Have You Found God as Your Refuge?

 God is all our refuge

God is I Am

 

The Refuge Series is my desire to point us to God’s word, to know what it says, and what His heart says within the words. God is our refuge. He’s our strength and our song. He hides us. He fights for us. He is I Am. We are weak and He is our strength.

 

I’m convicted. I’m energized. I’m humbled. I’m also astonished that the Lord offers the most amazing free gift of salvation. Because of this gift of grace, everything should flow out of the grace He’s worked in my life.

 

God is our refuge. He’s a refuge when life nips at our heels. He’s our refuge when we sin. He’s blesses us with contentment and happiness in the refuge place. God as our refuge provides testimony for us to share with each other so we don’t give up on walking towards victory. The refuge place is for us individually as well as a corporate body.

 

Actionable Steps

 

I added some practical application steps to the Refuge Series so that we have actionable steps to take to make God our refuge. God as my refuge has become a way of life for me and as a friend gently reminded me, people need the “how-to” not just the “why.” I’m including links to The Refuge Series so that you can go back and take those actionable steps. I hope they bless you and, mostly, that God uses them to reveal more of Himself to you.

 

The Refuge Series Compilation

Why Your Story of Refuge is Powerful

8 Ways Making God Your Refuge Makes You Happy

Your City of Refuge for Your Traitorous Heart

When You Need Escape From Your Life

 

How Do We Trust?

 

The next question that arises in my heart is this: How can we make God our refuge if we don’t trust Him? We find comfort in things we trust. A trusted person, business, feeling, or habit. It’s easy to run to other things because they’ve proven themselves trustworthy. But what about God? Would you say He is trustworthy? Has He proven trust or broken trust?

 

He is trustworthy. But sometimes it’s us who doesn’t understand Him fully so we question His goodness.

 

We’re going to dive into trust and what that means and what it looks like next month.

 

Thank-you

 

Thank-you! I treasure your time and space in your head and your heart. Will you let me know how the application steps worked for you? You can leave a comment here or email me at jessica@welcomegrace.com

Here’s a great article on Refuge Living from desiringgod.org

 

 

Why Your Story of Refuge is Powerful to Me

you matter

You Matter

 

Your story matters. It matters more than you think. It matters because without your story, I wouldn’t know that I’m not alone.

 

We conquer because of the blood of Jesus working in our lives and because of the God-stories we tell. Each time you experience refuge living, forgiveness and pardon, and blessedness, you have an opportunity to share your victory with others.

 

Silence before God grows our faith, but silence before each other stifles our growth.

 

Your Words Matter

 

We are to remember and tell of God’s faithfulness in our lives. It’s because of God’s refuge that we can sing and it’s for the benefit of other believers that we do sing.

 

I need to hear your song of God’s faithfulness. You need to hear mine. We need each other. God knows this, which is why he created community. The devil knows this too, which is why he plays with our pride.

 

Our pride keeps us from making God our refuge. And when we refuse God’s refuge, we struggle on our own, risking our deaths, and stealing victory from each other. Our pride keeps us from declaring God’s love and faithfulness in our life.

 

We are not meant to struggle on our own. We are meant to run straight to God, stand firm with our eyes fixed on him, and let him fight for us. When we refuse his help, we rob ourselves of his life-giving and life-sustaining presence.

 

Where You Hide Matters

 

It’s in his refuge that we find peace and comfort and once we know them, we are able to share that peace and comfort with with others. I need your story. I need to hear of your harrowing experiences and how God miraculously showed you grace and mercy.

 

There’s something powerful when our ears hear words declaring God’s love and faithfulness. Did you know that I’ve been told I’m just not popular enough for a literary agent? Did you know that rejection is always hard for me and that every word I speak or write becomes fuel for the devil to take cheap shots at me? I have to live in refuge with God or else I would never live at all.

 

It’s because of hiding in him, that I have the courage to keep writing words. It’s because of his refuge that I find forgiveness for my selfish ambition. I find refuge, strength and my song because He is my refuge.

 

Draw Near to God

 

He wants to be yours as well. He sees you. The Lord knows your ache, but wants you more than anything else. He cares about a relationship with you and your circumstances can drive you deeper into that relationship. Or they can draw you away from Him.

