Staying Strong :: By John Lysaught


Psalm 23:5, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

Those of us in the faith who have our hope in Christ know Psalm 23 and can recite it on the drop of a dime. Tucked in the Psalm is an encouragement that I’ve never really noticed but is fitting for these last days. That is verse five, in which we are told God will prepare a table for us in the midst of our enemies.

A few years ago, this verse did not have the weight of importance to us as it does today. Sure, we have had enemies from Satan and in our spiritual battles, but not like the times we are living in today. Now, in the present, we need to be strong and stay strong in the presence of our enemies.

Like the world in Noah’s time, we are facing the same today. Morals and godly values are declining more each day. Corruption is widespread, and hate and murder are in the eyes of those not of our faith. Satan is becoming more unrestrained and is working to destroy the church.

The Christian faith is being attacked. Here in the US, it is not as bad as, say, Australia or Canada, but it is coming. The stage is being set for us as well; and when it starts, momentum will speed it up, and it will enlarge like a snowball rolling down a mountain.

On all fronts, we are being surrounded by the enemy. They bombard us with lies and speech contrary to the Word of God. They want conformity to their beliefs and their way of thinking, the brainwashing that Satan has perpetuated within them. We do not have to worry about this because God has our back, per se, and we can be confident in His power over the enemy.

Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

As we find the grip of the world tightening around our freedoms to worship and our faith in general, Joshua says not to be frightened. How true that is today as it was for Israel in the Old Testament. And how much truer this will be next week and this year. But we do not need to fear because God is with the Church, right now and forever.

When we stay strong in God, there is a peace that will overcome us and bring us a type of serenity that the world does not understand. If we let fear take root in our hearts, we will become dismayed and can lose our strength in trusting the Lord.

People are lost, and they have put their hope and strength in the wrong places. There is a lot of worldly fear in the world because what they put their hope in (the world) fails them over and over again. Promises that are broken and lies about the truth are what the world exposes to people in the world through evil influence and people.

There is a population of believers that have been affected by this as well and have fallen prey to the “strength and hope” of the world. Call them what you want, but I don’t necessarily believe they are all nominal Christians by their own accord. They are victims of poor church leadership and teaching.

The church I used to attend stopped being a church after COVID hit. Even through today, the pastor has not once discussed the turmoil or had faith regarding what we are going through. He gives feel-good messages that leave the congregation feeling good about themselves. This is weekly.

The believers that are trusting the world have probably not been shown otherwise by their pastors. They don’t understand that one cannot have one foot in the light and one in the darkness, the darkness being the world. When they trust the errant pastor more than God’s Word, something is wrong, and it leads back to the pulpit.

Psalm 56:3-4 says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” This is so simple and true. Believers would do well to do this, and to those we know, the believers that have been disenfranchised by their pastors, we need to let them know that they can put their trust in God during these dark times.

Staying strong in the Lord is closely tied to fear and how we, as Christians, respond to it, not like the world does but as followers of Christ. If there were no fear of what is happening or what is coming, why would people seek the Lord for strength or comfort- they would not. But in this hour of reckoning, this fear is separating the sheep from the goats, the seeing from the blind.

As we stay strong in the Lord, our ability to discern remains sharp. We need to be careful, though, because the blade can be dulled if we start listening to the world and its puppets. When our blade is razor-sharp, we can see through the bull that is being spouted out of the mouths of those who represent Satan and want to advance his plans.

Part of the fear people have, speaking of believers who are not strong yet or are misled, is facing the repercussions for standing strong for God, for our faith in truth. They fear what others might think of them or do to them if they proclaim the faith or just let people know their beliefs.

Fear of a missed promotion, losing friends or family, being ostracized in social circles, etc., are just some of the reasons for fear of proclaiming and practicing their faith. But how can they stand for God when their freedom and life are at stake if they do not stand for the little things now? They will not.

We have all faced moments of our life when we were like Peter when he denied Christ three times. It could have been for a minor thing or major thing, but we have done it. What is important is that (I hope) we learned from it and will not do it again. I say this because we need spiritual fortitude these days, not feebleness.

1 Peter 3:14 says, “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled.”

Staying strong in the Lord prepares us for the suffering we are facing and will continue to face until the rapture of the Church. I think if we can remember this, our strength will carry us through with our heads held high and our hands lifted up.

Have no doubt, friends; there will be more intense suffering. There is already for both believers and unbelievers. Mandates, empty shelves, inflation, hate, groups against groups, etc., affect us all. We are not immune to this because of our faith, but we can be immune to the fear that is overcoming people because of it.

Staying strong in God will not save us from suffering, but our souls are saved. That’s the difference, and that is what matters. We have Christ as our Savior, and they have pundits and idols as theirs. They have Facebook and Twitter; we have Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Friends, time is waning on this earth. Now is the time to stay strong in God. We will face those trials and tribulations discussed in the Bible, and we will suffer because of our faith. But when the time comes, and it will, when you must make your faith count, will you stay strong in the Lord, or will you tuck tail and run. I pray you stay strong.


Christian Standards :: By John Lysaught

People live by all sorts of standards. There are standards of the world and Christian standards that people live by, exclusively or in a hybrid type of fashion in terms of morality. How Christians live and the precepts they live by are important for their relationship and walk with Christ.

The moral standards of the world are centered around the person or self. It is about self-gratification and personal gain. It is all about “me,” and too bad for the other guy. The standards are grounded in and around sinful living with the absence of God in any decision. These standards are normal to the worldly, and what they do not understand is these standards are self-destructive to the individual and will lead them away from the light of Christ.

Those living outside of the light of Christ may not understand their behavior is contrary to God. How would they, though? They do not know the love of Christ or how His standards will set them free from the shackles of the world. Yes, some do live the good moral lives that the world has, which may be like Christ’s standards. But without Christ as the foundation, it is all for nil.

As stated above, the world’s standards are centered around the individual. One of those standards is self-gratification, the satisfaction of some inward desire or the goal and the direction that the world points people to. Even doing good for others is not about others’ needs; it is about feeling good about self for doing good. It is not doing good for the sake of good but just to give bragging rights or to feel better about oneself. The standards are not of God.

The greatest standard the world pushes to us is finding happiness through the material world. Satan is in control of the world and has created a culture where stuff will make us happier, and the standard is to spend and spend to get and get. Satan has even created a culture of idols for us to follow to try to achieve the standards of society of materialism.

The society we live in points us to want to achieve what we cannot really get—the perfect body, the newest car, the bigger house, etc. The standard of the world is to ascertain these and more so we can find happiness. But is there really happiness in stuff? Is there satisfaction in worldly gain?

To say we have not fallen victim to this idea would make us liars. It is in our nature to covet what others have, and we fall prey to the want of materialism. We are bombarded with worldly things everywhere we turn. Advertisements are galore, telling us to want what others have. This is evident in the number of Christians getting into a lot of debt, seeking what they do not need, and having what others do.

Yet, what is found is that it is never enough. People get the next new thing, and then the next month want something else because others have it, or they just plain want it. This is from the newest clothing line, the next cell phone model, or the new car, to name a few.

A standard of society is to never be content with what we have but to want the next new thing. I cannot recall any advertisements telling us to be content with what we have and to not spend money on the next new gadget. Nope, it surrounds us on all sides, and everywhere we turn, it is in our faces.

The sad part is the standards of society will not bring us happiness. It may bring us some temporary satisfaction, but for the long term, the things we covet rust and decay. They get thrown in the trash or put in the garage to be forgotten about or sold in the next garage sale.

There is good news, though, and this is the good news of Jesus. The standards of the Christian life lead us to freedom. The chains of the world will be broken, and true satisfaction and joy can be attained aside from materialism. The burden of society is left in the dust, and the grip of materialism is cut off from our ankles to not restrain us in the world.

Following the world leads to eternal death. Following Jesus leads to eternal life. The burdens of the world mean nothing to the followers of Christ. Christians don’t look for the next new thing; they look up, up to the face of Jesus for the light of life. The commands of our Lord and Savior set us free from the bondage of the world and bring us life and happiness that those who do not know Christ cannot understand.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” When we believe, and our lives are changed by Jesus, the old self is gone. No longer are we bound by Satan and the world, but we are set free by our faith in Jesus. We no longer must live under the umbrella of the world system of selfishness and worldly wants but are free to live under the grace and mercy of our Lord and the standards He sets forth for our lives until we meet Him in Heaven.

Matthew 6:24 tells us, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” As followers of Jesus, we still have a choice to make. We can choose whatever path we want, whether it be on the path of righteousness or the path of death. We cannot have it both ways. We cannot have one foot in the light and the other in the shadows. We either serve God, or we do not. There is no in-between.

When we choose to follow Jesus, our lives change for the better. Will it be easy? No, because we are still living in a world that wants to envelop us into their ways, and with that comes temptations, such as coveting. This does not mean we should give in to temptations, but they do not make life easy. With Jesus, though, letting go of our old worldly desires comes with our faith and hope in Him.

When we follow Jesus, we are hated by the world. They do not like what we stand for and how we live.

We are not prisoners of the world they live in but are future citizens of Heaven. The standards of God are what we follow now, not those of the world.

The standards of God are to love God (Matthew 22:37) and to love one another (John 13:34). When we love God, His commandments come easy for us. It is when we have not fully given ourselves to Him that we fail and fall into the world. When we love God, our thoughts and actions will no longer be of self but will be to please Him and to love others. When we love others, we cannot help but show the light of Jesus to them, and to love others frees us to be open to serving others as God wants us to.

When it comes down to it, yes, we are trapped in a world system where self-serving actions and desires rule. When we choose to follow Jesus, to become a follower of Him, our desires will shift from those of the world to those of God and a godly life. The question is, what will you choose?

John 14:21, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”