In II Chronicles 20, a huge army invaded southern Israel. The king and all the people were terrified because they had defeated several strongholds easily. He begged God for help and asked others to pray with him. It sounds a lot like any one of us when we are facing something that seems impossible to beat. Fear is our first response, then we beg God for help. I believe what follows in this story is something we can all learn from in these moments in life.
The first thing that happened was King Jehoshaphat got like minded people together, fasted and prayed. We are not to fight these battles alone. Fear’s goal is to intimidate you and to push you into seclusion. Don’t let it! There is strength in numbers and in fasting. Get a group of people around you who can fight on their knees and touch God with you. This first step is critical if you’re going to win an impossible battle.
In verses 15-17, God answered those praying. The Word of the Lord came back saying, “Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (NLT). Things only seem impossible when God is not in the equation. The battles we face are not our own, but they are God’s. We don’t have to be afraid or discouraged at the sheer impossibility of anything that comes our way because God goes before us.
As the army of Israel approached the battlefield, Jehoshaphat spoke in verse 20 and reminded them, “Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in His prophets and you will succeed.” Faith will help us to stand firm when standing is all we can do. We can trust in God, and in His Word, to get the courage to keep standing in the face of impossibilities. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to continue to trust God and His Word until we can see the victory.
Finally, the king appointed singers to praise God and he sent them out in front. At the very moment they began to sing, the Lord gave victory. We need to be able to praise God in advance of victory. We need to honor Him when all else seems to be going wrong. Praise is powerful. It activates our faith and moves our God. If you can’t find it in you to praise, play praise music until you do. Victory is dependent on God, not us. We can praise Him for that. Our impossible battles are no match for a God who says all things are possible.
Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
Photo by Hasan Almasi on Unsplash
When someone has one thing go wrong after another, I’ll usually ask them, “Have you considered that these may be spiritual attacks that are showing up in the physical?” I’ve learned that spiritual warfare has a way of presenting itself as a physical attack. If we are only fighting in the physical, we will never get the result we need. It’s like washing your car without putting gas in it and expecting it to run because it’s clean. You can’t just take care of the outside. Fighting a spiritual battle in the physical alone is just like that. If you’re going to win, you’re going to have to put some gas in the tank.
We all know the story of David and Goliath. This is a perfect example of a spiritual battle that showed up in the physical. Saul and his men were just looking at the physical side of the battle and were terrified. They were outgunned. David immediately recognized it was spiritual and wanted to fight. In 1 Samuel 17:32 David told Saul, “Your Majesty, no one should be afraid of this Philistine! I will go and fight him” (GNT). Saul tried to put his armor on David, but physical armor is pointless in a spiritual battle.
When David stepped onto the battlefield, he said, “You are coming against me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the Israelite armies, which you have defied.” How did he win? He fought spiritually through the name above all names, he spent time worshiping before the battle and he spent time in prayer. God gave David the victory to show that He is able to save His people physically and spiritually. We have to be willing to stand on the physical battlefield with spiritual authority and fight with the spiritual weapons we’ve been given.
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One of the places I find myself at odds with mainstream Christianity in America (and maybe you too) is how we treat non-believers. In today’s culture, Christians are under attack for our faith. There is a war for the heart of this nation that we find ourselves in. The problem is that the enemy uses people and groups to attack us, and we fight back with these groups of people. We’ve forgotten that our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and rulers of the unseen world. We never once read where Jesus attacked the people who were attacking Him. Instead, He loved them and fought against their spiritual darkness by bringing light.
We as Christians have been called to be salt and light. Who needs those? People who are living in the dark and need God’s flavors sprinkled in their life. How can we bring light when we are constantly attacking the person? How can we show them how to taste and see that the Lord is good when we consider them our foes? We’ve can’t afford to be distracted by the enemy and fall into the trap of attacking others. We are to be known for our love rather than our disdain. How can we show God’s love when we are meeting hate with hate?
In Colossians 4:5, Paul urges us, “Be wise in the way you act toward those who are not believers, making good use of every opportunity you have” (GNT). His message was to the Christians there to remind them of the roots of their faith. I believe we too need that reminder. We need to pray for wisdom in how we show God’s love to those who are against our faith, and that we do it in a manner that is pleasing to Him. Our mission hasn’t changed. If we want to turn this world upside down again, it’s going to come from God’s love through us not from our human attempts to force change.
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All of us are prone to being attacked by the enemy. If you are a Christian, you can expect that the enemy will do whatever he can to disrupt your walk with God and ruin your witness. To help with that, Ephesians 6 describes the Armor of God that each of us can put on. I know people who physically do the motions of putting it on each day. They want to make sure that they are ready for an attack and ready to advance the Gospel.
Even with the armor on, the attacks of the enemy can be overwhelming. He uses circumstances, people around us and anything he can find to hurt us. If you’re in one of those battles, I want to remind you that you’re not fighting alone. God is not only there fighting with you, He’s also defending you from the enemy. Without Him defending us, we would all succumb to the enemy. Thankfully our God is a strong defender who protects His people.
Here are some Bible verses about God defending us.
1. The Lord will defend his people; he will take pity on his servants.
Psalm 135:14 GNT
2. When Your people go out to battle against their enemy, by whatever way You send them, and they pray to the LORD toward the city which You have chosen and the house that I have built for Your Name and Presence, then hear in heaven their prayer and their pleading, and maintain their right and defend their cause.
1 KINGS 8:44-45 AMP
3. Come with great power, O God, and rescue me! Defend me with your might.
Psalms 54:1 NLT
4. How I love you, Lord! You are my defender.
Psalm 18:1 GNT
5. He alone protects and saves me; he is my defender, and I shall never be defeated.
Psalm 62:2 GNT
When reading the story of David and Goliath recently, I noticed something I had read over. I Samuel 17:3 says, “So the Philistines and Israelites faced each other on opposite hills, with the valley between them” (NLT). I had never picked up that there was a valley between the two sides. Then verse 40 says, “He (David) picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.” David had to go into the valley to win the victory.
You won’t win victory standing where you are. You are going to have to make the first move. For 40 days, the Israelites were paralyzed by fear. Each day Goliath invited them to fight him, but they stayed put. When David heard Goliath’s taunts, he didn’t get fearful, he got a righteous anger. He knew that this was a spiritual battle that had to be handled in the physical as well. To win the spiritual battle, he’d have to enter the valley and trust God.
Fast forward 14 generations, Jesus was fighting a spiritual battle that required Him to enter a valley as well. John 18:1 says, “After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees.” The battle He was fighting was to have the courage to do what God wanted while facing the fear of dying a torturous death on a cross. He could have stayed where He was, but He entered the valley to pray that God’s will be done.
Both David and Jesus recognized that the battle was the Lord’s. They both knew who was fighting on their behalf. That gave them the courage to walk into what seemed like certain death in order to obtain the victory. You and I have to have the same tenacity in prayer and desire to go into the valley if we are going to win our spiritual battles. We are going to have to let go of fear and embrace what God wants to do, enter the valley in front of us, and fight on our knees for victory.
It is true that we live in the world, but we do not fight from worldly motives. The weapons we use in our fight are not the world’s weapons but God’s powerful weapons, which we use to destroy strongholds.
II Corinthians 10:3-4 (GNB)
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My nephew is into Airsoft wars and invited me to go to one with him. If you’re not sure Airsoft is, it’s a lot like paintball only the guns look real and they shoot plastic BB’s at you. At this Airsoft war, we arrived early. I rented a gun, mask and vest. It wasn’t long before lots of other people started to arrive. Most were dressed in full U.S. Military fatigues or camouflage while I was in blue jeans and tennis shoes. As we were standing there waiting to start, a guy in his 20’s walked up and asked about my nephew’s gun. After talking about it, he started talking about his AK-47 and the history of how they were designed and manufactured. He spoke of how much his Airsoft designed AK-47 mimicked the real one.
As he spoke, I watched other people arrive with Sniper rifles, cargo boxes full of gear, grenades and smoke bombs. I began to look at my rental gear and realize I was out gunned. When the guy finished talking about his gun, I jokingly said, “I’ve got this standard rental issue so look out.” He didn’t think it was funny. Instead he said, “That’s an M4.” He then told me all about my gun. It didn’t make me feel better about my chances in the upcoming battles. I realized I had a gun that had been overused, a mask that had been worn a hundred times before by a hundred different people and no idea of what was coming.
I wonder if that’s how David felt when he went to meet his brothers on the battle front. Did he look around and see everyone in their military gear and then look at his everyday clothes? Did he look at their weapons for war and compare them to his sling? He didn’t go there to fight. We just wanted to deliver some food for his brothers. When he did decide he was going to fight, the others for sure looked at his clothes and sling as insufficient. Saul gave him rental gear to fight in. We all know it didn’t fit and would have hindered his ability in the battle. David gave up the rental gear for spiritual gear.
He realized that the battle in front of him was more than a physical one. It was a spiritual one. He knew that his physical gear wouldn’t help him in a spiritual battle so he gave back the rental gear. He was out gunned on the physical front, but had all the fire power he needed on the spiritual front. His victory wasn’t due to his slingshot or the stones he picked out at the creek. His victory was due to his ability to recognize when he was in a spiritual battle. He knew that when God is on your side, victory is assured. He knew that physical attributes don’t guarantee spiritual victories.
Are you in a spiritual battle today that is masked as a physical one? Have you felt out gunned as you’ve approached the situation? Don’t get caught up in the physical impossibilities of the situation. Don’t get lost in what the other side has versus what you don’t have. When we look at the physical side of a spiritual battle, it’s easy to give up or to be afraid. When we look at the spiritual side, it’s easy to be brave because if God is for us, who can be against us? We have all the fire power and tactical advantage we need. Give up the rental gear, God has given you all you need to win.