I Corinthians 16:13-14 (NIV) Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.
One’s natural inclination is to fight for a belief. To stand guard against our principles. Standing firm in one’s faith becomes a battle stance towards opposition. To be courageous is not an exterior hardness but an internal softness difficult to comprehend. Strength is not intestinal fortitude or something physically acquired. The Power of God begins and ends for us as human beings in one place. God loves us. He loves us unconditionally. It doesn’t matter what we do or how far we wander, the moment of repentance and turning back – the Lord is always right there waiting. It is our inability to fully accept the extravagance of free grace that keeps us fighting for a faith already given to us from the start.
Romans 12:3 reminds us that humility is in order “in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” God gave me my faith. I didn’t think it, create it, or earn it in any way, shape or form but rather simply accept it from the Hand and Heart of God. He fills my heart with Eternity giving me the desire to seek Him and find Him to be in that place. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) The Lord promises to make everything beautiful in His Time. Faith is the birthplace of miracles, meeting place for promises, and the platform on which we wait for the Lord because of confident hope that He will come. Could it be that we grow tired of waiting on God and standing firm in our faith because we fight for what is already our own?
Last month, our family purchased a new home. We have now bought three homes which serving the Lord and each time it is the same. We know when we find it that it is what the Lord has for us. I can’t tell you how I know, just that we do and so go through all the steps to attain that which is ours in Jesus Christ. Side note: every decision in life may be subject to God through prayer. It is up to us what we take boldly to the Throne Room of God called His Presence in our prayer room each day. God has a detailed and well-ordered plan for our life including every single detail therefore nothing is considered insignificant to the Lord. We were given a day and time to meet to close the deal. Sitting across the table from the homeowner, we took possess of the property. We signed the bank contracts assuming financial responsibility as the previous owners released the title and deed to us. They handed us the keys and garage door opener giving us last minute pointers about the neighborhood, people and various household items. We shook hands and left the office. We owned our new property. It belonged to us. We did not have to gather weapons and make a battle plan but simply pulled the huge truck with the contents of our life, open the door with the keys provided to us, and step in to our brand new home and life. The house was vacant and ready for our occupation. We only had to claim what belonged to us. What are you fighting for today that already belongs to you? I am asking myself the very same thing. Are there things in my life that require only standing in faith on His Promise, but instead I am expending a whole lot of energy trying to make it mine today? Am I fighting those things already apprehended? The enemy is defeated. I have the Keys to the Kingdom. The devil cannot “make me” do anything that I do not want to do because I am filled with God’s Spirit. Greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world. I am more than a conqueror if I can only stand firm.
2 Corinthians 1:20-22 (NIV) For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19) Do you believe this statement? Though we know that God is not human, it is natural for us to give him human traits, qualities and characteristics that are not true. When the Lord gives us a promise, the answer is “yes” already but the part that gets us is the waiting. It is the standing issue between God and His People that we must overcome. We you continue to stand past the point of impossibility. The moment that what you were promised and that which you hope for becomes completely incomprehensible and totally impossible naturally.
I have taken many “stands” and fallen from my “watchtower” more times than I can count. It took a life or death matter to finally make me persevere to the end. It took losing it all to find what really matters in life. Why such drastic measures? Probably because we lack the determination and dedication as human beings driven by comfort and immediate gratification the ability to stand firm until the end. The Lord uses our life and His Promises to teach us to wait and watch for Him. He uses these opportunities to fortify our faith in His Foundation for our life. His Grace allows us the strength needed to get back up after stumbling or tumbling in life. He is teaching us patience. We are learning persistence, passion and perseverance in our pursuit of Christ even though it feels like temporary trails or temptations, it can have a lasting impact.
Luke 21:19 (NIV) Stand firm and you will win life.
