November 2, 2009

Stand Firm

In two episodes of NCIS (taped reruns) we watched Gibbs and Tony each face someone with a raised weapon who started shooting. Both officers stood their ground, drew their weapon, and successfully defended themselves. Of course this is television not real-life, yet their actions illustrate my devotional reading for today.
Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends! (Philippians 4:1)
Standing firm means just what it says. While this is not necessarily about an enemy with a gun, it could involve harm of some sort, so no matter the threat, whenever something challenges my faith, I am supposed to face it, not run, nor give up, nor turn away.

If the danger is physical, and it could be, the context gives the grounds for standing firm. The verses just previous to this say,

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20-21)
In the face of an extreme threat, like death, I can be fearless because I know that death is my doorway to eternity with God. This gives me pause. My life is hardly ever in danger, but I have friends who work in other parts of the world where this threat is real and constant. Their lives are often threatened simply because they are Christians and this promise is for them too. No matter what happens to the old body, we are guaranteed to receive new bodies that are like the body of the resurrected Christ. Death is not the end for us, far from it.

Standing firm is also the attitude God wants me to have when I face temptation, or when my faith is challenged. Ephesians 6:11 uses a similar term, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

Satan would love to see my back. He tries to make me fearful so I will not face or defend my faith or stand firm in the face of his strategies to ruin my Christian life. God commands me to never compromise my Christian testimony or allow myself to be overwhelmed by trials or temptation. He gives me what I need to obey.

Sadly, there are times when I do not take God and His commands seriously enough. The writer of my devotional book laments that many Christians do need seek the knowledge of God, but prefer to be pampered and entertained. Some even are apathetic to the point of acting as if His commands are mere suggestions, and the alternatives are desirable options.

I like watching NCIS, partly because the characters are believable and with human quirks and flaws, but more because of their zeal to “stop the bad guys” and stand firm against evil and wrong doing.

However, as I think about those two shows, I get a picture in my mind of what would happen if the script writers decided to show Tony or Gibbs as not willing to stand firm. They would die. The end. Show over.

In real life, standing against sin, could mean death. Jesus is a prime example. He refused to sin and was crucified because of it. Yet because of His firm stand, I can do the same. 

Therefore . . . let me stand firm against everything that hinders me and the sin that so easily entangles, and let me run with perseverance the race marked out for me. Let me fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. May I consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that I will not grow weary and lose heart. In my struggle against sin, I have not yet resisted to the point of shedding my blood. (Hebrews 12:1-4)
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