Monthly Archives: January 2014
Due to the fact that we are concentrating temporary daily posts exclusively to the Spiritual Maturity blog http://goo.gl/dTsw2S posts to this blog will be suspended until the second week in February. After February 7th, we will continue with weekly posts to this blog. In the mean time we invite you to read and comment on the posts about Spiritual disciplines posted on the Spiritual Maturity blog.
Thanks and God bless you.
Whatever we love, whatever we fear and whatever we believe in determines the values that we establish in our lives. The way we deal with our affections, fears and beliefs determines our ability to advance in the strength of our convictions. As we develop the character of perseverance with respect to our affections, fears and beliefs, we will prevail in the many constant spiritual battles that we face.
Are we fighting the good or the bad fight? Are we advancing or have we already abandoned the race? Have we kept the faith or have we already abandoned our convictions? By answering these questions we can determine if we have persevered or given up; if we have overcome or if we have been overcome. The effectiveness of our prayer life vitally depends on these answers.
When Jesus faced his last minutes of life here on the earth, in prayer, looking into God’s eyes, he could say with absolute authority, “Father, everything that you gave me to do I have done! Everything that you expected me to be I have been! I have glorified you on the earth, having fulfilled the work that you gave me to do. It is finished!” Jesus only yielded His spirit after declaring that He had completed His mission. He refused to die before that.
Through his work on earth up to and including his work on the cross, Christ summarized and established the highest definition of prosperity and success through his declaration “It is finished”. There is no true prosperity without perseverance. Death is not the greatest evil that can befall a person. The greatest tragedy and worse situation in someone’s life is not death, but a life without purpose. The purpose of God is a reference point for perseverance. Without this reference point and without perseverance, our lives will be wasted. How frustrating it is to look at all the years some people have lived and perceive that they are living a life with no eternal significance.
A fundamental element of prayer is to persevere with integrity to fulfill God’s will, and to finish the work that has been entrusted to us without getting discouraged, responsibly fulfilling the conditions of the promises that were designated to us by the mouth of God. Each step of perseverance is a hymn of worship. We glorify God by persevering! This is one of the principle aspects of worship! We can keep the doors of heaven open overcoming accidents along the way and advance towards the prize of the heavenly calling.
In order to persevere there must be brokenness. The fatal blow against death was the conclusion through the last words of Jesus: it is finished! A perfect ending! Words such as these can only be spoken from the cross! Perseverance is for people who are being crucified. There was no place for surrender in the life of Jesus. Through His perseverance Jesus crucified death and subverted its kingdom by interceding for the entire human race!
How to identify and overcome the law of fear
God’s Word assures us: “The fear of the wicked will come upon him” (Prov. 10:24). Job testified: “That what I feared came to pass.” This is a spiritual law that reigns over the behavior of fear. Through fear we create areas of spiritual, moral and sentimental vulnerability. The tendency is to lower our guard and give up. The enemy will attack us in whatever areas we fear. Areas in our lives where there is fear establish the targets of the enemy’s attack. That is the way that it works.
Only the fear of God can overcome fear. Godly fear opens the doors to revelation for us to know God thus conquering all other fears. Consequently, fear, when overcome, gives place to prayer and boldness.
Strongholds of fear: where believers try to hide
Fear is easily able to build strongholds in the human heart. It slowly infiltrates and establishes thoughts and sophisms that paralyze us. This can be diagnosed when we retreat to certain hiding places.
“Now the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold; depart, and go to the land of Judah. So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth.” (1 Samuel 22:5).
God commanded David to leave his hiding place and go to the land of Judah in search of King Saul, his persistent persecutor. The cave was a physically safe place, but spiritually harmful. David had to face and overcome the fear that he had nourished within of King Saul. The biggest enemy of the moment was not King Saul, but the oppressive fear that was little by little destroying David’s confidence in God. The place where we face fear is the territory of dependence on God. Or in other words, boldness is the territory of miracles. God wanted David in this place.
One of the most common places to hide from God is in the church: behind a religious label, behind the fame of the denomination, behind the ministry, behind a title, job or position. However, God will certainly bring changes to flush us out of these hiding places that undermine our dependence on the Holy Spirit. He is always trying to push us to courageous action, albeit in harmony with His Word, or in other words, with boldness, but not presumption.
Many Christians in the church are just like Adam in the Garden of Eden, hiding from God, intimidated, inhibited, dodging God and His will. One of God’s greatest challenges is dislodging believers from their hiding places. Jesus denounced some of these hiding places in which we excuse ourselves from the divine calling:
Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind. (Luke 14:15-21)
We have here three structures that are commonly used to justify our fear and lack of disposition with respect to the call of God: business, work and family. The worst part is that we begin to use inexcusable excuses with respect to these things: who would buy a parcel of land before seeing it? Who would buy a yoke of oxen or a car without taking it for a test-drive? It is very strategic when we use the health of our marriage, family or children to support our excuses for lack of involvement in God’s work. However, the backdrop of these excuses and strategies is fear and inertia.
Fear can easily lead a person to care much more about these things to the point of sacrificing God’s invitation. This is the terrible power that insecurity has of compromising even our eternal destiny.
Just as Jesus mentioned in this parable, it is not surprising that today the people with the greatest logical, financial and social potential are not lined up with the will of God, while unbelievably the people who God uses most in His kingdom are the poor, lame, blind and handicapped, people who are humanly incapable, yet available. The worthy become unworthy and the unworthy become worthy. God’s principal requirement to use a person is his availability and devotion. The manner that we deal with our fears will define whether we genuinely finish our race or not. If we listen to our fears, the race will be lost, but if we listen to God’s direction and persevere in obedience to his voice, then we will finish the race and receive the crown.