Psalm 37:5-6 (NLT)
Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
The word persecute has two meanings. The first is to pursue with harassing or oppressive treatment especially because of religious, political or any other belief or social grouping. The second meaning is to annoy, trouble or harass persistently. I dare say that as believers that we will most certainly fall under one category or the other if we are truly living what we believe. A life of faith will draw the attention of not only people but the enemy who makes it his full time job to seek those who he can steal from, kill or destroy. With this in mind, we speak words of faith calling for the justice of God and His Word to come to pass in our life, but sometimes forget that this draws the attention of the enemy of our soul more than ever. As you strive to commit everything you do to the Lord and trust Him – He will most definitely help you to overcome in every situation. But we must remember such a lifestyle will draw enemy fire in our life. Are you in such a situation? No matter how hard to try to live for God, do the right thing, speak life, turn from evil to do good, and be a shining example for Christ, it seems like life gets harder and harder as the attacks of the adversary through people, circumstances and trouble become more and more persistent in your life. Welcome to a life of persecution. We were warned by the Lord. But He is not one to abandon us or leave us powerless without a defense. Our faith can help us overcome the annoying, troubling and persist harassing of the enemy. In fact, we must learn what to do when we are persecuted to not fall into the valley of pride to fight our own battle but rather learn to wait for the Lord. He promises to make my innocence radiate like the dawn and the justice of my cause to shine like the noonday.
The most difficult battles to fight our way through or even “faith” it through are those that just don’t make any sense. Unfair is one thing but illogical is quite another. When you follow all the rules, do the right thing, and live in integrity – yet are still called out as a liar, cheat, dishonest, or worse. Is there purpose in times like these when the only one who seems to see through it all is Jesus? He knows our heart. If you have done the right thing, He knows and this promise is for you. Let’s say you messed up along the way, it is still okay as repentance quickly lines our heart back up with the Lord. He will never let the righteous fall even if they stumbled a bit stepping back in. What’s the point of it all? Well, the enemy wants to take you out because your light in the midst of oppression shines brighter. Jesus came to give us abundant life. When we are humbled by the hardships of life, He blesses us even more.
Matthew 5:11-12 (NLT)
“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.”
The enemy knows our greatest weakness. He is merciless and will use it against God’s Children each and every time. We must take our weakness and insufficiencies surrendering them to Jesus Christ. Why? God blesses us in that moment of the giving of our life by fortifying our faith with confident hope. We can see past today into forever and determine how it will weigh upon it. God promises to bless those who mocked and persecuted. If people lie about you or try all sorts of evil things against you than you will be blessed. How do I know that this applies to me? Are you following Christ? As a believer, you can expect the enemy’s attacks against your life on a personal level. He is trying to convince you that the Blood of Jesus is not powerful enough to overcome in every situation so you will abandon this notion of faith and trust in God to return to doubt and unbelief. To worry and become anxious in fear removes our faith from the Lord and gives the enemy the power to defeat us in life. We should be happy when trying times come because it is yet another opportunity to shine for Christ.
I am presently in the middle of an all-out war in the workplace. I have done the right thing. The policies have been adhered to. There is no doubt in my mind that my co-workers and myself have done nothing wrong. We are the only ones trained in our field who truly understand the job that we do. Yet, we have been falsely accused and unfairly judged by a group of individuals locked in a political battle. I was called in by my administrators and shown the report that will soon be posted publicly. It indicates wrong doing on my part and singles me out by position and title. Despite supplying a plethora of information documenting the truth, the auditors do not want to report the truth. They want to destroy their purported enemy. I am simply collateral damage. I cannot leave my job. It is not time. I must stand in the midst of false accusations, continued harassment and ongoing attacks with only the Lord by my side. My coworkers are helpless. My superiors are stuck. But why me? I have asked the Lord repeatedly. It is senseless. Could it be that the Lord has already turned this around for my own good? It may not be today or even tomorrow. The “truth” may never make front page news but be buried in the end. Faith is not just for the majors in our life like sickness and disease, it is a way of life. Such conditions remind me that I don’t need Jesus sometimes, I need the Lord ALL the time.
Psalm 37:18-19 (NLT)
Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever. They will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough.
We are in this world but not of it. It does not matter if I gain the whole world only to lose my soul. To sever ties with my dependence on this world, its people, and its prosperity sometimes requires persecution. Such times reveal our dependency issues and those things other than God that we are connected to. I say this with complete honesty and humility transparently before you. I work for the Lord. But sometimes I forget to look to Him for my blessing. “Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent and they will receive an inheritance that will last forever.” But like a popular gameshow, I must choose the blessing that I am after. Will I chose the short term blessing of personal gratification and the applause of others? Or will I decide to let the Lord decide the measure of my return? Ooh, how we all struggle in this area whether we admit it or not. I am taking the persecution against me personally. I am weighing it heavily professionally. But ultimately if the prosperity of God is my goal, I have to let it go. I have to decide that His Promise is what I am after rather than prideful fulfillment.
