Sun, Mar 16, 2008

WHY PERSECUTION? EXODUS 1:8-14

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
WHY PERSECUTION?
EXODUS 1:8-14

            Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Exodus chapter 1 as we look at the topic of persecution and why God allows it in our lives. Before we get to our text this morning, let me share with you this powerful testimony regarding persecution, suffering for the cause of Christ. We are told:

            Adoniram Judson, the renowned missionary to Burma, endured untold hardships trying to reach the lost for Christ. For 7 heartbreaking years he suffered hunger and privation [hardship, misery, poverty]. During this time he was thrown into Ava Prison, and for 17 months was subjected to almost incredible mistreatment. As a result, for the rest of his life he carried the ugly marks made by the chains and iron shackles which had cruelly bound him.

            Undaunted, upon his release he asked for permission to enter another province where he might resume preaching the Gospel. The godless ruler indignantly denied his request, saying, “My people are not fools enough to listen to anything a missionary might SAY, but I fear they might be impressed by your SCARS and turn to your religion!”

- Henry G. Bosch

            You see, this godless ruler understood that this man’s faith was real and he had the evidence to prove it. He was willing to suffer and even die for what he believed in – Jesus Christ. Thus, it was not just empty words that he brought to them but his life itself reflected his faith. What a witness that was, that his life matched his words and showed his faith was real.  Now, we don’t have to have those scars to be a witness, but we can be a witness by living what we say that we believe, that our walk matches our talk! It is living what we say we believe and in that we may suffer, we may be persecuted!

            As we move out of the book of Genesis and now into the book of Exodus, the children of Israel are living down in Egypt. Jacob, their father had died. Joseph and his 11 brothers had died.  In fact, we are told that this entire generation died out in Egypt but don’t fret, we are also told in Exodus 1:7, But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.  In fact, The Living Bible puts this verse like this, Meanwhile, their descendants were very fertile, increasing rapidly in numbers; there was a veritable population explosion so that they soon became a large nation, and they filled the land of Goshen.

            So God is growing the nation of Israel down in Egypt. They went down into Egypt with 70 people and by the time they leave after being in Egypt for 430 years, they will leave with well over 2 million people, probably around 3 million people or more. That was the number that left in the Exodus! So to say that they were fruitful is not an exaggeration. With that as our background, let’s begin reading in Exodus chapter 1, starting in verse 8 and see what the Lord has for us as we study His Word.

EXODUS 1:8-14

            Persecution, suffering is not something we like to talk about because we tend to feel it is not a very uplifting message. Thus, many tend to ignore it completely, which doesn’t change the fact that we all will face it many times in our lives. Maybe you heard the story of the New Yorker who was down in Texas and as he was driving he collided with a truck that was carrying a horse.  A few months after the accident he tried to collect damages from his injuries. “How can you now claim to have all these injuries?” asked the insurance company’s lawyer. “According to the police report, at the time you said you were not hurt.”  “Look,” replied the New Yorker. “I was lying on the road in a lot of pain, and I heard someone say the horse had a broken leg.  The next think I know this Texas Ranger pulls out his gun and shoots the horse. Then he turns to me and asks, ‘Are you okay?’”

            We do the same don’t we!  “Of course I’m okay!” we tell people and I don’t know if we think others will see us as less spiritual as we go through tough times, but it truly is wrong to ignore it or to come to the wrong conclusion about it. In these verses we have read this morning there are four main points we will look at and then we will draw some conclusions from this.

            We will be looking at: SITUATIONS CHANGE – EXODUS 1:8-9;PERSECUTION COMES – EXODUS 1:10-11FRUIT IS BORN – EXODUS 1:12;PERSECUTION INCREASES – EXODUS 1:13-14; and finally, in our conclusion we will look at – BUT WHY DOES GOD ALLOW THIS? So with that said, let’s look at these points and see what we can glean from them.

1.  SITUATIONS CHANGE – EXODUS 1:8-9

            When Joseph was alive he found favor with Pharaoh. Actually, Joseph served the Lord faithfully even when things were not fair, and the Lord blessed Joseph and through those blessings that came upon Joseph, Pharaoh was blessed and thus, he places Joseph second in charge over all of Egypt! In fact, when Jacob his father died the Egyptians mourned for him for seventy days!  That is incredible because the most they would mourn for the dead was seventy-two days and obviously it had to be someone of importance.

