Do you have enemies? Do you have people who oppose you for doing what is right, just, truthful, merciful, godly and Christlike? Are you being persecuted for your faith in Jesus Christ, and for your witness and your testimony for him, and for his gospel of salvation? You are not alone. These Calamities Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me. He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth. Psalm 57:1-3 KJV Jesus had many enemies. Most of his enemies were those of his own family, of his own country (or town), and of his own faith (of the Jewish faith of the OT and of the gospels, under the Old Covenant). And, they were the religious leaders within the temple of God. The scribes, the Pharisees, and the teachers of the law hotly pursued Jesus, trying to trip him up, to discredit and to disgrace him, because they disapproved of him, his actions, and his words - what he taught, what he lived, and who He said He was. This was because they were jealous of him, and they were threatened by him, fearful that their own positions of power and influence over the people might be at risk of going away because of him, and because of his influence over the people. This was also because he confronted them with their sins, and he exposed their idolatry, their wickedness, their deceitfulness and their hypocrisy; because he told them that they needed to repent of their sins or they were doomed to hell, not on their way to heaven. They also didn’t like him because he didn’t follow their customs, their traditions, and their religious, yet hypocritical practices. They often chided him on that fact. Yet, what we must understand is that Jesus said that we would be hated as he was hated. How they treated him, they will treat us. Some or many of our biggest opponents will not be the people of the world, but will be other Christians (or professing Christians) within the gatherings of the church, and they will be the leaders within the churches, too. And, they will hate and oppose us, and will try to discredit and disgrace us, because they also disapprove of us, our actions, our words, and the fact that we do not join in with them in their pagan revelry, their idolatry, and their sinful practices. But, this is not going to get better unless the Lord revives his adulterous church. But, even then, we will still face this opposition from the apostate church, and from the sinful world, and from the beast. This persecution is only going to get worse with the progression of time, as we get even closer to our Lord’s return. So, we should not be alarmed when persecution against us increases in severity, or when some of us may face it for the very first time. Instead, we should take refuge in our God, and find our comfort, our security, our hope, our healing and our deliverance in him. Yet, we must know that we are destined for such trials and tribulations, so the Lord may not always deliver us from the difficult times we face, but he will deliver us through them, i.e. he will guide and direct us, fill us with his peace and joy, free us from fear, and help us to persevere; to press on. Among Lions My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth. They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Selah. Psalm 57:4-6 KJV A “lion,” in this context, is someone who “lies on” other people, i.e. who tells lies about others for their own advantage, or who gossips about others for the purpose to discredit others, or to make them look bad, so that the “lion” will look good, by comparison. He is greedy and devouring, eager for self-gratification, despite who gets hurt in the process. He is predatory, one that preys, destroys or devours others, exceedingly eager to seize upon any opportunities in which to plunder (take or steal from) others, and their reputations, perhaps as a means of “evening the score,” so to speak. Obviously this describes Satan, but it is also a description of the Pharisees of Jesus’ time, and of the false teachers the scriptures warn us about, too (See: Matt. 7:15-20; Matt. 24; John 10; 2 Peter 2; 1 Jn. 4:1-6; Jude 1). And, some of these false teachers are operating inside institutional churches as pastors, elders, Bible teachers, and deacons, in authority over God’s people. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing, and they are there to steal, to kill and to destroy. They disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, and as preachers of the gospel, but they lie to you about what is true and about what is false. They flip-flop them, in fact, making evil to be good and good to be evil, so that the people will reject the good and embrace the evil, and it is working, for many have bought into their lies, hook, line and sinker. They are “ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4 KJV). These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm--shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted--twice dead” (Jude 1:12 NIV). They are those who promote “every wind of teaching,” by their “cunning and craftiness” “in their deceitful scheming” (Eph. 4:14 NIV). “In their greed, these false teachers will exploit you with tales they have concocted” (2 Pet. 2:3a BSB). But, our God is still exalted. He is still on his throne. He is still completely sovereign over all that he has made. And, he is allowing all this evil, and all this deception to exist, for a time (See: Rev. 13), and for a purpose. And, one day he will destroy the wisdom of the wise of this world, and he will bring these false teachers either to their end, in judgment, or he may bring some of them to the end of themselves in humility and repentance, and in snatching from the fire and saving them, like he did for Paul. So, PRAY! I Will Sing My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music. Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. Psalm 57:7-11 NIV The word “sing,” although meaning to make a melodious sound with our voices, using musical tones by means of the voice, also means to cry out, to make a cry, to call, and/or to give information or evidence; to shout, and/or to make a request or a demand (M-W Dict.). So, this not only speaks of the need to sing praises to God, and to do so among the people, and among the nations, but this is also a call to proclaim His Name and His mighty deeds among the nations and among the people. This has to do with awakening minds which are asleep, and which are deceived, by exposing the lies, and by proclaiming the truth, so that many people’s eyes will be opened, and so they will be turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so they may receive forgiveness of sins, and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ. The encouragement here for us, who are followers of Jesus Christ, is to keep on singing, to keep on exposing the lies, and the fruitless deeds of darkness, and to keep on proclaiming the truth of the gospel of our salvation – to be steadfast in this, for many need to have their eyes opened to the truth. It is true that we are saved by God’s grace, through faith, and this not of ourselves, of our own fleshly works, lest any of us should boast in ourselves that we somehow earned or deserved our own salvation. This salvation by grace through faith is a gift of God to us. It was attained for us via Jesus’ death on a cross, whereby he became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God, and through his resurrection from the dead, wherein he rose from the dead as conqueror over sin, death, hell and Satan. Only by faith in Jesus Christ can we be delivered from our slavery to sin and be given new lives in Christ Jesus to be lived to his righteousness. But, even this faith is a gift of God to us, for it means to be divinely persuaded, i.e. persuaded as to God’s holiness, righteousness, justice and grace, as to what he accomplished for us on that cross and in his resurrection, and as to what it means to be “in Christ” by faith in him. So, if we are divinely persuaded, that means we are convinced of our need to repent of our sins and to turn our lives over to the Lord Jesus, to walk in his holiness and righteousness. Many are teaching today that we can believe in Jesus and have the hope of heaven when we die, but that we don’t have to repent of our sins or obey the Lord Jesus, as though those are optional, and that it doesn’t matter how we live from that point forward, because heaven is guaranteed and it can’t be taken away from us, no matter what. But, this is a lie, and the purpose of the lie is to keep you still trapped in addiction to sin, believing you don’t have the power to be free or that it doesn’t matter to God if you are free. But, it does matter. And, your eternity depends on you knowing the truth. Jesus said if anyone would want to come after him, he must deny self, and take up his cross daily and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living to sin and self), we will lose them for eternity. But, if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), for the sake of Christ, then we will have eternal life with God. For, if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with God for eternity (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17). 10,000 Reasons Matt Redman Bless the Lord oh my soul Oh my soul Worship His Holy name Sing like never before Oh my soul I'll worship Your Holy name The sun comes up It's a new day dawning It's time to sing Your song again Whatever may pass And whatever lies before me Let me be singing When the evening comes… Monday, February 12, 2018, 8:06 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from Your Word today. Help me always to put your truths you have for my life into practice.