Wednesday, February 6, 2008

My Daily Summit with the Living God:opposition and persecution.

Today in my devotions I was reading through Psalm 56, and then through Acts 5. I had to ask the question, "is there any connection between these two Scripture passages?" And, "how do they apply to me as I continue to walk with God and meet Him daily?"

Here’s what I came up with

Psalm 56 in a nutshell:

David is praying to God because he is afraid of pursuing enemies who are intent on hunting him down and killing him. Not only do they want to kill him physically, but they are also assassinating his character by spreading lies about him. So, they plot and scheme over how they can get rid of David. Why? Because he is a threat to their system. Here comes a man from their midst who is a man of integrity; honest, wise, and loyal to the God of heaven. He is a threat to Saul and to other nations because government and politics has and always will be a dirty, crooked business.

Fast forward to the book of Acts; different time, different people, same geographical area, all connected by a common thread—Jesus Christ.

David lived many years before Jesus came, yet was looking forward to the coming of Messiah. The Apostles walked with the One David was looking forward to. David and the Apostles had similar experiences in that, when they chose to obey God, rather than men, they faced opposition in the form of persecution and were even facing the threat of death.

In Acts 5:17-42 we read of the account of the Apostles being arrested, not once, but twice. The first time they were miraculously set free. The government officials, along with the high priest and the Sadducees, could not explain this, yet they shrugged it off and went out and arrested them once again, this time intent on killing them when they refused to stop preaching in the name of Jesus, after they preached the gospel to the high priest, Sadducees, and various government officials who were present.

After one wise official spoke up, not to defend them, but to eliminate the possibility of an uprising from the people who were being influenced by this group of Christ followers, the rest of their persecutors ceased with their plan to execute them. They had them beaten and then told them to no longer preach in the name of Jesus. And they went out rejoicing for being counted worthy of suffering for the name of Jesus.

Rejoicing after a beating? After nearly being executed? Rejoicing?

David, in his own way, was rejoicing. He knew that the God of his ancestors would also protect and defend him against mortal enemies.

The Apostles rejoiced because they knew that, just as God delivered David from all of his trials and sufferings, so He would deliver them. This thought replaced their human fear with godly fear, which caused them to trust in God rather than in men. When mere mortal men rose up against them, they were not afraid; David nor the Apostles, because they knew God and trusted Him.

When you and I stand up to opposition and persecution, in the name of the One who died to set us free, we can rest assured, that just as He rose from the dead, so we will raised with Him. Men who rise up against us can do whatever they want; even ravage and kill our mortal flesh. But they cannot kill or even harm our souls, because they belong to God.

The Apostle Paul said,

11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. (Ephesians 6:11-13)

Our battle belongs to the Lord because our greatest enemy is an unseen devil who seeks to destroy anyone who takes a stand for God. The Holy Spirit arms us with weapons from on high so that we can stand against the unseen enemy who guide s the schemes and efforts of our mortal enemies.

It all comes down to, not what you know, but Who you know.