“When Daniel had to face the lions, he knew he had done nothing wrong. His innocence before God gave him courage to stand his ground in the face of evil. This gave him clarity to discern God’s righteous path for him under the shadow of the kings new law” (Benham, “Living Among Lions”, 2016, pg. 166).
Do you know how David defeated Goliath? Or what made Samson so strong? Or how Gideon defeated the Mideonites? Or what gave Esther courage to face the king? Or Ruth to return with Naomi? Or the three young men to willingly enter the fire? Or Daniel to continue to pray each day as he always had, despite threats to his life? Or the prophets to prophecy in the midst of persecution? Or….Jesus to face Golgotha?
It was confidence in their God! Every person who stood firm in the midst of trial and temptation despite the unpassable “sea” before them KNEW God was able and willing to do… “far more abundantly than all that [they] ask or think”! (Eph. 3:20). They simply had “FAITH”. Now what is faith? According to the writer of Hebrews, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”…[And THIS pleased God]…”For by it the people of old received their commendation” (Heb. 11:1-2).
Faith is the natural outflow of one who truly “knows” their God. Faith is a “substance”, it is an “invisible solid”. Faith “moves mountains” (Matt. 17:20). Faith makes the difference as to whether one will cross the red sea or turn back to Egypt. Or whether one will face the giants in the land, or run in fear. Or whether one will stand for the truth of God’s Word despite rejection by their church or community. FAITH is HUGE! And faith is what is currently lacking in American churches. You know, that faith which went into the hospitals to pray over the sick many years ago. The faith which served the homeless despite health threats. The faith which KNEW the Lord’s will for His Church during a pandemic! True, these are fighting words. And hard to swallow. But we have been SPOILED in America for many years now. We have had it so easy. We have been so comfortable and complacent in our faith. Why? Because we did not have to “exercise it!” We lived with knowledge of God apart from “DEPENDENCE” upon God! Over the last year our faith has been tried and tested. But how did we respond? In faith, fear, doubt, or uncertainty, etc. In truth, it mattered how we responded and it spoke volumes regarding our faith, our discernment between truth and error and good and evil.
What was missing? A true conviction of faith in the midst of crisis. Why? It was a result of “what we fed our minds and hearts with each and every day”. Did we feed on His Word. Were we “rightly dividing the Word of Truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). Were we being “watchman on the wall”, watching for the enemy to come into the land (Ezek. 3:17). Were we discerning the times. Were we spending time in intimacy with our Lord. Were we “listening to God” or were we “listening to the culture, the news, the media…”. In truth it mattered how all of us have spent the last few years. Because what we filled our days with and our minds with determined our “worldview” and determined “how” we interpreted life. We either will have minds “fixed” on things above. Or minds “fixed” on things below. Our PERSPECTIVE matters a great deal these days!
King David wrote, “The unfolding of your words gives light;” (Ps. 119:130a). Therefore if we are to have “light” to discern what’s goin on around us we need to FEED on God’s Word. However, because many in churches these days are ignorant of God’s truth. And do not value the whole counsel of God and the inerrancy of His Word, there is a great lack of discernment. Therefore this verse fits well here. “You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Heb. 5:12-14). Did you hear that? We are in need of having our “powers of discernment trained”. And the only way training takes place is through “exercise”. If FAITH is to flourish and thereby having a faith which will discern the times and take a stand in our culture for truth despite persecution then we need to go into training through study, prayer, worship, fellowship, and obedience to our God! And we need to start today. THEN when we are “walking with the Lord” we will walk in the light. We will reflect His glory to our friends and neighbors. They will “see” a faith which has led to a hope which is not based on circumstance, but a hope based on the solid promise of God that “we are His. Christ is on His throne. He is returning soon. And we have nothing to fear but fear itself” So then….STAND FIRM