Standing Strong In Chaotic Times

Photo by Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

Psalm 123 Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens. 2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us. 3 Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt. 4 Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.

This Psalm – though small – has a lot to tell believers in the Bible living in America today. This small Psalm – just 4 verses long – is a prayer for deliverance from a believer who is emotionally spent. What has worn him down, and what is his solution – the solution that God speaks to his heart? He is overwhelmed with the unsaved and godless world around him. He is, as Larry Norman once said, A Stranger in A Strange World”.

#1 Believers In Scripture (Like Jesus) Will Suffer

Those who believe in and live according to Scripture like Jesus did, will always be persecuted by those who do not believe in and live according to the Scripture.

The world enjoys the darkness of sin (John 3:19; John 12:46). The Scripture shines light on the darkness.

Many people today love a type of scripture that teaches “all will be saved and go to Heaven”, but despises the Scripture that teaches obedience to the King of Heaven.

Many who profess “Jesus is my Savior” believe they are going to a Heavenly Kingdom one day, and yet refuse to live their lives under His Kingship here on the earth. Jesus and Heaven are for later. Now there is the earth. Now we can do as we please, for we are our own kings and queens. No one sets our standards but our peers, our social media “friends”.

Word Study This is what is taught. God forbid – in any age – that you believe the Scripture! This has always been the case. The writer of Psalm 123 says “we are EXCEEDINGLY FILLED with contempt”. What does he mean? The Hebrew for “EXCEEDINGLY FILLED” רַב rabשָׂבַע sâbaʻ {pronounced saw-bah’} means “we have had more than enough”. He repeats this phrase in verse 4:

Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.

The Psalmist is saying “our SOULS are SATURATED with the SCORN and CONTEMPT of those around us, those who are FILLED WILL PRIDE but have no knowledge of God”.

We live an a society today where this nation – founded by Christians – is now anti-Christian. If you believe God’s Word is true and state this truth in any public place, you will be shouted down, mocked, and treated as evil.

So many Christians today have been so bullied by the pagan culture around us that they have compromised with evil, and keep silent rather than be rebuked. The Bible is said to be outmoded, and any who stand up for it’s truths are archaic and against progress.

Today even the state is getting involved in attacks against Christianity. The Supreme Court of the United States should be wholeheartedly endorsing the First Amendment, protecting the rights of Christians to worship. Instead even our Chief Justices have turned a blind eye to state terrorism of the Church. But this isn’t new.

In England prior to the colonization of America the state religion was Anglicanism, and Bible believing Christians who did not agree with the state owned Church of England were persecuted. William Penn, the eventual founder of Pennsylvania, was imprisoned in the Tower of London from 1668-1669, accused of “heresy”. His crime? He was a Quaker. His beliefs were not endorsed by the King nor his Church. Penn told the King:

If thou wouldst rule well, thou must rule for God, and to do that, thou must be ruled by Him. … Those who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants.”

Quakers were not allowed to worship in buildings. Locked out of his Church building by the state (does this sound familiar?), Penn preached in the street in front of the building. Penn was charged with “unlawful, tumultuous assembly that disturbed the king’s peace”. When William Penn was tried, the jury refused to declare him guilty. The Judge was furious, demanding …

a verdict that the court will accept, [or the jury itself] shall be locked up without meat, drink, fire, and tobacco. … We will have a verdict by the help of God or you will starve for it.”

After the jury refused to find William Penn guilty three more times, the Judge fined the jurors, and had them locked up. It is this incident that led William Penn and other believers to come to the Americas, seeking religious freedom.

Only a nation founded by Christians would have allowed competing religious views to have freedom of worship.

In Atheistic, Marxist, Hindi, and many Muslim countries today, Bible believing Christians are persecuted and often killed. From The Voice of the Martyrs:

When Poonam quietly left Hinduism in 2012, the Bible she obtained instantly became her most prized possession. The young Indian wife and mother of three secretly read God’s Word in her home each day, growing in her understanding of God’s love for her. But she feared that her husband would discover her new faith, and he soon did. After overhearing her praying a Christian prayer one day, he found her Bible and angrily tore it to pieces. “From today on you stop reading the Bible, and as long as you live in this house you better not pray!” he scolded. Poonam’s husband then beat her, eventually kicking her out of the house and refusing to let her see their young sons and daughter. Her Christian faith cost her everything.”

