be with you as you take refuge in Him!

Preparing For the Kingdom Ministry Team.