Stand firm in Christ. Scripture: Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15
It’s Christmas time, but no time to compromise. It’s really Christmas 365 days a year to the believer. We have the gift of Jesus and the power of standing on His Word. We must stay in peace to keep our walk with the Lord pure and holy. And learn to stand in agreement with GOD in prayer. We must heed the warnings of God however He sends them…through a check in our spirit, an uneasiness or burden we sense, a dream, vision, through His Word, or voice. Never ignore the warnings and promptings from God. Keep your heart pure and your feet shod with the gospel of peace at all times so you can hear the Voice of God.
When was the last time you heard a message about feet? You might be reminded of the time in Scripture when Jesus washed the feet of His own disciples. Some of you might think of walking on sand in the heat of the day and coming in to a refreshing bath. Some of you might be thinking about coming in from a ski trip out in the snow—with your feet by a fire and a cup of hot chocolate.
The Apostle Paul did not avoid the subject of feet. He made feet a focal point of one of his most powerful messages. We must learn to stay in peace…with our feet shod with the gospel of peace, at all times. We must not allow the wind and waves of life to get inside us…no matter what we are facing in life. No matter what battle is raging, what attack has happened, or what you are seeing all around you, don’t allow the raging seas to get inside your heart. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and don’t allow the enemy to abort God’s plan for your life. Look at what Scripture says about standing firm.
You can read about it in Ephesians 6:10-18—about the armor of God. Let’s take a closer look.
The Bile says it four times in four verses (verses 11-14 NIV), Paul declares that the armor’s purpose is to help us “stand,” “stand against the devil’s schemes,” “stand [our] ground,” and “stand firm.” Armor would be incomplete without shoes. Paul identified this as “the preparation of the gospel of peace” (verse 15). Paul knew that we would need to be equipped and have a firm foundation in Christ to face opposition. And you get rest assured, if you are still breathing, you will face opposition.
The Roman soldier’s sandals had a long spike at the heel of the shoe. The purpose was to allow the warrior to plant his feet firmly in the ground when an opponent approached. The soldier would have an obvious advantage with his feet secured in the ground. He would be able to stand in the face of opposition and not be moved. This part of his uniform enabled him to keep his footing even in the face of the enemy and danger.
That is precisely what our Father God wants for every one of His children today: the ability to stand firm in the face of troubles and opposition. This is possible when we plant our feet on a firm foundation—the foundation of faith in Jesus Christ—the Solid Rock on which we stand. That’s what happens when we are in a life or death situation, we can cry out to God for help. We know WHO to turn to when problems arise because we know WHO we are IN CHRIST and we belong to HIM. We must learn to live by faith.
Ask yourself this question: “Is my faith well grounded?”
With the evil that has escalated across America and the unrest across the nations, it is imperative that we are secure in Christ and learn to stand firm in Him. We are also to be identified by the fruit of our lives—the way we act. (See Luke 6:44 and Matthew 7:16). The Holy Spirit has graciously given us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23). When we are faced with extreme adverse circumstances, any of us can act inappropriately. Often times our fruit can be anger, conflict, sorrow, defensiveness, harshness, impatience, and even rudeness. We could say it may be anything but self-control. Oh, and let’s not get in the seat of judgment and pretend to know how it feels to walk through a crisis of one sort or another. You really don’t know how you would respond or react till you walk in the same situation. So ZIP IT now….God doesn’t call us to be jury and judge. We are called to pray for one another.
We also must not pretend the enemy does not exist…like an unwise person who walks up on a python and thinks it is okay to play with it. We are not called to ignore the enemy or his tactics. We must know that the deceiver can use our wounds from the past, agreements we have made, weaknesses in our flesh, and the lies we have believed of the enemy to keep us locked in a negative cycle of sinful behavior and wrong choices.
I can assure you that if you have any knowledge of God at all, when faced with a crisis, most people will call upon God. Even America called on God in prayer right after September 11th…and churches were filled to overflow for about three weeks. Then life went back to what the world thought was normal. But it is anything but normal.
We must seek godly counsel and wisdom, along with prayer and ministry to find lasting help. For immediate help, prayer is the first thing we must do. No matter if you personally believe it or not, Satan is real and so are his evil tactics. He uses a hierarchy of fallen angels for his evil purposes because he doesn’t have the authority, power, and abilities of God. Satan is not omnipresent. And don’t think Christians cannot be harassed, oppressed, or afflicted. If you think that way—you are already deceived.
