Psalm 34:19

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 34:19 

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.” – Psalm 34:19  

This verse brings out a truth that many of us totally understand, “many are the afflictions of the righteous.” Another way of putting this is, “A lot of bad things happen to God’s people.”  And this is true.  Look at what happened to Jesus.  Look what happened to His disciples?  Throughout history, we see Christians enduring suffering and hardship on account of their firm belief in Christ.  A lot of these troubles happen not just because we believe, but because we live it and encourage others to do the same.  I have heard people say, ‘It does not matter what you believe, as long as you keep it to yourself.’  However, this is not what God has called us to.

Now, this verse is not saying that the afflictions of the righteous are more numerous or severe than others.  What it is saying is because we are righteous in a world that does not lean our way, we will be subject to a lot of suffering and trials.  However, we have a God who will deliver us as only He can.  The idea is not that God does not allow us to go through hard times, but that He does not allow us to be defeated by them.  This is an important distinction.  Paul, as well as all the other apostles, endured much hardship. However, through the mercy of God, they had the strength to bring them through.   

This verse should bring us much comfort, as well as a verse above, to add to the contentment that is written by David in this psalm.  “The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry.” Psalm 34:17.  When we are in the midst of trials, the Lord knows and sees it, and is with us through it.  “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8.  Not only does He deliver us, but He goes before us to prepare the way.  This brings up the question, why does He allow us to suffer at all? 

I think there are several reasons why God allows us to suffer.  First, it strengthens us.  “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4.  We are going to suffer for the cause of Christ.  James is saying that suffering helps us to become stronger in the faith, preparing us for what the future will hold.  He will exercise our faith to strengthen it by allowing suffering, so that as persecution and trials become stronger, our faith will also become stronger.  And we are blessed when we suffer.  “But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear intimidation, and do not be troubles,” 1 Peter 3:14.  And remember what Jesus told us in the beatitudes.  “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10.  But probably more than any other reason, if someone sees us suffer, and yet remain content knowing that God will deliver us, they will see this and may see the reality of our life and desire to give themselves also to Christ.  What a wonderful witness to see us remain strong in the faith no matter whatever hardship comes our way.

So, remain strong in the midst of trials.  Remember what David said in our focus verse, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:19.  We will suffer and go through trials, but we have a God who loves us and will deliver us through every one of them.  Therefore, remain at peace through them all.  For only good can come from any trial we endure.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Matthew 7:13-14

Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 7:13-14 

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14       

These two verses speaks of the way to our eternal future.  Jesus here is telling His listeners that there are two choices, however, one of them is the way that leads to life, while the other only says it leads to life, but it is a deception.  Let us look closely at these two gates.

First, there is the wide gate.  This is an easy gate to pass through.  It is wide and spacious, that requires little work to pass go through.  This is the gate of deception.  It is an easy gate to find, therefore many pass through it.  In fact, they will come to this gate without the need to seek it, for they will eventually come to it.  It is like a popular road that many travel on and when they get to the wide gate, they will walk through it.  However, this gate does not lead to life, it leads to destruction. 

This gate is the one that denies the reality of Christ.  They may have heard of Him and may even act as though they are a Christian.  However, they choose to do things their own way rather than God’s.  People choosing to take this gate may attempt to find the easy way.  They choose teachers who preach what they want to hear, not what they need to hear.  Paul put it this way in a letter to Timothy.  “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4.  They may think they are saved. but they will find themselves sadly mistaken.

The second gate is what is known as the strait or narrow gate.  This is a difficult gate to go through.  It  is a very narrow gate, so narrow that few find it throughout their lives.  This is the gate that true disciples of Christ know of and pass through.  This probably refers to those gates in Rome that were for private entrances which were not readily seen.  Those who find and go through this gate are those who have studied the scriptures and know what God requires of them.  And, like the Bereans, they would check out everything they read and heard to ensure they were following the truth.  They found the gate because they searched for it, validated it was the correct gate, and then passed through.

This leads to our calling as Christians.  We are commanded to lead the world to the narrow gate, explaining what reality is regarding our eternal existence, while showing that the wide gate may be easier to find, but will only lead, as our focus verses tell us, to destruction.  It is imperative that we go into all the world, giving them the map to the strait gate, showing them how to get there, and why it is the desired way.  It is the only way to eternal life with Christ, and we are the ones to tell everyone this truth. 

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.