Deut 20 There is a catchy commercial that asks that question thinking that money is always the answer but not always. How do you fight battles of both kinds: physical and spiritual? For both, we need special armor.
Moses addresses the first as he prepares the Israelites to enter the Promised Land. They would face enemies with horses, chariots, and numerous men. The fear was real, but Moses took the fighting men aside and told them a powerful truth: Some trust in chariots, some in horses and some in the numerous men. In that time, “do not be fainthearted. Do not fear and tremble or be terrified of them” because the Lord your God goes with you to fight on your behalf to give you victory.
Our battle is spiritual, but the principles are the same: do not be fainthearted. We struggle not against flesh and blood but the spiritual forces of the evil one. We may experience fear of the enemies around us and wish we could have wings of a dove to fly away to safety, yet God has provided us with the spiritual armor; the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the sandals of the gospel which is the good news. Our shield is that of faith by which we can extinguish the flaming arrows of our adversary. Our helmet is that of salvation, and we have the Word of God! Don’t forget the most important piece of armor: the powerful forces of prayer and petition.
Whether a physical or spiritual battle, know and cling to this truth: Our God goes before us, and He will not allow his righteous ones to fall. Take up your armor and stand firm.
Deut 7-8 Isaiah wrote that God is a promise keeper. He opens the eyes of the blind and frees prisoners. That could mean literally or spiritually and perhaps both. Our arch adversary seeks to keep God’s children both blind and imprisoned. But, when God delivers us, we should remember Jesus’ words: do not return to the adversary lest something worse happen. We must destroy the works of the enemy because if we do not, he and his demons will turn away our children from the faith to serve other gods. That was the warning Moses gave the children of Israel.
Secondly, God wants us to remember that he did not set his love upon us or choose us because of anything within us, but only because He loves us. It is because of his love that he promised to keep his oath and redeemed us from the prison of sin. We also need this reminder that within us lies no good thing yet because of His faithfulness He chose us from eternity past for His purpose. “The promise that I make does not return to me, having accomplished nothing. No, it is realized as I desire and is fulfilled as I intend” [Is 55]
So why do we not experience full pardon and freedom to see all that God has for us? It is because we simply do not want to destroy that which binds us utterly. We are comfortable in our sins. Until we come to the place that we desire God more than our sin that we will be free.
Are those your words when you are flummoxed by an unbeliever who can’t or won’t believe in Jesus? Keep reading.
2Cor 3 Understanding Unbelievers—
One of the hardest things for a believer to understand and recall is how they were before they met Christ. Once spiritually alive all thoughts turn to share Him with those who are not yet “in the fold.” Yet, time and again we are met with indifference and often misunderstandings. We want them to live and fellowship with us but something is hindering them. What is the problem and is there a solution?
How many times have you read Paul’s words: whenever the words of Moses are read there is a veil over their minds and wondered what he meant? It wasn’t until one day when a neighbor, on her own and out of the blue asked me “Who is God?” In my mind, I saw an open door but Satan saw his opportunity to shut it, lock it and hide the key. Excitement built only to be shattered that very day. As we sat and I explained to her the answer it was like a “veil” came down and separated us. To this day I can see that glaze in her eyes literally falling down; it was the strangest thing but now I know from Paul that it was that veil. Several attempts later were all for naught yet I prayed and continue to pray for another opening.
The words of Hughes: “A veil of intellectual darkness hides the glory which has been deliberately rejected.” Did you notice what Hughes says? The glory has been deliberately rejected but why? The answer is this: Satan “has blinded the minds of those who do not believe so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God.” [2Cor 4] Satan has had his hand in this veil.
Beloved, keep praying for openings. Don’t give up hope. Pray specifically that Satan would be bound and that God’s love pours through you to that unbeliever. And yes one more thing, pray for my neighbor that God would remove that veil.
Do you have that someone who needs prayer too? Share with me so we can covenant together for their salvation.
Zechariah 3 “How Do You Stand; Guilty as Charged or Forgiven?”
Picture a courtroom scene with the accuser and the defender and you in the middle. You stand before the righteous judge who listens to both sides of the argument. One says you are guilty and provides the evidence. Heads turn and you as the criminal listen and wonder. Will I be convicted? Is there hope? Yet, you also know that your very presence in prison garb hardly is a testimony of any innocence but in fact your guilt. As the accuser cries out your crimes we hear from the bench: May the Lord rebuke you –not once but twice. And at that moment you see the accuser and the courtroom silenced.
How strategically God has placed this vision before Zechariah as a picture of us in all of our iniquities and prison clothing. We stand guilty but the Lord of Heaven’s Armies cries out: I was in the fire with him, but I snatched him out. Instantly, t the smoke and smell of fire were extinguished and you hear: remove his filthy clothes! What the accuser meant evil; God meant for good that His plan of redemption could be seen by all.
Gently and with love you hear; Follow my ways, keep my requirements and you will come and go with others. You will be a picture of my love, my forgiveness, and my blessing.
You have been forgiven and given a robe of righteousness. Go forth as God’s forgiven child.
Nahum 1-3 In 1845, an archaeologist stumbled upon the site of Nineveh and found an extensive library that is now housed in the British Museum in London. These artifacts prove Nahum’s words are true and accurate.
Nahum the Elkoshite knew God and understood God’s ways. He knew that Assyria was brutal in its conquering of other nations and in particular Judah. In fact, they were so brutal that God sent Jonah there 100 yrs. before this book was written. As the Ninevites heard Jonah’s message the king and the entire city put on sackcloth and ashes in repentance. But, like many that go forward in a tent meeting, repentance is often short-lived. Fast forward to Nahum’s time and the Assyrians were again belligerent and cruel. Although Jeremiah had written that God’s mercies are new every morning, Assyria turned a deaf ear and so He inspired Nahum to reveal God’s character to them.
