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

 

Walking In Circles 

Deuteronomy 1:2
“It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb by way of Mount Seir to Kadesh Barnea.”

Deuteronomy begins with a recap of Israel’s history, from Mount Sinai, to the border of the Promised Land. Moses begins by reminding the people this journey that has taken a lifetime, should have taken less than two weeks.

After camping at Sinai and receiving the Word of God, the people were commanded to make their way to the Promised Land. They were told that they had “dwelt long enough in the wilderness.” Eleven days later, they found themselves camped at Kadesh Barnea. Instead of walking by faith, they were crippled with fear. As a result of refusing to obey the Lord, they found themselves stuck in the wilderness some 38 years later. Not a lot is known about those years in the wilderness, but one verse gives a sobering commentary,

Deuteronomy 2:3
“You have skirted this mountain long enough; turn northward.”

For 38 years, Israel walked in circles. They refused to go where God wanted them to go; seeing the obstacles rather than the power of God. For 38 years, they remained in the same station of life, using their weakness, and the strength of the giants as an excuse. It is quite interesting, as Moses recounts the event, he speaks of how the Moabites and the Ammonites both encountered giants, just like the Anakim, but they were not deterred. These unbelievers conquered the issues of life that the children of Israel were afraid to face.

I think it is high time we took seriously at the exhortation of Moses. We have spent enough of our life living in the wilderness, in partial obedience to the Lord. It is time to stop walking in circles, continuing to struggle with the same sins over and over. It is time to face our giants head on, and in the power of the Spirit, overcome the struggles of the flesh.

Pastor Jim

 

Dry Times

Numbers 1

20140228-064915.jpgThe book of Numbers receives its name from the numbering of the people that occurred in Chapter 1 and again in Chapter 26. In Chapter 1, those who came out of Egypt were numbered. In Chapter 26, 40 years later, at the end of their wilderness journey, they are numbered again. A careful look will reveal, some of the tribes grew, and some of the tribes shrank. I think there is an important application we can glean which pertains to our lives. Just as they were in the wilderness, we often find ourselves in a spiritually dry time. We may even feel like we’re just wandering around aimlessly. I think it is valuable to remember, based upon what we do in the wilderness, we can either come out having shrunk or having grown.I believe God brings us to those places in our relationship with Him, those difficult times, because He wants to grow us in our relationship with Him. He wants us to learn to trust Him and follow Him.

In the Gospels, we read of the disciples getting into a boat with Jesus. Jesus falls asleep in the front of the boat. As they begin to cross the Sea of Galilee, a storm hits, and the disciples freak out. They were so panicked, they woke Jesus and said, “Master, don’t you care that we are perishing.” That translates into, “Jesus, You don’t love us or care about us. If You really loved me, You wouldn’t allow this difficulty in my life, while You were sleeping.” We know, in response, Jesus got up and calmed the sea (Mark 4:35-41). They faced a difficulty (you might say they were in a wilderness), and they failed. But was it a total failure?

The next time we see them on the Sea of Galilee in a storm, these same guys, row from evening time ‘till 4:00 am without stopping. Jesus sent them out onto the sea and said, “Go to the other side.” He went up on the mountain to pray and as He prays, He watches them (Mark 6:45-50). He seems to enjoy watching them row. They row and row, hour after hour… as the night grows dark and morning begins to approach, they are still rowing. They haven’t stopped. What happened? Well, in the first storm, they had a wilderness experience, but during that time of difficulty, they learned something. Even though they’d failed, they learned. When we are on the Sea of Galilee and a storm hits, we don’t need to be afraid; even if it looks as though God is sleeping and not involved.

As a result of that experience, you could throw those guys out on that sea, in any storm, and they knew, “Jesus has it covered. Even if He’s sleeping, He’s got it covered.” They were in a wilderness, but they grew.Every one of us will face a wilderness. We go through times of dryness in our relationship with the Lord. Times of difficulty, times when it seems like Jesus is asleep, not hearing us. We can grow or we can shrink. Depending on how we trust and follow the Lord.

Pastor Jim