“REFUGEES WANTED”                                         By Pastor YAU

Text: Psalm 62:5-8; Matthew 11:28                          October 8, 2006                      

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   Refugees or evacuees? In the aftermath of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of the southern United States, displaced families and individuals were often referred to in the media as “Refugees.” For some, this term was viewed as insulting, so it prompted reporters to scramble for another word that would not be perceived as negative. They decided on the word “evacuees.” In fact the word refugee is filled with hope and security. According to a dictionary, a refugee is “one who flees in search of refuge, a safe place, in time of war, political oppression or persecution.” Refugee comes from refuge which means safety, protection and care of the hurting. A refuge is a safe haven in this stormy world.

2)   A refuge for a king: The Scripture reference for today was written by the most successful and beloved king of Israel. But he wasn’t that successful or beloved in all of his life. Through out his life, King David had written more than 20 times in the Book of Psalms that he needed a refuge, a stronghold or a shelter to keep him safe from harm. With all the powers a king supposed to have, David was dismayed when he found out that those who ate on his table were in fact his enemies. (Psalm 41:9) Even one of his sons at one time was in pursuit of his life. Very few people, if in fact anyone, has lived a life without times of sorrow, failure, betrayal and fear. When life is at the center of a storm, the desperate cry for a refuge or a shelter is more than a real need but the only thing you need. When we are in search of a refuge, we are in fact refugees.

 

REFUGE NEEDED:

1)    You won’t know: When this message was being written, during the early week of September when America was in sad mood and reflection on the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, pictures and video replays refreshed our memories of that terrible day. We saw thousands of people scrambled aimlessly searching for a safe place to hide in the shadow of the crumbling buildings known as the WTC, the symbol of capitalism and financial power. No one who arrived at the building that morning would have any clue that it was the last day of their lives. We all want to see what the future may hold for us. But most of us just don’t look far enough for a real refuge when our day has come. No one knows when.

2)    You can’t hide:  In the speech at the memorial service after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush told the terrorists who had inflicted unparalleled suffering on this nation, “You can run but you can’t hide.” The same applies to all of us: we can run but we can’t hide from attacks be it from vicious people, nature disasters, serious health problems, career setbacks and many others we never ask but they find us out. No one is immune from storms of life because this world is never intended to be a paradise. Due to the effects of sin, this world is under condemnation and man will spend all the days of his life through painful toil. (Genesis 3:17) We can plan and save, we can exercise and eat right, we can pour out our hearts to people, we can be as nice as we know how, but no one can be sure that he won’t face the unpredictable. No one can hide.

3)    You can’t protect:  Protection is a popular word in today’s culture: from military might to intelligence, from financial security to the nation’s borders, from life insurance to healthcare, from civil  rights to investment, protection is in the mind of many people: we need to do something to protect our interests. While the idea of protection is nothing wrong, the fact is: there are times and things you can’t do anything to protect them: your life, your health, your job, the financial market, natural disasters such as hurricanes and the list can go a mile long. Yes, you can protect your family from financial crunch with a life insurance policy when you die but no one can protect his life from death with anything. You can do all you want to protect your job, your name, your children, your savings, but none of the above is truly under your control.

4)    You can’t win:  Those of you who know me in the past 14 years since my coming to this church in January 1993 that I am not a pessimistic person. My outlook of life is generally positive and upbeat. But to bury my head in the sand and being a blind optimist will not get things right. I have learned, often times the hard way, that there are times and things, more often than I want them to, I can do nothing to stop them or change them. Even though King David was strong enough and brave enough to kill a bear or a lion with his bare hands, (1 Samuel 17:34-35) he wasn’t strong enough nor brave enough to stand against his enemies or the storms of his life. That’s why he cried out to God for protection so many times in the Bible. He called God his refuge, his shelter, his rock, his stronghold in Him, and only in Him, he will not be shaken. (62:6) Never ever think that you can handle everything. There will be times you can fight, but you can’t win by yourself.

