Are You Standing Firm?
- Thursday, May 28, 2009
Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today (Exodus 14:13).
Dogs have such a simple carefree approach to life. They seem happy to just chew on things, chase random objects and be with their owner.
The first basic commands taught to a dog are usually to “stay” and to “sit.” Starting out, a dog can barely stand still as his tail wags incessantly and his hind legs poised to spring into action at the slightest movement or sound from his trainer. He almost comes out of his paws in anticipation of being called.
However, once a dog completes training, especially in the case of highly skilled seeing-eye dogs, the whole demeanor of the animal changes. He sits quietly by the side of his owner looking out for danger or calmly waits for his master’s command. When his owner sits down, the dog usually lays silently and comfortably at the foot of his master until further instruction.
I can learn a lot from a dog.
At times, it seems as if I’m still trying to understand the command to “stay” and “sit.” My common nature is to approach a situation (with all of the details sniffed out) trying to fix it, manage it or find a solution to it. If that doesn’t work, I’ll try to get around it or retreat from it.
I would have fit right in with the Israelites on the edge of the Red Sea when Moses spoke the words to “stand firm.” At the time, they were faced with the fast approaching Egyptian army led by Pharaoh on one side and the raging waters of the Red Sea on the other. Cries of dissent came from the Israelites for what they thought and saw as their impending doom.
Many of us are in difficult circumstances today. We are looking for a job, trying to pay bills, worrying about our family (or lack of), overcoming an ailment or seeking direction and hope for our lives. Oftentimes, we can only see the obstacle and we will resort to any choice we have to avoid it. However, we have a God who not only sees the obstacle, but also well past it. He knows of our past, present and future, including our outcome. His command to us is to simply stand firm.
Stand firm and listen for the Lord’s voice.
He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice (John 10:3-4).
In the midst of trying situations, where I don’t feel I have “control” of my life, I just want an answer, sometimes any answer. I become prone to listening to often well-meaning suggestions or advice in order to just get me through. At the same time, doubt creeps in telling me that I’ll never make it out of my circumstances. Despair tells me to just give in and quit. Hopelessness tells me to hide and not face the situation.
The best thing I can do is to stand firm and listen for the Lord’s voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out … they know his voice.
It is natural and understandable to do anything in our power to alleviate our predicament. We can even justify our actions by using our God-given abilities, seeking wise counsel, and praying, which is all good. However, if we proceed and take action before we hear from God, we may be stepping outside, ahead or away from His leading.
By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people (Exodus 13:21-22).
Be careful listening to anyone besides the Lord and be cautious about giving out advice to others. Even with the most sensitive, compassionate and purest of hearts, we can be used to lead people away from what the Lord’s will is for a person’s life.
Take the time to comfortably lie at the feet of your master, waiting for His instruction. It is often heard in our silence and spoken by a small still voice.
Stand firm in your convictions.
For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5).
Frank Peretti wrote the best-selling fiction book This Present Darkness many years ago. It opened my eyes and mind to an ever-present unseen spiritual battle happening all around us. Today, our spiritual battles, at times, seem to be somewhat more visible.
Prayer is constantly being restrained in public. Houses of Worship are being scrutinized or attacked, for what they stand for. Our country’s Christian foundation is being dismissed. It has almost become chic to denigrate a person’s belief in God.
- We are seen as prudish for abstaining from sex outside of marriage.
- We are looked upon as non-tolerant for not embracing untraditional marriages.
- We are viewed as radicals for standing up for the sanctity of life.
- We are called elitist for believing Jesus is the only way to eternal life with God.
Bible-believing followers of Christ are under fire now more than ever.
Oftentimes we are not only being attacked by other people, but also within our own thoughts. Disbelief tells us we will never find our soul mate and encourages us to settle for someone lesser, impatience tells us to go ahead and “do it,” and diffidence says we are not good enough for anyone.
The gray area that some of us have found comfort in is narrowing and each of us will someday have to take a stand and answer for the actions we have taken with our friends, in our relationships, at our workplace and in our homes.
God created us and chose us for His eternal purpose. He gave us the Holy Spirit and His power in order to live a life abundantly. For us to receive the fullest extent of His gift, we must stand firm in our convictions.
No man will be able to stand against you (Deuteronomy 11:25).
Know who your master is and whom you serve. Stand up by standing firm.
Stand firm in your faith.
If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all (Isaiah 7:9).
With unexplainable tragedies, relational confrontations, and unmanageable situations, I can’t imagine trying to live without faith in God. I often wonder how a person with no faith gets through their life when I struggle each day with a solid foundation of faith. It is a continual fight to stand firm in my convictions and beliefs, and to live a righteous life.
In the past decade, the two words that have probably impacted our society more than any others are political correctness. It has become an obstacle for not sharing our faith, for not standing up for what we believe, and for not carrying out the mission God has set before us. These two words have caused some to cower with the fear of speaking “incorrectly.”
Political correctness is a set of rules, which can change or be altered at any time in response to the climate in which it exists. The “beauty” of this methodology (for society) is that anyone can adjust the rules on what is acceptable from moment to moment and situation to situation. Living “correctly” becomes a subjective opinion rather than an ethical standard.
For the God-fearing Bible-believer, we should be living by moral correctness only dictated to us by God alone. Our actions and beliefs should be based upon the written Word of God, and we must know and uncompromisingly live by what we believe.
True faith doesn’t allow any power to be given to doubt, despair, hopelessness, disbelief, impatience, or diffidence. True faith doesn’t change by public opinion or by consensus. True faith listens for the voice of God and lives by conviction.
Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still (Exodus 14:13).
I can learn a lot from a dog’s loyalty, trustworthiness, and faithfulness to his master. It all starts by learning to stay, sit, and stand firm.
Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, "He Said-She Said," in Crosswalk.com's Singles Channel. An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to CYdmg@yahoo.com.
**This article first published on May 28, 2009.
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