You realize there is a battle taking place, right? You know that you will have troubles, right? You know you will face trials, right? Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security thinking you can be sitting on the beach while the battle goes on around you because you are ignoring it. Imaging sitting on a lounger on the beaches of Normandy as the world war was taking place, you could see it so you would probably get out of there, right? Now consider the battle and the war are taking place in the spiritual realm, so it’s not against flesh and blood. It doesn’t make it any less dangerous! It doesn’t make it any less important, in reality it is more important! Consider how when Daniel was praying the answer was on the way but there was a spiritual battle that delayed the answer getting to him for 21 days. You may have heard of spiritual warfare, it is for real! So let’s rally together! Let’s join forces with Jesus putting on the full armor of God! Not shorts and flip flops, let’s put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Don’t be fooled! Don’t be tricked! Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security! Be prepared! Be prepared in and out of season to give an answer for the hope that is within you! Be prepared for the day of Jesus’ return keeps getting closer, we don’t know the day or the time, so just be ready! Be prepared so that you will be able to escape the attacks and stand before Jesus! Be prepared, praying without ceasing, being alert and thankful, seeing what is going on and covering others who are in need too. Be prepared and on guard because the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. In this world we will have troubles, but take heart for Jesus has overcome the world! Consider it pure joy when 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.
Ever had times where you went thru temptation, doubt, fear and anxiety? How about times of sadness, great loss and bereavement? What about times of struggle over health, sleep, finances, work and relationships? Have you experienced times of opposition and criticism?
Today’s devotional calls out these battles:
our battle being against a triple alliance: the world (‘the enemy around us’), the flesh (‘the enemy within us’), and the devil (‘the enemy above us’).
— Day 73: Bible In One Year 2017
The Battles of Life — Day 73: Bible In One Year 2017
Devotional, Psalm 33:12-22, Luke 1:26-38, Numbers 1, Numbers 2:1-9
1. Trust in God … Psalm 33:12-22
12Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people he chose for his inheritance.
13From heaven the Lord looks down
and sees all mankind;
14from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth—
15he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.
16No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.
20We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
21In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
22May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.
–from Psalm 33
The battle isn’t against flesh and blood, so we can’ be trying to fight the battle in our own strength! So we need to put our hope and trust in God, the battle belongs to the Lord! Whether we take hold of the Word from 2 Chronicles or 1 Samuel, we need to trust in God and remember that the battle belongs to the Lord! So let’s not be leaning on our own understanding! So let’s not be putting our hope in ourselves, in horses, in chariots, in the power of the military, but rather, let’s put our hope and our trust in God! It’s not all about numbers, it is about God! So don’t put your trust in something because it has the numbers, but rather trust in God! Don’t put your trust in something because the size, but rather trust in God! Trust in the Lord with all your heart! Lean not on your own understanding! In all your ways acknowledge Him!
2. Unite around the King … Luke 1:26-38
26In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37For no word from God will ever fail.”
38“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
–from Luke 1
So let’s unite together with Jesus our King! our Lord! our Savior! The battle taking place is focusing on Jesus! The battle even to the end when the final battle takes place will be lead by Jesus who will come out victorious and those of us who choose to align ourselves and purse after Jesus will get to spend eternity with Him! People today are battling over who Jesus is! Have you invited Jesus into your heart? Have you received Him as your Lord and Savior? That is the battle that is taking place today! Who do you say Jesus is? Similar to back in the days of the disciples when the battle was around “who is Jesus”. The battles shouldn’t be between our brothers and sisters in Christ!
The theological battles of the twenty-first century are not those of the eleventh century, which divided Catholic and Orthodox churches. Nor are the battles those of the sixteenth-century reformation. The battle today is the same as the battle of the first century: is Jesus the universal Saviour?
Luke sets out right at the start of the Gospel a number of claims about Jesus (vv.31–35):
The angel says to Mary, ‘You are to call him Jesus’ (v.31). The name ‘Jesus’ means ‘saviour’.
He is the long-awaited Messiah in the line of David. The angel says, ‘The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end’ (vv.32–33).
Son of God
The angel goes on, ‘He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High’ (v.32). Jesus’ birth was unique, as is explained by the angel in these verses. Mary was a virgin, and so a ‘normal’ conception was clearly impossible (v.34). Instead she was told, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you’ (v.35a). The angel then immediately explains why this is so significant: ‘the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God’ (v.35b). We see here how Jesus is both fully human (born in the normal way), and yet also fully God (conceived by the Holy Spirit).
