One of my favorite people in the Bible is David and because of His sensitivity to God, he became the best king Israel ever had. David was chosen by God when he was a young man to become the King of Israel after Saul disobeyed God. David started out as a shepherd boy but later became a mighty warrior and eventually King of Israel. Any good leader will tell you they do not become great alone – they surround themselves with like-minded people who are faithful and committed to making their leader successful. One individual who was totally committed to David was a man we hear very little about. His name was Eleazar. In one battle, after all the other warriors had left, Eleazar remained with David and the Bible says that “He rose and struck down the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clung to the sword.” The Bible tells us that the location of this battle is believed to be in the same area where David had defeated Goliath. This place seems to have been a place where many battles took place for Israel. Here is a lesson for us to learn; the enemy will often take us back to old battlegrounds; places where he’s held us up in the past; places where he might have even won a battle or two. Maybe the devil takes you to that place of doubt, that place of fear, that place of lack of faith inside of you. But when Satan tries to take you to those places just take him back to Calvary; the place where he was defeated by the blood of Jesus.
It’s important to note that Eleazar kept fighting even when he was weary. Sometimes we will grow weary when we are in a fight; sometimes we will lose strength. For you and me there are things that we must be willing to fight for like the preservation of God’s Word and not let Satan take our religious freedom away from us. Also, it’s important to note that he fought for his king, just as we are to fight for our King. Eleazar was alone in battle. There comes a time when each of us are required to stand alone in the battle. The battle that we all fight in our lives is when God requires change; change must come if we are going to see victory. These changes cannot be worked out in a crowd. These changes must be worked out between ourselves and God alone.
Each of us is called to serve our King to the best of our ability no matter what the battlefield is: whether it is restocking shelves in grocery store or managing a Fortune 500 company. Standing firm and serving our King even when everyone else is running in the opposite direction is what God’s mighty men and women do. Eleazar had something that he could not let go of – his sword. His hand became part of his sword. The battle was so intense that he and his sword became one. That is a powerful example for us today. Put the Word in you so that it will come out of you in the heat of the battle!Eleazor was willing to draw his sword and fight with or without any support. He didn’t look around to see who was still standing. Your responsibility is not diminished because other people turn back; rather you should rise to the occasion and close the gap. Remember, only 20% of the people will do 80% of the work. Spiritual strength is a test of greatness. Greatness is shown when you are able to go one more step when you are fighting the biggest challenge of your life.
Think about this:
For every failure in the Bible, there is a victory
For every Cain, there is an Abel
For every Saul, there is a David
For every Judas, there is a Jonathan
For every Pit, there is a Palace.
Refuse to let go of your sword!
There are two things for certain that God has planned for every Christian while they are on this earth: To grow and develop you so that your heart and character closely resembles Jesus Christ, and to transform you forever so that you become a useful tool in the kingdom of God. All of us have a sphere of influence where we are to be God’s agent. No matter what your circumstances may be, or how many people you influence from day to day, your character, faithfulness and integrity will be put through the fire so God can chisel and shape you to become a tool fit for the Master’s use.
The challenges that you will experience on your journey will teach you that life can seem incredibly unfair at times. You will also learn that your dreams will be put to a test because life doesn’t always happen in the way we we had planned, but there is one thing you must always remember. When life throws you a curve, you have been placed in that position for a reason and you are where you need to be at the exact time you need to be there. This is the time to get alone with God and ask him to open your eyes and heart to learn what you need to learn so that you are prepared for the future. It might look like your life is out of control, but your life is being controlled by your heavenly Father. Guard against becoming bitter, angry or unforgiving. Display a sweet spirit even during the hardest times. Remain faithful and have faith that God has a plan and a purpose for you and you will get there if you pass the test.
When it is all said and done, you determine whether or not you enjoy all that God has planned for you. If you have the right attitude, if you are persistent and faithful and trust God with your whole heart, you will succeed. If you lose heart and fail to trust God in every thing, you will miss out on seeing the victories that you could have experienced if you had walked in faith. Allow the promises of God to be the fuel that keeps you going day after day. Remember that God has promised to never leave nor forsake you. Hold on to the truth that God loves you and is mindful of you at all times. The enemy of your soul wants you to doubt God and do your own thing, but your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ died to give you power over sin and death and He wants you to be happy and successful. Choose faith and you will choose the life that will provide you eternal joy and peace that passes all understanding.
All of you know that in this life we will be tested and if you can take it – you will make it. Think about a cruise ship. They are built to withstand adverse weather conditions because their journeys take them through the wind, rain and all types of storms. They would go out of business if every time bad weather conditions arose, they had to turn back to port. Ships are built to endure, they are solid. They have everything they need to keep sailing. They can take it, so they make it – they just keep right on going. How many times have you heard a Christian say ‘I can’t take it anymore?’ The truth is, how much you can take determines your success or failure. If you are able to take discouragement, even failure, and not let it stop you from trying again, you will always win. You must have a will to win, and your will to win will cause you to get up every day, get back in the game and try again.
Winners spend their time building dreams while quitters spend their time criticizing those who have not given up. Winners focus on the things they must do to win while quitters focus on things that make them think they can’t win. Winners see obstacles in their way as hurdles – they don’t stop, they just jump right over them. They condition themselves to take it and that is why they make it! The primary goal of a winner is to win so they take the word ‘can’t out of their vocabulary. The person who never believes that he is defeated is not defeated. His ‘I can make it’ attitude is evidence that he isn’t through fighting yet. There will always be people who will say that something can’t be done and, unfortunately, if you believe you can’t – you won’t! We are limited by what we tell ourselves and our performance is based on what we believe.
A winner knows how to pace himself; he knows when it’s time to slow down and regroup and he knows when it is time give it all he’s got. A winner believes that if one thing doesn’t work, he must try something else. A loser believes that if one thing doesn’t work it can’t be done. A winner takes risks; a winner sees setbacks as opportunities to try something new. A loser sees setbacks as a sign that it’s time to stop trying. It is your responsibility to have a winning attitude and your winning attitude will keep you in the game in life. The winning attitude you need today may just be the attitude of one who refuses to quit, refuses to give up, refuses to lie down and let life run you over. Jesus has fixed the race you are in – you have already won because the enemy of your soul has been defeated. If you can take it – you will make it!
Have you ever been broken – truly broken? God allows us to become broken because on the other side of brokenness is a victory that you could never have attained in the natural. Brokenness takes us to a place where we seek God with our whole heart and it is there, in God’s presence, that we are healed. Do not separate yourself from God but allow God to change your heart and renew your mind so that you become more like the Lord Jesus Christ. Our hearts must have the capability to hold both whole and broken pieces together without becoming bitter in the process. There must be enough wholeness within our hearts to not allow the broken pieces we hold to keep us from moving forward. Brokenness is literally part of the fabric of life, woven into our experience of the world. There is no person that is immune from it.
On the other side of brokenness is freedom. You are able to see things you were not able to see before. You are no longer afraid of anything. Your heart is open and you can sympathize with the pain of others. Your compassion is greater. Your ability to hear God has been magnified because there is nothing in you hindering the Holy Spirit from talking to you. You become creative. Ideas begin to flood your mind. and you become humble because what didn’t break you has made you strong, and believe it or not, there are blessings in brokenness. Often, the blessings are found in the comfort of family or friends. Sometimes the blessing is in finding forgiveness, of self and of others, that helps us heal ourselves or a broken relationship. Sometimes the blessing might be in finding the wisdom, the strength, the courage we didn’t know we had.
God can take what has been broken and remake it into something better, something that He can use for His glory. On the night before He died, Jesus broke bread and said, “This is my body, which is broken for you.” He went all the way to Calvary to die so that we could live. His death has made it possible for broken, sinful humanity to be reconciled to God and be healed. Without the broken body of Jesus, we would have no hope of being made whole, and because Jesus has redeemed us, we must remember that we are more than conquerors in this life. We have within us the power to over come any and all obstacles that may come our way. It’s not what we do – it is what Jesus has already done that makes the difference. Wholeness in mind, body and soul can only be attianed through the Lord Jesus Christ. If you know Him as your Lord and Savior, you will not remain in a broken state. If you do not know HIm as Lord and Savior yet, make the decision to do so now. Jesus did not die in vain. He died so that we all might have life and life more abundantly. When you are sick you need a physician. When you are broken you need God. Move from being broken to being whole and experience the love of God like never before.
