A Fugitive of Righteousness

man in shadow

Are you in a situation right now where you are oppressed and mocked just for standing up for the truth—whether at work, on the road, or even in your own home? Do feel like you are in the wrong place at the right time? You are certainly not alone. Millions throughout history have gone through situations similar to what you are experiencing right now. Some made it through successfully, although not always the way that they had envisioned that the outcome would be. Thousands of years ago, even mighty King David of Israel struggled daily with enemies who would have swallowed him up.

David wrote about his situation in the book of Psalms: “Be merciful unto me, O God: for man would swallow me up; he fighting daily oppresseth me. Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High” (Psalm 56:1-2). This was a very difficult period of his life. He was on the run from King Saul, who continually refused to surrender to the fact that God had appointed David to be king of Israel instead of Saul. David even escaped once into the land of the Philistines, a perpetual enemy to the people of Israel. But to his dismay, the Philistine king, reminded of great victories David had won against his enemies, did not approve David’s entry into his land. Then David pretended that he was insane to escape the king. King Saul had given up his pursuit of David for the time being, but the Philistines picked up where Saul had left off. So David ended up trading one enemy for another, who had many more to fight against him!

The first few verses of this psalm state that every day David felt that his enemies were about to devour him. In verses 5 and 6 he made it known: “Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil. They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they mark my steps, when they wait for my soul.” This appeared to be a most hopeless situation. But David didn’t give up or give in to his enemies, because He knew someone infinitely greater than all of his opposition combined. “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee. In God I will praise His word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me” (vss. 3-4).

In spite of the great number of enemies bearing down on him, David put his trust in God. He knew God could take care of the situation. He declared a second time: “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me” (v.11).

David did not let his situation pull him down to a level of murmuring and complaining. Instead, he turned to praising God. Four times in this psalm he mentions giving praise to God and His Word. This is a definite quality that we, as children of God, need to make note of. In times of distress and impossible situations, our recourse should be just like David’s—trust and praise. When we let our stubborn and rebellious self, or ‘flesh,’ control our walk with God, then many of the problems we encounter will hopelessly overwhelm us. By trusting in God and giving Him praise, we demonstrate that He is in charge, not us. If David trusted in himself or those with him, he would have easily been defeated. Yielding this situation over to God and letting Him resolve it led him to victory.

woman in praise

Our first inclination should never be to worry or despair, but to trust and praise. It is actually a good thing to receive opposition and be a fugitive for righteousness. The devil does not like it when we make the truth known in this world. He will strongly oppose it whenever he can. This does not mean that we are to run away with fear and anxiety, but rather, we are to trust and praise God. Whether open and audible, or deep within our heart, we should always give God praise and thanksgiving in every situation.

We may be inclined to think that David had no pain, anguish or suffering, that whenever a problem arose, he just gave it over to God and everything was fine afterward. But verse 8 tells us otherwise: “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” David spent a good portion of his life in difficulties and struggles, even to the point of joining the enemy’s side. Yet God was aware of all that he was going through, and He kept a record throughout David’s life. No matter what the situation, God stayed by His side.

If the greatest king of Israel—a man declared by God to be one after His own heart—went through trials and problems that nearly killed him as he faithfully followed God, do we believe we will have none? In the end, God brought David through them all because he turned to Him. Even when David committed sins that caused thousands to die (including one of his own sons), he still put his trust in God for forgiveness and mercy, and came to Him repenting of his sins. And God still kept him in His hand. When we become a fugitive of righteousness and are at a loss as to what to do, let’s not put our trust in the world’s solutions. Turn instead to God and give Him our trust. Our hearts should be filled with praise to God Almighty, never to another mortal human being, who has no more hope and victory than we do.

Our resolve needs to be like David’s: “Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee” (Psalm 56:12).

Since Psalms is the largest book of the Bible, full of praises to God both for what He has done and who He is, shouldn’t our hearts be full of the same? We owe it to God to give Him praise and trust whether our situation looks bad or good.

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Fear, Fear and No Fear

 

When Mr. Rooksten entered the boardroom, a pronounced hush fell upon its occupants. “Gentlemen,” he said, his voice reverberating across the room, “my purpose for this assembly today is not to motivate you with trite announcements of our company’s position in the marketplace, nor is it to deliver a motivational oration of the greatest degree.” A sense of bewildered curiosity moved across the attendees.

“My purpose today,” he said, and then paused momentarily before continuing, “is to announce a decision to appoint an assistant to the position of Chief Executive Officer.”

Whispered gasps of surprise filled the room. Karl Rooksten has always been the prime example of a stark, solitary leader. This one announcement alone could send shockwaves across the business establishment as a whole.

“Mr. Rooksten, how will this affect the overall decision-making process of your position?” inquired Mr. Toomkinley, assistant vice-president of the equine neurology division.

