“But my foes are vigorous, they are mighty, and many are those who hate me wrongfully. Those who render me evil for good accuse me because I follow after good” Psalm 38:19-20. I grew up with Wile E. Coyote never ceasing his pursuit of Road Runner. Falling off cliffs or having the latest ACME order blow up in his face were not reasons for the predator to desist. Evil is relentless. This is David’s experience … and perhaps yours as well. As the Road Runners in this dark world, we look out at the Coyotes’ reckless hate that never stops and question how we can go on. But, if you remember from the cartoon, the Road Runner was never focused on he was the target. He just lived and survived, but instead of happenstance, followers of Christ survive because we trust in a good God’s intervention. Yes, the world will hate you just because you “follow after good,” but we are wise to adopt a Road Runner perspective in the way we allow the wickedness around us to affect us. To add in other animals to this illustration—we must be as shrewd about evil as serpents (not purposely walking into the traps like Road Runner often did) while being innocent as doves!
“Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” Acts 10:47. First, Peter had to be convinced to even go to the home of a gentile—even one that was as devout as Cornelius. God’s people had always been just the Jews. But even Jesus, knowing that the kingdom would soon be open to all by faith, was willing to go to another centurion’s house in Mark 8 but was kept from it by that soldier’s great faith. How the believers with Peter must have marvelled as the apostle shared the gospel with Cornelius and his household—and were even more surprised when the Spirit allowed them to speak in tongues and extol God! Already having used the keys of the kingdom to open the door of the church to the Jews in Acts 2, Peter now used them to admit the first gentiles eight chapters later, even remarking that they had received the Spirit of God “just as we have.” Notice, though, that this was only the second time that God chose to give His Spirit before baptism (stated here as the way in!). What about all the many conversions between Acts 2 and 10 who had only received the gift of the Holy Spirit when they were baptized?
“And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon and struck down thirty men of the town and took their spoil and gave the garments to those who had told the riddle. In hot anger he went back to his father’s house” Judges 14:19. So often today we think of God’s Spirit rushing upon a per-son as like a demon possession that takes away all control from a person. Some religious groups enact this out in their services. But 1 Corinthians 14:32 says, “and the spirit of prophets are subject to prophets.” This is what we see happening with Samson here. Otherwise, we’d have to conclude that the Holy Spirit made him kill thirty men and steal their possessions. And Samson had no choice but to be angry and storm home to his parents. So, would the Spirit take us over when we’re baptized? For we believe that we “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38) when we obey the gospel. Perhaps this is why those same groups believe that a person really isn’t a Christian until he has a separate baptism of the Spirit? No, it comes down to what the individual chooses to do with the Spirit that is now poured out upon us rather than in rare dollops—like Samson received.
“And they said to him, ‘If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever’” 1 Kings 12:7. There’s an age-old question about whether it’s better to come from the world to obey the gospel later in life or to “grow up in the church” and be somewhat sheltered from the world. The answer is neither … and both! The real answer is that each person must develop a faith of their own. The first group may never seek for truth at all, being comfortable in the world, but if they escape the world to obey the gospel, often their conversion sticks. The second group may remain comfortable in the shadow of another’s faith and fall away when confronted by the lures of the world. David was a “man of war” who trusted in God as he fought for God’s kingdom. His son, Solomon, began well, but by the end of his forty years found his heart drawn away by the world. Reheboam grew up in these later years, and wanting to make a name for himself, spurned his father’s advisors to listen to those who told him what he wanted to hear. Not searching for God himself, he began a long decline for God’s kingdom.
“I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing” Psalm 37:25-26. In a radio commercial I once heard, a man wanting to become a Christian is asked by God to give Him his house, car, wallet, kids, and wife. Then, God tells him that He has this house, car, wallet, kids, and wife to put under the man’s care and lends them to him. What a great picture of understanding what David said while collecting items for Solomon to build the temple, “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own we have given you” 1 Chronicles 29:14. As it all belongs to a loving God, we trust Him to take care of us, or as Jesus says in Matthew 7:11, “how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Never are the righteous forsaken or gone hungry. And because God gives to us, we can give to others. We can be generous, and our example of living out this trust in God’s providence allows our children to be a blessing to others. Do you give as He does?