The Bible tells us to “fight the good fight of faith.” What does that mean? The enemy of your soul wants nothing more than to defeat you any way he can. He will use suggestions, ideas, pressures and negative circumstances to get you to believe his lies. If Satan can get you to change your confession of faith to a confession of doubt, he‘s got you and that is why you must hold onto your confession of faith and that is why you must resist the devil so that he will flee from you. If you are a child of God, Satan can’t get your soul, it belongs to God. Satan will do whatever he can to get you to lose your faith and give up, but if you fight the good fight of faith when times are difficult, you will come out on the other side more than a conqueror.
I’m sure you have heard of the military term AWOL – Away Without Official Leave. A good soldier holds onto faith, while an AWOL soldier lets go of faith. What’s the difference between an AWOL soldier and a good soldier? An AWOL soldier, after becoming engaged in the fight, changes his/her mind and decides to run away from their duties/ responsibilities without authorization thus leaving his post unmanned causing a breach in security. A good soldier accepts his responsibilities, follows the orders of the commander in charge without question, and will do whatever necessary to protect his fellow soldiers and their mission even if it costs him his life. God is our heavenly Father and His commands are all written down in His Book, the Word of God and a good soldier obeys his commander without question.
To fight the good fight of faith you must do the following:
- Put on your armor
- Be courageous
- Resist the devil
- Stick it out – do not go AWOL
God has given us armor and we must put it on every day. Our armor is described in Ephesians 4: 14-18.
- Belt of truth
- Breastplate of righteousness
- Gospel of peace for your shoes
- Shield of faith (to extinguish fiery darts of the enemy)
- Helmet of Salvation
- The sword of the spirit (the word of God)
- Prayer & supplication
Believing in God is a personal act. You must hold onto your faith – no one can do that for you. You must keep believing. You must guard your heart and always be aware of anything or anyone that will try to pull you away from the Lord and what He has called you to do. Get rid of all distractions. Stay focused on what you are trying to accomplish. Your faith should not depend on any person or any ministry or any church membership. You are not going to win in life’s fights just because you are a church member and you attend church. You will fight the ‘good fight of faith’ when you apply yourself to spiritual truths found in the Word of God.
Question: Are you a good soldier or have you gone AWOL?
Making the right decisions is very important because one day we will all have to give an account of the decisions we made. Remember the following four things when you are called upon to make a major decision:
- Do the right thing.
- Do the right thing at the right time.
- Do the right thing at the right time with the right motives.
- The right decision will always lead to a great reward.
The decisions we make do matter and they affect our family and our friends. A lot of people make a decision that will get them momentary satisfaction. They are more interested in what they can get out of life right now and they forget there is an eternity out there much longer than the here and now. But making the right choices takes a heavenly-minded person. There are three important people in the Bible who made decisions that not only affected them, but had a major impact on many others.
Joseph’s story is a good example of someone who consistently made the right decisions and ultimately he received his reward. As a young boy, he had dreams that put him in a position where everyone would one day bow down to him – including his family. He was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. His father was told that he was killed by a wild animal. He was framed by Pharaoh’s wife because he refused to sleep with her and was thrown into prison. He interpreted the dream of a prisoner who was released and restored to his position, but he forgot about Joseph. Joseph interprets one of Pharaoh’s dreams and he was promoted from the pit to the palace over night. In the end Joseph became the leader of all Egypt second only to the Pharaoh himself. When given the opportunity to take revenge or forgive his brothers, he chose forgiveness and his family was restored. God never left Joseph and Joseph never left God. He remained faithful and godly through it all and God honored him.
Job was a very wealthy man who one day lost everything but made a decision to trust God no matter what. His decision to trust God even after his wife told him to curse God and die, proved to be the right decision and allowed God to give him double for his trouble! Job had no idea that God would restore him, but holding on to his faith and not giving up on God positioned him for his blessing.
Jesus made a decision to obey his heavenly Father even to the point of death. In the Garden of Gethsemane he could have made a decision not to give his life as a ransom for us but his love for God propelled him to make the decision he made. This decision changed my life; it changed your life and the life of every Believer.
