Let’s Battle 

1 Chronicles 20:1
“It happened in the spring of the year, at the time kings go out to battle… But David stayed at Jerusalem…”

Although the writer of Chronicles does not include it here, this is the time when David compromised, broke his own standards, violated the ways of God and sinned with Bathsheba. This is the lowest point in the life of the sweet psalmist of Israel. While there are many factors that led to his failure the text makes it clear that one of the contributing factors was being idle when he should have been busy in the battle.

The word idle simply means not to be working, busy or active. There are times in life when being idle is the exact thing we need; it was God who established the sabbath for Israel and desired them to take times of rest. Taking a break from activity to rest the body, wait on the Lord or simply enjoy the blessings of following Christ is an important part of life and our walk with the Lord. That being said, we must also realize that there are times when being idle can be dangerous. David’s problem was not that he was resting, but that he was resting when he should have been battling. He was in a season in life when the situation called for clinging to the Lord and stepping out in service, instead he chose to stay home, let his guard down and compromise his standards.

The seasons of life often determine our focus for us. If bombs are falling on the city it is not time for a family picnic. If you are in the midst of difficulty at home or work, or if you are struggling with something in your private and personal life it is not the time to sit back, but to clothe yourself in the armor of God and to battle the fiery darts of the wicked one that so often evidence themselves in thoughts that oppose the word of God.

Jim

 

Victory In Battles 

Deuteronomy 2:37
“Only you did not go near the land of the people of Ammon—anywhere along the River Jabbok, or to the cities of the mountains, or wherever the Lord our God had forbidden us.”

Israel’s journey through the wilderness serves as a vivid illustration of the believers walk with God. Here we find that God led them away from some battles and into others. This reminds me of the words of Jesus in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:13),

“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” 

As we walk with the Lord, we find that He leads us away from many temptations. We will also find that more of our time is spent around the people of God and involved in the things of God. However, there are times when He will lead us directly into battle. We will be forced to face struggles head on and learn to rely upon the Word of God, and the Spirit of God, for victory.

Years ago, Newsweek magazine released a publication called “The Conquerers”, which gave a synopsis of the great military leaders throughout history. Each of these leaders had one thing in common, they introduced a new form of combat that their enemies had never seen. A careful observation of Israel’s victories will reveal the exact opposite. They did not defeat their enemies because they were stronger, smarter, or larger, but because they obeyed the Lord and relied upon His Spirit.

When we come face to face with temptation, obstacle, or difficulty, we need to understand that the same God who leads us away from temptation, will sometimes lead us into battle. When those times arise, we must always lean on the Word for direction and the Spirit for strength.

Pastor Jim

 

Thoughts

Proverbs 16:3
“Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established.”

Paul referred to the believer as a soldier, and compared the Christian life to a battle ground. One of the reasons the Christian life is often difficult, is because we are fighting on two fronts. A large part of our battle is seeking to see others impacted for the Kingdom of God. We enter the arena to fight whenever we pray for the unsaved or the backslider. Scripture tells us our weapons are not carnal but they are mighty and able to pull down strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4). The weapons we have been given are prayer, the Word of God and our personal testimony. When those are used together, we will find that we become effective in impacting others for the kingdom of God.

The other front on which the Christian engages in battle is within. We are told the devil shoots fiery darts into the mind of the Christian (Ephesians 6:16). The darts often take the form of fear, doubt, lust, envy, covetousness, pride or even self-loathing. If we are going to succeed in our walk with the Lord, we must win in the battlefield of the mind. Solomon’s insights here give us a tactical advantage.

“Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established.”

Jesus explained that our actions will be produced by what is in our hearts (Matthew 15:17-19). Solomon adds, our actions will produce what goes on in our minds. If everyday, you choose to drive by the new car lot and stare at the cars on the showroom floor, it is no wonder you will have a great longing for a new car. You will find yourself unsatisfied with your current mode of transportation and preoccupied with how to get that new car. Choosing a different route to work, where you do not see the new cars everyday, will lessen the temptation. Wanting a new car is not necessarily sinful, but it illustrates the principle Solomon is presenting. If we are going to win the battle against temptations of the flesh, we must win the battle in the mind. If we are going to win the battle of the mind, we must make some changes in our actions. If we are constantly filling the mind with images that produce the desires of the flesh, we will never win that battle.

Let’s make sure that today we,

“Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established.”

Pastor Jim

 

Armed And Dangerous

Jeremiah 46:3-4
“Order the buckler and shield,
And draw near to battle!
Harness the horses,
And mount up, you horsemen!
Stand forth with your helmets,
Polish the spears,
Put on the armor!”

As the forces of Egypt prepared to go to battle with Babylon, Jeremiah describes the battle scene. He paints a picture of soldiers with weapons in hand and clad with armor. His battle scene has been repeated countless times over in human history, as one force prepares to defend itself against another. I cannot help but notice a few similarities to the battle we face as believers.

First, it is critical that we choose the right side. All the flashy armor, swords, spears, bows and impressive speeches, were no match for the forces of Babylon. Those who chose to side with Egypt, chose poorly and lost dearly. In the same way, it is important that we choose to side with Christ as we enter into the warfare of life. Too many are fighting vainly in life trying to get ahead, while neglecting to realize that the first step to real life is found in complete surrender to Jesus.

Second, we need to see that certain apparel is required for battle. While the people may have been more comfortable, and looked better in pictures, had they dressed in their finest suits, armor is required in battle. If we want to succeed in following Christ, we too must put on the armor of God. Paul described this as, a helmet of salvation , a breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth and the shoes of the gospel. The basic idea is that, we receive Christ, seek to live pleasing to Him, and be guided by His word.

