Holy Rebellion: Making the Determination to Stand

lighthouseI refuse to be defeated.

That statement sounds a bit absurd, if you think about it. I mean, if I’m standing in a boxing ring in front of a 230lb well-tuned fighting machine, I’m not sure that my attitude matters very much. I don’t think he cares what I refuse to do. He’s going to feed my rotting flesh to the dogs. I’m toast. Done. Kaput.

How can anyone simply refuse to be defeated?

The only way anyone can ever refuse to be defeated is if he has overwhelming power, knows how to use it, and uses it.

Having said that, I refuse to be defeated.

That’s just something I live by. I will not be defeated by any of the things that life throws my way. I will not be defeated by trials and difficulties. I will not be defeated by hurt or despair. I’m not being arrogant. I have nothing to be arrogant about. I’m not practicing the power of positive thinking, either, and I’m not delusional or naive. I simply believe. Believing I will not be defeated is something I have to remind myself of when things are going well, because when things get tough, sometimes it’s hard to remember that I don’t have to be defeated. Sometimes, I need people to help me remember that I must not be defeated…I don’t have to be.

James, the brother of Jesus, said this:

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Earlier he said that we should embrace all the various kinds of trials because they make us stronger. How can things that defeat you make you stronger? Unless they don’t…defeat you, that is.

If you believe that the Bible is God’s Word, giving us instruction on how to live life, the purpose of it and who gave it, then you have to believe that what we are told to do, we can do. Now, some of you may not believe these things. Unfortunately, there’s not much I can offer you. My hope is that you can come to experience the grace that God has provided, but beyond that, the promises of hope in Scripture simply don’t apply to you. Unfortunately, promises of judgement do.

In Romans 8:28, Paul said, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” The simple truth here is that, contrary to popular belief, “It’ll all work out” is a false statement. That’s delusional.

If you don’t love God (Jesus said to love God is to do what He says) and are called according to His purpose (i.e. coming to God on HIS terms and obeying) this promise isn’t for you. You can’t necessarily refuse to be defeated. I say this not out of a sense of superiority or pride in order to rub it in your face, but to encourage you to consider that maybe this hope and certainty can be for you, too, if you trust in Christ and repent of self-idolatry (ie calling your own shots, living according to your own standards and generally rebelling against God) as we all have to.

OK, enough of that for now. I’m not here to preach at you, but to tell you how and why I refuse to be defeated.

See, I have this shoulder problem (just by way of example). I’ve had it for well over a year and it has, at times, been nearly debilitating. It hurts…it always hurts, even though I’ve experienced some relief from time to time. They say that dealing with chronic pain over time can wear you down, leading to all sorts of mental and emotional issues to go along with the physical issues.

I may have to have surgery. Surgery might help. It might not. That doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter because regardless of the pain, I have hope and comfort to know that shoulder issues or any other issues DO NOT HAVE TO DEFEAT ME. In places like Philippians 4:13, I’m told that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. I’m told in Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Then in verse 13, I’m told to “put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. In Romans 8, I’m reminded that, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” In 2 Corinthians 12:9, I’m reminded of what God told Paul when he suffered pain, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Finally, Jesus, Himself, said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

So, if Scripture is true (and for years I’ve seen evidence in my life and others that it is), then Christ in me is the hope of glory. This means that in me is a power that is overwhelming, at my disposal that I can use. I DO NOT HAVE TO BE DEFEATED.

I won’t be.

Whatever you are going through, if you are in Christ (having trusted Him to save you and forgive your rebellion), you do not have to be…you MUST NOT BE defeated.

So, take a rebellious stand. Determine that through the power of Christ in you, you will not be overcome by anything this world throws at you. You may grow weak and struggle. You may weep and mourn. You will probably need the support of others. But when all is said and done, you will stand.

When Life Gets Tough

troubleLife is tough.  Everybody knows that.  There is no way for us to get away from the troubles and difficulties that we all have to face.  Sometimes, it’s little more than the inconveniences of traffic, dealing with an overbearing boss, or misplacing a wallet.  Other times, it’s infinitely worse.  Those are events in life that seem to define our lives from that point on:  financial ruin, discovery of a malignant tumor or the sudden death of a loved one.

How do we deal with these life-altering challenges in life?

Well, put simply, we can despair.  We can assume all is lost and crawl into the fetal position and give up…or we can hope.  We can find out what God says about the subject in His Word and determine to trust Him.  Obviously, some won’t and they will pursue their own coping techniques and they may experience some level of comfort, but for me, I trust in the God who is there; the God who brings life out of death. The God who I have seen give grace and strength in some of the most desperate of times.

Jesus’ half brother, James, who initially was not a believer in Christ but later became totally sold out to Him after He saw Jesus resurrected and eventually led the Church in Jerusalem, has some challenging instruction in the first chapter of his letter:

 Count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

First of all, he’s talking about joy, not happiness.  Happiness is circumstantial whereas joy is not.  I can maintain joy, for example, at the death of a loved one who has trusted in Christ and gets to experience life beyond death, though I am not happy about their absence from my life.

So, James is basically saying (according to the new, international Price version!), “Look, if you have trusted in Christ, keep the big picture in mind here.  All sorts of difficulties are coming your way because of sin in the world.  You can’t get around it.  Yet, because of what my brother and Lord, Jesus, did on the cross, even the bad stuff is making you stronger and complete.  You don’t have to like it, but embrace the glorious truth and grow through it!”

That, I can embrace.  I can hold onto the truth that WHEN (not if) trials come.  I may weep.  I may struggle with the challenges.  I may need people to hold me and to comfort me.  However, I can know that God is good and He is in control.  I can know that He will provide grace and strength through it.  In short, I can stand!

What are some ways you have experienced God working through challenges to bring about good in your life?

Related passages: Romans 8:28, Joshua 1:9, 1 Peter 4:12-13, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, John 16:33, 1 Peter 1:3-7, Ephesians 6:10-11, Romans 5:1-11

If you would like to watch the related message from our current series, FaithWorks: Living the Letter of James, you can visit the video archive of The Gathering, Chattanooga.  Also, check to see if the video has been posted on this blog.

 

 

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