Monday, August 18, 2014

"Mighty men serving a mighty God!"

Day #234:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - August 19th

Scripture Reading:  I Chronicles 10 - 14 ...

Somewhere around 3,000 years ago the Philistines fought against Israel (10:1).  Today, 3,000 years later, the battle rages on (the area of the Philistines was the area of Gaza and the Palestinians are descended from the Philistines).  It may appear that a lot has changed since the days of David, but mankind remains spiritually dead without faith in Jesus Christ and the work of His Spirit, therefore, the spiritual battle between God and His angels, and Satan and his demons, continues in the spiritual realm AND in the physical realm.  While some of the battles may appear to be fruitless, God is at work, and all of this is heading toward a climactic conclusion.  The final outcome has already been determined.

Meanwhile, there are lessons to be learned if we are going to engage in the battle and choose the winning side!  As you and I go about our daily lives it is so easy to forget that spiritual power comes from God and is given to those who seek Him and who desire to be faithful to Him.  After Saul and his sons had been killed in battle, David was anointed king in Hebron.  Scripture is quick to say that "Saul died because he was unfaithful to the LORD" (10:13).  David had sought the LORD, his God, since his childhood, and now that he was king, he knew where his might and power and wisdom to rule would come from.

Having captured the fortress at Jerusalem, David decided to reign over Israel from there and it became known as the "City of David" (11:7).  Men flocked to serve David because it was he who had won victory after victory even during the reign of King Saul.  We read that "David became more and more powerful, because the LORD Almighty was with him" (11:9).  There was no doubt throughout all of Israel that David knew God and worshiped God from his heart.  His many Psalms are evidence of that.

David was also surrounded by what the Bible calls "mighty men."  This was not a "one man show!"  These mighty men were mighty men of God.  God gave them power to overcome incredible odds and through their service to David the kingdom of Israel was expanded over the whole land of Canaan, as God had promised (11:10).  While Saul had contacted mediums and sorcerers to determine whether to go out into battle, David consulted the LORD, his God.  He was not about to make the same mistake Saul had made.  One by one, the tribes of Israel sent fighting men to join David's army, so David and Israel ... and their GOD, became known throughout the whole world.

As chaotic as our world is today, it is exciting and challenging to live during this time when these same people, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, possess the very land God gave to Abraham.  God made Israel a great nation in order to display His glory, His wisdom and His power to all the world.  And in these last days God is about to do the same thing.  At the present time most of the Jewish people do not acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah, but there will come a time when they will.  In fact, the whole world will see the glory of Israel's God, even more clearly than during the days of David.  Jesus will reign ... in JERUSALEM, and all the nations will bring tribute to Him (Zechariah 14:9-21).

Out of his devotion to the LORD, David desired to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.  Having arrived in the promised land, the people had not worshiped as they were instructed and the tabernacle was not the center of their lives ... meaning that GOD was not at the center of their lives.  David said to his leaders and the people, "If it seems good to you and if it is the will of the LORD our God, let us send word far and wide to the rest of our brothers throughout the territories of Israel ... Let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we did not inquire of it (him) during the reign of Saul" (13:2-3).  So they moved the ark from the house where it had been kept, placing it on a new cart, with two men, Uzzah and Ahio, guiding it.  When the oxen pulling the cart stumbled, Uzzah reached out to steady it and God struck him down on the spot ... he died.

Why would God do such a thing?!  There is more here than meets the eye.  God had instructed Moses to place rings on the sides of the Ark of the Covenant and to make poles that would go through the rings.  The Ark was then to be carried by the priests by the poles.  No one was to touch the Ark.  I heard a preacher once say that Uzzah's mistake was that he thought his hand touching the Ark would be better than if it fell off the cart and landed in the dirt.  The truth is, because of sin we are "dirtier" than the ground from which our bodies came.  Touching the Ark defiled it and God is HOLY!  He cannot be "touched" by sinful man.  The Ark represented the presence of God and was to be treated with honor.  It was not some "magic box," but rather, a symbol that God had given to Israel that He was their God and they were His people, and that He was with them wherever they went.

We would do well to remember today that God is everywhere-present.  He is with those who come to Him through faith in Jesus Christ in a special way.  In fact, God says in His Word that we who believe are the very "temple of the Holy Spirit" (I Corinthians 6:19).  God empowered the mighty men who surrounded David and who led his army against their enemies, and God just as certainly empowers you and me today as we engage in spiritual battles for the Lord, OUR God!  Every time David was about to go into battle, he inquired of the LORD ... he prayed and asked God to direct him, to lead him.  Do YOU do that?

Our battles for the glory of God are different today, but they are no less important in the final outcome of millions in this world.  "David's fame spread throughout every land, and the LORD made all the nations fear him" (14:17).  We use the "sword of the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:17), which is the Word of God, to do battle against the enemies of Christ and His Church.  Paul would write to his young friend, Timothy, "God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" (II Timothy 1:7).

Join with other believers in rallying around our King, Jesus!  He leads us into battle for the glory of His Name and together we are strong and mighty in the Lord.  We dare not shrink back from the mission to make disciples of Jesus, for we are ambassadors of God's kingdom and soldiers in Christ's army.  The enemies are strong, but we are stronger, for the Lord, our God, is with us.  Be an active part in the body of Christ.  Engage in the ministry with others ... don't stand on the sidelines.  Too much is at stake and it is God's desire to receive honor and praise on our account.  For the glory of God seek His guidance in your life, asking Him to show you how you can serve others and proclaim the truth of the Gospel.  He uses willing servants and molds us into mighty men and women of God.

Draw near to God today, knowing that whatever battles you are fighting, with God's help and the strength and power that only HE can give, you will have victory in the name and power of Jesus, our risen Savior and Lord!!

"Almighty and Everlasting God, by the power of Your name we conquer our enemies and overcome all of the obstacles that stand in the way of giving You glory.  It is not for my sake, but for Your glory and for the sake of YOUR name that I stand firm, declaring Your truth and being an instrument in Your hand to lead others to Christ.  Keep my mind and heart focused on You as I live each day as a soldier of Christ and empower me to be a bold witness to declare that JESUS IS KING!  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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