Deliverer

GodIsOurDeliverer

“And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel”, saith the Lord God, “that My fury shall come up in My face. For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; so that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at My presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.”

“And I will call for a sword against him throughout all My mountains”, saith the Lord God: “every man’s sword shall be against his brother. And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. Thus will I magnify Myself, and sanctify Myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord.”  — Ezekiel 38:18-23

Men, in the latter times, the Lord is bringing a massive coalition led by Gog, the king of the north, against Israel. He will allow evil thoughts to corrupt their angry minds as they form camps around the mountains of Israel. The fury of the Lord will then be displayed. Earthquakes will shake every living thing in the region from the fish, to the fields and even the birds. All mankind shall shake at His presence. Mountains and walls will fall down. Confusion will take hold until armies begin fighting themselves. Disease and bloodshed will come in judgment. Flooding rain, hailstones, fire and brimstone will descend upon the enemies of God.

For all the idolatry, agnosticism, and atheism on the earth when this happens, the Lord will be magnified and made known. The coalition coming against Israel at that time will seem invincible, and overwhelming. If not for the Lord God demonstrating Himself powerful over all His enemies, Israel would then cease to be.

For those who won’t know this prophetic Word in this future time, all will seem lost. Men’s knees will go weak at the sight of insurmountable opposition. Men will consign themselves to accepting their end, and then the Lord will unleash a barrage of fury upon His enemies.

We each have challenges in our daily lives that threaten to bring us down. Our personal defeat may seem at hand. It may seem we are opposed from all sides, with no hope of escape or victory. The Lord knows all things. He is not distant. While we may suffer until the opportune time, He is our deliverer, our rescue, our strength and refuge.

Move forward men, waiting on a victory. Hold your faith, hold your ground. Stand upon His promises and rest under His wing of security in Christ, our everlasting hope.

Vance Durrance

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Unlocking Favor

antique-lock-with-key-unlocked-padlock-with-key

“Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, ‘Come on, let’s go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will intervene for us. Nothing can prevent the Lord from delivering, whether by many or by a few.’” –1 Samuel 14:6

Read 1 Samuel 13-15 and contrast these two men: Saul and Jonathan. It is startling to witness the way God demonstrates distinctions. And so it should not surprise us when later Jonathan humbly steps aside to let his rule pass to another (1Sa 23:17), while Saul becomes filled with bitter hatred (1Sa 19:1).

So see here where Saul continues to sit in disobedience (14:2), worrying about dwindling numbers (13:8), Jonathan is focused only on the victory (14:10)—boldly seeking to advance the kingdom without permission from men (14:1), and unconcerned with the fact it was just him and his armor bearer with only a single sword between them (13:22). Saul is so preoccupied with the need for a religious sacrifice to unlock favor (13:12), that he neglects obedience (10:8; 15:22). Yet Jonathan trusted in the greatness of the Lord and His promise of deliverance (9:16) and putting thousands to flight when He was the object of trust (Lev 26:7-8; Deu 28:7). Jonathan understood that it is God who fights for His people (Jos 23:10), and so he sought not the favor of his father (14:29), but only the true king of Israel—the LORD (14:12; Psa 24:8).

And so how often is our advance halted when we, like Saul, look to earthly evidence of strength (13:5-6), seeking greater numbers to give us confidence? How often do we cause ourselves and others to blunder (14:32) and lose sight of love (14:39) by exalting our own will above God’s (14:24,32). How often do we limit our own victory (14:30), by making the battle about us (14:24), seeking to honor ourselves (15:12).

Oh, Lord, help us to live as Jonathan, not depending on any religious practices to garner favor with You, but help us to activate the favor promised us by moving forward in obedience through faith. You have promised us the victory!

Billy Neal

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We Ride

Victory

Graham slumped off the field, his body worn from the first and most discouraging defeat all season. He plopped on the bench with a weary sigh next to his gathering teammates. Coach Blake began to pace furiously in front of them, his face bright red. Aside from some groans, every kid was silent. When words finally came to the coach’s mouth, they were sharp and jagged, and so loud they pierced Graham’s ears so that he instinctively covered them with his hands.

Coach Blake’s voice continued to angrily blare, undeterred by the frightened expressions on every face before him, most of them bowed to stare at their red socks and cleats. Graham stole a glance across the field at the other team as his coach started walking towards the other end of the bench. A gaggle of kids encircled their smiling coach, every white jersey bouncing up and down in victory, his friend Caleb among them.

He instantly thought back to tryouts, when he had pleaded with his mom, dad, and even God himself to put him on the six-time champion team—the Dragons. Coach Blake was known for fierce competition, forceful drafting, and shrewd strategies to make sure the final trophy made its return to him every season.

“I made it!” Graham exclaimed when he saw his name on the posted roster. So excited, he nearly ran past Caleb, before making an about turn to ask, “Hey, what team are you on?”

“The Rams,” Caleb replied with a blank expression. Graham was unsure if this was a positive or negative outcome. Perhaps Caleb didn’t know either since their coach, Joshua King, was an unknown at the start of the season.

