“Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come…”
(Psalm 71:3a)

Reading from the Psalms today I was reminded of playing tag when I was young.  There were all sorts of creative ways to play this simple game, from “Freeze Tag” to “Toilet Tag,” all with the basic premise: someone is “It,” and you don’t want them to “Tag” you.

solodistractionp1

Of course, playing tag usually always ended with an argument about who was actually “It,” who got tagged, and who was still in the game.  But nothing, NOTHING, induced more arguments than “Base.”  The premise of base is as simple as the game of Tag itself. Base is a safe place you can run to where you cannot be tagged.  The problem with base, though, was that it’s boundaries, or it’s very existence, was always in contention.  Still, if there was a “Base” in Tag, that’s where you wanted to be, and where you fought hard to return.

How did I get there from the Psalms?

In Psalm 71, the Psalmist is pleading with the Lord for a place of refuge.  We don’t know the particular details that led to the Psalm, but from a surface reading it is clear that it is the prayer of a follower of the Lord who is being persecuted by wicked, unjust, and cruel men (Psalm 71:4). But the psalmist isn’t seeking a fortress or base built by man – He is asking to take refuge in God himself.

We might ask, “how could God be his refuge?”  Maybe the better question would be, “what else could be his refuge?”  When the accusations come from those who would seek us harm, what can save?  When the doubts and fears rise to keep us from trusting and resting in the Lord, what do we need to hear?  Only God can deliver us from the enemy without and the enemy within.

Only God has defeated our accuser, Satan, who would heap our sin and shame upon our heads so that we would lose all hope of following in the ways of the Lord.  In his death upon the cross, Jesus has delivered us from the guilt and wrath of our sins, and has restored us to a righteous relationship with God, so that we are called the sons of God (1 John 3:1).  When those accusations rise, we are led to the rock that is higher than we are, we find Christ himself is our refuge and peace.

Only God is our refuge when doubts arise.  Struggling with doubt is like standing on the shore; with every crashing wave you sink deeper into the sand.

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But when we stand firm in our faith in God, our feet are on solid ground.  His word is true and never changing.  He is more unmoving than Gibraltar, mightier than Everest, stronger than diamonds.

The psalmist prayer was that he would find his refuge in the Lord, and that he could continually return to him.  The first solution to every tech problem is to restart the computer – to return it to its starting point.  The goal of every player in baseball is to get back to home base.  The security of every believer is to keep coming back home.

You are never too far to return to the refuge of Jesus.  Turn, repent, come round again, until you find your resting place in him. Trust Him to be your salvation, to be the Rock of Ages upon which you stand!

SDG

P.S. As I wrote this today, I was listening to the Reformation Network Broadcast, and just I finished writing, this song came on the radio. Click on the link below for a treat. Enjoy!

My God is a Rock

Hold Fast…

“Hold Fast to What is Good…”
(Rom 12:9)

There are days when we have more questions than answers; more doubts than assurances.

  • Wondering why the wicked prosper and the righteous struggle through the day.
  • Wondering how God will provide when there’s more month than money.
  • Wondering if that prayer for healing, for peace, for assurance will ever be answered.
  • Wondering what meaning could possibly be found in the midst of this trial and suffering.

Questions and doubts like these have the potential to rob us of our comfort and peace in believing.  We struggle in that “dark night of the soul,” grasping to something, anything, that will bring us through.

This is why the Spirit teaches us to “Hold fast to what is good” (Rom 12:9).  Like a survivor of a shipwreck who clings to the life preserver, we must hold fast to that which is certain to bring us through to salvation. This term “hold fast” is the same term that Scripture uses in describing marriage, “He shall leave his father and mother, and hold fast to his wife” (Gen 2:24).  It’s not simply a desperate grasping at straws, hoping to find something to hold on to, but rather it is coming back to the assurance that comes with God’s covenant promise.  Hold fast, rest in, the goodness of the promise.

So, briefly, what is this good to which we are to hold fast in the midst of our doubts and troubles?  Let me offer three “goods” that Scripture calls us to hold on to.

Hold fast to the truth.

One of my favorite passages from the preliminary statements of the Book of Church Order in the PCA (I know, that phrase scores high on the geek scale), is this:

“That truth is in order to goodness; and a great touchstone of truth, its tendency to promote holiness; according to our Savior’s rule, “by their fruits ye shall know them.” And that no opinion can be either more pernicious or more absurd than that which brings truth and falsehood upon a level, and represents it as of no consequence what a man’s opinions are. On the contrary, we are persuaded that there is an inseparable connection between faith and practice, truth and duty. Otherwise it would be of no consequence either to discover truth or to embrace it.”

Can we not say that we live in a day when truth and falsehood are presented as equal? When we are unable to say which bathroom a person ought to use without being labeled a “hate-monger,” and a Harvard law professor tells his students that Evangelical Christians should be treated like Nazi criminals; I’d say its time for us to hold fast to the truth.

Where do we find that truth?  In the word of God.  Jesus said that those who are the good soil are those who, “hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15).  Paul says we are to “hold fast to the word of life (Philippians 2:16). 1 Thessalonians 5:21 teaches us to test everything and hold fast to the truth. When someone comes along claiming to know the truth, test it against the Word of God. When troubles come and cause you to doubt, test them against the Word of God.  Hold fast to the truth of God’s Word.

Hold fast to hope.

Not only are we to hold on to the truth, but we must remain in that truth with hopefulness.  Holding fast to truth without hope can result in a rather dour and pessimistic outlook on life.  But faith is both truth and hopefulness.  I remember reading somewhere that Biblical hope is not an uncertain desire, it is a confident expectation.  When we are established in the truth of God’s Word, and rest in His promises, we have a confident expectation that His Word and His promise are true and will be fulfilled.

This is what Hebrews 10:23 teaches, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”  So hold fast to the hopeful expectation of God’s goodness and mercy, for this hope “does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).

Hold fast to Christ.

Ultimately, the truth and the hope to which we must hold fast is found in Jesus Christ.  In Him alone is the truth, and in Him alone is the fulfillment of every promise of God. Christ is the Word of God incarnate, the living embodiment of God’s truth. He is God’s “Yes” and “Amen,” the faithful and true witness.  He is the “hope of the world” (Matt. 12:21), and in Him “will the Gentiles put their hope” (Rom 5:12).

In the midst of the doubts and questions, the troubles and the fears, hold fast to that which is good; hold fast to Christ.

SDG