Summary: In America we are blessed in ways that the world at large can only dream about and hope for. Courage is a must for fighting the good fight, and God's Word is the source of the courage we need.
BLESSED WITH COURAGE BY THE WORD OF GOD
“Let courage rise with danger, and strength to strength oppose!” Let’s face it! As Christians, we are beginning to feel more and more like strangers in enemy occupied territory. However, “With God on our side, how can we lose?”
It feels like we are strangers because, with the world coming into our living rooms via television, we witness the radical treatment Christians are being subjected to in anti-Christian parts of the world, and in our own country we are increasingly told by radicals that we must exclude Christ from public display and conversation.
Whereas devotion to the Word of God has always been an identifying mark of God’s servants, such devotion nowadays alienates us, not only from proud and arrogant non-Christian factions but also “unchristian Christian” factions.
Putting together all religious factions that can in any sense of the word be thought of as “Christian”, experts classify 33% of the world’s people “Christian”, 51% “religious but non-Christian”, and 16% “non-religious and non-Christian”.
Even though a third of the world’s population may be classified “Christian”, we are still up against it because not only are we “opposed” by 51% many of whom consider it their duty to rid the world of us “infidels”, the fact remains that it is by and large the 16% that have gained political power, mostly in “third world” countries but also in the western world of which we are a part - a political phenomenon that might be described as “the tail that wags the dog”.
Thus, we can understand why we could say what the psalmist said many years ago – “I am a stranger on earth” (119:19a). God’s servant felt it then. We feel it today. We are pilgrims passing through, but, with a message and a mission.
Our message is God’s Word. Our mission is Be true to God’s Word – with an openness to learning it and living it, and with the courage to profess it, practice it, and proclaim it in the face of opposition. Thus, we can say with the psalmist that we have been “Blessed with Courage by the Word of God” - Psalm 119:17-24 . . .
God’s Word gives us courage. Courageous Christians, when rooted in God’s Word, stand strong during the storms of life! That being the case, wouldn’t we want to pray as did the psalmist?
“Open my eyes so that I may contemplate (meditate upon) wonderful things (blessed assurances) from Your Word . . . Your instruction . . . Your commands . . . Your judgments . . . Your decrees . . . Your statutes.” In other words:
Whatever God has communicated to you and me about His ways and His Will . . . taught us on how to conduct our lives as His children . . . ordered us to do in how we relate to Him and to others . . . decided about requests we have made of Him and petitions we have presented to Him . . . foreordained to be . . . said as if carved in stone – all of this constitutes God’s Word.
The imagery of “eyesight” is used by the psalmist as we should use it: Ask God to turn our eyes away from those things in life that have no “lasting” value – i.e., teachings, values or actions that are opposed to the LORD God. Ask God to help us stay focused on His Word and His ways.
(When my eyesight became blurry, my eye doctor told me that cataracts had dimmed my vision. Not to worry, though, he reassured me that he could fix the problem – and he did.)
From time to time my spiritual vision becomes a bit blurred by distractions and disruptions that interfere with my daily prayer routine - and, before I know it, my spiritual discernment loses its edge and I find myself in need of renewed vision – something which will not happen on my own.
I need the help of someone greater than myself (as was the case with removal of cataracts and the restoration of clearer vision). I need the prescribed meditation that the psalmist recommends. “Open my eyes that I may contemplate (meditate on) the wonderful things in Your Law.”
When we contemplate . . . meditate . . . think intently in a quiet place about God’s Word, that which inevitably jumps out at us is a renewed understanding of Who God is – His character traits . . . that, if adopted by us and indelibly impressed on our minds, become a part of who we are.
This “merger” of our spirit with the Spirit of God is the dynamic that blesses us with the courage to do His Will in a world that opposes God and His people.