Thursday, August 29, 2013

Day Nine: The Protective Shield of Victory

You have given me your shield of victory;
your help has made me great.
2 Sam. 22:36 and Psa. 18:35, NLT

Shields come in all forms. I love to laugh at Get Smart’s failed attempts to use the Cone of Silence. How many times have I embarrassed myself spouting off things I thought no one could hear?  The planetary and personal deflector shields in Star Wars’ (2 of the 37 different types mentioned in the film series!) didn’t always work. There were glitches and flaws the enemy always managed to discover. And for those of you watching “Under the Dome” about the town of Chester’s Mill, you can imagine how you might feel if your town were suddenly trapped inside an impenetrable shield against your will.

the towel wasn't much protection
Shields are good when you want protection, when they are dependable, and when there are no “chinks in your armor” the enemy can aim his arrows at. We usually think of a shield as a physical thing, yet David thanks God in this verse for His shield of victory. The Merriam Webster definition of victory is: “1. the overcoming of an enemy or antagonist. 2. achievement of mastery or success in a struggle or endeavor against odds or difficulties.” So I ask, “How does God use victory to shield us from harm?”

This is my conclusion, based on God’s revealed Word and my own personal desire to understand Him better. I believe God protects us and makes us great through His victory in the past, the present, and those yet to come in the future. Since He’s not limited by time as we are, they are all visible realities to God in this present moment. We, however, have to consciously focus our minds on each in order to reap the benefits.

This requires faith in the character and dependability of God. Ephesians 6:16 says, “take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” It seems to me that the shields of faith and victory work as one.

How many times throughout the Bible are we instructed to “remember” all God has done for us. This remembrance of past victories in our personal lives and throughout history shields our  minds, hearts, and spirits from discouragement and despair. If He did it before, He can do it again, we reason.

Focusing on God’s present victories pulls us away (as I mentioned in Day 8) from our tendency to get derailed by the battles being lost, instead of celebrating the battles being won. God is constantly at work. There’s nothing better when we’re feeling defeated than to get together with other Christians and share God-stories. We can’t help but rejoice and be inspired with hope for our own battles that continue to rage. After going to the missionary convention this last spring, I came home high on victory stories from around the world.

Finally, we are protected by the future victories God is going to win through us. Some have been prophesied in the Bible, others, specific to our own lives, have not yet been revealed. However, we have the protection of knowing we are on the winning side; we serve the King of kings and Lord of lords. He’s the One who brings the victory; He’s the One who makes us great. And His shield never malfunctions. The only way it will fail us is if we refuse to come under its protection.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Day Eight: Victory Party Pooper

King David could win the award for the biggest party pooper of all time. When his army defeated the enemy and his men were coming into town ready to celebrate a big victory, he almost blew it completely. They had chased the usurper down and killed him, squelching his plot to take over David’s throne, and saved his kingdom. But instead of a party atmosphere, there was the pall of death. You see, the enemy who had tried to displace David was the king’s own son.

Absalom had plotted against his father, God’s anointed king. For four years he had lied and finagled his way into the people’s hearts. He then built a statue of himself, declared himself king in Hebron, and headed for Dad’s palace to take over. David had to run for his life from his own son! The final insult was when Absalom set up a tent on the palace roof to have sex with his father’s concubines where everyone could see it.

David finally rallied his troops and went to battle against Absalom and his men. David ordered him kept alive, but in the end Absalom’s vanity did him in. His long, thick hair, which he was so proud of, got caught in some tree branches during the chase. His mule kept going, but Absalom hung by his hair until David’s soldiers surrounded him and ended the conflict.

It was a great victory. The troops saved Israel from the control of a murderous,conceited tyrant. David could return to his palace to rule in peace. However, King David was not in the mood to celebrate:

“As all the people heard of the king’s deep grief for his son, the joy of that day’s victory was turned into deep sadness. They crept back into the town that day as though they were ashamed and had deserted in battle. The king covered his face with his hands and kept on crying, ‘O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!’” (2 Sam. 19:2-4, NLT)

That put a definite damper on the party. The only thing David could see was that his son was dead. And he was probably riddled with guilt for not having disciplined Absalom when the first signs of rebellion emerged. Things might have completely fallen apart if it hadn’t been for David’s chief in command:

“Joab went to the king’s room and said to him, ‘We saved your life today and the lives of your sons, your daughters, and your wives and concubines. Yet you act like this, making us feel ashamed of ourselves. You seem to love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that your commanders and troops mean nothing to you. It seems that if Absalom had lived and all of us had died, you would be pleased. Now go out there and congratulate your troops, for I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a single one of them will remain here tonight. Then you will be worse off than ever before.’ So the king went out and took his seat at the town gate” (2 Sam. 19:5-8, NLT).

