The Battle Belongs To The Lord

Exodus 14:14 (WEB)

In today’s promise, we have an amazing assurance that the God who spoke the entire universe into existence will fight for us if we will only remain still. The NIV Bible says this verse this way…The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (NIV)

I believe there is something in the heart of God that fights on our behalf when we do not try and fight for ourselves. Waiting on the Lord is not passive, but it is the most active thing we can do. When we wait on God to fight for us, we are putting ourselves in a very vulnerable position and by doing so, we are demonstrating in a very practical way that we know that our heavenly Dad is the source of our help.

Does this mean that we never wage warfare on a spiritual level? After all, the Bible says that we are to ‘resist the devil and he will flee’, ‘take on the full armor of God’, etc. I believe what Exodus 14:14 is talking about is fighting in our own strength. There is a huge difference from fighting our battles in our own best efforts and fighting battles in the power of the Lord’s might.

When we learn that the battle really is the Lord’s, we can rest in His ability to save us and draw from His strength and not our own. Whatever battle you are facing today, be comforted in knowing that you have a  Father (God) and a Big Brother (Jesus) fighting on your behalf. You only need to be at peace and watch what happens.

 

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It’s Time To Look Up and See Our Saving Grace

Jude 1:24 (WEB)

Promise 270: I will keep you from falling until you joyfully stand blameless in My presence.

Unity In Trials

Unity In Trials
Should it come as a surprise when we go through trials, especially prior to the Feast of Tabernacles?  Sometimes we may experience “heavier” trials, perhaps having the feeling of being alone, that there is nobody out there who can help or comfort us.  It’s quite normal to have that feeling at times but we need to understand that EVERYONE goes through trials and EVERYONE suffers in their own way.  We go through trials for the purpose of our individual course towards perfection.
These particular tests affect each and every one of us.  Not all trials are the same for each of us.   Our responses and reactions, our strength and our faith are always being tested.  Do we pray to God when we are facing difficulties, asking Him to give us strength through His Holy Spirit?  Or is it in the back of our minds, not valued as important enough?  Is prayer just something we do when we have the time for it, when it’s convenient, sometimes even forgetting to pray altogether?  Do NOT neglect the power of prayer for anything, because, as Paul says in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
But we are human and we still think like humans, process thoughts by using our carnal minds, and at times give in to sin.   We can quickly change that way of thinking because we have something the people of this world don’t have who have not been called by God. We have the power of the Holy Spirit that we received during our baptism! God’s Holy Spirit helps us distinguish between right and wrong, which is why it is important to pray to God to grant us more of His Spirit when we are going through difficulties, and why it is so important to replenish it daily.
We shouldn’t be afraid when we go through trials, but it’s never a bad thing to ask ourselves why we may be going through certain trials.  Isaiah 41:10 tells us, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  And 2 Timothy 1:7 continues on saying, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
David understood this, and he also faced many difficult trials. He pleaded with God with fasting and prayer and knew that he had to change.  He was not too proud to admit that he sinned when he recognized it and bitterly repented. He was still punished, but God accepted his repentance and he was forgiven.  After all, he was a man after God’s own heart.  His heart was in the right place.  He loved God’s law and he received strength from God.  He didn’t have anything to fear since his absolute faith was in God (compare Psalms 27:1; 118:6).
Our trials may be different from other’s trials, but we all go through trials for we are ALL being tested.  And that is why we pray for and comfort one another, because we are never alone.  It’s a unified effort!
Just as our beliefs and what we preach is unified, we then are to speak the same thing, agree that there are no divisions, be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment (1 Corinthians 1:10).  We need to be of one mind (1 Peter 3:8).  Romans 12:16 adds that we need to be of the same mind toward one another and not be wise in our own opinion.  If we think that we can make it on our own, saying that we don’t need the church or the ministry, don’t need to keep God’s law and just do what we believe is correct in our own eyes, we will fail.  Where do we put our trust?  Proverbs 3:5-6 gives us the answer.
Yes, God will direct our paths, but God also provides help because we are not alone.  Who can understand the Bible without direction, explanation and guidance? God provides help for the purpose of teaching (compare Ephesians 4:11-13; Acts 20:28).  We are to be helped by the ministry because we have a work to do.  But we need to be of one mind.  How can two walk together unless they are agreed? (Amos 3:3).
To be truly unified we also must have humility (Philippians 2:1-8), we must have peace (Ephesians 4:3) and we must have love, which is the bond of perfection (Colossians 3:14).  Are we doing enough?
We ALL go through various trials.  Through unity of like mind, we receive strength and comfort from God and our brethren (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). We must allow God to help us when we go through difficult times. We must not take Him for granted nor His Church nor all the things that He has given us. Rather, we need to really think about what His purpose is for us.  Why are we here? What are we commissioned to do?  We ALL have a part—individually and as a whole.

 

Waiting On God

Genesis 16:1-16

God answers prayer in one of three ways: “yes,” “no,” or “yes, but not yet.” This last reply seems to be the most dreaded— sometimes even more than an outright “no.” However, patience is an important trait for the Christian, as Scripture stresses repeatedly in stories, psalms, and epistles.

