Posts Tagged enemies

Shield of Faith

Psalm 3: 3 – 4

But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head. I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah.

In verses one and two David decries the number and aggressiveness of his enemies. This psalm was written when David’s son was chasing him. How forlorn David must have been. His own son had turned against him in a grab for power. Though David spent the first two verses lamenting his dire situation, by verse three his spirit arose to declare the goodness and faithfulness of God.

He recognized Yahweh as a shield which surrounded him, guarding him from the menace of his many enemies. Though he must have gone around for some time with his head hanging low, God embraced him and held his head high. There is no shame because our God is our Father. He causes us to hold up our head when others would be bowed low.

The Passion translation of verse 4 is beautiful, “I have cried out to you, Yahweh, from your holy presence. You send me a Father’s help. Pause in his presence.” This is a good place to pause and consider. David had real trouble, real enemies. His problems eclipse most of ours. At least most of us don’t have people pursuing us to kill us. Despite his troubles, and in the very depth of them, he recognized the voice and hand of a loving Father. My point is that if David can receive the love of God in the midst of his dangerous circumstances, then we can too.

David triumphed over his enemies time and time again because he recognized that God was his hero. He trusted in God as his shield and that brought him the victory. Though he may have spent a little time mourning his situation, he never remained in that pitiful state. He would always put his mouth to work declaring God’s goodness. In the end, it was his belief in God’s faithfulness that delivered him. It will work for us too.

Free and Blessed

Isaiah 49: 25 – 26

This is what the Lord says:
Prisoners will be freed from mighty men.
Loot will be taken away from tyrants.
I will fight your enemies,
and I will save your children.
26  I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh,
and they will become drunk on their own blood
as though it were new wine.
Then all humanity will know that I am the Lord, who saves you,
the Mighty One of Jacob, who reclaims you.

There is no version in which this verse isn’t completely awesome. Genesis 12: 3 says that God will bless those who bless you but also, He will curse those who curse you. Today’s verse, from the NASB, says that God will contend with those who contend with you. Think about that for a moment. To whom does that apply? Is it the guy at work, your neighbor, the grocery store clerk? Regardless, God will handle all those folks while you smile and bless. You get to be the good guy, which is always our role, while God makes sure that everyone you encounter treats you as royalty. Any time that doesn’t happen, you just remind the entire spiritual realm that you are blessed, and that God contends with everyone that contends with you.

I know verse 26 is a bit gruesome, but you know what, I kinda like it. Your enemies will feed on their own entrails. I mean, God is serious about people messing with you and your stuff.

Prisoners are set free and your money loosed from the hands that hold it currently. These words bless me. Few of us, though, realize we are bound. Would that every Christian would be free from every bondage. That is God’s idea. No worries of any kind or limitations. Freedom from stress, bad habits, dysfunctional relationships; complete freedom in every sense, that is what Yahweh wishes to do for you.

Let’s not miss the final sentence of this passage because it is the clincher, the conclusion. When we live in God’s grace, when we live intertwined with Him and in the power of His grace, then all the world will see that He is God, that He is benevolent and that He loves those who call on His name. The world should see, and will, that life with Him is full of victory. The only thing preventing that right now is that we are living below the grace line. We are not living entwined about Him. God’s children need to rise up in the fullness of God’s plans for us and let the world see that He is good.

Recovery

Psalm 35: 26 – 28          NIV

May all who gloat over my distress be put to shame and confusion; may all who exalt themselves over me be clothed with shame and disgrace. May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, “The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.” My tongue will speak of your righteousness and of your praises all day long.

It has taken three days to share with you the insight and emotional outpouring of David which is found in the 35th Psalm. I wanted to give you this psalm because I know that we all have been in David’s shoes emotionally.

One of the key points we can glean from this passage is that David knew his Bible. In this passage he essentially prayed Genesis 12: 3 which reads, “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.” It is always wise to pray the promises God has already given us. Where there is a passage which relates to our circumstance then we already know God’s will. In this case, all we have to do is line up our prayer with the promise God has already given.

The other point which I think is key is to notice how David ends this Psalm. He was certainly in great distress and poured out his heart to God but when he gets to the end he has reached the point of declaring God’s greatness. That is one of the keys to David’s success and to his great relationship with God. There are other psalms wherein David begins with a recitation of his troubles but always at the end he has laid his problem at the throne of God and taken up his instrument to sing praises to the Most High. This is a very valuable lesson. It is acceptable to lament your woes. It is okay to tell God your troubles and your feelings, but do not end your conversation there. Keep communicating with God until you reach the praise and thanksgiving stage. Keep praying until your trust in His saving grace has returned to you. Remember too, that our New Testament instruction from Jesus is to pray for our tormentors. Their actions will return to them because of the bad seed they have sown. However, we now have the power and authority to even save them from themselves because in Jesus we can pray for their healing and a reversal of their fortunes. It certainly is not the easiest thing in the world to do but we have Jesus, and in him all things are possible, even praying for our enemies.

Rescue Me!

Psalm 35: 17 – 20, 23 -24         NIV

Lord, how long will you look on? Rescue my life from their ravages, my precious life from these lions. I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among throngs of people I will praise you. Let not those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; let not those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye, they do not speak peaceably, but devise false accusations against those who live quietly in the land.

23 Awake, and rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and Lord. Vindicate me in your righteousness O Lord my God.

Yesterday we saw David forlorn and depressed. He moaned under the weight of his grief. In today’s portion of Psalm 35 we see David beginning to transition. He is beginning to look for the answer and he knows that his God is the answer. He recognizes God as his vindicator and his own role as praising and thanking the Lord for his salvation.

