March 26, Tuesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“A Divine Warrior”

Exodus 15:3

“The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name.”

There have been a couple of near-death experiences in my life.  One in particular occurred during a visit to the tunnels of Cu Chi outside of Ho Chi Minh City.  According to Wikipedia, “These tunnels were used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces.”

As I navigated through the maze of tunnels, the walls became increasingly narrow, and fresh air became scarce.  The Vietnamese certainly knew that US soldiers were generally taller and wider! Before I knew it, I was stuck in the tunnel, my heavy backpack lodged firmly between the side walls of the tunnel.  Panic began to set in! I couldn’t breathe! I thought I was going to die!

At that moment, my Vietnamese tour guide managed to get me out of the cramped quarters, remove the backpack from my shoulders, and led me out of the Cu Chi back to safety.  During those panic-stricken moments, I was truly paralyzed. My guide had literally “fought for my safety”.

Today’s passage reveals that our God is a warrior God.  After Moses and Israel made it through the Red Sea unharmed, the Lord is called a “man of war”—a warrior who fights for the good of His people.  It is in God’s nature to wage war against those who rise up against His name and His children. We can rejoice in that our covenant-keeping God will never leave us nor forsake us.  His outstretched arms are always present to defeat the enemies of His Kingdom (Deut. 5:15; Heb. 13:5).

Exodus 15:4-10 talks about God’s weapons.  His right hand can control the sea. He is sovereign over the elements and uses them to destroy those who oppose Him.  He even displays His power in the form of psychological warfare—His enemies trembling in fear when hearing of the Lord’s salvation of Israel (vv. 13-16).   

As ones who live in the new covenant era, Satan and his army fear the power of Christ.  Jesus fights for us, with the sword of the gospel to transform nations. Our Lord wields His power on our behalf, so we can truly claim it is our strength.  Psalm 28:7 says, The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”  In Him alone we must rely, not our own strength.  The Puritan William Gurnall wrote, “The strength of the general in other hosts lies in his troops…but in the army of saints, the strength of every saint, of the whole hosts of saints, lies in the Lord of hosts.”  (The Christian in Complete Armour, p. 18)

Take some time this morning to hand over our battles to the Lord of War.  He is our divine warrior. David knew this when we surrendered his showdown with Goliath to the Lord by declaring, “The battle belongs to the Lord, and he will help us defeat all of you!”  Surrender your fears, your Red Seas, your immovable mountains to the Lord. He knows us, cares for us, and will deliver us for His glory!

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I ask that You take my present battles.  In these, I will not lift a finger. I ask You to fight on my behalf.  I thank You that You do not allow the battles of life to overcome me. In Jesus’ name, amen.  

Bible Reading for Today:  Acts 19


Lunch Break Study

Read Judges 7:2-9: The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ 3 Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained. 4 And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ shall not go.” 5 So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Every one who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, every one who kneels down to drink.” 6 And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water. 7 And the LORD said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.” 8 So the people took provisions in their hands, and their trumpets. And he sent all the rest of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the 300 men. And the camp of Midian was below him in the valley.  9 That same night the Lord said to him, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand.

Questions to consider

  1. Judges 7:2 shows that as humans, we will naturally boast in our own work.  What do you think Gideon was thinking when his army went from an already overmatched 32,000 Israelites against 135,000 Midianites to only 10,000 Israelites?
  2. In what way is boasting “over”/against God (v.2)?
  3. How does our sinful nature to boast in ourselves change the way we respond to areas of weakness in our lives? (See 2 Cor 12:5-10)

Notes

  1. This was a great test of Gideon’s faith.  Although outnumbered almost 1 to 4, God thought his army was too big, and He commanded Gideon to invite all who were afraid to go home.  Gideon was probably surprised at the number of men who were afraid to fight and hoped that only a few hundred would leave.  But we are told that they assembled in a place where they could see the 135,000 Midianite troops (Judges 7:8). This sight of the huge opposing army must’ve left Gideon and the Israel army afraid.
  2. This explains why the army of 32,000 was too large.  Israel could still take credit for a victory if they had 32,000 troops.  They could believe they were underdogs who triumphed through their own great bravery or strategy.  God wanted the odds so bad that the victory would clearly be His alone. If we really believe the principle, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts (Zechariah 4:6), then our smallness does not matter.  
  3. Paul was not immune to the danger of pride.  No one is. Even the best of God’s people have in them a root of pride, or a disposition to be exalted above  measure, upon their receipt of grace from God not common to others. Paul was desperate in his desire to find relief from his burden but knew that God’s method was to give sufficient grace.  We don’t really believe God’s grace is sufficient until we believe we are insufficient. Especially in American culture, this is a huge obstacle. We want to be “self-made” and want to rely on ourselves.  We can’t receive God’s strength until we know our weakness.  

Evening Reflection

From the OT (how God set Israel free from Egypt; how He warred on their behalf in bringing them into the promised land; and how He turned to war against them when they no longer followed Him), into the NT (how the Messiah accomplished salvation by way of the Cross) and ending in the return of Christ and renewal of all things, the Bible is about a God who wars on behalf of His people.  Often, we can feel that we are fighting our battles on our own, wondering if God really cares about what we are going through. I want to invite you to surrender the biggest battles that you are currently facing, meditating on the entire counsel of Scripture until you experience God’s peace and His fighting on our behalf.

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