Isaiah 30:15 NIV
This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.
2nd Thessalonians 3:1-5 ESV
1.Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, 2.and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. 3.But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. 4.And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. 5.May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
Isaiah highlights repentance, rest, quietness, and trust as indicators of the heart that God is looking for during trials. Notice the absence of words on the list? It is His word that we need in these times, not ours. Being still and silent in trial at times releases His Spirit and deliverance. The word of the Lord will speed ahead. We pray for it, and we believe it. In the second passage we see the Apostle Paul exhorting his flock. The picture painted of the saints in Second Thessalonians was one of forward movement. Trials had come, challenges were in the way, wicked men were trying to thwart them, and so Paul sent these words to strengthen their resolve. They heeded his instruction and marched on.
Perseverance in faith was never optional with God. It is essential. He upholds it as a characteristic that we must acquire and grow in. God will always require endurance of will to be involved in our walk; consequently, this is the very thing the wicked one and his followers target. The prescription for overcoming is called “the steadfastness of Christ.”
When is the last time you heard a sermon title including that phrase? One truth I’ve learned over the years is that God rewards steadfastness.The degree you grow in steadfastness, will be the degree you experience victories. Remember Daniel’s companions and the fiery furnace or David and Goliath? Those were quiet, steadfast victories. They were quick victories during their moments of crises, but the relationship they had with God took time to develop — years. They experienced the fruit of victory, because they did not have many lessons left to learn about God’s faithfulness; they trusted sooner than most. These victories were immortalized in scripture so that other believers would learn from their experiences with the Father. These men would never dare boast about anything other than what the Lord had done. Godly people never use their testimonies and struggles in a way that is commercialized and sold to the masses for profit. Such victories are told for the Glory of self not God — and often exaggerated. I call it testimonial commercialism.
The enemy wants people to believe that victory can be purchased in the form of a book, giving, supporting ministries, conferences, and a host of other things; that is simply not true. It is only found in obedience. We all desire quick resolutions to our struggles, and often God is willing to grant these, because He is not One to waste time or anything else. God will grant victory when we are ready. If one seeks to leverage these into selling points that tout political involvement, self-centered testimonies, commercialism, or flat out misrepresentations of His will — that person loses his vantage point and embraces self-deception, and a warped view of God. God is looking for people who believe in victory, and people who can handle being rewarded in the quiet room, prayer closet, or trysting place where they meet Him.
Here is my take on large swaths of modern day evangelicalism:
It sets people up to believe that material blessings, influence, right political party, and above all else followers (including church size) are evidence and criteria of success. Many testimonies are rife with these things. Man may be impressed; God is not. God knows Satan will always have more followers than Him. He also knows the majority of His people are carnal and follow after the flesh. The horrid reality of religious consumerism – a toxic blend of a self righteous, self-help, wealth creation approach to life through service to the saints — and the Christian stardom that follows — has all promised the same thing. “You will win at life, if you do things the way this ministry teaches you. Look at our results!” Everyone who adheres to this has ensured a continual fleecing of the sheep and perpetual codependency between self appointed hired hands and hoodwinked babes in Christ who drink this unhealthy milk.
The reality is that movements, and groups of believers compete with one another to sustain and maintain their place in modern Christendom. They testify as to what God is doing and this becomes the hook. This influx factor of information, much of it unprofitable, can at times prove to be impossible to sift through and the carnal and immature believers fall for this time and time again. Most of our victories over sin will be fought in the place of quiet, prayer, fasting, and other godly disciplines. We will win and be delivered, not for the sake of a personal testimony, but for the sake of moving forward in our calling and walking unhindered. Can we walk with less noise? Can we walk with less bling? Fewer buildings? Can we decrease and become less as He becomes more? Or will we become the, “clanging gong(s) and resounding cymbal(s)” spoken of in 1 Corinthians 13:1? Will we always look to failed mobilization efforts as remedies to correct failing political systems that never sought to honor God in the first place? We have proven Christians can be seen and heard in the natural, but unless God is moved and hears us, revival will always elude us. Lots of noise, no tangible, godly results.
Let us tell people to trust God, His intentions, and plans for them. Let God show up in their lives in a wonderful, compelling, and powerful way. Let them experience quick and quiet victories that did not require mass mobilization, prayer chains, prayer requests, advertisements, and countless counseling sessions. Let them never believe that the remedy is found in anything in creation. It is only to be found in Christ. The church is one with the one another and the Godhead. Our support for one another should be without reservation, self-interest, or self-promotion.
May we all turn from testimonial commercialization. Victories can not be commercialized. They will never come from a book, internet click, or doctrine. Victory will come, when you have a personal relationship with Christ and you deepen that. Victory was granted because He alone was able to provide it. Have faith in that, and walk in victory today. Victory is a by-product of a mature relationship with Christ.