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Achieving the Objective in the Face of Adversity

           Followers of Jesus are often attacked in ways that cannot be anticipated. Veteran believers have been attacked so many times and in so many ways one would think they could learn to prepare for such whizzing cannonballs from out of left field and howitzers from the darkness of deep space. We all know it happens, it will happen, and there is nothing to do about it happening.

         Persecution is simply a fact of the real Christian’s life, and it takes many forms. Many are subtle and arrive from various, seemingly unconnected sources. The worst forms come through people you know. Possibly the worst form of all is associated with betrayal at the hands of a friend.

         All such persecution took place against the Lord Jesus, the One who pioneered what we call Christianity—the One who first stepped forth to face the full brunt of the devil’s attack. He told His hand-picked men that it would happen to them also, that it went with the territory, and that there was essentially no way to fulfill God’s will and attend to our callings without taking shots, some very severe, from rabid spiritual enemies.

         Judging by what happened to the Lord, the apostles, and the early saints, the devil is a dirty fighter.

         “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

         Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.

         A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.

         Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” [Matthew 10:16-28]

         All people experience fear, and at times the fear meter spikes. The Word of God says that people have fatal heart attacks due only to fear. It is a powerful emotion brought on by tough circumstances, sometimes dire, and is often the result of spiritual retaliation. Those people who never surrender their lives to God will potentially fear everything and everyone but God, and as a result have no answers for fears arising from very real circumstances.

         But the Lord teaches us to fear Him. He clearly illustrates the fact that God has the ability and authority to destroy an unrepentant sinful person, both body and soul, by tossing him or her headlong into the fires of hell.

         It is Scriptural passages such as this that cause nominal believers to question the Word of God and wonder if they will continue on in their trek toward total faith in God. They think that maybe such a passage was added later by a scribe or was translated incorrectly. Or maybe the verses were written down verbatim per the Lord’s teachings. And maybe, just maybe, one should cease and desist from his or her sorry, disrespectful, and rebellious ways, and FEAR GOD

         Considering the fact that non-believers have no answers for their fear beyond mental therapy and drugs, and that real Christians experience peace, courage, and strength by trusting in and obeying the Lord in the midst of terrifying circumstances, it would follow that such directives are absolutely true.

         The cool thing about surrendering to God, despite the devils lies to the contrary, is that one is putting oneself under the authority of a loving and merciful Creator.

         “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” [John 6:37-40]

         Yet, even though we may be in the will of God and be loved as a child of God and be watched over by God and be in the hands of God, spiritual attack and persecution are still in play and will happen as a matter of course. In fact, the more one lives for God, the closer one gets to God, and the more one successfully attacks the enemies of God, the more attack and persecution one will experience.

         Therefore, the idea of a peaceful, calm, and steady Christian experience devoid of any form of retaliatory murder, bloodshed, dirty fighting, vile and untrue accusations, filthy gossip, and persecution is simply and unequivocally not Biblical. It is manmade. It is devoid of life. And it is fake.

         Real Christianity is only for the valiant and courageous who are willing to put everything on the line and face the devil head on. Such followers of the Lord are either fearless or will never allow fear to stop them from achieving the objective. Winners are those who endure to the end, who finish a specific trek or mission, and who see things through regardless of impossible obstacles, wicked betrayals, and all forms of attack. They are those who complete the course.

         None of it is possible without the Lord but that does not make it easy. Just because the Lord Jesus is with His sons and daughters in the fight and on task does not mean such battles and spiritual construction projects are a breeze.

         But it does mean one thing. It means that as long as one continues to respect and honor the Lord Jesus and maintains his or her faith, courage, and obedience toward Him it will get done.

         The job will be completed.

         The objective will be achieved.

         “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.

         Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.

         Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you?

         Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” [Joshua 1:5-9] [1]

         © 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

The Partial Bliss of Ignorance

         Everyone acts upon what they know. People generally make choices based on an illusion of complete knowledge. Until one learns something new they act as if they know everything, or at least everything they need to know about a given subject.

         Few people consider the fact that their current choices and actions are based not on a pure perspective, but on incomplete knowledge. The decisions we all make at any given time are therefore almost always suspect.

         Our choices are imperfect but we don’t see this at the time.

         Accordingly, our lives are built on incomplete data. How can such a structure make for a strong and secure foundation? The reason hindsight is always 20-20 is because foresight almost never is, though we often think it is at the time of decision making.

