Tag Archives: Battlefield

Joshua 9-13; Luke 16

I imagine the energy, the confidence, the awe of Old Testament days–from walking with God in the garden, to experiencing God’s might through the plagues, to walking through parted waters. I imagine the rush of knowing that if God said he’d deliver, he would do it–a soaring hope, a battle cry. How could one doubt God’s majesty in the midst of all that?

I think of the disciples and wonder how it must have felt to walk with Jesus. The miracles they saw. The lessons they learned. The healing they witnessed. Wouldn’t that have been so convincing–and for many it was.

Jesus speaks:

27 “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. 28 For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’

29 “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’

30 “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’

31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:27-31, NLT)

I’m reading through a roundabout recommendation Disappointment With God by Philip Yancey that has completely flipped my perspective, just halfway through.

Today, I mentally stand on a battlefield watching Joshua and the Israelites in Joshua 9-13, and great emotion wells within me. God was with them.

I read through Luke 16 and Jesus’s story of the rich man and Lazarus–Jesus, God with them.

It’s easy to think that faith would be firm and resolute if one had witnessed Old Testament presence or New Testament flesh. But I have at my disposal the very word of God. I read those words of a long-ago time. I am comforted by the Lord. I am surprised by the Lord. I am reminded of his very real presence. I hold tightly to truth.

14 So the Israelites examined their food, but they did not consult the Lord. (Joshua 9:14, NLT)

Lord, when the world displays its evidence before me, may I consult you first and always.

Courtney (66books365)

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Joshua 11; Psalm 144; Jeremiah 5; Matthew 19

What does warfare look like? A plain pulsing with enemies armed for battle.

All these kings came out to fight. Their combined armies formed a vast horde. And with all their horses and chariots, they covered the landscape like the sand on the seashore. The kings joined forces and established their camp around the water near Merom to fight against Israel. (Joshua 11:4-5, NLT)

Deep waters pummeling and pulling down to steal one’s very breath.

Reach down from heaven and rescue me;
    rescue me from deep waters,
    from the power of my enemies.
Their mouths are full of lies;
    they swear to tell the truth, but they lie instead. (Psalm 144:7-8, NLT)

And maybe warfare doesn’t look like a field of foes or an undertow force sucking and dragging–maybe it looks like apathy, satiety, lust. Maybe it’s not an army without, but an enemy within.

For their rebellion is great,
    and their sins are many.

“How can I pardon you?
    For even your children have turned from me.
They have sworn by gods that are not gods at all!
    I fed my people until they were full.
But they thanked me by committing adultery
    and lining up at the brothels.
They are well-fed, lusty stallions,
    each neighing for his neighbor’s wife.
Should I not punish them for this?” says the Lord.
    “Should I not avenge myself against such a nation? (Jeremiah 5:6b-9, NLT)

When face to face with Jesus, he will shed light upon the things one truly values.

20 “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”

21 Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. (Matthew 19:20-22, NLT)

My strength is in Christ; the victory is the Lord’s.

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them. By this time tomorrow I will hand all of them over to Israel as dead men. Then you must cripple their horses and burn their chariots.”

So Joshua and all his fighting men traveled to the water near Merom and attacked suddenly. And the Lord gave them victory over their enemies. (Joshua 11:6-8, NLT)

Praise the Lord, who is my rock.
    He trains my hands for war
    and gives my fingers skill for battle.

He is my loving ally and my fortress,
    my tower of safety, my rescuer.
He is my shield, and I take refuge in him.
    He makes the nations submit to me. (Psalm 144:1-2, NLT)

Listen, you foolish and senseless people,
    with eyes that do not see
    and ears that do not hear.
22 Have you no respect for me?
    Why don’t you tremble in my presence?
I, the Lord, define the ocean’s sandy shoreline
    as an everlasting boundary that the waters cannot cross.
The waves may toss and roar,
    but they can never pass the boundaries I set.

23 But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts.
    They have turned away and abandoned me.
24 They do not say from the heart,
    ‘Let us live in awe of the Lord our God,
for he gives us rain each spring and fall,
    assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.’
25 Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings.
    Your sin has robbed you of all these good things. (Jeremiah 5:21-25, NLT)

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 24 I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

25 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:23-26, NLT)

Obedience to God and following Christ, letting go of strongholds and seeking with a whole heart … The walk with Christ is not easy–it is war, a war for my heart and soul. Do I recognize the battlefield?