The enemy comes like a roaring lion—seeking those he may devour. So what can we do when it is obvious that we are being attacked? What can we do when we are acting out in ways that are not in our character as a born-again believer of Jesus Christ? Get on our knees in prayer—cry out to God for help.
Pray Psalm 91 and Psalm 59. Say them out loud. The spoken Word of God cannot return void. What else can we do? Put on the armor of God. (See Ephesians 6:11-18) The shield of faith, the helmet of salvation that guards our mind, will and emotions, shoes of peace, and the belt of truth are defensive weapons. The Word of God is an offensive weapon. We need to stay close to God…read His Word and study the Bible on a daily basis. Our other offensive weapon is prayer. Choose to cultivate a life of prayer that goes far beyond praying over meals and crying out to God only in a crisis. Talk to God all day long. When you wake up in the night time, tell the LORD that you love Him. Talk to Him throughout your day. Each day of life is a gift from our Father God.
The Bible and prayer will do more to help show the true fruit of who we are than anything else we can do in this life. We must ask God to help us cast aside any of the rotten fruit of Satan and enjoy the precious fruits of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Choose to enjoy Christmas—365 days a year. Choose to enjoy family and friends. Make wise choices and stand firm—planted on the solid Rock—Jesus Christ.
#Christmas365 #telltheworldaboutJesus #AbidingInChrist
(Excerpts from all three books…)
Stand strong in the Lord,
BOOKS BY DEBORAH STARCZEWSKSI
GOD’S PRICELESS TREASURE (How To Overcome Challenges, Be Transformed and Know Your Purpose)…learn to move from drama to destiny. Learn that you can make right choices and change your life through turning to Jesus Christ. You can overcome the pain of divorce, heartache and loss. Learn to triumph through trials and tribulation by turning to Jesus.
A LEAP OF FAITH (25 Days At The Mercy Seat)…the full account of God raising my husband from death, healing him from two strokes, and the walk through two open-heart surgeries. Read the amazing ways the Holy Spirit led us—through our son’s first open-heart surgery….and through the loss of a loved one—my daddy. The amazing ways God led us will encourage you and give you hope to believe God for yourself, for your loved ones and for the world around you.
THE MIDNIGHT HOUR (Will America Turn Back To God?) …a must read for ALL!
Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, www.starministriesinc.com and other distributors.
JOY COMES IN THE MORNING
As I listened quietly to the soft rain that was falling outside the bedroom window, I heard the Father speaking softly to me. He said, “One day soon, all the world will see.” I reflected over the past few weeks, the goodness of God, and how the Holy Spirit of God reveals all hidden truth and shows us things to come. I reflected on the course of events over the past six weeks and how the mercy and grace of God are overwhelming, and how God positions people around us to give us comfort, encouragement, and support.
As I lay there with tears of joy running down my cheeks, I sensed the sweet presence of Jesus. I heard the Father speaking to me about how Mary, the mother of Jesus, wept at the feet of Jesus as he gave his life on the Cross. Then there was Mary, the follower of Jesus, who knelt at the feet of Jesus, holding onto every word He spoke with an intentional and listening heart. It was as if I were watching the crucifixion in my mind and I could see the women weeping and kneeling beneath the feet of Jesus at the Cross. Then I saw the empty tomb. Then I began to think about what it is going to be like when Jesus comes back for us.
The Bible says, “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene” (John 19:25). Matthew 27:56 (Mary, the wife of Cleophas, the mother of James and Joseph). They were also the first witnesses of the resurrection.
There are several women who accompany Jesus to the cross and tomb. These are the ones who didn’t abandon Jesus when trouble arose. The multitudes who were singing praises a week earlier had deserted Him, but not these women. While it may be hard to determine who all was there, because they were all named Mary, one thing is for sure…they were there for Jesus.
The Bible says, “Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for His needs” (Matthew 27:55). These women had been with Christ throughout His ministry, and had followed Him to the cross to encourage Him through this hard time. Can you imagine the comfort Jesus must have felt to look down and see all those sweet ministering women, that have been faithful over the years, there lamenting and mourning His death?
Are we that type of encouragement to those hurting around us? Do we walk through the valley and deep waters with someone, or do we bail when the waters start rising and the fires of trouble start burning? God wants us to stand by each other, encourage each other, and pray for one another. You never know what it means to someone who is hurting or walking through a hard time, for you to show up to be a support and encouragement.
If you have ever sat beside the bed of a loved one, waiting to hear them speak after surgery, you will know and understand what I mean. If you have ever sat in a hospital waiting room for what seems like endless hours…waiting for the surgeon to come out and tell you everything is ok, you will better understand. Whether you are waiting at the feet of a child in a hospital bed, beside your husband or wife, or a friend or family member, you understand the emotions that come with it. Waiting for someone to come out of surgery can seem like eternity.
