Working for Jesus? Expect Opposition.

when you work for Jesus, expect opposition from the enemy

Daily Spirit & Word: 800: Expect Opposition.

When the LORD calls you to do something for Him, expect opposition.

Good morning my friends, when you do a good work for the LORD you can expect opposition. If you are of the world, the world will accept you as one of it’s own, but if you are a Citizen of Heaven, working for another KING, then this world and it’s king (Satan) can never accept you and you are going to be opposed, persecuted and sometimes martyred. However, far from being in a position of weakness and fear, we’re going to be encouraged today to see that we can be God’s awesome power of LOVE in this world.

Opposition comes in many forms, but how can we react to opposition, no matter what form or guise it come in?

Let us take Nehemiah as one of our examples of what to do when opposition comes, and we’ll look at what God’s Word tells us about persecution and opposition for Him and for the Gospel.

First, Nehemiah:

An Example of how to proceed when your work for the LORD is opposed, ridiculed or hindered.

Nehemiah 4:1-23 (NIV)
1  When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews,
2  and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?”
3  Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!”
4  Hear us, O our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity.
5  Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders.
6  So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.
7  But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the men of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry.
8  They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.
9  But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.
10  Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the labourers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.”
11  Also our enemies said, “Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.”
12  Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”
13  Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows.
14  After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”
15  When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work.
16  From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armour. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah
17  who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other,
18  and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.
19  Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall.
20  Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”
21  So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out.
22  At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so that they can serve us as guards by night and workmen by day.”
23  Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.

INTRODUCTION:

When you get busy for God, opposition will inevitably raise its ugly head. So no matter how GOOD the thing that you are doing is; be it a service for the poor people of this world or proclaiming the Good News of Jesus or taking a moral stand. Like Nehemiah discovered, when you do something for the LORD, the world (influenced by Satan) hates it with a vengeance, and will oppose you. However, they are not really opposing you, they are coming against your God, who’s called you to that task.

But we must bear in mind what it is that’s driving any form of opposition:

Ephesians 6:10-13 (NIV) When Opposition Comes: Be strong in the LORD and STAND.
10  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
11  Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
12  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
13  Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Read the FULL ARMOUR OF GOD Eph 6:14-20).

We must not resort to worldly ways of reacting to opposition:

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NIV)
3  For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.
4  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
5  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

So how should we react to opposition?

Think and Act Like Nehemiah.

Who was Nehemiah? His name means “the comfort of Jehovah.” His purpose and calling by the LORD really was a worthy one; He was instructed by the LORD to reconstruct the walls of the city of Jerusalem and in the process to rebuild the faith of the people of Israel. Yet, as soon as he began, Nehemiah was confronted by the dreaded opposition. So don’t be surprised by opposition, instead; expect it.

1) PRAYER:

When you get busy for God and the expected opposition comes, the first ingredient that will lead to success is PRAYER. “But we prayed to our God,” the Bible says (Nehemiah 4:9). Prayer was a key ingredient in Nehemiah’s spiritual life (1:4). When OPPOSITION came, Nehemiah looked up to Heaven first taking captive those opponents of God’s word with Spiritual weapons, before he persisted in the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall.

2) PERSISTENCE:

When you get busy for God and opposition comes, the second ingredient that will lead to success is PERSISTENCE. Prayer is not a substitute for working at what you’ve been called to do. So often people will retreat and just pray, but you’ve been called to more than prayer. Instead, know that PRAYER preceeds PERSISTENCE. When opposition comes don’t just carry on regardless, get down to prayer first and then carry on regardless. PRAYER is a PRELUDE to PERSISTENCE. For the God’s Word says; “Nehemiah took their thoughts captive (He used Spiritual Weapons) Nehemiah 4:4.   “…the people worked with all their heart.” (Nehemiah 4:6).

I don’t know who said it first, but whoever it was, this thought encapsulates the KEY INGREDIENTS when opposition comes; “I pray as if everything depended on God. Then I work as if everything depended on me.” I love that saying, we’ve got to PRAY and WORK at what we’ve been called to do. (See James Faith and Works).

3) POWER:

When you get busy for God and opposition comes, the third ingredient that will lead to your spiritual success is THE POWER OF HEAVEN. When confronted by the fear of the people, the fear of man, the fear of looking like a fool, the fear of failure; then Nehemiah 4:14 says that Nehemiah arose and spoke to the people about the power of God, and about the purpose of their work. When we are reminded of the purpose to which God has called us, and the power with which to accomplish that purpose, then we will be encouraged to move on toward the completion of our task.

So simply remind yourself of God’s calling and purposes: To share the Gospel, to help the poor, to cure the sick, to make disciples, to follow the teachings of Jesus, to live by them and if need be to die for them. Remember also the POWER of HEAVEN, the Weapons are not worldly, we take our stand against opposition with the Armour of God in place: Ephesians 6:10-20. And bear in mind; Jesus is with you always. Holy Spirit has filled you and equipped you for this work for the LORD.

When you know and experience the POWER you will keep going at what He’s called you to do.

CONCLUSION:

Yes my friends, you will experience all kinds of opposition to what you’ve been called to do by the LORD: Demonic and Worldly OPPOSITION: Expect it, and react like Nehemiah the prophet and the LORD Jesus Christ.

  • Get down to PRAYER,
  • Get up to WORK by being PERSISTENT,
  • Get into the POWER of Heaven.

Through prayer and persistence with the power of Heaven, you will be able to overcome any of those troubling opponents.

As one great preacher has said,

“You’ll be able to turn those stumbling stones into stepping stones”

Also;

… Your troubles can be turned into triumphs.

Also;

“Satan trembles when he sees, the weakest Christian upon his knees.”

Have a blessed Saturday with Jesus.

For most people it’s a rest day, to be with family and friends, but remember Jesus is your BEST BFF (Best Friend Forever).

So make and appointment and keep it with Him first. Then no matter what happens today, you’ll be ready. Amen!

Don.

 

The Precious Ring: Lost and Found.

Obedience to God makes us His family members

Daily Spirit & Word: 673:

The Importance of Jesus Family.

My friends John and Kathy Butler wrote on Facebook yesterday: “We arrived home from a walk at Burrator (Burrator Reservoir on Dartmoor in Devon) with the grandchildren this afternoon when Kathy realised she no longer had her mum’s wedding ring. We drove back to the first of several stops where the children were playing and started to search without any hope.

Kathy found it sitting in a very muddy puddle just near the edge glinting at us!!”

Have you ever come close to loosing something very precious to you?

In this message today we’re going to see three groups of people:

  • The Pharisees: Who hated Jesus and plotted his downfall. Accuse Him of being Possessed by Satan.
  • The Family of Jesus: His mother Mary and his brothers. Moved with genuine concern thinking Jesus was mad.
  • The Crowd in the House: Who were sitting around Jesus, lapping up His teachings. 

We’re going to see that how we respond to Jesus is crucially important: Because ONLY those who LOVE Him will be the ones who are SAVED. We’ll know that we LOVE Jesus, if we are being obedient to the Commands of God, they’re no longer commands, but promises for our abundant life.

We’re back with the Gospel of Mark again today:

In previous Chapters Mark has been building a wonderful picture for us about who Jesus is, and why He had come: We’ve seen Him debating with the Pharisees (The Religious Leaders of Jesus time). We’ve noted that He selected 12 out of the many thousands who were following Him, designating them Apostles (Sent ones: to preach, teach, heal and deliver).

Today, we discover that Jesus is in a house, with so many people that it gets impossible for Him to even eat.

Whilst Jesus is busy; healing and teaching, his family arrives, they’ve come to get their precious Son. Also another group of the old adversaries have arrived the Pharisees, they’ve not come to save Jesus, but to condemn Him even more.

Mark 3:20-35 (NIV) 
20  Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.
21  When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
The Pharisees Arrive:
22  And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”
23  So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan?
24  If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
25  If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.
26  And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.
27  In fact, no-one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house.
28  I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them.
29  But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.”
30  He said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit.”

The Family Arrives:
31  Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him.
32  A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
33  “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.
34  Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!
35  Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

Beelzebub: Who is Beelzebub?

Beelzebub means Lord of Flies: The god of Ekron. “The Dung God.” Imagine that, they’re accusing Jesus of being filled with the Demons of the Dung god.

The Pharisees are here again 🙂

They’re accusing Jesus of being Demon Possessed.