But half-way through, with the Dragons going undefeated and Caleb’s team struggling to a single tie, Caleb couldn’t say enough great things about his team, and especially his coach. “He’s the best coach ever!” He kept saying with excitement!

His joy perplexed Caleb. And so did Coach King’s constant smile and his calm and kind words to his kids throughout the season, despite constant defeat. Graham hated losing, and was absolutely relishing every dominant win that his team added.

But everything seemed to change this last game of the season, when the Rams absolutely crushed the reigning champs 7-0. “I guess I joined the wrong team,” Graham thought with bitter regret on his dry tongue.
—–

“Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to do battle with the one who rode the horse and with his army.” –Revelation 19:19

There are two armies that clash on this final battle, often referred to as The Battle of Armageddon (Rev 16:16). The first army is a gathering of humanity upon the earth (Rev 20:8), united in hatred (Rev 16:11) under a single purpose, willfully surrendering their power to the beast (Rev 17:13) because they are deceived (Rev 16:14) into thinking he will bring them victory (Rev 13:4).

Yet there is another people who gather for battle. Throughout the book of Revelation, we see different glimpses of another people who are set apart with a protective seal (Rev 7:3; 9:4). They have spiritual eyes (Rev 3:18) that are aware and alert (Rev 3:3; 16:15), and are dressed (Rev 3:18) in white clothes (Rev 3:4; 6:11; 7:9), clean (Rev 19:14), unstained (Rev 3:4), and washed in the blood of the Lamb (Rev 7:14). They are pillars in the temple of God (Rev 3:12; 22:3 see Joh 2:21 & 1Co 12:27), who eat from the tree of life (Rev 2:7; 22:14), and rule (Rev 2:26; 5:10; 20:4) with crowns on their heads (Rev 2:10; 3:11). They have their names written in the book of life (Rev 3:5; 21:27) which saves them (Rev 20:15) from being harmed by the “second death” (Rev 2:11; 20:6). They are the bride of Christ (Rev 21:9; 2Co 11:2), the holy city of God (Rev 21:2,10; 22:19), the ones that stand with the Lamb (Rev 14:1), the redeemed who sing the new song (Rev 14:3) of the Lamb (Rev 15:3), and follow Him wherever He goes (Rev 14:4).

Suspend your presuppositions on eschatology for a moment and see the clear divide of the two teams that come out to do battle against one another. It is the same clear divide we read throughout the first letter of John (ex: 1Jo 1:6-7; 2:3-4; 3:2-4, 14-15). Then consider the “season” we see before us in the physical—one where the beasts of this world conquer the people of God (Rev 11:7; 13:7), where the wicked prosper (Psa 73:3-12; Jer 12:1-2), and great injustice permeates the landscape (Ecc 4:1-3) as the devil asserts his rule over this world (1Jo 5:19; Rev 13:4) and has the upper hand. It appears the Dragon is the dominant team.

And consider that we are guaranteed suffering if we follow Jesus—great persecution and hatred, perhaps unto death (Rev 2:10; Mat 24:9). Might we not face imprisonments, beatings, hunger and thirst, many dangers and even desperate circumstances like being shipwrecked and adrift in open seas (2Co 11:23-28)? It is not just a possibility, but we are assured that the sufferings of Christ will overflow to us (2Co 1:5), because we have been sent into the world just as He was (Joh 17:18; 20:21)—to suffer (Luk 24:26). Thus, the need to count the cost of discipleship (Luk 14:28)—which is everything (Luk 14:26-27,33).

So for the moment, it appears we are on the losing team. Even when we do the right thing, it seems the world is against us, because it is. All those who are a part of this world hate us (Luk 21:17; Joh 15:19). They scoff at our holding to God’s Word and ostracize us for not lapping up the common lies accepted by the majority (2Pe 3:3-4). They suffer us slander, and revile us if we hold not just to a moral lifestyle but a radical profession of the only way to eternal life (Joh 14:6). They belittle and berate us, for they see us as weak for clinging to what the world sees as foolish (1Co 1:26-29).

“But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair; we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed, always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our body.” –2 Corinthians 4:7-10

But our leader has promised us victory (Rev 19:20-21; Rom 8:37), and His word is as good as done (Heb 10:23; Job 42:2). When we see this end, when we understand what it really means to conquer (Rev 2:11) and reign with Him (2Ti 2:12; 20:6), we are able to fully surrender to His mission (Mat 28:19-20) and put on the same attitude of Christ (1Pe 4:1). Then, we will start to see suffering as a gift (Phi 1:29), and rejoice when it comes (1Pe 4:13; Jam 1:2-3), recognizing it does so by the hand of Jesus (Rev 6:1,3,5,7,9,6) and the will of our good Father in Heaven (1Pe 4:19). And through these “momentary afflictions,” (2Co 4:17) we receive a heavenly reward (Mat 5:11-12; 6:19-21; Heb 11:26; 1Pe 3:14) that does not burn up in judgment, but proves to be precious gems (1Co 3:12-15) and a crown of life (1Pe 5:4; Jam 1:12; 1Co 9:25).

