O, guard my soul, and deliver mw!

Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.

May integrity and uprightness preserve me,

for I wait for you.

Psalm 25: 20, 21

 

David was a realist. He knew what temptation was all about, and he also knew what happened when you gave in to its call. Yet, despite everything that he had experienced by way of sinful thoughts and actions, David still lived in the presence of God and knew His grace and mercy at a very deep level. David seems to be aware of forgiveness in ways that are profound so that he was certain of God’s desire and intent to redeem him and to do the same for all others who have turned away from righteousness. He also fully recognized the price that we pay for our sinful actions and knew that departure from God’s way of thinking and living was never a good option, and that it was usually a course that led to great pain and to damage to people that we care about and love.

 

So, David, the realist, turns to the one place that he trusts to give him the wisdom, strength, and capability to travel through the day before him with righteousness as his path and holy integrity as his watchword. He turns to God and to the truth of His Word in order to find the sort of safe haven, the harbor, where he can shelter during the onslaught of the storm that is certain to attempt to engulf him. He knows from experience that this is the sort of thing that requires preparation and preplanning, for evil sets snares and traps in places that seem safe and innocent so that it is rather easy to step into them. The inadvertent look or the casual glance in not the problem. Neither are the momentary wandering thought or consideration of some unrighteous action fatal errors; so, before these departures from God’s path become our committed way, we need a plan to enter into that safe place inside of God’s grace and protection.

 

Like David, our own strength and determination will not be enough on their own. Yet, we can follow his lead and place our trust in the Lord and turn to Him for safety and the covering of His righteousness. The Lord is trustworthy in all ways and with all things. There is no aspect of life or area of our heart and mind wherein we need to withhold ourselves from God’s care and provision. There are no temptations that we might encounter that God does not understand and have the strength, capacity, or skill that are needed to guard us from them and to save us from within their grasp. The Lord’s integrity, wisdom, and righteous character provide all that we need to live as people who follow Him into lives that will be known for their godliness so that the name of the Lord is truly glorified by all that we say and do.

And Joshua captured all the kings and their land at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel.

Joshua 10: 42

 

We all engage in battle. Seldom are they as dramatic, violent, and far reaching as were the ones that the Israelites under Joshua fought on this particular day. As for me, I have never needed the sun to stand still until it was all accomplished, which was an accommodation that the Lord granted to Joshua; in fact, there have been more times when I wished that the hours would go by more quickly. The point is that Israel’s experience here did involve the miraculous and was facilitated by the hand of God working on their behalf, and our own experience of life’s struggles may not seem to be the same. However, I submit that there is more similarity of our days to Joshua’s than we might think and more than we do appreciate.

 

Israel was following God’s instructions and entering into the outworking of the Lord’s plan. In this instance, they were doing things exactly as God dictated, and they were granted great success in the process. Our battles are different, the tools that we use are not the same, and victory is defined in ways other than in conquest and death. Still, we have God’s direction to lead us, prayer to encourage and to help us to focus, and the Spirit with us to explain and to direct it all. Like Joshua, we are called to go to war against powers and forces that desire to control the territory around us. We are engaged in an on-going contest with these forces of the world for the most precious real estate that there is in the hearts, minds, and souls of people. There is nothing more significant for us to do than to enter into Christ’s calling to bring His Gospel to everyone that we encounter.

 

This work can be very hard and takes us into the harsh terrain of deception, deeply held beliefs, and angry opposition. We may find that there are times when all of our companions and supporters seem to have disappeared into the background so that we feel totally alone. Yet, this is never the case, for the Lord is committed to us and to the campaign that He has called us to wage, and He never leaves us truly alone. In fact, Christ is the one who is doing all of this fighting for us, and He is the source for all of the strength and the courage that we need to enter into the struggle. As followers of Christ we will encounter the hostility of a world that is fighting against God’s righteous truth with all of its might and vigor; however, in Christ, we already have His victory, and we go into each of these encounters with the Lord leading the way and His loving grace, truth, and heart of redemption as our strong weapons.

Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate.

Amos 5: 15

 

God deals with us in a fair and a just manner. That may not always be what we would like to see happen, for there certainly are times when I would prefer to just get away with one. Yet, God makes it clear to me that He knows what I am about and that He does not always approve of it, either. Christ is truly at war with evil in this world, and He is fierce, unceasing, and unstoppable in fighting against evil’s attempts to capture the hearts of people and to destroy our lives.

 

Soldiers who are in intense combat situations often have a hard time separating the cause that they are fighting against from the people who are shooting at them. In fact, it is not really possible to do this. On the other hand, God does discriminate between the people who allow themselves to become agents for evil and Satan who has deceived them into giving allegiance to his cause and into acting out of that affiliation. Christ has made it possible for grace, forgiveness, mercy, and restoration to be available to everyone who recognizes their need for a Savior and accepts Him.

 

Christ wants us to follow His lead in the ways that we deal with people and in how we assess their behaviors. His goal is to open people’s eyes to what they are thinking, believing, and doing so that they can see the way that evil is twisting and perverting truth in order to control them. God desires to be allowed into the hearts of all people and to fill those hearts with His love so that they can, in turn, love others with the self-sacrificing love of Christ.

 

When we establish God’s justice as the filter over the gate to our hearts and our minds, we allow Christ to be the One who judges people, and we are granted the wisdom to discriminate between the evil that has captured a person’s heart and that person, who God loves totally. This is not easy to do; yet, the more we are able to fight our battles against evil, itself, and against the deception and anger that it causes, the more we are able to show Christ’s love to the people that we are engaged against. This is freeing for us, and it can be life changing for others.