Fighting Like Men Of Faith…
What words would I leave my seven year old son if this were my last day on earth? What would be some of my last pieces of advice to him in the hopes of guiding and encouraging him to receive the Lord Jesus as his Savior and follow Him as his King?
- Make The Choice: The jesus of the culture or the Christ of Scripture…who is your God?
- Joshua 24:14-15: “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Joshua was about to die and the Israelites—God’s people—were at a crossroads. Either they would continue honoring and following the LORD OR they would assimilate with the pagan culture/people and slowly drift from Him. They had a choice to make. So do we today in this wicked generation and pagan culture.
- Daniel 3:16-20: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[c] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” 19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace.”
There are false gods that the American and world culture are tempting us to worship, whether our external image, wealth, pleasure, success (even MINISTRY/Christian success!), physical appearance, sports, entertainment, women, men, our own feelings, the values of the culture, etc. We have a choice to make—either bow down to Jesus alone & face the wrath of the culture, or bow down to the culture and face the wrath of Jesus. Plead with the LORD to identify and destroy any idols in our lives, anything that takes even the smallest portion of our allegiance from Him, anything that we think we need to be joyful, to be complete, to be truly alive.
- Cling To Truth:
- 1 Timothy 4:1-16, especially verse 16: “Watch your life [actions] and doctrine [beliefs] closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
- 2 Timothy 4:1-5, especially verses 3 & 4: “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
- Jude 1:3: “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.”
What has been mainstream Christian teaching over the last 2,000 years? Stick with it. Don’t believe in fads and “reinterpretations” of the Bible, whether based on science or “evolving” society/culture. God’s Word does not change, and we must hold firmly to God’s Word in these dark days. The very idea/concept of absolute Truth has been under attack for decades, and there is much temptation to cut corners, to water down the Word, to add other ingredients that others like, etc. Don’t do it. Continually ask the LORD to make you/keep you humble, but cling to His Word. Humbly & boldly plant the flag of your beliefs, actions, and life on the rock of the Word of God. Everything else is sinking sand…
- People Aren’t The Enemy
(but their false beliefs aren’t to be ignored, submitted to or agreed with in an attempt at “peace/unity/compromise”):
- Ephesians 6:11-13 (NIV): 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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. 13 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.
Beware of inner or outer hatred/bitterness toward anyone, even toward people who mock you or actively oppose you; continuously cry out to the Lord for compassion toward all people, for both a heart of cashmere and a spine of steel, praying for and forgiving and turning the other cheek toward anyone who wrongs you. You cannot do all this on your own power, but only by remaining in Christ (in the Vine).
- Don’t Rely On Your Feelings:
- Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God” (not be still & FEEL that He is God).
God created feelings, but in our sinful state they can easily lead us astray; we often rely on them too much (e.g. I don’t “FEEL” in love with my husband/wife anymore, so I will find a new husband/wife that gives me the FEELING that I want). Feelings can become an idol of sorts, in the sense that we Western, American Christians (especially those of us younger than 35) are always trying to “experience God,” to get goose bumps from God, be brought to tears by a church service or song, get that spiritual adrenaline rush, etc.
God gives us times where we genuinely FEEL His presence, His love, His forgiveness, etc.
But He never intends us to always FEEL that way.
- Just like when a baseball player hits a home run to win the championship: the crowd is cheering wildly and it is often called “the greatest feeling in the world.”
- But imagine if that athlete/person tried to have that same feeling every day. Wow. They would be seriously depressed and disappointed. That moment of athletic glory is not bad, but it is not normal.
And so with God…
…He allows sometimes to FEEL Him, but what He is ultimately moving us towards is KNOWING Him. KNOWING Him is the end goal (John 17:3).
- The Holy Spirit Will Lead You Into Suffering (To Bless You Not To Bury You):
Suffering is a huge part of the Christian life on earth…stay away from “prosperity” teaching! Jesus learned obedience from His suffering, not His material blessings! (Hebrews 5:8, see also Hebrews 2:18) If the Lord Jesus needed consistent suffering in His earthly life, so do we who are sinners (unlike Him Who never sinned).
- Luke 4:1-3 (NIV): 4 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted[a] by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
- Psalm 119:67: Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.
- Psalm 119:71: It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.
- Psalm 119:75: I know, Lord, that your laws are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
- Hebrews 5:7-9 (NIV): 7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
- 1 Peter 4:12-14 (NIV): 12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
- Worship The LORD:
The words “worship” and “praise” occur 617 times in the Bible. Wow. Worshipping the LORD will be the primary activity of heaven, God made us to worship Him alone, the early Christians’ lives were characterized by joy and praise (Paul & Silas were singing hymns when they were locked up in prison!), Jesus and His disciples sung a hymn right before Jesus was about to be arrested and crucified, and quite possibly the most amazing man (warrior!) in the Bible after Jesus was Job, who after all he had suffered worshipped God despite his suffering, in the middle of his terrible suffering:
- Job 1:20-22 NIV: At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
- Learn To Pray (occurs 367x in the Bible!)
- 1 Timothy 2:8: Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.
- Acts 2:42 NIV: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
- Luke 5:16: “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
- Acts 6:3-4 (NIV): 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
- Matthew 26:41: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
“Courage is fear that has said its prayers” (unknown).
“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire” (Corrie Ten Boom).
“Do not have your concert first, and then tune your instrument afterwards. Begin the day with the Word of God and prayer, and get first of all into harmony with Him” (J. Hudson Taylor).
males of culture prey; men of Christ pray.
- Learn to Repent:
- 1 Peter 5:5-7 (NIV): 5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
- 1 John 1:9 (NIV): 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
In Revelation 2 & 3 when Jesus writes His seven letters to the seven churches, He continuously calls His people to repent, to take responsibility for their sin and ask His forgiveness and turn from that sin to faithfulness and obedience to Christ. Jesus reveals that the blessing of doing so is that we will then overcome the trials that we face. Repentance is an important part of our surviving the suffering that we face as Christians before Jesus returns.
- Immerse Yourself In The Bible:
The Bible is the Sword of the Spirit; living each day without knowing the Bible more and more deeply is like a soldier going in to battle without his/her gun. Soldiers are trained to keep their guns CLEAN and always in working order; they can clean, take apart and put back together again their guns with their eyes closed. We need to humbly and with the Holy Spirit know God’s Word inside and out.
God’s Word is described as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path; we are content to stumble in the dark or have the Bible as a pen-light at best. God intends it to be as bright as the noon sun lighting our way through this midnight world.
“‘The LORD told me’ is no substitute for ‘the Bible says'” (Voddie Baucham).
- Who Are Your “Band Of Brothers?”:
- Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV):9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Pray for the LORD to provide you with other maturing men of God–real men, not just “boys who can shave” (Matt Chandler)–with whom you can continue as disciples of Jesus Christ. Pray this constantly, then get plugged in at your local church and put yourself in a consistent position to be around other men who are learning to carry their cross every day and follow Jesus, who are learning to go the extra-mile, who are learning to be not just attenders but participators…