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HOW ARE YOU ENCOURAGING YOURSELF WHILE THE BATTLE IS STILL RAGING?

Quotes

  • When we develop a lifestyle of persistent dependence, we experience the heavenly presence of God even while on earth (Jim Denison).
  • The gap between the biblical expectation and cultural experience of the life of a Christ-follower is due to lack of discipleship (Bill Couchenour).
  • I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity (C. S. Lewis).
  • The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried (G.K. Chesterton)

Text

TEXT: Psalm 118: 17 I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. 18 The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death. 19 Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.

 

The words of elder Jacob to the Egyptian Pharaoh who wanted to know him more strike a familiar chord. And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult” (Genesis 47:9).  This life can be complicated. While mourning the death of a friend and planning to go and console the widow, you get the news of the death of another dear brother in the faith. It is then that the message comes that the widow you were planning to visit has died of Covid-19. Also doctors to whom you go when you get sick are dying. The economic challenges are so devastating that it is difficult to know how to think or what to think. Yes, it is one thing to trust God in the light, but holding on to your faith when all around is darkness is what reveals the God we serve. When we do not understand how things are happening, we struggle to formulate prayer because of the pain, anguish and darkness; it is important to recognize that we have only one option, to trust in the Living God. Our concern should be whether we are allowing God to have His way in our thoughts and actions.

C.S. Lewis says that it is a silly idea that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is… A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been if he resisted like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.

 

WHEN LEFT WITH THE CHOICE OF EITHER HOLDING OR FOLDING

Get the perspective of the present in light of the future – Recognize that this life is a war zone where the forces of the enemy want us to lose our trust in God. It is therefore important to keep in mind that our destination is eternity with God. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4).  We will hold on when we think of the Living God wiping our tears- that is caring. Things will not always be the way they are.  The present is like a war zone with many battles that make up the smaller components of the bigger picture. Battles involve clashes between opposing forces. There are forces that can be traced to the world, the flesh and the devil, that oppose our inheritance of the kingdom of God. As one who has accepted the sacrifice of Christ, it is important to be fully alert of the tactics being used to get you out of the inheritance of the kingdom of God.

 

The battle is won or lost in the mind – Knowing who you are and whose you are is critical.  Allow your mind to hold to the truth “Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle” (Psalm 144:1). Instead of focusing on Covid-19 and its ravages or the depleted cultural values, sickness, or finances, you use the word of God as the light within you to dispel fears and darkness.  The battles of life need to be strategized and fought in the spiritual realm first. The missiles come in the form of thoughts. For example, a doctor wondering how to go to work in the hospital where a senior colleague has just died of Covid-19 complications, or a pastor, aware of the increased infections in the funerals and yet he has to preside over the funeral and burial of a faithful church member.  Ensure that you are not too busy to receive instructions from your Commanding Officer, “But you will not leave in haste   or go in flight; for the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard” ( Isaiah 52:12). It is the word of the Lord and assurance that He is in charge even of what you cannot see.

  • Watch out for any thought that dulls your sensitivity to the Spirit of God. That is the real enemy because you begin doubting God’s sovereignty and love. If God’s truth is not what is setting you free, you begin looking for other truths and that is the beginning of the end.
  • When in the battle, engaging with the sickness, loss, or unclear direction, refuse and reject any thought that wants to imply that you have been forsaken. “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10). Allow God to be God because He has the Big picture and can see how the dots connect. The fact that you cannot see how the present is making sense does not mean God is not seeing.

The end is known – When Jesus hung on the cross at Calvary and said, “it is finished’, it meant all we need do is actually potentially finished. That then means those who are inheriting God’s kingdom on the basis of grace fight from a place of victory, not from a place of holding on for dear life by your fingernails. Like Job of old you know that God knows the span of your life. “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. (Job 23:10).  Trust in God because the sun will shine again and again until God says it is time.

 

SOME LESSONS FROM KING HEZEKIAH OF THE VALUE OF THIS LIFE

King Hezekiah got not just a scare but assurance that his life was coming to an end. He was honest as in tears he expressed why he felt he should not die. He knew it was God who had the final word, not the sickness. That is important knowledge for us as well. When King Hezekiah was added 15 years of life, he had a time of reflection. He shared nuggets of what he felt he was going to miss had he died. While we have breath of life we need to consider those valuable lessons.

Opportunity to experience God’s presence‘I said, “I will not again see the Lord himself in the land of the living; no longer will I look on my fellow man,    or be with those who now dwell in this world (Isaiah 38:11).  To see God and fellow man in the land of the living is a treasure. It is an encouragement to have the security that comes because God is shielding us, providing for us and leading us in the way that we should go.

 

Opportunity to praise the Lord – In gratitude for life King Hezekiah continued to say, “For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness” (Isaiah 38:17). While God’s breath of life is flowing within us, a song of praise should be on our lips. The Psalmist said that he will live and not die in order to proclaim what the Lord had done (Psalm 118:17). Do those who live or work with you know the song of praise in your lips? As we go about our daily duties, we have hope in God’s faithfulness and that gives us courage.

 

Opportunity to share and pass the baton of faith to the younger generation– The reason God has given us the moment we have is not just to live, but to also to tell the children about God’s faithfulness.  “The living, the living—they praise you, as I am doing today; parents tell their children about your faithfulness” (Isaiah 38: 19). The protection from ill health, healing you have experienced, the other protections, the comfort and the courage to keep trusting in the Lord and not rely on your strength are to be shared by the children.

The communication of our testimony of who God is to us and what He has done will become the base of knowledge for those who are yet to face their battles. While going through the changes of life that include pains, and losses, our prayer life reveals that our hope is in the Living God. Our persistence in prayer on how to represent God in the world should not be from a place of being religious or obligation but from a stance of ‘Lord show me how to pray’; ‘Lord show me the way’.  While mourning, wondering about tomorrow, we need to have the courage because of the one who is in charge of life. The reason God has given us this opportunity is to proclaim His goodness in this land of the living. Are you encouraging others as Christ is encouraging you?

 

Many Christians… find themselves defeated by the most psychological weapon that Satan uses against them. This weapon has the effectiveness of a deadly missile. Its name? Low self-esteem. Satan’s greatest psychological weapon is a gut level feeling of inferiority, inadequacy, and low self-worth. This feeling shackles many Christians, in spite of wonderful spiritual experiences and knowledge of God’s Word. Although they understand their position as sons and daughters of God, they are tied up in knots, bound by a terrible feeling of inferiority, and chained to a deep sense of worthlessness.” (David Seamands)

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