Welcome back! As we pick up from part 1, where we talked about Daniel’s decision to live a faithful life in the face of a very unfaithful culture…I wonder what thoughts have come to your own mind about the decisions we make to conform or not to conform? Let’s revisit the 3 words/phrases that we began with last time:
Swimming Upstream: To opt for a difficult course of action when a simpler or safer alternative is available
Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.
Non-conformist: a person whose behavior or views do not conform to prevailing ideas or practices.
Daniel’s faithfulness and trust ushered in an “on earth as it is in Heaven” event. Only God could have done that. And I KNOW that He can do that level of miraculous intervention with us, too! God ordained that you and I would live in such a time as this. We are not living in this age by some random chance. We were sent here to make a difference in our culture. I do not believe we are to just stand back with stones in our hands with clenched fists of malice and bitterness that the world is acting like the world, nor are we to ignore the world around us.
I feel so convicted by the Holy Spirit. My heart needs to be broken over sin and the desperate need of those without Jesus. I have Him and I am still in desperate need of Him every second of every single day! It seems like as the Church in America, we’re collectively just holding on till Jesus gets here, and praying He’ll come just rescue us from all this mess. I hear Believers make comments often about how bad things are and how it’s so scary to raise children in this day and age. While I understand the sentiment, I respectfully disagree.
Yes, I disagree, even though I have been rocked to my core about reports of Israel being bombed repeatedly, by Believers suffering grave persecution in the Middle East, mothers watching their children die brutal deaths at the hands of radical muslim terrorists, church members risking life and limb to meet underground with only a single torn-out page of the Bible to memorize and study, and the list of atrocities goes on and on of reasons why it is a brave decision to be a Follower of Jesus Christ in the world today.
I was reading this last night in Ephesians 3, listen to what Paul tells the Christians in Ephesus as they grieved over hearing about his own persecution. (Please see 2 Corinthians 11:23-30 for a list of some of the things Paul endured which he references in this passage). And Paul was only subject to these persecutions BECAUSE he was not conforming to the accepted ways, right? Everything he did was in direct opposition to the religious and political power holders of his day.
Ephesians 3:12 Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. 13 So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.
Could it be that we should take heart because of the trials our Christian brothers and sisters face around the globe? What if we felt honored because across the world our brothers and sisters are suffering for the very same thing we have freedom to express in America? My faith gets fired-up when I hear of those people who are staring in the face of death. Those who have had the option to take a sword to the neck or denounce their Savior, and chose to believe Jesus! Are you kidding me??? Praise God! Paul says to live is Christ and to die is gain. I am honored to call them my fellow soldier in the Faith. It makes our hearts hurt and we shed tears, but we do not grieve their hurts like ones without hope, do we?
There could soon come a day in America where we face the same dangers for following Jesus.
Upstream swimming is difficult. We have been called to a warrior life. But, have we forgotten?
We are more than conquerors,
Romans 8:35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”[Ps. 44:22]) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
We fight battles in heavenly realms and not flesh and blood,
Ephesians 6:10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
In this world Jesus told us there will be trouble,
And are we so comfortable and obsessed with staying comfortable that we’re surprised about all this?
See, what we’re forgetting is that He overcame the world. He won!
John 16:33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
What if you and I would begin to operate from the FACT that we are fighting from a place of secured victory and not fighting for victory. Overwhelming victory is ours. (note: In Romans 8:37 Paul said *IS* ours, not “will be” or “may someday be if you are really good or really lucky, etc.” IS. CURRENTLY. OURS.)
Did you catch that? We are fighting from a place of Victory. It’s already finished! It is already ours. He did the overcoming and it was enough! But, we get caught in this trap and believing the enemy’s lie that we are fighting for victory which unavoidably leaves us with the chance of being defeated. No. Read His words again and again. He meant for us to live the abundant life of victory and for the things we struggle with to make us abound in His strength instead of crying about our own weakness and giving in and swimming downstream. We have been given power from On High, the question is: Do we live in power? Do our lives overflow with the fruit of the Spirit? Because Jesus ascended so that The Helper could come!
