Sermon Prepared by James McCullen
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Celebration In The Presence of The Enemy
Ps 23:5

5 Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; Thou hast anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. NAS

Introduction
In a recent article on the suffering church, FaithWorks listed the degrees of persecution one could face in our world today for practicing their faith.

1. Disapproval,                            2. Ridicule,

3. Pressure to conform,                4. Loss of educational opportunities,

5. Economic sanctions,                 6. Shunning,

7. Alienation from community,      8. Loss of employment

9. Loss of property                         10. Physical abuse

11. Mob violence                             12. Harassment by officials

13. Kidnaping                                  14. Forced labor

15. Imprisonment                             16. Physical torture

17. Murder or execution

Citation: Andrew Black and Craig Bird, "The Risk of Faith," FaithWorks (July/August 1999), pp.17-20; source: Robert Garret, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Last week while on vacation in Florida I heard the Pastor of F. B. C. Orlando preach. He was making an emphasis on the humility of our God. He concluded with a point about God preparing a table for us in the presence of our enemies.

Immediately I thought of a message related to the theme of this sermon. I want you to notice the scriptures I sight today and how God has blessed in the face of opposition and enemies.
 
 

1.    Celebration of Salvation . . in the Presence of our Enemies.   Luke 10:19-20


19"Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you. 20"Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven." NAS

A.    The Celebration of Our . . Authority. v 19
        19"Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you.
 

B.    The Celebration of Our . . Autograph. v 19
        20"Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven."

Illustration Redeeming the Past
Ten years ago, Donna Rice's name hit the tabloids in a highly publicized sexual scandal with former Colorado senator Gary Hart. In the aftermath, Hart's bid for the 1988 Democratic nomination was trashed and so was Rice's reputation. Rice disappeared from the public eye, but she's back--passionately committed to God and to "Enough is Enough," a Christian organization fighting to keep pornography out of the hands of minors.

Thankful for the support of her family, friends, and her Christian husband, Jack Hughes, Rice is most thankful for God's work in her life: "God loves us, but he doesn't grant us immunity from the consequences of our choices. However, when we mess up, if we ask his forgiveness, he'll redeem those choices, using our mistakes as a 'door of hope' for other people (Hosea 2:14-15). I have great empathy for victims of sexual abuse and pornography. God has brought purpose to my pain." Citation: from Today's Christian Woman. Christian Reader, Vol. 35, no. 2.

Application

Psa. 23:5 Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; Thou hast anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.
 
 

2.    Celebration of Prayer . . in the Presence of our Enemies.   Matt. 5:44


44 "But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you NAS

A.    The Celebration of . . Passion. v 44 a
            "But I say to you, love your enemies,. . . "

B.    The Celebration of . . Prayer. v 44 a
            ". . . . and pray for those who persecute you. . . "

        1.    The Example of Jesus.
Luke 23:34 But Jesus was saying, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. NAS

Illustration PRAYING WITH FAITH
The Korean church is known around the world for being a praying church. Korean Christians pray and fast on specially designated mountains for days, weeks, and even months. Literally hundreds and thousands of Christians attend daily prayer sessions at 4:30 A.M. One old Korean lady who attended the early-morning prayer meeting every day always put her husband's empty shoes on the front pew of the church, saying, "Here are my husband's shoes, Lord. I believe one day my husband will be here to fill them." One year after she began demonstrating this confident hope by bringing her husband's shoes to the prayer service, the shoes were filled! Her husband came with her and placed his faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

What "shoes" do you have to put before the Lord? --Anne Graham Lotz 11-21-99

Illustration
A little girl was about to undergo a dangerous operation. Just before the doctor administered the anesthetic, he said:" Before we can make you well, we must put you to sleep." The girl responded: "Oh, if you are going to put me to sleep, then I must say my prayers first."

She folded her hands, closed her eyes, and said:" Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake; I pray the Lord my soul to take. And this I ask for Jesus' sake. Amen.

