We are continuing our focus on storm proofing your life. In part one of this three-part series, we talked about the critical importance of recognizing the validity and the authority of God’s Word as it pertains to everything that affects our lives and being careful not to be overwhelmed by the seemingly unlimited access to information we have in the world. We must be able to distinguish between natural wisdom and God’s wisdom and to walk in that wisdom.
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways”.
We can see, the tests and trials of life do not produce faith, they simply reveal how strong our faith in God and His Word is. If we find ourselves in the middle of a storm, and we do not know what to do, we can ask God for wisdom. God will give us the wisdom that will strengthen our faith and help us understand how to use our faith in that situation. It is God’s will that our faith in Him and His Word, will bring us to a place of no deficiency.
Notice again, James 1:2. James, in talking about trials and problems. James begins by saying, “Count it all joy”. Why? Because our spiritual and natural attitude, during the time of difficulty, will determine how effective our faith will be in helping us endure and receive what we need. A negative or fearful attitude does not encourage the kind of faith that overcomes the world. We can see that principle revealed through the life and ministry of Jesus. Jesus consistently corrected fear and negativity.
When you read the writings of Paul, it is easy to become impressed by Paul’s positive attitude and by his appeal to do everything without murmurings and disputings (Philippians 2:14). As David Guzik’s Commentary suggests, “This was an appeal to adjust our attitudes toward God and one another. Faith never works well when we blame God or when we argue with God. Faith works best when we agree with God. The reason for that is God’s wisdom is always right and always produces an outcome that brings God’s blessings into our lives.”
The lesson is, when a situation arises that creates problems in our life or creates fear and uncertainty, we must train ourselves to ask this question: “What does God’s Word say about this problem?” As the writer of Proverbs, chapter 4 states: God’s Word is life unto those who find them and health to all their flesh.
We all must understand, as Christians, we live in a world that is dominated by “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). He is called the “god of this world” in 2 Corinthians 4:4. Jesus said in John 10:10, concerning Satan, that “he comes to kill, steal and destroy”. Paul calls him the destroyer in 1 Corinthians 10:10. John says in 1 John 5:18: “We know that we are of God and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” The Good News Bible says, “We know that we belong to God even though the whole world is under the rule of the evil one.”
We must understand that the god of this world is not our Heavenly Father. The god of this world is Satan, and his plan for this world is death and destruction. The good news for the Christian is that we have been “delivered from the authority of Satan and transferred into the Kingdom of God’s Son” (Colossians 1:13). However, we still live and function in this natural world. As Christians, we have access to God’s spiritual principles and spiritual laws that protect us and help us follow God’s plan for our lives.
Many people believe Psalm 23 is a prophetic psalm written about the present-day ministry of Jesus. Many times specific passages in the Old Testament have a dual application. This Psalm was written to be an encouragement from God to David. David experienced many ups and downs throughout his life and reign as King. David could relate to the Lord being his shepherd and the care demonstrated by a shepherd for his sheep. David himself had been a shepherd.
However, I believe this Psalm also speaks to Christians today. Jesus is our Shepherd. This Psalm describes the present-day ministry of Jesus and our present situation in this world. Notice verse 4:
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for though art with me; thy rod and they staff they comfort me.
We are currently walking through this life. David says we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. We live in a world that is dominated by sin, sickness, and death. However, they are only a shadow to the Christian so, in a sense, those things cannot harm the Christian. Why? Because we are God’s children and as children of God, we have access to God’s protection and provision.
Now notice verse 5:
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointeth my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Where does He prepare a table? In heaven? No! In the presence of our enemies. We know there are no enemies in heaven, so David cannot be talking about heaven. David is talking about this life. God has provided every kind of blessing and provision that you need for this life.
God’s Word translation of Psalm 23:5 says, “You prepare a banquet for me, while my enemies watch.” Even though we are still living in a world that is dominated by sin, God has brought you into His Kingdom, and through Christ has provided a way He can bless you, heal you, and protect you.
The devil might be the God of this world, but he is not the God of the Christian. We have heaven’s resources at our disposal. Even though we live in this world, we are no longer spiritually controlled by this world’s system. We have access to God’s power and ability in this life. We have access to the spiritual laws that operate in the kingdom of God. Through our knowledge of God’s Word and with our faith, those spiritual laws help us walk through the valley of the shadow of death, with no fear.
