Settled

 “Forever, O Lord, your
word is settled in heaven.” Psalm 119:89-NKJV

Settled

Look in the mirror.
How often has your appearance changed over the years? How about your wardrobe?
If you’re honest with yourself, there may be a decade (or two) that you’d
rather forget when it comes to fashion!

Trends come and go;
music fads change; seasons change; ideas change; even the tires on our car
change (at the worst times, might I add!). Everywhere we look something is changing, and frankly it
gets to be a little tiresome. How do we keep up with it all unless we spend
money? Of course, that usually requires a job
change!

What a drag.

But wait…I see the
sun beams breaking through the graying clouds of our downcast spirit. Now there is something constant! The sun!
When have you ever woken up and not found the sun in the sky? Maybe it was
hidden behind some storm clouds, but you knew it was there, and it would shine
again. It’s constant, you can count on it. We count on the stars to be there at
night and the earth to continue rotating on its axis. Who put all of these
things in motion, anyways? Do we count on Him? If God’s creation is constant,
how much more so is his Word! No, it’s
not only constant, it’s settled!

Established.

Firm.

Immovable.

God has made up his
mind about a few things (to say the least) and he has graciously poured them
out into print for us: the BIBLE! What pleasure, what relief we have knowing anytime of the day or night we have the
honor of learning the heart of God through his inspired words! He breathed it,
he spoke it; these words have no variation. They are the same yesterday, today,
and forever, settled in heaven and on earth, unchanged for all eternity for you
and for me.

Prayer:

Jesus, when everything around me
bellows with uncertainty, I will cling to your words of life as the only unshakeable
source of constant truth.

Stand Firm; Fight with Faith

Stand Firm; Fight with Faith

 “And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” Romans 14:4b

When we think of words like fight, battle, and war we often get an image in our head that resembles many gruesome scenes. Perhaps this is due to the movie generation we live in where everything is put on the “big screen”, and easy for us to imagine. War movies are particularly popular. Maybe you’ve already got scenes from “Saving Private Ryan” in your head, or “Independence Day” (if you’re into alien movies), a western story like “Tombstone” is a favorite of mine. All of these movies have a common theme: the heroes have to fight for their freedom, and they must use a lot of violence. In all practical sense it is very logical to believe that in war we must fight with weapons, and use force to take what is rightfully ours.

Friends, we are in a very real battle in the spiritual realms. We are cautioned:

 “For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12(NLT)

Does this verse make you a bit nervous? The truth is, we are in a very real war, it is raging and you and I are IN this war, whether or not we want to admit it. We are either pawns on the chessboard, or we are active participants, ranking in God’s army and being used to fight against the “rulers…of the unseen world”. I know I would rather be a bishop in God’s army then a pawn in Satan’s chess game. We do have a choice as to what “player” we are going to be.

 But this isn’t a message about choosing to fight, or what player you want to be in the war. This is about strategy. Assuming you want to fight, what is the strategy you need to use to be a successful victor against these “mighty powers in this dark world”? We can be sure that this is serious business, and we need to know how to fight God’s way. One thing is certain: our battle plan will always fail.

First, we look to God’s Word and see how He instructed His faithful followers to fight in the battles laid out before them, and from that we will get some clues as to what our strategy should be.

Read Exodus 14:21-30

 Finally the Israelites have been released from captivity under the oppression of the Egyptians. As they are fleeing, the Pharaoh is enraged and has a little change of heart. He instructs his armies to chase after the Israelites. Coming up to the Red Sea the people become desperate. Did they come all this way just to be recaptured and killed by the wicked Pharaoh?

 “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! Pick up your staff and raise it over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground…My great glory will be displayed.’” Exodus 14:15-17(NLT)

 God didn’t tell the people to grab the nearest blunt object and fight for their lives, He didn’t even tell them to run across the dry ground. He instructed Moses to stand still and hold up his staff to part the Red Sea so the people could walk across. Be calm, and trust God to fight your battle.

 “Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.’” Exodus 14:13-14(NIV)

This is one marvelous example of many. You can look at them for yourself. In Judges 7:19-22 we see how God delivered Gideon and his very small army from the Midianites. What did they have to do? We are told:

“Each man stood at his position around the camp and watched as all the Midianites rushed around in a panic, shouting as they ran to escape.” Judges 7:21

Again we see words like, stood, and watched as the means for “battle”. Not exactly logical by worldly standards, but that is exactly how God’s glory is revealed! He takes the impossible and makes it possible only through Him, so there can be no denying His hand’s work. In Acts 16:25-27 Paul and Silas literally sat and sang their way out of prison!

 “All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off.”

In Daniel 3 we read of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who did nothing but stand for what they knew was right and they were delivered from the fiery furnace and God’s glory was revealed to all who witnessed it. Daniel 7 reminds us of how Daniel stood for what he knew was right, and was cast into a den of hungry lions for it! Did he pick up a club and start fighting for his life? Nope! It wasn’t necessary because he trusted God.

 “My God sent His angel to shut the lion’s mouth so that they would not hurt me.” Daniel 7:22

And finally I will mention the greatest example of all. Jesus Himself modeled for us His desire for us to stand firm, and fight with our faith, and use the Word of God as our weapon. In Matthew 4:1-11 we read of how Satan came to tempt Jesus after He had spent 40 days and nights fasting in the wilderness. He was in a state of physical weakness, and most vulnerable to a spiritual attack. From this we are given an important clue. Our physical weakness does matter, and Satan will use that against us. He comes to us in our weakness and whispers enticing deceptions into our minds, and this is the biggest battle of all. We must have the Word of God stored up in our hearts to fight against this attack. During this time of temptation Jesus did not physically fight with Satan, He only used His words. He quoted the Scriptures, and He knew the will of His Father so He was not deterred by any of the “enticements” laid out before Him. Some things are made very clear from this encounter.

First, we must have an intimate prayer life with our heavenly Father to know His will for our lives. If we are in a state of confusion we are more vulnerable to the lies of the Enemy and more likely to make unwise choices.

 Secondly, we must know the Word of God, it must be hidden in our hearts (Psalm 119:11). How can we resist the devil unless we know what we are resisting? We have to know the truth to recognize the lies!

 Third, when we know the truth, we must then rest in that knowledge and trust God to follow through on His promises.

 “The Lord Himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The Lord will keep watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.” Psalm 121:5,8

This is truth that sets us free! We must trust in this truth, choose to believe what He tells us, and live with faith. The key strategy for our battle is standing firm, using our weapon (the Word of God), and exercising Faith in His truth!

“Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13

 “Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 3:7-8

 “Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.” Psalm 4:4

 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

 “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so that you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.” Ephesians 6:13-14 (NLT)