Friday, January 16, 2009

Position Yourself for Victory - Part 1: Challenges

There's a powerful story in the book of 2 Chronicles that intrigues me. God's people, led by King Jehoshaphat, are about to be attacked by a massive army and are facing destruction.(1) The response of the King and then the answer God gave to him, are something I believe all believers and churches can learn tremendous lessons from. This is the first of a series of blogs I will write about this theme. Since there are so many truths conveyed in that story, I will simply start at the beginning and work through it one simple step at a time. 

The first thing that's important to know about Jehoshaphat is that he was in good standing with God. He had been faithful to God from the time he had been given charge of the Kingdom, bringing the people back to Him and away from the worship of false God's.(2) This is an important truth because many people today have the false impression that when they are right with God, they will not have problems in their lives or they won't face major spiritual challenges. Although Jehoshaphat was ruling properly and he was in right standing with God, he faced a tremendous challenge.

Every Christian will be challenged. A challenge is not an automatic declaration that things are wrong in someones life . Some challenges are tests that can make a person's faith stronger and more powerful. That said, people need to be careful not to make trouble for themselves by placing themselves in a wrong or bad situation. People need to realize they will receive the results of whatever they have and are planting in their lives.(3)

While people have no control over some challenges that come their way, there are other challenges that people bring on themselves. If a person is obese due to gluttonous eating habits and laziness - the health problems that person faces were brought on by themselves. That person needs to change their lifestyle and their eating habits (position themselves properly) in order to be healthy, otherwise they will suffer from their own irresponsible hand. 

For the challenges people face that are beyond their control, they don't have to walk through them alone. When people reach out to God, He is faithful to walk through the challenges with them. In fact, as difficult as it may be to understand, some of the challenges people face have been specifically arranged by God to accomplish a deep spiritual work in their lives. Jesus is a perfect example of that.

Luke wrote that Jesus, who was full of the Holy Spirit at the time, was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where he was tested for forty days by the devil.(4) After Jesus had successfully resisted doing wrong and had faithfully stood against the devil, Luke wrote that Jesus left that situation in the power of the Holy Spirit.(5) First, Jesus was FULL of the Holy Spirit, then He was tested and the result was that He walked out of that situation in the POWER of the Holy Spirit.

When a person desires to develop physical muscles, they must exercise in a way that stretches and challenges the existing muscles. As the existing muscles are challenged on a regular basis, they will grow larger. God wants to do powerful things in every person's life. Walking in God's power will require the stretching and challenging of their faith. In the same way bodies develop muscles, God will develop spiritual power in people as they walk with Him successfully through the challenges they face.

James was very clear when he wrote that Christians should not be discouraged if they find themselves in the middle of terrible difficulties. In fact, instead of being discouraged, James wrote that people should be filled with joy because God is at work changing and perfecting their lives.(6) 

Let's not believe the lie that something is wrong when we have all kinds of trouble in our lives. Instead, let's do what Jehoshaphat did, turn to God with our whole heart and then we will  experience the amazing victory God has for us.

(1) 2 Chron. 17   (2) 2 Chron. 20:2   (3) Gal. 6:7    
(4) Luke 4:1   (5) Luke 4:14    (6) James 1:2-4

No comments: