Happy People

Psalm 144:15   (KJV)   15 Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.

Joy characterizes the life of God’s people. There’s a lot of unhappiness going on around us. There’s a lot of unhappy situations people find themselves in. There’s a lot of people who cause pain and sadness. There’s a lot of ways to respond.

Psalm 144.15 - Happy PeopleWe as God’s people act and react to people and situations in our lives in godly ways. Yes, we experience tough times, but our joy is untouched. It’s our choice whether or not we’ll rejoice; and we choose to rejoice—always, no matter how bleak the circumstances and how nasty our surroundings are.

We can’t control what others do and we don’t want to control people either, but we have full control over our own actions and attitudes. We have a beautiful perspective about life. True, we’re treated unfairly and we suffer for being godly, but even that becomes a joy for us.

Danger makes people worried and scared; we have the Lord Who is our impenetrable shield. Wars and rumors of wars frighten others; but the Lord is our victory; He trains our hands and gives us the skills necessary to live victoriously. The mightiest of our attackers are but a mist before God.  He Who hurls lightning bolts from the heavens can scatter our most powerful foes very quickly.

So yes, we live in joy—it’s very reasonable for people like us whose God is the LORD.

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God’s Greater Glory

Exodus 14:4   (KJV)   4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord. And they did so.

A continuing and increasing indifference, hostility, or attacks against us can be God’s way of showing His glory in a more emphatic or obvious way. The unjust treatments we experience always turn out for the good. That’s a promise that puts all our experiences in exodus-14-4-gods-greater-glorythe proper light. All things work together for the good of those who love Him—we who are the called according to His purpose; they all work together for His glory, and for its greater display.

This may sound easier said than believed or acted on, but it does us very well when we do. There may come situations when it seems like we’re pushed farther in a tight corner, or between a rock and a hard place, or between a sea and an invading army. Our predicament may look confusing; we may feel like we don’t have a way of escape. But we understand that it’s in those moments when we see the miraculous powerful hands of the Lord scoop us into safety.

Not all situations are the same; some are harder than the other. In the natural, there may be no possible way for us to win the battle or to even escape alive—to survive. Others who find themselves in the same situation as ours murmur, complain, or compromise. But God fights on the side of those who are on His side. And it’s in our deliverance from our most horrible predicaments that others recognize God’s wondrous intervention. In our worst experiences, we find joy and comfort in knowing that a greater revelation of our God’s greatness and goodness is about to unfold, and we get to know Him even more.

Distinctions

Exodus 8:23   (KJV)   23 And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be.

There are similarities and differences in the experiences of God’s people and the world. God determines which is which. The world isn’t disqualified from all of God’s blessings exodus-8-23-distinctionsand goodness; God’s people aren’t exempt from tragedies. God makes the sun shine on both; He makes it rain on both. But there is a time when in God’s wisdom, He decides to create a distinction between those who are His own, and those who fight against Him.

Those are so many things believers do that unbelievers do; there are even miracles they can imitate; demonic forces are supernatural beings capable of extra-ordinary feats. But they can only go so far; they have limitations; our God alone is omnipotent. But yes, there’s suffering in the world, and Christians aren’t exempt from suffering. In fact, there are additional sufferings unique to believers; we do get persecuted for our faith.

God has sovereign plans for His people that will be accomplished no matter what. God has sovereign plans for the wicked that will be accomplished no matter what. The godly and the wicked may share the same blessings and experiences here and there, but there’s surely a demarcation line in this. God has a different destiny for the godly, and a different destiny for the ungodly. We’re excitedly waiting for our ultimate “tomorrow” when the difference will be total and final.

Lambs Among Wolves

 Luke 10:3   (KJV)   3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

We are to go share and spread the Good News of salvation to the lost, and to make disciples of all those who believe. Each has a calling; each has a race to run; each has responsibility. But we all are sent to the same hostile world. We are sent out as lambs luke-10-3-lambs-among-wolvesamong wolves. There’s no mandate to change our nature; we’re not called to be like wolves. Our difference will be obvious; it’s natural for wolves to try to hunt, attack, and devour us, but we are to stay our course.

Hostility is real; persecution is real, but God’s presence is more real. He promises to deliver us all the time. He may deliver us from them; He may deliver us through them, but He will deliver us. Others may question this. Martyrs abound. Where is God’s deliverance in this? These are legitimate questions, especially when asked from a perspective void of the eternal. Praise God for His light that shines in our understanding. We see better; we see clearer; we see more.

We’re aware of the supernatural and the eternal. This helps navigate through the world of the wolves better. We reach out to them without becoming like them. Many times they mistreat us. I remember a Middle Eastern sister in the Lord who was asked by some fanatical religious zealots to vacate their house at 12 midnight that same day, or they will be killed. They left everything they worked so hard for. That in itself was difficult, but even their journey of leaving their home became a dangerous escape attempt. They had to take unfamiliar paths because death also waited along the main thoroughfares. She shook as she shared the experience.

Some of us aren’t spared. That doesn’t spell failure on the part of God. He never fails. Death for us in the grand scheme of things isn’t tragic; it isn’t the end; it’s a passageway ushering us into an indescribable, incomparable, most blissful experience ever—right in the presence of our Father—He Who loves us most, He who we love most. That’s why although we fully appreciate God’s earthly blessings; we’re not attached to them; we understand that our real citizenship is dual: temporal and eternal, and our eternal home far outweighs what we now have.

So we go—lambs among wolves, lovingly, carefully, fearlessly, faithfully, empowered by God, changing this world, while longingly waiting for the next.

 

Song of Justice

Revelation 5:9   (KJV)   9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation

What has become almost a slogan to us and the local church I go to are these words: “There’s no life better than that of a believer.” At times others may wonder: how can that be true? Believers are objects of ridicule, rejection, attacks, torture, and even death. This is true for believers—whatever part of the world we find ourselves in. We don’t deny this; in revelation-5-9-song-of-justicefact, the more real the persecutions are, the more we see the comforting truth in that slogan. Despite all the sufferings unique to being God’s people, we still wonderfully enjoy a life of love, joy, peace, power, and freedom.

Who else enjoys that kind of reality? Where else do we find that? For many others, when they suffer, they don’t see life in a good light. But we believers still surprisingly do. Sheep among wolves and being enemies of the world where we’re operating isn’t a pretty picture seen from common eyes. We’re fully aware of that, but we know that the glory that awaits us is superbly and inestimably much greater than the sufferings we’re undergoing right now.

In the natural eyes, we look weird—even crazy. We love our enemies; we bless those who curse us; we pray for those who persecute us; we don’t rejoice in the misfortunes of those who attack us. It’s not that those of God are void of any sense of justice; we are. That’s why there’s singing in the presence of God for the worthiness of our Lord Jesus to break the seals and open the scroll. These things are associated with judgments. Why the singing? Praise God; we who unjustly suffer here on earth for being a part of His redeemed are spared from these horrendous judgments. This is the time of our much awaited vindication. In fact, this is the time when the meek, gentle-hearted martyrs will pray for vengeance—and that desire and action is welcomed.

We excitedly look forward to that day. Our precious Lord Jesus will be revealed in His awesome splendor and glory. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess—even His enemies—that our Lord is Lord. They have to; it will be very obvious. Judgments will be poured out, but not to the blood-bought saints. No, we won’t be suffering then: no more sorrow, tears, sickness, pain, death; we will be rejoicing.

Of Crown and Righteousness

2 Timothy 4:8   (KJV)   Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

There is seemingly an interestingly direct correlation between righteousness and our attitude regarding the return of our precious Savior. Why of all the different rewards and crown to be given, the crown of righteousness is given to those who love His appearing? 2-timothy-4-8-of-crown-and-righteousnessMy humble theory is this: We who are excited about His return—we who are deeply longing for our blessed hope and that blessed moment when we’ll meet our dear Lord in the air—live righteously.

To the best of our knowledge, the Lord’s return is imminent; He can come literally any moment of the day. That’s why we’re constantly waiting; with this, we’re constantly prepared; we don’t want to be like the foolish unprepared virgins in the Lord’s parable. We fight a good fight; we run a good race; we keep the faith. We try—as best as we know how—to live as good reflections of our righteous Father. There’s still a long road before us on the way to our predestination: our conformity to the image, or likeness, or character of our Lord Jesus, but we’re destiny-bound.

We prepare ourselves, we also help others prepare. As we do, the Lord’s also preparing to step back visibly into human affairs. There’s a famous cliché: there’s a payday someday. For us, there’s an awarding ceremony someday—very soon. He’s also preparing our eternal homes. Right now, we carefully guard ourselves against the ever-increasing evil surrounding us. The closer the curtain of this “age” comes to a close, the more ungodliness increases. With that, hostility and persecution against us increase; our suffering increases all the more. But we’re undaunted; the Lord has so sufficiently readied us for whatever lot we get; He also more than adequately empowers us.

The Honor of Suffering

Philippians 1:29   (KJV)   29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake

It is an honor and privilege to believe in our precious Lord and Savior Jesus. Another honor and privilege is one that’s unique; it may take time for some of us to wrap our minds around it, more so, experience it: it’s our inevitable suffering as believers. With all the philippias-1-29-honor-of-sufferingenjoyable blessings we receive is this seemingly odd insertion that many of us may not find too appealing. Pain isn’t always easy to equate to something positive.

But it’s regarding this very issue that I was very recently reminded of my humbling shortfall. Depending on where you’re reading this from, your experience will most probably dictate the weight of your conviction. As for me, it was a rude awakening, yet one I highly receive and value. I almost wish that it’s just my memory that doesn’t serve me well, but, as far as I can remember, the worst suffering I’ve ever experienced in connection with me being a believer has to do with personal insults: mockery, indifference, rejection, loss of friends. They hurt, and although it may be hard to accept, those experiences may have caused me some kind of intimidation that’s why I don’t share the Good News as frequently as needed.

What brought me some kind of godly “shame” are the sufferings of other believers. The Apostle Paul was imprisoned several times, whipped so many times—he lost count, faced death repeatedly, lashed several times, beaten with rods several times, stoned almost to death once, shipwrecked several times, was always in danger of death, and finally—beheaded. Add to this the prophets before him. One was sawed in two; some were struck with the sword; they left their homes and wandered in deserts and mountains and lived in caves and holes in the ground. Add to this the other apostles: thrown down from a high edifice and smashed with a club, struck with a spear, beheaded, crucified upside down… we get the idea. Add to this our brothers and sisters living in other countries who are under a continuous threat of persecution, imprisonment, torture and even death.

Should I add mine on the list, I can’t help but feel that my share of this “honor” looked anything but pathetic. I know that we’re not competing with each other as to who suffers the most, but I humbly admit,  there’s a need for me to step up a notch in the way I live and serve our Lord—and not to be intimidated into silence by these very small share of sufferings I may potentially add to my honors.