Putting God's Word into Practice…

Deuteronomy 2 ~ From Wilderness to Battlefield

For the LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He knows your going through this great wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing. (Deut. 2:7)

Wow!  What an amazing God!  Although God sent them back into the wilderness for 40 years, He did not abandon them.  He continued to see each step they took, and to provide for their needs all along the way.  God is faithful, even when we are faithless.  It’s who He is, and He cannot deny Himself. (2 Timothy 2:13)  Even when we are disciplined and have to face consequences for our poor decisions; He is still God, and He is still good.

As God started to lead the Israelites back towards the promised land for the next generation to take hold of it, they had to pass through other countries’ territories.  God told them over and over, “Don’t take that land, I gave it to…”  The Lord helped Esau’s and Lot’s families take possession of the land He had chosen for them.  He aided them in overthrowing people much taller and stronger than themselves and cities more fortified than they were equipped to seize.  God wanted to do the same thing for His people, the Israelites, but they were rebellious, fearful, and unbelieving.  Nothing is too big for God!  He raises up and brings down kingdoms.  He is sovereign over kings and nations.  And no one can thwart His plans.

The Israelites proceeded towards the promised land in accordance with the commands of the Lord.  The Lord “had begun” to give them the land, but a battle still needed to take place.  However, they had a choice as to how they would fight those battles. When we are following God, we will have battles too.  When we try to fight on our own; the results are drawn-out, painful and devastating (Deut. 1:42-44) When we surrender to Him and let Him do the fighting, we have victory (Deut. 2:36).

  • Did God make a promise to you that is taking longer to come to fruition because of your fear and unfaithfulness?  
  • If you are in the “wilderness” because of poor choices, do you recognize God’s protection and provision even there?
  • Do you believe that God is bigger than your biggest adversary and stronger than your strongest stronghold?
  • Are you letting God fight your battles, or are you trying to fight in your own strength?

“Rise up and set out on your journey…” Don’t wallow in the wilderness; begin a battle! With God all things are possible!

P.S. Going from the wilderness into the battlefield is a recurring theme of the Bible.  Even Jesus, spent time in the wilderness before engaging His mission to achieve victory over sin for all mankind.

Leave a comment »

Revelation 19:11-21 ~ Grass-eater and Fishguts

When I was young, an older kid dared me to eat the grass clippings that had been tracked into the baby pool we were playing in. I ate a few to “impress” him and consequently earned the name “Grass-eater.”  The summer after seventh grade, I had my mom put highlights in my hair. I swam every day and spent a lot of time in the sun.  The highlights quickly turned green and orange.  That same summer there was a drought in my city and the fish died, and they were green and orange laying in the cracked mud of the riverbed.  You guessed it, I received a new nickname–Fishguts!

Nicknames reveal who we are and what we do.  They are often not self-proclaimed but given by others who witness our lives.  Jesus is called two names right off the bat in this section of verses–Faithful and True!  He received those names because that is Who He is and how He functions.  His faithfulness and truth is what is valuable about His character.  He will fulfill all promises and prophecy.  In this chapter Jesus is also called The Word of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords, and He has a private name that no one knows.  This reminds us that we cannot fully know Him in our human understanding–He is unfathomable and exceptional!

Verses 17-21 give us a glimpse into the future when Jesus will fulfill the most anticipated promise–His return to earth to rule and reign and set the world free from the curse of sin.  Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection are only part of His victory.  They give us victory over sin and death personally and daily.  But a time is coming when Jesus will purge His creation from all evil and completely redeem forever giving the final blow to Satan and sin and all the pain and repercussions that come along with living in a deceived world.

Jesus is Faithful and True.  He is Lord of lords and King of kings.  He is a valiant warrior who fights for us.  During this final battle against sin, those who belong to Christ will follow Him into battle, but we will not lift a finger.  The victory is eternally His alone.  And those who are behind Him will be the only survivors!  Evil will make war on Jesus, and Jesus will prevail.

Maybe you’re thinking, “What kind of God would annihilate all the people who oppose Him?”  Any world leader has the power–and even the responsibility–to destroy evil and uphold good.  Right now there is a “Christian genocide” happening in Iraq–this should ignite in us a demand for justice and a desire to see the blood of innocent children avenged.  Any good ruler would take action.  How much more so for the King of kings and Lord of lords!

Leave a comment »

Revelation 12 ~ Satan Is…

Recently I was harsh and snarky with my sons.  I wasn’t really mad at them but at some other situation. They were just closest ones on whom to take out my anger.  It is like that with Satan.  He is really angry at God, but he takes it out on us.  He is an enraged enemy! (vs. 13)

Satan is a deceiver.  (vs. 9) There is not one place in the world where his deception is not heard, believed and acted on.  All evil in the world is a result of being deceived.  All pain in the world is a repercussion of people believing his lies.

