Wow! I have felt so disconnected for the past week and a half … unable to access my online networks and to communicate words of encouragement.
I have been on the spiritual battlefield!
As such, I felt it appropriate to share some critical ‘keeping’ points which have aided me in my fight – some thoughts which have helped to stabilize my thinking and to focus my faith on the LORD God Almighty.
Sing! Sleep! Stand! Submit!
Praise is a powerful weapon in the hand of one who trusts in Jehovah. Acts 16:25 tells us the story of Paul and Silas who had been beaten and thrown into prison – unpleasant circumstances for anyone. However, I like what it says about their experience starting in verse twenty-five: ‘And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bands were loosed.’ (Acts 16:25-26)
When things were the darkest – at the midnight hour – Paul and Silas decided to … Sing! Praise is powerful! And it is not just power to you, but to those who are watching walk through the raging storms of life. They recognize that you, in the same circumstance as they, must have access to a unique Source which enables you to respond differently, with joy and peace. And it stirs up a hunger within them to know the God that you know. It breaks chains of bondage for you and those around you. So many people desire to impact the world in a positive way. Well, Paul and Silas did it! Their praise caused the earth to shake and brought deliverance to those who were hurting.
Understand that while there will be times when you need to sing in your place of confinement – there will also be times when you simply need to sleep. In my upcoming book, I look at twenty-one principles to keep you anchored through life’s toughest moments. The title of the book is When Storms Rage. In it I review the life of Peter and the dramatic character transformation which took place in his life. Once impulsive and fear filled, Peter submitted to God’s processing and developed the very nature of Christ. In fact, he progressed so greatly that he was not even moved by imprisonment and the threat of death.
Acts 12:5-6 highlights his story: ‘Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.’
The story goes on to account how God sent an angel to save Peter’s life by miraculously delivering Peter from the prison. An angel intervention is always remarkable. However, the action of Peter which preceded the angel visitation is what got my attention. ‘That night, Peter was sleeping …’
Unlike the early days of his walk with Jesus – when he found himself in the middle of a storm and wondered (along with other disciples) how Jesus could sleep in the midst of it all – Peter had finally attained a level of trust and intimacy with and of the LORD which enabled him to sleep in the midst of turbulent circumstances, in the presence of his enemies. What a tremendous peace! Philippians 4:7 speaks of the peace of God which passes all understanding and guards your heart and mind through Christ Jesus. Know that God’s Word is true and that His peace truly does guard your heart and mind – and life!
STAND & SUBMIT!
Perhaps one of the greatest examples of standing is Stephen. A faithful follower of Christ, Stephen found himself in a stormy situation which put his faith to the test and his life on the line. Yet his response was not to tremble with fear, to run, to curse or to complain. His response was to stand and then to submit! Acts 7:55-60 draws us into the final moments of Stephen’s bold stance of faith. ‘But he [Stephen], being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. Then they [his accusers] cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord. And cast him out of the city, and stoned him… and he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.’
Stephen did his part to stand for righteousness and then submitted to the sovereign will of God. I know that some will balk at the idea that it was in God’s plan for Stephen to die. However, God is all-powerful and, as such, He has the ability to stop anything. Therefore, if He does not prevent an event, the reasonable conclusion that one must reach is that He permitted it to occur. God will sacrifice one to save many – just like He did with Jesus. And as believers, we are called like Stephen to stand in defense of the gospel and to submit to the ultimate plan of God, to give our all (and even our life if necessary).
Are you facing what seems like insurmountable odds?
Remember how Romans 8:37 tells us, that we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus who loved us. You can lose home, finances, relationships and even health. Yet there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. You can experience victory and peace - no matter what you are facing today. I say this even as I pack up my home which I have lived in for fifteen years, uncertain of where I am going, still unable to find employment after three and a half years, facing stalled progress with getting my book published – YET still trusting in the faithfulness of God. Sometimes the greatest miracle is not in God stilling the storm, but in Him stilling you in the storm. I wish you the peace that He has granted me.
Sing, Sleep, Stand, Submit!
Have a blessed rest of the week …