I have seen competitions where people must stand with their hand on a car. The last one standing wins the automobile. They will endure harsh weather conditions, taunts of other contestants, overcome the temptation to quit, and even endure physical pain to win a brand new car. I have seen this same competition for other prizes. People will undergo public humiliation for “things”. What will we do to win “life”? How far will we go to enter Eternity? Matthew 13:13 warns that “everyone will hate you (me) because of me (Jesus)but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” My life is worth nothing if at the end of it, I do not find Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 6:13-18 (NIV) Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm 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 with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
For three long years, our son battled cancer. He would have clear scans and a few weeks later cancer would creep back on the screen. All his life, as his mom, I was his nurse on call. I took care of all the bumps, bruises and occasional hurt feelings. But when the diagnosis was cancer, everything changed. I was powerless. As the stages crept up the scale, doctors, nurses and even friends and family began to lose hope. When the medical team finally did have a plan, even though a long shot, it would require months of fighting just for him to have the chance. It literally came down to the promise that God had given me the very first night as the reality and gravity set in. I ran right into His Presence demanding a response. God gave me a promise. “Trust me. Your son will live and not die to declare my works.” When the only thing you have to hold on to is God’s Promise is it enough for you to stand on? This is what it means to stand firm never lifting a finger but only to praise.
“Put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.” It says absolutely nothing about fighting for your faith but to simply “stand your ground”. Let’s look at our armor again as a method of defense rather than offense. With the belt of truth buckled around your waist. The Truth or God’s Word is that which keeps us standing every time. It is the foundation of our life in Christ. Jesus is the Word wrapped in flesh. He holds us up as His Word keeps us upright. The Breastplate of Righteousness covers our heart. It keeps sin away from our heart so we can love the Lord wholeheartedly. Right standing with God keeps us where we need to be in the safety of close proximity to Christ. Following Jesus keeps our feet shod in peace. We are at peace with the Lord so we can live at peace with others. Our expectations are met. With a satisfied soul, we can walk this life out in love rather than competition and expectation for lesser things. We must hold tight to the shield of faith which blocks every single lie and snare that the enemy lies before us to trick us, distract us and dissuade us from following Jesus wholeheartedly. If the enemy has part of our heart, he has all of it. The helmet of salvation protects our mind. It is confidence in the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ and His Work on the Cross. We are given the Mind of Christ and I believe this is the same thing. If we think like Jesus, we will act like Him. Finally the Sword of the Spirit, which is our only weapon and defense in this whole armor. Verse 18 tells us to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” You can never pray enough as you stand firmly for the Lord. It is probably safe to say that if you do not pray you will not stand. All of these vital components are provided so that you may be able to stand your ground and after you have done everything, to stand!
Galatian 5:1 (NIV) 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.
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) Standing firm will always require waiting. While we wait, it is easy to get wrapped up in doing to take our mind off things. It is the assumption that we must “do” something to make God move for us or in us that is the most dangerous lie the enemy has every told. We cannot add to or take from the Work of God or that which Jesus performed on the Cross. Salvation is complete without me and absolutely free to me. I cannot earn it. I cannot repay Christ. I can only acknowledge Him by standing firm until the end. Those who endure will be saved. What can I do? Is there anything that I am obligated to do for Christ? Yes…just one thing.
I Corinthians 16:14 (NIV) Do everything in love.
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8) Standing firm will always have but one requirement. We must demonstrate His Love in everything we do. Everything. All-inclusive never exclusive – we must love one another. Hold each other up. Build one another up. Encourage each other. Reach out to one another. To form relationships with those attempting to stand firm, too. It can be a lonely venture. The only debt that we have in life is to love. Love like Jesus. Fulfill the Great Commission. Love one another. To love extravagantly, forgivingly, and unconditionally just like Jesus. That’s it.
I Corinthians 10:12-13 (NIV) So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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 endure it.
Have you been thinking on stepping down? Is the Lord just taking a little too long? Do you doubt His Word to you? Are you experiencing opposition? Can I encourage you today? Stand firm. Do not back down, but you don’t have to keep swinging either. The battle is the Lord’s and He is fighting for you today. Surrender to Jesus. Submit to His Will. Stand firm and immovable on His Promise and remain in His Word. He is indeed working on your behalf. You are free to wait until He is down. Jesus promises that you will be complete lacking nothing. It will be worth it. Not a moment is every wasted waiting on the Lord. Stand firm, my friend, stand firm.
Psalm 40:1-3 (NIV) 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, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.