They like, “I hear you talkin’ wins, but I see your losses”
You celebratin’ crowns, but I see your crosses
That’s the paradox that don’t fit in your merit box
You might not understand if you walk in this pair of socks
The victor ain’t the one that’s winnin’ seventh inning
Trophies don’t go to ones that got a good beginning
When I say I win, I don’t mean the state I’m in
I mean that day when the gray skies fade out then
I’m winning ’cause I reign with Him
–Tripp Lee, Sweet Victory

“Cause He’s promised us in the short-term a cross on our backs. And He’s promised us in the long-term a Crown of Life,” (Russell Moore).

So choose this day whom you will serve (Jos 24:15). The worthless gods of this world (Psa 96:5; Jer 10:8; 51:16-18) that deceive us with promises of greatness, yet are powerless to stand on their own (1Sa 5:3-4; Isa 46:7; Jer 10:5)? Or will you serve the one who is called “Faithful” and “True” and has all authority and power (Mat 28:18), and comes with fire in his eyes, dressed in clothing dipped in the blood of His enemies, glorious crowns on his head, and a sharp sword extending from His mouth that effortlessly annihilates His enemies (Rev 19:11-16).

But as for me and my house, we ride with the one on the white horse (Rev 19:14)!

Billy Neal

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The Army at Our Back

david-and-goliath

“45 But David replied to the Philistine, “You are coming against me with sword and spear and javelin. But I am coming against you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel’s armies, whom you have defied! 46 This very day the Lord will deliver you into my hand! I will strike you down and cut off your head. This day I will give the corpses of the Philistine army to the birds of the sky and the wild animals of the land. Then all the land will realize that Israel has a God, 47 and all this assembly will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves! For the battle is the Lord’s, and He will deliver you into our hand.”  –1 Samuel 17:45-47

This epic and famous account epitomizes the courage of a mighty man of God. He was undeterred by the surrounding cowardly company (v.11), the false accusations (v.28), the insurmountable odds that stood before him (vv.4-7), and perhaps even his own previous retreat (v.24). He was confident in his past experience (v.35), his current equipment (vv.39-40), and God’s future protection (v.36). And, he was rightly motivated by the reward promised by his king (vv.24-26).

We are likewise called to ignore all cowardly company (John 21:22), their false accusations (Luke 6:22), circumstances that seem beyond us (2Corinthians 12:10), and any previous retreats (Philippians 3:13). We are called to take confidence in our God-ordained past experiences (Romans 8:28), our current equipping (2Peter 1:3), and God’s future protection (2Th 3:3). And we should be motivated by our King’s promised rewards (Romans 8:18; Luke 6:23; Hebrews 11:6, 26; Matthew 6:18; etc.).

Yet I have missed an invaluable purpose in David’s victory… and my own.

“… and He will give you into OUR hand.”

Not “my hand,” but rather “our hand.” Even though David went out to face Goliath alone, there was an army at his back that would share in the victory and give chase to the enemy (v.52) once God removed the one obstacle that paralyzed His people (v.11).

The obstacle for Israel here was not a physical giant, but rather a lack of faith. David killed Goliath and God was glorified. Then Israel’s eyes were opened to see the truth (2Kings 6:17)—that the battle was already won (v.51). And so they were filled with faith and surged forward into battle (v.52).

Goliath’s size was never an issue, and neither is the size of any mountain that stands in our way (Matthew 17:20). Because victory is not ultimately about conquering “the enemy.” The Devil is no match for our Sovereign God; Satan’s future demise is certain (Revelation 20:10). There will be a day when Jesus will annihilate His enemies with a single word (Revelation 19:21), and He could do so this very instant if He so decided.

Neither is God desperately looking for one brave volunteer so that He can strike a blow against the devil. He is in need of no individual man (Act 17:24-25). His purposes will not be thwarted (Job 42:2). They will not be hindered in our rebellion (2Ki 19:25), nor will they hinge on our obedience (1Kings 19:14-18; Esther 4:14). Ignoring His call only leads to our own destruction (Ezekiel 22:30-31).

Rather, we see that God patiently tolerates (even uses) evil and injustice in order to conquer something else—our hearts (2 Peter 3:9). THIS is why it is so important that we live in Christian community, open and vulnerable before others (v.26, 40, 48) so that they can see God’s power manifested in our lives. God’s desire is for His people to rise up in faith… TOGETHER. And that can’t be done with lone crusaders just looking to pick a fight. Instead, God purposely calls out the weak (1Corinthians 1:27) so that He is assured the glory (which rightfully belongs to Him, Romans 11:36), and so that brothers and sisters watching, and listening will have their hearts filled with faith.

Mighty men of God, we are being called forth to openly call out and lead others—both in word (v.26) and in deed (v.48). So, let us courageously rush toward giants so that true victory can be attained. Not the beheading of giants with their own sword (v.51), but the rousing of faith in the army behind us so that we all charge forward (v.52) for the sake of our King—Not Saul (or any sinful man), but Jesus Christ: “The King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16).

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