While we are waiting for Jesus’ return, He wants us to be present. Any of us can be too busy being an activist….always doing and never present. It would be like having a meal with a person who is always on their phone talking with someone else. While many things are good, the one thing Jesus seeks above all else is time spent listening to Him, “sitting at His feet.” That is where peace is found…the only place of spiritual rest. If we want to experience spiritual rest, we must be willing to shift our priorities to Jesus. Instead of trying to follow the Holy Spirit, we must surrender to Him.
Let’s look at Mary of Bethany….she is one of the most beautiful characters in all of Scripture. We can learn valuable lessons from studying her life. Mary was the sister of Martha, and her brother was Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead. We see Mary three different times in the Bible. The incident that happened in the home of her sister Martha (Luke 10:38-42), where Jesus, and the disciples who traveled with him, were being entertained. Martha was distressed and “distracted with much serving” and frustrated that her sister wasn’t helping that she actually rebuked Jesus, accusing Him of not caring that Mary sat at His feet while she did all the work.
Pay attention to Jesus’ first response that gives us valuable insight into the life of Mary at Bethany. Jesus commended her “for choosing the better.” This simply meant that Mary’s desire to be near the Lord and hang onto His every word was far more beneficial than running herself into a frenzy preparing and planning for an event….a meal. Jesus also said that choosing the better thing, learning of the Lord, would not be taken from Mary.
“Choosing the better” also meant that those whose priority in life is Christ, the knowledge of Him, and the nearness of Him have chosen what will last for all eternity…..such as the “gold, silver and costly stones” referred to in 1 Corinthians 3:11-12. We learn that those who are distracted with the cares of life, the mundane preparations and planning and earthly, are building upon the foundation of Christ with “wood, hay, and straw,” materials which will not stand the fires that come to us in times of testing, nor will they be remembered in eternity. The insight we gain into Martha’s heart when she rebukes Jesus is that she was consumed with making everything perfect and was so distracted that she forgot and lost sight of whom she was speaking to…who was in her presence.
We can also observe from Mary’s silence in another incident, a lack of concern for herself, and from defending herself. She was fully consumed with Jesus. When we focus on Jesus, He becomes our greatest passion, adoration takes over the heart, and our tendency in life to self-absorption fades away.
Mary listened while Martha labored. Martha was distracted by plans and preparations (Luke 19:40a…..while Mary was focused on the Person of Jesus Christ…only one thing is needed (Luke 10:42a). Jesus puts a person’s allegiance to following Him higher than any other human responsibility.
We can learn the valuable lesson of taking comfort in Jesus in the second incident where Mary and Martha appear in John 11, with the raising of their brother Lazarus from the dead. When Mary hears that Jesus has come and is calling for her, she immediately leaves the group of people who came to mourn, and rushes to meet Jesus. So great is Mary’s love of Jesus and her desire to please Him, that she leaves her home and all those who had come to comfort her, to place herself in the arms of her Beloved Jesus…the greatest Comforter mankind has ever known.
Jesus sees her sorrow and weeps alongside her…even though He knows her brother will be restored to her momentarily. When we choose to place our lives in the loving nail-scarred hands of Jesus, we find the greatest comfort, peace, and security. We learn the truth of Psalm 30:5b: “Weeping may endure for a night, buy joy comes in the morning.”
The third and final time we see Mary of Bethany is days before the crucifixion. (See Matthew 26:1-6, Mark 14:3-9, John 12:1-8). We see Martha busy again…with another meal prepared at the home of Simon the leper, and Martha serving while the resurrected Lazarus reclined at the table with Jesus and the disciples.
This is where Mary broke an alabaster jar, poured the expensive perfume on Jesus’ head and feet, and wiped them with her hair. We learn that in spite of criticism from some of the disciples, Mary said nothing. She allowed Jesus to defend her. Jesus said her beautiful and unselfish act of service with the perfume she had kept for His burial would be remembered forever.
Mary knew the time of Jesus’ death was near, a fact that the disciples had missed in spite of Jesus’ clear and concise declaration of the truth. While Mary was content with listening to the Lord and meditating on His Words, the disciples were busy bickering about who would be the greatest among themselves in the kingdom. They missed the important truth Jesus was teaching them (Mark 9:30-35) because they were focused on self, rewards, competition, status and their reputation among men.
