Sunday, June 29, 2014

Shelter in the Storm

"Good morning!" Pastor Brad exclaimed with enthusiasm.

He stated that he's been living in the Psalms this summer, and this weekend we'll be looking at Psalm 91, about God as our refuge. It is in God's nature to want to provide a place of safety. God wants to be a refuge for you and for me.

Announcements/Life of the Church
1. Walt shared about the progress being made across the street. They've excavated where the building will go. Footings will be dug the week after the Fourth of July. A well will go in sometime in the next month. The week of the 27th of July the building will be delivered... pre-assembled. If all goes according to plan the building will be standing there in early August, on time and on budget.
Brad noted that there will be ample opportunity to contirbute sweat equity once the building is up.

2. Brooke ran forward to share highlights from VBS and thank everyone who helped make it happen. Then the children were invited forward to sing the theme song from this year's VBS experience with a lively musical accompaniment on video. "Jesus loves us... no one else could love us more, it's amazing.. Jesus' love is one of a kind; He loves us so much we're always on His mind."

Transitioning into the service we sang How Great Thou Art followed by the classic hymns Immortal Invisible and Holy, Holy, Holy.

The prayer time included praise and numerous prayer requests.

Shelter in the Time of Storm

Brad began by reading the wonderful Psalm 91.

I was thinking about the game "tag." One cool thing about the game is having a safety zone where you can rest and catch your breath before heading back into the chaos of the game again.

God wants us to experience a safety zone. In Old Testament times justice was harsh, "an eye for an eye." In the case of a murder, there would be appointed a blood avenger to settle the score. But what happens when an unintentional homicide occurs? God established six "cities of refuge" in Israel where people could find safety.

What about you? Is anyone here under stress right now? Does it sound like a gift to have a temporary shelter or refuge?

Brad shared about how on one of the last days of his snowmobile trip to the arctic he was exceedingly cold, bitterly cold clear through. In the middle of nowhere, at a place near Owl River, they came upon a cabin where they found shelter and renewed their strength.

He illustrated the concept by pointing out the safe harbors being created for boats on the North Shore. Also by sharing how a mother goose shelters her children when crossing a road while a car is coming.

After a time of shelter, when God lifts his wings, we feel a little stronger.

Cities of Refuge didn't mean too much for the average citizen of Israel, but when you need it, it is such a relief that this refuge is there.

"All who are oppressed may come to Him," the Psalmist writes.

Because we tend to be independent, self-sufficient people we don't always call out to God. We need to admit we need the City of Refuge or it is not going to help, even though God's shelter is available any time, anywhere.

Psalm 62:8 states:
Trust in him at all times, you people; 
pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Jeremiah was a man called to speak God's Word to Israel, but he was everywhere rejected, even beaten and worse. In Jeremiah 20 he finally pours out his heart to God, cursing the day he was born. This openness with God results in God drawing near and renewing his strength. In the end he praises God, and returns to the task for which he was called, even though he knew the people wouldn't listen the next day.

Brad shared his own struggles at times in trying to fulfill God's mission to our community, and how he himself has found refuge in God, and renewal.

The only way you can live above the line of despair is to learn how to find God's refuge.

Ultimately, there will be a final City of Refuge, that will be absolutely safe. No more loneliness, no more physical limitation... accessible through Christ and open to all. It's called Heaven. This is the heart of who God is...

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