 

If we draw near to God, he draws near to us. And sometimes in this world where we’re surrounded by people, we are incredibly alone. Achingly alone. That’s why I need your story. I need to know how God ministers to your heart. The church needs you.

 

Today, will you tell someone about the benefit of making God your refuge? Would you tell someone about your struggle in making him your refuge and the peace you felt once you did? And then tell me, too? I would love to hear your refuge story.

 

Application

  • Tell someone how God provided for you in the refuge either face to face, email, or postal mail.
  • Ask to hear someone else’s story of God’s faithfulness in their lives.
  • Here’s a song for your heart: Overcome by Jeremy Camp

 

With grace,

Jessica

 

Ps. I write to encourage ordinary people to experience God’s transforming power. God’s grace isn’t bound by our past, our despair, or our shame. Broken, messed up people are welcome. If you enjoyed this article, would you consider subscribing to receive these weekly encouraging notes in your inbox? Your email is safe and your time is sacred. I count both as a gift. Thank-you!

 

 

 

 

8 Ways Making God Your Refuge Makes You Happy

happy is the one who makes God his refuge

Blessed is the One Who Makes God Their Refuge

 

What? I picture myself with death nipping at my heals, my knees torn and bleeding from stumbling, clothes ripped and ragged from racing through briars. I see myself squeaking through the opening into God’s refuge, bent at my waist, gasping for breath. All I feel is relief and suspicion that this God refuge will actually work.

 

But it does.

 

Finding refuge in Christ allows me to stand firm in the battle. It strengthens my faith. It enables me to delight in my God.

 

God, as my refuge, causes my roots to grow deep and wide so that I stay fruitful in times of distress.

 

I stay fruitful and, even, dare I admit, happy.  Blessed is also translated as happy. “Happy is the one who makes God their refuge.” Happy: don’t we all need a triple shot of happy in our days?

 

The Sermon on the Mount

 

Making God my refuge brings to life the Sermon on the Mount:

 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted, blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled, blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy, blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:1-10 ESV

 

The Great Eight

 

  1. When my spirit is helpless, I discover God’s kingdom.
  2. I know comfort in my distress.
  3. Humility provides abundance.
  4. My hunger for righteousness is forever satisfied.
  5. I extend mercy when I receive mercy.
  6. Purity of heart brings clarity and I see God.
  7. There’s only room for peace in God’s refuge.
  8. The persecution that drives me to His refuge brings me to my inheritance.

 

The Discovery

 

I discover the kingdom of God when I make Him my refuge. I receive comfort in my distress and know my inheritance. When God is my refuge I am filled and receive mercy. Making God my refuge strips away my ability to affect change in my life and my heart is purified. When I step back and let God fight for me, I promote peace and am called the Daughter of God. Persecution drives me to make God my refuge and there I know his kingdom.

 

Blessed is the man or woman who runs straight into God’s refuge. Broken. Bleeding. Busted. If you want to be happy despite your circumstances, make God your refuge. You experience blessing. You will know peace in the midst of your fire.

 

On my Facebook profile, I reminded us that not only is God present to help us, but he is also well proved. He has proven himself over and over and over again that he loves and cares for us and never ever leaves or forsakes us. He is trustworthy. He deserves our devotion.

 

And as we devote our lives to him within the refuge he provides, we become blessed. Happy. 

 

I could use a blessing, could you?

 

Let’s determine, together, to run straight into his wide, welcoming arms. We find our refuge, our peace, and our blessings in the sweet place of relationship with him.

 

Application

  • Jot down three big circumstances in your life.
  • Compare them to “The Great Eight”
  • Consider if one of your big three’s fall under one of The Great Eights. Example: if you’re struggling extending mercy, take some time to ponder how much mercy you’ve received. Or, if God is exposing sin in your heart, take a moment to rejoice that he’s bringing you closer to him.
  • Here’s a great resource on happiness and the dare we’re all dared to take: The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Dukes Lee
PS. If you liked this inspirational article, would you subscribe? You will receive weekly posts like this one straight to your inbox. I take the gift of your time and address seriously. Thanks! I couldn’t do this without the gift of your time. 

 

 

When You Need Escape from Your Life

refuge living

 

Unmet Expectations

 

Escape. Retreat. Refuge. We all long for some type of relief at some point in our lives. For some it’s tragedy, health scares, or just the mundane everyday-ness of life. And sometimes, in one day, we can be at the top of the world and in the depths of the. Our emotions run rampant and we feel ecstatic one moment and ticked off the next. Why is that?

 

Emotions are fickle, unreliable little tyrants who have far too much control in our life. Circumstances are those things that drive the emotions so if emotions are tyrants and circumstances are conductors, then what do we do with what we feel? How can we process our emotions and feelings and frustrations in the midst of controlling circumstances?

 

By living in refuge.

 

Refuge Living

 

Refuge is defined as a shelter, protection, aid or relief. God is all of that. He shelters us. We find comfort in his love. He protects us by defending us. He offers us aid if we will accept it. And sometimes, he just plain offers us relief for a brief moment when we meet him in the secret place.

 

Living this life is a both/and kind of experience. We live in this world where we experience all the good and bad the world has to offer. We also live in God’s kingdom where we find peace and comfort that makes no sense when we consider our circumstances.

 

But back to those emotions. Process your emotions in the refuge that God provides. Show him your hurts. Scream your pain. Unfold your hands from your shame. He welcomes you with open arms. He pulls on threads that don’t belong and replaces them with vibrancy that makes your life nuanced with depth and color.

 

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:9-10.

 

Relief

Seek him. Seek him for relief from life. It’s easy to self-medicate ourselves with food, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, drugs, tv, pleasure, or hobbies. True relief comes when we bring ourselves, our messed up selves, to God and say: “Here I am. I can’t keep going. Help.” And he does.

 

He gently wipes your tears. You’re kindly pointed in the right direction, and he walks with you. He won’t forsake you if you seek him.

 

Seek him and find him.

 

Application

 

  •  Grab a 3×5 card and write down the main controlling emotion you struggle with.
  •  Head to Bible Gateway and type in that emotion in the search box.
  •  Choose a verse that speaks to your need and write it under the emotion on the 3×5 card.
  •  Tape the 3×5 card in a place where you see it regularly.

 

 

Having a Steadfast Heart in the Midst of Catastrophes

Steadfast

©JessicaVanRoekelPhotography

The Catastrophe

 

A bowl full of jello. Shaking. Quivering. Even after the bowl’s been bumped, the quivering continues. It starts on the outside and works its way to the inside. This is what I feel like when I hear bad news.

 

“He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7

 

We don’t have to fear the unknown or tomorrow’s headlines. But we do. We fear because we wonder whether God is who he says he is. We wonder if we are who he says we are. Our hearts are not steadfast.

 

The Rock

 

Imagine the lighthouse on the cliff. That rock? It doesn’t move. The lighthouse is firm and secure and able to do its job of shining a beacon of light to those who need it. Even when the storm rages and beats the cliff and waves overcome, the rock doesn’t move. 

 

What is your storm? What is the thing that is overwhelming you? Is it doubt, addiction, or failing relationships? Is it your thoughts, fears, or anxiety?

 

We all have junk. We all suffer. Sometimes it’s because of our own foolish choices and sometimes it’s because something comes to us uninvited like cancer or rejection or slander.

 

Our afflictions, as massive as they appear to us, can be used to bring about a brokenness in our lives that, in the end, make us the strongest version of ourselves. When I am weak, He is strong. When I cannot go on, He carries me. In my weaknesses I see the mighty strength of God.

 

Our weaknesses, our afflictions are not given to us in order to make us pay for some sin in our life.

 

Two Types of Schools

 

They are given to us so that we might know the power of God working in our lives. It’s not the School of Hard-Knocks that teach us grace. It’s the University of Suffering that cause us to know grace and the power of the Holy Spirit to transform us.

 

“For great is the his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.” Psalm 117:2

 

God is faithful through any bad news that comes our way. His love is so great that not only does he walk with us through our suffering, he is faithful to teach us the painful lesson of enduring. And it’s not the enduring, suck it up, stiff upper lip kind of enduring, but it’s the kind of enduring that grows our faith.