Satan is an accuser.  (vs. 10) Day and night he is before the Lord throwing mankind under the bus!  He is a diabolical tattle-tale!  “Did you see what she did?”  But Jesus is an awesome absolver!  If our sins are washed away by Jesus, there is nothing that he can accuse us of that holds water.

Satan is a warrior. (vs. 17) Anyone who obeys God and trusts in Jesus, Satan is making war against.  His chief aim is to keep people from the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and to destroy anyone who already believes.  He can’t destroy the Lord, so he tries to demolish His followers.

SATAN IS DEFEATED!  (vs. 8, 12) He knows his time is short and that Jesus already claimed victory over him when He died on the cross and rose again.

Satan’s power is limited. (vs. 13-16) The Lord still controls everything.  Protection comes from the Lord.  He is our powerful, victorious ally!  Jesus and the armies of Heaven are fighting for us.

Satan is unstable. (vs. 17) When this chapter finishes, Satan is standing on the sand of the sea.  Sand is a false foundation!  There is no real stability or longevity for anything that puts its stakes down in sand!

Leave a comment »

Psalm 20 ~ A Prayer for the Reader

In times of trouble:

  • May the LORD answer your cry.
  • May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm.
  • May he send you help from his sanctuary and strengthen you from Jerusalem.
  • May he remember all your gifts and look favorably on your burnt offerings.
  • May he grant your heart’s desires and
  • Make all your plans succeed.
  • May we shout for joy when we hear of our victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God.
  • May the LORD answer all your prayers.

Some nations boast of their chariots and horses, but we boast in the name of the LORD our God!–He rescues His people.  He answers our prayers.  His hand is mighty to save.  He gives victory in our battles.  He causes us to rise up and stand firm.

Leave a comment »

Revelation 2:8-11 ~ Better than a Beauty Pageant

When Jesus had John write His message to the church in Smyrna, He reminded them that He is the “First and the Last, who died and came to life.”  Then He goes on to say, “I know your tribulation, etc…”

Jesus doesn’t just know–He KNOWS–because He experienced it before them!  He endured tribulation, poverty, slander from “religious” people, suffering, prison and death!!!  Jesus had already been down the same road so that we can have victory over it!

In verse 10, Jesus gets to the root of their troubles.  The real trouble is Satan–the enemy of Christ and Christians.  He is behind their negative, painful persecution.  But he has no power!  Even if they die; they gain–heaven and eternal life in the presence of God where there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).

Jesus challenges the church in Smyrna to “Be faithful unto death,” and follows it up with a promise: “I will give you the crown of life!”  Death is not the end. Death is victory for a Christian because it has been conquered and overcome by Jesus–the First and the Last!  Death leads to a heavenly victory celebration where Jesus Himself will give the faithful ones their trophy!  Think of the joy Miss America exudes when the one who went before her places the crown on her head, and then multiply that joy by a billion!

Leave a comment »

1 John 5:4-5 ~ Gold Medal Day!

For EVERYONE who has been born of God OVERCOMES THE WORLD. And this is the VICTORY that has OVERCOME THE WORLD–our faith. Who is it that OVERCOMES THE WORLD except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?  (1 John 5:4-5)

Whether over an addiction or besetting sin, over the numbers on the scale, over our children’s strong wills, over a certain fear, we all want to overcome–conquer, triumph–something!  Victory is a beautiful thing! I remember vividly the day I received a first place medal in my age group for a 5k. Even though I tied my good friend and we had to share the medal, a victory is a victory, and victory is sweet! God’s plan for His children is far greater than overcoming small things and getting victory in a competition.  In Him, we overcome the world!  (This world’s system that is dominated by Satan, sin, sickness, sadness, and death.)

Who is it that overcomes the world?  EVERYONE who is born of God.  What does it mean to be born of God?  How do we know if we are born of God?  1 John 5:1 and 5:5 say that everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ–the Savior of the world–and that He is the Son of God is born of God.  1 John 3:9 says, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.”  Those who have been born of God, hate sin and don’t want to do it.  Finally, according to 1 John 4:7, those born of God are also people who are filled with and givers of His love.

Why would we want to overcome the world?

  • Jesus said, “Take heart I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  We want to overcome the world, because our Savior overcame the world, and we want to be like Him.
  • Galatians 1:4 says, “Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.” Our ability to overcome the world cost Jesus His life, and we should never take advantage of that sacrifice.
  • We know that the world is not our home.  Jesus said in John 17:16, “They are not of this world, just as I am not of this world.” Paul echoes that in Hebrews 13:14, “For this world is not our permanent home: we are looking forward to a home yet to come.”  This world should make us uncomfortable–like staying with a stranger in a hotel room–which should give us the desire to overcome it.
  • The world system is set up in direct opposition to God’s system and it won’t last.  Matthew Henry said about those born of God, “He must be well satisfied that this world is a vehement enemy to his soul, to his holiness, his salvation, and his blessedness.” To want to overcome the world, we must see it as our adversary, because it is run by our Adversary.  1 John 2:16-17 says, “For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

What gives us victory over the world?  Our great strength, our good deeds, our stamina and willpower–no way!  It is only by faith in Jesus Christ and His power!  Our initial faith in Jesus gives us eternal victory over this world.  Our infinite inheritance is a pain-free, sin free, Satan free, sickness free, death free world where God alone rules and reigns. But wait, there’s more!  Our daily faith in Jesus Christ gives us daily victories over sin.  Ephesians 6:16 says, “In ALL circumstances take up the shield of FAITH, with which you can extinguish ALL the flaming darts of the evil one.”  Faith gives us victory over sin which in turn maintains our fellowship with the Lord and gives us complete joy!  Victories are worth celebrating!

I will probably never win an Olympic gold medal, or maybe never another medal at all, but by faith my life can be one victory after another until the final victory when I cross the finish line of this life and enter my eternal home!  Every day can be a “gold medal day!”

Leave a comment »

James 1:22-27 How God’s Word Gives Freedom Over Anger

In the previous verses, God commands us through James to be slow to anger, stating that anger does not produce the righteousness of God in us.  Being “quick to anger” is an ongoing issue for many people–especially myself!  If I had a dollar for every time I’ve confessed my anger, cried over my anger, and requested prayer for victory over anger…

Anger is something that those who follow Christ are called to “put to death” in Colossians 3:5-10.  Based on James 1:22-27, there is one way to kill anger in our lives–ACT ON THE WORD OF GOD!  If we set our minds on living according to His Word, there will be no room for anger.  The amount of anger in my life–over trials, unmet expectations, giving voice to my impatience and selfishness–is a direct correlation to my indifference and outright disobedience of God’s Word.

James 1:25 promises that those who act on God’s Word will be blessed.  I know that to be true!  I’ve experienced the joy of obedience! But in the moment it is so easy to let my tongue loose…James calls that a person with worthless religion.  Always hearing–never changing! Knowing the truth, but giving precedence to the flesh.

Unrighteous anger is worldly.  It is a justifiable emotion and response when things don’t go my way.  The world teaches that it is normal and okay.  But God wants His followers–bought with the precious blood of Jesus–to be different.  He wants us to be unstained from the world.  When we justify our “quick to anger” reactions, we are deceiving ourselves!  We are replacing true righteousness with self-righteousness!  Think about it:  All anger against humans (anger against unrighteous actions IS justifiable) is rooted in self-righteousness.

The people to whom James was writing were scattered due to persecution.  Maybe the widows and orphans referenced in verse 27 were a specific result of this persecution.  We don’t see this a lot in our country, but in Africa and Asia this oppression is in abundance.  It would be easy to be angry at the ones who cause this atrocity.  But sinful responses will only defile us!  Taking our eyes off ourselves and our situations while caring for others who are afflicted is a true remedy for worthless religion.  Showing God’s love and mercy to those in need protects us from anger, proves that we are “doers” of the Word, and puts us in a place to receive blessings from the Lord.

Verse 25 calls God’s Word, “The Law of Liberty.”  That means that freedom comes through obeying God’s Word.  Specifically this morning, I see that freedom over anger comes from God’s Word–receiving it, hearing it, looking intently into it, and doing it!

Leave a comment »

1 Corinthians 15 — A Vain Life or a Victorious/Valuable Life?

Vain Life.  Five times in this chapter Paul used the phrase, “in vain.”  Some synonyms for “in vain” are:  purposeless, fruitless, unrewarding, hopeless, impotent, frustrating, and pointless.  Millions of people are living lives they would describe this way.  1 Corinthians 15 gives us several reasons why our lives can be characterized as “in vain.”  Unbelief that Jesus is who He claimed.  Doubt that Jesus died, was buried and three days later was raised to new life.  Rejecting truth about Jesus.  Being deceived about the value of life.  Living in sin–drinking it in with no care about tomorrow.  Not knowing God.  Spurning God’s grace.  Laboring for things and in ways that are not of the Lord.  Jesus did not come in love and sacrificially lay down His life so people would live empty, wasted lives.  Jesus came to give us victory!

Victorious Life.  Thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (57)  We walk in victory when we die to ourselves daily and let Christ live through us, when we hold fast to the Word of truth, when we bear the image of Jesus.  Although, we can experience that victory on earth.  True victory will be celebrated and enjoyed throughout all of eternity for those who have put their trust in the whole gospel and have receive God’s grace with gratitude.  Death will be swallowed up forever. In Revelation 21:4 it says that, “Death will be no more.”  The victory belongs to Christ!

Valuable Life.  “Therefore…be steadfast, immovable, ALWAYS abounding IN THE WORK OF THE LORD, knowing that IN THE LORD, your labor is NOT IN VAIN.”  The valuable life is spent standing firm on the gospel of Jesus Christ, not being moved or swayed by anything false, and doing the Lord’s work in the Lord’s power.  This lifestyle results in a fruitful, mighty, purpose-filled, rewarding, priceless life!

1 Comment »