Do you realize it is also a blessing?
What do you think of when you think of the word battle? fight · armed conflict · clash · struggle · skirmish · engagement · fray · duel · war · campaign · crusade · fighting · warfare · combat · action · hostilities · deathmatch · scrap · dogfight · shoot-out · brawl
When you think of a battle does it bring good or bad feelings to you? Does it matter what the cause is? Does it matter where it is taking place? Does it matter who it is with or against?
The first thing that comes to mind for me is …
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. — Ephesians 6:12
Realizing who you are and who you aren’t fighting against makes a difference! Otherwise you end up hurting people who you shouldn’t have or put another way “friendly fire” injuries.
Ever noticed your perspective difference or change between when you are in a battle vs being blessed? Ever had the feeling in the midst of a battle “when will this end”? Ever been blessed and had the feeling “I hope this never ends”?
Have you noticed that in life there are battles and blessings? Have you noticed that in life the duration of battles and blessings vary and usually tend to be out of your control?
The other two verses that always come to mind are verses spoken by Jesus to give us hope through the tough times.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” — John 16:33
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. –James 1:2-4
During times of blessings it usually doesn’t take much effort to receive it, however, we need to remember that we need to appreciate it, praise God for it, and build up your hope bank.
Today you are probably in the middle of both a battle and a blessing. We need to learn to make our way thru life and what comes our way. The key is to keep Jesus in the center and to lean on Him, call on Him, and build your relationship with Him!
So, do you realize the battle you are in? Do you realize the blessings you have?
Proverbs 1:1-7, Matthew 4:1-22, Genesis 7, Genesis 8, Genesis 9:1-17
Do you know how to navigate through this life? Do you know how to navigate through this world? Do you realize there is help? Do you realize there is hope? Do you realize there is wisdom available for every situation? Do you realize it can be found in God’s Word? So whatever you are facing today, will you turn to God and His Word for wisdom? Will you allow His Word to steer you through the ebbs and flows, the ups and downs, the storms and the calm?
Consider proverbs and why Solomon, the one blessed with so much wisdom from God who when asked what he desired most didn’t pick material stuff or power, but rather asked for wisdom. He shared it out to help us! He shared it out to instruct us! He shared it so that we could find understanding! He shared us so that we wouldn’t be stuck wandering and not knowing what to do…Proverbs starts by giving us the purpose in this way…
1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
2 for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair;
–from Proverbs 1
He shared it so that we could have a manual for life and for how to live it out in a way that is just and right and fair! It goes beyond just teaching for the young but is valuable to the old too! It can help us from our childhood days through our adult years and senior years.
4 for giving prudence to those who are simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young—
5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—
6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.
–from Proverbs 1
So rather than trying to learn it all on your own, rather than trying to have to experience it all on your own, why not learn from other’s experience so you don’t have to go thru some of the pain and suffering. To some they need to go the hard way and feel the ups and downs of life themselves. To others they will learn from others so that they can move forward faster and without any unnecessary bumps in the road. Now it doesn’t mean we won’t have any problems, it just means we will have wisdom to help us in and thru them. Jesus didn’t say if but that we will have troubles.
Proverbs 1 speaks to us to help us get ready and get prepared for today and for every day! It provides wisdom and discipline for us to be able to take hold of and grasp it! Proverbs is like the wheel to help us steer thru this life we have been given as a gift! It helps us to navigate life to the full and without regrets! It all starts with God and starting and then building up our relationship with Him!
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. –from Proverbs 1
So will you take the time to hear from God, to worship Him, to glorify Him, to spend time with Him and in His Word so that you can receive wisdom to be able to steer thru the ups and downs of life? The battles and the blessings?
We also have the benefits of Jesus and the Word of God that shows us how He handled the battles and the blessings in life! They may not be in our nature, but He isn’t calling us to be average! He is calling us to raise the bar and the average! We see how He lives a sinless life! We see how He faced the needy! We see how He faced the sick! We see how He faced the lost! We see how He faced the proud! We see how He faced the accusations! We see how He took the penalty of all of our sinful lives to the cross in order to create the way to allow us to be reconciled back to God, once and for all!