Let’s all follow the example that Joshua gave us. He made a decision as to who he would choose to follow in life. He said “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” If you believe that God is God, be a faithful follower of Christ and be consistent in your decisions so no one will ever doubt who you serve.
I’m sure that you have a plan for your life but God also has a plan for every one of us. God’s plan is superior to our plan and that is why we must pray for direction to follow it, have the patience to wait on it, and most of all we need knowledge to know when it comes. To know God’s plan, we must have an intimate relationship with Him to experience the communication that is necessary to hear from God. We all have friends and we all have acquaintances, but the kind of relationship I’m talking about goes so much deeper than having an occasional talk with God. The people who love God so much to the point that they want what God wants, aren’t satisfied with just knowing about God, they want to truly know God and they will pursue God not just on the surface but they will take their relationship deep because that is where God is!
To receive all that God has for you, I want to admonish you to go deeper in God with faith. Going deep will require much faith and the more faith you have, the deeper you will go. Just as a pool has shallow water in the beginning, then the further out you go the deeper the water, the same holds true with your personal relationship with God. The deeper you go, the more you will know about God and His will for you. Imagine a pool of water symbolizing your relationship with God. Your depth in God could be just ankle deep. Christians who are at this depth are baby Christians who are not yet ready to swim because they are not yet spiritually mature. Walking in ankle deep water requires little effort. you can easily choose to get in or out, and you are one of the people the Bible says are easily blown to and fro by all manners of doctrine. At this depth, you are just a little bit committed and your eyes are still looking back and not towards the future. You need to see more before you believe more.
If you go deeper, you will then be knee deep. Christians who is at this stage understand the power of prayer and of the Holy Spirit. Knee deep believers are a little more committed than the ankle deep believers, but it is still fairly easy for them to change their minds and get out of the water. If your relationship goes a little deeper, you are in waist deep. Believers who are wait deep in their relationship with God read the Word, they understand the Word and they are assured of their personal salvation. They understand the grace of God; they are faithful tithers because they do not want to rob God. They are also out sharing the good news of the gospel with the lost. At this level, the believer is growing in the Lord and is solid. If you are brave enough to go deeper in God from this level, you become submerged and have reached the highest level in God. This is the final stage, the water is supporting you, you are not using your own power to wade through the water, and you are walking in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Your relationship is all about being totally submitted to God’s will and the flow of His spirit.
As Christians, we must want to go deep with God so that we are able to swim; so that the power and presence of God pushes us into doing God’s will and not our own. Our Christian walk must grow larger and deeper; we need to depend upon God for everything. God does have a plan for your life. Pray for the knowledge to recognize God’s will for your life. Pray for the patience to wait on God’s timing and to have the faith to follow His direction. Don’t settle for knowing about God or having just an ankle deep relationship with Him. Pursue God with your whole heart and you will find Him and experience the deep things of God that few ever realize.
We all have dreams – situations that we’re believing for, or circumstances that we want to see turned around. Too often when we pray we tell God how to do it, when to do it, and who to use to do it. But there is one problem with that – God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are so far above our thoughts. God doesn’t always do things the logical way, God uses unorthodox methods. If you have any preconceived ideas of how you’re going to be promoted, get healed or experience restoration, lay it aside – it won’t happen the way you think! You have to stay open, let God out of your box; you may only see one way that it could happen. God already knows how to promote you; He knows how to get you the finances you need to send your child to college, or buy that new car. But if it doesn’t happen your way, if you’re not careful you’ll get discouraged and start thinking that it’s never going to happen. Often a person gets passsed over for a promotion on their job only to find out that they ended up with a better one. What you don’t realize is God can close one door on purpose because He has something much better for you.
God can use whoever He wants to use, save whoever He wants to save, bring good out of whomever He wants to. God used Rahab the prostitute to save the people of Israel. He used a donkey to speak to Balaam. He used Pharoah’s daughter to take care of baby Moses. A lot of times, God IS answering our prayers; it’s just not the way that we expected. God may not use the people you were expecting and it may not happen on your timetable. But this is what faith is all about – faith leaves the details up to God because He knows better than you do what’s best for you and when you are ready to receive it. Take another look; maybe God has answered your prayers, just not the way you thought.
