Transformation Garden - July 23, 2011

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“But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; and there was not a man left.”
Judges 4:16
King James Version

EXPLORATION

“Standing Firm” Part I

“Temptations that find us dwelling in God are to our faith like winds that more firmly root the tree.”
Anonymous

Is there a struggle in my life that I need to “stand firm” against through God’s power working in me?

Have I asked my heavenly Father for His immediate and every moment help in my life?

“Temptation provokes me to look upward to God.”
John Bunyan

INSPIRATION

“So be subject to God.  Resist the devil, (stand firm against him), and he will flee from you.”
James 4: 7
Amplified Bible

When we last heard about Sisera, the Bible, in Judges 4: 15 tells us that God “discomfited” him and all his chariots and all his hosts.  As we found out, the word “discomfited” means to “crush.”  In Judges 4: 16, our text for today, we find Barak, God’s warrior, pursuing or as the Hebrew translation says: “running after in hostile pursuit” of the chariots, and the host or army, “unto Harosheth of the Gentiles; and all the host (army) of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; and there was not a man left.”

Barak didn’t say, “I’ll just eliminate part of the problem.”  He did as God instructed and went after the entire army of Sisera.  They were driven out of the Promised Land, totally and completely.  This is a very important element in this story.  Something we shouldn’t overlook.

God’s instruction, long before to Moses and Joshua, was that the Promised Land was not to be a place where God’s children gave safe-haven to the enemy.  Why do you think God said this? Why was not even one individual who chose to rebel against God to be left in the land?  Was God being harsh?  Unforgiving? Unkind? Mean?

What I overlook in my own life is that when God gives me instructions, He does so with good reason.  And often the reason is that He wants to protect me from my own errant ways and lack of clear vision.  What I do, when I make the choice to go directly against God’s advice, is insert my own belief in myself.  I’m smarter, I understand more.  When I begin to think this way, I rebel against God, accusing Him of being an arbitrary ruler, limiting my fun and happiness.

Jim Elliot noted that when an, “unwillingness to accept God’s ‘way of escape’ from temptation frightens me – what a rebel yet resides within.”

The fact is that if Sisera’s host were left anywhere – in the Promised Land or in our lives – the temptation to get involved with “Sisera’s host” goes up greatly.  Do you remember how the Israelites began to intermarry and enter into business arrangements with the Canaanites in direct rebellion to God’s instruction? What a price they paid for their defiance!

This is why the warrior Barak “pursued” the host of Sisera.  Barak didn’t say, “I’ll incorporate their army so we’ll have a much larger army.”  Not at all.  He wanted absolutely nothing to do with Sisera’s army.  It was a toxic group, anarchists against the God of heaven.  Their presence in the Promised Land, any presence at all, could and would be a defilement and could lead to total ruin of God’s children.

However, for many of us, the host of Sisera still lurks in the shadows today, trying to bring down God’s children in anyway possible.

If even one of the members of Sisera’s host is left to infiltrate our lives, how soon we find that the “one” brings a friend along, for misery does love company.

The key to overcoming the “host of Sisera” isn’t trying harder or being better.  Nor is the key to success against Sisera’s host using all our strength and human motivation to try to do the right thing.  So does this mean we throw in the towel and give up in despair? Benjamin Waugh correctly observed, “To attempt to resist temptation, abandon our bad habits, and to control our dominant passions in our own unaided strength, is like attempting to check by a spider’s thread the progress of a ship borne along before wind and tide.”  What a descriptive and true statement this is.

What is our solution?  The Apostle Paul gives us the answer in Philippians 4: 13, (Amplified Bible) “I have strength for all things in Christ who empowers me.  I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.”  What a promise of hope for you and me.  We aren’t strong enough to take on the host of Sisera but we have a heavenly “Someone” who is by our side and Sisera, his chariots, and his hosts don’t stand a chance when we rely on the “One” who has promised us victory.

"There is no duty we perform for God that sin does not oppose.  And the more spirituality or holiness there is in what we do, the greater is its enmity to it.  Thus those who seek most for God, experience the strongest opposition.”
John Owen

AFFIRMATIONS

“Eternal and most glorious God,
   Suffer me not so to
   undervalue myself
   as to give away my
   soul, Thy soul,
   Thy dear and precious soul,
   for nothing;
And all the world is nothing;
   if the soul be given for it.
Preserve therefore my soul,
O Lord,
   because it belongs to Thee.”

John Donne
1573-1631

“Follow Me and I’ll show you how.  Self-help is no help at all.  Self-sacrifice is the way, My way, to saving yourself, your true self.  What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself?  What could you ever trade your soul for?”
Jesus
Mark 8: 36, 37
The Message

Your friend

Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
Dorothy@TransformationGarden.com

For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.

 
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