Encourage0gram September 4, 2017
May each of you have a blessed Labor Day!
I have been thinking about the call to prayer by our President yesterday and the fact that today is Labor Day. The combination of these drew me closer to the Lord to see that prayer should lead me to action. In prayer God hears me and He speaks to my soul when I pause in stillness to listen. It is my prayer for you, my dear friends, that you will hear His voice as a guide for each day!
Recently, I was reading Exodus 17. It is a chapter filled with two miracles. In 17:1-7 there is the miracle flow of water God provided for His grumbling children. In 17:8-15 there is the miracle defeat of the Amalekites by Joshua and his army. God does move in mysterious and miraculous ways!
NIV Exodus 17:1-7
The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 So they quarreled with Moses and said, "Give us water to drink." Moses replied, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?" 3 But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, "Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?" 4 Then Moses cried out to the LORD, "What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me." 5 The LORD answered Moses, "Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink." So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?"
The community was following the leading of the LORD. He led them to a dry place and they quarreled with Moses. Moses immediately sees that their quarrel is really with the LORD. They were testing the LORD. They were questioning if He was really with them. They demanded a miracle be done so that He once again confirmed His presence. Testing the LORD like this is a very serious sin. Moses takes the wise step and prays to the LORD. He is desperate and sees the seeds of mutiny! Let every leader know that the best response to quarreling is prayer! God answers Moses and a miracle of fresh water from the Rock is the result. All the leaders in training, the elders, were eyewitnesses to this miracle. Just so no one forgets the work God did, Moses names the place: Massah (testing) and Meribah (quarreling). Let us all be thankful for the mercy of our God who is patient and protects even when we grumble against Him.
The subsequent miracle comes as God’s children are attacked by a powerful enemy.
NIV Exodus 17:8-13
The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, "Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands." 10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up-- one on one side, one on the other-- so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
The story clearly states that Joshua and his army won by the sword. However, the victory was not theirs but the Lord’s. The behind the scenes truth is very instructive. As the leader, Moses once again took the lead in prayer. When conflict arises, we must go to God in prayer. In this case, it is corporate prayer because Moses is joined by two faithful men Aaron and Hur. I am struck by the truth that they all persevered in prayer. They prayed all day long through the battle until the victory was won. I thank God for men like Aaron and Hur in my life! I desire to be an Aaron or Hur in the lives of my fellow prayer warriors, don’t you?
The postscript of the story adds two important facts. The story was recorded for posterity and an altar was built. Both steps focus on the Lord and the glory He revealed that day.
NIV Exodus 17:14-16
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven." 15 Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner. He said, "Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the LORD, the LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.
The written record was made because God commanded it. His purpose is clear God's miracles are to be remembered! Past miracles give us courage to face present enemies in battle. The battles will come because there will always be enemies who raise their hands against the throne of God. Our response must be to raise our hands in submission to His throne of grace! The altar is built as a testimony to the victory. The name is a curious one: “the Lord is my banner.” Moses makes a personal application. As the leader, Moses was reminded of the power and protection of His Master! Let all who lead be wise to call on the Lord as they did on every day of battle.
As I apply these stories to my life, I am persuaded once again that I must devote myself to prayer! I must pray my way through the day, especially when I sense the Enemy’s presence. I will employ the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God to win. I will recite Scripture against the Enemy. I will call others to join me in this prayer initiative.
NIV Ephesians 6:12-18
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people.
It is time to pray and to labor for the Lord in every battle! By these twin steps, we too will see many miracles. We will build many altars of thanksgiving in our memories that will give us courage for future battles.
Every day is a labor day that requires us to pray! Thank you for joining together to pray and to praise our Victorious Lord!