Monday, June 9, 2008

Are You Experiencing a Storm?

A lot of ministers I know are becoming weary. The normal trials of life have been multiplied in the current season. We are in a storm.

So, what do we do?

1. Stay in the stronghold of God’s presence. Hebrews 4:16 says: “Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (NASB). No matter how hard the winds blow outside, the throne room is a secure place. We must learn to abide in the only true stormproof shelter.

When David was fleeing Saul, he endured his trials by making the Lord’s presence his daily habitation. David wrote most of his psalms while battling fear, frustration and despair. Yet he maintained his authority (and eventually inherited the kingdom) because he maintained his praise, worship and intercession. So we must spend more time with the Lord when our circumstances tell us to work harder, worry more and pray less. Only in His presence do we see an accurate picture of how big God is compared to our problems.

2. Throw out your anchor and set your heart on Jesus. It’s interesting that no one really knows who wrote Hebrews. Some scholars have suggested Paul (even though it differs from his other writings), Barnabas, Apollos and even Priscilla.

I doubt we will solve this mystery until all of heaven’s secrets are revealed in eternity. But although we may not know the author, we know the Author. Jesus is described in Hebrews as “the author of [our] salvation” (2:10) and “the author and finisher of our faith” (12:2, NKJV). He must become our central focus if we intend to complete this journey.

Hebrews tell us that our hope in Jesus Christ is “an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil” (6:19, NASB). Are you anchored in Christ, or are you tossed here and there by people’s opinions, waves of doctrine or emotional highs?

Many Christians today run from one meeting to the next, or from conference to conference, to get a word from a prophet or to spend yet another 10 minutes on the floor getting another dose of the anointing. Yet when high winds come, will we stand? Hebrews says our ability to endure is directly tied to our grounding in Jesus alone.

3. Offer a lifeline of encouragement to others. In warning the early disciples about the perils of unbelief, the author of Hebrews says: “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (3:13). In other words, when the storm is blowing we should not only find shelter ourselves but also work to protect our brothers and sisters.

This passage tells us that some people actually walk away from the faith because of discouragement. The storm can get so dark and the clouds so heavy that people faint. Temptation can become so intense that those in isolation become casualties. It is in our power to speak a word that will lift their spirits, overcome fear, vanquish the devil’s lies and inspire fresh faith. If you need encouragement, try giving some away. It will come back to you.

4. Weather the storm to the end. A lot of Christians I know are becoming weary. The normal trials of life have been multiplied in the current season. Right now I am praying with (1) a woman whose husband has chosen to live in adultery; (2) a father whose son was recently arrested for armed robbery; (3) a family that has been fractured because of mental illness; (4) a pastor whose daughter has turned away from God; and (5) a couple struggling to pay their bills because of the real estate crisis. Everywhere I look people are being battered by life’s hardships.

The book of Hebrews exhorts us: “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses, surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (12:1). Heaven cries out: Hang on no matter what!

I want to encourage you today: This storm will not last forever. You will emerge on the other side of this trial, and you will be stronger because the Lord stood by your side. Don’t give up. His promise is guaranteed. If you will praise Him in the midst of the raging tempest, and wait patiently for His intervention, He will send His grace, fight your battles, slay your giants, rebuke the devourer, grant your inheritance and reward your faithfulness.

[J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma]

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