February 28

Deuteronomy 17-20, Psalm 59

Every day we face obstacles of many kinds. Some are light and some seem insurmountable. Throughout Scripture, God never tells us how to avoid these obstacles, but instead how to face them with confidence and boldness, without fear. These obstacles may be a personal loss of a loved one, a personal addiction, financial difficulties, strained personal relationships, lack of direction for our future, etc. These obstacles can not be ignored with the hope that they will somehow go away. Instead, God tells us to prepare ourselves for battle and to lean on Him so that you will prevail. Before embarking on this battle, the first thing that must be cleared up on the basis of Scripture is which side are we on. Once we have established that our position is backed by the solid Word of God then prepare yourself.

In Deuteronomy 20:1-4, the priest was the first one to approach the troops, as we read, "When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you out of the land of Egypt...'Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; for the Lord your God is with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.' " Paul said in Romans 8:31, "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" He said a little later in 8:37, "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." In our own strength and might the enemy may seem too much for us, but that is when we forget we have an All-Powerful God, who can put to flight anything and anyone that stands in the way of His will. After the priest encourages the troops to focus on God, the next person to approach the troops is the officer in charge. In addition to relieving anyone from battle who might not be focused on the enemy due to a new house (our possessions), a new vineyard (our vocation), or a new wife (our relationships), he emphasizes on a final group. In Deuteronomy 20:8, "The officers shall speak further to the people, and say, 'What man is there who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, lest the heart of his brethren faint like his heart.' " In the battle against the Philistines in 1 Samuel 17, the entire Israelite army allowed the giant Goliath to profane the name of God daily because they feared his size and strength. But one little shepherd boy, David, faced him and prevailed in 1 Samuel 17:45, saying, "You come to me with a sword and a spear, but I come to you in the name of the living God whom you have defied." It was actually an unfair battle, because though David was dwarfed by the size of Goliath, Goliath was dwarfed by the size of David's God.

People who lack faith and act in fear easily destroy the morale of the troops. They also destroy the resolve of us. Those in fear often will speak negatively to justify their own fears, using cynicism and criticism to cover over their true feelings. Worst than this, these attitudes become contagious. Cowardice in facing our battles must be confronted. A verse that should cause all to take notice is in Revelation 21:8, mentioning those that will not be present in the New Jerusalem, "But the cowardly...shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." As Jesus mentions in Matthew 7:24-27, we will all face our own rains, floods, and winds. None of us will make it through life without experiencing these obstacles in life. The question is whether we will withstand and overpower by being firmly planted on the Rock, which is Jesus, or not.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster