Jesus on the March

Psalms 68:7-9 (NKJV)

O God, when You went out before Your people,
When You marched through the wilderness, Selah
The earth shook;
The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God;
Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
You, O God, sent a plentiful rain,
Whereby You confirmed Your inheritance,
When it was weary.

The people were in a wilderness. They weren’t producing fruit. They had a purpose and direction, but they were not settled and thriving in the land. It was a dry place and they were reliant on the Lord to meet their needs, even their basic needs. There were victories. There was forward progress. There was also struggle and failure. But the Lord went with them, He went before them. He was bringing them to the place He promised.

The Lord goes before them and the earth shakes. When the earth shakes at the Lord’s presence, the rain falls, refreshing the weary. Mountains move at God’s presence.

A plentiful rain falls and confirms His own.

Pray for revival. Pray for God’s presence to go out before His children and shake the earth, bringing the rain, moving the mountains, and confirming and refreshing His own.

We need an outpouring of the Spirit to bring conviction of sin, repentance, and new life to the church and the nations. It happens by God’s presence. Come, Lord Jesus. March before your troops. Lead us into the Promised Land.   

God’s Unchanging Will

There are verses about how no one can change God’s purposes.

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

Job 42:2

For the LORD of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?

Isaiah 14:27

Except people can change God’s plans. God’s people pray and God’s plans change. God says, “I am going to destroy them.” Moses says, “Don’t do it.” God says, “Okay, I won’t.” Those plans changed. God says that His people Israel will stay in the land and be blessed. They get kicked out. The plans changed because of their sin. God’s plans change. That can’t be the same as His will.

God is not fickle. He is who He is. He’s consistent and trustworthy. God is single-minded. He doesn’t have a handful of wills. The Lord is God; the Lord is one. He is of one mind.

So what is His will? His will is His heart, what He desires. His will is mercy, compassion, love, justice, righteousness. His unchanging character shows us His unchanging will. His will is to show us mercy and He will whenever He can, but His will is also righteousness and justice. He can’t do the wrong thing; He can only do the right thing.

The things like healing, the “sozo”-salvation, are all a result of God acting according to His will. He acts in compassion and goodness towards us. He has spoken blessings and curses. He will carry them out. Jesus was perfect but was killed by His enemies. We have to always remember that God’s ways look different than ours. But Jesus triumphed over His enemies. He knew His enemies were not flesh and blood but principalities and powers and He triumphed over them (Col. 2:15).

God’s unchanging will is that He desires all to be saved and all to come to repentance. That’s His will. That’s His heart that will never change. And it’s His unchanging will that He be truthful. He cannot lie. His word is true. He’s given promises, and He will fulfill them. God is true and faithful. That’s another aspect of His character, His unchanging character that we can call His unchanging will. His will has many facets. He’s a big God, an infinite God! His will encompasses all He is. He will never act outside of His will, but He will hold it all in perfect balance, the love, compassion, mercy, and grace and the holiness, justice, wrath, and righteousness.

We see in nature how all things hold in balance. It’s called homeostasis. We see it in everything. God knows how to hold on and release, say yes and no, speak and be silent. He can do all things perfectly at all times.

God acts for the good of His children and for His glory. We can be sure of these things because God’s will is unchanging. He is loving, faithful, and true. We can trust Him and how He will act toward us and in the world. The fear of the Lord is a real thing, but for a child of God, it leads us to revel in His magnificence and the glory of one who does ALL things well.

The Battle

Christians live in the midst of a battle. There is a war of the ages raging in the heavenlies. There are periods of intense battle. There are periods of rest on all sides. There is always a tension though of good and evil in battle, of Satan working to steal, kill, and destroy, and Jesus working to redeem, restore, and give abundant life.

We have to be ready for battle. God trains our hands for war. Training happens during times of peace. Periods of rest aren’t for the ease and comfort of our flesh. Ease and comfort are enemies! They make us fat and lazy, spiritually and physically. That’s what I would always say about America; it makes you fat and lazy, spiritually and physically. We need to be prepared for battle. We need to submit to the training.

What does training for battle look like? What does training for war look like? It looks like a lot of discipline. It looks like early mornings and late nights. It looks like being prepared in and out of season to share God’s word. It looks like changing direction when the wind blows a new way. It looks like devouring God’s word and praying at all times.

The battle also looks a lot like that. Ephesians 6 is where we find the famous armor of God portion of Scripture. After it lists all those pieces of armor, it tells us what to do with them. It says to pray at all times for all the saints. That’s the battle.

It looks a lot like training because that’s the point of training, to simulate the battle, to practice and drill what you will be doing in battle so that when the time comes, you know what to do. The training needs to be thorough so the reflex in battle is the correct response to the situation.

Our correct response in battle is prayer; it’s turning to God first. It’s calling on Jesus to be Savior. It’s being still and knowing He is God and deliverer and help in times of trouble.

There are two points of trouble. We run into trouble if God gives us rest on all sides and instead of training for battle, we take our ease. Look at Solomon as someone who didn’t train for war when given rest and how he fell to the enemy’s trap of worshiping foreign gods.

We can also run into trouble if there is a battle and we decided we need rest. Look at David who stayed home when the other kings went out to war and instead of winning a victory in the name of the Lord, he fell into sin that would mar the rest of his life.

There is rest for a believer, but it doesn’t look like the world’s rest. It’s not kicking back the feet and getting some “deserved relaxation.” It’s certainly not consuming entertainment or satisfying the lusts of the flesh. Rest for the believer is a constant state. It comes from within, not from without. Without looks like war, fighting or training. It’s a constant process. There is no rest from the battle.

There is a rest for the believer, though. It’s knowing that the battle is won, that there is no weight on your shoulders, that you just have to look to Jesus and you have the salvation, the deliverance. It’s knowing the work is finished; it has been accomplished; you just have to be still and know He is God, and you will see His salvation.

Our stillness is internal. We are called to action. We get up and pray. We study the Bible. We help the poor. We share the gospel. We pray for others and meet needs. We serve the Body with our gifts. We work, but we work from a place of rest, knowing we have nothing of ourselves to offer anyone. We know that it’s all His work, that we can accomplish nothing. And we are free from the burden of trying to do for God and others and instead are freed to just love God and others and let Him take it from there.