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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Setbacks Are Inevitable; Defeat Is Not

Just about everyone who has set out to do something has setbacks. Moses certainly did. So did Joshua, David, Joshua, Peter and the rest of the disciples. Each of these people were doing what God wanted. They were fulfilling their purpose when something happened which could have made them stop.

These setbacks could have defeated them if they had quit. They were merely setbacks rather than defeat because these men of God did not stop. They were not only convinced they were fulfilling God's will, they were also committed to seeing it through. They were knocked down but not knocked out.

Many of these servants of God questioned God when they suffered setbacks. Moses often went to the Lord for a confirmation of what he was doing. Elijah asked God to take his life. David wrote psalms which reveal his questions to God. Peter went out and wept bitterly. They all did so because setbacks look like defeats.

Setbacks are defeats when the person suffering the setback quits. The person needing to lose a lot of weight will often gain weight at some time during their diet and exercise schedule. It can be very discouraging but this is not the time to accept defeat. These momentary setbacks must be seen for what they really are: bumps in the road. They may be detours but they are not the end of the journey.

Thus the recovering alcoholic who falls off the wagon gets back on again. The former smoker who takes a few puffs throws away the rest of the pack. The worker who is fired redoes his or her resume and keeps  looking for work. The preacher who is lambasted by a member after a sermon prepares next week's sermon right away.

Think about it for a moment. Wouldn't the devil want to discourage you if you are doing something right? Wouldn't he also want to get you to stop doing what is right? What better way to do that than to tempt you to quit through setbacks?

You keep going through the strength you receive from the Lord. You keep going with the resolve to follow after Him. You keep going because He who began to work in you will complete what He says.

Satan asked permission to torment Job because he believed Job would quit praising God when he was no longer blessed. Satan asked permission to tempt Peter because he believed Peter would not be the leader he was intended to be. Satan may be asking permission to give you a setback too. On the other hand, he may have already obtained permission.

I urge you to turn to the Lord for your strength and reject the defeat that sits waiting to devour you. What you are going through is a setback, not a defeat.

1 Samuel 30:6 (ESV)
6 And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.


Anonymous said...

Indeed balanced feeding of the sheep must include such. An honest reading of the Word clearly does NOT show us that the expectation of a believer should that, upon his entry into salvation, his life will definitely become "well and swell" all of a sudden, and stays that way.

Some believers, preachers even, want to misguide people, and thereby project an aura of mystic, round themselves, because purportedly they could be "well and swell" when others are unable to. Some possible misguidance include these: "See, you did NOT believe enough in just basking in grace; or you did NOT believe enough you are the Benjamite generation. The Benjamite generation has 5 times more in blessing and 5 changes of anointing than the other non-Benjamite Christians. You did NOT experience it, my friends, think grace, talk grace, eat grace, sleep grace; you didn't grace all the way. You must have mix grace with some works, or some laws, or you went to do those things contrary to grace, like you practise 1 John 1:9 - that is profaninng the power of the blood and the name of Jesus; you are belittling the works of the Cross! You go and believe those non-Benjamite Christians who quoted Heb 5:13-14 saying if you continue to feed on milk, being infants, you know NOT teaching of righteousness. No, when Benjamin went with his brothers to meet Joseph in Egypt, Joseph told the steward to give the brothers, meat to eat. Don't you know the steward was NOT with a name, because he was metaphorically the Holy Spirit! The steward gave the brothers meat to eat, NOT milk! The brothers were with Benjamin, you got to identify with that, and call yourselves the Benjamite generation. You don't do that, no wonder you are NOT blessed 5 times or does NOT have 5 changes of anointing; with 5 changes of anointing, it means you can an anointed pastor, businessman, actor, writer, and false prophet, oops!"

Sure, we don’t go round with a breastplate of “I am a doomsayer” in front of our chest, but really, neither should we be making eisegesis of the Word to hold the believers to us. Believers should be weary of all such teachings that appeared as eisegesis of the Word; don’t allow yourself to be deluded by such; rather, be down to earth, look squarely at what the Word says, remembering to apply the interpretation guide of scripture interpret scripture, scripture supports scripture, any filling in the gap must NOT contradict existing “unambiguous” facts, and the overall counsel of the Word must be taken into consideration.

