Overcoming the Opposition

Bible Book: Psalms  96
Subject: Christian Living; Victory; Prayer

Overcoming the Opposition

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor, www.pastorlife.com
Introduction

Psalm 96

All around us lie stones in the pathway of life, and they can be a great discouragement to us. Early in life we begin to say, "Nothing ever turns out like I want it to." This can create a kind of dismal view of our existence, leading to rebellion, alcohol, drugs and every manner of activity to paper over our dissatisfaction and disencantment.

Christians are not immune to the problem of frustration and failure. In fact, once we are saved we begin to assume that God ought to kick all the stones out of our pathway. When Jesus is my Savior, shouldn't the Lord create for a rose strewn road to travel? Well, ask that of the first disciples, almost all of whom died at the hands of the enemies of God.

What are we to do in a frustrating and disappointing world? Today I want us to look to David and to words he penned amost 3,000 years ago. King David was born around 1000 BC, so he lived a long time ago. He was a man after God's own heart, but they did not deliver him from temptation, failure and heartache. So, open your Bible to Psalm 96 and let's look at how David found victory in his hardships - and, how we can find victory as well.

Before we look at some of these verses it is important to note that Bible scholars tell us that this Psalm was written when the Ark of the Covenant was returned to God's people after being in the hands of the Philistines. During the dark days that the Ark was gone, sorrow covered the heads and hearts of God's people, and they were in dispair beyound words. The Ark of the Covenant was viewed as God's presence among His people. While the Ark was away, the people felt divinely deserted. The depression was almost more than the people could bear.

But, here in Psalm 96 we read of the attitude present when the Ark was returned. Now, let me tell you something important:

  • The Glory of God,
  • The Presence of God,
  • The Hope of God,
  • The Joy of God, and
  • The Power of God, are always available to
  • The People of God who trust Him.

He has promised that He will never leave you nor forsake you. You have His presence in the person of the Holy Spirit. Don't let the bad news get you down and don't let threats and dangers bully you. Above all, don't allow Satan to terrify you.

I want to show you today four commitments found in Psalm 96 that we need to make as believers to have victory in this world.

I. Possess a Positive Faith

Psalm 96:1-2a

The word "new" in verses 1 of Psalm 96 means "fresh" or "renewed." It means to brighten or lift up your heart in song to the Lord. In essence, the Psalmist is telling us to get hold of that which has gotten hold of us. Get off the bad news and get on the good news. We are God's people, saved by grace, on our way to the Kingdom City where the King will greet us. Till we get there, He has promised to be here with us. Look up child of God, you are blessed beyond words.

Someone will say to me, "Oh, pastor, you don't know what I'm going through." Let me tell you something important - you are "going through" not "stopping" where you are. God has promised you victory over every enemy.

Listen to what God tells us in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." (NKJV) God is thinking good thoughts toward you and me, and He wants us to think good thoughts of Him and of His future for us.

Sometimes it may appear that truth is dislodged from its place and evil has taken the throne; but, let me remind you that God has not abrogated His Sovereignty - He is still on the throne.

  • He is Lord
  • He is King
  • He is Master
  • He is God

The Lord shall never be toppled from His place. Your circumstances may not necessarily give evidence of God's power at this moment, but always remember that we are not sitting on our circumstances but we are standing on His promises.

"Standing on the promises that cannot fall,

Listening every moment to the Spirit's call,

Resting in my Savior as my all in all,

I'm standing on the promises of God."

Paul put this way in 2 Timothy 2:12, "For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day." (NKJV)

Whatever you are suffering or facing, remember that the Lord is keeping you and has wonderful plans for you. Lift up your heart. Take off the cloak of mourning and put on the garment of praise. Possess a positive faith.

David had faced the lion and bear when but a lad, and God had delivered him and made him victorious.

David had faced Goliath with nothing but a slingshot in his hand and God had given him victory.

David had been hunted down by King Saul, but God had given him victory.

David had been taken by the Philistines in Gath, but God had extricated him.

David had sinned terribly and felt the pangs of guilt and sorrow, but God had forgiven him.

David was looking back at all God had done in his life and he was saying, "I'm going to sing a New Song. I'm not going to go around whining about the circumstances. My God is with me." David possessed a positive faith.

What has God brought you through? How many times has He forgiven you? How many troubles has He brought you through? Lift up your heart. Possess a positive faith.

Next, we can and should ...

II. Proclaim A Public Witness

Psalm 96:2b-3

Two words occur here that most not be overlooked. One is the word "proclaim" and the other is the word "declare." The first word means to tell something with a cheerful, happy and positive spirit. Now listen carefully. Once we get a positive faith on the inside, we must translate that to a positive witness on the outside. We must speak that which God has said. We must tell it to ourselves and to others. Do you ever talk to yourself? Sure you do! Then, when you talk to yourself, especially in a difficult time or circumstance, speak God's Word of blessing and promise.

We have to make know the salvation of the Lord in a positive way to other people. It troubles me today that the Christian community is becoming known only for what we are against. We are becoming like the old mountain poem I heard years ago.

"I don't drink and I don't chew,

And I don't date girls that do."

How about letting the world know what we are for. Lift up Jesus! Lift up God's grace. The Pharisees had problems with Jesus because he loved sinners. We are becoming known today for hating sinners. Don't get me wrong. I know there are things that we must point out as being evil, wrong, sinful and harmful. But what is our main message? Jesus loves the world. Jesus saves. Jesus forgives. Jesus cares about your situation. Jesus is the hope of the world. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus - that is our message.