Lord, you came to set me free, to give me a new heart, to give me victory in you. You value my whole heart, and I want my life to honor and celebrate you, with full expression and joy of my heart. Thank you for caring enough (so much!) about me to promise me you’ll never forsake me.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 18-19; John 6:22-44

The field commander said to them, “Tell Hezekiah this:

“The great king, the king of Assyria, says: What can you trust in now? You say you have battle plans and power for war, but your words mean nothing. Whom are you trusting for help so that you turn against me?

“Don’t listen to Hezekiah. He is fooling you when he says, ‘The Lord will save us.’ Has a god of any other nation saved his people from the power of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? They did not save Samaria from my power. Not one of all the gods of these countries has saved his people from me. Neither can the Lord save Jerusalem from my power.” 2 Kings 18:19-20; 32b-35 (NCV)

When I am in the midst of a struggle in life, I can hear two voices at war in my head.

The voice of the enemy screams at me, shouting half-truths about the struggle and solutions to the problem, taunting me with intimidation, threatening my life, and questioning the faithfulness of my God. The enemy tries to scare me into believing that I am all alone, that maybe the Lord really isn’t all-knowing, all-powerful, that He isn’t a loving God but an angry God. The enemy attempts to turn my heart, my mind, my soul against the only True and Living God, tries to weaken my trust in Him.

“Israel, how can I give you up?

How can I give you away, Israel?

I don’t want to make you like Admah

or treat you like Zeboiim.

My heart beats for you,

and my love for you stirs up my pity.

I won’t punish you in my anger,

and I won’t destroy Israel again.

I am God and not a human;

I am the Holy One, and I am among you.

I will not come against you in anger.

Hosea 11:8-9 (NCV)

The voice of God whispers, still and small, yet clear. He speaks kindness, love. He shares His heart for me, His child; He reminds me that He will never leave me nor forsake me, even when, according to the world’s standards, I may have done something to deserve punishment. He retells His Good News – He gave His Son, the final blood sacrifice, offered me the priceless gift of grace and mercy, and provided redemption and reconciliation. He shares His strength with me, shares His truth with me, shares His wisdom with me. He gives me the answer – Trust. In. Me.

It is up to me to decide who to trust, what voice to listen to. Sometimes it is hard to hear anything but the loud, clamoring noise from the enemy camp. It is hard to stand up to the heckling and there are moments in my human weakness when I succumb to the jeers and give in. I start to believe the lies of the enemy.

Maybe Onesimus was separated from you for a short time so you could have him back forever— no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a loved brother. I love him very much, but you will love him even more, both as a person and as a believer in the Lord. Philemon 1:15-16 (NCV)

Then, in my feebleness, in those moments of separation from my Heavenly Father, I feel a strength that is not my own lifting me up, strengthening me. His truth rings in my ear, reverberates into my heart. His low tones rumble encouragement to my spirit and I remember the choice I made years ago to trust in Him and lean not on my own understanding. I remember that He chose me first, before the beginning of time, before I ever cared for Him. The battle of the voices ends and God’s voice resounds clear.

The Lord has chosen Jerusalem;

he wants it for his home.

He says, “This is my resting place forever.

Here is where I want to stay.

Psalm 132:13-14 (NCV)

I am in Him and He is in me forever and ever. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

from the archives, originally published November 5, 2013

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2 Kings 18; Philemon; Hosea 11; Psalms 132, 133, 134

The field commander said to them, “Tell Hezekiah this:

“The great king, the king of Assyria, says: What can you trust in now? You say you have battle plans and power for war, but your words mean nothing. Whom are you trusting for help so that you turn against me?

“Don’t listen to Hezekiah. He is fooling you when he says, ‘The Lord will save us.’ Has a god of any other nation saved his people from the power of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? They did not save Samaria from my power. Not one of all the gods of these countries has saved his people from me. Neither can the Lord save Jerusalem from my power.” 2 Kings 18:19-20; 32b-35 (NCV)

When I am in the midst of a struggle in life, I can hear two voices at war in my head.

The voice of the enemy screams at me, shouting half-truths about the struggle and solutions to the problem, taunting me with intimidation, threatening my life, and questioning the faithfulness of my God. The enemy tries to scare me into believing that I am all alone, that maybe the Lord really isn’t all-knowing, all-powerful, that He isn’t a loving God but an angry God. The enemy attempts to turn my heart, my mind, my soul against the only True and Living God, tries to weaken my trust in Him.

“Israel, how can I give you up?

How can I give you away, Israel?

I don’t want to make you like Admah

or treat you like Zeboiim.

