Stand Firm

faith messageThere are times when standing firm is really hard. If the ground beneath me is wet and soggy it’s tough to get a firm footing. If the ground is solid, then it’s easier to stand firm. I see the ground as the foundation on which I stand. Paul tells the church in Corinth to stand strong with a different Foundation. Check this out….

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
23 I call God as my witness—and I stake my life on it—that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. 24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4; 21-24 NIV)

 

I can stand firm with my faith in Christ as the foundation of my life. I have put my hope and my trust in Him as the Author of my faith. He perfects and completes my faith.  He was there at Creation. He is in the Presence of God and He sustains me and anchors me.  Standing firm with Christ is very plausible. As the Anchor of my life, I can stand strong even when the enemy attacks and when bad things happen to me. I will not quit. I will not surrender to anyone or anything EXCEPT my will to His Will. I will stand firm because of His Presence in me!

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Separation

IMG_0393I don’t really like separation because it’s usually in the context of me being away from my family because of business travel. I am pretty much a “home body”, but there are times I need to go study, learn and be present at a conference or leadership meeting as a participant. Separation is being apart from someone or something. I don’t like being apart from my family. As my children grew up and moved away, I understood that this was part of life, but I can hardly bear not seeing them, hugging them and hanging out with them. The separation is sometimes heart wrenching and heart breaking.

I was reminded of the comfort that I have knowing that nothing or no one can separate me from God – my strength and my source of life. Paul reminded me that in Christ, “God works all things for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” That’s quite a promise. He goes on to say that we will not be separated from God. Check this out…

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;

    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39 NIV)

The word is NOTHING. Nothing can separate me from God. I’m connected to Him and He is with me through anything I could possibly face here on this earth. I hold on to Him, but more importantly, He’s holding on to me. He loves me. He wants fellowship with me. He has saved me. He has forgiven me and now He wants me to be His friend. I have no other Friend like Him. He is my Advocate, my Counselor and my Confidant. I really can’t imagine what life would look like if I were separated from God. He has shaped my soul and He has molded my heart to be like His. I’m glad that I don’t have to stress about doing life without Him. He will never leave me or forsake me, and NOTHING seen or unseen can separate me from Him. I can hang my hat on Hope like that!

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Purpose

Live on Purpose Words on Bulletin Board Fulfilling LifeThis word implies that there is a reason for doing something. It also implies a resolve to do something with planning and fore thought.  I do a lot of things on purpose. I eat every day on purpose. I read the Word of God on purpose. The opposite of doing something on purpose would be to do things accidentally or spontaneously. I’ve been known to do some things this way too.

John puts a paragraph at the end of chapter 20 of his gospel that settled in my heart this morning. Check this out…

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31 NIV)

Jesus did everything with purpose and fore thought. His plans are perfect. I can plan for tomorrow, but I don’t know about tomorrow. The Lord knows the future and He brings purpose to my life each day I live. He lives through me so that others can see Him living in me. My role in the equation is surrender. His purpose can only be accomplished in me when I surrender all I am and all I have to Him!  The payoff for surrender is His Presence in me and Eternal life in His Presence! I will live for Him on purpose today.

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Overcome

Strength Level Measured on Thermometer Ultimate StrongThere are events and experiences that really rock my world – sometimes to the point of really shaking my faith.  There are things that happen that are hard to understand and process. I still believe the Lord helps me to overcome them all. His Presence directs my path as I meander through uncharted territory of struggle and pain. I sometimes feel like the struggle is going to take me out. But then…. But then, I remember His Promises, His Power and His Presence! It makes all the difference in the world. Check this out….

29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”
31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. 32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:29-33 NIV)

I can overcome any obstacle that I face when I have the Presence and Power of God in my life. I know for sure that it will not be a “cakewalk”, but I can overcome with Him. He positions me to not only survive tremendous difficulties, He actually helps me thrive and grow in the middle of trouble. His economy revolves around my trust in Him. His economy involves lots of mercy and grace for stupid choices and ignorant decisions. I am thankful for His Promise, His Presence, His Power and His Peace! It makes all the difference in my worldview!

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Reason

"Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path"
“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”

I heard one time that Reason was the opposite of Faith. I have really begun to question that concept for many years. Having faith is not for the uneducated and uninformed. There are reasons for what I believe and I believe that God is good with using my brain, which He gave me, to deepen my understanding of what He’s doing and Who He is.

Jesus taught with authority and purpose. He was a day or so journey away when He heard of His friend Lazarus getting very sick.  He didn’t rush to his side to heal Lazarus from his sickness, instead Jesus had something a bit bigger in mind. Check this out….

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” (John 11:11-15 NIV)

 Jesus clearly has a plan to take His ministry with His disciples and His friends to a whole new level. He delayed his trip to Bethany so that He could reveal more of Who He is.  Jesus loved Lazarus, Mary & Martha. You could tell that there was a close-knit relationship and friendship among them. Jesus wept when He saw His friends Mary & Martha weeping. He blew them away when Lazarus came forth. Check this out…

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (John 11:38-44 NIV)

I can’t imagine the scene that day when a cadaver comes back to life. Jesus not only shook up His friends and His disciples when He raised Lazarus, but He shook up the religious leaders. How could they explain Lazarus, once dead now very much alive? Jesus gave His disciples many reasons to believe.

I have not seen Jesus literally raise someone from the dead. I’ve seen Him comfort the hurting. I’ve seen sick people healed in His name. I know that I’ve felt His very Presence in my life journey many times along the way. I believe in Him because I can’t explain or reason away the things I’ve seen and heard Him do. His Presence is too powerful to deny and too gentle to ignore. I do believe and I’ve used both Reason and Faith to come to that conclusion.

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Mirror

Young man dressing up and looking at mirrorI appreciate the service that mirror provides. You can see things about yourself that you might not otherwise see. You can also divert a ray of light in a different direction.  Probably the primary use of a mirror is to see how I look to other people. I can get my hair combed right and my tie on straight (if I’m wearing one).  Jesus sees things that no mirror could expose. He see my thoughts and knows my motives.  He helps people and sometimes works outside the laws of man and even the laws of nature. Check this out….

10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.
14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”
15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”
17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing. (Luke 13:10-17 NIV)

Jesus was “laser focused” on teaching and serving. He deliberately took on some of the “religious leaders” who “couldn’t see the forest for the trees”.  The person that they hoped for was in their midst and they couldn’t see Him because they were too busy being “religious”.  He called them out because they got side-tracked with the letter of the law instead of understanding the spirit of the law.

If I get so caught up in elevating myself, I’ve missed the point. My purpose in life is to introduce people to Jesus.  I should not be so quick to point out others misunderstanding of scripture and assume that I’m the only one getting it right. The Presence of God in me should change my attitude and my behavior. If I want to see what others see, I can look in the mirror. If I want to see what He sees, I can look into the mirror of His Word. I want my life to honor the Lord on His terms and not some religious jargon that has become “traditional” and “acceptable” to others. I want His Presence in my life even if it comes at the expense of the “so called religious people”.

Pressing On!
Dwayne