We should not be surprised by the evil that is in this world. We should not be surprised when natural disasters or plagues happen in this world. These things do not come from our Heavenly Father. They come from the god of this world. These types of things will continue to happen until Satan is no longer the God of this world.
You might ask, “When will that happen?” The Bible teaches us that Jesus will come back to this earth at an appointed time. At that time, Satan and his evil spirits will be confined, and Jesus will rule this earth. What a glorious day and time that will be! However, we are still waiting for that day to take place. For the past 2,000 years, the church has been waiting for the return of the Lord. We have been instructed to occupy until Jesus comes.
That is what we are presently doing. We have been instructed to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every person, and then the end will come. Our focus is on obedience to God’s commission given to the Church. We are not to focus on the evil things that are happening around us. The Bible teaches that evil people and evil deeds will continue to become worse and worse as we approach the coming of Jesus. We should not be surprised by what is taking place in the world. If anything, we should be encouraged that we are getting closer to the time when Jesus will return.
Let’s read Matthew Chapter seven and verses 24 through 27:
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
In these verses, Jesus gives us spiritual insight concerning how to survive the storms of life. When I use the word “survive”, I am not talking about just barely escaping with your life. I am talking about the ability to go through any problem, any attack, any hurtful situation, and remain intact. Can we as Christians have a life like that? I believe we can, and I believe God’s Word provides us with the knowledge and direction we need.
Again, we are talking about storm-proofing your life. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines “storm-proof” as, “Impervious to damage by storm; so tight as to exclude penetration by wind, rain, or snow in the time of a storm.” I like that definition. So when I talk about storm-proofing your life, I am talking about a life that is impervious to damage; a life that will stand strong during the storm and after the storm passes.
In these verses in Matthew, Jesus talks about the lives of two individuals. I want you to notice that both of these individuals experienced identical storms. They both experienced rain, floods, and winds. This story also seems to indicate that both individuals heard the same sayings of Jesus. In other words, both of these individuals received the same instructions, acquired the same knowledge, and listened to the same teachings. We could say that both of these individuals heard the same sermon or the same message.
As we read the entire story, however, it becomes obvious that they had different outcomes. One person withstood the storm, but the same storm overtook the other person. There is only one thing that is different between these two individuals. The foundation. One foundation was rock and the other foundation was sand.
Almost every time I read these verses in a group setting and ask the question, “What does the foundation built on the rock represent?” without hesitation, most people immediately say Jesus is the rock. However, if you read these verses carefully, you will notice that Jesus said the rock is the process of hearing and acting on His words.
The foundation that is needed to withstand the storms of life comes from hearing God’s Word and then putting into practice what you hear. Let me illustrate it this way: After we hear God’s Word concerning the spiritual authority given to us by Jesus, we must immediately begin to apply that Word in our lives. It is not enough to know what belongs to you in Christ. It is not enough to know that you have been given authority. You must learn to use that authority. You must begin to put into practice what you know.
I recall an experience that my wife and I had when we moved to the nation of Haiti as missionaries. This was our first missionary experience, so everything was new to us. We lived in a particular suburb of the capital city and would make frequent trips around the city as well as into the surrounding countryside to oversee various ministry outreaches. We had our vehicle, as well as a vehicle that was supplied by the ministry that we worked with.
The vehicles were a necessary part of the work that we were assigned to do. However, every week, and sometimes several times each week, we experienced flat times on both vehicles. Not only did we have flat tires, but we also had issues with keeping the vehicles from breaking down.
One day while I was praying, the Lord reminded me of the biblical principle of the believer’s authority. For some reason, I had neglected using my spiritual authority and unconsciously opened an avenue to Satan to harass me by disabling my vehicles.
When the Lord reminded me to use my authority, my wife and I began praying and exercising our authority every morning before we left our mission’s house. We verbally broke the power of Satan over our vehicles and over our travels and ministry for that day. We were not just repeating words; we were speaking in concert with God’s Word – from our hearts – using our spiritual authority to resist any attack of Satan on our vehicles and on our ministry time for that day. We did this every day.
Almost immediately, we began to see the results. From that week forward, we had no flat tires and no mechanical breakdowns. Don’t misunderstand me. We did the necessary periodic maintenance to all of our vehicles, but we also exercised our spiritual authority.
I am sharing this story to illustrate how we must use the spiritual authority that has been given to us by the Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is one thing to know that you have access to this authority, but it is another thing entirely to use it. Our prayer is that as you receive the truths of the Word today that you will be encouraged to exercise the authority you have in Christ, regardless of what circumstances you may be facing.