 

When we endure pain, we know Christ’s sufferings and the power of His resurrection.

 

Enduring teaches us to be faithful no matter what. It teaches us to understand that God loves us with a soft and gentle and fierce kind of love that is reliable and true.

 

The Hope

 

Bad news. It happens. It’s inevitable. But here’s the good news: God is faithful. He is steadfast. He is trustworthy.

 

Today, when you’re tempted to fall in the face of fear, fall forward into the arms of God. He’s got whatever life is throwing at you and He is big enough to hold it and you close to His heart.

 

Trust his heart for you: it is only good.

 

Coming Next Month. . .

 

Are you weary? Heavy-burdened? Are you at the end of yourself?

 

Next month begins The Refuge Series where we dive into the benefits of making God our refuge. Look for graphics and snippets on my Facebook profile, and weekly devotions here at Welcome Grace.

 

See you soon!

Why the Battle Needs Your Rebel Heart

battle training

The Battle

 

The battle rages within our hearts. We scrabble and crumble depending on the circumstance. If we’re feeling strong we get our scrappy little fists in the fight and knock the enemy out of the ring. We crumble when we receive an unexpected hit. It could be that pride sneaks from behind and knocks us off our feet and we lay stunned.

 

The battles within eventually get reflected into our visible lives because we’re who we are on the inside not what we display. If we struggle with submission to authority, but put on a submissive front, eventually a reaction will reveal the struggle. Pride shows up in a judgmental comment or a refusal to believe that God has chosen and loves you.

 

Our circumstances are distractions to the battles that rage in our hearts. Once we surrender our lives to Christ the real battle begins between the Spirit and the Flesh. Oftentimes I think of the flesh as my rebel self because I don’t seem to do what I know is right no matter how hard I try. But let’s flip the switch: The Spirit part of ourselves is our rebel heart.

 

Was Jesus a rebel? Some say he was. I say he was on a mission to reveal the Father’s heart to humanity and people have tried to pigeon-hole God and figure him out and make him like us: Easily swayed. Petulant. Angry. Abusive. Double-minded. And so man set up rules and regulations to follow in order to make God understandable and malleable. “If I do A, B, and C then God will do X, Y, and Z.”

 

The Rebel Heart

 

We need a rebel heart because the status quo threatens to lead us to apathy.

 

A rebel heart is our best defense against me-ism.

 

Ours is a heart divided: we have the heart of the spirit and the heart of the flesh. So often the flesh rebels against the spirit, but let’s flip that concept upside down. Let’s give the spirit permission to rebel against the flesh.

 

Once we surrender our lives to Christ we are given new hearts. God writes his heart on ours and places himself within us. However, the flesh still lives and needs to be crucified each day. This is why we need a rebel heart.

 

A heart that’s fully surrendered to Christ becomes a rebel heart. A heart that rebels against the status quo, the pride of life, lust of the eyes, and the flesh. A rebel heart doesn’t allow the flesh to take back the victory found in Christ.

 

I rebel against my flesh. I rebel against apathy. And I run straight towards God. There’s an insurrection with in my heart and the Spirit stakes His claim and turns my selfishness into generosity, my judgement into kindness, and my fear into trust.

 

The Win

 

The rebel heart wins when it’s strength and comfort is found in God. He is our help in times of trouble. He is our way of escape when we’re tempted. God is our commander and he is directing the greatest army in all creation. God leads us beside still waters where our hearts are refreshed and he also leads us into the battle where victory is assured.

 

1 Corinthians 16:13

Psalm 144:1

Psalm 140:7

 

We’re in this fight together. We face different challenges, but we serve the same God who arms us with his strength and makes our footsteps firm. I’m praying for you and would love to hear how your fight is going. You can email me at jessica@welcomegrace.com, write a comment here, or subscribe to receive weekly notes of encouragement in your day to day battle of transformation.

 

With love,

Jessica

 

 

 

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I write to encourage you that you can experience a vibrant, transformative relationship with God even if your past or your shame tells you otherwise. God invites you upward and onward, will you join me? You'll receive weekly devotionals straight to your inbox. By subscribing you'll receive my 7-Day Devotional, Kicking Perfect, as a thank-you gift from me!

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