Jesus made it a point – His number 1 point – that those who are saved are now members of another, Higher Kingdom. Just as Jesus was at odds with those bound in sin and in state supported religion, He told us that we, too, would be persecuted. Listen to His words:

Matthew 10:22 … ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

John 15:18-19 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

1 John 3:13 … Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love …

Luke 6:22-23 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. 23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

We who are Christians cling to the truths of the Word of God because our Master and Savior Jesus Christ held the Scripture in such high regard. Jesus quoted Scripture throughout His earthly ministry, saying “it is written”. In fact, the phrase “it is written” is found some 80 times throughout the Bible as the prophets referred to the Holy Bible scriptures. The Apostle, via the Scripture, commands the Christian to:

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Our bodies do not belong to the darkness, but to the One Who saved us. We are purchased possessions of God, freed from sin and bound to His Will. We are called to live according to what our God and Savior says is right and righteous, to live as “living sacrifices”. The world will call this crazy, insane. The world will declare the Book we follow to be out dated, the tool of haters. But we love. We love God, and we love others. It is not love to endorse the slavery of sin nor the morality of darkness. Jesus Christ set us free, so we live valiantly, hopefully, looking to Him.

#2 Believers In Scripture (Like Jesus),
Look To Their Sovereign Father ALWAYS

To say that Psalm 123 is a “Psalm of Lament” is to mis-label it. Sorrow is not the main message of this Psalm. The title of this Psalm (along with 14 other small Psalms) is “A Song of Degrees”. My favorite preacher, C.H. Spurgeon, stated that these 15 Psalms …

were chanted by the Lord’s people as they went up to the temple. They are “Songs of the Goings Up;” so some read the word. Those who delight to spiritualize everything find here Ascents of the Soul, or language fitted to describe the rising of the heart from the deepest grief to the highest delight”.

Psalm 123 looks upward to God. It was said by God’s Old Testament believers as they went to their Church building, the Temple. Persecution of the believer is not mentioned until the end of the Psalm. Though fed up, the believer does not look at the persecutors or the haters, but we read:

Psalm 123:1 Unto Thee lift I up mine eyes, O Thou that dwellest in the heavens.

Note first of all the word “Eyes”, found four times in this little Psalm. The eyes of the persecuted are not focused on the persecutors. They are focused UPWARD. UNTO THEE lift I up mine eyes.

The Eyes Of The Christian Is On The Sovereign God

The believer in Scripture knows that our God is Sovereign, that He is in control of all things. The Bible says:

Psalm 2:2-4 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. 4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.

Our God is in Heaven, He does all that He pleases (Psalm 115:3). It is God Who made all things, and God Who controls all things.

Psalm 113:4-9 The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens. 5 Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high, 6 who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth! 7 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; 8 that he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people. 9 He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord.

Our God could squash all opposition to His people, and at times does so. But there are other times when our God – though He does not cause the hatred and the scorn – He allows it. “But why”, you might ask, “why would our God allow us to be attacked by the godless?”. Because our Lord desires the salvation of the world. He wants the world saved, for it to willingly turn to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. What did Jesus Christ our Lord tell us?

John 3:16-21 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

He that “believeth not in Christ is condemned ALREADY”. The smoke of hell clings to their souls. Their destination is not glory, where the Son of God will reign over His people. Their destination is damnation. This is why the Christ is forbidden to take vengeance, or to attack back those who attack Him. What did the Apostle write to the Roman Christians, even as he was in bondage for preaching the Gospel of salvation.

Romans 12:9-21 Let love be without {hypocrisy}. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; 11 not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; {devoted to prayer}; 13 distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. … 17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

God allows evil to come to His Children so that others can see Christ Jesus in us. Jesus was persecuted, and loved anyway. We are persecuted, and love anyway. The ability to stand strong, looking unto our God in spite of persecution, is proof of our salvation. Jesus said:

Matthew 10:30-33 …. the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. 32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

You deny Jesus when you compromise what He holds dear in order to be well thought of by those in darkness. Salvation never comes to a soul without repentance. The Evidence Bible notes:

The Scriptures speak of “repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18). We turn from sin to the Savior. This is why Paul preached “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). The first public word Jesus preached was “repent” (Matthew 4:17). John the Baptist began his ministry the same way (Matthew 3:2). Jesus told His hearers that without repentance, they would perish (Luke 13:3). If belief is all that is necessary for salvation, then the logical conclusion is that one need never repent. However, the Bible tells us that a false convert “believes” and yet is not saved (Luke 8:13); he remains a “worker of iniquity.” Look at the warning of Scripture: “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (1 John 1:6). The Scriptures also say, “He that covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesses and forsakes them [repentance] shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). Jesus said that there was joy in heaven over one sinner who “repents” (Luke 15:10).”

