by Tiffany S.
from Virtuous Daughters, November 2011~Volume 11, Number 8
“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the
work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
—I Corinthians 15:57–58
“Change and decay in all around I see. O, Thou Who changest not, abide with me.”
I love that line of the precious hymn, “Abide with Me,” because it reminds me that in the midst of disastrous compromise and heart-wrenching sin in the world—or even in the lives of fellow believers who have strayed from the Lord—my God does not change! He is from everlasting to everlasting, the same yesterday, today, and forever!
Have you ever noticed disheartening compromise in a fellow believer? The direction of the world is enough to discourage anyone, but what is especially grieving is to watch Christians—formerly strong Christians—cave under pressure. We are to be set apart—called out—for God’s work. We have a strong arm to lean on, and rebellion to the Lord’s ways should not occur in our lives. Our family has been heart-broken in observing others collapse under pressure from the world. Recently, the Lord revealed Scriptures and thoughts that I wanted to share in hopes that it will be an encouragement as you endeavor to live strong in the Lord all your days. After all, glorifying Him is our life-long purpose as Christians!
What matters most in your life? As born-again believers, our ultimate goal should be to live for Jesus Christ and have a rock-solid relationship with Him. There are countless ambitions and opportunities to which we can devote ourselves, but “only what’s done for Christ will last.” This reminder needs to be constantly with us. Are we building treasures for heaven (Luke 12:31–34)? Or do we love the praise of men more than the praise of God (John 12:43)?
Christian young people often speak of “standing alone,” but we ought to keep in mind that when we take a righteous, bold stand that sets us apart from others, God is upholding us constantly. Paul told young Timothy, “. . . no man stood with me . . . notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me” (II Timothy 4:16–17) Be aware of God’s presence as you lead the charge in standing for the truth of His Word. We are not actually “alone” in these situations, because God has promised to never leave or forsake us. As we honor Him, He is there with us, strengthening us, preserving us, delivering us from evil works, and giving us His grace.
Like David, we can choose our sin, but we cannot choose the consequences of it. It is true that God offers abundant grace and ample forgiveness when we stray from Him. However, this amazing goodness does not validate excuses to live a life that displeases our Maker, nor does it negate our obligations to Him. Instead, His great love and faithfulness should create a fervor and devotion in our hearts—a desire to glorify Him in every aspect of life. David and his family suffered many trials because of his wrong choices; Scripture clearly warns that sin will result in severe consequences. As Christians, we are saved from the ultimate penalty and punishment of our sin, but God loves us enough to discipline and teach us as a father would his child. (See Hebrews 12 for more about God’s chastening.)
We desire to be godly daughters who live for the Lord all our days! Yes, there will be struggles and moments of failure, but wouldn’t it be wonderful someday as elderly ladies, to reminisce in the knowledge that we followed God since we were little children? Wouldn’t it be a delight to say with the psalmist, “For Thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: Thou art my trust from my youth” (Psalm 71:5)? Daniel and Joseph were two examples of men who served the Lord all their days without backsliding.
I admonish you, in the words of Philippians 4:1, to stand strong in the Lord! Dear sisters, cling to the precious promise in II Corinthians 4:16–18: “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Have an eternal perspective; set your affection on things above (Colossians 3), the things that matter forever!
It is very refreshing to see godly Christian men and women who continue to stand strong in the Lord, even under intense pressure or persecution. It is people like these who help to preserve our heritage for future generations when the enemy would like to see the Bible and Christianity wiped out completely. In considering the compromise I have observed, my own desire to stand strong has been zealously renewed. Following are some practical suggestions for standing strong in the Lord:
~Put on the whole armor of God.
There is real spiritual warfare raging, and we must be prepared to fight. Study and apply Ephesians 6:10–18, bearing in mind that this is ultimately a picture of Christ Himself!
~Appreciate and take seriously the counsel of your parents.
