”Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.” – Psalm 71:3
Ladies, we love reading verses like this in the Bible, don’t we? These words are sweet to our souls. God is our rock, God is our refuge. We enjoy the sense of security that they infer. Today, I want to remind you that there is much more to our Refuge than just safety. The security we find in God should embolden us in powerful ways! Here are three points to keep in mind:
First, God as our rock. God gives us a sure foundation, he is our bedrock to stand on. Never shaken, never shifting, always solid. Once we are his, this rock is our home. It provides for us a surety for life, we no longer have to wade in sand or sink in the muck. It is a platform on which we can easily point to the gospel since Jesus Christ is truly the rock on which we stand. Just as Isaiah prophesied (Is. 28:16) and Jesus proved. “For it stands in Scripture: ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’” 1 Peter 2:6.
This solid foundation provides a position of insight (a place of enlightenment) and visibility (we can see the world for what it is). Though we are protected, all eyes will be on us. We are not sinking and struggling like those around us in the mud of the world; they will want to know why. We can point to our Rock.
Secondly, God as our fortress. An invisible fortress? Yes, for now, but that makes it that much more powerful. It is a spiritual fortress allowing us to love others without barriers. We are able to serve like Jesus did with our hands and feet yet always under guard of the Mighty King. So we can hug the lepers of society without a second thought. We can serve the sick and minister to the contaminated.
We are never out from under the protection and authority of God. Nothing can happen to us and no harm can come to us without his allowing it. He commands and we can obey without fear. It is no wonder his final words on earth were to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” with the reminder, “…behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19). He is our fortress.
Finally, knowing all of this causes us to proclaim the glories of God. In this same Psalm 71, after the lyrics of God being a refuge, rock and fortress it continues on with verses like this: “My praise is continually of you.” (v. 6b) and “My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day.” (V.8) Another gem is found in Psalm 73:28b, “I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” With understanding of who God is comes a verbalization to prove it. You can’t be surrounded by an awe-inspiring God without speaking of his awesomeness.
What better location than a rock-solid, unbreakable fortress to proclaim the good news from! It is no wonder God commands us to read his word so often; we need these reminders of our condition in him every day. It changes the way we look at each person and each event in our lives.
If we could comprehend the surety we have in Christ and the strength of the foundation of our God, nothing would stop us from proclaiming the gospel in this world. So let’s try to do just that and comprehend our God a little more each day by reading his Word. Becoming women with praise on our lips who boldly love those around us and serve with tenacity, all because we know our Rock will never fail. Our Refuge of safety is also our Source of gospel boldness.
I have recently made the discovery that I am not a very nice person. I’m not trying to be self-depreciating, I really am not as nice as I had hoped I was. Just ask my husband.
This past weekend Phil and I were teasing each other (as we often do) and he said, “You are so mean to me!” He was joking at the time, but I took the liberty of telling him how fortunate he was to have me and that I knew for a fact that I was VERY nice to him. If anyone was mean it had to be him. I proceeded to remind him of a good example (the first red flag was already waving in my head… I ignored it). As if he didn’t know the details already, I recounted them for him. I won’t do that here, but it had to do with my birthday, me being sick and dog puke. You can put the pieces together yourself. Other great examples flooded my brain, but that one seemed adequate enough to prove my point (red flag number two…ignored).
So after this discussion (which he took quite graciously and quietly) I decided to further demonstrate my incredible niceness throughout the rest of the evening. We were headed to Dubuque as a family and I figured this would be the perfect setting for the boys to see how nice I am to their father. What a great example I would prove to be and then Phil would have to eat his words – ha! (Red flag number three… ignored.)
Phil drove. Oh my. After biting my tongue several times I realized this was going to be harder than I thought. If only I had driven instead, it may not have proven such a challenge. We had been in Dubuque for less than an hour; my tongue was sore and I was tired of being silent. The reality finally hit me and I said, “I give up! You are right, I AM mean! I can’t hold it in any longer!” Phil, gracious again, just smiled and shook his head.
We laughed at the time, but it has been very humbling for me. I really didn’t realize how biting I was and how often! I was trying so hard to not be mean, I couldn’t speak. Unkind words so quickly came to my mouth that all I could do was try to block their exit. It was almost painful not to let them fly. Talk about an eye opener, the words from James 3:8 about the tongue come to mind, “It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” I had a taste of my own poison and it was awful.
The hard truth is that holding my tongue is important, but that isn’t the full discipline of taming the tongue. We don’t tame something (such as an animal) just to have it stay still and do nothing. We tame it to behave in a specific manner. One way our tongue needs to behave is given to us in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Stopping the hurtful words from coming out is not enough, the command is not to be silent. We are instructed to speak words of grace that build a person up. This is not something we can conjure up on our own. What was coming out of my mouth that night (and all too often everyday) demonstrates what is in my heart…and I am not pleased with myself. “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” Matthew 15:18.
My heart needs work…and I’m guessing yours does too. I may not know you, but I have talked to enough women to know that we often travel the same roads and experience the same struggles. How is your heart looking? Is your tongue burning and staining those around you (James 3:6)? I challenge you to examine your words for a single day. You may be quickly shocked like I was. I don’t say this to shame you, just the opposite. These written words of mine are meant to build you up and turn you to Christ; he is the only one who can do the work needed in your heart and mine. It is a process, but one we should be intentionally active in.
Ladies, our mouths should be fountains of life to those around us (Proverbs 10:11). Imagine what talking to each other would be like then! Imagine the growth of our relationships (including our marriages)! The results would be heavenly. I for one am in. Here is my simple prayer today and maybe it can be yours too: “Have your way in my heart, O Lord. Fill me with your Word so that I may overflow with your grace. Amen.”
We covered the Bible last week, so now let’s turn our attention to prayer. It may seem difficult to eek out “extra” time to pray each day, but is that really what God is calling us to anyway? The Bible tells us to “pray without ceasing,” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, that means non-stop. So instead of waiting for imaginary “free time” to come, we need to be praying in the midst of our full and active lives. To aim for this holy ideal (God’s standards are always perfect, anything less and he would not be God), we need to learn to make prayer a natural part of who we are, as much a part of our day as breathing. This is a vital factor in our relationship with God. Prayer helps us to practice and experience the closeness of having our loving Father with us at all times. This incredible access is granted to us only through the actions of Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 10:19-20). Here are some of my personal tips to encourage this life of prayer in women:
“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.” Psalm 145:18-19
Are you busy? Of course you are! And you always will be. There are no “calm” seasons of life so stop waiting for them – commit to reading the Bible. I am cheering for you; here are some of my personal tips to help you out: