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Fighting for deliverance…

Yes-the-walls-of-Jericho

“And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not fear and do not be dismayed. Take all the fighting men with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the kind of Ai, and his people, his city, and his land.” –Joshua 8:1, ESV

God delivered Ai to Joshua and his 30,000 fighting men. But deliverance didn’t come without a fight. These were fighting men–the tool God used in bringing Ai to Joshua were fighters. The Lord’s deliverance didn’t come while they were kicking back watching the NBA playoffs. It didn’t come overnight while they slept. In order for Joshua to take Ai, he had to make a choice of the fighting men, they had to go to Ai, and then they had to actually fight.

Are you expecting God to deliver? Are you expecting to fight for that deliverance? Are you willing to do the work necessary to receive the deliverance God promised? Yes, there re times when deliverance comes became we simply believe. But an honest look at our lives and the lives whose accounts are in the Bible will show that deliverance most often comes with a fight.

Yes, the walls of Jericho came down without much more than a stroll around the block. But you know what came after the tumbling walls? A fight. Though the walls of Jericho came down miraculously, the fight still had to be fought. The victory promised by God still had to be won.

Are we walking through life believing that God should just give us what we want without needing to work for it?

In my other career, I have led departments and turned units around financially organizationally. I have managed staff who point out discrepancies and operational challenges who then go to work to make the changes. And I have managed staff who simply point out the discrepancies and operational challenges. Guess whose challenges get addressed more frequently? It is not only because they are individually working to move a solution forward, though that is a big part of it. It is because if they are not interested in it enough to actually spend time making a difference, than why should I shift my priorities to assist?

Are you invested in the deliverance you seek from God? Are you working for it, pushing for it, and staking steps to make it happen? I find that when we are both invested and faithful, trusting God to move, mighty things happen. Not because of our work, but because we believed God and worked for it. After all, if you’re not willing to participate in receiving something from God, why would He trust that you would work to take care of it once He gave it? Why give it to someone who won’t value and care for it?

Are you a “fighting” man like Joshua’s army? Are you willing to battle for that which you ask God to provide?

Chronological Bible: August 9, Faith is stronger than your circumstance…

Read:

  • Jeremiah 39:11-44:30

“For I will surely save you, and you shall not fall by the sword, but you shall have your life as a prize of war, because you have put your trust in me, declares the Lord.’’ –Jeremiah 39:18, ESV

Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, staring in the face of certain captivity, received the above word from the Lord through Jeremiah. The chains would come and Ebed-melech would face the ones of whom he was afraid. His situation did not change in that regard. However, his faith honored God and God would give him his life. He still felt the cold shackles on his wrists. He still faced the people he feared. But faith trumped death for him.

Faith is bigger than your circumstances. Believing that God is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do will give you far more than your own strivings can accomplish alone. You may not be delivered from your captors. You may not even be delivered from death. But faith will always win in the way God knows you need the most. Faith will always win.

Chronological Bible: August 7, The Deliverer is the deliverance…

Read:

  • Lamentations 4:1-5:22

As the title of this book implies, we are reading lament after lament after lament of the state of Israel. Terrible things lie in wait as horrendous things happen. Wave after wave of trouble comes. And though it is in response to the people’s sins, still they seek their God. Still He hears their cries. But the evidence of His hearing is not what one might think.

We can be so small-minded to think that the only “proof” that God hears our cries is His deliverance. We limit Him, thinking that only if He does what He is told, then we will believe He is listening. Oh, how our arrogance creates obstacles for us!

But this section of Lamentations holds nuggets of truth. Though the people have cried out for saving from these expereinces, the true redemption comes in one way:

“Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored!…” –Lamentations 5:21, ESV

Restoration and proof that God is listening does not always come in the deliverance for which we cry. When our heart changes to see that true deliverance is experienced in the very relationship with God, the torrential waves around us seem to matter less as we focus on the One who delivers our very soul.

Chronological Bible: August 6, Wallowing in the mire you created…

Read:

  • Lamentations 1:1-3:66

“Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins? Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!” –Lamentations 3:39-40, ESV

Hard times comes. Sometimes they are just part of life. The Lord has allowed things in our lives for many reasons. Though I spend a lot of time writing about endurance, let it not be realized: sometimes the junky stuff comes because we sinned. Sometimes it is our own fault. We have to admit it. We have to realize that sometimes our difficult situations are as a direct result of our own ridiculous actions. Yes, God can deliver us from them, and so many times He does. But sometimes we need to sit in our own filth a little while to finally realize we really do hate it. To get to the point where we are ready to humble ourselves and follow commands, sometimes we have to suffer the consequences of our actions.

And in it, just like the author of Lamentations, we need to still praise God. For in His holiness, He sometimes needs us to feel the full impact of our sin, knowing that we will turn back to Him. Give yourself a break; turn back to Him and trust Him to faithfully restore your relationship with Him. Beg for deliverance, but know that sometimes it is a mess you created from which you are begging to be pulled.

Chronological Bible: July 23, And then the turn…

Read:

  • Jeremiah 50:1-51:64

Israel in captivity. Serving an evil kingdom, humbled under the rule of one beyond their own. Called to return to their Lord through the subjugation to an earthly king. Oppression pushes down day after day. You know jeering came, humiliation met them in the street.

And then the turn comes.

It is the moment when the broken-ankled gymnast takes the next vault…when the gladiator in the ring gets pummeled, and slowly, purposefully stands with the look of fire in his eyes. It is the moment the anthem starts quiet in the background and begins to build. You know stuff is about to go down. You know the whole momentum is shifting. The hairs on your arm stand up, you catch your breath and prepare yourself for the surprise of how it will all play out. It’s edge-of-your-seat moment when you know victory is certain though not yet delivered.

This is the turning moment for the people of Israel. But they are not the ones shifting. Their God has released the hand of the oppressor and stuff is about to do down. A heavenly deep breath, a glint in the eye, and the God Almighty of the people Israel is about to deliver all that is deserved. The people’s deliverance comes by the hand of the same One Who put them in captivity.

The turn has come. If a turn is coming in your life, prepare yourself, for you are about to see the magnificence of God deliver you. His sovereign love gives discipline. His righteous justice delivers you. Hold on for the turn, for it is coming.