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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Florida gulf coast sunset (Lee Smucker)
Florida Gulf Coast Sunset
(Lee Smucker)

"The Refuge Of The Cross"

Message summary: Our refuge in Christ is a firm and eternal foundation!

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"For You have been my refuge, a tower of strength against the enemy" (Psalm 61:3). "Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge" (Psalm 62:8). "We who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us" (Hebrews 6:18b).

Refugee camp
There is a lot of discussion and news concerning refugees. There are now refugees all around the world and the number could drastically increase. Refugee is defined as "a person who has been forced to leave their country to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster."

In a sense we are all refugees in need of refuge which is available to all who seek protection. If we have found such a refuge our hearts should be filled with gratitude. Many have not heard of the refuge, of which we write, and still others have rejected it since they see no need for it.

An old hymn we have enjoyed since our Bible College days is "Grace Greater Than Our Sin". We will be leading an afternoon service in a nursing home on Sunday and I've asked Brooksyne to include that in her list of hymns. Today let's examine a wonderful phrase from the second verse that proclaims how grace, "points to the refuge, the mighty cross".

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.

Yesterday we met 60 year old Steven, a temp worker at one of our companies, who, although similar in age to us, has lived a life very different than our own. A former thief, crack addict he found everlasting refuge in the mighty cross of Calvary only 14 years ago while in prison. He was excited to share his faith in Christ with us and a bit of his testimony, although we hope to hear more. He excitedly shared that one of his sons is now a preacher and the other is also in ministry. Our redeeming God does wondrous works once we give Him our hearts to reshape into fitting vessels for His glory, and it even spills over into our children's lives.

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 under the Law of Moses in Numbers 35.

But in the Psalms and prophetical books the word is more often used in a spiritual sense such as in our first two daily texts. 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 Cross In 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."

The Cross of 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. (Precept Austin commentary)

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' sacrifice on the cross and Your acceptance of His blood as the penalty for our sins. We give thanks to Jesus for being our refuge from sin and Your acceptance of His substitutionary death on our behalf. Amen.

List of passages using the word "refuge" in Bible.

Brooksyne at Your Heart's Delight 3/7/17
Yesterday we visited for the first time with the employees of "Your Heart's Delight", a company in Lebanon County, where we will be serving as chaplains. It is a large wholesale distributor of everyday and seasonal home decor including primitive home decor. We were warmly received by the employees and look forward to our opportunity to serve this company in extending care and spiritual support to those who work there. (I caught Brooksyne admiring this vintage green picnic basket that looks about 60 years old.)
"Your Hearts Delight"   History and Mission Statement

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Grace Greater Than Our Sin"  Video  
Traditional version

"Grace Greater Than Our Sin"  Video   Traditional version

"Grace Will Always Be Greater Than Sin"  Video 
The Hoppers

"Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul"  Video   Indelible Grace

"There is a Fountain and Before the Throne of God Above"  Video  Sovereign Grace Music

"Heavenly Sunlight"  Video  Homecoming singers  This song came to mind this morning with the bright, beautiful sunshine we are experiencing!

Further study:

Bible teacher David Guzik draws these parallels between this refuge of hope with the cities of refuge commanded by the Law of Moses, as described in Numbers 35.
  • Both Jesus and the cities of refuge are within easy reach of the person in need. The place of refuge is of no use if it can’t be reached.
  • Both Jesus and the cities of refuge are open to all, not just the Israelite. No one who comes to the place of refuge is turned away in time of need.
  • Both Jesus and the cities of refuge were places to live. In time of need, one never came to a city of refuge just to look around.
  • Both Jesus and the cities of refuge are the only alternative for the one in need. Without this refuge destruction is certain.
  • Both Jesus and the cities of refuge provide protection only within their boundaries. To go outside the provided refuge means death.
  • Both Jesus and the cities of refuge provided full freedom with the death of the High Priest.
  • However, there is a crucial distinction between Jesus and the cities of refuge. The cities of refuge only helped the innocent; the guilty can come to Jesus and find refuge.
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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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