Finding a Safe Place
When watching the scenes of Egypt on television, it breaks my heart to see the turmoil and despair. The temperatures in central Texas right now are lower than they have been in years. Snow is predicted in the forecast. When I arrive at a destination, I run out of my truck and am so thankful for warm shelter. The last few days, I have been so grateful for a country that has so much peace and physical shelter. There are multiple places to find safety. There is not an absence of destruction in America, however, there seems to be places to find shelter when needed.
But, what about a safe place from the fear of failure, job insecurity, broken hearts, unknown future, rejection of peers, the list goes on and on? To me, it seems like Americans’ biggest fear is the fear of others thinking negatively of us. So many of us are bound to the opinions of others and ‘what if I fail, what will they think’. Most of us are not concerned that we won’t have shelter in the cold weather or that we won’t have enough to eat tomorrow. We have been blessed so richly in our ‘needs’, that now the devil’s playground is our ‘wants’. What if we lose our ‘wants’. We want to be accepted, we want to be comfortable, we want to be well off, we want to be the biggest and best, we want to be better than…,
What is worse? Someone worrying about not having enough food and clean water to survive OR someone worrying that they will not be able to pay the mortgage this month?
Aren’t both a sin?
Jesus said let tomorrow worry about itself. If God clothed the flowers, then won’t he take care of you?
When you worry, you are putting faith in yourself and not God. Thus, you don’t trust Him. You don’t believe that He is able to provide and/or you don’t believe that He wants to provide.
Our solution is not to ‘stop worrying’. Our solution is found in scripture.
Psalm 46: 1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Notice how the writer does NOT say that problems, spooky things, dangerous situations or anything else bad would not happen to PROVE that our God is the all powerful God. What he says is that even if all these things do happen…massive earthquakes, mudslides, bankruptcy, divorce, etc HE would be with us and that there is a RIVER that will over power you. The same river is referenced by Ezekiel in chapter 47 and Jesus in John ch 7. I want to be in the flow of God’s RIVER! I want to live in the RIVER of God. Lets keep reading…
Psalm 18:2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 61:2 from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I,3 for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.
Psalm 144:1 Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;2 he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.
Psalm 27:5 For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.
Those passages are truth. They are written by someone who heard clearly from God and knew God intimately. I want to live in that safe place and not be concerned with ‘not enough’ whatever. I want to be in that safe place where God protects and provides!
How do New Testament Gentiles get to that place of safety? Let’s read from 1 John.
1 John 3:18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
This means that saying something doesn’t mean jack squat unless you really mean it. Frankly, I am tired of people saying that Christianity is about saying things as if when you say it, magic happens. All you have to do is say the needed phrase or the right combination of words and you will have power. If you have no idea of what I’m talking about, then disregard this paragraph or remember it for the future, when you hear that concept taught.
On the other hand, when you BELIEVE something in your heart, you must speak on it! You will speak on it. I believe it is impossible to truly believe and place faith in something and not speak about it and live it out in your everyday life.
Notice the final statements of this text. Whoever KEEPS (God’s) commandments (believing in Jesus’ name and loving people)will ABIDE in God and God will ABIDE with us. This is the ‘shelter’, ROCK, refuge, talked about in the Psalms. How do we know when we are under the rock that is ‘higher than I’? His Holy Ghost reveals it to us! God’s Holy Spirit resides in believers (remember, people who actually believe, not people who say they believe, go to church or say they are a Christian).
We need to evaluate ourselves.
1. Am I in a safe place? A place free from worry. A place of confidence in God. A place where I am not relying on self. A place where I will inherit eternal life?
2. Do I believe in the power of the name of Jesus?
3. Do I love people? (not do I SAY I love people, but do I actually have works behind the love?
When you are able to say yes to questions 2 and 3, then you will be able to say yes to question 1.
If you are unable to say yes to #2, then you need to meet Jesus. Read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Get with a pastor and mentor that can lead you through the teachings of Jesus. After you start to understand Jesus and what His life is all about, then the Holy Spirit will start convicting you of your sin. You will not be able to follow Jesus and accept Him and still be comfortable in your lifestyle of sin. That is where the power of forgiveness comes from Jesus Christ. You will start repenting of your sin and your life will begin its 180 degree turn from its previous lifestyle to its new holy one. When you are forgiven, you find peace. In that peace, you start to understand the power of the name of Jesus (1 John 3:23). You love the name Jesus Christ, and you worship the name of Jesus Christ because you experienced the power of Jesus in your own life transformation. It is real to you and Jesus is your personal savior because He personally and specifically saved you. You know it. You appreciate it. You have lived it. That is why you love and honor His name. (not because someone explained His name to you).
Once you have this appreciation and understanding of Jesus Christ, then you want to share Him with others. His Blood forgave you and His Spirit regenerated you. We begin to love our neighbors. We care for them. We see them through the eyes of Christ. We serve them as Christ served when He walked on the earth. We relate to them because we have a desire or burden for them to have the same experience that we had. We want them to know God like we know God. We, patiently, live side by side with them offering to meet needs and speaking truth when the time is right.
At this point we love and honor the name of Jesus Christ and we love our neighbor. At this point, we are in a safe place. Our deepest cares and concerns are completely unrelated to the physical world or our pleasure. What grieves us is what grieves God. What pleases us is what pleases God. This is the place of refuge. God will always protect us in this place. He will always give us joy in this place.
It is possible to leave this place. Notice, John says ‘whoever keeps’. This means that some will start and then stop, and some will start and continue.
ok, this is my longest blog of all time… I must stop now.
Posted on February 3, 2011, in Daily Word, theology and tagged 1 john 3:18, buda, hide under rock, kyle, promiseland, psalm 46:1, robin steele, safe place, safety, san marcos, texas. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.
I think the statement: “We have been blessed so richly in our ‘needs’, that now the devil’s playground is our ‘wants’.” hit me like a brick upside the head. What an accurate summation of our present condition–and the heart wrenching way I can be grateful and yet afflicted by such blessing. Wow. Will be sharing this post for sure!
Wow, my heart is heavy,I feel his spirit, I just read this all to Eldon He saids you steped on all our toes. Preach it pastor… Now I just want to bow my head and cry. As I ask my self do I do all for God like I think I do? This was great pastor.
You nailed it Pastor, great post.. Your statement: “Our deepest cares and concerns are completely unrelated to the physical world or our pleasure. What grieves us is what grieves God. What pleases us is what pleases God.” is the crux of the matter. This safe place is the “peace that passes all understanding”, and is only found when our reason to exist is focused on the Kingdom of Heaven. If we live for this present world we are no different from the billions of other humans who walk the earth. Acts 17:28 says “ For in Him we live, and move, and have our being”, and if we do that, the safe place is ever present.
Hi, Pastor. First of all, want to mention that I tuned in on your 1st Wednesday evening service with Rav David speaking ( as invited by my good friend Wynnel) and enjoyed the entire service very much.
I also enjoyed reading this posted message. It certainly is timely. I particularly liked “…now the devil’s playground is our “wants”…powerful and thought provoking.
Thank you. caroline cappiello
such a wonderful post. such words of inpiration and encouragement for our souls.