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Archive for the tag “Good Fight”

Persist with Joy!

So the message this past weekend was to count it all joy. All the struggles, trials and tribulations are for a reason. God wants to take us from Point A to B – from where we are to where we need to be. He is developing in us a greater faith. Faith always has to be put to the test. Heaven is for the faith-filled believers; the ones who endured to the end. We never like to go through the storms in life. We are so anxious to get out of them before we learn the lessons. But Book of James tells us to stay the course and count it as joy. The testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:3-4).

In my readings this past week, I learned of the Wright Brothers tenacity. I read of the struggles in Auschwitz through Viktor E. Frankel’s Man’s Search for Meaning. And in The Greatest Salesman in the World, I am contemplating “persist until you succeed.” The theme this week is persistence or perseverance. You never know when the next step will lead you to the promise. It’s always right before you. The trouble is we give up before we find the answer. It’s always just around the bend.

I was intrigued by the Wright brothers’ determination to fly. It was all they thought about. They persisted until they succeeded. They went through many years of tweaking their design until it proved right through all their experiments. Time after time, they focused on getting it right. If this worked this time, how can it be made better for the next version? During that same time, many others tried to develop plans for an airplane. Some were close, but they weren’t close enough; they never sustained flight. The Wright brothers focused on the birds. They saw how a bird used their wings to fly. The brothers worked their designs in accordance to how nature works, and the airplane came to be in a very simplistic manner.

Viktor E. Frankel’s book gives his account of the struggles behind the walls of the concentration camp. As I was reading about his fight to live, I wondered if the lucky ones were the ones who were taken to the gas chamber right away. They didn’t have to endure the harshness and horrendous circumstances in the camp. In his account, Viktor wrote about the ones who lost hope and gave up. They died right before liberation came. Viktor lived for three years behind those walls; barely surviving on very little food – a small bit of bread and watery “soup” each day. They worked in snow and ice with no gloves or coats to keep them warm. Some had shoes with no laces or no shoes at all. I am reminded of the depravity of man when man has no soul. But Viktor survived; he made it to the end of the war and saw liberation day.

We are told in 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul fought the good fight; he finished his race and kept the faith until the end. Paul lived a life of testing. He endured the beatings, the shipwrecks, and various hardships. He stayed the course. After his conversion, Paul was told all that he must suffer for the sake of the Gospel. And he did it. He was the man for that hour – to get the message rolling through the known world. His tenacity brought the message to you and me. He introduced the Gospel message to the Middle East, Asia and Europe. And it spread like fire. He fought the fight so that we could keep it to ourselves. No, that’s not right. He did his work so that we could do ours.

We have our own battles to fight. We have our own hour to shine for Jesus. Our faith needs to be pure. It has to be tested and made sure. Like the refiners fire, the dross needs to be removed so that our faith is purified. When we suffer, we actually identify with Jesus. He took on our sin and shame and endured the cross for us. He suffered for us. So we shouldn’t be surprised when we too have to suffer in this life. It will either draw us closer to Him or it will drive us away. This is the testing of our “soils” to see if we have good soil or the word was sown in rocky soil; when persecution comes, we fall away. Faith has to be sifted. The rocks have to be removed. It’s the only way to know for sure where we stand. When we endure until the end, we succeed in obtaining the crown of righteousness. When we count our trials as joy, we keep the end in mind – the crown will one day be ours, if we persist. So, persist; it builds character in us and gives us the hope for liberation day. It’s coming – count it as joy!

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4

The Good Fight

Once upon a time, I used to hate to read. It was always so tedious to me. But when I think about it, I realize I hated to read text books. History and other topics never interested me when I was in school. Now, I can’t seem to get enough of it now. My interests are vastly different from when I first began to read. I love to pick up a book with meaning – with a purpose than just reading a story for story sake. Romance novels hold no interest for me. But give me a story of someone’s real life; I am fascinated especially of those long ago. I love to understand the history behind the story as well – like the time period and the ways of the world at that time.

Case in point, I just finished reading the biography of Joan of Arc. I have heard the story long ago of this famous girl who rode in front of armies and then was burned at the stake. But I didn’t know the real story or even if the tale was a real story. Joan believed God sent her on a mission to free France from English bondage. (I have often wondered why the French and English don’t get along – there is a long history there.) As I was finishing this story, my heart became so distressed about this young girl. The story occurred long ago, but I felt tears welling up because of the treatment by these powerful “church” men. They had in mind to do her harm from the very beginning of her capture. They were never going to set her free. They believed they were doing right, but their hearts were so dark. The main judge had the idea if he destroyed this young girl he would get the most promising position in the church. Seriously?

I am in distress about this because times really have not changed much. Oh, we live in surely a better world than the dark world of long ago. But man’s heart is still such a dark place. I see the believers today under some extreme conditions in other parts of the world where evilness delights in torture and ruin of God’s people. The shame they bring on young girls by their evil hearts. The torture that women endure – rape, watching their children brutalized, husbands beheaded and such. How can a person be so depraved? My heart hurts. And I realize that the darkness is in me too. I could easily have fallen into that dark place and stayed there. I am just as guilty as any other person today or six hundred years ago. It’s only through the grace of God that the darkness doesn’t rule my heart anymore.

We are meant to feel this injustice so that we will stand up to it. Those of us who call ourselves followers of Christ are meant to be warriors for the cause of Christ. We have the armor that God gives us so that we can go into the battle field and wield the sword with accuracy to defeat the enemy. We can have the same authority that Joan had as she rode to defend her King. She believed she was doing it for her King and country by the will of God. We know that as followers this is not really our home. We are just here for a little while. Our King and country is not of this world. And we have the same conflicts to fight for the injustices of this world. We are here for the poor and needy. We are to make the most of what God wills for our lives. We have a purpose just as this young girl did so long ago. God is waiting on us to join the battle.

Joan heard voices to lead her in her battles. She knew things that were impossible to know. We too have a voice that we are to follow. The Holy Spirit will teach us those things we need to know so that we can fight the good fight. Things are not too different now – the battle is still on. Warriors are still needed. But we have been asleep for far too long. It’s time for us to wake up and be ready to join in God’s work. Are you ready? God’s waiting.

Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight.
Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good.
Seek justice. Help the oppressed.
Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. Isaiah 1:16-17 (NLT)

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