Have you received Jesus into your heart? Have you been baptised? Have you received the Holy Spirit? Did you realize the battle that started as the devil tries to rob, steal, and destroy you? Jesus knows exactly what you are dealing with. Remember what happened to Him after He was baptized? Just like Jesus we are going to be tested! Just like Jesus when we received the Holy Spirit, it wasn’t the end of the battle and the blessings! God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can handle. So draw close to God! Ask Him for wisdom! Put your hope and trust in Him all the days of your life!
Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness
4 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
–from Matthew 4
The devil knows our weaknesses! The devil knows how to tempt us! His goal is to rob us of God! His goal is to steal us by leading us off track! His goal is to destroy us! He comes like a roaring lion to see who he can destroy – the roar tends to make the flock scatter. Hence in our prayers we need to ask God to protect us from the temptations of the world. Temptations however are internally driven. The devil can use something on one person that has no affect on another and vice versa. Temptations are based on who we are and where we are at. Temptation is a desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise. Other words that could be used are: desire · urge · itch · impulse · inclination.
James speaks to this topic as follows after starting the chapter saying how we are to consider it pure joy when we face trials and temptations of many kinds:
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
–from James 1
We read in Galatians things that are good…
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
–from Galatians 5
So what tempts you? What is the devil using to try and manipulate you? Is it stuff? Is it money? Is it greed? Is it technology? Is it websites? Is it cars? Is it pride? Is it food? Is it sexual? Is it physical? Is it worrying? Is it procrastination? Is it eating? Is it power? Is it hoarding? Is it manipulating others? Is it allowing bitterness to fester rather than to forgive? Is it overuse or abuse of the internet and technology?
We see how Jesus had to face 3 temptations from the devil:
- Instant gratification (economic)
- Attention seeking (religious)
- Wrong means (political)
But Jesus resisted the devil and just as we read in Bible, when we resist the devil, he will flee! How will you resist the devil? Jesus used God’s Word! So this is just one more reason to get God’s Word impressed into our minds and hearts as an offensive weapon against the attacks of the devil in this battle! Even when we consider the full armor of God, the only part that may seem to be offensively minded is the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God!
The blessings of having resisted the devil and the promises of how God will take care of you! The devil knows God’s Word too and will use it to try and manipulate you, but if you know the Word of God you can resist the devil and he will flee! Don’t just sit back and wait for the attacks, consider what you can do to be on the offensive like Jesus was and is to this day!
So let’s consider God’s Word and the examples of the battles people have gone thru over the centuries. Let’s learn from them so that we don’t have to repeat it! Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it! The blessings will outweigh the battles and so let’s be light and hope to this world around us! Let’s be love and God’s arms extended to the world around us!
So let’s go back to the beginning in Genesis and see what we can learn…What lead to the battle? What leads to the blessings? Today’s devotional (day 4) shares:
Human beings are created in the image of God (9:6b). There is a nobility and dignity about all human life. Every human being is of immense value. That is why taking another person’s life has such serious consequences (vv.5,6). Treat every human being with respect and dignity.
Noah faced a major battle – the flood and the destruction of almost the entire human race! It rained for forty days and forty nights (7:4) (exactly the same period as the temptation of Jesus). God’s judgment came because of the seriousness of sin: ‘Every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood’ (8:21).
Despite the battle of the flood, Noah enjoyed the blessing of God’s love, even though only Noah and those with him in the ark were left (7:23). Through the lens of the New Testament we see that the ark is a picture of being baptised into Christ (see 1 Peter 3:18 onwards). Those who were in the ark were safe. Those who are in Christ are safe.
God blessed Noah and his sons. He said ‘Prosper! Reproduce! Fill the earth!’ (Genesis 9:1, MSG).
God made a covenant with them (v.9). Every time you see a rainbow (v.13) it is a reminder of God’s commitment to you, which led ultimately to the cross – the blood of the new covenant. It is an ‘everlasting covenant’ into eternity (v.16).