Friday, November 28, 2014


            There is an old saying, “a stitch in time saves nine”.  Common sense tells us if a tear in a garment isn't mended when it first happens, it will continue to tear and fray, making a bigger hole that requires more stitches to fix.  If it’s left too long, it cannot be repaired.
            The Scripture speaks of God “rising up early” and sending his prophets to warn His people of impending judgment if they did not repent.  That means God didn't wait until the day of judgment before He warned them.  He began early when their transgressions were a small tear that could be easily fixed.  His warning went out before their sins were so deeply imbedded in their hearts, before their sins had multiplied and infected the whole nation, and before they had begun to accept their sins as commonplace, normal behavior.
            God doesn't give us warnings to cause us to be fearful or to beat us down until we feel hopeless and defeated.  He speaks clearly, directly and even bluntly sometimes because He doesn't want anyone to perish.  His desire is for us to know the truth and be set free by it.
When we read and follow God’s Word, we find instruction, comfort, warnings, encouragement and even rebuke when needed to keep us in the way of life.  His Word is truth and will keep us through times of chaos and times of peace.  He warns us to examine ourselves and see if we are following Him or if we have wandered away from His Word.  He loves us enough to warn us of our own human frailty and the fierceness of our enemy.
In writing to one of the churches in the book of Revelation, Jesus said, “Behold, I come quickly: hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”  Who would want to take our crown?  Who would want us to release the Truth we have in Christ?  We have an enemy that is using every scheme he can to trip us up and cause us to lose our faith.  He sets snares for us, and we need to be wise to his tricks.  They are not innocent tricks, but deadly ones.
Satan tries to undermine our faith by causing a hint of distrust toward God just as he did with Eve.  We need to refer back to God’s Word when that happens to reinforce the truth.  If we don’t, Satan will make us feel hopeless and disappointed in God because He didn’t do something we thought He should.  Our enemy tries to convince us that God has forsaken us and doesn’t care about the trials we are going through.  He knows that what we believe can be altered by how we feel.  If we feel down and rejected, we begin to believe we are down and rejected, and we act on those feelings rather than holding fast to what we know to be true.  It’s amazing how little Satan has to do to change how we feel and ultimately what we believe.
Termites are very small, but they can ruin the foundation of a building by consistently eating away at the foundation little by little.  Once the foundation is compromised, the whole building is in danger.  If we allow our feelings to rule instead of Truth, we will little by little doubt the very fundamentals of our faith – Who God is, the inerrancy of His Word, salvation through Jesus only and by grace instead of works.  When we no longer trust God, we no longer believe God, and the very foundation of our salvation has crumbled.  We need to hold fast to what we know to be true, especially when our feelings tell us something different.
            When I went through a rather mild trial, for some reason I was overwhelmed emotionally and my emotions began to make decisions about my beliefs.  I couldn’t understand why God hadn’t moved on my behalf.  At the moment, I couldn’t see how foolish that was, but I finally realized I had to reach beyond how I felt and stand on what I knew to be true.  When I came through the other side, I knew why God had not intervened earlier.  I learned a lot through a little test that became a huge deal in my mind because my feelings overshadowed what I knew to be true.
Hebrews 10:23 tell us, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised.”  How can we hold fast when it seems our hands keep slipping and causing us to fall?  How can we retain our faith when God isn’t fitting into the mold we have made for Him?  Maybe we need to get to know Him better - as He truly is rather than how we have invented Him to be in our minds. 
Sometimes it helps to honestly examine our walk with Christ and determine if we are growing in Him.  If we have been saved for years and are still baby Christians, that is the reason we slip so easily. 
It has never been God’s intention for us to stay newborn babies after we are born into His kingdom, and never mature in our faith.  But that is the condition of a large percentage of professing Christians.  They repeat a prayer, join the local church and become active there.  That’s great, but what about their relationship with Jesus?  Have they really met Him, and deepened their relationship with Him through the years?  That’s what being a Christian is all about, a growing relationship with Jesus.  If we are truly going to be Christians, or “little Christs”, we have to get to know Him so we can follow Him and be like Him. If we are not consistently growing in His Spirit and His Word, we are losing ground.  In Hebrews 5:12, we read, “For even though by this time you ought to be teaching others, you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God’s Word. You have come to need milk, not solid food.”  (Amplified Bible)  We cannot mature until we read the Bible, allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal the meaning to us, and then put it into action in our everyday living.  Don’t allow Satan to take away the truth you have.  Put it into practice. 
            The mindset of the world can cause us to second guess the things we have learned to be true through our faith and experience.  When an overwhelming majority doesn’t believe the truth and their reasoning seems to make sense, we need to have enough of the Word in us to see through the error and deceit.  Scripture tells us that evil men will go from bad to worse, “But as for you, continue to hold to the things that you have learned and of which you are convinced, knowing from whom you learned [them].”  (2 Timothy 3:14 Amplified Bible)
If we don’t put what we have learned into practice, we will lose it.  If we don’t know the truth, we will fall for the lies of Satan.  Many of our churches no longer preach the truth because they have convinced themselves the truth changes with our culture.  How foolish.  If truth can change, it wasn’t truth to begin with.  Rather than losing our grasp on truth, we need to hold to it, grow in it and proclaim it with a renewed sense of urgency.  The Holy Spirit will bring the Word to our remembrance when we need it, but we have to know it first.
            Paul gave this charge to Timothy.  “Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable. [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong.] And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching.  For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold, And will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions.” (2 Timothy 4:1-4 Amplified Bible)
            This encouragement and charge is for us, too.  Certainly the time is upon us that Paul described here.  God knows it is difficult in our times to continue speaking the truth when people don’t want to hear it.  But we are all called to carry the Gospel to those in our circles of influence.  That might be someone we know well or a stranger, but we need to keep a sense of urgency in our message – both living it and sharing it.  In Jeremiah 9:3, God says those who are not “valiant for the truth”, do not know Him.  The opposite is also true.  Those who really know Him will be valiant for the truth.  It’s when we get careless in our relationship with Jesus, that we become weak and are susceptible to the wiles of the devil. 
God is faithful to sustain and strengthen those who follow Him with their whole heart and who hold fast to His Spirit and His Word.  “For God is not unrighteous to forget or overlook your labor and the love which you have shown for His name’s sake in ministering to the needs of the saints (His own consecrated people), as you still do.  But we do [strongly and earnestly] desire for each of you to show the same diligence and sincerity [all the way through] in realizing and enjoying the full assurance and development of [your] hope until the end, In order that you may not grow disinterested and become [spiritual] sluggards, but imitators, behaving as do those who through faith (by their leaning of the entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness) and by practice of patient endurance and waiting are [now] inheriting the promises.  (Hebrews 6:10-12 Amplified Bible)
Be careful.  Hold fast.  Press in.  Stay in the Word and listen to God’s Spirit.  When we draw near to God, He draws near to us.  He wants us to know Him.  He wants to reveal Himself to us in His Word.
            “…hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”