Jesus knew what they meant (Satan) so he explained it in a Parable to them:

  • Divided Kingdom: We’ve seen it in History: Greece, Rome, (Empires crumble from corruption / division within). A divided KINGDOM cannot stand for very long.
  • Divided House: We’ve all see how families fall out and they don’t stand for long: Kardashians. Earthly families that fall apart. Normally over something small: An inheritance, money, finances, jealousy, anger, arguments, etc… A divided house cannot stand.
  • Divided Person: Satan Opposing Himself: Nah! That’s just dumb. Foolishness of the Pharisees. But we also see this in earthly terms too: a person who’s hell bent on self-destruction: through drink and drugs. Last week I gave the example of Amy Winehouse: Hell bent on self-destruction. She succeeded. Such a sad loss for all who knew her, but ONLY Jesus could have saved Amy Winehouse.

After explaining the parable Jesus turns around their accusation: He’s not filled with a Demon Spirit, but the Holy Spirit and now they are guilty of committing the unpardonable sin: by accusing Jesus of being filled and moved by a Demon Spirit they’re Blaspheming against God the Holy Spirit.

Blasphemy: Blasphemy is a serious sin: “The LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain”

Exodus 20:7 (NIV)  “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

Have you ever said; “O God!” or “OMG” or “Jesus Christ”?: When you hurt your toe, couldn’t get parked, stuck in traffic, arguing with someone when you are angry? Even in those situations using God’s Name in any format: It’s still Blasphemy. I don’t believe that if you are filled with the Holy Spirit you’ll ever take God’s name in vain and not know about it, how serious it is. At best, It hurts your relationship with God. At worst it cuts you off from Him if you do it knowingly.

But to Blaspheme against the Holy Spirit is a sin that can never be forgiven. Verse 29.

What does this mean? Blaspheme The Holy Spirit.

It’s to know God and His purposes and yet still be in opposition to Him.

If you’re still feeling guilty for your sin: You are OK.

You love Jesus, but still fail and fall: You are OK.

Your guilty conscience proves there’s room for repentance; and getting right with God again.

However: If you say that you know Jesus: And are Opposed to Him: You are definitely on dangerous ground.

I believe that it’s possible to be forgiven every sin: Apart from this one.

My Friend: A Young Christian: In RN Got home on leave to find his wife had been cheating on him. He Cursed God. Felt that he had committed the unpardonable sin. For over a week he avoided our early morning prayer gatherings. He eventually came back one day, but he was unusually quiet: We were reading Psalm 40 and then we began praying. I was praying in tongues: I looked up and his face was streaming with tears. He burst into tears and let it all out. (Tongues are good sometimes). He confessed to shouting at God. Said some terrible things to Him. He thought God wouldn’t forgive him, he’d been pleading but had no peace. But after coming to prayer and hearing God’s Word: Even though He’d got angry with God. Now he knew that God had forgiven him.

He was hurting: He had believed that once he became a Christian, then everything would be sunshine and roses in his life. Now he finds his wife had cheated on him. He was broken: He was mistakenly convinced that everything in life would be easy now. He cursed God, because he had believed a lie, But he came back to Jesus. Do you want to know what a man on fire is like? From that day on he told everybody about Jesus and many more sailors came to faith. A life forgiven is a life transformed.

The Blasphemy: Against the Holy Spirit: Is KNOWING: Jesus, His Person, His purpose and deciding to oppose Him. It’s going against God’s Holy Spirit.

Being angry with God: Is not the unpardonable sin, but we may still need to repent and ask for His forgiveness.

(Note: The Psalms are full of people who are hurting and shouting out to God about their predicament in life).

Mother’s And Brothers Arrive: Verses 31-35:

They made a mistake: Instead of going in themselves to see Jesus, they send someone else in.

Loosing Something Precious: You’ll go looking for it. Like my friends with the Wedding Ring.

When you are about to loose or have lost someone precious: You’ll move heaven and earth to get them back.

Jesus is precious to His family too: His mother and brothers had come to get him; propelled by love and genuine concern.

They are GENUINELY worried about Him: “People were saying, “He’s lost his mind”, “Your son has gone mad”…. His family were not opposed to Jesus, but were only moved through caring concern: We all know they needn’t have worried. Jesus was OK. But they made a genuine mistake through loving concern.

How many times have we made a mistake about Jesus? Not understanding Him, Not following Him the way He wants us to?

We know from the Bible that Jesus was close to His mother Mary and his borthers; She was there at the Cross as her precious son died. His own brother James becomes a key leader in Jerusalem after Jesus’ death on the Cross. It was only a mistake, but through genuine love.

What Jesus said is surprising: “Who are my mother and brothers?” Verse 33.