            But now Joseph is dead and the succeeding Pharaoh’s did not know Joseph.  I think they must have known of Joseph and how he not only saved the Egyptian people during a time of famine, but also many of the people from the surrounding nations.  Thus, I don’t think that they didn’t remember him or they were unfamiliar with Joseph. The Hebrew word forknow” is YADA, (yaw-dah’) and it speaks of not approving of what Joseph stood for, how he ruled in his position.

            Folks, I don’t have to tell you that in our own lives situations change and these situations change sometimes very quickly. At work, at home, even in the church people may know us, who we are but they may not approve of what we stand for. Paul reminds us in II Timothy 3:12, Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.  And in The Amplified Bible we are told, Indeed all who delight in piety and are determined to live a devoted and godly life in Christ Jesus will meet with persecution [will be made to suffer because of their religious stand].

            Now we may not always like that but it is a reality.  Thus, as situations change, as persecution comes our way, and we will deal with that next, what should we do?  Paul goes on to tell Timothy, But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.  II Timothy 3:14-17.

            Too often as situations change, people want to run away or fight back or complain or get revenge or whatever! But Paul tells Timothy to, “ . . . continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them . . .”

            In other words, don’t let the changing situations we face in life cause us to detour from what God has taught us, the things we have learned but to steady the course and continue on.  And as we are going through life, we have God’s Word to show us what is right, what is wrong, how to get right when we have gone astray and how to stay right. Did you notice that? Life may throw you a curve ball but you don’t need to go to therapy, you need Jesus, you need His Word because God’s Word, empowered by His Spirit will make you complete!

            But make no mistake about it, situations in your life will change and sometimes very quickly and many times it is out of those changes in our situations that persecution will arise, and that is our second point.  But remember, SITUATIONS CHANGE!

2.  PERSECUTION COMES – EXODUS 1:10-11

            One of the reasons Pharaoh wants to weaken the children of Israel might be because of the Hyksos or the shepherd kings who ruled over the northern portion of Egypt for several centuries. The Hyksos were a Semitic line of conquerors from Asia.  Thus, knowing what they did, Pharaoh did not want these shepherds from Canaan to overthrow them or side with their enemies. Thus, he persecutes them, puts them under bondage, afflicting them to weaken them.

            As I have said and as God’s Word tells us, persecution and suffering will come upon our lives. I wish I could tell you that it might happen, but I can’t! God is showing us that it will happen, it will come upon our lives, that is a given.  Thus, the only variable is how we respond to this persecution that we face.

            We see here that under the taskmaster, under this affliction, with all this persecution, the children of Israel built the supply cites of Pithom and Raamses. In other words, in spite of the persecution, they continued to serve. What a great example for us to follow.

            In the face of persecution we need to serve, we need to shine the love of Christ to a world that is in darkness and their actions just reflect that. I know, it isn’t easy and many times Christians are not even told of the persecution that will come upon their lives when they get saved and when it does come they are shocked! Why don’t they warn them, why don’t they tell them? Maybe it is because it is too negative; people don’t want to scare them away from the Lord or whatever.  Folks, as I have said, it is going to happen and I am sure it has happened to you and it will happen again.  Thus, we need to be aware.

            In John 15:18-21 Jesus tells us, If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.

            Did you notice what Jesus is saying here. The world is in rebellion against God and thus, when God became flesh and dwelt among us they persecuted Him. But why did they persecute Him? Because He is light and there is no darkness in Him at all and thus, He exposed their sin and they tried to extinguish the light. If they did that to our Lord, why do we think they won’t do it to us?  That is just foolishness!

            You see, the world hates us because we are light; the light of God shines in us and through ust and thus, that light will expose their sin. What the world then tries to do is to extinguish our light by persecuting us! Now they may not see it that way and I am sure they don’t, but the bottom line is they refuse to come to God, they are fighting against God and since they can’t get at the Lord, they will persecute His people! But don’t be discouraged, because out of that persecution fruit is born and that is our third point.  But remember,PERSECUTION COMES!

3.  FRUIT IS BORN – EXODUS 1:12

            Isn’t that interesting. The more Pharaoh tried to clamp down on them, weaken them, the more they grew in numbers and strength. In other words, God blessed them in the midst of this persecution as they just served these taskmasters.

            I am sure many if not most of you have planted a garden before.  You know what you do. Grab some seeds; throw them down and presto, vegetables! Well, not exactly.  There is the labor and preparation of the ground, and planting and caring and then comes what I call persecution, you may call them WEEDS!  Those weeds have caused me to think twice about planting a garden and persecution will do that.

