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Standing with the Lord Against Evil

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Standing with the Lord Against Evil
 
A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church
 
19 Aug 2012
 
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References:

Psalm 111
John 6:51-58
Ephesians 5:15-21

In order to stand with the Lord against the forces of evil around us, we also have to truly know the Lord, and praise Him for all that His has shown us.
 
In order for us to praise someone, we have to know some good details about them, and the more we know the better we are able to discern their worth and the attributes that are worthy of praise.
 
When it comes to praising God, we can praise Him because of what someone else wrote or said about Him, or it can be from our personal relationship with Him; but only in the latter case can it be true praise.
 
This is because in order to truly praise God, we must also be walking with God.
 
In Psalm 111, the Lord is praised for His goodness.
 
Unfortunately, most people who read this Psalm don’t really seem to understand the meaning or they don’t seem to want this kind of relationship with the Lord.

1. Praise the LORD!
I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart,
In the company of the upright and in the assembly.

Think carefully about who these upright people are; for to be truly upright, we must be willing to follow the Lord’s teaching and God’s heavenly will.

2. Great are the works of the LORD;
They are studied by all who delight in them.

Are not the animals also included in the works of the Lord?
 
Of course they are, and to delight in them is to protect and care for them, and not to brutalize them and eat them.

3. Splendid and majestic is His work,
And His righteousness endures forever.

Isn’t the splendor and majesty of God’s work seen in the beauty of His creation?
 
And in His righteousness, didn’t He give it and all the animals into our care to protect?
 
So, if we are going to really praise God for these things, then we should also be fulfilling our duty of protecting the whole of His creation.

4. He has made His wonders to be remembered;
The LORD is gracious and compassionate.

Can’t we remember the beautiful things of God’s creation from one day to the next, and even from one year to the next?
 
Of course we can, and in that remembrance we should be moved to be just as gracious and compassionate as the Lord.

For neither we nor the Lord can be truly gracious and compassionate, if we knowingly and willfully cause any harm to befall any aspect of God's very good creation.

5. He has given food to those who fear Him;
He will remember His covenant forever.

What food has God given us?
 
He’s given us all kinds of wonderful plant foods which make us healthy and do very little harm to the environment from which it can easily recover.

6. He has made known to His people the power of His works,
In giving them the heritage of the nations.
 
7. The works of His hands are truth and justice;
All His precepts are sure.

If the works of God are truth and justice, how come the vast majority of people are unjust and lie about the horrible things that are done to billions of animals and millions of our fellow humans every year, and contribute to the destruction of our environment?
 
The simple answer is that they are not really praising God. They are praising the forces of evil that rejoice in suffering and bloodshed.

8. They are upheld forever and ever;
They are performed in truth and uprightness.
 
9. He has sent redemption to His people;
He has ordained His covenant forever;
Holy and awesome is His name.
 
10. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
A good understanding have all those who do His commandments;
His praise endures forever.

The meaning of “fear” in this context is really “reverence”.
 
It is obvious to us that the people who contribute to the corruption of this world and cause so much suffering and death lack wisdom and understanding and have little or no true reverence for the Lord, even if they claim to believe in Him.
 
They find excuses and twist the meaning of God’s words to try to justify their hard hearted way of life.
 
We all need to think about who we are before God, and truly seek to be filled with the knowledge of the Lord until together we can free creation from its present corruption, and bring lasting peace to the earth.

This is standing with the Lord against the forces of evil.
 
Now, with these things in mind, let’s take a look at what Paul wrote to the Ephesians in 5:15-21…

15. Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,

In other words, we need to be walking with God and following the teaching of Jesus.

16. making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
 
17. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
 
18. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,

Anyone who drinks any alcoholic beverages knows that it clouds our senses and leads to mental impairment, as our traffic laws testify.
 
This is what the Bible refers to as dissipation, and such a state of being separates us spiritually from God.
 
This is why Paul is saying that instead of consuming alcoholic beverages to get high, we should be getting our high by being filled with the Holy Spirit.

19. speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;
 
20. always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;

This is key to our relationship with God.
 
If we truly love the Lord with every part of our being, then we will also be thankful for everything we have and receive, even down to getting a glass of water from the faucet or taking a breath of air.

21. and be subject to one another in the fear [reverence] of Christ.

This is all part of standing with the Lord against the forces of evil that surround us.

Continuing with this theme of our spiritual relationship with God, let’s take a look at what Jesus tells us in John 6:51-58.
 
And as we read these verses, keep in mind that Jesus is speaking about our spiritual, and not physical, relationship with God, even if others don’t understand.

51. “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”

Jesus is foretelling of His physical death for the salvation of the world, and that all of us who partake of the things He taught us, and internalize them as one eats bread, will live forever.

Jesus is not talking about eating His actual flesh, for He knows full well it is against His Father's heavenly will, which the religious leaders didn't understand, for they were not living in the Spirit of God.

52. Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”
 
53. So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.
 
54. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
 
55. “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.
 
56. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
 
57. “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.
 
58. “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”

Jesus is comparing the difference between the manna that the Lord gave the Israelites in the wilderness, which didn’t cause the people to live forever, with Himself, who also came down from heaven, but through whom, by faith, we may live forever.
 
The physical does not bring everlasting life, but the spiritual does.
 
When we allow ourselves to have a personal relationship with Jesus, and the Holy Spirit indwells us, we also come to realize that Jesus feels the pain and suffering of the whole of creation even more than we do.
 
But then we question why He hasn’t returned to end all the suffering and death; and as we do, we also come to realize that God gave that responsibility to us, the peacemaking children of God.
 
It’s not that we have to do this alone; it’s that we have to do it together with the Lord, and together we can take a positive stand against the forces of evil.
 
It’s all part of our walking with God, and in that walk we praise God for showing us the truth, even in the presence of the seemingly overwhelming evil that surrounds us daily.
 
Never give up.
 
The Lord is with us.
 
Amen.