“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14
One step forward; two steps back. This was a regular pattern for Moses as he courageously led the Israelites into freedom. He knew in Whom he hath believed, but was leading generations of people who did not see the bigger picture. After finding himself at a dead end with a nation of tired and faithless slaves who were unable to receive the freedom God was offering, I can’t imagine he didn’t want to throw his hands in the air and say, “You’re right, why don’t you all hightail it back to Pharaoh and beg for his mercy!” But he didn’t! He firmly answered,
“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13-14)
God had not sent him a memo regarding the “Red Sea Strategy”. Moses had no idea how God would deliver His people with ruthless Egyptian soldiers on one side and a vastly enormous body of rushing water on the other. He knew ONE THING, His God would fight for Him and his God battles victoriously. It is that unwavering stand that holds the battle lines, folks.
We are not always included in the strategic planning, but the confidence we have in the authority of our commanding officer is imperative to hold the line!
As we look back through the lineage of royalty in Israel and Judah through history, there are rulers and there are Kings! Many of the rulers are called out as having done “evil in the sight of the Lord”. When you look at those Kings who made a difference in battle, who were successful and victorious and effective, they all have one thing in common… they honored and obeyed God and took Him into the battle.
For starters, David, before he was appointed king, went into battle against a man twice his size and known for his ruthless ability to conquer. He marched right out telling his opponent he was coming in the name of the Lord Almighty and battled victoriously with a sling and a stone. Israel did not have tryouts for their Slingshot team, David marched with God and God fought for him. In fact, battle after battle we see a direct correlation between victory and obedience. What are the battles in your life?
Paul specifically tells us in Ephesians 6:10 to “be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power” and to “put on the full armor of God” so we can “stand against the devil’s schemes.” THE STRUGGLE IS REAL! The names and places have changed, but GOD HAS NOT. He still goes to battle for us. He is not just with us, He does not just lead us, He goes FOR us! Why would anyone want to go into battle without first calling on Him? Yet we do. We all do it, every day! What dead end have you come to? We look at the Israelites and think ‘Wow! Could they have been any more ungrateful or unintelligent?’ They had God rolling out the red carpet, meeting their needs, offering them freedom, but they were whining to go back to bondage. Do you see a similarity? Let us learn from the generations who have gone before and choose blessings over curses; life over death! Anything worth doing is worth doing right. We would not choose to go to battle knowing we will be slaughtered, yet we do. We should not choose to fail, yet we are. It is time to declare our battle cry! Lord Almighty, fight for ME! Let’s choose to battle victoriously.
-VLM Staff - MRN
I listened to the desperate cry of my client, “no one has ever believed in me”. I have heard that same statement from so many individuals in the counseling room over the years.
Many of them have been rejected, abused, judged, and betrayed. Maybe some of you reading this have felt the same way. Perhaps you still do. I know I have experienced that feeling of betrayal and it is very painful. Our precious Lord felt it many times when He was on Earth. His own people rejected Him and there were many who did not believe in Him. When we believe in a person it gives them hope to believe in themselves.
We are called to encourage others. Hebrews 10:24 (NLT) says “Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.” A kind word can go a long way in the lives of those who feel unworthy or unwanted. Believing in a hurting individual can uplift them from depression and despair.
I really like this quote by Luci Swindoll…“We need each other. Scripture says two are better than one. We are instructed to love, pray for, care about, accept, forgive, serve, encourage, and build up one another.”
When we encourage someone it gives them the strength to carry on, to grow, and to have joy. As we know, the JOY of the Lord is our strength! The Apostle Paul urged believers to reach out to those who were weak or struggling in life. He said, “Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14) (NLT) I understand that God’s people will endure persecution and pain thus a word of encouragement can help all of us to hang in there and stand steadfast no matter what!! Selfishness and self-centeredness can most definitely stand in the way of being an encourager so check yourself and focus on others that are going through a difficult time. Believe in others and take every opportunity to encourage them in the Lord…the fruit will be amazing!!
Vine Life Staff - SLP
Driving down highway 81, I noticed a small green sign that said “Loyal” with an arrow pointing to the right. It was late and I more than likely overlooked a road that led to the small town of Loyal, Oklahoma. As I continued down the road, I began to ponder the little green sign. It was almost as if it was an indication of how loyalty is being dismissed or pushed aside. Ironically, as of the 2000 census, Loyal is comprised of 81 residents. This extremely small town just off the beaten path is a representation of a bigger pandemic.
