All of us have a place that we feel safe and secure. For most of us, that’s probably our home… maybe our favorite chair or maybe a chair on our deck or in our screened-in back porch or our recliner. For some maybe it’s our bed.. but we all have a place that is our “safe spot”… or refuge. We love to go there or sit there when we are tired or, when we are experiencing anxiety.
Everyone needs a safe place or, a place of refuge.
The Bible says that Israel had cities of refuge. God instructed Joshua to designate cities of refuge. The purpose of these cities was, if anyone killed someone accidentally or unintentionally, they could run to the cities of refuge and be safe fro relatives seeking revenge. It was a place of refuge.
While they may not be designated as cities of refuge, the church should be a place of refuge…. it should be a place where anyone can go and find grace and help in time of need. We Christians should be people of refuge. We should be the type of person that an individual can go to and find someone who loves without judging. Someone who accepts them.
Today, join me and being a person of refuge… a person who doesn’t judge or condemn but instead, a person of love. That doesn’t mean we agree with everything someone does but, we can still love a person even if they have messed up. Let’s be people of refuge.
Procrastination means putting something off. It mean not acting on something today. And most, if not all of us, have been guilty of procrastination.
Maybe we put off till tomorrow beginning to exercise and lose weight.
Maybe we put off till tomorrow beginning a new project.
In the book of Joshua, the Bible tells us that after some of the land had been given to the people, there remained seven tribes that hadn’t taken their land. Joshua called the entire nation together at Shiloh and he asked the seven tribes who hadn’t claimed their land, “How long are you going to wait before taking possession of the remaining land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given to you?”
Focus on the words… “how long are you going to wait?” Joshua was speaking to Israel and asking them “how long they intended to wait to take their land?”
But, the Lord could be speaking to us and asking, “How long are you going to wait, Christian?”
“How long are you going to wait to talk to the person you offended and make that relationship right?”
“How long are you going to wait to witness to that person who has been on your mind?”
“How long are you going to wait to go see that elderly person that has been on your mind?”
“How are you going to wait… to begin tithing?… serving?…. to find a church?….
Someone reading this is procrastinating. Someone reading this has been planning to do something but they keep putting it off. Maybe you are putting it off because it’s going to be painful and you are avoiding the pain. Maybe you are putting it off because you are afraid of making a commitment?
In the book of Exodus, one of the plagues God sent on Israel was the plague of frogs. When the frogs covered the land, Pharoah called Moses and told him to stop the plague.
Moses said, “Ok, when do you want it stopped?”
Pharoah replied, “Tomorrow.”
So, the entire land of Egypt had to live another night with the frogs because Pharoah procrastinated.
Don’t continue to put something off that you should have done some time ago.
Don’t wait another day.
Criticism… even constructive criticism… is something none of us really ike to hear. Someone may approach us and ask, “Can I give you some constructive criticism?” and we may cringe inside and reply somewhat hesitantly… “O…k..”
So, we brace ourselves for what we are about to receive.
But, we all, at times, need constructive criticism. Proverbs 13:10 says, “Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.”
Think about those words… “..those who take advice are wise.” Now, there may be times when we are at out wits end and someone sees that and says, “Can I give you some advice?” and we reply, “By all mean… yes!” Because we really need advice… But, most of us… if we’re honest…. most of the time.. we cringe a little at advice. We aren’t sure what we are about to hear and we are kind of preparing ourselves for what we anticipate will be tough words.
But, advice can be good. None of us are perfect. None of us possess all knowledge. So there are times when we need advice.
Maybe someone has approached you recently and offered some advice but, you have resisted it. Maybe you have too much pride to admit you need help. Don’t resist advice. Be open to it. Receiving advice does not mean you are any less of a person. In fact, the opposite is true; receiving advice means you are strong enough and mature enough to admit that you need help
A wise old Pastor once told me, “when people gave me criticism, I would pray, ‘Ok, Lord; what part of this do I need to receive… help me receive what I need and toss the rest away.'” That’s great counsel.
So, if someone has offered you advice and you have resisted because you thought it made you look weak, be open to it. All of us need direction and advice at times. It will help us and make us stronger.
What’s wrong with America? Some would say it’s the Republicans! Others would say it’s the Democrats. And while there may be some truth there, the problem is deeper.
Actually the problem is me and you; the people of God. Christians need revival. Psalms 85:6 says, “Won’t you revive us again, so your people can rejoice in you?”
Notice the Psalmist said, “Won’t you revive US again…” The Psalmist didnt say revive THEM but instead, he said revive “us.”
In II Chronicles 7:14, verses we use frequently regarding revival, the Bible says, If MY people who are called by MY name, will humble themselves and seek My face, I will hear from heaven and forgive their sins.”
So, revival is for us. Christian, what is your walk with the Lord like? Do you have a strong walk with the Lord or, are you drifting? We desperately need revival in America. We need spiritual awakening. You might ask, “Why do you say that? Why do you think we need revival?”
