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Vol.  9  No. 9 September 2007  Page 8
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Priscilla's Page By Marilyn LaStrape *Editor's Note*

Talked Out of Your Faith and Purpose

Marilyn LaStrapeBy Marilyn LaStrape

    We, who have been called out of darkness by obedience to the Gospel into the light, have been created for the glory of God. Speaking of God, Isaiah 43:6-7 says, “Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.”

This i    The apostle Paul tells us, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). We are told by the writer of the Book of Hebrews, “But without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

    Have you ever had the unfortunate experience of someone trying to talk you out of your faith and purpose? This can be so discouraging and exasperating! Our Lord knew all about it because it happened to him constantly during his earthly ministry; it began with Peter.

    Jesus had asked his disciples who the people were saying he was. Peter makes that most noble confession that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. Matthew 16:21 says, “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”

    Matthew 16:22 says, “Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying ‘Far be it from You, Lord, this shall not happen to You!’” The divine response to this carnal mind is rich beyond our ability to appropriately comprehend and appreciate! “But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men’” (Matthew 16:23).

    Can we grasp the intensity of our Lord’s conviction of faith and purpose when he called Peter “Satan”? Peter could not bring himself to envision such an ordeal being in Jesus’ future; from his vantage point, this was unthinkable! Jesus proceeded to tell Peter that was exactly the problem with his thinking—it was carnal and not spiritual.

    Jesus had been aware of his purpose for coming to this earth from the foundation of the world! He had told the disciples on one occasion, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34). Christ knew all too well what his suffering, death and resurrection would signify. John the Baptist had declared, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29b).

    The death of the Lord was the central event of the Gospel. Had Jesus Christ not died on the cross, there would have been no burial, no resurrection, no return and no redemption of mankind. Jesus refused to allow Peter or anyone else to talk him out of his faith and purpose!

    The children of Israel allowed 10 of the 12 spies to talk them out of their faith and purpose. “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them’” (Numbers 13:1-2). God had told them to go and see what the land was like; whether the people were strong or weak, few or many. They were to see if the land was good or bad; if the cities were like camps or strongholds; whether the land was rich or poor; and whether there were forests or not (Numbers 13:3-20).

    Notice God had already told Moses that He was giving them the land before the spies ever took one step into Canaan. However, upon their return 40 days later, there was a divided report. Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “‘Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.’ But the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we’” (Numbers 13:31).

    These ten spies continued in their faithlessness; “And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land…saying, ‘The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants…and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:32-33).

    “So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night” (Numbers 14:1). They had completely forgotten and no longer believed a word God had told them! “Those very men who brought the evil report about the land, died by the plague before the Lord. But Joshua and Caleb remained alive of the men who went to spy out the land” (Numbers 14:37-38). The unbelief of the 10 spies not only cost them their lives but also everyone else 20 years old and above wandered and died in the wilderness (Numbers 14:20-34)! They let the opinion of the majority talk them out of their faith and purpose!

    Job lost all of his earthly possessions and all ten of his children in one day, when God allowed Satan to attack him (Job 1:13-19). When he was told of these calamities, Job 1:20 says, “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshipped.” He fell on the ground and worshipped! Can we even begin to contemplate the faith Job demonstrated to worship God on this horrifying day? Job had no clue of the conversation that had taken place between God and Satan in regard to his loyalty and genuineness to his Creator. He knew nothing of the challenge when God asked Satan if he had considered his servant Job.

    Job’s wife tried to talk him out of his faith and purpose when she said to him, “Do you still hold to your integrity? Curse God and die” (Job 2:9)! For Job to have listened to her would have betrayed his relationship with God as well as being spiritually obscene! This blameless and upright man who feared God and shunned evil replied to her; “’You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:10). Later he said to his friends—if they could be called friends, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him” (Job 13:15). He had resolutely decided he would not allow his wife or his friends to talk him out of his faith and purpose!

    The Babylonians had taken the Jews captive for 70 years, and Jerusalem had been destroyed. Some of the Jews had escaped; some had survived and were left in the province. They were in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem was broken down and its gates were burned with fire, and without walls Jerusalem could not be thought of as a city at all.

    When Nehemiah got this news, he sat down and wept and mourned for many days; and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven (Nehemiah 1:1-4). Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king of Persia and he asked permission to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls; the king granted his request. The king sent Nehemiah with captains of the army and horseman (Nehemiah 2:7-9). There were those who “were deeply disturbed that a man had come to see the well-being of the children of Israel” (Nehemiah 2:10b).

    Nehemiah had been in Jerusalem only three days then he and a few men went to inspect the broken walls. When they made known their purpose for being there, they were immediately met with opposition. The people laughed them to scorn and despised them and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king” (Nehemiah 2:19b)?

    In chapters 4-6, Nehemiah and his workers were met with ridicule, threats, discouragement, extortion, compromise, slander and treachery. In spite of all this opposition, they rebuilt those walls in 52 days (Nehemiah 6:15)! When all of their enemies heard of it, and all the nations around them saw these things, “…they were disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God” (Nehemiah 6:16b). What a lesson in faithfulness when we allow God to work through us! Nehemiah and his fellow workers did not allow any of these people in their disgraceful and humiliating attempts, to talk them out of their faith and purpose!

    In Acts 21:10-11, the prophet Agabus told Paul and his companions that Paul would be bound by the Jews and delivered into the hands of the Gentiles. Verse 12 says, “Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem.” In verse 13, Paul answered and said, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” We can all learn another valuable lesson of faith from verse 14; “So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, ‘The will of the Lord be done.’” Paul absolutely refused to listen to anyone attempting to talk him out of his faith and purpose!

    We too will sometimes be faced with numerous situations that will challenge our faith. Even “well meaning” brothers and sisters will try at times to talk us out of our faith and purpose. We must stand up and let them know as kindly as we can that all such pessimistic attempts are futile. Such negative thinking only gives Satan the victory and no glory to God!

    Peter reminds us of the faithfulness of our God. “Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:19). Paul reminds us of the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ. “This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him, if we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:11-13). When our lives are lived in submissive obedience to God and Christ, we cannot allow anyone at anytime to talk us out of our faith and purpose!

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