In the midst of the turbulence in the world today, the one word God has spoken to my heart has been "Steady." OK, so I know the old adage, "Steady as it goes," and I quickly recalled how the Ark of the Covenant wasn't held steady as it was being carried contrary to the ordinance of God (2 Samuel 6:1-10). But what does it actually mean in the very practical, day-to-day, nitty-gritty of our lives?
When I put the word into my E-Sword computer program it came up with only one reference. And that was Exodus 17:12. But Moses' hands became heavy. And they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur held up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side. And his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
OK, so the act or character trait of being steady has to do with receiving the service of others when we're trying to fulfill a particular job God has given us to do. Got it. And, for the most part, I think the church understands this too. At least the Remnant Bride does. But what else? According to Strong's Concordance, the word used in this passage literally means firmness, figuratively - security, and morally-fidelity. It is tied to truth and faithfulness.
Whoa! Now we've gone from preaching to meddling (as the old expression goes). Truth is something we're often in short supply of, even within the church. We're firm about the truth that Jesus is Lord, the only begotten Son of God, and that the only way to the Father is through His Son. But the rest of our individual doctrine and belief systems are sometimes kind of wobbly. We've become very good at picking and choosing what scriptures we believe and what ones we ignore.
For example . . .
The current Dominion doctrine and practice of making declarations over a person or situation is sometimes beyond the totality of scripture. YES! God did give our first parents, Adam and Eve, the command to "have dominion over . . . every living thing that moves on the earth" (Genesis 1:28). And that command has never been rescinded. We also know that "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). And finally, Jesus Himself said, "If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you" (Luke 17:6). These are all scriptures we can stand on to keep us steady. The problem comes when we apply one of these kinds of verses and ignore others that have to do with the same subject. There is, after all, the truth that "ALL scripture. . . is profitable for doctrine. . ." (2 Timothy 3:16). (Emphasis mine) Meditate on 1 John 5:14-15 with "according to His will" underlined.
Taken to the extreme, the practice of camping on one verse while ignoring other related biblical truths, is deceptive or, as a teacher I recently read wrote, an act of treason against God which is against His truth. Yikes! A very popular example is how many will slap "by His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5) on a sick person while ignoring the entire book of 1 John which talks about the "blessing" of suffering. Please understand me . . . of course we are healed of both physical and emotional sicknesses by the stripes of Jesus. The problem is that the scriptures don't tell us whenthat will happen in earth time or how! It not only ignores the seven reasons scripture gives for why humans become sick in the first place (which often shows us how to pray), it leads to the awful doctrine that if a person isn't healed immediately they don't have enough faith. This is not just awful, it is a form of spiritual emotional abuse. Years ago, I had a friend who was asking everyone in the church to pray for her uncle who was facing a leg amputation. When the leg finally had to be removed, she pointed the finger at the family's assumed unbelief which made her angry. My thought was, "That's not the God I serve!" I questioned . . . What was God actually doing in her uncle's life? Is it possible that the man didn't need a miracle healing? Perhaps what he needed was an "out in the Name of Jesus." Or a curse removed. Or, or, or.
I call it spiritual abuse because it often leads to depression, hopelessness and/or anger toward God for not acting like our own private genie we can pull out of our pocket to do whatever we want, when we want it. Some people even question, "Why me?" "Why do I have to suffer like this?" A truthful response would be, "Why not you? Why not me? What makes one person more special than the many others who are suffering with illness? What don't we understand about living in a world of suffering because of thousands of years of rebellion, sin and iniquity piled up against God?" Somehow, each of us must - or needs to - obtain a balance between the reality of life in a fallen world and the rights and privileges - and authority - we have in Christ Jesus. This is a prerequisite for being steady.
To use a friend's expression, "True truth" will always lead us to faithfulness which will make us steady. Not having the power to snap our fingers, say the right prayer or pour enough anointing oil on ourselves or another can give us:
· a wobbly walk
· a judgmental attitude
· or cause us to lean more heavily on the Lord and just trust Him.
It's our choice. In the days and year ahead, if we don't develop a balanced theology on how to apply scripture on any particular issue in a practical life situation, we will not be steady.
Let me give you some examples of people who found the balance and were able to be steady in faith in spite of the enigma of life, scripture or practical experience, and ended up with victory.
· The Apostle Paul, a father to all Christendom. He was full of faith and truth. Able to perform amazing miracles, he nevertheless, was unable to heal his dear friend and companion Epaphroditus who nearly died (Philippians 2:25).
· Stephen was a man "full of faith and power" yet he died an untimely and involuntary death (Acts 6:8, 58-60).
· Simeon waited his whole life for the "consolation" of Israel but didn't give up his faith even as he aged (Luke 2:25-32).
· Hebrews 11 gives a long list of godly men and women who hung onto the promises of God even while enduring much suffering, persecution and death. They were steady to the end.
Does all of this challenge you? It does me! I've been asking myself, "Does my doctrine support a faith steady enough to live victoriously through days, months or even years of what Jesus predicted life would be like in Luke 21:9-17? War. Earthquakes. Famine. Pestilence. Fearful sights and signs. Persecution. Prison. Betrayal. Hatred. We can't afford to close our eyes and pretend these promised predictions aren't there or will happen in the far, far-away future but definitely not to ourselves. Are we even preparing for such seeming powerlessness and defeat?
The Ark of the Covenant is, today, the Word of God carried in our hearts. Make sure it's steady by carrying it faithfully and truthfully according to the whole council of God. Remember: Steady does it. In the meantime, "Exhort one another daily, while it is called 'Today,' lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13).