Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Stand Firm

 “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm”(Ephesians 6:13). Paul is telling us to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power so that we can take a stand against the wiles of the devil, who is roaming around looking for someone to devour as Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:8.

Stand firm is a call of God to believers in an era becoming increasingly compromised to follow the culture that is falling into the moral abyss.  Paul clearly challenges us that in these later days the world will be falling apart, but that we must take a stand against it. Triumphantly, in 1 Corinthians 15-16 he tells us that “death has been swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54). This is speaking of Christ’s victory over death on the cross and His resurrection to new life. “Therefore my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58). Paul is talking to his disciples about continuing to be a witness if the Lord permits. He admonishes us, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love” (1Cor. 16:13-14).

This encouragement is throughout Scripture. In Exodus 14:13 the Hebrews were afraid of the Egyptians as they stood at the Red Sea, and Moses said, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.”  A little later in history, Jehoshaphat was in battle with the Moabites. “This is what the Lord says to you: Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 14:15). 

As many readers know, I love the Psalms. In Psalm 33 we are to sing joyfully to the Lord, why? “… the Plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” (Psalms 33:11).  There is in Psalm 40 an encouragement for Christians and Jews who trust in the Lord. “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth” (Psalm 40:1-3).  The image of the Rock as God on the cover of my book Great is God’s Faithfulness signifies a place where we can stand firm.  The Prophet Isaiah 7:9 told us, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.”  Standing firm in your faith means standing on the truth of the Word of God, the Bible. This admonition comes just before his prophetic words of the coming of Immanuel, “God with us,” speaking of the incarnation of Jesus Christ who would have to come to die for our sin so that we might live in Him. 

Paul again in 1 Corinthians 10:13 speaks of temptation and trials we will face. “So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; and will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”  Yes, temptations and trials will come to each of us. What do we do? What do we do when our church changes the Word of God? The answer is clear in Scripture that His Word must not be changed. “If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in his book” (Revelation 22:18). This is speaking of His Revelation or revealing, which is the apocalypse. The whole Bible is the revealing of God in Christ Jesus, the Old Testament concealed, the New Testament revealed. God is providing a way out or through this difficulty.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery”  (Galatians 5:1). Paul addressed the believers in Thessalonica to stand firm in the Gospel as Satan and counterfeit teachers bring adulterated words in end times. “So then brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

James, the brother of Jesus has strong words about suffering and trials and how they will make us mature and complete, lacking nothing. He speaks about asking God if we do not know what to do and He will give us generously what we need and how to do it. This is a wonderful promise in times of trouble. “Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits …you too be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!” (James 5:7,8,9).

Throughout Scripture, God tells us that His Word stands forever (Isaiah 40:8; 1 Peter 1:25). Paul is telling us to stand, “Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: The Lord knows who are His, and Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness” (2 Timothy 2:19). The next verses are very telling of the times we are experiencing in His church. “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servants must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:23-26).

I will continue to serve and teach and try to reach all people with gentleness and respect for the times are short. I will look to the light for, “God is light and in Him there is no darkness” (1 John 1:5). Maranatha! Come quickly Jesus.

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