Psalms 18:1-3 ESV
“I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.”
When we follow Jesus Christ with our lives, we are going to have enemies who will come against us, who will oppose and attack us, who will turn others against us, and who will mistreat us. They will not like us because we take the word of God seriously, and what we share is not a diluted half-truth gospel, but the whole counsel of God (the full gospel message). And they won’t like it if we are testing what we hear against the Scriptures in context.
And if we are walking the Christian walk, and if we are living for the Lord and not for self, and if we have come out from the world to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, because Jesus is making us holy to be like him in character, they will not like us, either. For we will be an offense to them because they are still living worldly lives, and they are still walking in sin, according to the flesh. And so they won’t want to be around us.
Now the persecuted here are not self-righteous arrogant people who go around looking their noses down on everyone who is not like them. This is not talking about religious Pharisees who are legalistic and who insist on following a bunch of externals of religious performance that have nothing to do with holiness and righteousness. This is speaking of those who truly love the Lord and whose desire is for him to follow him with their lives.
And our enemies are not just the people out in the world. But many of them are within the gatherings of what is called “church.” And this is because the church is largely not the biblical church. The church at large today in America is a conglomeration of men and women who are building their earthly kingdoms, and so they have compromised the Scriptures and moral principles and the gospel in order to attract the world to their gatherings.
But we are not to let them intimidate us into compromising our walks of faith in Jesus Christ. We are to remain steadfast in our walks of faith in purity of devotion to our Lord and in lives which are surrendered to our Lord Jesus. Daily we are to continue to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s soon return (Titus 2:11-14; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; Eph 4:17-24).
Psalms 18:4-6 ESV
“The cords of death encompassed me;
the torrents of destruction assailed me;
the cords of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me.
“In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.”
If we live in America where I live, physical persecution of Christians is not commonplace, though I am not saying that it doesn’t exist. And to profess to be a Christian in America is not generally considered a crime. Many people call themselves Christians here and Christianity is the primary religion in America. And many professing Christians here live no differently and talk no differently from the people of the world and so they are generally accepted.
But there are Christians here who are being persecuted, but they are usually in the minority. They are the ones who do take the Lord and his word seriously and who believe that God’s words are to be followed. Yet, we are not under the Old Covenant, so we don’t have to obey all those old ceremonial, liturgical, sacrificial, purification, and dietary laws and restrictions that the Jews of old had to follow. But we are to obey God.
We are to follow our Lord Jesus in obedience, for if we do not, we don’t love God and we don’t know God. We are to live holy lives, and we are to walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. And we are to no longer deliberately and habitually sin against the Lord. So, if we take this to heart, and if this is how we live, then we are going to face persecution even within the gatherings of what is called “church.”
And the persecution may be so severe, at times, that we do feel what these verses express. For when we choose to follow Jesus with our lives, in wholehearted devotion to him, to do what he says, in a day and time in America where even what is called “church” is largely not following Jesus and his commands, we can face a lot of opposition and rejection, and it can bring us to tears and to call out to the Lord in our distress.
For the opposition can get rather nasty and hateful coming from people who claim to be your brothers and sisters in Christ. For Satan has a large hold on many people who call themselves pastors and on many “churches” which have adopted the ways of the world and not the ways of the Lord Jesus.
Psalms 18:16-19 ESV
“He sent from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of many waters.
He rescued me from my strong enemy
and from those who hated me,
for they were too mighty for me.
They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a broad place;
he rescued me, because he delighted in me.”
But no matter what we go through in this life, the Lord is the support of those who call on him in truth. He may or may not rescue us physically from our circumstances or from our enemies and those who persecute us without cause, but he will rescue us through these circumstances. He will deliver us from fear and from unforgiveness and from distress when we call on him and we surrender our lives to his sovereign will. And he will fill us with his peace.
One thing I have learned in this life is to trust in the sovereignty of God over my life and to not run away from difficult circumstances unless the Lord says to flee, and to shake the dust off my sandals (figuratively speaking) and to move on. Sometimes he does physically deliver us, and other times he strengthens us through those difficulties. In our efforts to try to escape pain and suffering, sometimes we are actually fighting against God’s will.
So, we need to trust our lives into the hands of God, and we need to let him lead us in how to respond to unjust suffering. And then we need to go with God wherever he leads us and continue living for him and doing what he says to do and let his peace fill our hearts. And we absolutely have to keep forgiving those who mistreat us, and loving our enemies, and praying for them, and doing good to them in hopes they will follow Jesus with their lives. For our Lord can turn bad situations into blessings.
[Matt 5:10-16; Matt 10:16-25; Matt 24:9-14; Matt 28:18-20; Lu 6:22-23; Lu 21:12-19; John 15:1-21; Acts 1:8; Acts 26:18; Rom 5:3-5; Rom 12:1-8; 1 Co 12:1-31; 2 Co 1:3-11; Eph 4:1-16; Eph 5:17-27; Phil 3:7-11; Col 3:16; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; Heb 3:13; Heb 12:3-12; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 2:9; 1 Pet 4:12-17]
Songs in the Night
An Original Work / December 18, 2013
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV ‘84
Lord, I praise You forevermore.
You, my Savior, I now adore.
Hope in heaven awaiting me,
Because You died at Calvary.
I have been forgiven,
And I’m bound for heaven.
Jesus set me free from
All my sin, I say.
I will praise Him always!
Lord, I love You for all You’ve done:
Overcame death, my vict’ry won!
Jesus saved me, and now I’m free!
I rejoice in His love for me.
I will walk in vict’ry!
My sin is but hist’ry!
I am free to please Him
With my life today.
I will love Him always!
Lord, I thank You for giving me
A new life bought at Calvary.
Loving Jesus, I meet with Him.
Tender mercies now flow within.
Lord, I am so thankful;
Through my Lord, I’m able
To sit at His table;
Fellowship with Him.
I will thank Him always!