Finally, in addition to armor, we are in need of weapons. A spoon might be the appropriate tool for the kitchen, but it has little value in hand-to-hand combat. The soldier needed a shield and a sword. The shield would protect him from whatever the enemy threw at him, and the sword was the offensive weapon, by which he would put down his enemy. Paul explained that our shield is faith or confident assurance in the promises of God. When we are attacked, we need to cling to the promises of God, and let His word, like water, wash away the fear, guilt and discouragement that keeps us from pressing on. At the same time, we need to cast down the enemy with the word of God. Paul said there would be times when thoughts would enter our minds that would not come from God, but would exalt themselves above His Word. We need to cut those thoughts down, as a soldier would his enemy. We need to be a people who are governed and guided by the Word of God.

Pastor Jim

 

Achilles Hill 

2 Chronicles 18:31
“So it was, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, ‘It is the king of Israel!’ Therefore they surrounded him to attack; but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him, and God diverted them from him.”

Greek mythology tells the story of the great warrior, Achilles, who survived many battles. As a baby, the legend foretold he would die young. To prevent his death, his mother took him to the River Styx, and dipped his body into the water. She held Achilles by the heel, so his heel was not washed over by the magical waters. Later in battle a poisonous arrow struck him in his heel killing him.

It seems that Jehoshaphat had an Achilles’ Heel of his own. We know him to have been a very godly man, who walked in the footsteps of the godly kings who reigned before him. We also know he was responsible for bringing spiritual reforms to Judah, and for sending teachers throughout the land to instruct the people in the ways of God. With all that, Jehoshaphat thought it was a good idea to befriend wicked king Ahab of Israel. A relationship that almost cost him his life. It wasn’t until he was surrounded by an enemy army, and face-to-face with his own death, that he realized the folly of this union and cried out to the Lord.

We need to be very careful. An ungodly relationship, or a compromise with sin, can undo years of walking with the Lord. It is not enough to wear some of the armor of God, we must wear all of it. If you have made steps toward walking with the Lord, but you are leaving one or two doors open to your old life, they will ultimately be your demise. Paul exhorted us to leave no provision for the flesh.

Perhaps it is time to reconsider some of your relationship choices. Are you being led away from the Lord by the company you are keeping? If so, make a break before you find yourself under a barrage of attacks too great to overcome.

Pastor Jim

 

Trust Him

1 Chronicles 5:20
“And they were helped against them, and the Hagrites were delivered into their hand, and all who were with them, for they cried out to God in the battle. He heeded their prayer, because they put their trust in Him.”

This passage reminds us that, in ministry, it is not our natural ability, but the enabling of God that is required for service in the kingdom. In the verses leading up to this, we find the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Mannasseh combined to form an army of nearly forty-five thousand men, but it was not their size that gave them success. These men are described as valiant and capable, but it was not their bravery, ingenuity, creativity or vision that led to their victory. Instead, we find they were victorious because they cried out to God in battle,and they trusted in Him.

I think it was their trust in the Lord that allowed them to enter the battle in the first place. Many times in scripture, history, and in the church today, we find believers hiding, or even running from the battle. How refreshing it is when we see, hear, or read of someone who is willing to step out in faith and go where the Lord is calling them. I recently spoke with a man who led a team of musicians into a war torn part of the Middle East. They were not soldiers, they had little military training, but they went out armed with nothing more than the Spirit, and the Word of God. Not only did they have an impact upon those they sought to reach, but their story has been inspiring other missionaries to take steps of faith into the call of God.

I think it is also worth noting, that they cried out to God in the battle. Sometimes, spiritual warfare can come upon us unexpectedly. We might suddenly be faced with fear, anger, agitation or some great level of temptation. We learn from this passage that victory can be attained when we will cry out in the middle of the battle. Remember Samson? It was while being mocked by the Philistines and with blinded eyes he cried out to God and had a great victory. Even when the arrows are flying, it is not too late to cry out to God.

Pastor Jim

 

Against The Odds 

2 Kings 18:33
Has any of the gods of the nations at all delivered its land from the hand of the king of Assyria?”

Assyria was on a campaign to conquer the world. Their armies were sent out to defeat any nation that showed the least resistance. Judah had watched as their neighbors Israel and Syria were defeated, and the people taken away as slaves. Now, with the Assyrian army at their doorstep, it seemed as though Judah would be the next to fall. Delegates, representing the king of Assyria, came to Jerusalem and openly threatened the people, in order to destroy what little confidence they might have had in the Lord. These delegates reminded the people that no other nation had been able to resist the Assyrian conquest, and Judah would be no different. It was here, they made their biggest mistake. They thought Israel’s God was no different than the manmade gods of other nations.

2 Kings 18:33 “Has any of the gods of the nations at all delivered its land from the hand of the king of Assyria?”

We often make the same mistake. We have tried, time and time again, to overcome some great obstacle in our lives, only to find we are unable to defeat the enemy. It might be a secret sin, our marriage, a prodigal child, a substance addiction, or a vast array of other things. After our best attempts have left us wanting, someone tells us to trust the Lord. We may feel as though we lack the strength to try again. We must realize, our God is like no other, and just as Judah was delivered from Assyria, God can deliver us.

Hezekiah and the leaders sought the Lord and obeyed His Word. They found that against all odds, the Lord brought deliverance.

Pastor Jim