Loyal is an adjective defined by Merriam-Webster as “unswerving in allegiance”. Loyalty is a unconditional characteristic that is seen throughout history and has been an essential component in the rise and fall of many great kingdoms and nations. Loyalty is at the root of the very essence of most religions and has initiated the movement for many social and environmental causes. Natural born leaders often inspire loyalty among their constituents. Loyalty has led people to be martyrs, conquer opposing forces and change the world. However, I see an increasing lack of loyalty in our post modern society. Loyalty is often discounted as intolerance and closed mindedness in our world today.
The post modern era claims, “There are no absolutes”; “Tolerance is a start, but embracing acceptance is the key”; and “Truth is relative”. Postmodernism promotes pluralistic mindsets in the absence of unconditional truth. In my opinion, this is the source of loyalty’s demise. James 1:8 equates double-mindedness with instability. Jesus teaches us about two builders in Matthew 7. One man built his house on shifting sand, while the other built his on the Rock. In this parable, the house built on shifting sand, or a plethora of ideology and changing opinions, could not withstand the storm; however, the house built on the Rock, which is the Truth, was able to withstand the storms. To possess an unswerving allegiance to someone or something, one must BELIEVE in that to which he is loyal. Loyalty provides a sense of stability and purpose. Country Music artist, Aaron Tippin sings, “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything…”!
Loyal people have become a small population off the beaten path and it is time to reconsider our feelings on loyalty and what the future looks like without it. There will come a time we will be accountable for what we believe, not what is popular or acceptable, but what we individually believe.
Will loyalty be a piece of the integrity that defines you? Are you loyal to someone greater than yourself? It is time to decide for what or to whom we are loyal.
VLM Staff - MN
This month we have a guest writer!
Tim Dumas is the Founder and President of Road to Glory Christian Life Coaching & Biblical Counseling.
Tim and his wife Janette have been married for over 25 years. They have three children and three grandchildren. Tim is a graduate of RHEMA Bible Training Center, Vine Life Ministries School of Biblical Counseling, Southern Nazarene University and is a a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors.
We hope you enjoy!
I said to Denise, “Tell me who Denise is.” This is what I often do when I begin working with a new client. I want to know how they think of themselves. Too often we have let the world or other people shape and influence these thoughts.
When I asked Denise to tell me who she is, there was a short pause, then like a dam that just gave way, she released what had been inside of her for years and loudly said, “Tim, I’m a failure!”
Denise had been through a very rough marriage. She had been verbally abused and all the failures of her married life had been blamed on her by her husband. She had heard negative words spoken to her so many times that she lost all self-worth and did in fact blame herself for everything that went wrong in her relationship with her husband. It was all her fault. She was a failure. This is what she believed.
Can you imagine the pain of going through life and every day looking at yourself in the mirror and thinking of yourself as a failure? Sadly, to some degree, many people live this way.
There were several areas that Denise and I worked on together to help her move forward in the life God has for her and I’ll share two of them with you. I believe these two areas are the most common and therefore hopefully, you as the reader will benefit from what I share.
First, we addressed how Denise viewed herself. This was our conversation.
Me: “Denise, you are a Christian right? You have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior correct?”
Me: “That means you have been forgiven of every sin and everything you have ever done wrong. Isn’t that right?”
Denise: “Well, yes.”
Me: “Not only has God forgiven you but the Scriptures tell us God removes our sin to never be remembered again. Isn’t that correct?”
Denise: “Yes, that’s right.”
Me: “So in God’s eyes, what has Denise ever done wrong? What has she ever failed at?”
Denise: “Well, I guess nothing.”
Me: “That’s right! So in God’s eyes, is Denise a failure?”
Denise: “No… I’m not!”
Me: “Then if in God’s eyes, you have never failed at anything, what is Denise?”
Denise: “I guess I’m an overcomer!”
Though it only took one minute for Denise to realize she was something completely different than what she thought she was, she was an overcome and not a failure, it still took time and effort to retrain her mind and emotions so that she would not go back to her old way of thinking about herself.
Denise put Scriptures of how God viewed her on sticky notes and posted them in her bathroom, her kitchen and all around the house. She constantly considered the Word of God and over the course of a few weeks, began to truly believe what God says of her and not what others had told her in the past.
The Bible talks about this in Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
The Second area was forgiveness. I asked Denise if she had forgiven her ex-husband and she said she had. But, she still hoped he would apologize or try to make it up to her for how he had treated her for so many years.
