Archive for the ‘Victory’ Category

Where Do You Look for Answers?

… You run to the armory… You inspect the breaks in the walls… You survey the houses for stone to strengthen the walls… You build a reservoir… But you never ask for help from the One who did all this. You never considered the One who planned this long ago.  Isaiah 22:8-11

The country of Judah was under attack from Assyria, but the inhabitants of Jerusalem did not fight with their fellow countryman. Instead, they enjoyed life in Jerusalem with parities and life as usual. But when the threat came to their homes, they began to arm themselves and fortify their defenses. They did everything possible except the one thing that could actually save them – ask God for help. They never considered His plan.

It’s easy to be consumed with ourselves. We all have responsibilities that we must attend to. We have bills to pay, children to feed, and personal battles to fight. And so we easily turn all of our attention upon ourselves; our needs, our wants, our desires. If Jerusalem had cared about their brothers and sisters under attack by Assyria and had fought with them, they would have been much better prepared for their own battle. One by-product of helping others is to receive the hands-on training to help ourselves! This is true because when we are helping others we seeking God’s will rather than their own pleasure. God leads us to love one another and help one another.

As I have begun my journey to better heart health, I realize that health is not about me. That is because life is not about me. It’s about God. He is the Creator, the Life-Giver, the Sustainer. He is my friend, companion, and my dad. And He is love. Therefore, love must be at the very foundation of a healthy life. My first response to any attack, whether it be physical or spiritual, must be to seek God’s wisdom, strength, and power. And this comes more naturally as I seek to live for others rather than myself.

When I keep my eyes on Jesus, He will not only initiate my faith, but perfect it (Hebrews 12:2). And when I live by the faith He continues to give me, I see with His eyes, touch with His hands, and go with His feet. With such an assurance, I know He will lead me to the right solutions and the best therapies as I serve others in His love. When I finally faced my health problems, it was tempting to first turn to solutions on the internet, or the doctor’s office, or the latest miracle cure.

I know the answers to life and health are discovered in a relationship with Jesus. So I ask for His help, and consider His plan for my life as I seek to serve others. This takes time each day. Time in His Word. Time listening to Him. Time emptying my mind of the distractions of this world and filling it with the attractions to His world.

What battles are you facing? Where will you seek your answers? 

But Everyone’s Doing It!

Don’t trust anyone… As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.  Micah 7:5, 7

As a parent I could tell dozens, if not hundreds, of stories when my children’s only rationale to do something was, “But everyone’s doing it!” If they really wanted to prove that the activity was acceptable, they would tell me how some kid who was an outstanding citizen was doing it. They hoped this would be all the evidence I would need to change my mind and allow them to participate.

I always rejected such arguments. Well, at least when used by my kids. Truth be told, I use the same argument in my own life when talking with God. I want to do my thing. So I look at those around me, and begin to think I deserve whatever it is that I want at that moment. Once I deserve it, I can go to any lengths to get it because it should be mine. This applies to anything we desire. If I see “everyone” else doing it or having it, then I should do it or have it too. 

But God counsels us to trust only in Him. He invites us to look only to Him for our help in times of need and in our struggles with temptation. The big issue is waiting. Micah wrote that he had confidence in God while waiting. Perhaps this is the key to overcoming the argument, “But everyone’s doing it.” They are doing it NOW. We want to be gratified NOW. But we may need to WAIT for God. Waiting can be very difficult unless you have confidence that you will get exactly what you need if you wait. Confidence only comes as we trust. And trust only comes when we are in a relationship with another person. Having confidence, then, requires that I spend time with God. I will wait a long time for a person I love, trust, and have confidence in. 

What would it look like today in your life to wait for God? To have confidence in God? To trust no one other than God? Once I can answer these questions, then my rationale changes from “But everyone’s doing it” to “But God’s doing it.”

 

Are You Listening?

But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there.  Hosea 2:14

It seems as though Israel was in a constant state of rebellion as we read the Old Testament. They were constantly seeking the gods of the people all around them. For some reason they preferred to worship idols much of the time rather than the living God. I don’t know about you, but I can understand that. The idols may be different today, but the struggle is the same – will we worship God or the things of this earth?

I take comfort in the fact that God constantly takes me back to where I need to be, no matter how many times I stray from His side. That’s the point of Hosea. God never gives up on you and me. When He gets our attention, He often takes us back to the desert where He wrote His law on tablets of stone. We think of the law as being a set of rules. We don’t see the love there. But as we read in Hosea 2:14, God tenderly speaks to us in the desert, in His law.