Imagine that, what an insult it could have been to his family outside the house that day, but Jesus was teaching the crowd.

He looked around the room: At the people gathered there: and answers his own question: “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” Verse 35.

You know something my friends, we KNOW that we KNOW Him if we LOVE Him.

You know something else my friends, we KNOW that we LOVE Him if we are living in obedience to God’s will.

Jesus said, “If you truly love me, you will obey my commands”… It’s a PROMISE: You will obey my commands.

Jesus also said, “Come unto me … my yoke is easy (Commands), my burden is light (not difficult)… You’ll want to be obedient to Jesus when you’ve come to Him in faith and received Him as LORD. Only then is the obedient life possible, through the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit, Jesus gives us the POWER to live the loving obedient life.

One more Question:

  • How are you getting on at doing God’s will today?
  • How are you getting on a living the Christian life?
  • Are you living in accordance with the will of God?

OK, I know that’s three questions 🙂

If you are NORMAL: Then there will always be areas in your life that God is working on.

You are always going to be, until the Lord returns, “A Work in Progress”

  • God has made you into a Saint: The moment you trusted Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
  • God is making you more Saintly: Day by Day.

He will finish the good work He began in you. (Philippian 1:6).

Philippians 1:4-6 (NIV)
4  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy
5  because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,
6  being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

If you LOVE Jesus: You are His FAMILY:

You are very precious to Him.

He said about those who love Him; “I’ll never leave you, nor forsake you”…

Family might abandon you, friends may leave you and let you down, but Jesus never will leave you.

There are THREE Possible Positions to be in regarding Jesus today:

  • Opposition: Like the Pharisees.
  • Mistaken: Like Jesus Family.
  • Family: Like those around about Jesus; who prove they LOVE Him by being obedient to God’s Commands. God’s will.

Which position are you in today?

Have an awesome week my friends.

Stay close to the Vine: John 15

Stay full of God’s Holy Spirit: Ephesians 5:18.

Don.

Further Study Today:

Being Filled With God’s Spirit:

God is the God of FREE REFILLS.

I heard about a Clergyman who told his children in McDonald’s they can have only one coke. Because he couldn’t afford to keep paying for a refill. However, on holiday in America you can keep coming back and filling your glass again and again as much as you like.

The Holy Spirit is a bit like that; you get filled with the Holy Spirit once you trust in Jesus, but you need to keep being filled with the Holy Spirit every day.

First things first: you don’t come to Jesus apart from the Holy Spirit. In Titus 3:4-6, we’re told that God “saved us, not because of works done by us… but by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ…” You can’t become a Christian without the Holy Spirit.

And when you become a Christian you don’t receive 2/3 of God, as if the Holy Spirit comes later. 2 Corinthians 1:22 and Ephesians 1:13 tell us that the Holy Spirit seals us and guarantees that we belong to Jesus. When you put your trust in Jesus Christ, the Spirit seals you.

But in Ephesians 5:18, Paul commands the church to “be filled with the Holy Spirit”. The English language doesn’t quite do justice to Paul’s intent here. In the Greek, this command is a present imperative, indicating that this isn’t speaking of a onetime filling, but rather a regular pattern of being filled. So “go on being filled with the Holy Spirit” is more like it.

This makes some of us nervous, but it was normal language in the New Testament. In Luke 4:1, Jesus is described as being “full of the Holy Spirit”. In Acts 4:8, Peter is “filled with the Holy Spirit”. In Acts 9:17, Ananias lays his hands on Saul so that he can be “filled with the Holy Spirit”. Barnabas is described as being “full of the Holy Spirit and faith” in Acts 11:24.

And lest you point out that all these references just mention one person one single time, look at the three separate instances in Acts when the disciples are said to be “filled with the Holy Spirit”. First, in Acts 2:4 they’re “filled…” and begin to speak in tongues. Second, in Acts 4:31 they’re “filled…” again. And then in Acts 13:52 they’re again “filled with the Holy Spirit and with joy”.

Why else would Jesus describe the Holy Spirit as “rivers of living water” (John 7:38) and not a pool? A river is a constant flow whereas a pool is a dormant supply. God reconciles us to himself through Jesus, and by the work of the Holy Spirit, and then longs to continue to fill us and fill us and fill us again. He really is the God of FREE refills, but we NEED Him every single day.

Go on being filled with God, the Holy Spirit today my friends.

Don.