Quickly Defeated Foe

Psalm: 11 – 14          God’s Word

But my people did not listen to me. Israel wanted nothing to do with me. So I let them go their own stubborn ways and follow their own advice. If only my people would listen to me! If only Israel would follow me! I would quickly defeat their enemies. I would turn my power against their foes.

What do you hear when you read this passage? Do you see God’s sentiments towards the ancient Israelites? Perhaps you see His message to modern Jews? Perhaps it sounds like a reprimand to the body of Christians or even to each of us individually. All of those are legitimate views but I see good news when I read this.

I do view it with modern eyes. This passage has to do with us both collectively and individually. I see it as good news because even if we have not followed His counsel perfectly in the past, there is His promise that if we will listen to Him, He will quickly defeat our enemies. He will turn His power on all of our foes.

Who are your foes? Perhaps your greatest enemy is a busy schedule. Maybe the foe you have been battling is your personal finances. Or, maybe your business looks more like an oppressor than a blessing. It doesn’t matter what your challenge, God is ready and able to take up the fight for you. For most of us, our foes are less tangible than a personal nemesis. Our battles are with our weight, and hence, our diet, our work life, our schedule, unfulfilled dreams, etc. The first thing we must do is to identify what we really fight against in our lives. Is it depression? Relationship issues? Perhaps you are still carrying around scars from your childhood. Spend some time with the great counselor to figure out what inhibits your healthy, happy life most. Then receive His counsel. He has said if we will abandon our advice in favor of His counsel, He will defeat our foes for us. In 2 Chronicles 20 He showed the Jews that they need not fight their own battles. He is happy to turn His power against our adversaries.

If we will lean on God rather than our own understanding, our own advice He calls it, then He will be the God of our lives and the God that we pray for. As long as we are stubborn and listen to our own “wise counsel” we will remain locked in battle. It would be better that He take charge and rout the enemies in our life. Let’s practice listening to Him. Let’s wind up our engines right now for the new year. Get ready New Year – we are charging in with God leading the charge. Hoorah!

Quiet Power

Exodus 14: 14

The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.

The Amplified version of the Bible reads, “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest.” This is an easy scripture to read right over but if we will open our hearts and minds to it, it will grow into a very large ministry to our hearts. There are many times when we want to fight our own battles but God told the Israelites to hold their peace. In other words, stay still and silent. God is going before you to fight your battles for you. This was just before the Red Sea was parted and the Egyptians were swallowed up in it. The Israelites had to do nothing but cross over on dry land. The Lord did the rest. Isaiah 43:2 reads, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.” 

Father God is leading us into trusting him at a new level. He wants us to release our troubles to him, rely on him and watch the victory unfold before us while we retain our peace. You just go to prayer and hold this scripture up to Him. Tell him that you are going to let him handle this problem for you. Then pray for (not about) the people involved in the situation. Your life then becomes about the Lord Almighty and your trust in him rather than your cogent arguments or the persuasiveness of your speech. Life is no longer about what you can accomplish through the force of your personality but rather how deeply you can trust your Father. He is waiting for people to depend on him and the promises he has made to us. Hold him to his word and let him deliver you.

Warfare Made Easy

2 Chronicles 20: 15, 17

Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.   You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not fear or be dismayed.

How easy is a war that you don’t even have to fight in and yet you prevail? That is exactly what happened for Jehoshaphat and Judah. They were living peaceably when three nations rose up against them. Do you know what they did? They prayed, yeah, that was their great strategic ploy. Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, stood before the assembly and magnified God and sought God’s solution. And God answered, “Don’t worry about it. This battle isn’t yours. I will fight it for you.” And that is exactly what He did. The next morning as the three armies rose against Judah God moved and the three invading armies ended up killing each other. When Judah arrived there were bodies strewn all over. Among the slain soldiers were weapons, clothing and “articles of value” (v. 25). In fact, there was more booty than they could carry.

