Monday, October 14, 2013

Battlefield of Life

I was truly blessed this weekend to be able to attend a retreat in the mountains where I was able to spend time with dear friends and hear some uplifting classes on the "Battlefield of Life."  We discussed how there has been a gradual erosion of the moral line between believers and the world, leaving us wondering what is right. Thankfully, God has given us principles for VICTORY in His word.  Here is a brief outline of the 5 principles  (key scriptures in parenthesis) our speaker discussed.  I found them helpful and hope that you do as well.

Victory though PARTICIPATION (Genesis 13 and 14):  Here we have the example of Abraham and Lot, where Lot makes the poor decision to descend into Sodom.  Although he knew the principles of God, he was quickly led away by the ways of Sodom.  In Sodom, it was all about the "stuff" you had (see Genesis 14:11-12). When Sodom is attacked, Lot and everything he has are captured and taken away. Abraham knows the poor choices Lot has made, but he doesn't sit back, waiting for God to take care of it. Abraham takes every one of his 318 men, putting it all on the line, to rescue Lot.  After everything Lot has done, Abraham still considers him a brother.  Abraham understood that battling in the ways of God was not just about himself.  It was also about defending and caring for his friends.  He had victory through participation by caring for his friends!  We all need encouragement, even the "strongest" of us, so remember that the battlefield of life includes battling for the salvation of our friends.

Victory through PERSONAL INTROSPECTION (Genesis 32):  All his life, Jacob relied on his own cunning to get him through trials. In this account in Genesis 32 where he wrestles an angel, Jacob is 97 years old and finally is coming to the realization that his worst enemy is himself. As Jacob prepares to meet his brother, Esau, who he has been at odds with for many years, he realizes that he can do nothing on his own.  Esau has 400 men with him and Jacob has his wives and many children to protect.  God brought him to the point where there is nothing to do but rely on God.  In verse 24, we are told that Jacob rose early, preparing his mind for the day. An angel meets him and there is a battle where Jacob is emotionally wrestling with his doubts and fear. Despite the length of time, Jacob holds onto the angel until he gave him a blessing, holding on for dear life.  We, too, will come to a point when there is nothing we can do but hold onto God for dear life.  It is at this point that we must have victory through personal introspection and cry out to God for strength.

Victory through PERFORMANCE (1 Kings 17 and 18): Here we are given the account of two very different performances by two very different men.  We have outspoken and dramatic Elijah and the quiet but faithful Obadiah.  Elijah performs a dramatic scene on Mount Carmel, where he proves to the Israelites that the Lord is the only true God.  He demands that the people choose between God and the world, instead of stumbling between two ways (See 1 Kings 18:21).  We, too, can't stumble between two paths because there is only one way.  We are also given the example of the servant Obadiah, who works for wicked Ahab and Jezebel.  Despite the fact that he is putting his own life at risk (Jezebel would kill him if she found what he had done), Obadiah courageously resisted Jezebel's threats and hides and feeds 100 prophets of God for 3 years!! Although he did it in secret, Obadiah's work indirectly aided nearly 7000 Israelites who were faithful to God.  Whether our performance is obvious or where no one can see it, God knows and we can have victory through performance!

Victory through PATIENCE (2 Samuel 16): In this account, we see King David's remarkable patience. His son is trying to usurp the throne and David is in a very hard time of his life.  When he is at his lowest, a man named Shimei comes up to David and his mighty men and begins to physically and verbally abuse them.  David is surrounded by  huge and courageous men, yet they all endured the criticism. Instead of hurling insults back, or even killing Shimei, David and his mighty men absorb the criticism.  Sometimes the best thing we can do when we are criticized is to quietly, patiently absorb the hurt, and so have victory through patience.

Victory through PREPARATION (2 Chronicles 32:1-8): Here we have the faithful King Hezekiah, who is faced with a very serious threat of attack by the Assyrian king.  Even though he has been faithful, Hezekiah still has to go through trials, and so will we.  However, Hezekiah doesn't still back and hope that God will rescue them when the Assyrians come.  He takes action in verses 3 to 7, where he first seeks wise counsel, then gathered the people together to work, prepares his own mind mentally, diverts the water source into the city so that they will have water in a siege, and PRAYS.  Hezekiah is proactive in his battle and we can learn from him that we must be similarly prepared to battle for God's way.  

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