We who belong to God by faith in Christ look to Him, knowing that He watches over us. We live for the smile of our Sovereign God.

The Eyes Of The Christian Is On Our Heavenly Father

Psalm 123:1 Unto Thee lift I up mine eyes, O Thou that dwellest in the heavens.

When we who believe in the Scripture look up, we not only see a Sovereign God, but we see a Heavenly Father Who loves us. In the New Testament the Scripture says that believers in Christ are adopted by God – we are His Children. We read:

Galatians 4:4-7 … when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Heaven is our Home, and God our Father. We who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are, in the words of Galatians 3:26, “all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus”. Because THE Son of God, Jesus Christ, shed His Blood on Calvary, we who have received Him are His adopted Children. We have a home waiting for us in Heaven, a “mansion” that Jesus is preparing for us (John 14:1-3) who believe that He is the ONLY WAY unto God (John 14:6). What has Christ given us?

Romans 8:14-17 … as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

As Jesus suffered, was persecuted, we will be persecuted. Yet this is not a discouragement, but a blessing. If we were of the darkness we would be at home in the darkness. But we belong to God our Father. He is:

Matthew 6:9 … Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

#3 Believers In Scripture (Like Jesus),
Are TOGETHER Members Of His Kingdom

Psalm 123:1-2 Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens. 2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us.

In verse 1 we see the speaker talking in the first person. I lift up my eyes”. But as we move to verse 2 we see the speaker talks not just for himself, but for a group. Our eyes wait upon the Lord our God”. Believers serve the Lord together in unity.

Since the pandemic we call the Coronavirus has hit America we have seen on social media quite often the statement:

The Church is not the building. The people are the Church”.

Many of those who post or proclaim this (and I do agree with it) are professing believers who refuse to come together with other believers to worship God. It is true that the Church is not a building. But it is also true that the Church is not one person. The Church is a community of like minded believers who gather together to worship the Lord.

Some Churches cannot afford buildings. Some Christians, living in areas where it is fatal to worship Christ, can only come together secretly, in groups. In the first century Church believers met in catacombs, underground graveyards, for fear of being executed. But Christians nonetheless met together. The Church is NOT the Church on the Internet. The Church is a community of faith that meets together to share the Word of God. On the Day of Pentecost when the Apostles first preached the Gospel following Christ’s ascension we read:

Acts 2:41 …. they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls …

Who was added to the Church? Those who received the Gospel, and were publicly baptized in water. What did they do once they were saved? Did they sit at home, posting pithy sayings on Facebook? No. Here was the Church:

Acts 2:42 … they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

THEY” heeded the APOSTLES DOCTRINE, the teachings of the Scripture, the teachings that Jesus gave to them. They heard SERMONS – together. They FELLOWSHIPPED. They BROKE BREAD, or enjoyed the Lord’s Table TOGETHER. They PRAYED. They didn’t have a big building, but they got together as a body and lived as citizens of God’s Kingdom.

They took care of one another. The first Church:

Acts 2:44-47 …. all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

The first Church met in the TEMPLE and in HOMES, which, if I am not mistaken, are BUILDINGS. They got along with one another. And the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved. The Church is a body of believers that, working together, they live by Kingdom principles as taught by the Word of God. Nothing else is a Church. Nothing. It is not one member, but many, who look to the Head (see 1 Corinthians 12).

If you know Jesus as Lord and Savior, He is this to you whether you are in the building we call “Church”, or whether you are home or at work. You are part of the Kingdom of God. You cherish Jesus, and live for Him. His Word, the Holy Scripture, matters to you. This is the Christian indeed. Are you? Are you saved? Or are you just religious? If you are not saved, today is the day to repent, turn to Jesus, and receive Him into your life as both Lord and Savior. May God guide you to do so this very day. In Christ’s name, and for His glory we pray. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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