Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” Matthew 7:15-16a “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.” Mark 13:23 “So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.” I John 4:3a “But every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.”
In this world, wicked schemes will be successfully carried out. This is a fact. Deception is alive and well. Wolves engage us incognito more than we know. But, God gives believers a storehouse of ways to avoid fretting:
- Be still before Him, unplug and listen for Him
- Patiently endure
- Recognize good fruit and bad fruit
- His Word gives us all the intel we need
- The name of Jesus is the most powerful test of the spirits
Psalm 37:18,19,23,24 “The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever. In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty…If the Lord delights in a man’s way, He makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand.”
2 Corinthians 4:7-10 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”
The main paradox of faithful living is that God uses trouble and turns it into something great or beautiful! He gets the glory and others get to see His transforming grace up close and personal. As His beloved, we learn to live comfortably in the paradoxes of being weak, but ultimately strong; persecuted, but not left alone; having nothing, but possessing so much; slapped down, but not wiped out; unsteady, but not free-falling. Like David, we use Psalm 37 to pour out our hearts to God in prayer. We don’t repress or vent our persecutions or knockdowns, but we redirect these to God. We leave timing, methods, vindication, and vengeance completely up to Him. We don’t allow fretting to chew us up and paralyze us.
Faithful living is a glorious puzzle. In the Lord, we have abundance in spite of painful losses and defeats. It is a paradox – death and life simultaneously. By God’s Holy Spirit, we can die and live faithfully so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in us!
Psalm 37:34 “Wait for the Lord and keep His way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.”
Waiting on the Lord is one of the most difficult things to do. As I experience increasing hostility to the gospel of Christ and the unfolding reality of the “love of most growing cold” (Matthew 24:12), I really don’t want to wait much longer for Jesus to return and make all things new, do you?
Still, I know that the Lord is very patient and not willing for anyone to perish. In His great patience, He is showing me how to wait. Jesus says (Matthew 10:16), “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be a shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” This is what I will do while I am waiting – trust God to give me deeper discernment and keener insight into the motives and intentions of those around me. I will pray for clarity of mind and spirit. I will also pray for those who persecute believers and ask God to empower believers to respond always with the graciousness of Christ.
I recently heard Ravi Zacharias speak at the Commonwealth Prayer Breakfast in Richmond, Virginia on January 13, 20016. He told a personal story about his daughter when she was very young. She asked a guard for a glass of lemonade at a bridge of passage between two hostile territories in the Middle East. Amazingly, the guard not only provided the lemonade, but also provided a car and personal escort of the family across the bridge. The graciousness of Christ is at the same time truthful and disarming. The little girl’s dovelike demeanor was disarming in the midst of hostility.
God promises to cut off the wicked. While waiting, build disarming bridges.
My favorite Bible teacher at my church, Cyndi Anderson, sent the following devotional to encourage the ladies that have been in her classes:
“Your suffering occurs alongside of Christ’s. Your life story is embedded in His story. Your suffering, therefore, is actually a participation in the sufferings of Christ (2 Corinthians 1: 5; Philippians 3: 10; 1 Peter 4: 12– 13). Consider Paul’s amazing statement: ‘Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church’ (Colossians 1: 24). Paul is not saying that your sufferings add anything to Christ’s work on the cross. There’s nothing deficient about Jesus’ suffering and death. He is saying that there is a purposeful link between the sufferings of Christ and your own suffering. Your connection with Jesus means that your identity is bigger than what you suffer. Paul says: “If we are children, then we are heirs— heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8: 17). Paul is saying that your suffering actually confirms your identity as a child of God. It does not undermine that identity, even though it sometimes feels that way. This perspective reminds you that as you suffer, you suffer in Christ. Your life (both suffering and, ultimately, glory) is intimately connected with his life.” (Michael Emlet)
Heart of the Matter: Daily Reflections for Changing Hearts and Lives (Kindle Locations 407-409). New Growth Press. Kindle Edition.
Psalm 37:1-2 “Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die.” God’s Word tells me that I should not be continuously and obviously worried, because anxiety hammers away at my soul and my emotions, and can become a constant state of being if I let it. I know that My Redeemer Lives and that His Word can be trusted here. In Psalm 37, God tells me that I should replace fret with trust, delight, and stillness. The image of unmovable mountains is a reminder of these 3 things. His power working in me will enable me not to fret.
Psalm 37:3-6 “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”