I Corinthians 16:113-14 (NLT) Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.
With the New Year, many have great expectation, resolutions and revelations that life will be different in this brand new segment of time. New chapters or even whole new books filled with blank pages. Or for some, chronicles of life marked “to be continued” while waiting on the Lord just as they did in the year before… and the year before that. Looking for the next great “move” of God – to stand seems to be a lack of progress. It is hard to find satisfaction and contentment in the waiting room of God yet it is a place that believers find themselves time and time again.
When the promise comes, it is exhilarating. The view from the mountaintop is always the best. But when the promise is delayed and the valley is shrouded in darkness, it is time to stand. Are you still standing even with the New Year and new season? When the ball dropped and the calendar flipped the page, I found that I was still standing…still. I have no idea what is in the future but I know that I have hope there. Not very exciting but valid. I cannot see what is going on behind me yet I know the enemy is hot on my heels. People are moving all around me in a flurry of activity yet I sense the Lord telling me to stay right here. The watchtower is not a funny or exciting place but is where our blessing and promise meets us.
Habakkuk 2:1-3 (NLT) I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint. Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.
This is a word for the “waiters” today. Those who are sitting in the watchtower and standing guard at the post. Wondering if the Lord will ever come. Will He do what He said that He would do? Was it really Him talking? It has been a long time. The pain is real. The impatience building. Did I miss you God? Did I take a wrong step? Or am I still standing… still? It is often hard to realize and remember that the Lord gives us vision for a future time. It describes the end well before the beginning. It will be fulfilled. It usually is the slowest in coming. It will take place. It will not be delayed. You just have to keep standing…keep waiting…keep watching…and keep believing. This is called trust. It is evidence of our faith. When nothing is happening or all hell breaks loose, when peace flows like a river or life rages like a hurricane, to stand still and wait on the Lord is evidence that you are in the right place at the right time.
Luke 6:47-49 (NLT) I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.
My family lived in a single wide mobile home during my early years. A house on wheels worked when you’re a military brat. When I would visit my grandparent’s home, I loved the feeling of hardwood floors beneath my feet. I decided then that when I grew up, I would have a “real” house on a firm foundation rather than a “temporary” home on wheels. I wanted walls you could paint and a floor that did not shake the whole house when someone walked in it. The Lord gave me the desires of my heart.
Our family endured tornados in our trailer. I can only think it might be like sitting in an aluminum barrel while someone beats the sides of it. Yet, moving into a “real” house did not change the fact that storms came and went. It only made me feel more secure if one did. Faith is the structure in our life that offers security. To trust Jesus offers security forever. Yet in the trials of life, it is difficult to see our Protector and Redeemer. When shaken to the core of our faith in testing, if we are still standing it is a blessing. Faith is small. Given the opportunity to “see” the amount of faith in us, it is riveting to see that it is tiny. Christians every day profess to believe and trust the Lord, But if when all of “self” is removed and the façade of service removed, who is willing to admit to be barely standing?
My ability to stand through a test or trial is evidence of the expert builder at work in my life. The greatest challenges in life bring me to the end of myself every time. If you come away with pride intact, you missed it. Brokenness is the pathway to fulfillment. If you move to and fro, freedom will not restrict you but it is in standing and waiting for God to move even when it seems to take forever or destroys everything that is comfortable to us, then God moves us into His Glory. We have been set free by the Son and promised to be free indeed. The Lord will not force you to wait on His Promise – it is your choice. He will not force His Blessings on you – you decide whether or not you want them. God will not make you do anything because free will is yours by design. You will choose the pathway you take and what is to be found at the end of your journey.
Jeremiah 6:16 (NLT) This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’”
I am standing at a crossroad in my life. I am looking around wondering what is next. I know that I am exactly where God told me to be. I am now waiting on Him. Personally, I find that waiting on the Lord though never easy is worth it so much so my endurance level has grown bit by bit over the last fifty years. Yet I am still impatient when I have to wait too long. We put our “hope” in so many temporary things that when it comes to time to stand and wait on the Lord, we are all out of patience. God has promised us rest in Jesus Christ, but we look for it in so many other places. He offers us peace giving us the Mind of Christ, while we trust in everyone and everything wasting expectation. Christ completes us, but instead we chose to live partial lives in the gray area of life.
Look around. Are you standing in the midst of a war zone? Is your life falling apart at the seams? Do you know where you are but do not know where you are going? Let me ask you one more thing. Are you still standing? Good! You choose the way you walk. You also choose to take a stand. They are equally important in following the Lord and having His Way in our life. Sometimes the Holy Spirit inspires us to “do” or “move” or “be” which is what we like most. Faith that jumps over cliffs or moves mountains. Other times God tells us to stand. Keep standing. Wait right where you are. Don’t move an inch. These are sometimes the most difficult moments in our life.
I Corinthians 10:12-13 (NLT) If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
I used to compare my life to people. You know Christians who have been at this a long time and seem to have it altogether. I have known some people I was quite sure had never committed a single sin and were worthy of God’s Grace just because of their goodness. Well, I have been a Christian for a very long time. I have seen the rise and fall of preachers, teachers and evangelists to know that is a lie. Comparison is a joy killer and counterfeit maker. My life is only improved by my acceptance of Jesus Christ and willingness to give my entire heart.
