A Battle Cry
“The Bible was not given to make us comfortable, but to shake us up with radical life changing truth.” — J. I. Packer
INTRODUCTION: God has one great purpose. His purpose is to manifest His glory through a people He would create and redeem by His grace. His people, chosen in eternity past, would bring Him glory by the way they live for Him on earth (Ephesians 1:11-12). His plan cannot be thwarted. Even sin is used to bring glory to His name through mercy and grace. Joseph is one example: “You meant it for evil but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).
The cross is the greatest example: “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead” (Acts 2:23-24).
He uses the greatest things and the smallest things to bring about the perfection of His plan. Even the hairs on your head are numbered (Matthew 10:30). For those He has called, He has promised to turn all things, good and evil, for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28). He is committed to use everything in our lives to conform us into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). And, if we have any doubt as to the seriousness of His commitment to bring about the completion of that plan in our lives, Paul writes,
“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)
In the midst of battle, those Scriptures give us hope. Not a “hope so,” but a sure and confident hope. Anyone who is dead serious about obeying God in everything will find out quickly that it will be very hard. No, it will be impossible! Left to ourselves there is just too much sinful nature, worldly allurements and devilish deceptions to pull it off. Neither self-will nor self-discipline will, by themselves, be able to defeat that axis of evil. We need help from outside. We need the grace of God. Only God has the power to enable us to do what He commands. Only God’s Word has the truth that will expose the devil’s lies. So, the psalmist cries out to God, asking Him to enable him to understand and obey the Lord’s decrees. His prayer is no ritual or formality. It is a “Battle Cry.”
I call with all my heart; answer me, O LORD,
and I will obey your decrees.
146 I call out to you; save me
and I will keep your statutes.
147 I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I have put my hope in your word.
148 My eyes stay open through the watches of the night,
that I may meditate on your promises.
149 Hear my voice in accordance with your love;
preserve my life, O LORD, according to your laws.
150 Those who devise wicked schemes are near,
but they are far from your law.
151 Yet you are near, O LORD,
and all your commands are true.
152 Long ago I learned from your statutes
that you established them to last forever.
Verse 145: Here is another example of how the Word and prayer are the two indispensable tracks needed to honor God with our lives. God speaks to us and our eyes are opened to a new opportunity to grow in the knowledge of God’s beauty. We want to go but we find in ourselves a weakness that hinders us. It is called indwelling sin. So, in our passion to know Jesus in a more intimate way, recognizing that we are in a battle that will not be won simply by will power, we cry out to God for His help. It is God speaking to us in His Word and our speaking to Him in prayer that releases the power of the Spirit in our lives. So, let us begin our devotional by asking Christ to open our eyes and soften our heart so that we will not only see His glory but want His glory enough to obey Him, by the Spirit.
Verse 146: The godly life is war. This should be taught in Christianity 101. It is true that becoming a Christian solves a host of problems. But it is also true that it opens the door to a daily barrage of new ones. The battle between good and evil is not just fought in the spirit world, but the battle line runs through every believer’s heart. The Bible is very clear about this. It continually uses the language of warfare.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:10-11).
“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
The believer who takes those warnings seriously will prepare for battle. Preparation is everything. So we train for battle by arming ourselves with God’s statutes and praying for God’s strength.
Verse 147: Because each day is a new battlefield with new challenges, we rise up early in the morning to equip ourselves for war. Devotions on the run won’t get it. We need time to hear what God is saying to us through His Word. We need a quiet place, away from distractions, where we can work unhurried through the Commander’s orders for the day. The Word must have time to filter through our thinking before it can settle in our hearts. Then, through prayer, the Spirit enables us to use those weapons throughout the day. The psalmist took the battle seriously. If we believe the clear warnings of the Bible, we will too.
Verse 148: Some people are blessed with uninterrupted sleep. I am not so blessed. Although I have no trouble falling asleep, I do have trouble staying asleep. But I have learned to receive those interruptions as special times of blessing. Since I started a serious Bible memory project, I use those times to meditate upon the Scriptures I have been memorizing. It is a wonderful time to do it. You have plenty of time. There are no distractions in the dark. Your mind is unencumbered and sharp after a refreshing nap. I would even admit that it is often the most productive time of my spiritual day. That is why the psalmist is not complaining about his lack of sleep. The middle of the night is a powerful time when he can meditate on God’s promises. I have also found those times to be especially effective in working though the applications of God’s promises to my life. Just this morning, in a hostel in the city of Chipata, Zambia, I was awakened by rain and wind blowing against our chalet. As I began to work though my collection of Scriptures, the Lord gave me a specific application for my life and my work in Zambia. It was awesome. It is too personal to share, but I would say that that kind of thing should not surprise us. If we really believe that we have a God Who not only spoke, but now speaks, we should expect such inspiration as we meditate upon His Word, in the midst of the night.
Verse 149: At the center of Christianity is the promise. God speaks and makes a covenant with His people. Faith is belief that God exists and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). In other words, faith trusts God to do what He said He would do in His Word. It is based upon the evidence we find in Scripture and is enabled by the work of the Spirit in our hearts. God always means what He says and does what He promises. That is why Hudson Taylor once remarked, “All of God’s giants were weak men who reckoned on God being with them.” Right now two very weak men are “at the ends of the earth” teaching men to obey all that Christ commanded His disciples. There are two reasons we are here with confidence and boldness: 1) The One who has all authority has authorized us to go in His name; 2) He promised that He would be with us wherever we would go (Matthew 28:18-20). So, going with His authority and teaching in His presence, we trust in His promise.
Verse 150: It is a sad fact of life that professing Christians are too often fooled and deceived by fine sounding, quick talking charlatans. Phonies look good and attract many followers. They have a devilish way of knowing where our ears are itching and are skilled in promising what we have been itching for. They are many and are always near. Although they are “far from God’s law,” simple Christians continue to fall for their deadly message. Because the Word of God is not settled in their hearts, their minds are like an open door. Only the statutes of the Lord are trustworthy (Psalm 19:8). Only the statutes of the Lord can make the simple wise. Only the statutes of the Lord can shut the door to wicked schemes. The law of God hidden in our hearts will uncover and dismiss the enemy’s lies (Psalm 119:11).
Verse 151: One of the greatest generals of WW ll was George Patton. Not only was he a great strategist, he was a fearless leader. He would often risk his life by going near to where the battle raged. His presence on the battlefield gave his beleaguered soldiers encouragement and confidence. We who are in the midst of a firefight of faith have that kind of Leader. He is not far away looking at us with His heavenly binoculars. He is in the midst of battle with us. He is near to encourage our hearts and command our defenses. His commands are true and effective. As we obey His clear commands, we can be assured that we will be victorious in life’s greatest battles.
Verse 152: There is no greater testimony to the faithfulness of Jesus than the deathbed joy of a dying, aged soldier of the cross. Through the years he has chewed up and spit out the worst the enemy could dish out. Although his body is weak and he is near death, his heart is strong and his faith unshaken. The apostle Paul was such a warrior. In jail, anticipating that his death was at hand, he gave this bold and joy-filled testimony. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). You can have the same God-glorifying end. Take up God’s powerful and eternal Word. Get it in your head and in your heart. And when the battle rages, take up the sword of the Spirit and beat back the lies of the enemy. Cry out for help from your Commander. He will win the battle and you will honor Him. Luther’s words describe our sure hope in battle.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that can be? Christ Jesus it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Dr. Gary Rieben. © Give Me That Book. Email: Grieben@aol.com. Website: www.GiveMeThatBook.org. Postal: GMTB | P.O. Box 1045| La Quinta, CA 92247 USA | 619.829.2390
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