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

 

God Fights For Me 

Psalm 35:1
“Plead my cause, O Lord, with those who strive with me; Fight against those who fight against me.

We cannot be sure the exact situation that stirred David to write this Psalm, but we do know that he seemed to be under continual attack. From the start, he had to deal with those who continually came against him. His father neglected him, his brothers tormented him, the Giants ridiculed him, the king hunted him, and the neighboring nations sent armies to attack him. As a result, it would be fair to say  David was an expert on warfare and he knew how to fight on many different fronts. In this Psalm, he reveals the secret behind his success. When under attack, David looked to God for defense.

Most of us are not reading this from a foxhole or from behind enemy lines. We probably are not distracted by the sound of mortar blasts or gunfire, but that does not mean that we are not under severe attack. Paul told the Corinthian church  that the warfare we are engaged in is not natural but spiritual (2 Corinthians 10:2-3 and Ephesians 6:12). We are under constant attack from the world, the flesh, and the devil. We are under constant pressure to give in to a little sin and to conform to the world. When we fail, we face a new battle, dealing with the guilt of sin and trying to free ourselves from its grip. Like David, it is time we learn to look to God to be our defense. The greater the intensity of the temptation, the more it is necessary to cling to the Lord and stand behind Him as our shield. If you are in the midst of a particularly trying season of life, it is essential that you learn to make the Lord your hiding place. His Word works as a shield and a sword. Find a promise that relates to your struggle, hide behind it, and use it against the enemy whenever he hurls temptation, fear, depression, guilt or any other weapon your way. God is our defense, He will fight our battles for us. We can find victory when we learn to trust in Him.

Pastor Jim

 

Victory

Numbers 24:17
“I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult.”

Unknown-1.jpegThe final prophecy from Balaam, regarding Israel, declares God will defeat all their enemies. The nations that surrounded Israel, as well as those who lived within its borders, would be brought under the mighty hand of the Lord.

As believers we should take great comfort in this. We all face constant attacks from without and within. Not only do we struggle through the difficulties of life, but we are also faced with inward temptation and trial. It is good to know that the enemy will be defeated. As we continue to walk with Christ, we will find that He carries us through the trials of life, and gives us victory over the struggles of our flesh. Even if you are struggling to keep your head above water, you can look back at the faithfulness of God and rejoice in the things from which He has already delivered you. This should give you a deeper desire to allow Him to set you free from whatever struggle you might currently be enduring.

God is faithful and will always be victorious. Pauls declare we are more than conquerors because of the work of Christ (Romans 8:37).

Pastor Jim

 

A Good Defense 

Nahum 2:1
He who scatters has come up before your face. Man the fort! Watch the road! Strengthen your flanks! Fortify your power mightily.”

Nahum wrote to warn Assyria of the destruction that was coming upon them, because of their violent and immoral rebellion against God, His word, and His ways. He foretold of a time when the ancient city of Nineveh would be razed to the ground. Like Jonah before him, his message reveals the mercy of God, as the people are warned in advance and told how to be prepared. They are told to man the fort, watch the road and fortify the city. This is good advice no matter what enemy we are facing. In ancient times, cities were defended by being surrounded by high walls. The less defensive the terrain, the higher the walls had to be. If a city sat on a hilltop surrounded by steep cliffs, it’s walls did not have to be nearly as high as a city situated in the plains.

In many ways, the believer is like an ancient city. The more we become like Christ, the higher a target we become to the enemy of our souls, and the more likely we are to be under his attack. Every Christian who has stepped into ministry has experienced this. If you sign up for a mission trip, join the prayer team, or become a children’s ministry volunteer, you know this will come with increased opposition, temptation and difficulty. The key is not to retreat from service, but to build better defenses. We need to know what our weaknesses are if we are going to successfully prepare for an attack, and we need to have a defense system set in place. Often, this is done by making it more and more difficult to sin. For example, if you struggle with worry, then it is a good idea to build a defense system that makes worrying more difficult. This can be done by focusing less on the things that cause concern and spending time meditating in the promises of God. If I were prescribing medication to the worrier, it would be to take a healthy does of the promises of Jesus.

Whatever your greatest area of spiritual weakness might be, the solution is to build a good defense system against it.

