Experiencing Sanctuary Part 5 (The Word)

Pastor Mark Mikels – March 8, 2008


Intro … Last Sunday we concluded our service with a song that said, “Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary” …

For the purposes of our current sermon series we should write one that says “Lord, prepare me to discover sanctuaries – every way I turn, in the midst of every circumstance that I find myself”.

That’s exactly what we have been doing these past three weeks … “discovering sanctuaries” (places of refuge and safety – places where our sense of well-being is not threatened – places where our spiritual equilibrium can be regained – places where every thought that invades our mind can be captured and made subject to Christ) … discovering that God has in fact surrounded us with them.

This series of messages (and every message contained within it) has been stimulated by the Key Concept that underlies it …

“In the midst of a fallen, broken, demanding, exhausting World, a Place of Sanctuary is an Absolute Necessity!”

The point is … God knows what kind of world we live in – it is not a world that has ever been supportive of the things of God; quite the contrary, it is a world that directly opposes the things of God and frequently rises up against the people of God.

At its best, it is a fallen, broken, demanding, exhausting place to live!

Jesus prayed in his high priestly prayer (John 17) …

“Father, I do not pray that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them …”

And for the purposes of this series, we can imagine the Father responding to that prayer by saying …

“ Son, I will protect them – I will protect them by providing for them places of sanctuary so that no matter where they are and no matter what kind of circumstances they fall into, they can discover and experience places of safety and refuge, places where they can feel stable and secure, places where they can regroup and reload.”

So far we have discovered three such places – three places of sanctuary God has provided for those are His Own …

The Church

God would have us experience a true “sanctuary effect” within the building and among the body of believers that gather there.

The Home

Here too among the family God would have us experience that same “sanctuary effect”. And then just last week we discovered (somewhat surprisingly) the third such place …

The Cosmos

Here in the almost infinite reaches of space God, would have us experience that wonderful “sanctuary effect” as we contemplate our own privileged place in His awesome universe!

Three points on our “spiritual compass” are now covered – already we have three directions to turn to find sanctuary whenever we feel the need. And there’s six more to go …

Today we turn our attention to a place of true sanctuary that most all of us placed on our “guess list” a few weeks ago …

“The WORD – The Bible”

Today’s Key Concept …

It’s God’s Plan that we find life-renewing Sanctuary Within the CONFINES of His WRITTEN WORD.

Consider with me Today’s Key Scripture – an ancient admonition …

Today’s Key Scripture … Jeremiah 6:16

Stand at the CROSSROADS and look; ask for the ANCIENT PATHS; ask where the GOOD WAY is … WALK in it and you will find REST for your SOULS.”

“Stand at the Crossroads” … isn’t that where life frequently places us?

Isn’t that the thing about life that frequently distresses us? We stand in a place where a decision must be made – where choices confront and perhaps confound us.

Jeremiah – who is now ancient himself – says “Stand at the crossroads and look” and “ask for the ancient paths” – the ones the saints of old walked upon, the ones that they found to be safe and sure – “ask where the good way is” …

He’s saying “Before you waste time walking down paths that lead nowhere or waste your life by walking down paths that lead to disaster” … look and ask … seek guidance … Discover where the Good Way is … for there is where you will find rest (sanctuary) for your souls.

My friends … could there be any better description of the contents of the Word of God …

The Word of God contains all the information we need about “The Good Way” and when we immerse ourselves in it we will indeed find “rest” – refuge for our souls.

Consider this morning then the incredible “Sanctuary Effect” to be experienced within the confines of God’s Written Word …

* God’s Word Comforts Us With Its UNCHANGING REALITY

(Psalm 119:89; Matthew 24:35)

“Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.”
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

In times of great change – in times when it might seem that everything is changing, it’s tremendously comforting to find things – good things, real things, profitable things – that never change. God’s Word contains just such things – it communicates an unchanging reality!

Every time you pick it up – it will say the same thing it has always said.

From the time you first picked it up as perhaps a little child in Sunday School to the time just this past week, it hasn’t changed – its words still point out and identify those “ancient paths” that lead to life.

Now that all by itself would be enough to quiet the noise of the world around us but consider secondly that …

* God’s Word Comforts Us With Its UNYIELDING AUTHORITY

(Leviticus 19:37; Joshua 1:8; Isaiah 42:8; 2 Peter 1:19)

“Keep all my decrees and all my laws and follow them. I am the LORD.”

“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it
day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.”

“I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.”