As you listen to David’s words you may think that his problems are not that different from our own. Perhaps we would be well advised to view our role in the battle in the same way as does David. David understood the lesson from 2 Chronicles 20: 12 – 25. In this great adventure the people learned how to fight a battle. God told them, “You need not fight in this battle” (v. 17). Instead they gave themselves over to praise and thanksgiving while God routed the enemy for them. They didn’t even go down to where the battle took place. They stood on the high ground and praised their God.

Maybe your tormentor, like King Saul, seems misled and unreasonable. That is what David had to contend with. He said his enemies hated him without cause or reason. It is said of Saul that he was influenced by an evil spirit, or that he suffered from a mental disorder. Those who plague us have their own issues. Often, probably most often, their suffering is the genesis for the agony they cause us. This, I believe, is why Jesus taught us to pray for those who persecute us. (Matthew 5: 44). They have their own pain and it is that hurt that causes them to persecute us without cause.

So what do we have to say to these things? Look to God to be your vindicator. Stand in trust. Pray to the Lord your God giving Him praise and thanksgiving. Sing to Him with a glad heart for all that He is. Expect Him to rescue your precious life from the roaring lion. Stand and see the glory of the Lord.

Healed to Help

Matthew 5: 44                         (King James Version)

But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. 

These are the words of Jesus from early in his ministry. We see him taking his own advice at the cross when he prayed to his father from the cross to forgive those who crucified him. Jesus knew something that we are hopefully all learning. When people act out, they are really revealing their own brokenness. When we are healed and walking in our office and authority, then these people’s offenses become an opportunity for ministry rather than a time for us to be offended. I am learning that people can do things that are prime stimuli for me to lose my peace but that it is really my decision to allow them to steal my peace or not. The stronger and more complete my healing, the less their stuff gets on me and the less it offends me. You begin to see that the people who strike out at you or attempt to hurt you are really only exhibiting their own emotional damage. As God heals their wounds, they will not feel the need to strike out at others or hurt others. Their language will correct itself and they will be able to become others centered instead of being so selfish and self-centered. We can help these people. First, physician, heal thyself. Allow God to do a work in you so that you are not susceptible to other people’s problems. Then, learn to sincerely pray for these people. Help them. Also, as you grow and people do not so easily offend you, when someone does something that once had the power to upset you, you will find that you can meet them at their point of need right then and there and minister to their need.

Spiritual Revenge

Job 42: 8

Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept him so that I may not do with you according to your folly because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.

If you read the book of Job you will see that Job’s “friends” spoke against him for the whole book. I mean they really gave him a time. As soon as bad things started happening to Job his friends descended upon him and accused him of some great sin as the cause of the tragedies which were occurring in his life.

Isn’t that just like folks? They probably had been jealous of Job all the while because he was very wealthy and blessed in all things. Then when the devil started stealing his blessing, his friends began to harshly criticize him. In the end God corrected and reproved them.

Now if I were Job, I might not want God to send those chaps to me for me to pray for them. I can imagine saying, “God, I don’t want to pray for those fools that have harangued me for months. Just let them reap the fruit of their seed.” Fortunately for them, Job was obedient to God. I do like that they had to take him a big offering though. And we know that Job did pray for them because the subsequent verses tell us that God did accept Job’s prayer.

You see, the Old Testament teachings are consistent with the New Testament. God had Job pray for his enemies and we are under the same command today. Pray for those who persecute you and despitefully use you (Matthew 5: 44).

Vanishing Enemies

Isaiah 41: 11

Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored; those who contend with you will be as nothing, and will perish.

Trouble comes. You know that. Even for Christians there are challenges. Sometimes I think we ought to be able to live charmed lives where nothing can touch us but that is fantasy. In reality problems affect everyone. The secret is in how we deal with those issues and how we let them affect us. We really can live above the fray, above the chaos if we will let Jesus be Lord of our entire day rather than just our philosophical Lord. What do I mean by that? We have all given our lives and hearts to Jesus. We have asked him to be Lord of our lives and we are sincere in our surrender to his lordship. However, Monday morning always comes and in the clamor of all that must be done we lose sight of our position with Christ. That is why it is so good to give the Lord even just a few minutes in the morning before you are confronted with the tasks of the day. We need to re-establish first thing in the morning Jesus as Lord over our lives and, significantly, over every minute of our day. Then throughout the day when issues and questions present themselves we take them to Jesus. If he is Lord then he ought to have a say in what goes on. When we systematically apply Jesus’ lordship to everything we do and to everything that invades our lives then we can move from the center of the tumult. Jesus fights the battles, completes our task lists, multiplies our time and does everything else we need.  

You can’t fight the battles on your own because your detractors will lie and cheat. You need the supernatural power that the trinity can provide. If you want to look around and find the enemy just gone, then you need to put the problem in Jesus’ hand and leave it there. Sometimes that is a minute by minute process but when you allow the lordship of Jesus to prevail over the problems of your life then it becomes his problem rather than your own. That is when you will look around and find that those who contended with you are as nothing. We don’t pray against them, of course. We don’t have to. And if you truly understand today’s verse you will understand very clearly why Jesus told us to pray for our enemies. Those who attack, criticize and condemn us are walking into a hornet’s nest of their own making. The bad seeds they are sowing are going to sprout and produce a bountiful crop of trouble for them. We need to pray for them because if they mess with you they are going to be shamed and dishonored, be as nothing and perish. Okay, not a good forecast.

God is on your side. He is in your corner. Let Him be your fight manager. Let Him be the boss, the Lord and then the outcome is assured. You will arise and your enemies are going to suffer. Pray for your enemies because they have signed a destruction order over their own lives. Get a big revelation of Jesus as Lord of your challenges and step out of the turmoil and into his glorious victory. Amen.