Our City of Refuge

Buried in the Old Testament is the idea of Cities of Refuge.

They speak profoundly to our situation and bring real hope for us who struggle so. Six places of safety were given to protect those who accidentally killed another person— may be an ax-head flew and hit someone, and they died as a result.

God told Joshua to establish cities of protection where one could be safe from an avenger. There were six of them, three on the east side of the Jordan river, and three on the west. The cities were pretty much covering Israel; each was spread out intentionally so they were always close. That city became a place of asylum for those guilty of manslaughter.

For us as believers, we know that we’ve committed crimes against God and other people. The burden we carry threatens to undo us. Satan (and his minions) want to destroy us—and honestly, we deserve it. We are essentially ‘criminals’ who have hurt others, and damaged ourselves in the process.

Outside of the city, we’re vulnerable—but inside those walls we find safety.

Those who have killed others are protected. If we venture outside, we find our adversary who is waiting. Scripture tells us that we must stay cloistered there until the current high priest died. Upon his death, we’re released and may leave the city walls.

For broken believers, the whole concept rings true.

The text speaks for itself, and there is spiritual logic in all of this. We see parallels here that speak to our condition. We’ve messed up big time. We also carry issues that the enemy can attack. Depression, bipolar, trauma, and even thoughts of committing suicide—they are a real part of our lives.

I must tell you that safety is found in only place.

Finding God and abiding in him is our place of safety. His walls protect us, Jesus is our high priest, who never dies; that means we need to stay with him, permanently. I like Hebrews 6:18, LB:

“Now all those who flee to him to save them can take new courage when they hear such assurances from God; now they can know without a doubt that he will give them the salvation he has promised them.”

For us especially, we often have problems with the doctrine of assurance of salvation. Our enemy works overtime to accuse us (Rev.12:10). We’re his targets and the lies of many demons assault us. We can, at times, wonder if we’re really saved. We wonder if we are really forgiven, and we doubt our salvation. Satan’s efforts can be constant and crippling.

I encourage you to think this over and pray about this. Numbers 35 is a good place to start. That chapter is pretty clear. Look also at Exodus 21:13-14; Joshua 20:1-6; Deuteronomy 19:2-13.

The Sea of Galilee ‘Crash’ Course, 101

A Crash Course in Trust

When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

(Mark 4:39-40, NLT)

There He is, sleeping on a pillow, seemingly unaware of the danger that the disciples were facing. They’re suddenly in the middle of a cyclonic fury–a ‘bomb’ of wind and waves that is bursting into their tiny little boat. The twelve had never seen waves so high, or a storm rise up so fast.. At least four were seasoned fisherman, and they knew how to handle a boat. But this storm was way beyond anything they’ve ever faced before.

Maybe it was over crowded; the dimensions of the boat would’ve been around 25-30 feet long, and maybe 7-8 feet wide, more or less, and a single mast. The twelve crowded in, while the four fisherman handled the sail and the rudders. Jesus found His place in the stern. It had been a long full day, and everyone expected a restful crossing. The break would be welcomed.

Why do we doubt? Being unsure and uncertain is a very human quality, especially when everything has gone haywire. Things have turned out really rotten, and now the situation is starting to look even more grim. Our response varies–from mild concern to outright panic. We honestly never know what to expect or how to react. Small things look big. Big things look small.

To put it mildly, the disciples in the storm are scared out of their wits. They’re completely overwhelmed by the possibility of drowning. They are now fighting to stay alive. The waves are getting higher and higher, and the boat ‘groans’ like it wants to fall apart. They pitch up and down, twisting like some wacky ‘roller-coaster’ ride!

“As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 

(Mark 4:35)

Never do they think that Jesus had declared that their destination was across the lake, and certainly not beneath it! But now where is Jesus? Twenty-eight eyes look to the very back of the boat. “Wake Him up, we’re all going to drown.” Funny how we are sometimes. Things are going nuts and we’re starting to come apart. Yet we wait to the last possible moment and seldom consider that Jesus has been in our “boat” all along.

Important idea: When Jesus stands up, and speaks to the wind and waves, He will use the same word as when He freed the demoniac, just a few verses later!

“Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

(Matthew 28:20)

I am with you always” is the promise given to each believer. Consider dear one, Jesus has chosen to stay with us and bring His supernatural touch directly into our storm. He will always make an appearance to all who are His. He is “responsible” for you. His intention is to bring you to the other side. His very honor is at stake! (Phil. 1:6). He fully believes He can grow your faith. (Heb. 11:6).

Life can fall apart on us very fast, I know first-hand. And it seems like it’s ‘doubly dangerous’ for those struggling with depression or disability. It’s like we have extra weights put on us, and when you’re barely “treading water,” that really isn’t good. Not only do we have these heavy burdens on us, but we must survive this horrendous storm. (The waves can get massive, and our boat is very small.)

“While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost.”

(John 17:12) 

The disciples called out to Jesus, and that is all they had to do. The rest belonged to their Lord. Obviously the disciples had zero ability to ‘halt’ their storm. But when they finally summoned Jesus, they became mere ‘spectators.’ All they did was watch as God move, and they simply sat still in amazement. (1 Samuel 12:16). He did all of the ‘work.’

What is going on in your life? Storms will always come, one way or another. These five should help:

  • He has promised to bring us to the other side, no debate here
  • He is in our boat, and superintends every storm we face
  • He understands our limitations, our weaknesses, our griefs, what saddens us
  • He has all authority and power, He does what He wants, whenever He wants
  • He teaches us to be faithful disciples, and it seems we understand our ‘voyage’ better

We maybe the broken, but perhaps that makes it easier to understand?

With Jesus in my boat,

Bryan

commentsbb@yahoo.com

Safe Haven

This poem is written in the Triolet form. I really love this form because it has the perfect amount of repetition, with lines 1, 4, and 7 being the same, and then lines 2 and 8 being the same. I have found that the Triolet is well suited to Christian poetry.

Safe Haven

This life is hard and treacherous
It’s no place to go it alone
The only safe haven is Jesus
This life is hard and treacherous

Our  Emmanuel, God with us
Will never forsake or leave us
This life is hard and treacherous
It’s no place to go it alone

I hope this poem serves as a reminder to the reader that you don’t have to navigate the treacherous waters of this life alone. Jesus wants to walk by your side, to carry you if need be, and bring you safely to the other side of Jordan. Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV).

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