As I stand in my kitchen preparing Sunday dinner for my family, my hunger is rapidly growing as the smell of a roast is simmering in the crock pot, corn bread in the oven and sweet peas and brown rice on the stove. “YUMMY!” I lift the lid of the crock pot to spot check the roast, this thought goes through my mind. “Ah, one last meal with meat before our church starts a 21 day Daniel Fast tomorrow.” As quickly as the thought comes to me, this thought comes, “That’s how my people look at sin.” I said, what do you mean God?
The comparison is this: the fast is equivalent to a life with God, a life of things of God, a commitment to live for Him. The meat is equivalent to sin. People choose to partake of sin one last time before they begin a journey with God much like we are partaking of meat one last time before the fast begins. The problem is this: that one last, tantalizing partaking is never enough and often times, the one last time turns into a lifetime. The Bible tells us the wages of sin is death and while our intention was to only partake one last time, we end up entangled in our sin.
We fail to see the dangers of sin and therefore, we justify our longing for one last time. I guess it comes down to this: we wanted to eat the meat today because we knew we would be without it for the next 21 days. It was totally to satisfy our fleshly desire…..and that’s what sin is all about.
Recently I was reminded of S&H Green Stamps. Ah, yes back in the day when you could get something without money. Even though you had to spend money to get the stamps; who cared? I remember feeling I had hit the jackpot when the person paying for their groceries in front of me refused their stamps and graciously said, “Give them to her.” Are you joking, of course I want your stamps.
The joy of S&H Green Stamps was the feeling of accomplishment that accompanied filling up a book and then ultimately redeeming the books for goods at the local S&H Green Stamp store. Eagerly looking through the catalog finding that special item you longed for and then the goal of saving the stamps to get it. I long for those days; I tend to think life was simpler when S&H Green Stamps were around.
Although at times the stamps were a nuisance. I mean they did require you to lick each stamp, which was discussing now that I think about it. And some people didn’t see the value in the hassle of keeping them. And then there was the time element, some people didn’t want to wait to collect the stamps needed to get what they wanted. Your allotment of stamps was dependent upon how much money you spent at the grocery store.
Even though the stamps had an ultimate reward, they required you to do something to get the reward. In my pastor’s minds eye; I can see the parallel of God in S&H Green Stamps.
We all have the same choice to receive God or not. Some of us strategically hunted out stores that offered the stamps, much like many of us who strategically hunt for God; to see Him, hear Him, and share Him with others because we know the ultimate reward is worth the work and the wait.
Sure living for God requires us to “lick the stamps”, paralleled to obedience, good works, studying, prayer, walking in faith and love; but we long for hitting the jackpot feeling that accompanies carrying out His plan in our lives, communities and other people’s lives.
Opposition will come. And it comes in various ways and through various people, maybe the same people that you live with or maybe the people that you work with, or perhaps a complete stranger. Opposition can manifest in your life through other people’s opinions of you, your ideas or character that are different than yours. Perhaps those people intentionally know what they’re doing to try to demean you or discourage you, or maybe they’re unaware, ignorant of their ill expression of their opinions toward you. Either way, opposition will show up in your life.
There are so many negative ways to handle opposition, and I have to work through those ways in my head and heart by eliminating them one at a time, regardless of how appealing they seem and the strong degree in which I want to respond with. After that process, I have to choose to take a deliberate stand of authority over my flesh and feelings and that includes the hurts. When the fog of betrayal, hurt and injured pride lifts, you can then begin to see the good ways that you can respond to the opposition.
This vantage point will allow you to see that opposition can actually fortify you, your ideas and your character. In order for it to accomplish this important growth in your life, you must take the road of humility, that’s when you take your attention off of the person that has brought the opposition and put it on you. You begin to objectively listen to what was said or encountered and weight it against yourself. If there is any truth in what was said or experienced, you admit the weaknesses to God and ask for His rescue or input. If there’s no truth and the opposition was the person's own manifestation of their short comings or insecurities, you carry on and release the person from the offense.
What comes out of this process of looking at you, is reassurance. Reassurance of you, your ideas and your character. That God is the source of all things great in your life and because of Him, you can have confidence that He’s with you and He’s got you.
Isn't it great that the enemy of opposition can be used for good in you? Romans 8:28. It’s going to be okay, okay being the minimum, and on those heavy days of opposition and you can’t see the rainbow, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a rainbow.
Hello battle, you show up in different styles and with various deliveries. Your timing is unexpected and your length is undetermined. There are times I’m not even aware that you’re present until I pay attention. Then there are times that I know you’re about to visit me before I see any evidence of you.
It is my declaration that you are not greater than the God that loves me and lives in me. My God is able to keep me, protect me, nurture me and promote me through every trial, inconvenience, pain and disappointment that you bring. Through every battle that rages against me, my eyes are on God...NOT YOU! Oh, I know there are weak moments that I offer you more of my allegiance than My God, but then I come to myself because of the Word of God that's in me.
Dear battle, there’s purpose in the process of pain that you are not privy of. So, I will keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, who is the Author and Finisher of my faith. You are temporary, you are circumstantial, and you are not worthy of my focus. For what shall separate me from the love of my Father? Nothing! (Romans 8:38-39)
See battle, not even you can separate me from the protective and provisional love of my Father. Though your feeble attempts appear to be strong evidence at times to doubt my God’s ability and love, I shall stand on the foundation of faith in my God.
Dear battle, know these promises: Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you He will not fail you or forsake you."
Psalm 27:1 “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?”
I shall always combat you with the truth of the Word of God. I will continue to believe that greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.(1 John 4:4)