How do you know what to keep and what to throw away? Sometimes the answer is obvious. Other times it can be harder to discern. Most likely, if you have a scheduled trash pick up day, you prepare for it by taking out the trash and putting it at the designated pick-up spot – usually at the curb. Then, just like clockwork, the person comes and does the dirty work for you – often just leaving behind an empty trash can. But what happens if you accidentally threw something away that was never intended to be trash? How would you get it back? Would you even want to try? Spiritually speaking, Hebrews 10:35 (ESV) says, “do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.” What confidence you may ask. The confidence you had when you first understood what it meant to be saved. The confidence that enabled you to endure a great struggle with suffering – knowing that you had a better and enduring possession for yourselves in heaven (see Hebrews 10:32-34). So, the timeless truth in this scripture reminds us that keeping our confidence (rather than accidentally or purposefully allowing it to be taken out with other trash) has an eternal value. In fact, there is a great reward coming. Hebrews 10:36-39 (ESV) says, “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” So, today, if you have unwittingly put the confidence you had in Jesus in the trash, know that all you need to do to get it back is to make a choice. Yes, simply make the choice to believe that all of God’s Word is true and all of God’s Word applies to you – yes, even to you who may have backslidden away from a close, personal relationship with Jesus. God is not as far away as you may think. He is right here, right now waiting for you to pick up the confidence you may have lost somewhere along the way. Just pick it back up, put it back in your heart, and recommit your life to Him so He becomes first in your life once again. In so doing, you can be assured, with confidence, your reward will be great for all of eternity.
Resistance … not the most “feel good” word out there is it? I’m sure all sorts of pictures could come to mind. A child disobeying a parent in public, refusing to cooperate; a fierce wind blowing across an open field… the same field that was calm only moments before as you had been enjoying a leisurely stroll to get out of the house and get some fresh air … and now, as you strain to walk against the wind you suddenly find yourself getting the cardio you hadn’t realized you’d been needing; an argument with a friend when one of you disagrees about the lifestyle choices of the other; vandalism of a church building when the vandal opposes the religious teachings of the pastor … because his words hit a little too close to home. Resistance … it’s a common, everyday issue we all need to face … in one way or another. The question is, how will we deal with it (in regards to our faith) when we suddenly find ourselves in the middle of it? Ephesians 6:10-13 (NIV) says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” So, how does this play out in reality? Well, let’s suppose you had a friend who disagreed with your Christian lifestyle choices because they thought your choices were harmful, even radical. And let’s suppose when you courageously, lovingly, and gently tried to explain things to reassure them (with humble confidence) let’s say you faced resistance. Let’s say they became angry with you because they didn’t understand, they couldn’t comprehend your faith, and they just thought you were being stubborn and didn’t want to change. What would you do? Would you cave in and come into agreement with them … compromising your true beliefs and convictions … in effect, “watering down” the fire of the way the Holy Spirit had led you to live your life for Him … would you do that just so that your friend would get off your back and continue to like you … or would you come into agreement with God and His Word and realize that your friend wasn’t, in reality, the one angry with you … in reality, it was the “resistance” inside them … it was anything that was opposed to God and His loving ways … as Ephesians mentioned, it was things like the spiritual forces of evil … the forces that actually want to keep you down and defeated rather than up and victorious … would you realize this timeless truth and would you understand the need to fight the battle spiritually by using the spiritual weapons of the full armor of God (such as the shield of faith – see Ephesians 6:14-18 for the complete list). Would you make the choice to honor God above all? If you answered yes then you can be assured He will give you the strength you need to deal with any resistance His way. This means you can choose to not take your friend’s anger personally, but, instead, can choose to love them unconditionally even as you continue to stand your ground, keeping true to your convictions, believing that their resistance will eventually be dissolved … and when that happens, you will find that your faith has been strengthened as well. You will realize that it was only when you had been put to the test that you were able to find out how to lean on God’s power within you, then, from first-hand experience you will have realized how great and mighty His power really is … so great that whatever resistance you need to face in the future you can believe and have confidence that God will enable you to stand your ground!