The orders were clear but the task was difficult. The elite force had to use the cover of night to sneak into the terrorist compound. They knew they had to perform a task that was unusually harsh. They also knew that their obedience would call for the risking of their very lives. However, the mission was worth it. The Seal team accomplished their task of carrying out a harsh obedience.
Not everything a child of God is instructed to do is easy or pleasant. I think of Abraham who was told by God to sacrifice his only son on Mt. Moriah. Of course this was a test, but for Abraham it was real and his hand held the knife of a willing obedience to God. Jesus of course is our supreme example of carrying out a harsh obedience. The cross was more than physical suffering for our Lord it also meant the shame of sin being placed on Him and separation from His Father. But this harsh obedience of our Lord was described as worth it all. Hebrews 12:2 tells us: “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”.
Sometimes God’s Word instructs us to go in a direction that seems uphill. Sometimes His ways go against our ways and our old sinful nature groans. Living a biblical lifestyle in an age that has seemed to have thrown out the book is not easy. Going against the current of political correct thinking may seem like paddling upstream in a flooded river. But God has promised His blessing on those who obey Him. He tells us in Psalm 1:1,3: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful… and whatever he does shall prosper”.
Are you facing a harsh obedience in your walk with Christ? Stand firm and remember that you are not alone, He stands right with you.
The neighborhood hawk was sitting peacefully perched in a high tree scanning the area for prey. From out of nowhere came a mockingbird that started to dive bomb the hawk. This activity kept up until the hawk got tired of the constant pestering of the mockingbird and left the area. I have even noticed eagles being mercilessly pestered by smaller birds. It seems the bigger the bird and the more of a threat he is to the smaller bird’s domain, the more they are bothered. Such activity is understandable in the feathered world.
In the spiritual world I have noticed something similar. The closer to the Lord you get and the higher you fly in your relationship with Christ, the more you will be pestered by the enemy. The devil seems to level more of his attacks at those believers and those churches who are a vital threat to his domain. Those people who are trying to win the lost to Christ, those believers who have a powerful prayer life, and those churches who have decided to take their ministry outside their four walls are the ones that the devil tries to hinder the most.
Paul spoke often about the opposition of Satan in his ministry. He related to the Thessalonians: “Therefore we wanted to come to you--even I, Paul, time and again--but Satan hindered us” (1 Thess. 2:18). He also warned believers not to allow Satan to take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices (2 Cor. 2:11). The devil is like a mockingbird going after those who have the audacity to invade his territory. But there is some amazing good news in the scriptures. We have overcome Him by the blood of the Lamb. We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. And the Bible also tells us that greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world.
Are you being pestered? Perhaps the enemy considers you a worthy adversary and a threat to his kingdom. Stand firm and soar on child of God!
Kids can be cruel at times. I remember when I was in school it seemed that one favorite activity was to find nicknames for the kids in your class. Some of those nicknames were harmless and even funny. Beanpole, Smiley, Tiny, and Motormouth come to mind as I recall some of the nicknames given to fellow classmates. However some of the names were rather cruel. One girl who had severe acne was given the name Horsemeat. Even as a clueless 7th grader I refused to join in on the pile on mentality of calling people cruel names.
No matter how cruel and mean the rest of the world may treat you, and no matter what derogatory names they give you, if you are a believer in Christ you have been given some wonderful nicknames. God himself calls you His child, and His son. In 1 Peter 2:9,10 we are designated as: “…a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people… Who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy”. We are called: His beloved, His sheep, and His servants. We have received the names of: bride of Christ and saints of the living God. We are God’s special treasure. God has also given us nicknames that relate to our duties. We are called ambassadors for Christ, fishers of men, the salt of the earth, and the light of the world. The Bible tells us in Rev. 3:12 that one day when we get to heaven we will even get a new name. The verse says that God will write on us His new name.
Have we allowed others to define us by their cruel nicknames? Have we allowed our circumstances and difficulties in life to dictate our identity? We need to remind ourselves of the wonderful name calling of our great God. We are not victims but victors. We are not worthless but wonderfully blessed. We are the children of the One True God and we can lift our heads in gratitude for who we are in Christ.
The two brothers were trying to find something fun to do on a Saturday afternoon. Having just finished watching a television movie that featured the traditional cowboys and Indians conflict, the boys decided to go outside and recreate the action. The brother who played the Indian had to make his own bow. He found a limb from a tree, cut it down, removed the leaves and proceeded to string it with some butcher’s twine. At last the brother had an official Indian bow. He found a semi straight golden rod stick to use as an arrow. He placed his arrow on the string pulled back on the bow with all his might and then, “crack” the bow broke in two pieces. The two brothers then decided to go play baseball.
Homemade bows and human beings both have breaking points. Some of us can bend and endure the strain of a little pressure. Some can endure more. But there is such a thing as too much stress, too much bending in our lives.
I am glad that our Lord knows how much we can take. The Word of God tells us in 1 Cor 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it”. He will not bend us beyond our breaking point. The Bible also describes the loving character of our Savior with these words: “A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench…”. What a wonderful Lord we have who promises to deal with us in such a way that our little smoking flax is not stomped out.
Without the bow being bent the arrow sits on the string; without pressure in our lives we accomplish little for our Lord. If you are feeling the pressure of being bent remember two things. First remember that His hand is on the bow; He will bend but never break. Also it may be that the Lord is bending you in preparation of shooting His effective arrows of service out into this needy world. We all need to be bent a little.
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation