Thursday, March 21, 2013

OPPRESSED BUT NEVER DEFEATED

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In Christ, Mark

The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

“They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,” let Israel say; “they have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me. Plowmen have plowed my back and made their furrows long. But the Lord is righteous; He has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.”

May all who hate Zion be turned back in shame. May they be like grass on the roof, which withers before it can grow; a reaper cannot fill his hands with it,  nor one who gathers fill his arms. May those who pass by not say to them, “The blessing of the Lord be on you; we bless you in the name of the Lord.”

Psalm 129

This ends this reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

The headlines today paint a picture of people in hardship.

There are wars or threats of wars. Terrorism is striking in many parts of our world. Economies are struggling which has led to high unemployment rates and higher taxes for those who are working. Less income seems available for families who are trying to pay for things that seem to get more expensive by the year, things like gas and food and utilities. Relationships are strained and many are ending under the weight and pressures of life, leaving families disjointed and broken.

Yes, things are not easy today and we can be left feeling oppressed by our present circumstances. In times like this, we must allow ourselves to be strengthened and encouraged by the word of God. Look at these words from the 129th Psalm:

“They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,” let Israel say; “they have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me. Plowmen have plowed my back and made their furrows long. But the Lord is righteous; He has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.”

The Israelites had gone through their own share of difficulties which included harsh oppression, poverty, and suffering. More than 300 years had been spent in Egypt alone under the domineering, tyrannical Pharaoh. Note the analogy to describe their torment as they speak of long furrows being made across their backs by the plows of their oppressors.

And yet, in the midst of all their adversity, they stood strong. No one or nothing was going to gain the victory over them.

How could they feel that way?

Because of the Lord.

We read where the Lord who is righteous and omnipotent defeated the oppressors and cut the Israelites free from the cords of the wicked. The people of Israel learned that through the Lord they were victorious people, winners over life’s circumstances because they had the One on their side who always wins.

Friends, as we face life’s challenges today, we must remember and behave as if we are victorious people. For all those who place their faith and trust in Jesus have won. No matter what happens in this temporary life, we can live in security knowing that this is only a temporary stopping place on our way to eternity. And the good news is that God is with us even during our worldly existence, ever standing up for us. It’s what led Paul to be able to write, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

Yes, through Jesus, we have hope today and forever. He has won victory over Satan, death, and the grave and He grants the same to all who believe in Him. Through Christ, we are all set free from the fear of death which has no sting anymore (1 Corinthians 15:55) and are granted the promise of complete liberation when this worldly life is over. A time is awaiting us when there will be no more pain, no more sorrow, no more sin, no more sickness, no more war, no more oppression. Only light and love and life eternal spent with God the Father and Jesus His Son who has prepared a mansion for us (John 14:1-3).
In the end translation, we need to remember that this worldly life is NOT forever! A life far better and more magnificent than we could ever dream is waiting for us, for those who have gained the victory through Jesus.

Frankly, the only ones who need to be afraid today are those who choose to deny Jesus and reject Him in exchange for sinful living. For those who decide to go this route and not live for Christ WILL be counted among those who will lose in the end and be defeated. Instead of life and light and love forever, they will be cast into a lake of fire (Revelation 20:15) where they will be turned to ash and be gone forever.

I don’t know about you but I would rather have victory through Jesus.

I pray you will too.

Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

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