We all can relate to weaknesses or sins that get us into trouble and cause us to needlessly miss opportunities to be the light in the darkness around us. I can unwittingly give the enemy a foothold that he will gladly take advantage of. The warning in Ephesians 4:27 is made abundantly clear: “Do not give the devil a foothold.” (NIV)
I was recently blessed by the message of a pastor in St. Petersburg, FL. He shared essential truths I needed to hear and obey as if my life depended on it – And it does! Lord, forgive me! Wrong thoughts and clever justifications can get us into serious trouble and give the devil a foothold in our lives and ministries, thus affecting our effectiveness in sharing the Good News. We are to take even our thoughts captive and submit them to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5) and resist the enemy and his schemes (James 4:7). Without persevering in faith and obedience, we can easily slide into patterns that will leave us ineffective if we fail to heed a timely reminder given in love and change our direction.
There is a powerful story of faith, obedience, and perseverance expressed in Luke 2:25-32. To the righteous Simeon, the Holy Spirit had revealed “that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ,” so when Joseph and Mary brought their child to the temple “to do for him according to the custom of the Law,” Simeon took Jesus and blessed God, saying,
Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my(ESV)
eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.
That prophetic word, among many others, is why we, as a Prayer League, focus on sharing the gospel message with those who haven’t heard.
The passage continues, telling of a devout prophetess named Anna, who was “advanced in years” and spent most of her time in the temple “worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.” She also recognized the significance of Jesus’ temple visit and “began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:36-38)
We see in these verses the outcome of believing in God’s promises, persevering in obedience, and seeing the reward. Simeon and Anna personally experienced this visit of Jesus because they believed and persevered. Their confidence in those promises gave no foothold to the enemy. Instead, that day they witnessed a promised event: the hope of salvation for all people had come in the child Jesus.
Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV) encourages us to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” We are to “[c]onsider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that [we] will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Jesus knew what to do when tempted with thoughts about his treatment at the hands of an unloving world. As part of a mentoring relationship with a WMPL worker, I’m reading a new edition of a great book: Lead Like Jesus Revisited.1 The authors ask the question in Chapter 4, “Is Jesus a relevant role model for us today?” and then remind us to consider him who persevered:
Jesus knew from years of personal experience before his ministry the challenges of daily life and work. He knows the challenges of living in an ordinary home and being part of a big family. He knows the problems that beset us in the everyday world.
I need Jesus to be my role model, as we all do.
God calls us to take the extraordinary and saving message of the gospel to those who have never heard it, for this message is the “light for the revelation of the Gentiles and…glory to the people of Israel,” as Luke quotes Simeon. The task will include persevering through difficulty and enduring hostility. But more so, the enemy hates that message enough to put his obstacles in our path. And if I’m not careful, I can easily give up my foothold to the Devil and the outcome will be a battle much more complicated than it needs to be.
We are to do our best to work as “one approved” (2 Timothy 2:15), persevere through the challenges faced, remain firm in Jesus, rest upon his forgiveness and grace, yield not our foothold to the enemy, and wait expectantly for the eternal reward. We will experience it one day, and what a blessed day it will be!
- Blanchard, Ken, Phil Hodges, & Phyllis Hendry, Lead Like Jesus Revisited: Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time. Thomas Nelson, 2016. ↩︎