That was the wakeup call he needed. It’s not that King David’s grief was not valid. He had just lost a son! No matter what our children do, we still love them. We still hate to see them suffer tragic consequences for their actions. And we certainly don’t want them to die a violent death. But David had lost sight of the big picture. And sometimes, so do we.

Sometimes, in grieving over what is not happening in the lives of those I love, I miss the victories God is winning all around me. I’m so thankful God shakes me up a bit and points out the need to celebrate the victories, even while grieving the momentary losses on other battlefields. The war’s not over yet! I don’t want to be a party pooper when so many victories are being won for the sake of the King.

This verse has reminded me lately, “This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10, NIV). May God keep our eyes on Him, our voices lifted in praise, and our hearts devoted to Him above all other loves.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Day Seven: Victory for Oatmeal People

Last Saturday, during my visit to California, my sister and I feasted on crab and avocado Eggs Benedict. She’d been working me up for this treat since my arrival on Wednesday, so I was more than excited. Normally I don’t eat a big breakfast – unsweetened cereal, juice, and coffee. It’s filling, nourishing, and better for my hips. A lot like oatmeal.
zipping the jacket to the inside vest: what an oatmeal!

Most of our days are oatmeal days. We do what we need to do, what’s best for us, things that fill us up and give us satisfaction. It’s not all thrills and mountaintops, but those days contrast with the Eggs Benedict moments so we appreciate them more.

A lot of the time I feel like an oatmeal person. I’m not famous or powerful or sought after. I spend my days caring for my husband and family, writing, working in the yard, doing wash, teaching, and whatever else God calls me to. And yet, in the spiritual realm, I can be a victorious conqueror. That’s what Gideon found out too.

He saw himself as an oatmeal kind of guy – from the smallest clan of the Israelites, at the bottom of the family pecking order. When God called him to lead the Israelites and conquer their enemies, he needed a lot of encouragement. Here’s what happened:

“The Lord said, ‘Get up! Go down into the Midianite camp, for I have given you victory over them...Listen to what the Midianites are saying, and you will be greatly encouraged. Then you will be eager to attack.’ So Gideon took Purah and went down to the edge of the enemy camp. The armies…had settled in the valley like a swarm of locusts…Gideon crept up just as a man was telling his companion about a dream. The man said, ‘I had this dream, and in my dream a loaf of barley bread came tumbling down into the Midianite camp. It hit a tent, turned it over, and knocked it flat!’ His companion answered, ‘Your dream can mean only one thing—God has given Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite, victory over Midian and all its allies!’ When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship before the Lord. Then he returned to the Israelite camp and shouted, ‘Get up! For the Lord has given you victory over the Midianite hordes!’” (Judg. 7:9-15, NLT)

In Gideon’s day, barley was cheap, plentiful, filling, and nourishing. Like oatmeal in the US. The message from God through this man's dream was clear, “You may be just an average Joe, but I’m going to use you to defeat the enemy. All you have to do is follow my orders.

If you’re feeling like an oatmeal person today with nothing great to offer, I want to encourage you. God can bring victory through you if you’re willing to follow Him. You can have victory over your habits and attitudes, your doubts and fears, and over the enemy who wants to discourage you from making a difference in the world. I’m believing it for me; I am claiming it for you as well. May God give us courage, His oatmeal people, and  the assurance of victory in Him.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Day Six: Talk of the Town

“Listen to the village musicians gathered at the watering holes.
They recount the righteous victories of the Lord
and the victories of his villagers in Israel.”
Judg. 5:11, NLT

Have you noticed how quick the gossip chain is? Wherever people gather you’re sure to hear the latest. We all like to feel like we’re in the know. We want to show how much we know and share our opinions about what we know.

Sometimes what we talk about is from an official news source. My husband especially likes the feature on our morning news called “The World in 90 Seconds.” It covers everything from natural disasters to human interest, and always ends with a comic quip to make you smile.

