Brethren, join in imitating me, and mark those who so live as you have an example in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself. Therefore, my brethren, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.It seems hard to stand firm these days. It's literally hard to stand firm in the midst of a disaster such as an earthquake or a tsunami, and it's spiritually hard to stand firm surrounded by people who "live as enemies of the cross of Christ". Paul's description is oddly modern: "their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame." Makes you think of any number of reality TV shows.
And then there are those who live more knowingly as enemies of the cross, like Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaida's second in command, who exhorts Muslims to take up arms against "the cross and Zionism".
"We can't sugar-coat reality, but neither should we operate from fear," explained Fr. David. "Standing firm comes down to the difference between faith -- the 'perfect love that casts out all fear' -- and the anxiety that comes when we trust in our own strength."
The foundation on which we can stand firm, he said, is the Word of God, scripture. "We have no idea the strength of God's word in our lives when we know it even unto memorizing it, and then stand by it."
Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee. -- Psalm 119:11
Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. -- I John 4:4
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. -- Philippians 4:13"The Word of God is the one offensive weapon we are given when putting on the armor of God," Fr. David continued, "'the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.' With eyes fixed and resolute, looking to Jesus and 'forgetting what lies behind (Philippians 3:13)', we need to commend ourselves, our circumstances, and our actions to the Lord, remembering always that it's His battle. This is how we can stand firm, by hiding ourselves in Him."
NOTES: Opportunities for mutual ministry abound! The sign-up list for lectors is available each Sunday outside the chapel, and help is also welcomed by the Altar Guild and for a new ministry of cleaning the chapel. Just ask; you can help!