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March 10, 2014

Text:  “”Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”  I Corinthians 16:13 (ESV)

A few years ago I read Lone Survivor,  now being released as a movie. Marcus Luttrell authored the book describing his real life action in Afganistan. He told of his training as a US Navy Seal (unbelievably rigorous) and the horrendous ordeals he endured fighting the Taliban.  These things he suffered to preserve freedom. What preparation  and personal, intense sacrifices he made to fight for democracy! The Seals are men of great physical and spiritual character!

When I was a boy, all your peers expected you to be tough and daring. We constantly challenged each other’s “manliness”. Did you have enough “guts” to perform some act of derring-do to prove your worthiness to be a member of the group? If you hesitated, the gang would  heckle you with the taunt, “Are you chicken?” Ahh! It was the perfect taunt.

When one becomes a Christian he assumes that he will be tested. Satan will put stumbling blocks in your path and dangle material baubles before your eyes. Your duty is to scrutinize  these items and reject Satan’s offerings. God allows you to be tempted by Satan, but he knows your limits and fortifies your strength. (I Corinthians 10:13) This produces greater and stronger faith for your growing character.” Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” James 1:2-3

Being a Christian does not endow you with the perfectly sanctified temperament. You are not the embodiment of loving your neighbor always. You don’t have control of your wits in every situation. These things, and many more, need to be nurtured to perfection to make you a mature saint.  You must catch these little doses of spiritual disease and root them out!  Then install the virtues that have not gotten enough growth to make you a fruit-bearing saint. I Peter 2:12;  Paul is of the same mind as Peter, but uses another figure: the armor of God.   “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, , that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the Devil.”  Ephesians 6:10-11

Read about the teenage David who faced the giant Goliath. Read about the exile Daniel who refused not to pray and was thrown into the den of lions.  Read about Moses the stammerer who tried to shirk God’s mission to speak before Pharaoh. Can you imagine them being whiny and reticent? These men were not chicken. They may have objected, but each of them stepped forward and accepted the challenge. If you were presented with a challenge for a difficult  assignment would you be whiny and reticent? Would you chicken out? 

What would you do to equip yourself and overpower your fear? You must labor hard to outfit yourself as capable for the task. You must at least attempt to do your part. Remember that Paul wrote, “Act like men, be strong.” (above: text)  God has talents to give you, but you must work to find them and vitalize them in your life.

The word of God is the growth energizer.  “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation…” I Peter 2:2  God invites you to eat at his table and grow to perfection. 

Then you should take an inventory of your sins. There will be those sins that would hinder your spiritual headway. Others sap your spiritual energy; they bring torpor and  apathy. Start working on these things and then involve yourself in attaining new spiritual goals. For strength “put on the whole armor of God , that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”  Ephesians 6:11 

Thoroughly consider the outcome and set yourself up a list of ideals and behaviors. Start with a list of virtues in the Bible and give diligence to attaining  them. Consider what they will ingrain in your life and how you will be blessed. Look forward with delight to heaven.


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