Consider what God said when He gave the law to Israel, “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.” (Exodus 20:1)  That was not a promise, it was a reality. And it can be a reality for each one of us today. There may be nothing more comforting to know than this fact: God pursues you and loves you even when you are sinning. He wants to rescue you. So, what consumes your thoughts throughout the day? What do you fear? What is your addiction? What is the thing you struggle with most? The list is long. It includes things like money, power, position, recognition, attention, sex, to name just a few. 

Today, God promises to take you to the desert, to speak to you through His Word, through other people, through circumstances of life, and through the Holy Spirit. God never gives up on you. He is constantly wooing you, seeking you, calling you, desiring you, and inviting you to the wilderness with Him. It’s kind of like a date with that one special person in your life. God wants to be alone with you and speak to you tenderly. Are you listening? Will you accept His offer today to be alone with Him, away from the distractions of the world? Give yourself a chance to get away from your fears and listen to God. He has something amazing to tell you. It’s the same thing He told the Israelites in there desert place, “You must not have any other god before Me.” (Exodus 20:2) I want to take Him up on His offer. What about you?

Is Your Faith Firm?

“…Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.” Isaiah 7:9

King Ahaz of Judah “trembled with fear” when he heard that Israel and Syria had joined forces to attack Judah. He assessed the situation and knew that he could not win the battle. Judah was doomed. There was no hope in the heart of King Ahaz. This is when God told Ahaz that “the invasion will never happen.” God is more powerful than any force in the universe, let alone on earth. There is no king, ruler, army, or insurgency that can defeat God. 

I don’t know about you, but I often focus on the threatened invasions in my life. They come in the form of temptations, selfish desires, discouragement, and self-doubt to name just a few. When I focus on the invaders alone, I tremble in fear just like Ahaz did of old. But God promises us victory. He does not leave us alone to fight the battles of life. No matter what you or I face, we are not alone. The God of Angel Armies will defeat any foe that comes our way. He only requires one thing from us: faith.

Just as He told Ahaz, He tells us today, “Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.” In other words, God cannot do what we will not allow. Above all else, God respects our freedom to choose. The Good News is that we only need the faith the size of a mustard seed to move the mountains of sin and invasions from our life. (see Matthew 17:20)  A “firm faith” simply means that I focus on Him rather than my problems and trust His path for my life rather than my own. I don’t even need to open the door to my heart as Jesus knocks, I simply need to whisper, “Come in.” That’s the faith the size of a mustard seed. 

I have a friend who was attacked by a pack of dogs as she was on a long distance training run. The dogs were mauling her as she was flat on her back next to a pile of garbage. She had given up hope of coming out of this situation alive when she saw a car approaching. She picked up an umbrella from the garbage pile and held it up as the car passed. The gentleman in the car noticed the umbrella and realized a person was being attacked. He came back to rescue her. She received expert care and had a full recovery.

God is in the rescue business. Your situation may seem hopeless, you may be under fierce attack, but God is more powerful than anything you are facing. May your faith stand firm and hold up the umbrella in the trash pile next to you. God will do the rest. 

 

Standing Firm

King Jehoshaphat of Judah was terrified by the news that the surrounding nations had united into one gigantic army to march against his kingdom. So He immediately turned to God for salvation because het knew his army could not prevail. If they were going to be victorious, it would be by God’s power. And so he prayed,  “You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against You!” (2 Chronicles 20:6)

As the enemy army approached,  the kingdom of Judah was helpless and afraid. This is when God spoke, “Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (v. 15) 

There are times when life overwhelms us. Death, failure, attacks on our character, an argument with our best friend, betrayal, loss, loneliness, temptations, or one of a hundred other enemies march upon us like the mighty army marching against Judah. Every time we are attacked we have a choice to make: fight or stand firm. Jehoshaphat was told by God to “Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory.” (v. 17) 

It’s hard to stand firm and let God fight. We don’t even know what that looks like most of the time. Perhaps that is why we try to fight every battle ourselves. When we are hurt by someone, our first instinct is to attack. If we are faced with a temptation, we try to resist. Whenever we fail in life, we ignore it rather than learn from it. When we disagree with a friend, we argue or disengage. The issue comes down to relying on ourselves or trusting in God. Do I really believe in God? Do I believe that He will defend my character? Do I believe that He has the answers to my failures and hurts? Do I believe that He will heal my broken heart? Will I believe His Word or the word of those around me? Jehoshaphat understood how to obtain victory in life when he said, “Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.” (v. 20) We live by faith. That’s the only way we can stand firm with God rather than fight with our own strength.

What does it look like for you to stand firm today? Will you have faith in God’s will for your life? Will you trust His Word to be authoritative in your life today? Stand firm today! God will fight your battles.

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