I said, “Denise, if you still want him to make it up to you, or even just apologize, then you have not yet really forgiven him.”
When the Scriptures talk about forgiveness, it carries the meaning of being released from a debt. We see this in what we refer to as The Lord’s Prayer, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12 NIV)
I shared with Denise that as long as she wanted her ex-husband to make it up to her, then the person who had this great negative impact on her life was still having that impact. The only way for her to move forward was to release him from his debt. She had to wipe his slate clean, completely forgive him and not think he owed her anything.
Denise understood this and made the decision to forgive him the way God’s forgives us, which is fully and completely. No debt owed. No apology needed. She set him free and in doing so set herself free.
This life, this freedom in Christ, was there all along for Denise but she had to first see it in the Word and then put it into practice in order to experience it for herself.
I’m happy to say that Denise is doing great. She is moving forward in life, enjoying her relationship with God and loving how He delights in her as His child.
It’s my hope that you, the reader of this post, understand the great love your Father in Heaven has for you and the value He has placed on you. I also hope that you realize, just as Denise did, that you have to know what the Word of God says about you and put it into practice in order to experience the fullness of life God has for you.
We serve a great God and His love is relentless.
Blessings in Christ,
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” - Matthew 6:33
About two years ago I had a lot of transition in my life. I graduated college and the college internship I was a part of, moved two times, contemplated moving back home to California, and eventually changed jobs after being there for a total of almost 4 years – it felt like my head was spinning. Along with all of this transition, I pretty much found myself in the midst of an identity crisis. I had left everything I knew the past four years and had no idea who I was without it. Everything that I was and had done surrounded that one place. People would ask me what I liked to do “in my free time” and I genuinely had no idea how to answer them because majority of my free time had also been spent there.
I loved my time there. I would not trade those four years for anything. Being there made me the person I am today – I grew more than I could have imagined when I moved to Oklahoma at 18 years old. I realize that is a typical college story, but the after effects opened my eyes to something I pray I will never forget again.
Through those four years, even though I moved around more than the average person does in ten years, I was doing exactly what God wanted me to do. I was in the midst of my calling. My schooling, my work, my community of people, all of it was God ordained and yet, it all came crashing to a halt. At first I had no idea why or how it happened. I struggled through depression; I struggled through finding community again; I struggled with finding a job again. And one day I realized – it doesn’t matter what you’re doing if you aren’t seeking God above all else.
It seems simple right? I’m positive that I even preached those words, thinking that I was doing just that, when I wasn’t. I thought that because I was exactly where God wanted me to be, doing the things God wanted me to do, that it was the same thing as seeking His face. It’s not.
It is so easy for all of us to become consumed with what we’re doing in life. We spend hours on end doing something without giving it a second thought because it's just what we do. Our foundation will be built upon, and our identity found in, the thing we spend the most time on. Where do you spend most of your time? At your job? With your family? With your friends? At your church? Volunteering? All of these things are great things. God wants you to have a job. God wants you to spend time with your family. He wants you to be in a strong, healthy community. He has called fellowship and church a good thing. Serving others is something we are all called to do. Some of these are things we need to do. But none of it matters if we aren’t actively seeking His face and growing closer to God in intimacy.
Everything else can fail you. Something can happen at work where you lose your position, get fired, laid-off, or your business could suffer. Your family can say hurtful things, even without meaning to. Your friends, pastors, mentors, leaders, etc. are human – no one is perfect and they could potentially hurt you or let you down. I can't count how many people have told me that the church has hurt them - I have said that. But I realize now that the church is made up of humans who are not perfect and need grace just as much as I do. Jesus is the only firm foundation. Jesus is the only one who will not let you down.
I’ve had to really focus on making intimacy with the Lord my top priority again. Matthew 6:21 says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Your treasure is whatever you value the most; whatever you spend the most time on. For me, my treasure was my college internship, a job that I loved, and the things I was getting to do to serve the people around me. Though all of these things were because of God and obedience to His call, my focus shifted from “being with God” to “doing for God”. This shift in focus caused a shift in my treasure and a false sense of identity. I am re-focusing on my true treasure. I am choosing to keep intimacy with the Lord as my treasure instead of all of the other things the world has to offer. This foundation cannot be shaken. This treasure cannot be taken.
Where is your treasure?
-VLM Staff - DP
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