Faithful IN the Struggle:
The Key to Remaining Strong in Christ
Matthew 24:12-13 (NLT)
12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.
13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Have you ever wondered, “Why is this happening to me?”, “Where is God in all of this suffering?”, or “Why don’t my struggles ever end? It seems like one thing ends, and another begins. Why would God allow all of this?”
If so, you are not alone. We go through family struggles, financial hardships, job issues and layoffs, relationship issues, and then…
A New Year dawns – the hope and promise of a new beginning – but, nothing seems to change.
Endless questions plague our minds. Doubts seep in. We come to a point that we begin to wonder if it’s even worth it to keep holding onto hope and remain in the fight – the fight that is called “the good fight of faith” – or just give up. How in the world can it be a “good fight” if we are ALWAYS struggling to win a battle?
There is nothing shameful about having questions. In fact, it’s very human. God is not angry or threatened when we wonder what’s going on and present our questions to Him. He loves it when we are honest and open with Him and present the true conditions of our hearts before Him.
The important thing is that we make sure we have a firm foundation and are rooted and grounded in the Bible – God’s holy, inerrant, infallible Word – so that when trials come into our lives, and especially when it seems like everything is coming against us all at once, we will stand firm in Christ and WILL NOT be shaken. Period. No matter what anyone else thinks about Christ, no matter who in our lives is calling us a fool, even when it’s the people we value the most.
HOW DO WE REMAIN FAITHFUL TO CHRIST,
AND NOT LOSE OUR FAITH,
AMID SEEMINGLY ONGOING TRIALS?
- It all starts with one word: Decision.
Everything we believe, every action we take, starts with the thoughts that enter our minds. In His Word, God gives us instructions as to what we are to do with every wrong thought that enters our minds.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (NKJV)
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
God has given us the ability to control what we think, and the things that we choose to mull over. When thoughts enter our minds that are an assault to God’s character, or make us question what He’s doing in our lives, will we think on those thoughts and allow doubts to seep in about who God says He is and has shown Himself to be, or will we follow the instructions the Holy Spirit gave us through Paul and cast them down? It is up to US to decide what we will do with those thoughts.
WITH SO MUCH TROUBLE GOING ON AROUND US, HOW CAN WE NOT HAVE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS? WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO THINK ABOUT?
Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT)
8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
As we fill our minds with the beauty of the Lord, the blessings He’s given us, fix our thoughts on Him and live in obedience to His Word, He will give us peace in the midst of all the turmoil.
- Read the Bible daily (or listen to it by audio) and stay in God’s Word.
Hebrews 2:12 (NLT)
12 For the word of God is alive and powerful.
It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword…
John 8:31-32 (NLT)
31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him,
“You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.
32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The late and beloved pastor, A.W. Tozer, is quoted as saying that the most important thing a Christian can do is think rightly about God. I couldn’t agree more with this statement.
There is great deception infiltrating the Earth today with many, MANY people teaching false doctrines, even doctrines of demons, and grossly misrepresenting our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. (1 Tim. 4:1; Matt. 7:15-20; 2 Pet. 2:1-3)
It all starts with what we are listening to and allowing to influence our thinking and our belief system about God, as our faith comes by hearing. (Rom. 10:17)
If we are hearing lies, or false doctrine, we will eventually start to believe it.
Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
It is imperative that we who are Christians, or disciples of Christ, read (or, listen to) the Bible to get to know God for ourselves, and that we test all spirits to make sure what we’re being taught and hearing lines up with the God’s inerrant, infallible Word – in context with accurate interpretation (1 John 4:1-6). It is up to us to decide not to just listen to what others teach us or tell us about Him – no matter who it may be.
2 Corinthians 2:11 (NKJV)
11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not
ignorant of his devices.
- Pray. It’s vital to spend time in prayer. It is our connection with God, and He works and moves through our prayers.
1 Peter 5:6-7 (NLT)
6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God,
for he cares about you.
Ephesians 6:18 (NLT)
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.
Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
- Stay connected with fellow believers in Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 10:25 (AMP)
25 not forsaking our meeting together [as believers for worship and instruction], as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more [faithfully] as you see the day [of Christ’s return] approaching.
It is imperative that we decide to follow the Lord’s instructions on this, as satan is going about looking for whom he may devour, and he wants to devour you, and anyone who will give him a foothold. (1 Pet. 5:8; Eph. 4:27)
Meeting with like-minded, fellow disciples of Christ can be strength building and give us the encouragement we need to keep going when we are feeling weak in our faith and want to give up.
James 5:16 (NKJV)
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Staying connected to others will also prevent us from becoming isolated, which can be the devil’s playground and give him a foothold for bringing in deceit and depression, causing us to believe the lie that no one cares.
- Listen to God’s voice.
John 10:27 (NLT)
27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
Even when we don’t feel Him, or think that we hear Him, God is always speaking and desires to commune with His children and give us His plan and direction for our lives. When we begin to err, He won’t become angry and punish us, but will convict us by His Holy Spirit and lovingly redirect us.
In times of wilderness seasons when we’re not hearing direction from God for our lives, it is still imperative that we remain in close communion with the Lord so that we can grow during these seasons and allow God to purify us.
- Obey / Yield to God’s will.
This is probably the most important one of all. We can be going through all the Christian motions, attending church, busying ourselves with “The Lord’s work”, doing many things “in the name of The Lord”, but if we’re not truly in God’s will, it’s all for naught.
Matthew 7:21-23 (NLT)
21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me,
you who break God’s laws.’
Matthew 12:50 (NLT)
Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and
sister and mother!”
John 14:15 (NLT)
“If you love me, obey my commandments.
God is not concerned about our busyness, or desire to impress other people. God longs for us to be so passionate about Him that His will is all we desire for our lives.
WHY NOT JUST THROW IN THE TOWEL AND GIVE UP???
We’re fighting for those who we will impact – who we ARE impacting. The generations before us who fought for us and those who are coming up after us: our children, our families, our fellow brethren. Those who are watching us, looking to us as examples of HOW to follow Christ and STICK with Him NO MATTER WHAT’S GOING ON… NO MATTER THE COST in our own personal lives. We don’t give up because we’re fighting for the lives of others. (John 15:13)
We stick with this walk with Christ because we have a purpose. Like the disciples, our voices ring out to Jesus saying, “Lord, where we will go? You have the words of life?”
Our lives are not our own. We belong to Jesus. Will we be like the ONE disciple, John, who after EVERYONE ELSE had left Jesus, was the only one to follow Him all the way to the cross?
Will we continue to allow our minds to be overrun with thoughts of doubts and accusations against God, or will we cast those lies down (2 Cor. 10:5), and like Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, boldly arise and declare who Jesus Christ is? (Acts 4:8-12)
2 Corinthians 4:8-12 (NLT)
8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus
may also be seen in our bodies.
Don’t allow hardships, or the taunting and mocking of those around you, to change who you are as a person and cause you to become bitter and offended. It’s in those times that we need to stand firm in Jesus, the Rock of our salvation, and activate the full Armor of God in our lives. (Eph. 6:10-18)
A Call to Remain Faithful
(Jude 1:17-25 NLT)
17 But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ predicted. 18 They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. 19 These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them.
20 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, 21 and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.
22 And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. 23 Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.
A Prayer of Praise
24 Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. 25 All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present,
and beyond all time! Amen.
Declaring Jesus’ Name in the Earth,
~ Marjorie Shull ~
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