Christians from all churches – Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and Pentecostal – believe in Jesus as our Saviour, the Messiah and the Son of God. To be a Christian is to be a follower of Christ. All followers of Jesus are children of God (John 1:12). This makes us brothers and sisters. Furthermore, if we belong to Christ, the Holy Spirit lives in each of us (Romans 8:9).
This is what unites us as Christians. Therefore, the battle should never be with our brothers and sisters in Christ. In-fighting distracts and destroys. We need to focus on the real battle, which is around the King.
Mary sets a wonderful example of the right attitude. For Mary, the Lord is with her (Luke 1:28), within her (v.35) and over her (v.38). While, of course, Mary is unique as the mother of Jesus, all believers can know this same connection with the Lord.
The way we fight the triple alliance of the enemy is with the triple alliance of the Lord.
First, just as the angel tells Mary that ‘the Lord is with you’ (v.28), so Jesus’ last words to his disciples were, ‘I am with you always’ (Matthew 28:20). Whatever circumstances you face, you need not fear. The King is with you.
Second, the Holy Spirit is within you. As the Holy Spirit came upon Mary (Luke 1:35), to bring about a physical birth, so the Holy Spirit comes upon you, to bring about a spiritual birth. You are a child ‘born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God’ (John 1:13).
Third, the King is over you. You are called to be the Lord’s servant. Mary’s response is one of strong, courageous, fearless and dignified trust. She is the model of faith. In the greatest and most decisive act of faith in history she offered herself to God as a clean page on which he could write what he wanted. I love the translation in the Living Bible: ‘I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants’ (Luke 1:38).
— Day 73: Bible In One Year 2017
3. Listen to God … Numbers 1:1-2:9
The Census1The Lord spoke to Moses in the tent of meeting in the Desert of Sinai on the first day of the second month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. He said: 2“Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one. 3You and Aaron are to count according to their divisions all the men in Israel who are twenty years old or more and able to serve in the army. 4One man from each tribe, each of them the head of his family, is to help you. 5These are the names of the men who are to assist you:from Reuben, Elizur son of Shedeur;6from Simeon, Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai;7from Judah, Nahshon son of Amminadab;8from Issachar, Nethanel son of Zuar;9from Zebulun, Eliab son of Helon;10from the sons of Joseph:from Ephraim, Elishama son of Ammihud;from Manasseh, Gamaliel son of Pedahzur;11from Benjamin, Abidan son of Gideoni;12from Dan, Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai;13from Asher, Pagiel son of Okran;14from Gad, Eliasaph son of Deuel;15from Naphtali, Ahira son of Enan.”16These were the men appointed from the community, the leaders of their ancestral tribes. They were the heads of the clans of Israel.17Moses and Aaron took these men whose names had been specified, 18and they called the whole community together on the first day of the second month. The people registered their ancestry by their clans and families, and the men twenty years old or more were listed by name, one by one, 19as the Lordcommanded Moses. And so he counted them in the Desert of Sinai:20From the descendants of Reuben the firstborn son of Israel:All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were listed by name, one by one, according to the records of their clans and families. 21The number from the tribe of Reuben was 46,500.22From the descendants of Simeon:All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were counted and listed by name, one by one, according to the records of their clans and families. 23The number from the tribe of Simeon was 59,300.24From the descendants of Gad:All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were listed by name, according to the records of their clans and families. 25The number from the tribe of Gad was 45,650.26From the descendants of Judah:All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were listed by name, according to the records of their clans and families. 27The number from the tribe of Judah was 74,600.28From the descendants of Issachar:All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were listed by name, according to the records of their clans and families. 29The number from the tribe of Issachar was 54,400.30From the descendants of Zebulun:All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were listed by name, according to the records of their clans and families. 31The number from the tribe of Zebulun was 57,400.32From the sons of Joseph:From the descendants of Ephraim:All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were listed by name, according to the records of their clans and families. 33The number from the tribe of Ephraim was 40,500.34From the descendants of Manasseh:All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were listed by name, according to the records of their clans and families. 35The number from the tribe of Manasseh was 32,200.36From the descendants of Benjamin:All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were listed by name, according to the records of their clans and families. 