My heart beats for you,

and my love for you stirs up my pity.

I won’t punish you in my anger,

and I won’t destroy Israel again.

I am God and not a human;

I am the Holy One, and I am among you.

I will not come against you in anger.

Hosea 11:8-9 (NCV)

The voice of God whispers, still and small, yet clear. He speaks kindness, love. He shares His heart for me, His child; He reminds me that He will never leave me nor forsake me, even when, according to the world’s standards, I may have done something to deserve punishment. He retells His Good News – He gave His Son, the final blood sacrifice, offered me the priceless gift of grace and mercy, and provided redemption and reconciliation. He shares His strength with me, shares His truth with me, shares His wisdom with me. He gives me the answer – Trust. In. Me.

It is up to me to decide who to trust, what voice to listen to. Sometimes it is hard to hear anything but the loud, clamoring noise from the enemy camp. It is hard to stand up to the heckling and there are moments in my human weakness when I succumb to the jeers and give in. I start to believe the lies of the enemy.

Maybe Onesimus was separated from you for a short time so you could have him back forever— no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a loved brother. I love him very much, but you will love him even more, both as a person and as a believer in the Lord. Philemon 1:15-16 (NCV)

Then, in my feebleness, in those moments of separation from my Heavenly Father, I feel a strength that is not my own lifting me up, strengthening me. His truth rings in my ear, reverberates into my heart. His low tones rumble encouragement to my spirit and I remember the choice I made years ago to trust in Him and lean not on my own understanding. I remember that He chose me first, before the beginning of time, before I ever cared for Him. The battle of the voices ends and God’s voice resounds clear.

The Lord has chosen Jerusalem;

he wants it for his home.

He says, “This is my resting place forever.

Here is where I want to stay.

Psalm 132:13-14 (NCV)

I am in Him and He is in me forever and ever. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 2 Kings, 66 Books, Hosea, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Philemon, Psalms

Genesis 30; Mark 1; Esther 6; Romans 1

People did not think it was important to have a true knowledge of God. So God left them and allowed them to have their own worthless thinking and to do things they should not do. They are filled with every kind of sin, evil, selfishness, and hatred. They are full of jealousy, murder, fighting, lying, and thinking the worst about each other. They gossip and say evil things about each other. They hate God. They are rude and conceited and brag about themselves. They invent ways of doing evil. They do not obey their parents. They are foolish, they do not keep their promises, and they show no kindness or mercy to others. They know God’s law says that those who live like this should die. But they themselves not only continue to do these evil things, they applaud others who do them. Romans 1:28-32 (NCV)

It is true now. It was true then. Evil behavior has run rampant since the fruit was plucked from the tree. Over and over we can see illustrations of sin – jealousy, murder, fighting, lying, and so on – in the Bible, in the news, and even in our own lives.

I read today’s passages and I hear the discontentedness of Rachel in her desire for another son soon after Joseph’s birth. I feel the jealousy of Leah toward her sister the beloved wife. I experience the competition between the two as they shamelessly throw their maids at Jacob in order to produce more children and one-up the other and as they literally barter their way into their husband’s bed.

I see the double-edged deceit between Laban and Jacob. Laban hiding away the streaked and speckled sheep in his flock, promised to Jacob, conniving to squeeze every last blessing out of him before he leaves with his family. And, Jacob manipulating the mating of the pure sheep that were left to strengthen his own flock and weaken Laban’s.

I witness the pride of Haman believing that he would be the only man the King would want to honor and being humiliated by having to honor Mordecai, the man who he planned on hanging on the gallows. He runs home with his head covered to hide from the embarrassment, only serving to fuel his hatred more.

I’d like to say that I have been innocent of these sins. But if I did, I would be lying. I struggle daily with sin. I grapple with the battlefield in my mind. My desire is to always take every thought captive, but often jealousy, frustration, worthless thinking, bitterness, resentment ooze their way out. I believe lies that the enemy whispers in my ear and temporarily forget true knowledge of God in the midst of my circumstances.

Each moment, I have a choice. I can give myself over to my sin, my ‘stinking thinking,’ or I can baptize myself in His love and hear His truths wash over me, changing my heart and forgiving my sin. I can listen to the lies or to the Voice from heaven saying, “You are my [daughter], whom I love, and I am very pleased with you.” (Mark 1:9-11)

My prayer is that I use each moment wisely. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie, Vadipatti, India (written in the U.S.A.)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Esther, Genesis, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Mark, New Testament, Old Testament, Romans