“…in it, not of it…”

18 If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. 20 Do you remember what I told you? “A slave is not greater than the master.” Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. 21 They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me.  (John 15: 18-22, NLT)

It really is simple.  The world is rejecting God more and more, and as such, those who love and follow Christ will also be rejected and hated.  We have to stop trying to please others.  Love them, yes, but we can’t change not even one syllable of God’s word to suit the whims of this world.  Jesus gave his life to free us from the bondages of sin and death, but He made it very clear that when we do choose Him, we also choose to be separated from the world.  There isn’t a gray area where we can hover between the two.  It’s hot or cold, friends.  We’re either in or we’re out.  Pick a side.  You may not like that, but it is reality.

I tend to be a people pleaser.  I want everyone to be at peace with one another.  I don’t like to make waves, and I prefer to avoid confrontations as much as I possibly can.  And though I do have a deep desire to be loved and accepted, there is this part of me that is okay with being different and set apart.  I like to be myself, and I am comforted by relationships with people who take the time to know and love me as I am.

I share that to make the point that we all (myself included) make adjustments in order to have a sense of peace in our lives, but where do we draw that line?  How much are we truly willing to compromise?  The time is coming when we will have to answer these questions.

So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. 10 For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.  (2 Corinthians 5:6-10, NLT)

Our lives are but timelines filled with checkpoints and choices.  We may not see the beginning and end points, but those points are there.  Everything in between is choice, but that end point is where we will find ourselves standing in front of Christ.  Are you willing to look at Him and say that His blood was not good enough for you to choose Him?

Friends, life is a battle.  We are fighting daily, and we can be the victors, but we have to stop compromising.  Turn away from the evil of this world, and say proudly why.  There is power in the name of Jesus.  When we speak it, when we love Him without regret or shame, we are victorious.  And the reward of that earthly victory is a heavenly prize unlike any other.

21 Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3: 21, NLT)

Prayer:  Jesus, I recognize that I need You in my life.  I love You, Lord, and it is truly my desire to follow you and to share Your love by my words and actions.  Thank You for your blood.  May I live in such a way that I am never ashamed of You.  Amen.

“Jeeeeeeehoshaphat!”

(Joshua 21: 44-45) 44 The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.


Screenshot 2016-05-12 07.22.25

Battles are trying, and they make us weary.  Over the course of our lives and our walks of faith, we face many of them, some of which seem to never end.  In the midst of it, we can begin to feel as if we just cannot continue on as is. 

Personally, I can’t identify with the fellows in the picture above in a literal sense, as I have never physically fought in a war.  I’ve never put on a military uniform, left my friends and loved ones, and traveled somewhere foreign to engage in life-threatening combat.  I don’t know that specific kind of fear and loneliness, and though I will most likely never have to experience it, I do know that as a person of faith in Christ, there is a much different type of warfare I must willfully face. 

In Ephesians 6:12, Paul tells us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” 

It’s inevitable that we will encounter struggles, but we are not left powerless.  Paul goes on to say, “Therefore 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.” (Ephesians 6:13). 

We are warriors who are equipped for battle.  All we have to do is brandish our faith, stand firm, and hold onto the promises of God, and at the end of every trial that we meet, just like the people of Israel, and much like the soldiers above, we will receive rest.  We are never done fighting, but we are always victorious, whether we see it or not, because that is the promise!  God is just as faithful to us today as he was and has been to Israel.  If you believe the word of the Lord, then your faith has no room for fear, doubt, discouragement or defeat. 

I am reminded of something that happened with the tribe of Judah when Jehoshaphat was their king.  Jehoshaphat was informed that three different tribes were on their way to wage war against Judah and were already close at hand.  These three tribes formed a huge army and Jehoshaphat became very alarmed.  Using great wisdom and exercising faith in what seemed like a hopeless situation, this king turned to God in prayer and called for a fast across the entire tribe of Judah.  In response to the prayers of his people, the Lord spoke to them and said, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s… You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you…”  (2 Chronicles 20: 15,17)

The people of Judah, instead of cowering in fear, began to sing praises to the Lord, and that is how they marched toward the looming battle ahead.  When they finally came to a place where they would be able to see the approaching armies, they saw only the lifeless bodies of their enemies…not one soldier spared.  Ain’t that just like our God?  You see, the Lord has already gone before us.  He makes the rough places smooth, and he clears a path for us.  Sometimes that path leads us to battle, and we have to jump in and fight, but when we grow weary and are wounded there is rest.  He leads us beside the still waters, where we can drink deeply and regain our strength in him.  His promises are true, and he cannot fail us.    

(Jeremiah 31:2) “This is what the Lord says: ‘The people who survive the sword will find favor in the wilderness; I will come to give rest to Israel.’ ”


Prayer:  Heavenly Father, in my weakness I know that you are stronger.  In every situation, I trust you.  When darkness hangs heavy over my head, I will turn to you and sing your praises because I know that whatever I face, you’ve seen it already and you have prepared my path.  I know that I can be strong because in you I will always find rest on the other side of the battlefield.  Amen.

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