Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Stand Firm ................. Parables 201

(January 24, 1990)

Little Danny fell fast asleep on the neighbor’s couch; time to take him home and tuck him in bed. At first his mom tried not to wake him but as she struggled to stuff his little arms and legs in his snowsuit, she realized that without some cooperation, the child would have to face the cold without his coat. He was as limp as an old shoelace.

The next day dad wanted to take the same little fellow for a walk. However, wide-awake Danny kept falling in a pile at the back door every time dad tried to lift him into his snow boots. Danny thought it was funny... until dad lost patience and whacked his behind. After their walk, the same toddler decided he didn’t want to go inside. Again, his little body turned to jelly and he fell in a heap on the sidewalk. Father finally picked him up and carried him into the house.

The Bible (in Acts 4) tells of a beggar who had lain limp for many years. He wasn’t asleep or immobile for the fun of it. His limbs were paralyzed and useless. But one day he got up, stood, walked, even leaped, and was heard praising God.

People gathered to find out what happened. Peter, one of Jesus disciples, was there and told them: “I want it made known... that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, it is by Him that this man stands here before you whole.”

This dramatic physical change illustrates the dramatic spiritual change when Christ comes into a life. He sets sinners free from the destructive power of sin. Christians are no longer immobilized by it; at least we shouldn’t be.

After the man was healed, do you suppose he decided to fall down again, and return to begging? That wouldn’t make sense. Christians ought to have the same smarts. God tells us: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty in which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1). In other words, we have the capacity to stand -- so stand... why go limp?

It is hard to believe such a command is necessary. But some of God’s children do go limp. The Bible describes them as being “asleep”— not physically like little Danny, but spiritually, immature and oblivious to vital spiritual realities.

For one thing, being wide awake enables us to cooperate with God in putting on our spiritual “coat.” While Danny’s coat protected him from the physical elements, ours wards off spiritual dangers. This protection is described in Ephesians 6 as “the whole armor of God.” It consists of a belt of truth, a breastplate of righteousness, gospel-of-peace shoes, the helmet of salvation, a shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit. And WE are to stay awake and put it on, not expect Him to stuff us in in spite of ourselves. Obviously, our cooperation is vital.

Failure to stand fast in unity is another way to fall in a pile. Philippians 1:27 says, “... stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”  As soon as believers begin fighting one another, knees become weak, faith turns feeble, and would-be warriors becomes wet noodles.

So, what is the remedy? Prayer is important. Knowing the will of God is also important. Even sleepy children can become quite cooperative when they get a picture of the purpose, methods, and ultimate outcome planned by their parents. If we are going to know what our heavenly Parent is up to, we need to be in His Word.

Being prodded by others who are awake helps too. Therefore, “Do not forsake the assembling of ourselves together that we might encourage one another (Hebrews 10:25). Simply put, going to church and getting involved with other Christians is motivation to keep standing.

God has provided the “starch.” We have every reason to stand firm in faith, unity, and resistance to sin. Don’t go limp.

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