July 30, Sunday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

God’s goodness in our scary moments

Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! 2 Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! 3 Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations

Two months into my one-year term in Shanghai, our church was wrapping up our China Prisonersweekly Sunday service when the police raided our church. As the police rushed into our meeting, our members did their best to make it appear like we were simply having a casual gathering; however, the police knew exactly what we were doing and immediately ordered us to stop. With my heart pounding in shock, I looked at the worried faces of the locals and the leadership, and it was in that moment when I finally began to understand what it meant that there’s a cost in following Jesus.

Upon David’s anointing to lead the chosen nation of Israel, King David’s life was filled with persecution. Right after he is anointed king, David defeats the great Philistine warrior, Goliath, and the women of the city sing a victory song that sings, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Sam. 18:7). It is a great, momentous moment; however, the minute Saul hears this song, it sets David up, for the next fifteen years of his life, to be on the run because Saul is jealous of the throne. It’s hard to see this as a coincidence that the moment David chooses to obey God’s call, he begins to face immense persecution. Nonetheless, King David, amidst all the turmoil, writes psalms of thanksgiving and worship to the Lord.

The apostles throughout the New Testament warn us that when we choose to follow after Christ, there will be a cost. But because we know that the “Lord is good, his loving-kindness is everlasting, and his faithfulness is to all generations” (Psalm 100:4-5), we can “shout joyfully to the Lord, serve the Lord with gladness; [and] come before Him with joyful singing” (Psalm 100:1-2).

Through the grace of God, none of our missionaries were sent back to the US and none of our members were flagged; however, we had to increase our security, take extra precaution, and scrounge around for a new place to meet for worship. Through divine connection the Lord provided us with a meeting place the following Sunday in a small garment shop where we had to fill every nook and cranny with chairs to fit everyone in; nevertheless, the worship that Sunday was one of the most powerful worship services we ever had. There was certainly a cost for our members to attend our church and follow after Jesus, yet they chose to proclaim the goodness and faithfulness of God and worshipped with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Today, on the Lord’s Day, no matter what struggle you are facing, whatever circumstance you are in, or whatever persecution you are enduring, I want to encourage you to remember God’s faithfulness in your life and His loving-kindness to you so that you can give full worship and thanksgiving to the Lord who is faithful.

Prayer: God, thank You for Your everlasting love and faithfulness that brought me from death to life. Help me to remember all that you have done in my life so that I may give thanksgiving and worship to You no matter the circumstance, for You are worthy of all praise, glory, and honor. Amen.

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