Tuesday, May 6, 2014

"What to do when the world is against you … "

Day #130:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - May 7th

Scripture Reading:  Psalms 54 - 56 …

So what DO you do when the world is against you?  The first thing you do is examine yourself and your life.  WHY does it seem like the world is against you??  Many would answer something like this:  "People just don't like me and I seem to always have bad luck and nothing ever goes right for me and … "  - you get the idea.  A lot of people like to complain, grumble and in general, feel sorry for themselves.  If that's you, you need to stop!  Not because I tell you to stop, but because if you are reading this blog and claim to be a Christian, GOD tells you to stop.  "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life" (Philippians 2:14-16).

The problem with having a "pity party" is that nobody wants to come and join you … it's a party of one and the theme song is, "Woe is me!"  Those who know the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob don't live like that.  In our Psalms for today, David may sound like he is whining and complaining, but he had real enemies, not imaginary ones, and he repeatedly declares his trust in the Lord.  In Psalm 54 he cries out to God because people are literally trying to kill him.  Yet he is confident, saying, "Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me" (54:4).  He testifies, "I will praise your name, O LORD, for it is good.  For He has delivered me from all my troubles, and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes" (54:6-7).

Can you look at your life and see God's hand of deliverance over and over?  If not, something's wrong. Some people think of "deliverance" as God taking the problem or trial away, but God often delivers us by getting us through the struggle.  He IS faithful to those who cry out to Him and David knew that was true by firsthand experience.  That allowed David to be honest, with himself and with God.  In Psalm 55, David expresses the anguish of his thoughts and his emotions (55:2-5):  "My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught …  My heart is in anguish within me … Fear and trembling have beset me …"  This is not a pleasant place to be.  What was it that was causing David such inner turmoil?

He answers that question in verses 12-14:  "If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him.  But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God!"  David's enemies were those that claimed to believe in God, who had once walked beside David and even stood with him in battle.  They had now turned against him.  They had revealed their true colors.

Is there anything more grievous to the soul than when those who claim to be brothers and sisters in Christ turn against you and slander your name and make accusations against you?  Yet Jesus said this would happen!  Jesus told His disciples that they would be hated and despised and that some would claim to be doing God's will by putting them to death.  The Apostle Paul himself was a persecutor of the Church before he came to know Christ.  In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of ME!" (Matthew 5:11).  If their accusations are false, take it with the grace God gives.   Do what David did:  "But I call to God and the LORD saves me!" (55:16).

I love Psalm 55:22:  "Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall."  Through faith in Jesus Christ God declares those who believe "righteous" in His sight. We belong to Him; we are HIS!  God will destroy the wicked, "but as for me, I trust in YOU!" (55:23).  Are you trusting in God?  Trusting in Him is the only thing that will eliminate whining and complaining from your vocabulary, because part of the problem when people whine and complain is that they believe they deserve better.  Somehow the wrong message is coming from many in the visible church … the idea that following Jesus is this awesome, carefree life filled with one mountaintop experience after another.  David reveals the right approach to God once again in Psalm 56:

"Be merciful to me, O God …" (56:1).  David understood that he needed God's mercy.  "Mercy" is NOT getting what you deserve.  David could have felt that God was punishing him, but his knowledge of God and his faith in God took him in a different direction.  He says, "When I am afraid, I will trust in You.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.  What can mortal man do to me?" (56:3-4).  And he repeats these same words in verses 10-11.  This is actually something that you and I need to do … whether you write it in a journal or speak it out loud … we need to TELL OURSELVES what is TRUE!!

When emotions get the best of you and you feel like the world is against you, understand this:  the world IS against you if you are a follower of Jesus!  But that's OK!!  "If God is for me (us), who can be against me (us)?" (Romans 8:31).  David reminds himself, as we need to do:  "I am under vows to you, O God; I will present my thank offerings to you.  For you HAVE DELIVERED me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life" (56:12-13).  Do you understand what that means for you and me as believers?

Through Jesus Christ God HAS DELIVERED us from spiritual, eternal death!  We HAVE BEEN redeemed.  What can this world do to us?  What can our enemies do to us?  Making a commitment to God must never be done on a whim or half-heartedly because GOD takes it very, very seriously.  There are times when you and I get discouraged or frustrated or overwhelmed, and at those times your emotions want to control you.  The old nature wants to give up, give in, get mad, be afraid, run away … BUT God is with me!!

When it seems the world is against you remember that through Jesus Christ GOD is for you!  Do not be afraid; do not whine and complain or feel sorry for yourself.  Do you believe the LORD and His promises?  Then He is with you and He WILL deliver you … in His time, in His way, for His glory and for YOUR good!!  He has called you to walk before Him in the light of life.  Jesus is the Light of the world.  Read I John 1:1-10.  Listen to the testimony of God's Word calling you away from the world … away from your self … and live and walk in the light of God's truth!

"Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall" (Psalm 55:22).  Through faith in Jesus Christ God declares those who believe "righteous" in His sight. We belong to Him; we are HIS!  God will destroy the wicked, "but as for me, I trust in YOU!" (55:23).  Let that be YOUR testimony and He WILL lift you up!!

"O LORD, my God, I trust in You.  I have made my vow before You.  I believe in Your Son, Jesus Christ, and I come to You in HIS Name, knowing that You hear me when I call and trusting that You will deliver me, for since You did not spare Your own Son, but gave Him up for ME, I know that You will provide all I need and will carry me through to victory.  Give me grace, Father, to trust and obey, to live in the light of Your Word for Your glory.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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