Saturday, March 9, 2013

Stand Firm

We are prime targets, we who purpose to live lives that please and honor our Father.  If the way we live is godly, if we choose daily to pick up our crosses and follow Him, we are a threat to the enemy.

Most of us carry on in life with a knowledge that there's a spiritual battle waging around us but we don't dwell on it too often.  There are occasional circumstances in which we find ourselves and for the moment we may see things as they really are:  unseen battles of good vs. evil.  We take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ, realign our attitudes and thought life and move on.
It's easy to believe that the enemy is more concerned with those who are sharing the Gospel with a remote, unreached people group halfway around the world or a pastor bringing the message of salvation to the hopeless.  But the truth is each of us is called.  We are called first to salvation.  Our secondary calling is to a unique role in advancing the kingdom of God.  "Calling is the premise of Christian existence itself.  Calling means that everyone, everywhere, and in everything fulfills his or her (secondary) calling in response to God's (primary) calling.  (Oz Guiness)  This is the living-out of our salvation.
We should be a threat.  We are a threat.  "Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that  your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you stand firm and steadfast." (1 Peter 5:8-10)
"Suffering" looks very different from one culture to another.  Often when I think of the word I picture the apostles persecuted and put in jail.  As Christians living in America, this is likely not the way in which we suffer.  But will we endure suffering any less than those in other cultures?
About a month and a half ago we began to experience a difficult trial.  A man whom owns land beside ours has filed a lawsuit against us.  He is suing us in Superior Court for a minimum of $100,000.  Although we have done nothing wrong we are the victims of his anger and desire to control others.  He has been lying and is unreasonable.  There are many unknowns in our lives right now and many opportunities to practice God's direction in Matthew 6:25 and not worry about our lives, what we will eat and wear, how we will pay our bills, where we will live.
I tell myself often: Surely God's got this.  He won't let the bad guy win.  He'll vindicate us; He's on our side.  We are upright in heart.

The enemy wants to destroy us.  He is threatened by our family, just as he is by yours if you choose Christ.  Our family is his target.  Years ago I believe the Holy Spirit told me that God was going to work powerfully through our children for His kingdom, even the currently fatherless children we are working to bring home through adoption.  We've worked toward that end, tirelessly.  Our marriage has been the target before, as has yours, and it will be the target again.  We have persevered through much and the glory goes to our Savior.

We don't know what the outcome will be.  Our prayer is that God will intervene, but you know, He might not.  He may not protect us from suffering just as He allowed the apostles to suffer.  They stood before the Sanhedrin (Acts 5) and were flogged because they persevered and obeyed God rather than men.  They suffered for that, yet they rejoiced because they were considered worthy of suffering.
Anyone who has lost a loved one understands this.  Grief is a form of suffering.  We beseech the Father to preserve life, and when He doesn't we suffer.
But in the midst of the trials of this life we are called to be holy.  "You are a chosen people, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you." (1 Peter 2:9)
I've consoled myself with this thought: "Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?"  Then I kept reading:  "But even if you should suffer for what is right you are blessed." (1 Peter 3:13)  Yikes.  The reality is- He may not shield us from suffering.  Somehow, though, we are to "live in harmony with one compassionate and humble.  Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called." (1 Peter 3:8)
  Darrow Miller (Life Work) reminds us, "The believer is to seek to bring love where there is hate, peace where there is conflict, beauty where there is dreariness, truth where there is falsehood, good where there is evil."
We are vulnerable.  We are weak.  We are weary in our own culture like Paul must have been in his, but Christ said to us as He said to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Paul said, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."  (2 Cor. 12:9-10)
We don't know how this hardship will end.  We may be victorious and lose nothing or we may be defeated and lose much.  "We brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing out.  But if we have food and clothing we will be content with that."  (1 Tim. 6:6)

"You sympathized with those who were in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property (gulp) because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions."  (Hebrews 10:34)
Jesus loves this man as much as He loves us (!).  He greatly desires, calls, him to salvation.  Just as He wooed and drew us, He is whispering His truth to this man.  It would be our greatest honor to play a role in his salvation.  May God use for good what the enemy meant for evil in our lives as well as his and his family.

Micah 6:8 tells us the Lord requires that we act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with Him.

We have been made to make history; you have been too.  "We have been made to fulfill a destiny in our time and our place that no one else has been made for.  We are to live our ordinary lives in the midst of God's extraordinary call."  (Darrow Miller)

What a blessing and an honor to be vessels to be used by our Creator.