One reason God does it His way and not our way is so that He will get all the glory. God is an out of the box God. His plan for your life will not always be logical, or reasonable, or what you had planned. But if you stay open to God, your miracle will be much bigger, better and more rewarding, than you ever imagined. Sometimes God has to push us to our next level. He wants to not only bring you out your problem, but He will do it in such a way that you will have to give Him the glory because you could in no way have achieved victory on your own. God has 1000 ways to bless you; when they show up, are you going to recognize His blessing and walk it out? Trust God to heal you, promote you, restore you and bless you His way!
Believers should always be growing; always moving forward because if we are not moving forward, we are either standing still, or falling behind. If we always do what we have always done, then we will always be what we have always been. We don’t want to ever become stuck at where we are; we should look towards the future with hope and not be afraid to take the next step toward fulfilling God’s plan for our lives, and God’s plan is all about moving forward no matter what the past looked like. Your past might have been wonderful or it might not have been the best, but your future blessings cannot be obtained as they are ahead of you and not behind you.
There is only one way to move in the kingdom of God and that is forward. When we move forward the Lord will open the doors that He wants you to go through and He will close the doors that no longer serve a purpose for you. The apostle Paul understood this principle when he said in Philippians 3:13 “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” It’s important to leave the past behind you so that you can embrace all that God has for your future. If you believe that all things work together for your good, you know that the past has helped make you the person you are today. You may not be all that God wants you to be at this point in time, but you are not the same person you use to be. You have experienced much and your faith has grown to a deeper level. Press on until you reach what lies ahead. There can never be a time or place in our lives that we stop moving forward!We are not finished yet! The future is full of all kinds of possibilities.
Have you ever come to the conclusion that there was something in your life that you very much wanted but that it seemed impossible to happen? You thought about it, you dreamed about it yet you accepted the fact that it will never happen. The dictionary defines the word ‘impossible’ as ‘incapable of being or incapable of occurring.” I’m sure that many of you feel that way or have felt that way in the past. You have asked God for the impossible because there is no way you could bring it to pass on your own. And, it doesn’t have to be something materialistic; it could be your not being able to forgive a certain person for something they did in the past to you. Or, it could be you need a healing miracle for yourself or a loved one. But the good news is that because of Jesus Christ we always have hope; Why? Because with God ‘all things are possible.’ That dream, that forgiveness, that healing, they are all possible. How do we move from impossible to possible? The answer is not difficult at all – the answer is PRAYER! Prayer is the key that opens the spiritual doors to the ‘all things are possible’ mansion in the kingdom of God.
When life overwhelms us, the best thing we can do is keep our eyes upon Jesus. Jesus wants to encourage us; He wants to lift us up and He wants to give us strength when we need it. You will be encouraged; your burdens seem lighter and you find strength after you have spent time in prayer. This is what being in the presence of the Lord will do for you. You won’t get encouraged, or uplifted or strengthen by being with people in the world. You don’t go to a pizza restaurant to get barbeque; you must go where you will find what you are looking for, and when you are looking for the impossible, going to God is your only resource. Don’t be afraid to pray or wish that you could pray like someone else. Just pray simply and honestly. And, the best way to pray is to pray from the heart. Whether you’re kneeling, walking, or lying down. God isn’t interested as much in your posture, whether you are standing, sitting or on your knees, as much as He is in the position of your heart. You don’t want Him to find that your heart is closed; a closed heart means that there are things hidden that you do not want to deal with. A closed door may hide anger, bitterness, unforgiveness. But a submitted heart leaves the door wide open for God to work through you.
If our heart is open then we will want to spend time with God; either enjoying his presence, in worship, reading His Word or talking with Him. I love what Paul says in Ephesians 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.” Do you think that way? Do you realize that no matter what you have prayed about – no matter how impossible it appears to be – God is able to do more than that? With God you always get more! God is not confined in any way. We might limit Him in our thinking and put Him in a box, but God is bigger than our box; God has no boundaries or parameters or limitations. With people you might get less than you expect, but with God, He will exceed your expectations. Remember that prayer makes all things possible.