God has preferences on the way people respond to Him and worship Him. All forms of worship are NOT equal in God’s eyes. In the case of Jesus, putting on a great dinner for the Master doesn’t compare to listening to Him and obeying Him.
Mary’s priority was Jesus…sitting at His feet, learning from Him and holding onto His every Word. She had a passion for Christ, a settled confidence and conviction in her Lord….in such great measure that she was not compelled to defend herself in the face of criticism.
Mary did not give what was of little to no sacrifice. Her worship was personal and costly. Instead of waiting till He was gone to show her devotion, she poured out a year’s worth of work on her Savior’s head and feet. This was an act of pure love. You see, she had been listening. All that time at Christ’s feet, holding onto every word, did not go to waste. She knew what Jesus was about to face…that He must die. She knew the turmoil that He had predicted. Oh, what passion and great love she had for Jesus. She wasn’t thinking of the cost; she didn’t care what people might say. She didn’t care about how it looked. She was concerned with one thing, and one thing alone—Jesus Christ.
Like Mary, who knew what Jesus must face, how He went to the Cross for all mankind; we must know that one day soon, all the world will see…Jesus coming back again.
If we make sitting at the feet of Jesus our priority, we can experience, like Mary, the passion for Christ, the depth of understanding, and have complete faith in His plan for our lives. May we be passionate people of God with contagious faith, whole-hearted devotion, and a zealous fervor to show God our love…and to shine the light of God to the world.
BOOKS BY DEBORAH STARCZEWSKI
GOD’S PRICELESS TREASURE (How To Overcome Challenges, Be Transformed and Know Your Purpose)….move from drama to destiny, pain to purpose, a mess to a message…trials to triumph through turning to Jesus Christ.
A LEAP OF FAITH (25 Days At The Mercy Seat)….the miraculous stories will keep you turning the pages…and give you faith to believe God for anything.
THE MIDNIGHT HOUR (Will America Turn Back To God?)…a must read for all.
Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, www.starministriesinc.com and other distributors.
WHAT WILL BE HAPPENING PRIOR TO JESUS’ RETURN?
We need to look at what Jesus said the times would look like just prior to His return, and learn what we MUST do. We must love the Truth and learn to depend upon the Holy Spirit in every detail…to hear the still small voice of God, and recognize His Hand in our lives. The Holy Spirit is the One who convicts the world of sin.
What will it take to succeed in these times? Endurance.
What is endurance? It is not a very popular word nor one that is understood very easily. However, in order to succeed in battle, we better understand it and learn to endure. It is obvious that we are living in times when it is increasingly important that we understand what it means to us as individuals.
The King James Version of the Bible was translated well over three hundred plus years ago, and the meaning of some English words have changed. The KJV uses the word patience where we would use the word endurance today. Nobody likes that word—patience. People cringe when they hear someone mention that they prayed for patience. Many say that asking God for patience brings tribulation and all kinds of trouble.
Where we talk about patience, the King James Version uses the word long-suffering. Patience or long-suffering means to be willing to put up with irritating people, circumstances and situations without losing your temper—to remain in good character, composed, and not fly off the handle like a volcanic eruption. It is a highly valuable Christian virtue…and satan knows best how to trigger each person to lose their temper. Hello?!?!
I am well aware that I could use more of it myself when it comes to injustices, lies, betrayal and long-suffering. It’s blatantly obvious that the whole world needs it desperately. Never think you have arrived to some special place of achievement or honor in the things of God—we are always learning and growing…and will be till the day Jesus calls us home—through death or when the Trumpet sounds.
When the King James Version uses the word patience, the modern day word would be endurance or perseverance.
The verb form that the King James Version of the Bible uses is “to endure.”
We need to look at what Jesus said the world would look like immediately prior to His return. Jesus gave a prophetic preview on the Mount of Olives. Many of the things He spoke about are coming to pass before our very eyes… right now.
What I want to focus on is what we are going to need to get through these days. “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:12-13).
Pay close attention and notice the direct connection between lawlessness and lovelessness. It’s obvious that when people become lawless, they become loveless. We sometimes think of love as spontaneous, a natural response to others, as something free, something that requires no laws and no discipline. But that is far from truth. Love and discipline go hand in hand. Think about what it is like to raise a family. You love your kids, but they have to be disciplined. A good father disciplines his children. God disciplines us.
Think about this with me. When discipline and law break down, love grows cold. We have watched it manifest for some time now in America…and across the nations. The word for love in verse 12 of Matthew 24 is agape, which refers to the love of Christians. Jesus is not talking about the love of the world growing cold, but the love of Christians growing cold.