I think this is what Paul meant when he talked about boasting about our weakness because that is what magnifies God’s strength in us. He was dealing with a messenger from Satan sent to keep him humble. Sometimes in our own difficulties we feel like that, don’t we? Like the devil himself is attacking, and in many cases he is! Because if the accuser can get our focus onto our pain, our hurt, our busy-ness, our insecurities, our troubles, our responsibilities, our losses, etc…then he has convinced us we have no chance to live out the things Jesus told us in those scriptures we just read!
2 Corinthians 12:8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Upstream swimming is not for the weak. It’s for the weak who have been made strong.
Hebrews 11:34b Their weakness was turned to strength.
In Hebrews 11, I counted twenty-one people or people groups who are commended for their great faith and every single one of them swam upstream. They did things differently. Their lives looked different from the rest of their generation. And that is what made them uniquely fit to be listed in Hebrews 11. Not that they deserved commendation, but that God’s power on them was so evident that He could use them as examples to us.
You & I are faced daily with decisions to go the way of the world or to take the narrow path. And we can take pleasure in those choices! We have the right to exude love. And joy. And peace. And patience. And kindness. And goodness. And faithfulness. And gentleness. And self-control throughout the process of choosing the narrow path.
I posed the question in Part 1 of this post, in what areas of life is God asking you to swim upstream? I had promised to share what mine are here in Part 2.
I want possibly as much as anything to be useful to my Savior, my mentor once prayed that we would be easily-orchestrated by the Lord. And I’ve heard Beth Moore say, “We cannot do 1,000 things to the glory of God, but we can do a few.” We need to know what our few is…Amen?!
I know that I am called by God to teach God’s Word. Mostly that means that I love to study and learn and listen. I really do dearly love a commentary and the lexical aids like y’all have heard me share on here before. Right now, that means blogging about the things that God is teaching me. What that means in the future, The Lord knows. And as a wife who helps her husband in his work, a mom of a toddler, a business-owner, a doctor, and a wearer of many other hats just like you…that means I have to be diligent in my use of time if I want to be alone with Jesus. I swim upstream.
On my mission-field of my chiropractic practice, God has called me to another upstream swim. I am fighting the good fight for parents to know their rights and their options in the world of vaccinations, food, and true healthcare (as opposed to the sick-care model that is currently being called health-care in America). I am resolutely in favor of people doing their research and consulting the Heavenly Father to find out what they need to know to make informed, right decisions in regard to their body, mind and spirit. In other words, I do not believe that people should blindly follow what big medicine or big pharma or big government says or even regulates.
The Only One Who deserves that kind of faith is Jesus Christ. He is the One Whom I will follow without asking any questions (Lord, help me live that out!), because He, my friends is trustworthy. The three entities I just listed cannot be trusted. I assure you. My entire calling in this area is to share information with those who are wanting it and desiring to know their options. My calling is not to change minds or promote my opinion. For our family, for many many solidly-founded reasons (scientific, biblical, ethical and common sensical (that is my own word, by the way)), we do not and would not allow a vaccine in any of our bodies. And that alone, my friends, puts us into a non-conformist category of which I am happy to be a part.
It has become my joy to swim upstream, and I know that God is pressing in other areas of my life, too. The beautiful thing is that trusting Jesus is worth it. It’s worth dying to self and world in order to live the fullest life He has for you. I continually pray for a hearing ear because I want to be tuned-in to what the Spirit is saying to me at any moment of the day, don’t you? I’ll pray that for y’all as well. Hearing ears for everyone who wants them, yes Lord!
In Part 3, we’ll discuss the ways Jesus asked us in His own words to swim upstream, how we are to love, and what should compel us to conform to His will and not the world’s!
How does the concept of feeling honored and taking heart when we hear of Christian persecution around the world hit you?
What areas do you believe the Lord has given you a grace for more power to live FROM a place of victory instead of feeling like you have to constantly fight FOR victory?