Waiting on the Lord to unlock a door is always wiser than attempting to pry it open ourselves, even when the delay has been long. After God promised him descendants (Gen. 12:2), Abraham lived for 25 years with an answer of “not yet.” After that quarter-century, the answer finally became “yes.” But meanwhile, Abraham and Sarah came up with their own plan to get an heir—Sarah’s servant Hagar bore Ishmael. The couple may have convinced themselves they were “helping” God live up to His prophecy, but really they were disobeying. The consequences were disastrous. Bitterness and blame affected every member of the family (Gen. 16:4-6 Gen. 21:9-10). What’s more, Ishmael’s people lived in enmity with their neighbors, and that hostility persists in the Middle East today (Gen. 21:9-14; Gen. 25:18).

Our patience gives God time to prepare the opportunity on the other side of a closed door. Even if we could force our way by manipulating circumstances, we would not be happy with what we find there. No one in Abraham’s camp was satisfied with the situation they created! We can have contentment and joy only when we access the Lord’s will at the very moment He ordained. The blessings we find on the other side of an open door are always worth the wait.

God Is In Control

Deuteronomy 29:9

Almighty God reserves the right to reveal some things and conceal others. Although we may not know why natural disasters occur, the biblical truths we do know with absolute certainty allow us to trust the Lord even in times of great suffering. Because of the Bible, we can be certain:

God is in control (Psalm 103:19). Nothing in heaven or on earth is outside of His rule and authority. He does not react to events but sovereignly ordains or permits them to run their course. Although we cannot know for certain if He has sent a catastrophe or allowed it, we can trust in His goodness and wisdom.

The Lord loves people and wants them to be saved (John 3:16-17). Giving His Son for the salvation of the world proves without a doubt that He loves each person. This truth stands firm despite the fact that many reject the Savior. He cares for us, even when we can’t feel it or won’t accept it.

God works circumstances for His good purpose (Isa. 46:10). Though we can’t fully comprehend what He’s doing in each incident, every disaster is a wake-up call for humanity. God is alerting us to the need for repentance—so the lost can be saved and the saved can be revived to live totally for Him. The Lord wants to get our attention, and catastrophes open our ears to hear from Him.

The One who loves us perfectly is in full control, working everything out according to His plan. Knowing this should fill us with hope, even in the midst of crisis situations. The Lord promises to turn disaster to good for those who “are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

Connecting the Dots

Connecting the Dots
LORD, I cry out to You; make haste to me! Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You.
Psalm 141:1

It took two years to paint A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, the famous seaside scene. Each color that the eye sees is composed of countless contrasting dots. It is only as the viewer steps back from the painting that the picture emerges from the seemingly random dots.

When we are on the brink of despair, all we see is the color of our current situation. Our souls long for relief. When Job lost everything, he came to a point where he longed for death and wondered why God had forgotten him. Similarly the psalms of David are full of laments, heartfelt prayers to God expressing profound grief and sorrow. When we are in a dark place, it is comforting to know we are not alone.

Biblical stories can encourage us when we feel stuck and hopeless. This is not the end of our story but only a single dot or season. God is at work. He sees and affectionately holds the entire painting of our lives in His hands and has promised to create something beautiful. Don’t give up.

Is it not without its comfort that the two men that conversed with the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration both broke under the strain of their ministry and prayed that they might die?
J. Oswald Sanders

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The End Is More Important Than The Beginning

The End is More Important Than The Beginning

A good name is better than fine perfume,
and the day of death better than the day of birth.

— Ecclesiastes 7:1

I recently attended a funeral for a woman who had lived a very long life. Yet, as anyone who has lost a loved one knows, the pain of losing a close relative comes no matter how long that person might have lived. The group that assembled for the funeral was solemn and tearful. Yet, when one of the speakers began to eulogize the deceased, he began with the following verse from Ecclesiastes: “A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth.”

I have no doubt that the day that the departed had been born was a joyful one. And as I looked around at the faces of the mourners, it was clear that the present day was a sad one. So what did King Solomon mean when he said that the day of death is better than the day of birth?

The sages relate a parable to illustrate the idea.

A brand new ship was being set off to sea for the very first time. A group of people gathered to send the ship off with great joy. At the same time, an older ship was returning from its final journey. That ship was old and worn, ready to be retired upon its return. While everyone else was cheering on the new ship, only one man happily greeted the old ship.

The others asked the man why he was more excited about the old ship that would soon be a heap of junk than the new one on its maiden voyage. The man explained that when a ship begins its journey at sea, its future is unknown. It might be overtaken by pirates or it could sink in the middle of the sea. Whether or not the vessel would complete its mission was beyond anyone’s guess. However, when an old ship arrives from sea having successfully completed its mission, then all doubts are removed. The ship was successful and that is reason to be joyful.

So, too, when a person is born, we do not know how the person will turn out. But if they have lived a good life, remaining faithful to the Lord, then when their life is complete we can rejoice and be comforted in their successful mission even in the midst of our sorrow and grief.

Let us remember that as long as we live we are like a ship at sea. It’s up to us to keep the ship on course and to fulfill our respective missions. We determine the success of our life. If we remain focused and resolute, then our final day can be even better than our first.

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