Although Eli was a godly man, his sons were not. Judgment came on Eli’s house because of his failure to train his children in the right way. I Samuel 3:13 says, “For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.” Do you ever chafe under the boundaries created by your parents? God Himself gave you your parents, and their protection and authority is a tremendous blessing. Be grateful that they take this enormous responsibility seriously! It will be very difficult to live strong in the Lord if you do not accept your parents’ leadership. Proverbs 29:1 tells us “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” The admonitions and reproofs we receive from our parents are beneficial; we need to learn from them. If we fail to do so, we may lose opportunities for spiritual growth. Proverbs is full of counsel to heed the instruction of our parents. To ignore this is to reject one of the most important truths in God’s Word. Read Proverbs 6:20–23.
~Rely on Christ’s strength.
I treasure the last verses in Jude: “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. . . . Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”—vv.20–21,24–25 God is able to keep us from falling! I Corinthians 10:13 promises that He is faithful–He will not allow us to be tempted more than we can handle; and with each temptation, He will make a way to escape. We do sin, and we will sin again in the future. However, as we rely on the strength of our Savior, we will find it much easier to walk in the Spirit.
~Stay in the Word and memorize Scripture.
“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.”—Psalm 119:11 Remember, God’s Word is the Sword of the Spirit. By having Scriptures hidden in your heart, you are better equipped to fight the wiles of the devil. When temptation comes, quote the truth, just as Jesus did! It is much more difficult to fall into sin when you are immersed in the Word of God, which brings power and victory to every Christian.
~Protect yourself from the world’s influence.
Proverbs 4:14–15 tells us to “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.” We do live in the world, but we are not “of this world,” as Jesus said in John 17. Christian daughters should find no pleasure in being exposed to the world’s filth. Instead, we should make an effort to guard ourselves as much as possible. Proverbs 22:3–4 explains, “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished. By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.”
~Proactively seek to encourage and build up others in their walk with Christ.
As we focus on serving the Lord, we are less likely to stray from Him. Samuel’s address to God’s people is one we would do well to regard: “. . . turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart; and turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain. For the LORD will not forsake His people for His great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you His people. . . . Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things He hath done for you.”—I Samuel 12:20–22,24 What are we doing to contribute to the joy and zeal of fellow believers? How are we endeavoring to strengthen others in their own walk with Christ? The New Testament frequently refers to edifying the saints, and we need to be doing our part! Disciple younger girls, pray for fellow believers, and encourage those who are godly role models to you. Brittany recently ran across this thought-provoking question: “Would people sense a loss in their spiritual life if you were to leave?” I am grateful for the godly Christians who make an eternal investment in my life by encouraging me in my walk with the Lord.
~Pray for spiritual discernment and victory over sin.
It has been said that “Prayer is where battles are won.” Do we pray without ceasing? Do we bring before the throne of grace our sins and struggles, and the names of those we love? Do we lift up our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as the unsaved? Do we ask the Lord to keep us strong in the midst of lukewarm Christianity and prevailing wickedness? He can and He will if we do our part as His children. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints”—Ephesians 6:18
~Compare yourself to Christ and His Word (the perfect standard), not the world or other Christians.
II Corinthians 10:12 says, “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” Most of us, if compared to our unsaved neighbor—or maybe even our Christian neighbor—would win the contest in “spiritual fitness.” However, this is foolish reasoning that can be counter productive to our spiritual growth. If we feel comfortable in our walk with God because we’re “further along” than another we know, we’ll become lax in our standards and spiritual disciplines. The ultimate result is precisely the church’s position today: one step behind the world. Always compare yourself to the perfect Christ and His Holy Word.
~Maintain an eternal perspective.
David said, “Remember how short my time is.” If we retain this mindset—that life on earth is a vapor—it will be much easier to focus on building treasures for heaven. The frustrations or difficulties that are “huge” to us now will seem minuscule in ten years; they will mean nothing when we are face to face with our Savior. Are we making choices in light of eternity?
~Trust in the Lord; stand on the promises of His Word.
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised;)”—Hebrews 10:23 I have realized that when I am in a situation that requires faith in my God, I have an amazing opportunity to prove His promises, which I know are true. God keeps His Word, and it is truly refreshing to see His faithfulness throughout history and in my own life. My faith increases as I watch Him answer prayer, uphold me with His mighty arm, and strengthen my heart. We can hope in His Word! When we feel tempted to conform to the world or peers, we can cling to the precious promises of God’s Word and have absolute confidence that He will prevail! As for God, His way is perfect. No matter how far others are straying, remain faithful to the Lord and trust in His promises as you walk in obedience to Him. Unbelief in the Lord is certain to stunt our ability to go forward with Him.
