Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How To Remain Strong In The Lord Part 1

Everyone likes ‘how to’ manuals. From baking the perfect soufflé, to building the most intimidating tree house, to taking the perfect photograph of the perfect sunset, there are ‘how to’ manuals on just about everything. Such manuals are so popular in fact, that entire publishing empires have been created seemingly overnight, by simply publishing ‘how to’ manuals, and they will continue to grow, that is until the day a ‘how to’ manual on creating a publishing empire is published, but I digress.

There have also been a multitude of ‘how to’ scams, one that comes to mind being the unfounded promise of a magazine add that if you send them $50 they will show you how to cut your bills in half. After forking over the $50, what people received in return were a pair of plastic scissors, with which they could invariably cut their bills in half.

Not being one to insist upon originality at all cost, I decided to borrow a page from the ‘how to’ industry, and for the next few days we will be discussing how to remain strong in the Lord, how to overcome confusion, how to uphold the truth, how to overcome discouragement, and perhaps a couple more ‘how to’ lessons that I haven’t committed to quite yet.

Today however, we will be discussing how to remain strong, or steadfast in the Lord.

Spiritual strength, like physical strength is not a constant, it is not something that we are born with, or suddenly receive, but rather it is something which we build up, exercise, and perpetually attempt to grow. Just as some men seem to be born physically imposing, possessing vast amounts of lean muscle, some are blessed with a greater than average amount of spiritual strength, but this by no means cancels or negates their need to constantly strive in keeping their spiritual man in peak condition. No matter how genetically blessed some people are born, if they insist on eating the wrong things day in and day out, if they omit any sort of physical activity from their routine, if they indulge excessively on a regular basis, eventually what was once lean muscle will get covered over with fatty adipose tissue, and though the once lean physique is still there it is now buried beneath the pear shaped gut covered up by stretchy pants.

Yes, it takes hard work, and sweat, and many hours of physical strain to maintain one’s physique in peak condition, and it takes no less work to keep our spiritual man and the strength thereof in peak condition as well. Although in Paul’s estimation physical exercise profits little, he does go on to say that godliness, is profitable to all things.

So how can we remain strong in the Lord? How can we keep up our spiritual strength that when conflict and confrontation with the enemy arise, we are equipped and ready to do battle?

The first way we can remain strong in the Lord is by cultivating our faith. Our faith must be fostered, nurtured, developed and enriched; it must continue to grow in us, giving us the needed vitality to remain strong in the Lord, to remain steadfast in Him even when everything around us seems to be crumbling into the dust. Our faith in God keeps us steadfast in Him; it keeps us strong and resolute in the face of adversity. We know that whatever we must endure for Christ’s sake is only temporary, it is fleeting, unworthy to be mentioned, and our faith causes us to see the home beyond this present life, the reality of His return, the reality of His reward, and the reality of the crown which He will place upon our heads.

Philippians 3:20-21, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”

So how do we cultivate our faith? How do we nurture it and develop it, that we indeed grow from faith to faith, that our faith matures and is active? Simple as it might sound, by remaining tethered to the Word of God.

Yes, basic, simple, but effective. The tendency to overcomplicate the spiritual is almost overwhelming for some individuals, because in overcomplicating it, and making it difficult to understand, their hearers are dependent on them for further explanation and illumination. If I could be so bold as to offer some free advice, steer clear, and avoid those who would complicate the simplicity of the gospel, because they are not doing it for your benefit but rather for theirs.

Yes, building one’s faith, enriching one’s faith is achievable by doing something as simple as remaining in the Word of God.

Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

So how does faith come? Does it come by finding your ‘center’, by discovering your inner child, by chanting, meditating, staring off into space, or dozens of other things self-anointed gurus prescribe? No, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

We cannot grow or cultivate our faith by letting our Bible gather dust somewhere in a corner, we cannot grow or cultivate our faith by opening the word of God only on special occasions, we must daily reacquaint ourselves with the Bible, we must daily feed our spiritual man with the words of the Book, because only in this way will our faith grow.

Another way of cultivating our faith is by living the Word of God. Once again it comes down to simple obedience, to doing what God commands us to do, desiring what God commands us to desire, and allocating our time and our resources in such a way that God is preeminent in every area of our lives. If we hear the Word, it is incumbent upon us to likewise live the Word.

I realize full well that the ‘do nothing and still get to heaven’ doctrines are still gaining steam throughout the world, because they are pleasing to the flesh. Who wouldn’t want to live like the world and go to heaven when it’s over? The only problem with such doctrines, and it is a major one, is that they are not Biblically sound, and they deny the very commands of God, the selfsame God who has set us apart who said, ‘be holy for I am holy’.

Yes be holy, not only when you’re in church, not only when you’re among the brethren, not only when someone’s watching, but in all your conduct, for holiness and godliness are the daily living out of the word of God.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.


Anonymous said...

thank you for this...

Barbara said...

Yes, you have to exercise your faith to keep it strong. When churches are worldly, there is no exercise involved. Everything is just relaxing and easy and in fact, entertaining. It doesn't feel like stretching and growing to be there, it feels like relaxing and conforming to a group dialectic.

The worship doesn't appear very godly but in fact at times, appears more worldly in character than the world does. It is essentially a spiritual abdication to worldiness since it is done in a house of worship rather than just out in the course of one's business.

The name it and claim it, self help, prosperity gospels may appeal to some, but they leave me feeling frustrated and empty. It is as if the pleasure is the purpose, rather than the relationship with God. Then when you still aren't happy and prospering, you wonder if God cares about you at all.

When people use others in the name of friendship, the relationship they build is weak and stale. The same thing with God. If you only use him to help yourself, to get happy and to be rich, you are not building a very nice relationship. He might just end up dumping you like you would a friend who only is with you for what they can get from you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post, it really has blessed me. May God bless you and continue to use you.