A Trustworthy Refuge
How often have you had to flee to God for refuge from the pressures, troubles, and problems in your life?
Alright, thank you very much. Always nice to be put on the air with a friendly voice, I appreciate it. I remember back in the 1930s when I was on the air live every day at 7:00 in the morning from a little station in Philadelphia, the announcer was hungover one morning, and he forgot to shut off his mic after he put me on the air, and he says, “That’ll hold him.” [chuckle] Well, hello, radio friends. How in the world are you? Doing all right? Why, I’m fine, thank you. Happy in the Lord.
Come with me now to 1 Timothy, chapter four, we’re in verse 10. “For therefore,” Paul says, “We both labor and suffer reproach because we trust in the living God who is the Savior of all, especially those that believe.” Now we talked about the word “labor,” which is a rolled-up sleeves kind of a word. God doesn’t save you to sit around and sing yourself into sanctified senility. Jesus said, “Occupy ’til I come. Stay on the job.” It’s always too soon to quit, it’s always too soon to back off. When you’re in God’s work, you keep going until the job is finished or you are. Always remember that. If you’re tempted to quit on something today, just remember that the reason for working for the Lord is that He’s your Savior. He’s your Savior.
Exercise yourself unto Godliness because Godliness pays off, and He said that’s the reason that we work at it. Pay day is coming one of these days, and God is going to even out all of the inequities of this life. And your reward, Jesus said, “Great is your reward in Heaven.”
I get a little irritated with people who declaim against the concept of thinking about Heaven. They say, “Oh, pie in the sky, by and by, and so on. I want mine now.” You’ve heard that, haven’t you? Just remember that the Lord Jesus Christ, who never made a mistake, said that if you are true to Him, and you do His will and you work at His commissioned tasks, He says, “Great is your reward. Behold I come quickly and my reward is with me to give to every man according as his work shall be.” It’s not what you’re talking about, it’s what you’re getting done that counts. So He said we labor.
Then, of course, He said we suffer reproach. There is what Paul called the reproach of the cross. It is impossible to dignify the Gospel to the heathen mind and heart. It is a reproach. I remember the man who when Roy McEwen and I were talking with him years ago, a newspaper executive he was. And we had visited him on a Saturday morning in his office, and Roy had been speaking with him before, concerning the things of God.
And now, real soul winner that he is, Roy spoke directly to him concerning the Lord Jesus. And after a brief pause he said, calling the man by name, he said, “Would you open your heart to Christ now and trust Him as your Savior?” And he looked at us for a moment and then swung around in his big swivel chair and looked out the window for a long time.
Finally he turned back to us, he said, “No, boys, no dice, the deal’s off. I don’t want to do that.” Well, I thought, I guess I can’t do any harm if I ask a question, and so very gently I said, “Would it be that as you sat there looking out the window you thought, ‘Why should I humble myself and get down and ask God to forgive me and save me when I’m such a nice fellow?'” See, because he was a real do gooder. He was active in all sorts of public affairs and the chairman of half a dozen charities, a very fine person, really.
And so I asked him, I said, “Did you make the decision because you thought to yourself, ‘Why should I do that when I’m such a good guy, such a nice fellow?'” And he looked at me and smiled. He said, and he used profanity, I won’t do that now. I don’t have to, do I? [chuckle] But he said with profanity, “You’re right. I am a good guy.” See? That’s the reproach of the cross. Why should I get down and ask for mercy when I’m a good man? I’m all right.
Oh, I have some faults, but I’m not as bad as that bum down the street. That’s the problem that you face with human nature, the reproach of the cross. But when the blessed Holy Spirit of God is working through you, and the heart in which He’s working is receptive, there comes the conviction of sin and need, and the individual is indeed willing then to say, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner, and save me now for Jesus’ sake.” That’s happened to many, hasn’t it?
Well, the reproach of the cross, don’t flinch at it. And don’t try to dignify your Gospel by gussying it up and dressing it up so that it’ll be acceptable to the heathen world around you. You don’t have to do that. “We preach Christ crucified,” said the Apostle Paul. “A scandal to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks. But to us who believe Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
Are you willing to be identified as a real born again Christian and in the process stand up to the jests, and the gibes, and the snubs that come your way because you belong to Jesus? Paul said, “If we suffer with Him, we should also reign with Him.” And of course, I have to tell you that you and I don’t really know the meaning of the word suffer when it comes to trusting Jesus. Yes, you’re under pressure and, yes, you get snubbed and yes, even you may get passed up for a promotion on the job because you’re a Christian. And some of you dear ones live in homes where you’re physically abused by an unbelieving husband or wife or children and you say, “Boy, this is rough,” and I agree it is.
But look around you, in other parts of the world. You’ll find in some parts of the world mass graves where there’ll be maybe up to 600 bodies of people who were shot dead by godless foes for the simple crime of possessing either a songbook or a Bible. You and I haven’t really suffered all that much for Jesus when it comes down to it. But the fact remains, it hurts when you’re snubbed. It hurts when people lie about you. It hurts when they laugh at you and scoff at your Savior. I know that. Just remember, this is part of the territory.
It goes with the territory. We both labor and suffer reproach. Why? Because we trust in the living God. The word “trust” here is a good word. It’s a Greek verb, “elpizo,” and it has a number of different uses in the Bible, as well as in classical Greek. It means to flee for refuge to somebody.
Well, I’ll tell you, that certainly rings a bell in my own heart. How often you and I have had to flee to God for refuge from the pressures and troubles and problems of our own life. Isn’t it true? We trust, means we run to Him. God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. And this word, trust, also means to direct your hope in a certain direction, to direct your hope.
Now, you see the world is full of people who hope on different bases. You know that. Somebody says to this young fellow, “How do you expect that you’re going to get ahead?” “Oh,” he said, “I’ve read the success books, and they say, make friends with people who are rich, and you’ll get to be like them. Make friends with people who are smart, you’ll get to be like them.” And he said, “I am finishing out my education. I’m going to get my Master’s degree then I’m going to get my doctor’s degree, and then I’ll be able to command a prestigious position.” You’ve heard that, haven’t you? Well, the success books are right.
Napoleon Hill “Think and Grow Rich”- that’s a classic in self-help, isn’t it? And Dale Carnegie and all the others. What do they say? Why, “Get with people who are successful and some of that will rub off on you.” Good idea. Why make friends with losers? There are some folk indeed who gravitate, it would seem, toward the losers of life, and they, themselves, then become victims. Make friends with people who are successful. Jesus, our blessed Lord, said, “Make friends of the mammon of unrighteousness so that when you’re cast out, they may receive you.” So there’s nothing wrong with that.
But that cannot be, beloved, your ultimate hope for success, because every human being in all the world fails at some point or other and will disappoint you. And if your hope for success rests upon either the brilliance or the integrity or both of someone human, you are going to be disappointed for sure at some point or other. So you direct your hope to the living God. The real basis of lasting hope is a Person. That Person is Almighty God, and you get to know Him through the Lord, Jesus Christ. There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. Our Savior said, “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me. I’m the way.” So you direct your hope to God, and you fix that hope in God by the contact you make through the Lord Jesus Christ.
You accept Him as your Lord, and He becomes then your Savior and He dwells within you by His Holy Spirit and you then have a living contact with God. And that’s why the Bible talks about a living hope. Simon Peter, writing to his friends, said, “We’ve been born again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. You direct your hope to God.”
Then there’s another use of this same word, this Greek verb, “elpizo,” trust. It means to build hope on someone as a foundation, just a little different concept, but closely related to what we’ve just been saying to each other. You build on it. First, you direct your hope to God, and then you build upon that in terms of the actions that you take. We do this every day. Someone says, “I will meet you at 10:00 at the corner of Broad and Market Street in Philadelphia.”
Now, that statement may have been made at 2:00 on one afternoon, but the engagement is made for the next day at, what did I say? 10:00, all right. Now what do you do? You build on your hope of the integrity of the person promising. And so you get up on that day, and you get ready. You get dressed. Then you get in your car, or on the subway, and you go to Broad and Market, to the proper corner, and you wait. And then, you expect that that person will show up. You are building on your hope. You understand me? Things we do, grow out of the person we trust. And so, if you’re really trusting God, you’ll be doing things in light of the fact that you can depend on Him. Oh, God will never let you down. For He said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Well, we’ll continue this the next time we get together.
Father God, today, may we direct our trust to Thee and thus be obedient as a result. In Jesus’ name, I pray this. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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