Old Testament

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Mighty Weapons, Mighty Warrior

Published April 26, 2018 by Dawn

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty! For the pulling down of strongholds, the casting down of imaginations and everything that sets itself up against the wisdom and knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:4).

David walked into camp and handed over the goods, sat down and began to chitchat with the mighty men of war. A booming voice interrupted them: “Are you still here, Israel? This day, I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” Goliath taunted and caused a wave of fear to crash into the Israelite camp. The mighty men of war ran away in fear while David looked around in bewilderment.

His brother ran out from around the great boulder that shielded him and grabbed David’s arm, yanking him out of view. Anger painted his face red and he clenched his teeth in rage.

“Does this happen every day?” David’s nonchalance made the others ashamed and all they could do was nod their heads.

“What’s to be done for the man who defeats him?”

“What man?” Eliab sneered. He pushed David’s shoulder roughly. “I know you are conceited, but come on. You cannot defeat that gigantic phlegm-wad. Sit down and shut up.” David steeled his body against the blow, shoving his heels into the ground for stability against his brother’s attack. He knew his oldest brother was prone to jealousy, but this was bitterness he had not seen before. Perhaps the weeks of cowardice had sown that bitterness. David could see that fear had taken inches off his brother’s majestic stature as he cowered there with the rest of the men.

When the bellowing died down, the soldiers crawled out from their hiding holes and scattered once more across the hill. They could see the Philistine army in the distance, but they had evaded the war for one more day.

“You there! Come!”

David was shoved toward a captain who had called out to him, and he fell in beside the man as they rushed up the hill. Before he knew what was happening, he was standing in the tent of Israel’s warrior king.

“What’s this I’ve heard, boy?

David exuded a youthlike confidence that was somewhat comical against the backdrop of a cowardly army. “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine. Your servant will go and fight him.”

Saul eyed him suspiciously. He hadn’t the heart to stand against this magnificent threat, nor had any of his other men, or even his own son, who had once defeated 20 men with his armor-bearer beside him.

“You’re just a boy. He’s bred for fighting. It’s suicide.”

“With all due respect, you misjudge me. I have killed both lion and bear to protect my father’s sheep. This uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Resigned, Saul waved his hand disparingly. “Go, and the Lord be with you. Only …” He signaled his armor-bearer, who jumped to attention scurried toward the chest in the back of the tent. David watched as the man pulled up coats of mail and shields, heavy swords and breastplates of the highest quality.

A few minutes later, David stood awkwardly, burdened down by the clanging metal suit and hardly able to stand, much less move around. “I can’t wear this into battle. I’m not used to them.” The men around him watched in horror as he took the armor off and piled it next to him. Brushing off his tunic, he picked up his staff and nodded to the room before walking out unencumbered toward the stream that lay between Israel’s camp and the camp of the enemy.

David studied the streambed as he walked slowly through, picked up a few stones and put them in his satchel. Then he continued forward to the edge of Israel’s camp. The Philistines mumbled as he drew nearer and nearer, and Goliath stood solemnly to greet him.

“What is this? Am I a dog, that Israel would send a boy with sticks? Come here, and I will feed your flesh to the birds and wild animals!”

David stopped and smiled. “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day, the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves, for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

Goliath moved menacingly closer to the edge of camp, shortening the distance between he and David at a terrifyingly rapid pace. David, unperturbed, ran toward the edge of Israel’s camp as Goliath lumbered toward him. He reached into his bag and pulled out a smooth stone from the bottom of the stream. He deftly fitted the soft leather pouch of his sling around it, swung it smoothly through the air with surprising force and released the strap. No one knew what had happened until the evidence of victory lay bleeding at his feet. The stone had hit with such monumental force, it sank into a self-made cavern in Goliath’s forehead and instantly, David had defeated the Philistine’s boasting. Running toward the body, David ignored the rumbling around him and drew out the sword from Goliath’s side. He stood above the giant’s head and slammed the sword down through his neck. Goliath’s head lopped off to the side and rolled toward the towering warrior’s feet.

********

We discussed this verse last night in Bible study and immediately, I knew I had to share what the Lord impressed on me this week as I read 1 Samuel 17. The chapter starts out with an innocent trip to see his brothers on the battlefield. David was sent with provisions for his brothers, as well as a gift to the commanders of the army, who were all encamped on a hill opposite the Philistines. Little did Jesse know what he had asked of his youngest son. Little did he know it was the last time David would be home tending the sheep. Little did he know his shepherd boy was about to make all the hearts of Israel captive.

This battle was David’s battle. Saul was a mighty warrior who had no reason to be afraid, yet his heart was melting in fear. His son Jonathan had proven his mighty faith in God by defeating an entire outpost of soldiers not long before, but we don’t see him stepping up to challenge Goliath. In fact, no one except David even dreamed of doing such a thing. It was a God moment, and David was to rise to the calling of the warrior within.

His brother, mistaking David’s courage for conceit, chastised him angrily. His cowardice resented the courage and conviction of his little brother. Here, he and all Israel’s great men had cowered for forty days under this verbal assault, and his youngest brother who had never known war was defending God’s honor and making them all look bad? Eliab was indignant.

My favorite part is when Saul tried to fit David with the armor. It’s symbolic of Saul trying to prepare David in man’s best wisdom and best effort. David knew that wasn’t how he was supposed to walk into battle, so against all better judgement, he shrugged it off and walked out just as he walked in. But when he got to the battle lines, we find he wasn’t undressed. The Bible says that David told Goliath that he came in the name of the Lord. Kinda like I’m in my favorite pair of jeans today … David was literally cloaked in the name of Christ and he wasn’t backing down because he knew that God’s name was enough! His confidence wasn’t in any man-made preparation. It was in the name of the Lord.

I love how David went into battle looking like a fool just to prove to Israel that their strength wasn’t in their numbers or their training. It wasn’t in their weapons or the wisdom. All their victories depended on God, and all they needed to do was remember how powerful and faithful God is. David, unwavering in his strong convictions about God, smote a man everyone else hid from, including their king.

No, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. They are not devised by men with limited wisdom. They are mighty! They tear down strongholds. The enemy cannot prevail against the name of Jesus, for our God is the same today as He was then, and therefore, we have access to the same victorious power. If God be for us, who can be against us? (Rom. 8:31).

There’s a battle for each of us, and I pray you show up to yours with grace and unwavering confidence in God. I pray you act out of a heart of obedience instead of fear, trusting in the powerful name of Jesus to save you. I pray you defend God’s honor and ignore the shameful ignorance of those around you. I pray you go forward in peace and assurance that God will supply all your needs and deliver you from all evil, as He said He would. I pray you walk unencumbered by the burdens others try to weigh you down with, knowing where your strength lies. I pray for you, mighty warrior. In Jesus’ name!

 

*I took some artistic liberties with this one, so please read 1 Samuel 17 for the unembellished version. 🙂

 

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God of the Hills and Valleys

Published August 3, 2017 by Dawn

“Afterward, the prophet came to the king of Israel and said, ‘Strengthen your position and see what must be done, because next spring the king of Aram will attack you again.’ Meanwhile, the officials of the king of Aram advised him, ‘Their gods are gods of the hills. That’s why they were too strong for us. But if we fight them on the plains, surely we will be stronger than they.”

“The next spring … the man of God came up and told the king of Israel, ‘This is what the Lord says: “Because the Arameans think the Lord is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the Lord.’”” (1 Kings 20:22-23, 26, 28)

I was picking up around my room yesterday morning, and it was a rare moment where I really wasn’t fixated on anything in thought. My mind was quiet, which hardly ever happens. I’m glad it did, though, because I heard the Holy Spirit say something that I needed to hear, very clearly.

You over-estimate the devil, and under-estimate God.

It was a mouthful of something bitter I needed to chew on. The truth is bitter sometimes, you know. I was glad the Holy Spirit confronted me on this, even though in that moment, I was uncomfortable. I mean, I know my thoughts are laid bare before the Lord all the time, but sometimes, I put on a good enough front, I can even fool myself into believing I have rock-solid faith. It’s all a sham, I’m afraid. When the Lord spoke this to me, I knew instantly I had been called out on something He wanted to deal with.

I wrote it down on the whiteboard in my bedroom. I put my prayer requests on it, quotes I want to think about, scriptures that are doing a work in me … pretty much anything I need to ruminate on go on the whiteboard. I wrote this “word” down and went about the rest of my day, thinking back to it often because let’s be honest, when the Holy Spirit speaks so clearly, you know God is about to do some major work in you.

I sat down to read my Bible this morning and eventually ran into the above scripture, and recognized myself in it immediately. I think this is my problem: I see God as master over certain situations, but deficient in others. I also tend to look at the enemy in certain circumstances and immediately give him the victory in my heart because I’ve seen him victorious before. I also worry a lot when I don’t see the whole picture, afraid that God is not going to prevail in things that are truly important to me. You see, I have designated Him a God of the mountains. I have come to expect the mountains, strive in climbing them, meet Him there, but then I descend (as we all inevitably do) into a valley and immediately lose sight of God because I believe Him to be up on the hill somewhere above me.

I don’t expect God to be with me in the valleys. I don’t carry with me the faith that He truly will never leave me or forsake me, even though He said so and the word assures me He cannot lie. In the valley, I am often defeated in my mind before the battle even really begins, and because of that, I cannot see the victories until I am up on the next hill looking backward. He hasn’t failed me ever, but I often feel He is failing me because I allow my abandonment issues to rise up and cloud my vision.

Add to all of this, the fact that I give Satan credit where none is due, and I can clearly see why the valleys seem so deep, dark and troublesome. I feel alone in a place I know the enemy is lurking. He’s got a plan and before he even begins to work at defeating me, I’ve raised my hands in surrender, trembling at the thought of what he’s capable of. I get my eyes off the Lord because I don’t trust Him to truly be with me and deliver me. In my heart, I have believed that God is not God of the valleys.

Just like the prophet said, the enemy is preparing for battle all the time. We need to muster our courage, check our defenses and strengthen what remains. We need to strategize and have a plan (it’s not hard … my plan is to rely on God and see His victory!). We need to stand up and face life head on KNOWING that our God is God in the valleys just the same as He is God on the hills. I probably don’t have to tell you that in this story, He reaped an awesome victory. He will do this in our valleys too. While our enemy may be encouraging us to see his own strength and to fail in our faith, God is lovingly imploring us with His tender gaze to TRUST HIM. He is no less God in the bleak days. He is no less powerful in the darkness or storm. He is no less loving in our struggles to believe. He is God who cannot change. The same yesterday, today and forever. He is for us. He is victorious!

Our God is God of the hills and valleys!

Self-Annihilate, for the Glory of God

Published March 20, 2017 by Dawn

“…for you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God … put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature …” (Colossians 3:3,5)

I was lying in bed the other morning in a very self-righteous state of mind, counting the cost of transactions already made with the Lord. Parts of myself I have willingly given up and submitted to the Lord, things in life I have placed in His hands and not taken back, although I may have wavered at first. Battles with self that I have won … I was thoroughly patting myself on the back and recommending myself to the Lord in what can only be described as a disgusting display of self-pride. This was my usual prayer time and the Lord was there too, bearing witness to my self-love until He no doubt had enough. He very tenderly (but also firmly) reminded me of a story in the Old Testament that wiped the smile right off my face.

Samuel anointed Saul for a specific conquest and told him to destroy the Amalekites. The men, women, children, livestock … they were to be destroyed completely. Nothing to even suggest they ever existed was to be left. He then left Saul to the battle.

“When Samuel reached him, Saul said, ‘The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.’

“But Samuel said, ‘What this is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?’

“Saul answered, ‘The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.’

When Samuel returned, he was indignant. Saul greeted him with a victor’s hello, but Samuel immediately knew something was not right. Saul boasted in his victory and paraded the livestock and even the king of Amalek around as a spoil of war, bragging that he had completed the mission God had sent him on but that was not how God saw it at all.

“Samuel said, ‘Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. And he sent you on a mission, saying, “Go and completely  destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out. Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?’

“’But I did obey the Lord,’ Saul said. ‘I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag, their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.’

Samuel repeated the instructions God had given Saul, but Saul still wouldn’t admit that he had done anything less than completely obey. He was blinded by his own pride. He kept Agag as a sort of trophy for having defeated an army that was notoriously vicious and most often victorious. In the same breath, Saul defends himself and says he did exactly what God commanded and destroyed all of the Amalekites, but admits to keeping Agag alive. Um, hello Saul! Is Agag not one of them?!

In his mind, Saul was justified in keeping Agag. He also distanced himself from the sin of keeping the livestock by blaming it on his soldiers. Twice. With all authority in his hands, he shrugs off his soldier’s defiance against the orders of God. And in case that wasn’t enough to satisfy Samuel, he tells him that the best of the livestock was purposed for God anyway.

When the Lord begins to deal with us in matters of the flesh and our earthly nature, He comes at us resolutely with the command that all must die. All of ourselves that is flesh and not spirit must be given over to death so that we may live in the new way of the Spirit. Because we love Him, we zealously thrust forth everything He points out as being unholy in us and nail it to the cross we are bid to carry. We easily identify our lusts and our unrighteous inclinations. We know they don’t please him … in fact, they no longer please us either, so it’s an easy sacrifice. But if we go on in this way for long enough, God begins to deal with things we would rather He leave alone. Things we carry around as trophies, spoils of war from days gone by. We look Him in the eye and insist it will be dealt with, then squirrel it away out of sight so we can take it out when we think God isn’t looking and admire it some more.

There are things in our flesh we are  sympathetic to that we will never willingly submit to God if we are functioning in our self-will. We have to submit to His will entirely in order to see the job done correctly, or like Saul, we will kill off only the things that serve no real purpose in our lives while keeping parts of us that doesn’t please God. We might even think, in our deceptive hearts, that what we have kept will serve a real purpose in His kingdom. And it will … just not God’s purpose. It will serve earthly purposes. Devilish purposes. Never God’s.

You see, God commanded Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites because He knew the threat they posed to the kingdom of Israel. The rampant idolatry, the constant destruction and war. God wanted His people to live in peace in the land He had so lovingly reserved for them. The Amalekites threatened their peace and security, and their presence threatened their purity and devotion to God. Saul’s sympathies – or pride, as it were – endangered the Israelites for centuries afterward.

There is sin in us – deep, hidden things that when brought to light, we will defend instead of surrender – that are traitorous to us. There is treason within our hearts just waiting for the moment we sympathize with it. Things God has said must go that we have hidden away because it seems to serve a purpose, or exalts our lowly pride. We will even look at God and insist we have given over all of ourselves, put to death all the misdeeds of the flesh, while glancing back at things we know He commanded us to give up and kill completely.  We don’t realize how serious a threat these things can be. How detrimental to our faith and our walk with the Lord. God wants us to live with inner peace and joy, and we are allowing things of the flesh to rob us when all we have to do is kill those desires and inclinations in us and we would be better off for it!

Be careful what you side with in your character. Each of us should bare every part of ourselves to the Lord and let Him approve or disapprove. We will no doubt approve of things that does not please the Lord, so to be all that God desires, we must allow Him to show us what in us is not of the Spirit, and then we must immediately kill the things that displease Him, dishonor Him, or violate our witness in any way. We cannot offer to God parts of ourselves as a holy sacrifice that He has already deemed as an unholy thing. We can never pride ourselves in a job well-done, because to pride ourselves at all is to admit that the job isn’t done. When we have completely died to flesh, we will find ourselves mortified, humbled yet gloriously alive in the Spirit and a pleasure to our Heavenly Father. To become such, we must first abandon all of self to death, so that we can be raised to life in the Spirit.

“To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22)

Naked

Published February 15, 2013 by Dawn

“So he said, ‘I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.’” -Genesis 3:10

With a renewed desire to know God intimately, I decided to start back at the beginning and opened my Word this evening to Genesis. I was struck by this verse. I was struck by the human nature of Adam. His frantic urge to hide himself from God, and how silly that seems given that not only had God made Adam, but God had seen Adam naked before Adam even understood his nakedness. Ugh! It’s so like me!

I have really been struggling lately to engage in prayer with God. I feel like He’s seeing and knowing the deepest parts of me, and I have this intense fear that what He sees is shameful and embarrassing. In fact, I know this is true. My carnal nature makes me blush. How much more would it make God? And no amount of denial will make it any less a part of me. Like Paul, I struggle with wanting to do the right thing and yet finding myself always wrapped up in things that cannot possibly please God. So what do I do? I hide myself from Him. I run. What I fail to see is that even before I knew shame, God knew me. He knew my frailty. He knew my carnal thoughts, my carnal ways. He knows them. He sees every part of me While I am running, He is looking for me. “Where are you?” He says. And although He knows I’m running and avoiding Him, He patiently waits for me to come back to Him, “I knew you were looking for me and I was afraid. Look at me! I’m naked and ashamed.” And He lovingly covers me, covers my shame, and beckons me to walk with Him. Oh, what a friend we have in Him!