            God blesses the children of Israel in the midst of this persecution as they were serving and God wants us to do the same. He wants us to live out our faith.  Listen to what Peter tells us in I Peter chapter 3, starting in verse 8, Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For ‘He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’ And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. ‘And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.’ . . .

. . . But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”  I Peter 3:8-17.

            For the most part, Peter is saying that it is unusual for people who are hostile to Christianity to harm you because you are zealous for Jesus, but it does happen and for the people of Peter’s day, the persecution was growing.  Today we see in many parts of this world the persecution of Christians; in fact, more Christians have been martyred in our day than at any other part of Christian history!  And folks, like in Peter’s day, that will grow only more intense and spread throughout the world!  The question is, “Are you going to allow persecution, people coming against you and what you believe to change your behavior?  Are you going to water down your faith? Are you going to play secret-agent Christian and live out your faith in secret?”  Of course not, we are to live out our faith in spite of what people throw at us!  You see, we should always answer evil with good even though when we do good, people may answer back with evil.  Just don’t let it change how you live out your faith!

            I like what Puritan Thomas Watson wrote regarding afflictions:

            Afflictions work for good, as they make way for glory. . . . Not that they merit glory, but they prepare for it. As ploughing prepares the earth for a crop, so afflictions prepare and make us [ready] for glory. The painter lays his gold upon dark colours, so God first lays the dark colours of affliction, and then He lays the golden colour of glory.  The vessel is first seasoned before wine is poured into it: the vessels of mercy are first seasoned with affliction, and then the wine of glory is poured in. Thus we see afflictions are not prejudicial, but beneficial, to saints.

- Thomas Watson

            Many times we lose sight of the blessings that God has bestowed upon us and we can only focus on the persecution, the suffering we are facing. There is no peace in that; there is no rest in that. What are some of those blessings we can claim here and now?

            F.E. Marsh has enumerated some of God's blessings:

An acceptance that can never be questioned. (Ephesians 1:6). 
An inheritance that can never be lost (I Peter 1:3-5). 
A deliverance that can never be excelled (2 Corinthians l:10). 
A grace that can never be limited (2 Corinthians 12:9). 
A hope that can never be disappointed. (Hebrews 6:18, 19). 
A bounty that can never be withdrawn. (I Colossians 3:21-23). 
A joy that need never be diminished (John 15:11). 
A nearness to God that can never be reversed (Ephesians 2:13). 
A peace that can never be disturbed (John 14:27). 
A righteousness that can never be tarnished (2 Corinthians 5:21). 
A salvation that can never be canceled (Hebrews 5:9).

- F. E. Marsh

            Those blessings can help encourage us to go on and forge ahead in spite of the persecution, but don’t let that be the main reason. May the love of Christ be the factor that compels you to go on and I think it is that attitude which then keeps us to see those blessings that God has given to us and is giving to us. But, in saying that, don’t think the enemy will stop with his persecution. No, it will continue on and many times intensify, as we see in our fourth point. But remember, FRUIT IS BORN out of persecution!

4.  PERSECUTION INCREASES – EXODUS 1:13-14

            Now Pharaoh turns up the heat. He makes them work harder, increases the pressure, but the children of Israel keep serving, they keep working and I see God continuing to bless them, they continue to be fruitful in spite of Pharaoh’s attempts to destroy their faith, their fruitfulness. In saying that, don’t think they just endured. No, they cried out to God during this time of affliction and we will deal more with that in our last section.  The point I want to make is God is not asking us to be stoics, emotionless, but to serve Him in spite of what may come our way and to turn over our pain, our hurt to Him!

            Peter tells us in I Peter 5:6-11, Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

               What does casting our cares upon the Lord have to do with humility?  It has everything to do with humility!  You see, pride says that we can take care of it on our own and humility says that I can’t do it on my own, but as Paul said in Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

            In fact, listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 6:31-34, Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. 

The song may go, “Don’t worry, be happy” but that is not what the Lord is saying. He is telling us “Don’t worry, give it to the Lord!”  I think that works much better!  And not only will God take care of us, but He cares for us. I am sure there are times that you may feel that God doesn’t care for you because of what you may be going through, but guess what, He does!  God cares for you and He does love you, and He is faithful, you don’t have to worry, just give it to Him!

            Now Paul, in Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Do you see that?  Give it to God, give it to Him with thanksgiving, let Him know what is on your heart and weighing you down and He will give you His peace, He will guard your heart or emotions and He will guard your mind or your thoughts.  May we learn that lesson and give it to Him, for the weight will break us, but it is nothing for Him to carry!

