This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to be Free, compiled by staff of Open Doors. In the following quotation from Enrique Palacio, (pseudonym for a Cuban pastor who has known persecution), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
I was born in Cuba in 1945 and I heard the good news of the Gospel in the living room of my grandmother's house. When I was only 15 years old I dedicated myself to Christ. It was at that time that tribulation and hardship came to my life.
When I became a minister of the Gospel, these tribulations increased, but during my 13 years of ministry, it was my faith in Jesus that sustained me. Whenever tribulations, trials, temptations and discouragements came to my life, I was reminded of Hebrews 11.
When I had to leave Cuba, I thought that all the tribulations would be something of the past. But I soon discovered that the same spiritual enemy was very much present in the country of freedom and prosperity.
We cannot escape from the wiles of the devil.
But we can draw near to God...in faith.
'This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.' (1 John 5:4b)
A moment of introspection: This month we learn from one who has contended with, and witnessed, our adversary at work in two very different environments: oppressive Cuba and "free" America. He didn't leave the devil behind as he neared "the land of the free and the home of the brave". Rather, he "soon discovered that the same spiritual enemy was very much present in the country of freedom and prosperity." In this, his understanding of 1 Peter 5:8 was confirmed. Yet this tale of two countries led to two further understandings that we can share from God's Word - Psalm 91:2-4 and 1 John 5:4b. Psalm 91 is our "ace in the hole", as it were, securing us in times of peril both within and because of God's care. 1 John 5:4b reminds that the One in whom we seek shelter has secured our victory over the world through our faith in God. We will find the devil at work wherever we go but, sheltered by the Most High God, we can resist the fallen one's wiles (James 4:7) and know victory in our daily struggles. In the trials and tribulations that lie ahead of us, remember the shelter and the victory; keep both within reach and live life for God.
Can we too recognize the devil at work in our lives? Do we know when to take shelter? Let's consider... From having read The Screwtape Letters or Lord Foulgrin's Letters, we can better recognize the wiles of the devil in the life of a Christian. I have heard that if he cannot "step on the brakes" to distract or dissuade a Christian from the Christian's work, he will press the Christian's foot down on the accelerator and thereby force the believer into busyness and stress, instead of Spirit-directed service. He will bring the believer into primary concern with money or success (1 Timothy 6:10; Matthew 6:25-33). Satan may well take advantage of illness or injury on a believer to introduce doubt in his or her faith. Sexual sin may bemire a believer. The adversary may likewise use financial loss to introduce uncertainty as to whether God or Jesus cares about the believer. Many other ploys may be used to bring a believer's faith into question. It is in these times of tribulations, trials, temptations and discouragements that we need God's mighty wings sheltering us and protecting us. Read and re-read Psalm 91; see how it can be made your own song of faith and assurance. A Christian’s life is made up of prayer, studying God’s Word, and service for (and communion with) God. Let’s keep perspective and daily ask God to direct our paths. Draw near to God...in faith!