The second word here is the word "declare," which means to cut into wood with a penknife. In other words, it means to carry the message "cut" into your life. The songwriter penned,

"Take the name of Jesus with you

Take it then wherever you go." (Lydia Baxter, 1809-1874)

We must not only have a positive faith in our hearts, we must have a public witness in our lives and on our lips. We must stop whining and start rejoicing. In fact, the positive witness of a person in a negative situation leads to a surprising acceptance by the hearer.

Now, David mentions that we must ...

III. Practice A Praising Worship

Worship is more than being in a worship service, for the idea of worship involves the worshipper himself or herself. There are two specific elements presented as being necessary for appropriate worship to take place. If  you desire victory, don't miss this - make sure you worship God's prescribed way.

To worship God's way, we need to know that ...

A. It is a Deserved Worship

The Lord deserves our worship. Do you believe that? Do you agree with this statement? God deserves Biblical worship. Well, why does He deserve it? The Psalmist gives us reasons to sing a song of victory. Let's take them backwards from verses 5 and 6.

1. His Creation

Psalm 96:5-6

You can't stand by a beach, gaze over a grand mountain, or look in a baby's eyes without feeling the majesty of His creation. Praise Him. Worship Him. Honor Him because of His creation.

2. His Inspiration

Psalm 96:3

His wonders involve His miracle works. We read and hear often of the mighty things God has done, so let us THINK on His wonders deeds. Get these in your mind when your pathway is difficult. Praise Him for the wonders related to your own life. Praise Him for those recorded in the Bible. Praise Him for the wonder of the resurrection, which is the prototype of the resurrection all believers will experience. Yes, praise Him for His wonders.

3. His Salvation

Psalm 96:2

Above all, praise Him for salvation. We have been redeemed, and that is one thing the world can never take away from us. What a victory we possess in Christ - let us rejoice in this. The Ark of the Covenant can never be taken from us, for He lives in us.

Not only is the worship of God deserved, we can say that ...

B. It is a Described Worship

We are told what our worship is to be like. Just how do we worship God? Is it your choice as to how you worship Him? Does the Bible have anything to say about what our worship is to be like? Sure it does! Listen to things that are mentioned here regarding the spirit of our worship.

1. Worship in Strength
Psalm 96:4, 7

The Psalmist calls on believers to praise Him because he is "greatly" to be praised. The word "greatly" means "loudly, vehemently, and diligently." It means more than merely humming a hymn while others sing. It means more than yawning while the offering is being taken. If there is one part of the Christian life where we as Baptists have fallen short in recent years, it is in the area of worship. Non-denominational churches, charismatic churches and independent churches have taken thousands of our people - especially our young people - because they practice worship. Now don't misunderstand my point here, for I know that many have taken worship to extremes. There are churches where people pass out on the floor, yelp like dogs and/or run around the worship center like a college running back in a football bowl game. I'm not talking about that sort of thing. But I will tell you without equivocation that the deadpan way many people enter the house of God to worship is a shame before God.

We are called in this passage to give Him glory. What does that mean? The word "glory" means "heavy" or "weighty." We are to put some "oomph" behind our worship. We must give our worship due weight. The congregation is not a room full of spectators - we are all participants in the worship of the Lord. We are to put our energy into this matter of worship.

And then we are told to give Him strength. God is stronger than strong. How can I give Him strength? This word is speaking of me putting my "strength" into worship. I can't work all week, play when I'm not at work, and then drag my tired body into church hoping the preacher quits early so I can take a nap - or just sit in worship and take the nap during the service.

Dear people, we are to save up some "strength" for worship during the week. Put some gusto behind your worship experience. Man's first full day on earth was a Sabbath. Man was created on Friday. He went to sleep that night and got up for his first day on earth. Adam was ready to go to work. but God said, "Not so fast there, Adam! This is the Sabbath. You are to worship and rest today." I think some Baptists think God meant for us to do both at the same time (worship and rest), so they just sleep through worship services. God told Adam, while you are fresh and strong, spend the day with me. Then you can go to work. Man's first day was with God and not a day earning a living. With don't end the week with God - we are to BEGIN the week with God.

Also, ...

2. Worship in Sacrifice

Psalm 96:8

We are to bring an offering to God, and we are to remember that God deserves more than our leftovers. He deserves our best gifts. We should give His tithe and our offering. You don't worship properly unless you bring God a worthy gift.

Futhermore ...

3. Worship in Serious

Psalm 96:9

"Tremble" before Him, the Bible states. Being serious does not mean being dull or long faced, but rahter it means to take this matter of worship seriously - to lead in worship from the heart. When we realize that we are in His presence, we should tremble with delight, tremble with respect, and tremble with awe.

Now, notice that we are to ...

IV. Prepare for A Personal Judgment

Finally, the Psalmist states that judgment is coming. One must be prepared to meet God. How do we do that? First, we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. That means repenting (turning) from sin and trusting what Christ did for us at Calvary. It means to give Him your life - past, present and future. Many here have done that. You have peace about death and eternity. If you have never done that, you are living in danger every moment. You have a right to worry and dread. But, you don't have to stay that way. God loves you and He desires that you accept the gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. You can place your faith in Him today. That is the ultimate victory over oppression in life and in death.

But, also, as Christians we should so live that we will not be ashamed when we meet Christ face-to-face. We can be overcomers when we come over to the brigtht side of the Christian life. Live in the victory that Jesus purchased for you.

Conclusion

Now, what led David to write this Psalm? The Ark, the presence of God, was restored to the people of God during those Old Testament days. Dear friend, God is present with His people. Whatever you are going through, look up and know that you are not alone and that God is working in your behalf, even when you can't see it or understand it.

Overcome Oppression by Coming Over to the One who won the victory for you! Overcome subjugation by resting in the Savior. Escape domination through God's divine power and presence.

Anyone here need a renewed faith, trust and victory? Come now, let us step into the presence of the Lord - there we will discover the Satanic opposition beneath His feet.