Friday, December 22, 2017

Stand

Our country is in a freefall of immorality. Not that I have not been there myself, but God has transformed me in His mercy and love. Yet, He tells us to “Stand.” What does this mean? It means to stay the course, to not be moved by the culture, to trust in God’s word and be guided by Him and His Holy Spirit. Perhaps the guiding verse for this stance is 1 Corinthians 16:13 (NIV) saying, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.” This admonition is for all believers in this time when Christian persecution is greater than anytime in our country’s history.

Paul also told the Galatians who seemed to be legalists, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). He is speaking of the law that had been overbearing with human demands and rules. Although these laws were meant to be helpful, they could not be kept and just pointed us to our sin. Today we have a society pointing and living in sin saying whatever makes you feel better do it. It is a society that wants to please man not God. It is not this spirit of freedom, but that of righteousness in Christ that we should seek to stand in. Isaiah the prophet told believers, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all” (Isaiah 7:9). He said this as he was introducing the only One who could keep us standing, “Immanuel, God with us.”  Paul tells the believers to be strong in faith, “for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4).

In this world there are temptations to make us fall, but God is faithful. “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; He 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” (1 Corinthians 10:13). This is a wonderful, but I believe conditional promise saying that we must believe and be looking for the way of escape in these circumstances. Don’t test Him, for He has given you free will to do what you want. So what do we do to stand firm?

I believe that Paul’s strong letter to the Ephesian church gives us the answer. He tells them to serve God not men, but this will take more than human courage. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers; against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand fast then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions” (Ephesians 6:10-18). This is a lot of instruction but it is also very clear from where our strength comes. This metaphor is one of action. That is what we must be, men and women of action to survive in this evil world. Paul tells all the churches to stand firmand hold to the teachings we passed on to you (2 Thessalonians 2:15).


I believe that we are not only in the end times, but world troubles tell me that we are on the last lap. Therefore, “Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield it’s valuable crop and how patient he is in the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient ans stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near” (James 5:7-8).  Jesus said, “By standing firm you will gain life” (Luke 21:19).  And perhaps the final admonition coming from Peter regarding the devil, “resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1 Peter 5:9). Yes, we are all part of a fellowship of suffering, a fact that is hard for the world to grasp or frankly have any part in, unless the Lord draws them. So Stand firm.

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