37The number from the tribe of Benjamin was 35,400.38From the descendants of Dan:All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were listed by name, according to the records of their clans and families. 39The number from the tribe of Dan was 62,700.40From the descendants of Asher:All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were listed by name, according to the records of their clans and families. 41The number from the tribe of Asher was 41,500.42From the descendants of Naphtali:All the men twenty years old or more who were able to serve in the army were listed by name, according to the records of their clans and families. 43The number from the tribe of Naphtali was 53,400.44These were the men counted by Moses and Aaron and the twelve leaders of Israel, each one representing his family. 45All the Israelites twenty years old or more who were able to serve in Israel’s army were counted according to their families. 46The total number was 603,550.47The ancestral tribe of the Levites, however, was not counted along with the others. 48The Lordhad said to Moses: 49“You must not count the tribe of Levi or include them in the census of the other Israelites. 50Instead, appoint the Levites to be in charge of the tabernacle of the covenant law—over all its furnishings and everything belonging to it. They are to carry the tabernacle and all its furnishings; they are to take care of it and encamp around it. 51Whenever the tabernacle is to move, the Levites are to take it down, and whenever the tabernacle is to be set up, the Levites shall do it. Anyone else who approaches it is to be put to death. 52The Israelites are to set up their tents by divisions, each of them in their own camp under their standard. 53The Levites, however, are to set up their tents around the tabernacle of the covenant law so that my wrath will not fall on the Israelite community. The Levites are to be responsible for the care of the tabernacle of the covenant law.”54The Israelites did all this just as the Lord commanded Moses.–from Numbers 11The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 2“The Israelites are to camp around the tent of meeting some distance from it, each of them under their standard and holding the banners of their family.”3On the east, toward the sunrise, the divisions of the camp of Judah are to encamp under their standard. The leader of the people of Judah is Nahshon son of Amminadab. 4His division numbers 74,600.5The tribe of Issachar will camp next to them. The leader of the people of Issachar is Nethanel son of Zuar. 6His division numbers 54,400.7The tribe of Zebulun will be next. The leader of the people of Zebulun is Eliab son of Helon. 8His division numbers 57,400.9All the men assigned to the camp of Judah, according to their divisions, number 186,400. They will set out first.–from Numbers 2
So don’t be afraid! So don’t be intimidated!
The battles of life need not intimidate you. All the way through history, God’s people have faced obstacles and challenges. The book of Numbers is about how God’s people prepare for battle.
In Exodus we see the people of God as a liberated people. In Leviticus we see them as a holy people. In Numbers we see them as a fighting force. In the chapters for today we see a military emphasis that sets the tone for the whole book.
When we read this through the lens of Jesus, we see that the Christian life is a spiritual battle. The apostle Paul describes this as a battle against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm (Ephesians 6:12). You are liberated by the cross. You have been made holy but you have a battle on your hands. As the people of God in the Old Testament prepared for their battles, be prepared.
In this passage we see three keys:
Take instructions from God
‘The Lord spoke to Moses in the Tent of Meeting in the Desert of Sinai’ (Numbers 1:1). God can speak to you even in the very dry periods of your life, or in a place that seems completely godless. Of course, it is not enough simply to hear God’s instructions – act on them too. This initial set of instructions ends with the report that the people of God ‘did all this just as the Lord commanded Moses’ (v.54).
Raise up good leadership
The leaders were appointed from the community (v.16), and represented it (v.4), but ultimately they were chosen by God.
Leadership is key in every level and section of society. Parents are leaders in the home. Teachers are leaders in schools. We need good leadership in the church, marketplace, judiciary, government, media, arts and so on.
Mobilise the people
Everyone had to be listed (‘by name, one by one’, v.2). This expression occurs over and over again in the passage. Each individual matters to God and has an important part to play in his plans. What at first seems to be dry statistics is in fact a key tool in mobilising and equipping the entire people of God.
Eugene Peterson writes in his introduction to the book of Numbers, ‘We need organisational help. When people live together in community, jobs have to be assigned, leaders appointed, inventories kept. Counting and list-making and rosters are as much a part of being a community of God as prayer and instruction and justice. Accurate arithmetic is an aspect of becoming a people of God.’
— Day 73: Bible In One Year 2017