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February Devotional – “Stand Firm”

“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”
I Cor. 16:13

 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”
James 5:8

          Trouble never comes at a time when you’re prepared for it.  Satan baits you.  While you’re sitting back enjoying the peace God has given you, the devil is busy scheming and planning your next demise.  One of the most aggravating tactics he uses is the guise of good deeds. 

           Need an example? 

           Things were peaceful for me for a time.  Matter of fact things were going so well that I wasn’t sure what to do with myself.  But I grinned, sat back, and soaked in this peace and began to feel no guilt for not sharing it. 

           In the middle of my peace, I got a phone call and was told I needed to rescue someone from a hostile situation.  This was a frantic call and, at the time, I had no reason to believe this was a matter of me interfering in other people’s affairs.  Because I feel close to this friend, I accommodated her only to realize later it was the very situation I should have avoided, or so it seemed. 

           From my act of kindness, came a tumultuous ending.  Everyone solved their issue and used me to do it. 

           Aaah . . .

           How many times have you found yourself in this dilemma?  I strongly suspect I’m not the only person who has found themselves entangled in a weave of immature brothers and sisters, and people of the world.  I remember moaning:  “If only I had known.”  When you were in this situation, did you conclude:  “I’ll never do that again.  I’m letting people solve their own issues even if it means they will drown in their sorrows.” 

           Those statements and feelings of despair are heartfelt.  Situations like this keep us up at night, rolling us over in bed while our minds hash and rehash what we might have done differently. 

           Funny thing is you and I weren’t born with extra sensory that screens each individual for the truth behind their motives.  We don’t always know those who need our help from those who are bent on using us. 

           That’s not to say that you and I shouldn’t use common sense, or more importantly, listen to the Holy Spirit. 

           Take comfort!

           I encourage you to remember this:  “. . . for you are a people holy to the Lord your God.  Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession.”  (Isaiah 43:1)  Paul repeats this saying again:  “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light . . .” (I Peter 2:9)

           I also encourage you to remember this:  Love your enemies – “And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.” (Det. 10:19)  Also:  “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.”  (I Thes. 3:12) 

           Let’s be honest.  We are constantly in war with the spirit.  And Satan would love nothing better than to keep us in a state of confusion, causing us to second-guess God. 

           When you perform good deeds, you should not allow the evil one to pollute them.  So what if the parties involved have schemed to make you the fall guy.  The positive side of this is “next time you’ll know.”  But to beat yourself up because you didn’t foresee this occurrence is asking yourself to be as wise as God—the same lie Satan told Eve in the garden.  It’s just as preposterous now as it was then. 

           God has told us over and over again “vengence is mine.”  Where His wrath needs to be implemented, He will do so.  When a brother needs to be corrected, He will indeed correct him.  Our brothers and sisters, and the world, need to be mindful that what they have done to you and me will be heaped upon them if they’re not careful. 

           Sometimes we forget how the family dynamics played out with Jacob and Esau.  Jacob deceived Esau.  Laban deceived Jacob.  Abraham lied about Sarai being his sister; and Sarai told the same lie, giving the impression that she and Abraham were full sister and brother and not husband and wife.  Neither Jacob, Abraham, or Sarai were condemned.  So, though your brother or sister has misused you, they won’t die in a furnace because of it.  They may, however, suffer.  “. . . the reason why some are sick among you . . .” 

           So, if you have made the following conclusions:  “I’ll never do that again.  I’m letting people solve their issues even if it means they are to drown in their sorrows,” relax in Christ.  Know this:  “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” (James 4:17)

           It’s not okay to lock the Holy Spirit in your bowels.  You were made free when you obeyed the Lord.  Don’t allow Satan or any human being to manipulate you into withholding your love because you don’t get the reactions you feel you deserve.  If God wanted us to act that way, there would be no need to send His son to die for us. 

           “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.” (Luke 6:33)

           “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18) 

           The next time someone misuses you, don’t waste time being angry, but rather pray for them and for yourself.  Ask God to help you not fall into the temptation of retaliation.  Ask God to give you an agape love, a love so deep that it covers your brother’s sin and yours. 

           I love each of you!  I pray that every message I pass on to you will enhance my love for you and your love for me.  “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. . . .”  (I Cor. 13:1-13)

           Peace to the family of God. 

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