Psalm 119:86-88 - All Your commandments are sure; they persecute me with falsehood; help me! They have almost made an end of me on earth, but I have not forsaken Your precepts. In Your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of Your mouth.
"Help me!" Even though he had not forsaken God's precepts, perhaps, in fact, because he kept God's precepts, the psalmist's enemies had nearly made an end of him on earth. Still today many people who reject Christ actively persecute His church and seek to make an end of His followers on earth. Each year, in countries around the world, thousands of Christians are martyred for their faith and thousands more suffer violence, imprisonment, and the loss of homes and income. Even in countries where such violent persecution is against the law, Christians may be scandalously ridiculed for their faith.
Jesus warned His disciples, "If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you" (John 15:18). Jesus did not forsake His Father's precepts; He faithfully accomplished all that the Father gave Him to do. Yet Jesus' enemies persecuted Him with falsehood, trying to turn His own teachings against Him. He was hated and His opponents successfully—or so they believed—made an end of Him on earth. Jesus' body was taken down from the cross and laid in a tomb. But it was not the end. The psalmist prayed, "In Your steadfast love give me life." In steadfast love for His Son, the Father gave His Son life, raising Him from death on the first Easter morning.
In His steadfast love for us, and for the sake of our crucified and risen Lord, the Father gives us life. By the power of His Spirit, we faithfully cling to His Word as we join the psalmist in keeping God's sure Commandments and sharing with others all that our Lord has done for us. Our brothers and sisters in Christ who are persecuted so violently must surely pray with the psalmist, "How long must Your servant endure?" (Psalm 119:84a). We join our prayers with theirs, asking that God would surround them with His loving care and in steadfast love give them life—both in this age and in the age to come.
Enemies of the Gospel may still try to make an end of us on earth, as they tried—and failed—to make an end of Jesus. We may suffer and even die for our faith, but through Jesus' death and resurrection the victory has already been won. Jesus continues to build His church and, according to His promise, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18b).
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, watch over all those who are persecuted for the sake of Your Name. Comfort and encourage them according to Your holy Word. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler.
1. Are you—generally—a person of your word?
2. Have you ever felt scorned or maligned due to speaking about your faith?
3. Do you have any kind of prayer strategy when it comes to dealing with difficult people?
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