victory

God Commends the Weak

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Did you know that in the book of Revelation, the church in Philadelphia was commended because it had “little strength"?

In our modern world that is a very strange basis for being commended. Modern society values strength. Our media driven culture beckons us to be men of steel and women of iron. The city in which I live heralds, for example, that we are “Baton Rouge Strong” and “Baton Rouge Proud.” God, however, says that it is the weak, those that have recognized their minimal strength who are to be commended. Why is that?

Let’s ponder Moses for example; he was a man of great strength. Raised in the court of Pharaoh to be a leader in the nation, he was trained to be a warrior. When he thought the time had come for him to deliver his people, he mustered all the strength he could and killed an Egyptian, but failed to rally the people around him and ran like a scared rabbit into the desert.

There, he spent the next 40 years tending sheep and growing weak. How do we know that? Because when God appeared to Him, to call Him to lead Israel into freedom, he bemoaned that he was not the kind of man God was looking for. Early in his life, Moses thought he was that man because he was strong, but now that he was weak he could not dream of being a leader. He thought himself a nothing and informed God that he could not speak very well. Ironically, the book of Acts tells us that Moses was the most eloquent man in all the earth!

So how are we to explain that? Some say that after spending 40 years with a bunch of sheep, any of us would speak b-a-a-a-a-d too! I don’t buy that. I believe that after his failure, Moses no longer trusted in his natural resources, he recognized that he was not up to the demand, which forced him to depend on God in a way he would never have without his failure. His failure opened his eyes to his true state of weakness so that he could then see the greatness of God that would be exercised by God on his behalf; transforming him into a man who received the strength of God!

Though this is a hard lesson for most of us to learn, it is one that we desperately need to understand. The Holy Spirit told Paul that when he was weak, then he would truly be strong because he would no longer be trusting in himself, but in God. This is why God would offer that “not so strange” commendation for those who have little strength. I want to hear that commendation, and I hope you do too, for it is the true path to the strength we desperately need to secure to live victoriously in this fallen world.

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The One Who Brings Us Through This World

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Let’s take a look at Genesis 22. One writer said that this is one of the high points in the Bible, a mountaintop passage. Another called it “The great climax of the faith life of Abraham.” I would call it, The Supreme Test and the Supreme Victory. This passage dramatizes, maybe better than any passage in the entire Bible, what the life of faith is all about. 

The life of faith is like living in a laboratory if you will, where God is perpetually tested and continually demonstrated to be reliable and true. In fact, Hebrews 11, that great heroes of the faith chapter, almost reads like a laboratory report; "By faith, Moses led the people out of Egypt," "By faith, the walls of Jericho came down." It's saying over and over and over again to us; we can put our hand in God’s hand and journey with Him because He is a trustworthy God. He is reliable. He will provide. We need to understand that my friends because we live in a dark and desperate world, but God breaks into that world with the light of His love and strength, and He offers Himself to us as the only one who can bring us through this world victoriously!

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The Affirmation of God's Trustworthiness and Goodness

We will not descend into that valley never to be heard from again.  WE WILL WALK THROUGH IT!

We will not descend into that valley never to be heard from again. WE WILL WALK THROUGH IT!

In the incarnation, Jesus voluntarily restricted the use of His Divine attributes, so that He could function in full and complete dependence as a man, as man was always intended to do so. Glory!

One of the by-products of this awe-inspiring life He experienced by faith, was to affirm the trustworthiness and goodness of God to man. Ever since the garden, the goodness of God to man has been in question. Remember, how the enemy tempted Adam by calling God's goodness into question? The serpent made it sound like God was holding out on man.  How those words have been repeated in the minds of manifold men and women since that day.  "Indeed, has God said..."

In His life of recklessly abandoned faith, Jesus proved that God was indeed trustworthy, bringing Jesus victoriously through not only suffering in this fallen world but even to victory over the grave itself. Like David proclaimed so many years ago, "... we shall walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death!" We will not descend into that valley never to be heard from again. WE WILL WALK THROUGH IT! Note further, it is a shadow. A shadow my friends, cannot hurt us. It can scare us to be sure, but it cannot hurt us.

And by the way, there can be no shadow unless there is a light shining somewhere. 

And the light that forms this shadow is none other than the light of the love of God that He has for His kids, and they can indeed, trust His love and care to bring them through the darkest valleys and home to His waiting arms.

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Only Good and Mercy

Psalm 23 is a favorite of so many people. It is most often read at funerals, but the psalm is really for the living... for those who are journeying through a dark and sometimes lonely world. The glory of the psalm is that we do not walk through this "valley of the shadow of death" alone, for HE, the living and all powerful God of the universe is with us.

Because He is with us, v. 5-6 tell us that there is a banquet spread for us before those foes that sought to vanquish us. Ours is the final victory. In that "spread" that is laid out before us, we are told that "surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives..."

The word I want to home in on is "surely"... it is the Hebrew word ak, and can be translated surely, truly, or nevertheless. The translation I prefer is "only".... In other words this is the Rom 8:28 of the Old Testament. There are things that really look and feel bad in this journey through the valley of the shadow of death, but in that day, when we sit at the feast with our Lord Jesus and celebrate His and our victory, we will look back at all those bad and fearful things that we experienced and see ONLY the GOOD that our Father was working into our lives... and they will be bad and fearful to us no more....

But for God... this would not be true.