“ARE YOU FOR ME OR AGAINST ME?”

Image result for image of opposition

We’ve all been there at one point or another — standing in the formidable shadow of difficult situations that refuse to budge, while fear whispers in our ear about the inevitability of our defeat. One of the many reasons I’m so thankful for God’s Word. Because tucked into its pages, we find story after story of people who can help us learn in the midst of our battles. People who show us what it means — to look to and solely depend upon the Lord.

“Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, ‘Are you for us or for our enemies?’” Joshua 5:13 (NIV)

Take Joshua, for example. If ever someone might feel overwhelmed at a situation totally out of their control, his experience facing Jericho was it.

Not only did the wall surrounding Jericho look invincible, but there was also the issue of Israel’s army lacking proper weapons for tackling such an impressively guarded city. You can’t exactly pull down walls with arrows and spears. That’s a job for battering rams and catapults — items noticeably missing from their arsenal.

But they had come too far to turn back. And the people of Israel were counting on Joshua to lead them into this land promised by God.

With all these facts and details weighing on him, Joshua is suddenly confronted by a man with a drawn sword. Scripture reveals this is no mere human. This is the commander of the Lord’s army — God’s presence in human form. And this is no everyday occurrence either. It is an incredible encounter.

Seeing the man is ready for battle, Joshua asks, Are you for us or for our enemies?(Joshua 5:13) Wrapped in this honest question I sense hesitancy in Joshua — a peek inside his thought life — doubt — and a need for reassurance. Such an honest question, but it makes me believe perhaps Joshua isn’t walking in complete confidence and assurance. If he were, he wouldn’t have asked. But he did.

This is where we assume that, of course, God’s presence will answer, “Joshua, I am with you, for you and on your side!” But that would be assuming wrongly.

When asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” the presence of God replies, “Neither, but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come” (Joshua 5:14a). Joshua falls face down in humility and reverence — asking what message the Lord has for him, His servant. (Joshua 5:14b)

I wonder what kind of message Joshua was expecting, even longing for. Perhaps one overflowing with war strategies or perhaps “Joshua you will definitely win this battle” . But instead of detailed plans, Joshua receives a call to worship. He’s told to remove his sandals, for the ground is holy. (Joshua 5:15)

It’s an invitation and a reminder for Joshua to worship the One who’s not only big enough to handle the impending battle, but also loving enough to address the doubt, fear and insecurity running through Joshua’s mind. And as Joshua slips off his sandals, I’m reminded of what I need in the face of my own seemingly insurmountable situations: I need to worry less and worship more…

When I’m desperate for God to give me all the details…

When I’m wishing He would give me the tiniest peek at His plans …

When I’m starting to wonder if He’s for me or against me…

I need to pause, lift my eyes to the One willing to meet me in the midst of my fears, and worship Him. Worshiping not only because it honors Him, but because it also changes me.

Honor the LORD for the glory of his name. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.” (Psalm 29:2)

Worship might not be the first thing that comes to mind when we feel overwhelmed, but it truly is powerful. It reminds our trembling hearts and shaky knees that our God is mighty, our God is loving and our God is a more-than-able God. It both quiets us and strengthens us — perfectly preparing our hearts and minds for whatever battles lie ahead.

I don’t know what “walls” you’re facing in your life right now, friend. I don’t know how overwhelming and daunting they seem. But I do know the perfect battle plan for each and every one of us…

Worry less. Worship more.  Trust our God to lead us into victory.

Prayer

Father Lord, thank You for reminding me that the best way to prepare my heart and mind for battle is to simply and humbly worship You. So today, as I lay my fears down at Your feet, I lift my hands up to You in worship. You are worthy of my trust. You are worthy of my praise. Today and every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Stay Blessed Always!

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Uncommon Cravings

Image result for someone eating chocolate and reading the bible

Every deep-waters kind of girl is always ready to dive right into feelings. So here I am wondering the spiritual condition of my heart  — something I usually love to do— honestly — I really don’t want to end up in Hell. Suddenly my tummy starts to signal — Hunger ( around 11:26pm). I went back to bed after the disappointment of not finding anything to eat, then I remembered — I have chocolate.

I love chocolate!  I am only using “love” for want of a better word to describe the kind of bond chocolate and I share, yes it is that deep (hey……….don’t….please don’t judge me). Just about taking my first bite — “feed off my word” HUH!? This is definitely not from the Holy Spirit I told myself. I might as well get down to business with this chocolate — resounding in my head again “feed off my word” Sigh… can I just enjoy this already? “feed off my word”  this time around the whisper was so audible I dropped the chocolate —  following the navigation of my eyes, I traced my bible to the right-side of my bed.

The Webster Dictionary defines “hunger” as feeling an uneasy or painful sensation from lack of food ( being so hungry that the lack of food causes anger or frustration feeling hunger). Spot on, right? Can you remember a time you were so hungry you yelled at someone you love, rolled your eyes at your parent or spouse, used harsh words to that errand guy/girl or thought mean things toward someone at work? Your need for sustenance can really turn your happy into anger.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)

We can become hungry on a spiritual level too. Our hearts will long for the kind of nourishment only God can provide, and we’ll struggle to navigate life’s ups and downs until our spiritual hunger is tamed. As we read in Matthew 5:6, Jesus reminds us, God will not only bless us for feeling hungry for Him, but He will also satisfy that need to the fullest. My personal experience put me to bed without remembering the hunger.

I once read that hankering for a taste of the Holy Spirit was better than feasting on our favorite foods. (Honestly, it’s hard to imagine anything yummier than cubes of cadbury chocolate with caramel in between…..please don’t judge me).

But over and over again, God reminds me He will satisfy and fill me up even more and even better than anything the world can offer. “For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.” (Psalm 107:9)

Even though physical food can satisfy our tummies, the only way to tame our souls is to feast on God’s Word.

You and I were created to hunger after God more than anything the world offers. It’s an uncommon choice — an ability God baked into the heart of every believer. But it’s an intentional decision we must choose daily. It literally means that when bad news comes, we get on our knees and pray. We take our pain and fear to Him first. We put God at the top of our to-do lists, not the bottom. It means we don’t treat Him like leftovers, something we reluctantly grab when nothing else satisfies.

Relying on anything other than God to feed our souls will keep us in an ordinary, basically a common relationship with Him. Instead of embracing His power, strength and wisdom, we settle for the world’s morsels. Unless we choose to feast on God’s promises, we’ll spiritually starve ourselves.

Having an uncommon hunger for God is something we have to cultivate. It’s something we can ask Him to give us. Let’s want God more than anyone or anything. And let’s live in such a way that others see the Father because of it. Yes, I am giving us all cheer-on to be that crazy Jesus-girl.

Because when we do, we’re choosing to be an uncommon woman — unique and authentic. And who knows the person sitting next to you might get their appetites stirred up, just from watching you feed off God’s word.  Mind you, the world needs our lives to shine God’s hope, now more than ever. I am so excited to inform you that I haven’t had chocolate in the last 5 months.

Prayer

Dear Lord, help me want You above anything else. It’s so easy to get “hungry” for the wrong things and look to the world to satisfy my needs or heal my heart. But in doing so, I’m forgetting that You are my provider. You are ready and willing and able to be my all. Help me choose You! I don’t want to live a common life; I want to thrive as an uncommon woman. Forget the world. I want You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

The Holy Spirit is ever ready to come in and fellowship with you, all you need to do is let Him in — He’s been knocking this entire time! (Read Revelation 3:20)

Stay Blessed!