“My decision-making process will always remain the same. My appointment of an assistant is merely for clerical and administrative collaboration. Under no circumstances will any assistant that I appoint to this office have the power to execute decisions or discharge any individual in this company, unless I personally give him the authority to do so. As always, I will insist on complete respect for myself, as well as for this office—a respect established since the founding of this company. Am I well understood on this matter, gentlemen?” Rooksten commanded firmly.

“Yes, sir!” the room echoed in totality, with hardly a note of irreverence.

***

“Hey, Stu! shall we give ‘em a little shake up?” Rodney sneered as he rhythmically tapped his fingers on the shotgun’s barrel. The teens, now shuddering with fright, huddled closer together in the corner of the alley. Stu let a small jeer cross his lips as Rodney took aim at the crumbling wall beside the teens. Blinding smoke and debris suddenly filled the air when the windows of the adjacent building shattered from a small explosion inside. The teens barely managed to slip out of the alley after the wall crumbled from the explosion. Stu and Rodney hurriedly moved down the road out in front of the alley. Then the air filled with the reverberations of Rodney shouting, “YOU MAY RUN NOW, BUT YOU’LL NEVER ESCAPE FROM US!” The teens made it back to the recreation center, where they sat together, filled with worry and trepidation.

“What are we going to do? Rod and Stu are determined to wipe us out, and we just can’t seem to get away!” one teen exclaimed anxiously.

“I don’t know and I can’t take it anymore!” cried out another. “It’s like we’re now in a constant state of dread and terror.”

***

“Ha!” Cameron sneered with glee. “I did it, and nobody saw me; nobody knows what I’ve done. I bet I could do even more and nobody could stop me!” Cameron grabbed a bowl of chips as he sat down in the recliner and turned on the TV.

“Authorities announced today a complete investigation into the break-in of Outer World Technologies’ computer servers last night,” the TV’s speakers resounded across the small living room in Cameron’s place. “so far, no suspects have been found, nor have any groups come forward claiming responsibility for the attacks. The amount of damage continues to rise as technicians uncover what some experts believe could be one of the biggest cyber break-ins in history.”

“Yes! Yes! Yes!” Cameron shouted, as potato chips went flying all around. “I’ve got no fear of anyone now!”

***

Fear is something we experience regularly throughout our lives, whether it is in respect of someone, in dread of another, or just fear of anything at all. It may surprise you to know that God expects these kinds of fear in us. He does not want us to completely remove all aspects of fear from our lives, but rather the instances that do not honor Him.

First and foremost, God expects us to fear Him, not anyone, or anything, else. To fear God in this manner is to respect Him with wonder and awe, to the point where we are continually looking up to Him in honor. Over and over the Bible speaks of the need to fear God:

  • “Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name” Deuteronomy 6:13).
  • “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant” (Psalms 25:14).
  • “Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you” (1 Samuel 12:24).
  • “O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him” (Psalms 34:9).
  • “So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59:9).
  • “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil” (Proverbs 3:7).
  • “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).

When we fear God, we are submitting ourselves to Him and giving Him the honor and glory. We are actually saying to Him that He knows more than we do, and, as a result, we bow out of the way, His way.

Secondly, we are to live our lives in a manner in which we fear His punishment for our disobedience to His commands. This is not the kind of fear where we are constantly in fright and terror, nor a fear where we feel that the slightest act of disobedience will result in God striking us dead. The proper fear we are to have is one out of love for God as our Heavenly Father. Most children can testify to this type of fatherly fear on a regular basis. They know that when they are disobedient to their parents, a rather painful punishment will follow. God will forgive us of our sins, but we still are held responsible for the results.

Finally, there is the point of no fear at all. While this may sound contradictory to what was previously mentioned, the lack of fear that I’m referring to is fear of Satan (or the devil). When we yield ourselves over to God, when we accept Jesus as Lord of our life, when we accept that the sacrifice of Jesus at the cross is final and complete, then we no longer give Satan the legal right to operate in our lives.

Sure, he is definitely going to attack us. He will pour out his hate and fury at us in full force. But the difference now is, that we no longer have to fear these attacks, as long as we place all of these attacks and problems into Jesus’ hands and take them out of our hands. When we try to fight these battles on our own, we are essentially canceling out the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for us.

“Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (Deuteronomy 31:6). When we take our eyes off of Jesus and put them on our problems, on the attacks Satan is making against us, then our interest and focus has slipped away from Jesus to this present world and all of its issues. “There is no fear in love; but perfect [complete] love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect [complete] in love” (1 John 4:18).

Our fear is never to be toward human beings, or Satan, but toward God. We should never give men or women, regardless of their authority and position, more respect than we give God. When we stop fearing God and no longer yield to His Son in our hearts, or disobey His commands found in His Word (the Bible), then we open, or reopen, ourselves to physical fears. We give Satan the legal right to work in our lives again. We allow fear to control us. A void of peace in our heart reappears, leaving us to try to reestablish that peace on our own. Don’t continue on allowing ungodly fear to reign in your life; give it all over to Jesus. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

 

Refuge…On a Picnic Table?

picnic table

The howling wind just would not calm down. The temperature held steady in the lower 50s, but the windchill from the intense wind made it feel more like the lower 40s, or even the upper 30s. Lou knew the screened pavilion he had sought shelter in would keep the rain and bugs away, but it proved totally ineffective against these horrid blasts. He remained hunched over in a corner beside a stack of folded chairs, where he diligently tried to read his book. He was able to get a few paragraphs in, but the wind still managed to weave its way in through the chairs. He thought about his body temperature, now dropping from remaining so sedentary while he was reading.

“There has to be some way to make it though these awful wind conditions,” he thought. Then the sky began to make some effort to clear while the sun made its way through broken clouds. Yet the winds seemed to retain an unrelenting agenda of their own. Lou’s thoughts drifted to a friend he knew across the inlet, probably still snug in bed asleep, oblivious to the raging gale outside. Yet he knew that their friendship would be greatly strained, to say the least, if he even hinted at the need to stay there for a few days. “My own brother would have let me stay for at least a night,” he murmured to himself, “that is, if I had a brother.”

“Well, I could try pacing around this pavilion,” he blurted out audibly to the stack of chairs, as if they were an active part of his situation. The trees and shrubbery were bent now at an angle significant enough to warrant real concern. The water in the inlet seemed to leap over itself, like armies of small frogs trying to escape impending doom. Lou paced and paced and paced, from one end of the pavilion to the other, with little improvement. He observed, during all this vigorous pacing, that on the corner opposite where he had unsuccessfully tried to evade the blustery air, there were solid walls—the only ones in the whole place. “Perhaps,” he thought, “these could finally be of some help.”

Crouched now in the small, walled corner, Lou tried again to finish his reading for the day. But, to his dismay, after barely making it through less than a third of a chapter, the wind and its frigid companions stumbled upon his hiding place and taunted him with irritating surges of cold air. In his desperation he burst out of the pavilion and looked toward the sky, its clouds now loosely scattered, and shouted, “Where can I go for shelter from these horrid winds!”

He walked away from the pavilion in frustration. When he reached the thick brush a short distance away, he began to notice a calm appearing in the air. He decided to try sitting on a nearby picnic table, which he had never really noticed before. Almost instantly, the blustery winds became insignificant as warm sun and calm air enveloped him. “Wow,” he exclaimed to himself, “why didn’t I call out for help sooner!”

A similar situation occurred over two thousand years ago. Jesus’ disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, attempting to cross over to the other side. When they began, everything seemed like just another ordinary voyage across the water. “And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships” (Mark 4:35, 36). Partially into the journey, the sky grew dark, the winds began to blow violently, and the waves of the sea became enormous. It seemed so bad that they feared all would be lost and their lives were about to end. The boat was becoming swamped by the waves repeatedly crashing over it. “And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full” (Mark 4:37). How bleak and hopeless the scene had become in such a short time!

“They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end” (Psalms 107:23-27).

One thing made this trip different from the many others the disciples had taken across this sea. Jesus was in the boat, and He was the One who had told them to cross to the other side of the sea. During all of the ensuing turmoil, Jesus simply remained asleep in the rear of the boat! He could sleep since He believed that all would be well—because He knew His time to die had not yet come. Therefore, none of His disciples with Him were about to die now either. Of course, the disciples did not know or understand this—they hardly understood who He actually was at this point! As a result, in their fear and unbelief they woke Jesus up, and then scolded Him for sleeping during the raging storm.

“And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38). Jesus maintained such complete communion with His heavenly Father that He had absolutely no fear concerning any of the turmoil that was occurring. Therefore, He returned their scolding with a stony rebuke of their unbelief, and immediately calmed the raging storm. His disciples were completely amazed at this action. They were convinced before that they were at the point of death, and now everything was completely at ease with no danger any longer at hand!

“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him” (Mark 4:39-41)?

“Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven” (Psalms 107:28-30).

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1). When the winds are howling or the storm is raging, Jesus will always be our source of hope and peace—if we will let Him. When we let fear, despair, or worry into our lives, they will take over and peace will seem impossible. Yet Jesus is the Prince of Peace!

“…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b). We, as the children of God, must put our total trust in our Heavenly Father, just as Jesus put His total trust in God His father. When we grow anxious and worry about the situation that we are in (whether frigid winds or a stormy sea), then we allow doubt and unbelief to come in and take over our lives. We are, in effect, saying that we know better than God does, and that He is not able to take care of His children. The result is that we sin against God.

We, like Lou, can be led to protection from the intense winds. Or we can be like Jesus’ disciples were, and let the storm drive us to the point of total doubt and unbelief to the point that we become upset or angry with God. Seek Him and ask Him to help when these trials come, and ultimately trust Him for the outcome. We need to both trust and obey. We can’t say that we are trusting in Him, and then worry about the outcome! If we let go, and let God work, He will make a way through the situation.