From Battle to Blessings

As the people of Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land, the Lord gave these words of encouragement through Moses: “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV).

Just as God went with the Israelites when they went into the land He has called them to, so He also goes with you as you walk in the paths He had ordained for you.  When you go where He leads, you will never be alone.

Let’s make a few important observations: first, we are told to be strong and courageous.  These traits are usually thought of as a state of being.  You are either strong or weak, brave or cowardly.  The fact that we are commanded to be strong and courageous highlights the fact that this is a choice.  We choose boldness and strength.

Second, we are told not to fear.  If there was nothing to make us afraid, this would not be necessary.  As we follow God, there will be truly fearsome moments in our lives.  We will want to be afraid when these difficult times come. Remember that we don’t have to live in fear, because God is with us wherever we go.

Finally, remember that God’s road does in fact lead to blessing.  The people of Israel, by obeying His commands, were entering the Promised Land, there new home and a place of plentifulness. Be strong and courageous. God will bring you through the battle into a place of blessing. Do not fear.

For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning (Psalm 30:5 ESV).

He Doesn’t Care!

The world can be so divided.  Race, the battle of the sexes, and even social status divides human beings into groups and causes tension.  In politics, such tensions are played to and exasorbated to further political ends.  We are often most impassioned by what divides us.

God has a different view of people: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28 ESV).  Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. He doesn’t care in you are Caucasian or of African decent; it doesn’t matter if you are male or female; He has no respect for your social status, whether a politician, an actor, a singer, a factory worker, or a stay at home parent.  His concern: are you a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven? Have you received forgiveness through Jesus and become a child of God?

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12, NIV).

It’s Easy to Judge

When Jesus told the disciples that they would abandon Him, Peter replied, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you” (Mark 14:31 ESV).   The rest of the disciples spoke similarly as well.

Of course, we all know that intentions and reality seldom meet in the way we would like. At the Garden of Gathsemene, Christ’s three closest disciples could not even stay awake to pray with Him. The disciples scattered when Jesus was arrested. Peter, the most outspoken and adamant of the group, denied that he knew Christ three times.

As we read this chapter in the life of Jesus, it’s easy for us to look down on their actions. They lacked faith. They failed to understand who Christ was and what He would have to go through, despite the fact that He shared these things openly with them.  And, because our lives aren’t actually on the line, it is easy to say that we would act differently.

How we judge or examine the disciples doesn’t really matter to them. They have run their race and are experiencing the joys of Heaven.  But what about our living brothers and sisters in Christ?  How do we look at them?  Do we condemn their actions though we have never had to walk in their shoes?

Paul wrote these words to the Roman church: “You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat” (Romans 14:10 NIV).  It’s easy to judge. It’s harder to encourage, especially when a brother or sister’s faults are so much more distasteful to us than our own. But that is exactly what we are called to do.

“Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25 BSB).

Powerful Among You

When writing to the Corinthian church concerning sinful practices that needed to change, Paul warned them to repent and change their ways before he came to them again. While doing this, he reminded them that Christ “is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you” (2 Corinthians 13:3 ESV).

Always remember that this is true- He is powerful among you.  In context of this verse, powerful to discipline us, yes, but His powerful presence among us does this and so much more.

He is “not weak in dealing with you.” If you can match your faith to His ability, impossible things happen. Mountains move. Strongholds collapse. Bodys and spirits are healed.

Never lose faith in the power of God. Never forget that He is with you. Never forget that He has power in hand and is ready to act for your good. 

“Is any thing too hard for the Lord” (Genesis 18:4 KJV)?  “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37 KJV).

Through God’s Eyes

When a poor widow gave an offering of very little worth, Jesus commended her for giving a greater offering then everyone else because “they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had.”

It is human nature to compare ourselves with others. We judge our own contributions and accomplishments against those of our neighbors to determine the sufficiency of our efforts.  Our value is determined by comparison.  But this is not how God sees us.

“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). God will never compare you to someone else. He judges your efforts by what you have to offer.  In His eyes, a widow’s penny is worth more that the contributions of the wealthy.

God doesn’t compare your song, your prayer, your witness, your offering, your art, your writing, your accomplishments to that of another. Here’s sees your heart, your effort, your desire. This is what makes an offering pleasing in the sight of God.

The Sword of the Spirit

The King of Israel was instructed in the law of Moses to “write for himself in a book a copy of this law” and “read in it all the days of his life.” He was instructed to do this “that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes” (Deuteronomy 17:18‭-‬19).