We are witnessing this terrible tragedy today—presently—lawlessness abounding and love growing cold—Jesus says: “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” We have to endure to the end. The original Greek says this, “He that has endured unto the end, it is he who will be saved.”
In Mark’s rendering of the same Olivet Discourse—Jesus’s prophetic preview on the Mount of Olives—we find this warning repeated:
“Now 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. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” —Mark 13:12-13
This is a bleak and somber picture of lies, deception, betrayal, rampant treachery and disloyalty within family relationships and toward Christians who will be hated by all. This is what Jesus warned us about….
This is happening today…and has been happening. People are being persecuted for their faith abroad and here in America. Adult children have risen up, like Judas in the Bible, to betray their own parents. That same deception is going on in marriages, legal battles, in businesses, and even in church and among believers.
Never forget, in the Book of Revelation Satan is called “that serpent of old…who deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). And Paul warns in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11 that this satanic tactic will find its ultimate expression in the Antichrist, who will deceive with lying signs and wonders all those who “did not receive the love of the Truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:10).
Our only protection is to receive the love of truth. All who refuse this will not merely be deceived by Satan; God Himself will send them a strong delusion…to those who chose not to believe the Gospel of Christ..the Truth.
Love of the truth is not a mere conformity to religious tradition, imitating man, or using the latest worldly methods and strategies to draw a crowd in a church. It is not even reading your Bible and having a “quiet time” before the Lord on a daily basis. It demands a total, unreserved, unwavering commitment to believe and obey God’s Word—one that rules out all forms of compromise.
It’s where we allow the Holy Spirit to reveal any areas in our own lives that need purifying…where we allow Church services to be led by the Holy Spirit, instead of man, where families and businesses are committed to God and Holy Spirit-led. The Holy Spirit reveals all hidden truth and shows us things to come. He empowers us, sanctifies us, and equips us to stand strong and to succeed.
What Paul would tell us today is this……he knew Satan was terrified of his calling. The reason Paul was attacked repeatedly and recurrently is that the devil was fearful of the enormous progress Paul would make if he didn’t face opposition and adversity. Paul would remind us right now, for today, that his anointing, his calling, and his potential were the factors that triggered demonic attacks in the first place.
Paul suffered many horrific and crazy things during the course of his ministry because he was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. You see, Satan was terrified of what would happen if Paul could operate in his divine call without hindrance and opposition.
It’s starting to make sense to you now, isn’t it? Think about it. How much could Paul do without any opposition? How much territory could Paul take without opposition and resistance? If Paul was able to do all the incredible things he did with God for God’s Kingdom in the face of such evil opposition, what kind of Gospel advancements could he have made with no opposition!
Satan stirred up trouble, threw every obstacle he could in Paul’s way to slow him down, to ruin his name, to discredit him, to destroy his relationships, friendships, and, if possible, to even kill him. Satan hated the call of God on Paul’s life…and he hates it on mine and your’s too.
It’s obvious that Paul had a made up mind—a firm decision—that he would not stop, not quit, and not give up until he had apprehended that for which Christ Jesus had apprehended him (Philippians 3:12). You will have to do the same thing—have a made up mind—make a firm decision—so that you will be able to resist the enemy’s attacks and successfully achieve all God has called you to do with Him, by determining, right now, never to stop, until you have accomplished your divine destiny. Jesus taught that those who “endure to the end” are the ones who will receive the prize (Matthew 24:13).
So..what are we to do? Resist the devil. Don’t give in. Hold out. Endure. I firmly believe that God is speaking that word to us today. I pray that God, through His Holy Word, will put steel in your soul, increased boldness in your heart, and give you a spiritual backbone to endure if you do not already have one.
I pray GOD will give you a holy boldness to stand strong, stand apart, and step out to represent Him well in the earth.
BOOKS BY DEBORAH STARCZEWSKI
GOD’S PRICELESS TREASURE (How To Overcome Challenges, Be Transformed and Know Your Purpose) …learn how to move from drama to destiny, a mess to a message, from trials and troubles to triumph through turning to Jesus Christ.
A LEAP OF FAITH (25 Days At The Mercy Seat)….a miraculous story of hope and healing that will keep you turning the pages. God raised my husband from death, healed him from two strokes, and walked with us through two open-heart surgeries. This book will give you increased faith to believe God for anything and has a Confession Prayer inside that will change your life.
THE MIDNIGHT HOUR (Will America Turn Back To God?)…a must read for all.
Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, xulon.com bookstore, www.starministriesinc.com and other distributors.