Every desire, want, and need must be included to have enough faith to endure the trials, tests and temptations of life. I am my own worst enemy. People who have perfect lives cannot help me. Those who have not endured offer no example to cultivating more faith in my life. Show me someone who is completely broken yet can still lift their hands in worship. Allow me time with the one who has lost it all but glories in the fact that still have Jesus. I want to know the one who sits in the back always seeking God’s Approval because surely this grace is too good for them so they humbly seek the Lord day after day and moment to moment just to survive. I want to meet overcomers who achieved victory by crawling over the finish line of faith or just barely got their hand over it. The ones who choose to stand when nobody else would – not in front of an audience but all alone at home when no one else is watching. Lord, send those people my way. Let them cross my path especially when I am considering moving from the place you called me to stand.
I Corinthians 15:1-2 (NLT) Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.
It is a tragedy for a person to have blind faith. It is not faith at all. We are given an opportunity to know Jesus Christ. Know Him. Not to grope in darkness but to build a foundation of faith in His Word, Will and Way that can sustain our life. Most often, Christ is accepted but never really known. I can invite Jesus to live in my heart and crowd Him out with the things of this world. To continue to grow deep roots in Jesus Christ is to develop a relationship with the Lord in Spirit and in Truth. We cannot survive as believers without the Bread of Life. Our strength for the coming test or trial is found in the life lived beforehand. An athlete doesn’t just show up to an event without investing a single moment in training beforehand. When it comes time to secure victory, they don’t have what it takes to win. Neither do I if my whole life is given to other things until the storm comes or I am called to endure. My relationship with Christ must be secure beforehand. I must train my mind to believe and my heart to trust Him. I must begin to take into consideration His Word before I am blindsided by the lie of the enemy. I must study and meditate to prepare for the test before the big day arrives.
Romans 9:30-31 (NLT) What does all this mean? Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God’s standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded.
The need to do and move is human nature. It is the inner drive to change our own situation. Faith is the only thing in my life that will give me full satisfaction in Jesus Christ. I can do everything I think is good and right and remain lost. I can portray the image of perfect Christian and become so good at it – I fool myself considering personal pride to be evidence of amazing grace. I will die one day to discover the awful truth of living a lie. The only way to be made right with God the Father is through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is my example. He is my everything. The platform of faith is small. It doesn’t offer much leeway when it comes to my flesh which is purposeful. Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life. I have a future with hope. God offers me success, but first I must learn to stand. When I feel like I am still standing after all this time rather than complaining about the wait time maybe I should praise God that I was able to endure and ask for just a little bit more of His Power to make it through.
Romans 5:1-2 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
For years now, I have studied God’s Word every day. I have sought to know Him more than superficially. In that time, I have faced some pretty tough challenges and powerful storms. My anchor called hope remains secure. My faith has kept me from utter destruction. Yet, now after all the years, I am completely undone. I am at a crossroad myself this year. I am standing. Still standing. I came this far by faith but since I do not have clear direction I must wait on the Lord. I know His Voice. When He speaks, I know it is Him not because I am anything special but because through it all God is constant. He is faithful. I can trust Him. When I came to the end of me, I found that He is more than enough. Some days, I try to go back to find normalcy in life. He loves me too much to let me go back to the way it was before even when I loved Him yet remained naïve. There are days I just want to get this party started. I want to move. Make waves or at least a good splash. I must resist and keep standing. Standing is just as important when following the Lord as running, jumping and walking in His Ways. Our ability to stand exemplifies endurance. Jesus said the one who endures to the end will be saved. When there are no signs or wonders to amaze and mystify us but we choose to believe just the same.
Ephesians 6:13-14 (NKJV) Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore…
Having done all to stand…stand therefore. Are you still standing? The battle has been rough. The enemy relentless. The time long. The heart grows heavy. Yet through it all you are still standing…still? You have not failed or grown faint, friend. You are growing new faith. Real faith. Authentic faith. The kind that will bring blessings and prosperity well beyond those manmade things we want in life. You are growing the Fruit of His Spirit that will sustain you until the end. You are sparking a fire that will become a blazing light for all to see. You are not wasting your time waiting. Your labor is not in vain. Just one more day, one more hour or even a minute – if you could just make it through standing still – God is moving and working on your behalf making good out of every detail of your life. He is perfecting all that concerns you. God is faithful. He is always good. You can count on that. You can stand on it. Faith is the foundation of our life that cannot be taken from us and is strong enough to hold us through every trial and temptation known to man. Will you stand with me? What good is it to don the armor of God and never enter a battle? Fight the good fight of faith even when it is all alone. Truly faith is a personal endeavor and has nothing to do with anyone else. If you don’t have faith in God – you have nothing at all.
Romans 8:29-30 (NLT) For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.
If you think about the great examples of faith, God most often calls us to the mountain alone. Moses, Elijah, Daniel, Joseph and the others endured their painful trials and hardships alone. Well not completely alone, God was with them. He proved to be more than enough. I think this may just be why we are called to stand sometimes not because God wants to punish us or isolate us but He is removing all the other distractions so we hear Him, seek Him and desire to know Him more. If all hell breaks loose, we seek Him, It’s just what people do in hard times – praying harder and seeking answers in His Word. What if we lived like that all the time? Yes, there would still be waiting periods to endure and giants to face. God knows us. He knows what it will take to manifest His Glory. In fact, He is working on that right now even if you are doing nothing more than standing, still standing and standing some more. Do not forsake the waiting periods of life. Learn to embrace them. Let God be God. He is always good. His Promises true. He is working on you. Will you wait on Him?
Psalm 121 (NLT) I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.