When one lays their head down on their pillow at night, the true issues circling in their souls come to the forefront. The children are in bed, the work is done, the media is off—outward distractions are at a minimum.
Yet our hearts and minds are likely still active. The issues and troubles of our lives are still pressing. What presses on the Christian most is when, even when they look to do the right thing and to honor Christ with all they have, they still suffer persecution! The persecution can come from the outside, or they can come from the inside—and it’s the ‘inside persecution’ that hurts the most.
The Apostle Paul at the end of 2 Timothy, showed some of this hurt. He said:
Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me.
While Crescens and Titus were faithful, notice that Paul mentions Demas first. He was with Paul, but grew “in love with this present world.”
In 1 Timothy 1:16-18, Paul says that Hymenaeus and Philetus, “who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened”—made him an enemy of the things of the Lord. And this broke his heart. But he maintained perspective. He never stopped, he never wavered, he never gave up on the gospel. Paul was the epitome of quiet trust amid troubling circumstances. We shall see how Christ was the ultimate.
We will see how this can happen from looking at Psalm 4. Are your circumstances troubling you? Is the devil tempting and discouraging you? Is the standard by which you live letting you down—and you’re thinking, there has to be something more?
Psalm 4 gives us some perspective.
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
2 O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
3 But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
the Lord hears when I call to him.
4 Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
5 Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the Lord.
6 There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”
7 You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.
8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
1. God’s past deliverance gives David a present confidence (4:1).
Our appeal to God must be confident in the God who delivers from enemies, but recognizes our personal sin of one who petitions.
2. God’s past warnings give David a present clarity in regards to his enemies (4:2-3).
No matter what our enemies may do, God cares for His own and hears when they call. This clarity provides the Christian with eternal perspective during the earthly persecutions. If we approach even the throne of Almighty God through Christ with confidence, then who are our enemies in comparison? We can talk with them with confidence as well!
3. God’s past promises give the believer a present calling (4:4-5).
God has called all believers to holiness—an anger toward sin, and an aim to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God (Romans 12:1). Sin is a lack of trust in God’s promises. Trust is wanting lack of sin and more of Christ.
4. God’s presence gives the believer a present cheer (4:6-8).
Both joy and peace belong to the believer when the light of God’s face shines on us. Regardless of what Satan does, what our flesh feels, or where our mind takes us, God brings joy and peace—and even rest! God’s got it!
So how does this tie in with the vision of our church?
Magnify (upward toward Christ)
Will you magnify the Lord this week for his deliverance, his warnings, his promises, and his presence—even in the midst of temptations and persecutions? Where do you find your confidence? (Read Psalm 73:24-25.)
Mature (forward in Christ)
Are you reading and memorizing Scripture to know of God’s deliverance, warnings, promises, and presence? No matter how much you want to do for Christ, if you don’t spend time getting to know Christ in His Word, what you will do will be for you and what you think and not for Christ and what He wills.
Who do you know right now that needs to know of the promises and presence of God? Who needs to be reminded of the joy and peace that comes from the Lord—and not in personal reputation or circumstances?
As you take Christ into your circle of friends and in the community, remind yourself of the how “the LORD has set apart the godly for himself” (4:3) and no one can ultimately touch us. Be strong in the Lord!
Wednesday, 30 January 2013