Week 45 If God Himself Gives Us Life, Who Can Take It From Us?

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

Week 45

Scripture Readings: Psalms 128-130

Key Scripture Verses: Psalm 129: 1-2 (NIV, Life Application Bible)
“’They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,’ let Israel say; ‘they have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me.’”

The author of Psalm 129 is unknown, although some have suggested that Hezekiah may have written it. Its essential theme is that of verse 4 which says, “But the Lord is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.” The psalmist says that no matter what is done to Israel, no one can destroy it, because God has determined already that it won’t be destroyed–the faithful will enjoy the rewards of their obedience to him.

From the beginning Israel has long been under attack and it is expected that that will always be the case. Christians are also being attacked and persecuted throughout the world. Some believe that Christianity is dying.

If we look at church attendance and who is attending church today, we might start to believe that the Christian church is dying. Fewer and fewer young people attend church and fewer insist that their children go to church, even if they go to church themselves. And the demographics of our churches reflect an aging population. Individual churches may disintegrate under these circumstances; however, the church will not die. God has made it clear that the faithful may be few and the road may be narrow to heaven’s gates, but it will never be abolished or destroyed in its entirety.

So, Israel can boast, “they have not gained the victory over me.” Wickedness and evil will not prevail. God has made provision for the remnant of Israel and those who have followed Jesus who was the victor over death when he died on the cross and was resurrected. Because of his grace, Christian believers everywhere can be confident that regardless of what happens in their earthly lives and regardless of any persecution and even death that would come to them, their reward remains in heaven.

No one can take the inheritance that Jesus has given us away from us. We Christians may suffer for our faith, we may be persecuted for our beliefs, we may even lose our human lives at the hands of those who would destroy us, but they cannot take our eternity with the living God from us. Jesus has already won that battle. We can be sure of it!

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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