You will not be disgraced by these people. They cannot take your life but create an avenue for the Lord to change you for the better. Will you allow it? Those who choose to believe no matter how difficult and hard things get that you are blessed will do more than survive but will thrive to the Glory of God. The situation creates attention and others begin to look at us in either pity, compassion, or sometimes pride and arrogance. Either way, this persecution you are going through will certainly get others looking at you while living under the spotlight. We are called to be the Light of the World. See the connection. This time of trouble brings you out of obscurity and gives us the opportunity to be a beacon on a hill for others to see the Glory of God because He loves us so and flock to it. This, of course, depends on how we endure such times of testing. Will it bring honor to the Lord, or dishonor His Sacrifice and disarm His Power in your life? It is completely up to us what we choose to make of this bitter time and bad situation. Just think of Job, he probably never would have lived a life of significance outside of his hardship. He remained faithful to God through it all. He was blessed double for his trouble and remains an encouragement to others through all generations.
Psalm 37:23-25 (NLT)
The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.
Persecution is the pressure point that pushes the Light of His Love in our heart out for public display. We can evaluate the contents of our heart by what comes out of our mouth during the test. If we truly believe that it is the Lord who orders our steps and that He delights in every detail of our life, then we know that Romans 8:28 is true and a work in progress in our life. The Lord is turning every detail for our good even this one. I have stumbled in this situation as it has made me angry. I feel violated. There doesn’t seem to be any justice and the wicked appear to be gaining ground. But the Lord has promised that He will never leave me. He is holding my hand so that I will not fall in this time of testing. The Lord will not abandon me or leave me to my own resources but instead I will prosper under pressure. Commitment of our entire life to Jesus plants seeds of righteousness that are sometimes (often) watered by our tears. When the pressure of persecution is applied to our life, it causes them to begin to sprout into blessing because we refuse to leave the field.
2 Samuel 23:11-12 (NLT)
Next in rank was Shammah son of Agee from Harar. One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils. The Israelite army fled, but Shammah held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines. So the Lord brought about a great victory.
One of David’s mightiest warriors was a man named Shammah. Have you heard of him? Yeah, me either until our pastor introduced him about a month ago in a message. Shammah was locked in a battle with the Philistines (the giants) in the middle of a lentil field. The Israelite army fled but Shammah held his position until the battle was over. The Lord brought Him great victory. Will you stand your ground today? In the midst of a battle is when true character and commitment is revealed. You must decide if what you after is worth fighting for. My faith is worth fighting for. I will endure persecution to be the Light that shines in the darkness for others to see. Rather than focusing on the enemy, I must focus on me. Building my faith by reading, studying and meditating on His Word rather than then accusations of the enemy. I must commit my entire life – body, mind and spirit to the Lord and make sure to keep that connection intact even if it means sacrificing every ounce of my pride. (It will!) Unless the Lord tells me to move, I must hold my position of faith and confident hope until He comes. He will make my life shine out the Light of His Love in this situation if I just hang on until He works out every detail for my good.
Psalm 37:34-37 (NLT)
Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along his path. He will honor you by giving you the land. You will see the wicked destroyed. I have seen wicked and ruthless people flourishing like a tree in its native soil. But when I looked again, they were gone! Though I searched for them, I could not find them! Look at those who are honest and good, for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace.
I want what God has planned for my life. I want the future and hope that is promised those who seek Him wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) If you feel the same way, I encourage you to read Psalm 37 today. It puts your life and those who come against you in their proper place. You have only one enemy. Be sure that he maintains his identity in your life and pray for those who he is using mercilessly to come against you. This is vitally important as it will open the gateway of blessing as it did for Job. This too shall pass. I will say it again. This too shall pass. That which has come against you may seem endless and overwhelming but it will end because Jesus has overcome every problem we have. Choose the fruit of His Spirit over any root of bitterness that is trying to creep into your life and suffocate your heart. Those who come against you are under attack as well. The enemy you face is always the same. Let the Lord give you wisdom and understanding so you will know what do next time. Stop talking about it and pray about it. Worthless talk and endless chatter fill the enemy with new ideas and ways to get inside your head. We reveal our position in careless words. Speak the Word of God over your life. Trust the Lord. Stop fighting for your cause and invest your energy in faith in God. He is faithful. He is good! He loves you! You may be the persecuted today but if you will just hold on it will produce prosperity tomorrow!
Psalm 37:1-4 (NLT)
Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong. For like grass, they soon fade away. Like spring flowers, they soon wither. Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.