Winning Life’s Battles

There is a common pattern in the Bible that should interest us. Three things mark out a great experience with God.

(1) God graciously grants a person an encounter with himself.

(2) The person responds with awe and worship that is appropriate to such a meeting.

(3) The person’s life is changed by the experience. Trust and obedience characterizes the person from that time onward throughout their lives.

The Example of Moses

What happened to Moses is typical of this kind of encounter with God.

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.

There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed.

Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.”

When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”

Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”

He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings,

“And I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey. . .

“So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt” (Exodus 3.1-10).

Moses personally experienced God, responded with awe and worship. God declared to Moses his purpose and called for Moses to follow his direction. Moses consistently obeyed God’s guidance.

A Consistent Picture

I won’t detail the experiences that the prophets had, but they were just like Moses’. Their meeting with God produced both worship and obedience.

As you can expect, Jesus is the perfect example of this process. He was well aware of the Father’s awesome character.

He never strayed from a complete agreement with the Father’s will.

On one occasion Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise” (John 5.19).

Readers of my blog should be familiar with the John 5 verse because I often quote it. It is an easy verse for me to recall when writing. Frank Laubach found 48 other instances of similar statements to Jesus’ words in John’s Gospel.

Jesus not only lived in a relationship of trust and obedience with the Father, but he also taught others to do the same.

He said, “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit because apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15.4-5).

The process involves an encounter with God, an immediate response of awe and worship, followed by obedience. This course of action is God’s plan to bless humanity with a fulfilling friendship relationship with him.

Doing It God’s Way

Moses reminded the Israelites of how God works with humans. They were camped near the promised land, and he recalled their past to prepare them for the future.

As they were about to battle King Og of Bashan, God gave them these instructions: “Do not fear him, for I have handed him over to you, along with his people and his land. Do to him as you did to King Sihon of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon” (Deuteronomy 3.2).

Og was a very large and powerful man. The cities of Bashan were well fortified. Forty years ago, the Hebrews shrank away from a battle with them in fear and unbelief.

However, this time they believed that God intended to fulfill his words, “I have handed him over to you.”

Just as Jesus taught that people who lived in an abiding relationship with him will produce fruit (John 15.4-5), God’s people knew that if they followed God he would make them victorious.

Even though God pronounced victory for the Israelites, they had a part in the process. Their obedience involved going to war against a fierce army.

In the late 1600’s a heresy developed, called quietism. Below is a definition of this false teaching.

“Quietism, a doctrine of Christian spirituality that, in general, holds that perfection consists in passivity (quiet) of the soul, in the suppression of human effort so that divine action may have full play” (https://www.britannica.com/topic/Quietism).

The passivity of quietism emphasized God’s part in the victory to the elimination of human effort.

Quite frankly, I’d like to hide in my prayer room and have God fight all of my battles without ever having to get my hands dirty. However, God doesn’t work that way.

Jesus is the best example. He had the greatest prayer life of anyone on earth, but he also lived out his relationship to the Father in day-to-day activities of life.

There were many times of stress in the lives of Jesus and his followers. God granted them “fruit,” but they were very involved in the work.

Victory

The people obeyed God and were victorious over Og and his kingdom. The fortified cities and large warriors that frightened them were no obstacle.

Og’s bed was 13 1/2 long and 6 feet wide. He was one of the last of the Rephaim, a rarely mentioned giant-like race of people.

When the Hebrews scouted the land and saw the walled cities and giants, they rebelled against God’s word in fear and unbelief.

This time, they followed God’s leadership and they were able to defeat these mighty foes.

Their victory underscores the truth of Jesus’ words to us. If we live in an abiding relationship with him and follow his directions for life, we will produce the fruit of a life well-lived.

About This Blog

Please watch the YouTube video that Rudy Ross and I have produced on this passage. Rudy is an excellent Bible student and lover of God. You will benefit from his insights.

Please email your prayer requests to bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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