A Strong City

 

The world is in turmoil, and there’s not a place on this earth that is sheltered from the chaos. From natural disasters to horrific acts of violence, it seems like pain and suffering, and death and destruction are the prevailing themes in the news nowadays.

If you’ve ever experienced a catastrophic event or violent crime, then you know all too well the sheer panic that sets in when life as you know it is turned upside down. You understand how it feels to be crippled with a spirit of fear and overcome with feelings of despair.

Whether you’re the victim or not, when disasters strike, everyone is affected. If you have even an ounce of compassion, there’s no tuning it out! News reports relive the horror and devastation for days. You’re overwhelmed with heart-wrenching scenes of survivors mourning the loss of their loved ones. You’re haunted by the faces of the wounded and weary as they pick through debris to salvage any remains of their lives.

There’s no escaping the cries! Why did this have to happen? Everything I put my hope in . . . everything I worked so hard for . . . everything I own is gone! I have no family . . . no home . . . nothing left to live for! How am I going to make it?

Consumed with anxiety and fear, you wonder who’s going to be hit next? . . . You question are we really safe? Then you realize just how vulnerable you are, and how frail life really is.

Have you been scarred from the trauma of a catastrophic event?

Has the gloom and despair of this world robbed you of peace?

Do you want to know peace, and feel safe again?

Maybe you’ve never lost anything in a flood or a hurricane or any weather disaster. You’ve got a beautiful home . . . all your material possessions are intact. You’ve never been the victim of a violent crime, but you’ve faced tragedy just the same. You know what it’s like to suffer loss.

At one time you had so much going for you . . . some would say the perfect life. You had a good outlook on life. Things were going great . . . the calm before the storm. Then suddenly it struck out of nowhere! Now it’s one crisis after another, and you feel like your life has been reduced to ruins and rubble.

Is it cancer, sickness, or disease that has robbed you?

Or maybe it’s an addiction tormenting you or someone you love? Drugs? Alcohol? Pornography?

Relationship problems? Betrayals by those you thought you could trust? Marital problems? Wayward children?

Are you burdened with financial hardships? Lost your job? Or you just can’t seem to get ahead?

Can you relate?

Yes, I am frustrated with life! I didn’t choose any of this, but I’ve been hit with one storm after another. I know what it feels like to be overwhelmed with despair. I long for peace . . . just to know that it’s all gonna be alright.

If your hopes and dreams have been crushed, if you have lost everything, or if you have a fear of losing it all, there is a place of refuge. There is a place where you can rest!

No! There’s no hope for me! I deserve all of these trials and more! I have no one to blame but myself! My life is a mess and it’s my own fault. I chose to live a wild, reckless life! Now I’m reaping all the consequences. I hate myself and my life! I wish I could go back and right all the wrong decisions I made. Now it’s too late . . . I long for a safe haven, but the only refuge I have is in my dreams.

If that’s you, if you’re feeling unworthy, whatever you’re struggling with, you don’t have to live in despair or fear any longer. There is a refuge in the Lord Jesus Christ!

God loves you and wants to cover you in His mercy. He wants to protect you from every enemy and shelter you from all evil.

God has even prepared a city for you to dwell in, not just any city, but a strong city.

It’s a place of beauty and holiness . . . a haven of peace and rest . . . a shelter from evil, disasters, and storms.

Isaiah 26 describes this New Jerusalem,

1In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.

This city is a heavenly city . . . a fortress strong enough to withstand any fire, flood, or storm.

A city with salvation as her walls and bulwarks. Nothing can get in to harm the city or those inside. No murderer, no thief, . . . no rapist, no child molester . . . no one to use and abuse another . . .

It’s a city of love and forgiveness . . . where grace and mercy triumph over judgement . . . where all your wrong choices, all your sins . . . all of it is wiped away. You are freed from condemnation, no more guilt or shame.

It sounds wonderful! But . . . who gets in to this city?

Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.

Isaiah 26:2

This is an eternal city designed by God Himself, with gates opened only to the righteous . . . those that lay hold of the truth and keep it.

The righteous? Then I’ll never make it in! The truth for me is I’ll never measure up. How can I be good enough to make it into a heavenly city? How can I stand before a Holy, Righteous God?

Yes, we all have sinned. Nobody can be good enough to stand before God. The good news is you don’t have to be. It’s not about how good you can be . . .

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.

Titus 3:5

We all deserve hell, but by His mercy He saved us. All our good works . . . whatever righteousness we can boast about, is as filthy rags in God’s eyes. There’s no way . . . nothing we can do to make ourselves righteous enough for this city.

Then who will make it in to this strong city?

The children of God . . . those that can say my sins are covered in the blood of Jesus Christ.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 5:21

Nobody will get in except those that have been made righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ.

If you will call on the name of Jesus right now, repent of your sins, and make Jesus the Lord of your life, then you can call this strong city your home.

Maybe you’ve tried to take refuge in drugs, or found comfort in a sinful relationship. You may have even sought for truth and meaning in the occult or eastern religions. In desperation, you may have dabbled in a little bit of it all, only to find you were worse off than before.

You can have a place of refuge for all eternity. You can be covered in the peace of God that passes all understanding.

Only Jesus Christ can bring perfect peace to your life . . . no substitutes . . . nothing else will do.

13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

14For [Jesus Christ] is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

Ephesians 2:13-14

In fact, the whole culture of this strong city Isaiah talks about is absolute peace . . . perfect peace for those who choose to trust God . . . trust God through trials and temptations, through sickness and suffering, through death and destruction, no matter the storm, make up your mind to trust God through it all!

You can’t get peace from the chaos that goes on in this world.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Isaiah 26:3

True peace comes when your mind is focused on God’s eternal plan for your life . . . true peace is knowing your sins are covered by the blood of Jesus . . . true peace is trusting in God to keep you and use your life for His honor and glory.

Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength:

Isaiah 26:4

There are no guarantees in this life. Things may be going great now but good times, like everything else in this life, are temporary. Our lives are like a vapor . . . here today, gone tomorrow. All it takes is one storm . . . one car wreck . . . one trip to the doctor, and life as you know it is shattered.

That sounds so depressing, like gloom and doom!

It’s gloom and doom, only if you’ve put your trust in these temporary things. We are shaken because we put our hope and trust in these things that can be shaken.

What are you trusting in?

He that trustest in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.

Proverbs 11:28

You can’t trust in things here on this earth. Family and friends will fail you, and you will fail them. Your health will fail you. Riches, careers, pleasures . . . they will all fail you.

You can’t put your faith and trust in earthly things. The Lord is the only refuge!

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Psalm 46:1

Trust in Him today! Find a haven of rest in Jesus Christ.

When your hope is in something beyond this life, whatever happens in this life doesn’t affect your eternal wellbeing. Make this strong city your refuge now, and for all eternity!

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