         How many times must we say, “If only I had known…”

         Consequently, it is usually the case that people make choices based more on what they want, even though they may attempt to make a studied and informed decision.

         This means, of course, that it is desire that drives us. Such choices based on personal desire are relatively easy and simple. Of such are the choices of a child, including children of the adult variety.

         But how can we possibly choose by including information we do not have? And how do we know we do not have it? What if we discover something the day after our decision is made that would otherwise affect our choice? (“Well, if I knew that, I never would have done what I did…”)

         In time, some people get wiser. They don’t want to get burned again. They do not want to have to deal with the consequences of what turned out to be a stupid choice. So they become more careful. They learn about possible pitfalls. They develop a feel that goes into the mix of the decision-making process. Sometimes the feelings are based on truth.

         But more often than not, these feelings are based on fear:

         “The last time I went into the surf I stepped on a stingray/got nicked by a shark/got sucked into an undertow/got all stung-up by jellyfish.”

         Yet, sometimes a person decides to never step foot in the ocean due only to perceived fears, no doubt based on someone’s fear-based advice. Until he eliminates such fear, his choices will always be suspect.

         And he will never enjoy the thrill of the surf.

         Though making correct choices must be learned empirically through experience, we cannot allow perceived judgments to cloud the outcome. We cannot treat a new circumstance exactly as the old circumstance, because conditions are always different.

         This is why life is not formulaic—it is because God is not formulaic.

         Therefore, sinful man apart from God always tries to create a safe world and eliminate all risk. This is not living by faith, and as such can in no way be pleasing to God.

         And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. [Hebrews 11:6]

         The more one attempts to eliminate risk, be ready for any bad scenario, have an answer for anything life may throw one’s way, cover all the bases, and prepare in detail for all things possible, the more one will actually open the door for disaster. If one feels he is covered no matter what may happen, one will unconsciously let one’s guard down, relax in a false security, and eventually get creamed with catastrophe.

         Why? It is obvious that such a person not only prepares for disaster but expects it, or else he would not put so much effort in the preparation. He is not preparing to avoid disaster or eliminate it, but building a supposed safety net to deal with it when it happens.

         He does not know the future but is convinced he must make a wise investment in covering himself. But his assessment of possible bad scenarios is very limited and full of holes. It is impossible to prepare for anything. “Anything” is way too large. Inevitably, one will take a hit where he neglected to cover himself with armor, in that the chink in his armor was previously unknown until his opponent’s sword found it.

         Living by faith in the Lord Jesus, however, actually does cover one from any possible scenario. The difference is that one has no knowledge of the future but God does, and by faith, one trusts God for his protection.

         It is the only possible way to live a secure and peaceful life.

         Otherwise, one will trust in one’s ability, one’s money, one’s ability to earn money, in insurance of every possible kind, false doctrines and teachings that appear sound, and anything and everything except the Lord Jesus.

         Following the Lord does not mean everything will be perfect, though. It is sometimes the will of God that we endure tests, trials, adversity, and persecution. I mean, we are in a spiritual war, right?

         But we know by faith that the Lord will see us through the storm, and we can have the peace that passes all understanding in the midst of storms.  

         On the other hand, the illusion of complete knowledge apart from God is highly deceiving, and creates the very opposite of what one intended. The false sense of security that arises is the very thing that destroys one’s life.

         “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” [Mark 8:35]

         It is a scary thing to reject God and choose to be one’s own boss apart from God, or follow another. It matters not how sensible one’s choices may be. It boils down to acts of pure pride, defiance, and rebellion. No faith equals spiritual death regardless of how many bases appear to be covered or sources accessed to make wise decisions.

         Not only that, but having no love for the truth of God’s Word will actually blind a person regarding it. The rejecting of living by pure faith and loving the Truth opens the doors of deception, and this deception will even come from the Lord Himself:

         For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. [2 Thessalonians 2:7-12]

         It is said that ignorance is bliss. This is true in part, in that a lack of knowledge promotes a false security.

         But real bliss arises from pure faith in the Lord Jesus and obedience toward Him. It is the only way to cover all the bases. It is the cure for ignorance and blindness.

         And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.”

         Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?”

         Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” [John 9:39-41] [1]

         © 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.