Like the Bristlecone Pine


    So, we have drawn a line in the sand so to speak, over which we will not cross. But, the very next verses remind us that “our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the authorities, against the powers of this dark world…AND, against the forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” It’s two against one!  We are fighting a natural battle and a spiritual battle at the same time. Is it any wonder Paul says we need the “whole armor of God” in order to stand our ground after we have “taken a stand?”  Listen, it is always easier to take a stand than it is to stand our ground; it is always easier to make a decision than it is to stick to that decision. That’s why Paul says we are to “stand in the Lord and His mighty power!”
    Standing our ground means that we are never “wishy-washy” in our faith. We don’t waver in our convictions. We don’t waffle and compromise our principles. There may come a day when this will really hit home; in fact it already has. What choices do we make when our own government tells us to go in one direction, and God’s Word tells us to go another?  How long will it be before God is taken out of everything!
    In Acts chapter 4, Peter and John are brought before the Sanhedrin – now the Sanhedrin was the “religious ruling party” you could say of their day; and, they were commanded “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.” Peter and John replied; “Judge for yourself whether it is right IN GOD”S SIGHT to obey Him or you?” They took a stand and they stood their ground! A second time they were brought before the Sanhedrin, and the High Priest said; “You were given strict orders not to teach in this name, yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching!” Again, Peter and John stood and said; “We must obey God rather than men.” Perhaps they remembered the words of Jesus when He said “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but rather be afraid of the one who can destroy both body and soul.” Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednigo said “Throw us in the furnace…we believe God is able to save us! And even if He doesn’t, we have taken a stand!” What a perfect example of what Jesus was saying.  Being able to stand in our faith requires that we grow in our faith “so we will not be tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching.” (Ephesians 4:14)

Bristlecone

   I can’t help but think of the Bristlecone Pine tree that grows high up in the mountains of the southwest. It is constantly buffeted by the wind and rain and storms, as well as the constant heat of the hot sun. Most of the Bristlecone Pines have stood so much for so long that their bark is literally gone. ..yet, it still stands. Well, at least the ones that have their roots imbedded in the rock still stand. Many of the others whose roots were in the soft, rich, loamy soil, have long since fallen…There seems to be some spiritual significance there…
    Our faith is most often the very thing that brings us into conflict with the powers and problems of this world. Jesus said in Matthew 10:22 “All men will hate you because of me”…And in John 15:18 – “If the world hates  you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. This is why the world hates you. They will treat you this way because of my name.” I believe that the world just tolerates the church, as long as it is a worldly church. This is exactly what Jesus was talking about “if you belonged to the world, it would love you” Why? Because nobody cares about a church that will fall for anything, a church that tolerates the world and never takes a stand!
    As Christians, we define faith as “Being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”…Yet, the world sees a church that doesn’t really know what it believes, and a church that doesn’t really like to make waves, and a church that can’t really define who, or what, or why they meet on Sundays, other than it’s the right thing to do; it makes you look good; it‘s a tradition; it makes you feel good; all of which may be true. If you think I am becoming a little radical, I am!
    There are times when we cry out to God, and He responds and delivers and blesses; but, there are also times when we have done everything we can do in our power, and in seeking God as well, but nothing seems to change. There seems to be no answer from God…only silence. No divine intervention, no miracles, and we wonder what in the world is happening.  It is at those times when our faith; rather than being the power to move mountains; is to become the platform upon which we stand!
    A Jew, held captive in a dark basement by Germans, scratched these words on the wall of his cramped quarters; “I believe in the sun, even when I cannot see it; I believe in love, even when I cannot feel it; and I believe in God, even when He is silent.” That’s a true faith.
    That’s what we are doing now; we are turning our face to the wind of the world, and with the mighty power of God in whom we believe, as backup; and our roots being firmly planted in the Rock of Jesus Christ our Lord, we are going to prepare for battle; because, there will be a battle!
    The problem as I see it is that the Church’s salt is losing its savoriness, and her light is being hidden. It’s because there are too many Christians with “preferences” rather than  “convictions!”  I want you to know that neither America, nor the Devil will take notice until we are ready to draw the line and stand on our convictions, and reach out; speak out; and live out the love of Christ! We need God back in this nation!   I usually don’t give political speeches, and I am not trying to sway votes, I’m simply saying that we need to stop sitting back on our “laurels” and start standing up for Biblical morals! (end of rant)

 

 

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