Stand Down, Stand Up, or Stand Firm

Over the last 8 years I have noticed an increasing alarm from a Conservative/Christian base on the direction our country has been heading.  This direction has been gaining momentum over the past century, and only within this most recent decade has appeared to those otherwise unaware as a shocking reversal of all our country has stood for from the beginning.  It has been interesting to observe the various reactions of those now caught up in the desire to stop and/or reverse the huge tidal wave.  Choosing a course of action appears on the surface to be the basis of division and a challenge to stand on opposing sides.

On one hand you have those who have reconciled themselves to the idea that this is the direction of destiny and there is nothing we can do to stop it.  I refer to this as the “Stand Down” category, because those who align themselves with this idea often believe what is happening is part of prophecy, and is God’s judgement wheels set into motion.  Christ’s return is imminent and it is better for all of us if we allow what’s happening to take its course so we can all get out of here, and the sooner the better.  There will be a new heaven and a new earth, so there is no need to try and hang on to this one.  Time to abandon ship!

If you think this describes your viewpoint, then I say to you that you are right.  Christ’s return is imminent, and there will be a new heaven and a new earth.  Jesus Himself affirms in John chapter 17 that His disciples are not of this world, so this is true.  But I have a concern that the focus in this category is always on the eternal and rarely on what is here and now.  We should then bear in mind Jesus prayer to the Father for all of us in verse 15 of that same chapter, where he prays: “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.”

If you think about every other time throughout history, from the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, to Christ Himself on the cross, to the Christians facing lions in the Roman arenas, the persecution of Christians during the reformation, the Jewish people who suffered annihilation attempts during World War II, to the Christians now being beheaded by ISIS – the Lord never took His children out of this world in order to prevent them from experiencing tribulation, pain, and suffering. He was, however, walking with them through it.

I have included a portion of Hebrews chapter 11, known as the faith chapter, below. Note that although Abraham was looking forward to the city whose architect and builder is God, he was also faithful to remain and “grow where he had been planted”, which was critical to the future generations to come, all the way down to you and to me.

On another other hand you have a somewhat opposite extreme of those preparing for a revolutionary war in order to right the course.  I refer to this as the “Stand Up” category, because those who align themselves to this idea understand we were given a directive by God Himself to rule over this physical earth, and because we neither know the day nor hour of Christ’s return, that objective has not changed.  There is no point at which we should ever “give up” and walk away from our duties and responsibilities here.  Future generations depend upon our actions, what we do here and now.

To those who fall into this category, I affirm you are right as well, as this is also true.  Many of you find yourselves caught up in divisive rhetoric being spewed out by today’s media and feel the need to fight on a dozen different fronts all in the name of freedom and conservatism. It reminds me of Zealots in the time of Jesus (which interestingly another word for zealot is patriot), because the focus is always on the physical kingdom rather than the spiritual one. It is so easy to believe that change can be forced from the outside.

My thought here is that, if you feel the need to stand and fight “Goliath”, then by all means do so!  As you do, however, remember not to fight in Saul’s (physical) armor but rather fight in the strength and armor of God instead!  This will require you to know your true enemy, which will force you to look beyond the physical into the spiritual realm.  Nowhere is this pointed out in more basic terms than in Ephesians chapter 6, as verse 12 tells us “Four our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places.”  I have included the story of David and Goliath below.  Note that David recognized he could not fight in his own strength, but rather in the strength of the Lord and in the name of God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

Some of you may see yourself holding an opinion that falls within these two extremes. Interestingly enough, there are a few of us in the background who will find ourselves neither left nor right nor middle within any of this.  Having a vantage point outside of our physical realm, we look instead towards a Heavenly Kingdom.

I refer to this as the “Stand Firm” category, as those in this category know that when they pray “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, that there is no mention in that portion of scripture to the kingdom coming to the new earth or physical earth only.  This is the kingdom that spans across both new and old!  This is the kingdom whose King reigns in the hearts of His citizens!  This is the kingdom that has no physical boundaries, as we can walk in it here and now as well as in heaven.

To those who see yourself in this third category and endeavor to do battle in the spiritual realm, take a closer look at the story of David and Goliath, and note verse 39 in 1 Sam 17 where David tells Saul he can’t wear his armor because he has not tested it. Comparing that to the Armor of God in Ephesians chapter 6, you will realize that one can stand in the armor outlined, but for it to be effective, it has to be tested!

I have included a portion of Ephesians 6 below. Note the importance of praying at all times in the Spirit.  The only way to test this armor is through prayer, for it is the power of the Holy Spirit that enables us to hear and recognize our Father’s voice.  It is through His power that the written word of the Holy Scriptures comes alive, and it is through His power that the living word reigns in us!  This power is what will spark the fires of revival across our land, and bring the inward change necessary to stop the tidal wave.

When you live within the realm of God’s kingdom, you are not abandoning one idea in order to adhere to another.  Instead, your actions honor God and align fully and always with His purpose and for His glory upon this earth.

Which category will you choose?

Hebrews 11:8-16, NIV

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the Promised Land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

I Samuel 17:38-47, MSG

Then Saul outfitted David as a soldier in armor. He put his bronze helmet on his head and belted his sword on him over the armor. David tried to walk but he could hardly budge.

David told Saul, “I can’t even move with all this stuff on me. I’m not used to this.” And he took it all off.

Then David took his shepherd’s staff, selected five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the pocket of his shepherd’s pack, and with his sling in his hand approached Goliath.

As the Philistine paced back and forth, his shield bearer in front of him, he noticed David. He took one look down on him and sneered—a mere youngster, apple-cheeked and peach-fuzzed.

The Philistine ridiculed David. “Am I a dog that you come after me with a stick?” And he cursed him by his gods.

“Come on,” said the Philistine. “I’ll make roadkill of you for the buzzards. I’ll turn you into a tasty morsel for the field mice.”

David answered, “You come at me with sword and spear and battle-ax. I come at you in the name of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel’s troops, whom you curse and mock. This very day God is handing you over to me. I’m about to kill you, cut off your head, and serve up your body and the bodies of your Philistine buddies to the crows and coyotes. The whole earth will know that there’s an extraordinary God in Israel. And everyone gathered here will learn that God doesn’t save by means of sword or spear. The battle belongs to God—he’s handing you to us on a platter!”

Ephesians 6:10-18; NASB

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints

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