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Oh, say can you see

By the dawns early light

What so proudly we hailed

At the twilights last gleaming?

Who’s broad striped and bright stars

Through the perilous fight

O’er the ramparts we watched

Were so gallantly streaming?

And the rocket’s red glare!

The bombs bursting in air!

Gave proof through the night

That our flag was still there

Oh, say does that star spangled banner yet wave

O’er the land of the free

And the home of the brave?

These words were penned by Francis Scott Key during the British assault on Ft. McHenry in Baltimore. They tell the story of the banner that waved throughout the battle and gave him hope that the American colonies had not been over taken. It was a dark, rainy night and he relied on the explosions to be able to see if they were still being victorious against the British. That banner has since become a symbol of hope for the oppressed in the world. It stands for freedom, and when we see it waving, it should give us courage. 

I share that with you because a similar story took place in Exodus 17. The Israelites had fled Egypt and were on their way to the Promised Land when they were attacked by the Amalekites. Joshua led the children of Israel into battle while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up a hill to observe the fight. As long as Moses held up his rod as a banner, the Israelites were winning. When it dropped, they began to be overtaken by the enemy.

After they won the battle, Moses built an altar to God and called it Jehovah Nissi which means “The Lord is my banner”. He was reminding himself, the Israelites and us that when we are in a battle, we can look to God for victory. His banner will continue to wave no matter how perilous the fight is against you. It may be dark, it may be raining, the battle may still be raging, and things may seem hopeless, but if we will look to Him and lift Him up, we will be victorious. He is the Lord our banner. 

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A Change In Leadership

Several years ago, I owned a childcare center. One of the conversations I had with new families to the center was about authority. I would tell them, “Once you walk through the door into my center, I am your child’s authority figure. I need you to take a back seat. No man can serve two masters including your child. They will test the boundaries to see who is in charge, and they need to know it’s me. Otherwise, I won’t have any authority over them when you walk out that door.” I learned early on that if a child thought their parents had more authority over them than I did, they would start breaking the rules the moment their parents showed up, and the rest of the class would follow.

I tell you that story because you and I have a very similar issue with our flesh. It likes to do whatever it wants, and quite often, we let it get away with it. When it’s hungry, we feed it whatever it craves. When it’s sleepy, we go to bed or hit the snooze button. Also, when it wants to satisfy its sinful desires, we give in. That’s why it’s so hard for us to stay awake when we pray and also to want to fast. Our body throws a temper tantrum because it’s not getting its way, and we appease it to get it to calm down.

When we walk through the door of salvation, we need to cede authority to Jesus. Our flesh needs to understand that you and it are not in control anymore. Inviting Jesus to be the Lord of your life means that you are giving up your authority over your flesh. In Luke 9:23, Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (NLT). Taking up your cross is about giving up authority over your flesh. It’s telling it, “I am no longer your authority. Jesus is. You have to obey Him.”

The hardest thing for any of us to do is to give up that authority. I’m sure that’s why Jesus compared it to being crucified daily. It’s a hard process, but a necessary one if we are going to follow Him. We have to let Him lead us, and our flesh, which means we have to get out of the driver’s seat of our life. Being a Christian is more than saying a prayer. It’s the transition of leadership in your life. It’s a lifestyle change that you’ll battle your flesh over ever day of your life. If you truly want to follow Jesus, give Him the authority He’s asking for in your life.

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