One last point before we move on and that is this, Peter wants them to know that the persecution they are now facing and will face are being endured by others in Christ throughout the world.  Don’t be surprised by it, but be prepared!  We have tornado watches and warnings to prepare us and I guess this is a persecution warning to prepare us for what might be coming down the road in this country and is happening to our brothers and sisters in the Lord throughout the world.  It is as Paul said in II Timothy 3:12, Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.  But don’t forget what the Psalmist said, Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.  Psalm 34:19.  God is in control and He will not let anything happen to us that He is not aware and He will use these to build us up and draw others to Himself!  Don’t worry, God will perfect you, establish you, strengthen you and settle you.  But why does God allow this in our lives? That is our next point. But keep in mind that PERSECUTION INCREASES!

4.  BUT WHY DOES GOD ALLOW THIS?

            As I begin to rap this up and I said begin, let’s look at our conclusion or BUT WHY DOES GOD ALLOW THIS?  There are several reasons I will share with you, there are more, this is not an exhaustive list but it will give you a good idea of why persecution comes our way. You see, the things we face are not there for nothing!

            A.  PERSECUTION CAUSES US TO CALL UPON THE LORD

            Isn’t that true!  When we face difficult times, when our backs are up against the wall, we call upon the Lord for help, for protection, for wisdom. In Psalm 143 David is going through some very difficult times. And just listen to how he deals with this situation.

            In Psalm 143, starting in verse 1 we are told, Hear my prayer, O Lord, Give ear to my supplications! In Your faithfulness answer me, And in Your righteousness. Do not enter into judgment with Your servant, For in Your sight no one living is righteous. For the enemy has persecuted my soul; He has crushed my life to the ground; He has made me dwell in darkness, Like those who have long been dead. Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; My heart within me is distressed. I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands. I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You like a thirsty land. . . .

. . . Answer me speedily, O Lord; My spirit fails! Do not hide Your face from me, Lest I be like those who go down into the pit. Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You. Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies; In You I take shelter. Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness. Revive me, O Lord, for Your name's sake! For Your righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble. In Your mercy cut off my enemies, And destroy all those who afflict my soul; For I am Your servant.”  Psalm 143:1-12.

            Where did this persecution drive David too? No, not Dr. Phil, but the Lord. David looked back to see how the Lord had delivered him in the past to help him in the present. David let the Word of God strengthen him.  David sought the Lord.  He hungered for God! What a great lesson for us to learn. That we should be drawn to the Lord no matter what we are going through and especially when we face persecution.  PERSECUTION CAUSES US TO CALL UPON THE LORD!

            B.  PERSECUTION STRENGTHENS OUR FAITH

            It is not something we like but persecution does strengthen our faith. Think about weightlifters.  It does hurt to build muscle, to have big muscles like mine; you know I had some pain when you see these tree-trunk arms!. Don’t laugh I hide them well.  But you get the idea. The same is true for our faith; to make it grow it will hurt as it is stretched, as it grows, as it gets stronger. Let me give you this example and you will see what I mean. We are told:

A. Parnell Bailey visited an orange grove where an irrigation pump had broken down. The season was unusually dry and some of the trees were beginning to die for lack of water. The man giving the tour then took Bailey to his own orchard where irrigation was used sparingly. "These trees could go without rain for another 2 weeks," he said. "You see, when they were young, I frequently kept water from them. This hardship caused them to send their roots deeper into the soil in search of moisture. Now mine are the deepest-rooted trees in the area. While others are being scorched by the sun, these are finding moisture at a greater depth."

- Our Daily Bread

            God does that with us so we can sink our roots deeper into Him. PERSECUTION STRENGTHENS OUR FAITH!

            C.  PERSECUTION HELPS TO SPREAD THE GOSPEL

            I know that sounds kind of strange, but it is true, persecution does help spread the Gospel.  In Acts 8:1, after the martyrdom of Stephen we are told, Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.  In other words, as they tried to stomp out Christianity, they just sent those embers of faith you might say shooting out everywhere and in Acts 8:4 we see that,Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. And The Amplified Bible puts it like this, Now those who were scattered abroad went about [through the land from place to place] preaching the glad tidings, the Word [the doctrine concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God].  And in The Living Bible we are told, But the believers who had fled Jerusalem went everywhere preaching the Good News about Jesus!

