Hebrews 4:16, "Let us, then, feel very sure that we can come before God’s throne where there is grace. There we can receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it."
Life is strange. We may have many mountain tops, then out of nowhere disaster strikes. Sometimes we are knocked down with a single blow, and sometimes it's repeated blows which come so quickly that we don't have time to react. Before we can figure out what's happening the problems in life leave us lying, wounded, bleeding, and in a ditch. When life is full of storms brewing and threatening everything you hold dear, how do you react?
“Give up”, “Quit”, “You’re never going to make it”.
These are the words Satan likes to whisper in the ears of every Christian. He's not worried about those who already follow the world. He goes after those who trust that God is in control; If he can get them to lose faith and sight of God, he can have another soul lost. I have to admit I choose to keep marching toward Jesus but when life becomes borderline overwhelming, I have been tempted to call it quits.
I recently read the story in the Bible that brings encouragement to those who have felt this way. As we know Paul, who was once Saul, was converted and became a strong outspoken missionary for Christ. He traveled from city-to-city teaching and preaching knowing this was his calling from God. There were those who rejected God, yet many found their Savior and turned their hearts to serving God.
I am sure the rejections were hard to handle, and Paul probably faced discouragement, but he kept going until his visit to Lystra. We read the story in Acts 14.
Paul was so rejected by some, the Bible says a mob, that they dragged Paul out of the city and beat and stoned him within an inch of his life.
As Paul regained consciousness, I'm positive searing pain ran through his body and Paul had to decide what he was going to do. Pack up and go home or get back up and continue with the mission.
At this pivotal decision you can almost hear the enemy whispering, “Give up”, “Quit”, “You’re never going to make it”.
Paul was truly in the valley and this decision to stop his mission from the Lord would greatly hinder the advancement of the gospel and give victory to the enemy.
This next part is what true faith and true grit looks like. With the help of Jesus’ followers Paul stood to his feet, regained his composure, and walked back into Lystra. Can you believe he went right back to where he was assaulted?
In 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 Paul speaks words we all need to hang on to, because Paul's decision was not by his own willpower. “We are knocked down but not destroyed because of the all surpassing power of God.”
When Paul was at his weakest it was God who gave him the strength to stand and soldier on.
As Christians we are not immune to the pain of the world, in fact we are attacked more buy it- Acts 14:22, 1Peter 4:12-14. And those blows that are meant to hurt us, really hurt. Yet, we don't run from them, we face them knowing God is in control and we will have victory in the end.
We may never be physically attacked like Paul, but we all know what it's like to be knocked down in life. In the valley is where the devil will swoop in, filling your head with lies, and tempting you to give up and leave the work the Lord has called you to do.
But, like Paul, we have more at stake than just ourselves. Everyone has been called to serve Jesus and we each play a vital role in advancing the gospel of God's Kingdom. In the valley we can gain as much victory as on the mountaintop. Not because of our own strength, on our own life's hard times and crushing blows will defeat us, but like Paul, we must fix our eyes on Jesus and rely on Him the source of our strength. Over time, Jesus will sustain us in ways beyond our understanding- Romans 8:28. We serve a good God who is in control. It is through our faith in God's goodness that in that time will pull us through the storms that would crush others. 2 Corinthians 4:16-17, “So we do not give up. Our physical body is becoming older and weaker, but our spirit inside us is made new every day. We have small troubles for a while now, but they are helping us gain an eternal glory that is much greater than the troubles.”
So come on, never give up… And in the power of Jesus, get back up!
Sometimes it's good to look at other verses in the Bible during our studies through one book. It can help break things up a bit so we don't feel we're going into a rut. Other times it helps us see new things from other books that the Lord is leading us to. And sometimes it just works out that a particular blog might point to reading somewhere else that will help enhance what I am talking about. Today our Bible reading will be 2 Corinthians 4:7-15.
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