Sometimes people wonder what relevance the Old Testament has for modern Christian believers. Well, here you go. This is the model for spiritual warfare. You face battles almost every day. Think about it. How often do you feel like you are fighting an uphill struggle? Well, no longer. Today God is giving you a battle strategy. Wisdom recommends that you read the prayer that Jehoshaphat prayed before the assembly. It will probably inspire your thinking and your prayer. Next, assemble your crew whether that be your family, your office, your employees, your church or your team. Whoever will be impacted by the result of the battle should congregate with you. Then you, as the leader, stand in the name of the Lord and pray the prayer of faith. Let God and everyone else know upon whom you rely. Then just cast the entire problem into His hands. In the example from today, the Holy Spirit alit upon one of the assembled who prophesied telling the nation of Judah what it should do. Today’s verse is taken from that declaration. The next thing you do is to follow God’s instructions. If He says march around the city, do it. If He says get out your guitar and sing, do it. His ways are not our ways and we do not need to question His logic. Just accept it and obey. And if it sounds a little bizarre, it probably is God because the spiritual realm operates in an almost diametrically opposed manner as does the worldly realm. Part of the beauty of the assembly is that if you have doubt you can take the pulse of the crowd. “Did that resonate in your spirit as the instruction of God?” I would ask this question too; if the instruction you receive sounds odd like going and washing in the river what would it hurt you to do it? Marching around Jericho had to sound pretty nuts to Joshua but they won the city without a fight. 

So, today the battle is yours. The hard part is not in battling the enemy. The part that challenges us is standing up as a leader and doing what we should do. “Dare I pray in front of my whole family or my employees?” Well, this is why many of us do not live in the victory that Jesus bought for us. There are still things that we must do that challenge us on the inside. But Jesus will help us to grow and accept these new responsibilities with grace. The first prayer might just have to be, “Jesus, help me.” He will be with you all the way and you will win every battle because Jesus has already overcome. Now, we just have to stand in the power that grace has provided. Go win your battles today in the might of the Lord.

Remedy for Trouble

Psalm 27: 4

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to meditate in His temple.

I have used this verse before but the Lord led me to it today and He showed me some new insights which I would like to share. First, though, let us look at the NIV version of it; “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” This psalm, not surprisingly, was written by David. As I read it today I reflected on all the trouble that David had to deal with. In order to really put this verse in perspective you should read the whole psalm or at least the verse before it and the verse after it. Both the preceding verse and the following verse reveal suffering and concerns of David. In the midst of those challenges, though, David focused on his Lord and God.

David experienced tribulation from every angle. His family was a clear thorn in his side. When we first learn about David his father has neglected to present him to the prophet Samuel who approached Jesse saying that one of his son’s would be king and that he, Samuel, had travelled there to anoint the chosen one. Then we see him at the battle lines with the Philistines. David’s brothers were serving in the army and his father sent him to deliver bread and grain to them. When David volunteered to fight Goliath the scripture records that his oldest brother became angry with him and insulted David. Later in life his own sons betrayed him, sought to kill him and take the throne. His wife hotly criticized him for his dancing before the Lord the day they brought the Ark to the city.

Then there is the whole conflict with Saul. David began his relationship with Saul when Saul asked that David be sent to him in order to play musical instruments and sing for him. David served Saul faithfully. He even refused to kill the tormenting Saul when on several occasions it appeared that God had delivered him into David’s hands. He was devoted to Saul but Saul persecuted him. Isn’t that the way of things?

All of these torments were by the people that loved David. Can you imagine how painful this was for David? And supposedly these were not even his foes but rather his friends, his family. But David had other trials too. First as a warrior and then as king David knew what it meant to have many enemies. There is no author who wrote about being surrounded by enemies as much as did David and there is no author who is more inspiring in his expressions of trusting the Lord through the trials.

Imagine yourself surrounded on every side by enemies and then add to that all of the betrayal by friends and family. That is the context in which David writes these inspired words. I believe that he is saying that the only way for him to survive this turmoil is to put his eyes fixedly on the Lord. David’s response to these attacks was to run into the presence of the Lord. In this context re-read today’s verse. Can you see that David learned that the only way to deal with the enemies and challenges of life is to dwell in the presence of God? I doubt that any of us has ever been under more intense pressure than was David and this is the way God taught him to not only survive all of the threats but to triumph. It is no accident, either, that no other Old Testament author speaks about the Holy Spirit as insightfully or as often as does David. He learned that the only way to deal with these kinds of overwhelming problems is to focus all of your life energy on the Lord. You cannot fight all of the battles. You could never have the strength. And you certainly cannot win. There is only one solution. Jesus! He is the way, the truth and the life. He is the breath that we breathe and the morning sun.

David survived impossible odds. Yes, he made some mistakes, even some big ones but I think you will find that the throne of David has been established and will endure forever and the reason why is because he knew who his strength was and he loved the Lord with all his heart.

This is, I believe, what David is teaching us. Don’t fight the battles. Don’t put your eyes on the enemy. Turn your face to God the Father. Let Him be your righteous sword, your unassailable champion. Even when it looks like the battle is lost and you are going down for the third time, keep your trust and faith in your Father. Do not waiver. Run into his presence, lock yourself in the sanctuary of your heart and behold your salvation.