            In other words, God will use persecution at times to get us out of our comfort zones and to share our faith.  The Institute for American Church Growth took a survey of 10,000 people and they concluded that 79% of the people began attending church after receiving an invitation from someone. I am checking out the stats on this one but they report that 6% were attracted to the church by the pastor – that can’t be right?  But it is. And only 5% were attracted by Sunday School.  What is amazing is that only 0.5% were attracted by an evangelistic crusade!

            Folks, maybe God is working on you so that you will get out of your comfort zone, maybe even some persecution will come your way so you will share your faith and see what God can and will do!  PERSECUTION HELPS TO SPREAD THE GOSPEL!

            D.  PERSECUTION HELPS TO ELIMINATE THE FALSE

            In times of persecution, difficulty, those who are not real will tend to fall away, they won’t risk their life for what they truly don’t believe in. We see this in the Parable of the Soils in Matthew chapter 13 as Jesus said, But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.  Matthew 13:20-21.

            Those who hear God’s Word, for some there is that excitement, that joy but when difficult times come, they fall away because their faith was only superficial, it was not real. Thus, PERSECUTION HELPS TO ELIMINATE THE FALSE!

E.  PERSECUTION HELPS US NOT TO BE COMFORTABLE IN THE WORLD

When you stand up for Jesus it is hard to become comfortable in this world.  Why is that? Because this world is in opposition to God and they are in opposition to the things of God.  There is a good place to be, in this world but not of this world! John warns us in I John 2:15-17, Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

            In other words, have the correct perspective on things. You see, this world is not going to last, thus, don’t hold onto it but focus on the Lord.  Be satisfied in Him. Listen to this example and you will see what I mean, two perceptions of the same situations. We are told:

            The famous preacher D. L. Moody told about a Christian woman who was always bright, cheerful, and optimistic, even though she was confined to her room because of illness. She lived in an attic apartment on the fifth floor of an old, rundown building. A friend decided to visit her one day and brought along another woman -- a person of great wealth. Since there was no elevator, the two ladies began the long climb upward. When they reached the second floor, the well-to-do woman commented, "What a dark and filthy place!" Her friend replied, "It's better higher up." When they arrived at the third landing, the remark was made, "Things look even worse here." Again the reply, "It's better higher up."

The two women finally reached the attic level, where they found the bedridden saint of God. A smile on her face radiated the joy that filled her heart. Although the room was clean and flowers were on the window sill, the wealthy visitor could not get over the stark surroundings in which this woman lived. She blurted out, "It must be very difficult for you to be here like this!" Without a moment's hesitation the shut-in responded, "It's better higher up." She was not looking at temporal things. With the eye of faith fixed on the eternal, she had found the secret of true satisfaction and contentment.

- Our Daily Bread

            Thus, PERSECUTION HELPS US NOT TO BE COMFORTABLE IN THE WORLD but to be satisfied in Christ!

            For the children of Israel, this persecution was the precursor to their deliverance. Folks, in our own lives, the persecution we face and will continue to face are just the precursor to what God has promised us, that one day we will be with Him, our ultimate deliverance. Don’t lose sight of that!

            As I close this morning, listen to this story that will tie this all together. We are told,

            Every Christian should have a song in his heart. In Ephesians 5:19 the apostle Paul speaks of “singing and making melody” in our hearts to the Lord. This verse should encourage everyone who finds it difficult to carry a tune that’s suitable for listening ears. Whether with the lips or in the heart only, singing can characterize our lives, even under the worst of circumstances. Many times that is precisely when God gives us a song to sing.

American pastor and author James H. Brookes told of visiting a friend’s house and hearing the music of a bird singing. It was not the ordinary sound of chirping; instead it resembled the strains of a lovely melody. At first Brookes didn’t know where it was coming from; but when he glanced around the room, he saw a beautiful bullfinch in a birdcage. The lady of the house explained that it had been taught to sing that way at night. The teacher would repeat the notes time and again until the bird was able to mimic them. But this was possible only because it was dark and the bird’s attention would not be diverted.

How often we learn our sweetest songs when the blackness of trial closes in around us. This was David’s experience. Cast down and almost despairing of life, he said,”...in the night His song shall be with me.” Elihu spoke of God giving “songs in the night” (Job 35:10).

Oh, friend, let’s not despair when the darkness of trouble descends upon us. God is with us; God will help us; God will give us a song.

- Our Daily Bread, Monday, May 23

            Persecution will happen in our lives, don’t allow it to weaken your faith but strengthen it, to put a song in your heart because of Jesus. It is as Paul said in Colossians 3:12-17,Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.  Lord, help us to live in Your will and to grow in Your love!

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