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.


Linda Worden said...

Thanks for sharing this challenging story. You show your deep devotion and understanding of how God expects his children to respond to persecution and trials. The outcome cannot yet be known for this episode in your lives but God is in the redemption business and he will be your faithful source of strength and wisdom as you serve him with faith and trust. May the fiery darts of the evil one fail to penetrate and damage your witness. And remember David's words to Goliath, I Sam. 17:45 "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied."
Be strong, dear one!!!

Denise Moss said...

Coke family, I understand all too well your plight; or in your words, "a chance...". I and my family have experienced a Goliath in our past... but we were not so strong and/or prepared, and to this day, I wonder what could have been. At the beginning of what I think of as the all out war-fare, I was able to stand strong. Only after things had settled, so I thought, did I collapse. My heart was so entirely broken. I feel like it was because I did not fully trust Him. I didn't mean to, but I just couldn't rest. I was panicked and anxious and miserable. Still am, sometimes. What stands out to me, in my recalling of the terrible days, was one day when I had to go meet with the attorneys. I was driving to the courhouse...thinking about what I needed to do and say... (I hated that I in these kinds of things, just telling the truth and doing what is right wasn't going to guarantee anything! Attorneys do indeed have a way of twisting ALL of what you say and using it against you....) when a saw a man on the corner of Minnesota and Tutor showing his cardboard sign to all who passed... btw, he was not a drunken homeless looking man.. just a simple guy, clean cut but with a beard.. the words on the sign were "Jesus wins! Rejoice!".
At that time, I realized that it was the only possible outcome. Because of the complicated situation it was, clearly there would be no human winners. The fall-out would affect us all, regardless. To this day, I don't know what God's plan was; is. But I do know it is His plan, and it has and will work for the good for those who believe in Him. Yes, it was terrible pain we suffered. Same with the others involved. And that is scary, very scary, because you're right, He doesn't always shield us from suffering. And suffering we did. Or at least that's what we think. I believe that had this terrible situation not come up, it is quite possible there could have been oh so much more suffering and pain. Maybe so, maybe not; I don't know. At present time, I rest assured that the particular threat is gone for good. However, we still deal with the long-term damages and sometimes I still cry because of it. But His message stands out and I trust it was true then, true now. Jesus wins and I can rejoice. I love you Coke family! I pray your faith sees you through and that you too will rest knowing that whatever comes, there is a Winner. And at some point, sooner or later, you will experience the good He works for because you believe in Him.
(another very interesting this moment I am trying to post this message..below I am promted to type the two words I see in the box to "prove I'm not a robot". Can you guess what the two words are? "The his".)
Now that is really cool!!!

Sarah Worden said...

Sarah Beth, you are supremely loved by God as well as the limited way in which I can offer my love from afar. Thank you for sharing honestly on your blog. It is both heartbreaking and heart-strengthening to hear about both this trial and your faith in it. I will pray and trust in Him on your behalf. Love, Sarah Joy

Betty Jobbins said...

I was so blessed by your blog and to see the spiritual maturity that you exhibit. I pray that God will make you strong and to do battle in His name. Of course, I want you to win over this tyrant, but I'm so glad God is teaching you that regardless of the outcome, you are victors through Christ Jesus. There were times when I ran from confrontation, when maybe what the Lord wanted was for me to stand my ground and fight. In this case you have no choice, you have to fight. I pray that you will have the faith and strength of David, when you go up against your Goliath. I love you and Jeremy and your family, and you have my prayers in this trial that you are called to bear.

Suzie said...

So very well spoken, Sarah. You are wise in not equating God's response to what you are going through with your devotion or faith. So many are shipwrecked by thinking that the amount of one's faith will determine the put it bluntly-our comfort. One time I heard a wise old guy pray that those involved would see the hand of God in the situation. Isn't that cool? No matter what, look for the hand of God in your life and in this situation.
We'll be praying as you watch. Heaps of love to the whole Coke clan!