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

 

Sports 

Proverbs 10:23
“To do evil is like sport to a fool, bur a man of understanding has wisdom.”

While Jesus hung on the cross paying for the sins of humanity, paving the way for man to have fellowship with God, and giving entrance to heaven, we are told a group of soldiers were gambling for His clothing. The most important event in the history of humanity is unfolding, and these men are playing games at the foot of the cross. Sadly, their behavior is all too common among people today. Many, instead of taking seriously their need for Christ, are playing around with sin and treating it like sport. Even among believers this behavior is all too familiar. There are many Christians who seem to live for the adrenaline rush they receive, by getting as close to sin as possible, while not falling completely into it. That, my friend, is a dangerous game. Solomon wrote,

Proverbs 6:27-28
“Can a man take fire to his bosom,
And his clothes not be burned?
Can one walk on hot coals, And his feet not be seared?” 

Toying around with, and living on the edge of sin, is a very dangerous game. It will not be long before you find you have taken one step too many and fallen hard. For many, once that line is crossed, it is very difficult to be restored. Sin gets its teeth in us, and like a pit bull, is unwilling to let go. The secret to success, is to stay away from the fences. Don’t live as close to sinning as you can, but as far away as possible.

I had a good friend who had a substance abuse problem. He was doing his best to walk with the Lord, and stay away from former habits. He knew, he not only had to make investments in his walk with the Lord, but he also had to avoid his old stomping grounds. He even had to choose new routes home from work, because the way he traveled in the past took him right through the neighborhood where he would purchase drugs. After months of doing well, staying clean, and growing in Christ, he thought he was strong enough to handle it, and decided to take a short cut home. His path took him right by his dealers place. Before he knew it, he had parked the car, entered the home, purchased drugs, and fell hard. It was over a week later when I heard from him. He had been on a binge and had finally come down. Broken, hurting, filled with self-loathing, and fearing what was ahead, he told me the details of his story.

His story is not an isolated case. If we are honest, we all have stories of toying with sin and falling. Our landing may not have been as hard as his, but sin has had a devastating effect upon us, and those to whom we are seeking to be a godly witness. It is folly to think we can gamble with sin and not lose. If you have been treating sin like sport, it is time to retire. Whatever has been leading you to the edge, remove it from your life, and draw as close to Christ as you can. Paul told Timothy to flee youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:22) and Joseph took this so seriously he ran from Potiphar’s house leaving his clothes behind (Genesis 39:12).

Pastor Jim

 

Under Attack

Ezekiel 38:1-2
“Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, . . .'”

Ezekiel takes us on a fast and furious ride into the future. He describes a time when a coalition of nations will come against Israel in a final attempt to wipe them off the face of the planet. The players in this coalition will come from the far north, perhaps modern Russia, and will include Iran and North Africa. Ezekiel explains that although Israel is greatly outnumbered and ill prepared for such an onslaught, God will intervene, protect them, and bring about a devastating defeat on their enemies. This prophecy is remarkable for a number of reasons.

First, it portrays a time before the return of Christ when the nation of Israel will exist, and be under the threat of annihilation by some of their neighbors. For 1900 years it would seem almost ridiculous to think that this prophecy could be taken literally, since the Jewish people had no land of their own. Regardless of your eschatology, or your view of Israel, we must at least concede that the picture painted by Ezekiel, is not only plausible, but even likely, when we consider the events currently being played out on our world stage. Ezekiel goes on to say, the scene will continue to develop until Israel finds itself under attack by armies from the North, perhaps led by Russia,  and is miraculously delivered by the Lord.

Second, this is a vivid picture of the ability of God to protect those who belong to Him. We, as believers, are constantly under attack from our own flesh, and from the circumstances that surround us. We often feel as though there is little or no chance that we will make it. We wonder if a year from today we will still be standing and following Christ. What an encouragement to know, when God is for us, it does not matter what coalition of armies are against us. This reminds me of the words of Isaiah who wrote:

Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn.This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their righteousness is from Me,”

There is a strength given to the child of God, greater than anything we are forced to face. Joseph learned it in the pit, David in the caves, Daniel in the exile, Paul in the prison cells, and we can learn it no matter what obstacles we might be facing today.

Pastor Jim