This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from Mona Khauli (from Lebanon; instead of leaving her country to seek peace, she chose to stay at great risk. She testifies of God's miracles.), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
...who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice and gained what was promised. (Hebrews 11:33)
Few people would choose to live a life of danger and risk. Those who do are either professional stuntmen or terrorists, for whom it is a way to make a living.
In our case, however, life at constant risk has been our experience for fifteen years now. Our beautiful country of Lebanon is paying a high price. Terrorism, bombings, and shelling of residential areas have victimized thousands of innocent civilians. Our Christian community is being confronted with a great dilemma: flee the country and live in peace elsewhere, or stay to serve the people and accept the risk of getting killed. We have decided to stay and take a risk of getting killed. By serving people in distress and sheltering the displaced we have been able to light their path and motivate their tenacity for survival against the odds.
We experience great danger, but we also experience the presence of our God in a wonderful way. What more can we desire?
Are you faithful in your own situation serving God and men as He directs?
In doing so you will experience God's guidance and blessings. Be available, be grateful, rejoice in the Lord always. Whatever your situation may be. If we can do it--you can.
Pray for peace in the Middle East.
A moment of introspection: In the Old Testament (Joshua 24:15), Joshua posed a challenge to the people of God (the Israelis); he required them to choose--that very day--whom they would serve, whether it be God, or something/someone else. In their day, Canaan was replete with civilizations who created and venerated their own idols or gods. The same question or challenge could be made to us as the people of God--who do we choose to serve in our lives? Do we choose to serve God? Or do we rather choose some other idol in our lives (i.e., something secular to which we devote our time, something that catches and holds our attention, something for which we might have passion and express it, something on which we spend "a lot of" money, etc.)? Our God is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14) and we are His; we have been bought with a price, and He wants our whole being, not just what is left over from our worldly attentions. Jesus asked His hearers, his followers, to seek the kingdom of God first (Matthew 6:33); King David was offered a free parcel of land and was quoted in 2 Samuel 24:24: "Then the king said to Araunah, 'No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing.' So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver." Serving God is an offering of our time, energy, passion, attention, money and more to our sovereign King and God.
But we know from God's Word, that absolutely surrendering to God may be risky. Let's consider the lives of the disciples. Did the disciples, in their pre-Christ lives, choose to live a life of danger and risk? They did, to some extent; for those who fished on the sea of Galilee experienced inclement and to some extent damaging weather--it was well known for its sudden storms. But they surrendered their lives to Christ and found that apart from Paul’s experience noted in 2 Corinthians 11:25, they were buffeted not by the elemental forces of nature, but by human, religious and governmental opposition. The story of the 1st Century disciples was one of counting the cost of following the Son of God. The apostle Paul came to know that to follow Christ is to serve Him (Acts 20:18-24). In this passage, he describes what that service entails for himself. To the church in Rome (Romans 12:9-21), he again includes serving the Lord in describing what it means to behave as a Christian. For us, at the simplest level, the question may be whether we are serving God, or serving ourselves, or serving others without doing so for God and His kingdom. Consider too, as noted above, Joshua felt it important to present the choice to the Israelis: who are you going to serve--God or idols/gods? In Joshua's time, as in our own, God's people were not allowed the "luxury" of divided loyalty. Check out the response of his hearers, in Joshua 24:24. In Matthew 6:24, Jesus posed a different yet similar choice--telling God's people that they cannot serve both God and money/riches. They cannot serve both God and the idol of wealth. Divided loyalties were not an option. In his letter, James also wrote about seeking God's wisdom, and said that if a Christian has divided loyalties, he or she should not expect to obtain divine wisdom. (James 1:5-6) His message? No wavering--and one might add "between loyalties". In 2 Chronicles 16:9, we are told "For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." Fully committed--no division of loyalty--the bar has been set high. But would we have it any other way? We serve an awesome God; He demands our all, our absolute surrender. In this day and age, we understand the times, and choose the narrow, but better path through such times.
As Bible prophecy now proceeds on a daily basis, Christians increasingly (because of their allegiance to Christ) are faced with risk, societal alienation, and danger. More and more frequently, too, Christ's words in John 15:20 are being verified as they are lived out, around the world. Here in America, the war continues against our faith, our families and our freedom to believe; there is a good resource titled You Will Be Made to Care, about the increasingly risky environment we live in as Christians. We do not have the leeway to continue to "play at being Christians"*. We need to take the life-giving Word as it is presented, and make our stand for God, for Christ. It is estimated that nearly 90% of the fundamental transformation promised to us in this country has been accomplished, a transformation into a borderless, sharia-compliant, and subservient/vassal state of (a burgeoning effort toward establishment of) a one-world government. God is sovereign in the world. Is He thus in our lives as well? In God's Word, we are repeatedly encouraged to persevere. Paul encouraged his protégé Timothy to persevere (1 Timothy 4:16), and we are likewise given this encouragement: "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, ‘He who is coming will come and will not delay.'" (Hebrews 10:36-37). In the end, may we be found faithful to our Lord and our God. Mona Khauli once again asks, "Are you faithful in your own situation serving God and men as He directs? In doing so you will experience God's guidance and blessings. Be available, be grateful, rejoice in the Lord always. Whatever your situation may be. If we can do it--you can."
* Examples: Trusting God but not obeying Him
Worshiping God in spirit, but not in truth
Serving the Lord, but not with gladness
Wanting to follow Christ, but having other calls on our time and energy
Giving God second or third fruits, not first fruits of our time and labor
Not abhorring sin in our lives, but rationalizing it