The Blessing of Adversity that Rises to Meet Us in 2016

The word adversary in some form occurs around 100 times in my NASB. In many cases it seems God is saying, “ Don’t worry, I’ve got this one… I have your back.” Other times we see God clearly raises up specific adversaries to advance His purpose. (I’m thankful He, and not I, controls the “Adversary Button.” I might tend to be vindictive now and again… And from that perspective I am thankful you don’t have an adversary machine either.)

However… adversaries are calculated to be either obstacles or enhancements to our walk before God. As we encounter them clothed in our Gospel armor it is a Biblical norm to expect that someone is be redeemed by the engagement turned skirmish. Believers are ideally perpetually redeemed in and through daily conflict by the Spirit with the Word as guidance, as nonbelievers or nominal believers NEED to be redeemed. Today.

Consider Paul’s worthy perspective: “…for a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” Paul was not a super-saint. We sometimes forget he was a sinner saved only by marvelous grace. Sure he was a chosen vessel. So are you. So am I. What we are chosen to do is God’s call. Our response is to be lost in wonder, love and praise. We are called to be a person as David of “one thing I have asked of the Lord…” (Psalm 27) Paul viewed adversaries as evidence that God was on the move, not asleep at the Heavenly Wheel. This is a reasonable goal in perspective and application that I must shoot for in 2016. 

The #NewYear #2016 contains near infinite unknowns to all of us, yet God holds each of us as children in the palm of His hand, and grants REAL tangible joy and peace to His followers in the midst of life and struggles. He is God. That’s what He does for members of the Covenant. We bring the expectation of trust in God who is wise and good and powerful as daily providences unfold. Always remember God does not do random. He is right on schedule. Never early and never late. 

The year 2015 for a number of traditionalists and Christ-followers was very distasteful in many social, national, moral, political and corporate ways. Even so it was a spiritual feast of abundance for me personally as I still hear His voice daily as I discipline myself to seek Him in secret. What does life consist of but to “know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent?” I know full well that #2016 will likely reveal appalling and heart wrenching challenges as our nation continues its fall into pagan pluralism and rank godlessness by departure from the revelation and light “once delivered to the saints.” The principle of sowing and reaping always touches the present, tomorrow and propels one into eternity, for either good or ill. God is just. He will by no means clear the guilty. May I quickly add that Christ is sufficient and His blood takes away our sin. It is past time for us to cease from sin and seek the Lord. God separates light from darkness. He has from The Beginning. 

So I close in saying that God has calculated in perfection what we as His people need that we might be awakened to love and good deeds as we stand firm in the Lord to graciously but emphatically resist the evil of the day and do His will. The ending of the story says we overcome and God’s Kingdom comes. Understand though the battle is not for the faint of heart and between now and the end the potential to depart and quit because of adversity will be daily pressed upon us. That is why we are called to “Take heed to yourself and to your teaching, for as you do so, you will ensure salvation not only for yourself but also for those who hear you.”

I believe in the perpetuity of the Law and Grace as I believe in the perpetuity of application of the Year of Jubilee in Christ. He makes all things new. He equips us to forgive as we have been forgiven. He shows the folly of anger and bitterness. We have become and are becoming new creatures in Christ. May He grant us to overcome and be swept up into His presence to see His face and rejoice. May it be said of us as it was of Peter and John, “They recognized them as having been with Jesus.” Do you have specific plans to hang out with the King the next 365? I promise you that this and this alone will change your life. He bids you come and drink freely and daily of the water of life as we journey into 2016.

The confetti is still falling and I am #AlreadyOutOfControl

Priorities

“Let me hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning;
For I trust in Thee;Teach me the way in which I should walk, For I trust in Thee.

Psalm 143

We are the better to prepare for the day than to simply resort to repentance of the day after the fact of ill-prepared failure. Accuse me of legalism if you will but why should a new creature in Christ not early hunger and thirst after His presence in preparation for the struggles against our three-fold enemy who has risen to rush toward us with designs to crush us in mortal, spiritual combat?

Spiritual disciplines affirmed by the Carpenter of Nazareth at an introductory minimum would require “rising early, departing to a lonely place and praying there.” (Mark 1:35)

The old legalist that I am… this is my only hope. God is faithful to covenant love; God is faithful to normative principles. The Father sees in secret and subsequently rewards openly those who know their God in secret. They shall do exploits in His name.

The quality of gathering with the community of believers is limited by the preparation and condition of the heart. “We cannot give that which we do not first possess.” (Lewis) The Church alone can’t fix what one hides as perverted or broken by secret sin. If the fire of love for Jesus does not burn within the inner recesses of the breast then pretense will be the garment worn in public. The perversion of doctrine and lack of power in preaching in the contemporary pulpit can often be traced back to a mere academic pursuit that sacrifices devotional purity and worship of the King in secret. “The things my hands have handled and my eyes have seen… these things I make known to you…”

And that is the glory and joy of seeing His face even in midst of sorrow and struggle which we all know and that without honest exception. He is the Friend and Savior of sinners and I am glad. Yet He does not endorse that which is not changed and requires us to die daily to His glory. 

“When all around my soul gives way,

He then is all my hope and stay.”