 

HOW STRONG IS YOUR REFUGE? When King David was in despair and deep trouble, he testified that he finds “rest in God alone” and his “hope comes from Him.” (62:5) But how did he come to this decision. Let’s look at how he described God as his invincible refuge: (62:6)

1)   God alone is his rock: King David was not talking about a small stone but a huge bedrock as the foundation on which he can build his life and everything else. Jesus echoed the importance of a rock in the building of life when he concluded his famous “Sermon on the Mount.” We all try to build our life on something we consider as strong and dependable. Where else can anyone find a stronger and more dependable foundation as God to build his life? When life is being threatened by storms, a foundation on the rock is all you need.

2)   God is his salvation:  Salvation here is not about eternal life but is about rescued to safety. Just as someone in a house on fire or in a stormy sea needs to be rescued to safety, David recognized God as the one who has the power to save him from serious trouble and destruction or death. Many of us who have real life experience will have no problem of knowing that life can be in a storm without any warning. When that happens, we need someone who has the power to save us from real and present danger. How often when we place our hope on people to save us from trouble just to find out either they are unable or unwilling. At that moment, you can always count on God to rescue you from whatever trouble you may be in.

3)   God is his fortress:  A fortress is a castle where protection is found. Before canons and bombs were invented, a fortress is the most sure thing of protection from enemies and harm. When David said God is his fortress, he was talking about being surrounded by protection only God can provide. Have you ever been in a situation where no one and nothing humanly possible can protect you from vicious smear, humiliation, lies and twisting of facts that you find yourself completely open and vulnerable. At a time like this, God is there to protect you like a fortress that no one can touch you or hurt you. As the song “Under His Wings” says, “I am safely abiding, though the night deepens and tempests are wild.” You are in good hands.

4)   God kept him unshaken: “Shaken” may mean many things from great fear to complete meltdown, from breaking up to shattering into pieces, from being swept away to being removed from original position. Whatever it may be in David’s situation, he claimed God as the ONE who kept him remained strong, unmovable and stead-fast. No one can find any other refuge better than God himself.

 

HOW TO FIND THAT REFUGE? Remember those who thought they found the refuge in the New Orleans Superdome when the city was under flood waters? The Superdome became a disaster and crime scene in just days. In time of desperation, it is very important that you find a real refuge to keep you safe and secured. But how do we find that refuge?

1)   You need to admit the fact: And the fact is you are a refugee and are in need of a refuge. To admit that you are a refugee is not an easy thing to do for some people, especially those who have so much pride and self confidence. But the fact is we all are refugees at one time or another when we face things we can’t do anything about them. This takes a lot of humility and being realistic: you are not all invincible and you are powerless and you need help. That is being honest and being honest is not that bad. Right?

2)   You need to seek a refuge:  This is the turning point that will lead to safety, transforming a thought into action to find a refuge. Many people never find any refuge and suffer great losses because they either too proud to admit their needs or too lazy or embarrassed to get out and find one. To admit your need is only the beginning. You won’t find a refuge if all you do is just sit there and cry. We all are responsible for our own safety and it is our responsibility to find help in time of needs. If you come to Him, He will never turn you away. (John 6:37)

3)   You have to trust God: Different people may look for different refuge, some are better than others. You need to trust God’s love, power and good will that He is able, willing and has your best interest in His heart when you come to Him for help. In Psalm 62, David repeatedly assured himself his trust in God to keep him safe, to provide his needs and to protect him from harm. God can’t do anything for you if you don’t trust Him, His love and His power. Jesus promised that “if you believe, you will receive.” (Mt. 21:22)

4)   You are in good hands: An insurance company uses this phrase in their commercial to promote business. It means they are being able, fair, helpful and trustworthy. But the only true good hands are the hands of God. He is a million time more and better than any one or any business. Once you are in God, the best refuge anyone can find, you don’t need to look this way or that way any more. King David said “My soul finds rest in God alone.” (62:1)

 

CONCLUSION:

1)    Do you need a refuge? Yes, you do, if not now, then one day. Be honest to yourself that you are not all powerful. Be humble to admit your needs, seek the real refuge for stormy days.

2)    Refugees wanted: This is the call from Jesus when He invited those who are weary and heavily burdened to come to Him and He will give them rest. (Matt. 11:28)

3)    Better than a refuge: Jesus told his disciples that he was gone to prepare a place for them and will come back to bring them to him one day. He was talking about heaven, the place the believers will spend eternity with God. Accept His call now and reserve for your soul in that eternal refuge.