~Do not envy sinners.
Teenagers especially tend to notice the “fun” foolish peers are having, and desire to be a part of it. Yet Proverbs 24:19–20 gives a sober warning: “Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked; for there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.”
~Encourage yourself in the Lord.
In the midst of severe trials, distress, and confusion, David “encouraged himself in the LORD his God” (I Samuel 30:1–6). When I feel discouraged or frustrated, I always find prayer and reading of the Word to be a refreshing balm. God knows just what we’re going through, and He will direct just the right Scriptures during trying moments. The Lord’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentation 3:21–25), and Jesus lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). Remember, our feelings don’t ever change the facts of God’s Word! :)
~Delight in embracing God’s will.
Psalm 40:8 says, “I delight to do Thy will, O my God: yea, Thy law is within my heart.” Even though this verse is referring to Jesus, it is an excellent motto to take for ourselves. Do you enjoy obeying the Lord? A young woman who literally delights to do what is right and takes pleasure in serving her King is a beautiful woman indeed, because it is out of her gratefulness to and love for God that her heart is focused entirely on Him.
~Maintain a clear conscience
1 Timothy 1:19 reminds us that keeping a clear conscience avoids “shipwreck” in our walk with God. Proverbs 28:13–14 says, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Happy is the man that feareth always: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.” A clear conscience is vital to spiritual growth. It certainly requires humility to ask forgiveness and rectify our wrongs, but doing so prevents pain, guilt, and further sin. Hard-heartedness is a tremendous impediment to becoming the godly young women the Lord would have us to be.
~Make a commitment to stay faithful to the Lord all your days, to be entirely surrendered to Him.
At salvation, we asked Jesus Christ to be our Savior. But have we allowed Him to be the Lord of our lives? This is an essential step as we endeavor to live wholeheartedly for Him! He must reign as King on the throne of our hearts. One of the best commitments I ever made was to be a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) for my Lord, completely surrendered to Him. His perfect will is the most joyful, peaceful, and secure resting place! When you make this commitment, write the date in your Bible, along with any meaningful Scriptures God gave you concerning your devotion to Him, so that you can always look back on that day and see the growth that resulted.
~Do not listen to the enemy’s lies.
Proverbs 19:27 instructs us to “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.” Eve completely violated this principle in the Garden of Eden when she listened to the serpent’s lies. Devastation resulted. We, too, will fall if we choose to entertain thoughts that are contrary to God’s Word. When lies and wrong thoughts begin to intrude, we must raise the shield of faith and combat them with unfailing biblical truths. There is victory in Christ!
~Keep in mind that there are no “cheap crosses.”
When you take God seriously and purpose to follow Jesus, it means surrendering your life for His perfect will (Matthew 10:38–39). Acts 19:19–20 tells of Christians who came together to publicly burn their wicked books. The price of the items they destroyed was 50,000 pieces of silver. The result of this act of “separation” from evil was that the Word of God “mightily grew” and “prevailed.” We cannot grow and flourish into godly women if we cling to that which God condemns. He clearly commands us to “come out from among them, and be ye separate . . .” (II Corinthians 6:17) and “. . . be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45). Our sin is what put Jesus on the cross; let us not cherish it.
~Fear the Lord.
Proverbs 29:25 is an excellent reminder: “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.” Fear of man will result in eventual compromise. After solemn warnings of how destructive a human king would be, the children of Israel continued to insist on this arrangement because they failed to trust the Lord (Who had been so faithful!) and because they wanted to be like the other nations (I Samuel 8:20). We point our fingers at Israel for the mistake, yet I wonder how many of us have mimicked it in our very own lives? Make knowing and living for Christ your greatest goal, regardless of what is happening around you. (See Philippians 2.)
My dear sisters in Christ, I am thankful to the Lord for your devotion to Him as we journey together on this mission of knowing Him more. Let us pray for and encourage each other to not grow weary in well doing, for we will reap if we do not faint (Galatians 6:9). Stand strong in the Lord and in the power of His might; keep your eyes ever toward Him. The Lord is our helper! Praise be to His glorious name!
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