The Lord, My Stronghold

Psalm 94:1-7 ESV

O Lord, God of vengeance,
O God of vengeance, shine forth!
Rise up, O judge of the earth;
repay to the proud what they deserve!
O Lord, how long shall the wicked,
how long shall the wicked exult?
They pour out their arrogant words;
all the evildoers boast.
They crush your people, O Lord,
and afflict your heritage.
They kill the widow and the sojourner,
and murder the fatherless;
and they say, “The Lord does not see;
the God of Jacob does not perceive.”

A Cry for Mercy

Oh, how very much I get this! This is the cry of the afflicted, asking God for deliverance from the power and the oppression of the wicked. This is a heart cry to God for mercy, for relief from suffering. But, it is much more than that. It is a cry for God to deliver from the influences of the wicked over the righteous, too, and for him to expose the wicked deeds of those who pretend to be righteous but who are leading God’s people astray.

For, there are two ways in which the wicked are presently assailing God’s people, the church. One is through physical persecution, literally killing people because of their faith in Jesus Christ or severely persecuting them physically, verbally, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

This persecution may come through false accusations, firing people from jobs, denying them the basic necessities of life, falsely imprisoning them, raping them, stealing from them their personal properties, and via destruction of their property. Or, it may come through harassment, much like the Pharisees did to Jesus where they were constantly on his trail trying to find a way to accuse him and/or to trip him up with his words, etc.

The other way in which the wicked are assailing God’s people is through deception, i.e. through wolves in sheep’s clothing who are pretending to be servants of righteousness when they are not. They are liars and deceivers who take advantage of the weak and the naïve.

They are in positions of shepherding the people of God via the pastorate in churches or via the governments of the people or via the media or via educational institutions. And, they are leading people astray in very large numbers, at least here in America they are. And, they do feel a sense of empowerment because God has not yet judged them for their wickedness.

Psalm 94:8-11 ESV

Understand, O dullest of the people!
Fools, when will you be wise?
He who planted the ear, does he not hear?
He who formed the eye, does he not see?
He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke?
He who teaches man knowledge—
the Lord—knows the thoughts of man,
that they are but a breath.

Dull of Hearing

I believe these words can speak truth both to the wicked who are assailing God’s people and to the people of God who are being influenced by the wicked to stray from their pure devotion to Jesus Christ. Either way, this is speaking to people who are being dull of hearing and who are walking in ways which are unwise.

I see so many people who claim to be followers of Christ following after the lies and after the ways of the flesh and after the ways of the world and of man. I was there once, too, so I know. I bought into the lies and the deception and I was once led astray, too, but God in his love and mercy brought me back. Amen! All glory to God!

Now my heart aches to see so many people fall under the deception of the evil one and to be walking in ways which are contrary to God and to His Word. But, not all fall under deception because they are naïve to the ways of the world and of the wicked. Many go after the ways of the flesh even knowing that they are doing wrong, and even knowing that they have the power in Christ to do what is right. And, that is heartbreaking.

Psalm 94:12-15 ESV

Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord,
and whom you teach out of your law,
to give him rest from days of trouble,
until a pit is dug for the wicked.
For the Lord will not forsake his people;
he will not abandon his heritage;
for justice will return to the righteous,
and all the upright in heart will follow it.

Justice Will Return

True justice may not come until our Lord returns for his bride and he comes to judge the people of this world. But, sometimes he does bring justice to situations in the here and now, and he does relieve the afflicted from their suffering even in this life. We just have to learn to wait on the Lord for him to do what his will desires, for our timing is not his timing.

We have to have a God perspective about our suffering, too. I don’t know anyone who literally enjoys suffering, though we are to rejoice in our suffering, for we are counted worthy to suffer injustice for the sake of Christ, our Lord. We need to understand that through suffering (God’s discipline) we grow in our faith, we mature in Christ, and God is making us holy, and he is conforming us to the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Through suffering we learn patience, endurance, hope, faithfulness, discipline for the soul, and dependence on God alone. And, we learn to rest in our Lord and to trust him and to believe him for all things, rather than have a “my do it” approach to life’s circumstances.

When we are afflicted, and when hope is deferred, we may feel as though God has abandoned us, but he has not. If we are in Christ Jesus, by genuine faith in him, then our Lord is living within us in the person of the Holy Spirit. So, we are never left alone.

God is not asleep, either. He knows what is going on, and he knows what we need, and he will supply. We just have to keep resting in him and not become anxious because what we hope for has not yet taken place.

Psalm 94:16-23 ESV

Who rises up for me against the wicked?
Who stands up for me against evildoers?
If the Lord had not been my help,
my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
When I thought, “My foot slips,”
your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.
Can wicked rulers be allied with you,
those who frame injustice by statute?
They band together against the life of the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.
But the Lord has become my stronghold,
and my God the rock of my refuge.
He will bring back on them their iniquity
and wipe them out for their wickedness;
the Lord our God will wipe them out.

My God, My Refuge

Oh, how I get this, too! If the Lord had not been my help and my sustenance, I don’t think I would even still be here. Certainly I would not be where I am now doing what I am doing for his glory, in obedience to him.

I think sometimes, when the wicked and the deceived are assailing us who are the Lord’s, that we think God is not coming to our defense if we do not get immediate relief from our suffering, and if it lingers for a long period of time, especially.

But, the Lord never promised us full relief from suffering in this life. In fact, he promised us the opposite. He was quite clear in his messages concerning what it would cost us to follow him. He didn’t gloss it over as many are doing today. He told it plainly. It means death. It means death to sin and self and living to righteousness. And, it means we will be hated, persecuted, abused, abandoned, falsely accused, etc. It means we will be treated as Jesus was.

But, he does bring us relief, comfort, encouragement and hope in other ways. He has given us his spiritual armor with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us, which often come through evil people (Eph. 6:10-20). And, when we obey him, and we rest in him, he fills us with his peace, joy, songs of rejoicing in him, and hope.

He strengthens us and empowers us to remain strong and steadfast even in the face of great suffering. So, we can walk in victory even when still being assailed by the wicked. We just have to keep turning our situations over to him, believing him to work out all things according to his plans and purposes.

And, we must love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who mistreat us (Lu. 6:27-28).

My Sheep
An Original Work / June 24, 2012

Based off John 10:1-18 NIV

My sheep hear me. They know me.
They listen to my voice and obey.
I call them and lead them.
They know my voice, so they follow me.
They will never follow strangers.
They will run away from them.
The voice of a stranger they know not;
They do not follow him.

So, I tell you the truth that
I am the gate, so you enter in.
Whoever does enter
Will find forgiveness and will be saved.
Nonetheless whoever enters
Not by the gate; other way,
He is the thief and a robber.
Listen not, the sheep to him.

Oh, I am the Good Shepherd,
Who laid his own life down for the sheep.
I know them. They know me.
They will live with me eternally.
The thief only comes to steal and
Kill and to destroy the church.
I have come to give you life that
You may have it to the full…

They know my voice, so they follow me.

Thursday, August 23, 2018 – Thank You, Jesus, for these encouraging words. Thank You for being my refuge and my strength to help me. Amen!

 

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