Battling to keep walking with the Truth

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Jesus proclaimed: ‘I am ..the Truth’. Aren’t you glad that Truth is a person who takes a very intimate interest in each of us, His brothers and sisters? Without Him, we would never be able to withstand our enemy, that liar who seeks to discourage us by attacking God’s Word.  Our greatest daily, if not hourly, temptation that we must resist is our bent toward doubting God.

In these two reflections, I describe two types of suffering that accompany our difficult calling to believe Jesus.

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Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 NASB

I have a sweet friend eager to be with Jesus.  Days dark with death exhaust her. Her son’s marriage is dying and she lives with him and his wife.  Another son’s own son is in jail for murdering a man.  Somber and sobering shadows press in on her.

But the darkness is passing. Her Savior, Jesus, the good Shepherd is walking with her through the dying. She doesn’t dwell there.

King David, too, suffered the death of relationships and dreams.  And King Jesus led him back into the light. David never forgot the comforting presence of this Shepherd.  He felt the guiding, bounding presence of rod and staff, until relief came on the other side. Do you suppose he was able to trust His shepherd, having been one himself?

Joy returned including feasting and fellowship when God restored his rule.  Prophetically and with bracing frankness, he proclaimed that as good as temporary relief can be, what awaited him AND us is permanent joy and love forever.

My friend needs to cling to this truth, as do we.

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Fight the good fight of faith 1 Timothy 6:12 NASB

Mike and I have been rewatching The Lord of the Rings.  So, when I read this chapter today, ‘The Last Battle’ lingered in my mind.

What if you and I woke up daily fully expecting another day of warfare? Isn’t that what Paul is teaching?  Most assuredly, there are many possible conflicts in life, but they are worthless compared to this one.  What is our one major conflict? The fight for our faith.  The ongoing struggle to trust Jesus.

As long as our enemy persists, we must engage in daily war. Satan’s primary objective continues – to cause us to doubt God’s word.

What should Christians expect, then?

In God’s good providence, He plans daily battle training to strengthen us.  Furthermore, we should prepare for enemy skirmishes, probing our resolve.  Occasionally, frontal assaults test us. And some of us will be engaged in a lifetime-long war. Think ‘The Hundred Years War’.

If we go to bed still trusting God, then we can celebrate the victory. Restorative sleep prepares us for another day to fight, divinely equipped.

Make it obvious, Lord

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Psalm 5:9 – Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness
    because of my enemies—
    make your way straight, before me.

Straight path

How kind of God to give us the specific words to pray for obvious, ‘in-your-face’ guidance and direction.

If you’re anything like me, you don’t want to have to GUESS what God wants you to do!  Therefore, it is doubly good news that our Heavenly Father tells us to pray for a straight path that is unmistakable.  Does that mean the path will be easy?  or provide us with a constant view of the destination? Not necessarily.  Come with me and take a moment to think about what a ‘straight path’ implies:

  • In the photo above, can we see any obvious stopping point or terminus?  No.  But we do see enough of the path to walk on for probably 5 more minutes. From past experience, God gives just enough light for the next step.  I certainly WANT more, but I’m learning that this is God’s way and He is giving me practice in trusting Him.
  • A straight path is not necessarily a level path.  Sometimes the way ahead is UPHILL.  We live in the Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina.  In our cove, the incline is about 13 % on average.  So when we walk DOWN the half mile to get the newspaper, we have to walk back UP.  It’s hard.  And it doesn’t FEEL like it has gotten any easier in the 2 years we have lived here.  My point is that even straight paths are difficult.  Somehow knowing that ‘hard is normal’ make it easier to accept

To amplify this ‘Life is difficult by design’ truth, I’ll share with you a verse that Joni Eareckson Tada spoke about this week on her radio broadcast Link to the radio page of her website.  She told the story of Paul undergoing a sudden furious stoning that was meant to kill him.  Paul’s own analysis of this murderous attack was that this was God’s training. So Paul explicitly used it in his instruction of new believers:

  •  Acts 14:21-22 – after being stoned and left for dead (acute suffering) Paul taught the following, with Barnabas accompanying Him –  “They preached the gospel in that city (Derbe)  and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faithWe must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God, they said.

One final thought about God’s provision of the righteous path, the God-glorifying path: He will show us how to live, where to go, what posture or lifestyle to adopt in the face of enemies.  That we will live among enemies is a given!  What sort of enemies are these?

As many wise Christians have counseled, we should not be collecting enemies needlessly because we are jerks! But there WILL be enemies set on our destruction if we are showing our true colors as redeemed, forgiven, beloved children of the King. As long as we are sons and daughters who fearlessly, with joy, share news of available freedom from guilt and adoption as a sibling of Jesus we will be opposed.  Satan and his spiritual forces of darkness DON’T consider what we herald as good news.  And they sow lies as often as they can, through whatever means they can, both IN the church and in secular society.

Satan's plan

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