Later on the surgeon admitted that he prayed that prayer that night for the first time in thirty years. Donald L. Deffner, Seasonal Illustrations, San Jose: Resource, 1992, 88

Application

Psa. 23:5 Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; Thou hast anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.
 
 

3.    Celebration of Peace . . in the Presence of our Enemies.  Luke 19:43


43 "For the days shall come upon you when your enemies will throw up a bank before you, and surround you, and hem you in on every side, NAS

1 Cor 4:11-13 11 this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; 12 and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; 13 when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now. NAS

Illustration
It may not be your fault for being down, but it's got to be your fault for not getting up. Citation: Steve Davis, volunteering at the Chicago Christian Industrial League (Chicago Tribune, Dec. 26, 1986). Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 8

Illustration The Tenacity of a Five-Year-Old
When our oldest son Ryan was in the first grade, he took swimming lessons in New Providence, New Jersey. Susan went with him to the swimming pool, and the instructor was making these 5-year-old kids swim 12, 16, and 20 laps. Little Ryan got out of the pool after the first day of swim practice, and his lips were blue, and he had those little indentations in his hands.

Susan felt so sorry for him she said, "Honey, this is so hard for you. Why don't you quit the swim team this year and maybe you can try it again next year."

Ryan scratched his head and said, "Mom, you don't quit something just because it's hard." And Susan scratched her head and said, "Who's the parent here anyway?" Thomas Tewell, "The Tenacity of a Bulldog," Preaching Today, Tape No. 141

Application

Psa. 23:5 Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; Thou hast anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.
 
 

4.    Celebration of Death . . in the Presence of our Enemies. 


A. Celebration in the . . Reign of Christ at Death. 1 Cor 15:25-26
        25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. NAS

B. Celebration in the . . Reign of Christ at Death.
    Revelation 11:12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them. NAS

Illustration
Colin Chapman, in The Case for Christianity, quotes Ugandan bishop Festo Kivengere's account of the 1973 execution by firing squad of three men from his diocese:

February 10 began as a sad day for us in Kabale. People were commanded to come to the stadium and witness the execution. Death permeated the atmosphere. A silent crowd of about three thousand was there to watch. I had permission from the authorities to speak to the men before they died, and two of my fellow ministers were with me.

They brought the men in a truck and unloaded them. They were handcuffed and their feet were chained. The firing squad stood at attention. As we walked into the center of the stadium, I was wondering what to say. How do you give the gospel to doomed men who are probably seething with rage?

We approached them from behind, and as they turned to look at us, what a sight! Their faces were all alight with an unmistakable glow and radiance. Before we could say anything, one of them burst out: "Bishop, thank you for coming! I wanted to tell you. The day I was arrested, in my prison cell, I asked the Lord Jesus to come into my heart. He came in and forgave me all my sins!

Heaven is now open, and there is nothing between me and my God! Please tell my wife and children that I am going to be with Jesus. Ask them to accept him into their lives as I did." The other two men told similar stories, excitedly raising their hands which rattled their handcuffs.

I felt that what I needed to do was to talk to the soldiers, not to the condemned. So I translated what the men had said into a language the soldiers understood. The military men were standing there with guns cocked and bewilderment on their faces. They were so dumbfounded that they forgot to put the hoods over the men's faces! The three faced the firing squad standing close together. They looked toward the people and began to wave, handcuffs and all. The people waved back. Then shots were fired, and the three were with Jesus.

We stood in front of them, our own hearts throbbing with joy, mingled with tears. It was a day never to be forgotten. Though dead, the men spoke loudly to all of Kigezi District and beyond, so that there was an upsurge of life in Christ, which challenges death and defeats it.

The next Sunday, I was preaching to a huge crowd in the hometown of one of the executed men. Again, the feel of death was over the congregation. But when I gave them the testimony of their man, and how he died, there erupted a great song of praise to Jesus! Many turned to the Lord there. Citation: Ray Stamps, Los Gatos, California. Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 1
 

Yes In the Presence of our Enemies We Can Have A . .

        Celebration of Salvation
 
                Celebration of Prayer

                        Celebration of Peace

                            Celebration of Death