Sometimes what we talk about is local gossip or our own personal experiences. What’s the buzz on the street, the talk of the town? What are people writing songs about? The tabloids are full of who did what to who and why. Is it all about the victories God is winning over the enemy? Is it about the difference vibrant Christians are making in our communities - the way they listen and care and give, and how they radiate the presence of God?

Sadly, that is not always the case. But that’s what was going on in this verse. The watering holes were the gathering place of the time. Everybody had to have water to live. While they were there they exchanged the latest news and went home humming the latest top hit by the Village People. And what was the big news? It was all about God. He got top billing for the mighty victories He was winning. His people got honorable mention for showing up and being faithful.

Wouldn’t it be cool if that was the big story on our news channels and street corners every day? Let’s live in a way that is news-worthy, not because of our hypocritical, sinful, shameful behavior and attitudes, but by overcoming evil with the power and goodness of God.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Day Five: Be Prepared

My dad, ready for a victory on the court
“Get ready! This is the day the Lord will give you victory over ________
for the Lord is marching ahead of you.”
Judg. 4:14, NLT

You fill in the blank. The Lord wants to give you victory over whatever spiritual enemy you fight today. However, you have to be an active participant in the battle. No solider would think of going to war without preparing first – stocking weapons, practice and physical training, studying enemy tactics, and mentally preparing to face the enemy. Why would we think spiritual warfare is any different?

Arm yourself: There are only two weapons listed in the Bible to fight against Satan and his demon army – prayer and the Word of God. When we spend time in God’s presence every day reading and contemplating the Bible and responding to Him in prayer, He equips us for war. Without them, we run naked onto the battlefield of life and are vulnerable to every arrow aimed at us by the enemy.

Practice and fitness: David was able to slay Goliath because he practiced hurling stones from his slingshot on a regular basis. He had killed a lion and a bear before, so the nine foot Philistine wasn’t that big of a threat. How can we stay physically fit for our BIG fights? By saying no to temptations that sneak up on us every day, taking aim at the lies that insult our faith with smooth stones of truth, and strengthening our faith on the mountains and valleys we travel in life.

Studying enemy tactics: Are you familiar with how Satan works? If not, how can you fight effectively against him? The Bible tells us he likes to disguise himself as a good guy. He often uses scripture out of context to confuse and convince us that what’s wrong is right. He’s good at appealing to our desire for sensual gratification. He doesn’t always hit us with frontal attacks; he’d rather ambush us when we’re not expecting it.

Mental preparation: Any soldier who goes to the war zone without giving thought to what he will do when he encounters the enemy is an idiot. We must prepare our minds for possible scenarios and practice role playing, asking God for guidance. Jesus told us that in this world we would face trouble and suffering and persecution. So we need to think about how we will respond when those things happen.

Ephesians 6 tells us about the armor God has equipped us with to enter battle. So let’s get ready so we can win the victory.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Day Four: Don’t Be Afraid

Just for fun, let’s start today’s entry for our "50 Days of Victory" with a little quiz. See how many of the following phobias you can match up with their definitions. Come on; don’t be afraid to try!


1.      Beards
2.      Blushing
3.      Body odor
4.      Chinese people and things
5.      Church
6.      Dampness
7.      Darkness
8.      Dust
9.      Fish
10.  Fur
a.       Koniophobia
b.      Bromidrosiphobia
c.       Sinophobia
d.      Ichthyophobia
e.       Pogonophobia
f.       Ecclesiophobia
g.      Scotophobia
h.      Erythrophobia
i.        Hygrophobia
j.        Doraphobia
11.  Itching
12.  Lists
13.  religious works of art
14.  shadows
15.  Slime
16.  small things
17.  Solitude
18.  String
19.  Thinking
20.  Wind
k.      Linonophobia
l.        Microphobia
m.    Anemophobia
n.      Iconophobia
o.      Sciophobia
p.      Acarophobia
q.      pinaciphobia/katastichophobia
r.        Eremophobia
s.       Blennophobia
t.        Phronemophobia

Answers to 1-10: 1.E; 2.H; 3.B; 4.C; 5.F; 6.I; 7.G; 8.A; 9.D; 10.J.

Answers to 11-20: 11.P; 12.Q (notice there is more than one!); 13.N; 14.O; 15.S; 16.L; 17.R; 18.K; 19.T; 20.M.

