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Friday, March 8, 2013

Florida gulf coast sunset (Lee Smucker)
Our friend Lee sent us this photo from the Florida coast.

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"The Refuge, The Mighty Cross"

"For You have been my refuge, a tower of strength against the enemy" (Psalm 61:3). "We who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us" (Hebrews 6:18b).

Church singingLast Sunday in our church we sang a hymn that stirs my heart every time I sing it, since I first learned it in my Bible School days. Today let's examine a wonderful phrase from the second verse: "points to the refuge, the mighty cross". I wonder how many of our readers can identify the hymn based on this single phrase? *

Marie Monson, missionary to ChinaMarie Monsen, who served in China, testified to the intervention of angels when Christians were in great danger. They had taken refuge in the mission compound only to be surrounded by looting soldiers and were astonished to find that they were left in peace. A few days later the hostile men explained that they were ready to break down the flimsy wall when they noticed tall soldiers with shining faces on a high roof in the compound. Marie Monsen wrote, "The heathen saw them, it was a testimony to them, but they were invisible to us."

Our experience may not be as dramatic as the supernatural intervention that took place at the Chinese mission compound, but today I want to consider an even more certain refuge that all can flee to for protection; the mighty cross.

Today's first Scripture text follows the passage we studied in yesterday's message. In the Old Testament the word for refuge is used both literally and figuratively. In the historical books it is usually used literally such as the "cities of refuge" that were established in Israel.

But in the Psalms the word is usually used in a spiritual sense such as in our first daily text. A refuge is "a place of safety, shelter or protection from danger or distress".
In his prayer to God the Psalmist proclaims, "For You have been my refuge."

Mighty CrossIn most Bible versions there is only one occurrence of refuge in the New Testament, found here in Hebrews 6:18, "We who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us."

Kenneth Wuest comments on this passage which "
speaks of the sinner fleeing for refuge from the penalty of sin, to the High Priest who has offered atonement for him and his sin. His only hope is in his High Priest, the Messiah."

Christ is our Refuge. We have already been carried into court, and at the trial we were found guilty. We were all sinners and all sentenced to die. As believers, we can run into our Refuge (cf "cities of refuge") where we are safe, for He Himself has paid the penalty for our sins on the Cross of Calvary.

Our refuge in Christ is a firm and eternal foundation!

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you, who for refuge, to Jesus  have fled?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You are a shelter in the time of storm and a refuge in the time of danger. You not only protect but You provide for our every need. The cross is our refuge where we flee from the penalty of sin and it is our provision for eternal life because we now approach the throne of grace through the righteous blood of Jesus the spotless Lamb. Because of that we can enter heaven's gates and forever worship the King of kings and Lord of lords. And it's all because of Jesus through whom we pray. Amen.

I am blessed by the way J.B. Phillips deals with our Hebrews passage (including context): "
So in this matter, God, wishing to show beyond doubt that His plan was unchangeable, confirmed it with an oath. So that by two utterly immutable things, the word of God and the oath of God, who cannot lie, we who are refugees from this dying world might have a source of strength, and might grasp the hope that He holds out to us. This hope we hold as the utterly reliable anchor for our souls, fixed in the very certainty of God Himself in Heaven, where Jesus has already entered on our behalf, having become, as we have seen, “High Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek”.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"How Firm A Foundation"  Video  Sovereign Grace Music

"O Mighty Cross"
 Video  Don Moen

"Mighty is the Power of the Cross"  Video   Chris Tomlin

"Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul"  Video   Indelible Grace

Yet gracious God, where shall I flee?
Thou art my only trust;
And still my soul would cleave to Thee,
Though prostrate in the dust.

* Grace Greater Than All Our Sin"  Video  Prestonwood Church (song starts at 1:30)

2nd verse:
Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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