“And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it,”

It’s an irony of life that while man was made to rule, he was also made to be submissive. In times of difficulty and confusion, in times of distress and duress, this dual-nature of man can express itself in strange and self-defeating ways.

Some will rise to the occasion and say “Follow Me” – “Do what I say” even though they have no idea where they are going nor do they understand the ramifications of what they are saying. They come and go – they flare up and they fizzle out. History usually views them badly.

Others of course will submit themselves to anyone who comes along with a hope and a promise – they bounce from one “Messiah” to another and generally wind up disappointed and disillusioned.

How comforting to link ourselves to the ONE to whom we were designed to be submitted and to hear Him speak decisively and authoritatively through His Word!

Stick with me – it gets better and better …

* God’s Word Comforts Us With Its UNAPOLOGETIC CERTAINTY

(Exodus 20:3; John 14:6; Acts 4:12)

Now before I read the Scripture here let me say that I well understand that there are men and women who invest their lives in the study of what is called “Apologetics” – that is, the reasoned defense of the Christian Faith – answering the questions raised by unbelievers in such a way that a way for faith to be embraced might be opened up.

As I said, I well understand that and I applaud that effort and perhaps many of us in this room would testify to the role carefully reasoned argument played in our own acceptance of Christ.

However, my point at this point is that the Bible itself knows nothing of that approach concerning itself or its message – the Bible declares its message with unapologetic certainty.

The message of the Bible pretty much takes the form … “Here it is … take it or leave it.”

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me.”


“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

These are all simply (and wonderfully) statements of fact – “you can take it to the bank” kind of facts.

In times of uncertainty – in times when we might even be questioning our normal abilities to make sense out of things, it can be tremendously comforting and settling to pick up the Word of God and hear it say …

“Here it is – this is just how it is”.

Two more things about the Word of God in its ability to provide for us that “Sanctuary Effect” …

* God’s Word Comforts Us With Its UNFETTERED LIBERTY

(Psalm 119:30-32; John 8:31-32)

“I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws.
I hold fast to your statutes, O LORD; do not let me be put to shame.
I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.”


Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

There is something tremendously freeing and even invigorating about holding the truth in your hand …

And as those words come out of my mouth, my mind goes back to an amusing incident that happened many years ago …

“The Clue Game with Mrs. Brickner”

It was her first time to play – ours too. Our host family briefly explained the game and we began. There were so many of us playing that each of us only received three cards. It just so happened that in her hand, Mrs. Brickner received one person card, one weapon card and one room card. As the game progressed, she didn’t seem to be as puzzled as the rest of us nor as engaged in ferreting out every “clue” that came along. She seemed to be riding along on a different wave altogether.

Finally, at a point that seemed appropriate to her, she said “Well, I already know who did it” and she laid down her three cards – she had known the person, the weapon and the place the whole time … or so she thought.

It took some careful wording to say the least to explain to this senior member of our group that the real answer was in the little packet on the table and that none of the cards in her hand could possibly be it.

She was mistaken but for a period of time there she felt the tremendous “freedom from distress” that comes when you are “holding truth in your hand”.

Now that’s exactly what our Unapologetically Certain Word of God tells us we have …

We have the unfettered freedom or liberty that comes from holding God’s Unchanging Reality with its Unyielding Authority in our very hands.

There’s tremendous comfort in that!

And now our final observation this morning upon the “Sanctuary Effect” that can be experienced within the confines of God’s Written Word.

In addition to comforting us with its Unchanging Reality and its Unyielding Authority and its Unapologetic Certainty and its Unfettered Liberty

* God’s Word Comforts Us With Its UNBELIEVABLE CAPABILITY

(Joshua 1:7-8; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16-17)

God’s Word does things … tremendous things in us and through us. Listen to these words about the Capability of the Word …

Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

The Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword,
it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow;
it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.


All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking,
correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God
may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

God’s Word provides us instructions for living a productive and secure life – it’s amazing how many highly successful “management books” are nothing more than carefully rearranged (though never footnoted) Scripture Passages.

God’s Word has an amazing ability to sink into our hearts and show us what is really there … There’s no better counselor than one who holds the Word of God carefully in his hand.

God’s Word fuels our understanding of virtually every function of the Christian life thus readying us for worthwhile service. There’s great comfort in knowing what you are doing and why you are doing it.

Final Thot … Within the PAGES of God’s written Word is found a true place of RETREAT – a genuine SHELTER in time of STORM. Don’t NEGLECT it.