‘Listen Assyria, God is slow to anger not willing any should perish but all come to repentance yet He is also zealous and will avenge His people. Whereas your king of old repented and you were spared, your new king is indolent and degenerate. You are ripe for enemy nations.’
Just because you think it won’t happen doesn’t mean it won’t. Assyria was destroyed and their idols burned. Like then, scoffers said: “where is the promise of his coming? It is as it always has been.” God is merciful but He will be patient just so long. If Jesus were to return today, would you be ready?
Ezekiel 37 God’s love is beyond our ability to comprehend but the evidence is before us and is clearly seen in creation. But, often our eyes are focused on the “valley of dry bones,” our Death Valley. We say “I know God can do anything, “but in the next breath we say “I fail to see how God can work in this situation.” Martha stood by the tomb of Lazarus and thought those very words.
Martha wanted Jesus to do something because, like her, we are more comfortable “doing” than “believing.” Perhaps that is why we keep our idols of busyness, pleasure, and materialism. Like the pioneers of old, who wandered into Death Valley and had to be rescued, we find ourselves wandering, wondering how we too will be rescued. Martha stood before a closed tomb; Ezekiel stood in a valley of dead bones. Both were left speechless when God asked: can these bones live? But, God in his mercy watched and heard God say: I am about to infuse breath into you and you will live!
Jesus, from eternity past, determined to be our rescuer from our death valley. He saw, He came and reminds us: I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies, and the one who lives and believes in me will never die.
Ezekiel 15 to 18 In the NT Jesus told three parables about things or people that were lost and found. One is about a family with two lost boys who were lost both physically and spiritually. Ezekiel’s four parables mirror this story in many ways because it is true, parables are earthly stories with a heavenly purpose.
Parables: #1 In the branch parable we see a branch full of life thrown into the fire. Life without God is like the fires of hell. #2 In the unfaithful bride parable we see a rags to riches story. God takes us from the gutter and bestows his blessings yet the lure of the world is always at the doorstep of our heart. Be on guard! #3 A beautiful and prized eagle, God, raised up a people yet a false eagle, Satan, offered promises that were false. Beware false “eagles” come dressed as sheep in wolves clothing. #4 In the parable of the two sons we see a family whose lives mirrored the NT story. The younger was restless and disrespectful of his father. Seeking his inheritance he left and walked the world. The older son served his father but with an ungrateful heart. The younger returned and sought reconciliation but the older remained unforgiving. Confession of sin is the first step back to God.
Israel had been blessed by God but was unfaithful and ungrateful. Yet, like the prodigal’s father, God was always waiting to restore the relationship. She would need to return to the Father in confession and repentance. What would she do?
Ezekiel 12-14 Marcel Marceau is arguably the most famous mime artist of the century. Using white face and dramatic eyes, he referred to mime as the “art of silence.” In the quiet, the audience can reflect what the actor is explaining without words and cause dialog after. God had Ezekiel pantomime what was happening in Jerusalem some 900 miles away. The exile’s ears were being tickled by the messages of the false prophets: Peace is coming tomorrow!
Are your ears being tickled too?
God told Ezekiel: “While they are watching dig a hole in the wall; while they are watching raise your baggage and carry it out in the dark; lastly cover your face as an object lesson of shame.” Jeremiah’s words should have come rushing back to their memories. Instead, people came asking, what are you doing?
Ezekiel’s mime gave them food for thought. Without words, they could watch, discern and heed God’s message of truth yet they still were a hard-hearted people. Even today men watch world events and ask: What is going on?
God used mime drama another time to reveal His eternal plan for our salvation. Christ died for our sins; He was buried and rose on the third day according to the scriptures. Do you believe this or are you saying; I will choose God tomorrow when it is convenient? God doesn’t tickle our ears. He tells us the truth:
We all are sinners. We all must choose God’s way to be saved.
Pray for God to open your eyes to see, your ears to hear and your heart to understand this truth.
Jeremiah 50 to 52 The book of Jeremiah is long and there are some pointed lessons to learn and they come through the tale of two kings; Zedekiah and Jehoiachin.
Both had the privilege of having Jeremiah speak the words of God to them and both had sought the advice of him as the Babylonians were crouching at their doorstep. Both were placed in the position of leadership yet failed because of their wickedness. One believed Jeremiah, surrendered and saved his family. The other rejected and lost his family and the royal household. Both ended up in a Babylonian prison yet one was released after 37 yrs. to sit at the king’s table. The other would die in his bronze chains and in blindness remembering the faces of his children as they were slaughtered. Neither would have a descendant to take their place on the throne.
What is our take away from these two men and their end? When we ask God what to do and He tells us, we have a choice; we can keep fighting God or surrender. God says surrender your life to me and you will have everlasting life but often we say we can save ourselves. I can fix myself. I can…I can…etc. etc. etc. Yet, Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.”
Surrender to God and be saved; reject and enter a Christ-less eternity.
Jeremiah 21:8 The phrase great minds think alike is often used when one or another come up with the same thought. Moses, Joshua, Elijah and Jeremiah thought alike, talked alike, and wrote alike in many ways. Listen to their words:
Jeremiah: ‘I will give you a choice between two courses of action. One will result in life; the other will result in death.[Jer 21]
Moses: Today I invoke heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set life and death, blessing and curse, before you. Therefore choose life. [Deut 30]
Joshua: Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve [Josh 24]
Elijah: How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him, but if Baal, follow him. [1Kings 18]
The people were at a crossroads. They could choose God’s way or the world’s way. Moses said: It is in your mouth and in your mind so that you can do it. [Deut 30:14]
But men do not like rules; they can delay or choose their own way. Jesus said; For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
Choose God and life or Baal and death. What will you choose?