When worship attendance has declined and many Christians are not faithful to worship, Christians need revival.
When Christians are judging others and being mean spirited, Christians need revival.
When we are not winning as many people as we should to Christ, we need revival.
I believe that America must experience of revival. We must love and help our fellow man more. We must share the love of Jesus more. God is not Republican or Democrat. Join with me in praying that God will revive us again.
Today is Sunday… a day of worship. And, part of my Bible reading this morning is this verse; “A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else…I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.” These are great verses!
Think about them… “A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else!” Obviously, the Psalmist loved going to the house of God…. the Psalmist looked forward to going to the house of God. But is that true today?
Across the country, worship attendance is declining. Some people are watching worship live-streaming on the internet. Some watch it on television. Some, aren’t interested. They do not attend worship.
I want to focus on Christians in this post… if you are a Christian and you don’t want to attend church, why is that? I mean, we should be, ideally, like the Psalmist… “better is one day in your house than a thousand elsewhere.”
Some may not attend church because they have been hurt by church or Christians. Someone said something that hurt them or did something and they are sitting out. They still believe in God. They may even watch worship at home… but they aren’t attending a gathering. They have been hurt and they are not going to put themselves in that position again.
Some, maybe, don’t care for the Pastor or Musician. Ok, if you fall in this category… find another church. Don’t sit at home. You may not care for one man but there are others out there. Go find another church.
Some may be dealing with depression. They don’t want to go to church because their spirit is low.
Some may not care for the music. Maybe they like traditional hymns and today’s worship has more contemporary music. And, there could be other reasons.
Whatever your reason is, I encourage you to worship. Maybe if you were honest you might say, “Man, I wish I could agree with the Psalmist… better is one day in your courts… But I just don’t have that kind of enthusiasm.” Ok, maybe you are going through a tough patch. But try to get up and go worship. I think you will be glad that you did.
God loves us and will forgive us if we repent and ask but, God will not bless us if we are harboring sin in our lives. An example of that is the story of Achan in the book of Joshua.
God led Joshua to lead Israel to attack the city of Ai. Israel had just captured Jericho. Ai was a small city and Joshua didn’t think it would take much to defeat it. What Joshua didn’t know at the time, was that one of his men was harboring sin.
Achan had taken some things under the ban during the defeat of Jericho. Achan knew it was wrong but he did it any way. Achan didn’t think God or anyone would know what he did. But he was wrong; God sees an knows everything.
So, when Israel went to battle against Ai, because there was sin in the camp, God allowed Ai to defeat Israel.
So, Joshua and his men got back to camp and Joshua poured his heart out before the lord. God told Joshua there was sin in the camp and that was why Israel was defeated. God told Joshua to deal with the sin in the camp. So, Joshua brought Israel before him and Achan admitted he had taken some things under the ban.
Hearing this, Joshua referred to Israel as, “you troubler of Israel.” Then, Achan was stoned.
We can say that Achan shouldn’t have harbored sin and we would be correct but, most of us have done the same. Maybe we are currently harboring sin in our lives. God loves us and God will forgive us but God is not going to bless us as long as we are hanging onto sin.
Is there unconfessed sin in your life? Do you have a habit that you know is not Godly but you are hanging onto it? Is there someone that you need to grant forgiveness? Is there someone that you need to go to talk to? Are you tithing?
Sin put God’s Son on the cross. Sin took Jesus’ life. God is not going to honor sin in our lives.
You may think, “Well no one knows.” And, most if not all people may not know but thats not the point. God knows and that’s all that matters.
Today if there is unconfessed sin in your life, repent of it, kneel before the Father and ask forgiveness. The Bible says God will forgive you.
Have you ever done something that you are embarrassed by? Ashamed of? I have. I’m guessing many others have as well.
Maybe it was a crazy night in High School or College or, perhaps you did something as an adult that you are ashamed of. Ashamed of something means we know we were wrong and honestly, we would rather not talk about what we did.
In the book of Joshua, there is a time when God tells Joshua to circumcise the men of Israel. They were about to take the city of Jericho but many of the men had never been circumcised so, God tells Joshua, to circumcise them.
Then, the Lord said to Joshua, ““Today I have rolled away the shame of your slavery in Egypt.” So that place has been called Gilgal to this day…”
Notice Joshua says, “I have rolled away your shame of your slavery in Egypt…”
“I have rolled away your shame…” You may think, “I wish my shame could be rolled away. I did some stupid stuff.” Well, the good news is, your shame can be rolled away.
When Jesus died on the cross, He took our sin on His body. He died for our sin… He paid the price for our sin.. And when He paid the price for it, He rolled our shame away.
Now when we stand before the Lord, the Lord doesn’t see our shame.. our sin.. He sees the blood of His Son who rolls away our shame.
So, if there are some things in your life that you are ashamed of… Jesus blood covers your shame. You don’t have to be ashamed anymore… Jesus blood Has rolled away your shame.