We often neglect the basic spiritual practices that help us to stay strong in our faith and overcome our baser desires.  Studying God’s Word can help us to live victoriously and overcome temptation. It causes us to grow, to be encouraged, to refresh our perspective, and to become more like Christ.

Psalm 119:11 says “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Victory over self comes from feeding our spirits.  The Word of God nourishes the spiritual man and affords us the strength to overcome the flesh.  It is the Sword of the Spirit, and we weild it to win spiritual victories!

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 KJV).

The Key to Blessing

There are many different ideas about how to receive blessing from God, but the scripture is very clear: the key to blessing is… blessing!

Jesus said “give and it shall be given unto you” (Luke 6:38).  We so often equate this verse with tithing and offerings, but God’s view of giving extends far beyond the collection plate.

In Deteronomy 15:10-11, we are told that “there will never cease to be poor in the land” and we are to “give to him freely.” And when we bless the needy, “God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake.”

The key to receiving blessing is blessing others.  And the very act of giving can be the greatest blessing of all.  As Christ tells us, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

Lord, let my heart be giving.  Let my desire be not to receive, but to give and in doing so show Your kindness.  Amen.

Make me a blessing,
Make me a blessing,
Out of my life may Jesus shine;
Make me a blessing, O savior, I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone today.

Make Me a Blessing
George Shuler & Ira Wilson, 1924

What is your way?

When Jesus passed by blind Bartimaus on the road, he began to call out Him. Hearing his voice, Jesus called for him and asked what he wanted.  His request was that his sight would be restored, and Jesus healed him because of his faith.

What happened next is so subtle you might miss it, but it is extremely important, and a vital lesson to the believer.  When  Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well,” what did this formerly blind man do? What was his way? “And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way” (Mark 10:52 ESV).

What was the way that Bartimaus chose when Jesus told him to “go your way?” He followed the way of Jesus. He walked in His footsteps.  Now that his eyes were open, he could see to follow Jesus.

As you go on your way in life, are you following in the footsteps of Jesus?  Blind men sit by the way side. Lost men wander and stumble in the dark. But those who see- they follow Jesus. His way is their way.

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Hear His Voice

When Jesus went up to the mountain with a few of his disciples, Elijah and Moses appeared and conversed with Jesus.  In the end, Moses and Elijah appeared, and only Jesus remained.

While His disciples didn’t understand it at the time, Jesus was revealing a spiritual truth through this glorious manifestation. Moses gave the law, and Elijah represented the prophets. Jesus was showing that the law and prophets were being fulfilled in Him (Matthew 5:17).

To this very day, our Jewish brethren listen to the law and prophets but fail to see Jesus.  They are missing this fulfillment. The law and prophets serve to guide us to the Savior.  They listen to the Word of God, but allow the message of the Messiah to be eclipsed.

To be clear, the law and the prophets are good, godly voices.  If the good scriptures of the Old Testament can serve as a roadblock preventing the nation of Israel from coming to Jesus, what other good voices are we allowing to drown out the voice of God?

Don’t let anything exalt itself against the name of Jesus. Are you listening to the words of the latest bestselling book, your favorite television series, countless hours on Facebook, or the latest MLM before the Word of God? Or, even like the people of Israel- may God grant them peace- are you letting spiritual teachings interfere with your personal kwoledge of Christ through the Word of God and prayer?  Even the latest wind of doctrine, a TV preacher, or your own pastor can serve as a roadblock when their voices speak louder to you than scripture and the convicting and guiding voice of the Holy Spirit.

When the cloud lifted on the mountain, “they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only” (Mark 9:8).  Don’t let any of the voices in this world- even the good voices- distract us or cause us to take our eyes off Jesus. First and foremost, hear His voice.


In Deuteronomy, the Lord promises the people of Israel blessings: 

He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock, in the land that he swore to your fathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples. There shall not be male or female barren among you or among your livestock.
(Deuteronomy 7:13‭-‬14)

But did you know that you have been grafted in to the people of God?  “some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root” (Romans 11:17). We who are in Christ share the blessing of the people of Israel. This means that God’s promise here is to is as well.

He promises three incredible blessings: “He will love you, bless you, and multiply you.”

First, He loves us.  He loves us with a jealous, overwhelming, unstoppable love:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)

Second, He blesses us. He gives us good things. He gives us grace underserved. “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:11).

Third, He multiplies us.  What we put our hands to will prosper. He will make our work effective. He will cause us to accomplish something meaningful, lasting, and worthwhile.

We are His. His children, His people, His redeemed ones: “you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (1 Peter 2:9). And because we belong to Him, we will be loved, blessed, and multiplied. Thank you, Jesus!