Is it always “well and swell”? No. Can it be “well and swell” at times? Yes. “You mean most of the time, Christians are miserable?” No. Then, what are you saying? What I am saying is that Christians are to be of inner peace and joy of the Holy Spirit, because they know and they are applying the ways of God in their lives, and if there’s a need for a sentence to describe these ways of God, it is that Christians are to subscribe to the righteousness of God (and His justice). Ps 89:14 revealed to us what the foundation of the throne of God is based on (Ps 97:2 also said the same.) The foundation of God’s throne, and therefore His reign and rule and ways of His Kingdom is His righteousness and justice. Romans 14:17-18 also speak of the Kingdom of God being about righteousness, His righteousness, (and peace and joy of the Holy Spirit); and ones who serve in that way, subscribing to His righteousness in service and serving with peace and joy of the Holy Spirit, God is pleased with, and such will find approval from men.

Christians’ proper perspective of prosperity should NOT be in terms of material and financial wealth, and it is NOT even in terms of anointing, no matter how many changes of anointing! It should be in terms of agreement with God (and that is righteousness with God). When we are in agreement with God, we will have the peace and the joy of the Holy Spirit resonate in us – that is what we should aim for.


Anonymous said...

Cont. from above

It is definitely apart from material and financial wealth. Matt 6:33 is consistent with the perspective I have just given, and it speaks of us (believers referred) to seek first, His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all our needs shall be added unto us. And consistent with this still, is also Eph 2:10 which speak of us being God’s workmanship, created for good works. How does good works or fruit-producing link up with righteousness? Well, it is this simple, when we are being righteous (being in agreement with God as to what He wants done, and the timing thereof), and act accordingly, we are doing what He would like done, and that would be a good piece of works as far as God is concerned. And in another way of putting it, we are producing fruit; and you are likely to see the grace of God flowing out in the situations, for the situations, and even in the process, you are blessed. Is it NOT consistent with Romans 14:17-18, in which it said there, your service pleases God, and you will get the approval of men; the latter, for the simple reason that it is God extending his favor to you, even through men.

Again, consistent too, is the truths in Romans 28:8 which said that in all things God works them for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purposes. The verse said that, in all things God works them for the good of those ….; meaning God’s grace and blessing and favor flows out to those….. Those who love God, love His righteousness and His justice; and so subscribe to them, or to put it in the words that many do NOT like to hear, they obey His Word. John 14:15 and John 14:21a together read as those who love God obey His commands; and those who obey His commands are the ones who love God. And what that translates to, is that such would be doing God’s bidding, fulfilling His purposes.

The above is an example of how to read Scripture, based on established guidelines of interpretation; NOT anyhow say, “the steward who was without name, was metaphorically the Holy Spirit” or just because the word, “meat” appears in a verse, you can string it with another verse, and make up your own case, in contradiction of the exhortation of the Word.

A Christian well-being is in His loving His God (do read Ps 91, pay particular attention to v14), in knowing He is in agreement with His God (righteous with God), and doing His biddings, doing good works, and producing fruit, pleasing to God. Because of this righteous doing or living, he has resonating in him, the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit.

In other words, he is prepared for and abandoned to, Christ living out of him; and when he reminds himself that Christ said, we are still in the world (although NOT of the world anymore), and reflects on the life of Christ, he knows his life is no longer a matter of “well and swell”, the way the world views it; rather, he will embrace godliness with contentment; to be a noble vessel of God, to have Jesus living out of him, and that means including the possibility of facing temptations, trials, suffering and persecutions, and all of those things the Word recorded for us, that happened to Jesus. It might NOT be we have, each, to face everything that Jesus experienced in the world, or even a shade of the everything, but we are to be courageously still embracing godliness with contentment, in whatever that we have to face. We are likely to face any of these things, for the simple reason that we are still in the world. And we rest on the promise of God that when we suffered with Him (for the sake of Jesus), we will also in the time to come, share in His glory.


Anonymous said...

Cont. from above

Can a Christian live a normal life, have a career, get married and have a family? Please do NOT get me wrong; I am NOT saying that all Christians must be full-time “clergymen”. Please don’t project that kind of expectation generally on people; it will only discourage, and cause people to think it is futile to try, for it is too hard, for many, really they don’t have to. Not all are Levites, and NOT all skilled craftsmen. Yes, you can and should have a normal life, and of course, “normal” does NOT mean you must necessarily be married and is having a son. It will take too space to dwell on the subjectivity of “normal”, and so, I will NOT do, here. It suffices to say that in our normal life (and without explanation, I will say that that is within the righteousness and justice of God), we can be subscribing to the righteousness and justice of God. God sure does NOT need the entire congregation to leave their career and turn to become the full-time pastors of the same church; but He sure would like some of the members to serve in the Sunday School ministry, either full-time or on a volunteer basis. In a concise line, it is a matter of alignment out of our love for the Lord. If you say you love your Lord, have you done anything for Him, lately, that is altruistic, NOT loaded with self-interest, and is as unto the Lord?

“These “old fashion” Christians are pathetic; they go round with the attitude, “Come, stab me, stab me!?”” No, we don’t pray for temptations, we don’t pray for trials, we don’t pray for sufferings or persecutions; in fact, we pray against them all (Jesus modeled it for us, the Lord’s Prayer), but we also pray “Thy will be done. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”. We are to be prepared to be courageous, to persevere, and to stand firm for the righteousness and justice of God, the very foundation of His throne and reign; in alignment from love, we stand firm.

So, it will surprise NOT, a believer, to find various verses in Scripture which talked about believers can expect temptations, trials, suffering, and even persecution. Scriptures elaborated on how we are to handle these things, and how we are to grow in it all. I too, have written a couple of articles on this topic of facing adversity, on my blog-site (you can go there if you like []. Look under the “Christian Living” caption).

The point here, which I believe Ps Prentis is portraying is that when we are in agreement with God, we are to stay steadfast; we are to persevere; we relent NOT, and we are prepared to die for the sake of being in agreement with God or being righteous with God. In other words, don’t quit, in the words of Ps Prentis. The example that came to mind is the friends of Daniel who refused to give in to the righteousness of the king, which was in direct conflict with that of God. Those friends of Daniel (you can read it the Book of Daniel) said that, even if their God did NOT come to rescue them from the fire in the furnace, so be it. Will you do that for your Lord?


Anonymous said...

cont. from above

I have ministered to cancer patients over extended time period until they die. Now, suppose that when you are dying from cancer, and some people tells you that you can get better if you would subscribe to some practices from other religious practices, do you go for it, or will you stick to honoring your God? I have witnessed one such case, and she steadfastly hold on to the faith, ever ascribing goodness to God, even to her last hour. You know, John 10:10 said that Satan has come to, first, steal, then, if he can, kill, and finally if he can, destroy. Notice that destroy came last. Satan may steal from you things pertaining to this life, and God may even allow it; Satan may even manage to kill you, and God may have even allowed that, but you can refuse to be destroyed by Satan. Satan destroys you when he successfully counts you with him to go to Hell. As a Christian, you have been uncounted with Satan; he can kill you, but if you stay in agreement with God (stay righteous with God), he cannot destroy you.

Recently, I touched on Hebrew 5:13-14 – Heb 6:1-8 (this passage talks about mature themes); when I spoke on Heb 6:4-6 which talked about the impossibility of returning back to the Lord, of matured ones, who have embraced the righteousness of God, and so have experienced the goodness of God, and the power of the age to come, a Christian brother, a mature one, who is fighting cancer, afterwards, shared that, what touched him most, out of the message of the day, was God’s reminder for us all, to be steadfast till the end; although the message was more concentrated on vv7-8 of Heb 6 (on grace, and fruitfulness of a righteous one).

All of us will have to face this one “setback”, to die; sorry, you and I cannot overcome this one, physical death, forever, but it is NO defeat. Stand your ground, and you will transit to next phase of your Kingdom Life, the Heavenly phase.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions