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April 29, 2016, 12:22 PM

A Matter of the Heart: Experiencing Victory.


Our current Thursday small group Bible Study is called Seamless. It has been very enriching in my personal spiritual life, and mainly I believe that’s because it is a commitment I’ve made to soak in the meaning of His Word on a daily basis, more than just superficial reading or a “verse of the day” to contemplate. Spending time in the Word truly will make your faith come to life. I’ve been thinking of these Bible stories and characters throughout my day, even hours after my Bible has been closed.  I highly recommend it! And depending on what is going on in your life at the time will influence what meaning you see in the scripture. This time reading these Old Testament verses a particular application stood out to me.

All around us in our busy un-grounded lives, we see each other – Christians included – not being able to have victory over trials. Our trials can involve the lack of strength and will-power to give up things that enslave us, whether poor carnal attitudes (even if we think they are warranted), addictions, hauntings from the past or overcoming disappointing pain and losses. This earth is oh-so-fallen. And we will continue to face brokenness whether we are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life or not. In the book of Exodus, God’s chosen people who have been enslaved to brutal unrelenting taskmasters for 400+ years are about to witness God deliver them from their oppression. Put yourself in their shoes. Even if they did see proofs of God’s power, in order to actually escape people that have abused you and who possess cold hearts would seem impossible. They’ve set out to murder your children and have left whip lashes on your back personally. There are no limits to their cruelty. You’ve experienced the damage. You’re enslaved, helpless, hopeless to their power. If you’ve ever been abused or felt captive to anything in your life, you can empathize with the psychological struggle in their hearts and minds. How will God ever get me through this? I know theoretically that He should be able to, but I can’t see what His plan is, so I’m not sure it will or can happen. But God (through Moses) tells them in Exodus 14:13-14, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians (your overpowering enslavement) whom you see today, you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” I believe this is what God tells us about all of our chains that He wants to free us from – the ones that we “see” and cannot even imagine how we will get away from them. Be still and let God fight for you. It is the only way. Also, as they take their first step of faith into the Red Sea that God is parting with Moses’ staff, the Bible says that “the Angel of God, who was going in front of the Israelite forces, moved and went behind them. The pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and stood behind them. It came between the Egyptian and Israelite forces . . .  So neither group came near the other all night long.” [Exodus 14:19-20]. First this “Angel” was God Himself, whether it was Jesus Christ as a cloud or Yahweh, it doesn’t matter. It was the essence of God first leading them on a path that they had not seen before that moment – one they probably were not expecting to appear: the dry ocean floor. Parallel that to your own life as the way God rescues you is often not the way you expected. Secondly the essence of God was behind them, protecting them from their past, from their oppression, from their fears, from the enemy. Visualize God being this for you in your own seemingly impossible battles.

In another Exodus passage further on along in the story where the Israelites are wandering in the wilderness from place to place, a group of people under Amalek attack them. Their plan for battle was for God to fight it for them. This entailed Moses standing on the hilltop above holding his staff in the air. If it dropped at all, the Israelites started losing the battle. As soon as it was lifted back up, they were conquering again. If you’ve never held anything up for an extended time, you won’t be able to empathize. It will exhaust you quickly. Exodus 17:12-13 says, “When Moses’ hands grew heavy, they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat down on it. Then Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other so that his hands remained steady until the sun went down. So Joshua defeated Amalek and his army with the sword.” Have you ever gone through a trial and felt like you couldn’t hold out much longer? Or you actually collapsed already? It’s called being “at the end of your rope.” I like the underlying message of how this battle was fought. It required obedience to a radical point – beyond what you can do, and it may require the spiritual church to help hold you up. Many times God rescues us or helps us endure by sending others to fight along with us and to be our strength. That is good stuff.

After much time of waiting to receive God’s promise has passed and events transpire, the next generation gets to enter the Promised Land that is already populated with cultures – evil and demented cultures from what I read. God gets Joshua and the Israelites across the Jordan River to enter Canaan, the Promised Land, only to begin the battling. This Promised Land is a lot of work! I would be so tired. At what point will we reach our goal? At what point will we be able to rest?! But there is a lesson here: in order for victory, in order to receive God’s promises and blessings, we will have to fight battles. When I can foresee a battle ahead in my own life, my first instinct is to run away. I am not brave. We have to remind ourselves that the Lord always has something better for us, a richer plan, but He wants us to receive it through trust and obedience, despite how the journey looks, and it may be beyond our breaking point. Remember Moses had to have an outside strength to make him able to uphold his staff. A challenge like that doesn’t sound pleasing to enter into. But most of the time, we don’t have a choice in the matter but rather find ourselves in the middle of these dreaded situations.  With whatever impossible battles that you feel you are losing in your personal life, claim the promise God gives us that He wants to fight our battles and will provide the strength. He’s the only way to be victorious.



Comments

05-02-2016 at 10:36 AM
Karen Schmidt
I really appreciate how you approach this. Life is a battle, but we, as those in the old testament, face great battles in our lives but praise God we are never alone. He will give us the strength to fight. Our final rest is when the Lord calls us home. I want to be like these warriors of old, I want the Power of the Lord to sustain me every day through every battle. He says he will and proved it over and over. We just have to have the eyes of faith to believe it. Good article Cheryl.
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