            Yet, God says:
 “Do not be afraid of them,” the Lord said to Joshua,
“for I have given you victory over them.
Not a single one of them will be able to stand up to you.”
Josh. 10:8, NLT

We all have fears. I may not fear men (or women) with beards, lists (actually they’re more of an addiction than a fear), or thinking (although I’m positive I’ve met a few who run from it), I still struggle with fears and insecurities. If I can’t trust God with my fears, this is the first enemy that has to be faced before I can do battle against any other. Fear is something I give to God over and over again, because new (and old) ones are always cropping up. Each time, He graciously replaces it with His courage and peace.

There is no limit to God’s power to overcome our fears – whether we’re squeamish about praying in public, confrontation, fear being alone, speaking in public, or agonize over the well being of those we love because of their sinful choices. God can handle it. God promised Joshua that not a single one of his enemies would be able to stand up against him, and as long as we fight  God’s enemies, the same is true for us.

No phobia, no evil, no insecurity, no threat, no demon can stand against the Holy Spirit of God living in us. What an infusion of energy that brings! Whether the enemy is within or without, nothing can stand against God’s mighty power. Rest in that and don’t be afraid.

“God didn’t give us a spirit that makes us weak and fearful.
He gave us a spirit that gives us power and love. It helps us control ourselves”
(2 Tim. 1:7, NIRV).

Monday, August 12, 2013

Day Three: You Are Not Alone

For the Lord your God is going with you!
He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!”
Deut. 20:4, NLT

“In the mental hospital I began reading the book of John, and for the first time in my life I felt like I wasn’t alone,” he said. “I’ve always been a little different; never seemed to fit in anywhere. But when I met Jesus as I read the gospels, particularly John, I felt like I belonged, really belonged, to someone. Jesus’ promise to the disciples is mine too - He won’t leave me as an orphan (John 14:18). So now, wherever I am, I have confidence that Jesus is with me and I don’t ever have to be alone again.”

This man’s testimony resonated with me. Even though I grew up in a warm and loving family and have many dear friends, there have still been moments when I have felt utterly alone. I sometimes feel out of sync with those around me, or like they don’t know the real me. If they did they might not like me. I know I’m not the only one. Many of us struggle with this feeling of aloneness. Many of the psalms and today’s worship songs express the same ache.

That’s why I love verses like John 14:18, as well as several verses from the Old Testament. “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’ (Heb. 13:5, Deut. 31:6, 8; and Josh. 1:5, emphasis mine). This is God’s promise when we enter spiritual battle as well. Our friends and family may not understand, or join us in the fight, or even know what we fight against, but God is with us in every skirmish.

In fact, He not only stands with us in the fight, He fights for us, and makes sure we are victorious. I don’t know who your enemies are today. Perhaps you’re fighting doubt, self-pity, anxiety, rebellion, or maybe bitterness, fear, selfishness, even loneliness. No matter what enemy attacks your faith and strength in God, rest in the confidence that you don’t have to face it alone.

Claim these verses; write them on 3x5 cards and memorize them; repeat them aloud. And be sure to encourage other believers with these words. God is with us and He will lead us through the perils and challenges of this life and make us victorious.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Day Two: Record the Victories

After the victory, the Lord instructed Moses, “Write this down on a scroll as a permanent reminder, and read it aloud…”
Ex. 17:14, NLT

My dad loves submarine movies and war stories where the heroes overcome impossible odds. Recently, we bought him a DVD set of modern day war heroes’ rescues, escapes, and what motivated them to keep on fighting even when the odds were against them. That’s the kind of stuff that inspires courage and patriotism. Who wants to hear accounts of defeat and surrender? That’s why God told Moses to be sure and write about the victories to encourage future generations.
I’ve recently been reading through old journals and it made me realize what a whiner I’ve been.
Ouch! A lot of my entries talk about how overwhelmed I’m feeling about all I have to do (much of which is self-imposed) and all that is wrong with me, the world, and my circumstances.

This verse reminds me that I need to be a better recorder after each victory God brings, large and small, and to develop more of a thankful heart. This includes more than just journaling. I’m thinking Facebook, email, letters, and every form of written communication. I don’t know how permanent all these things are, but whatever I leave behind for others to read later, I want my words to glorify God and bring Him praise.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Day One: The Song of Victory

 The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.
This is my God, and I will praise him—my father’s God, and I will exalt him!”
Ex. 15:2, NLT

Ever find yourself singing without even realizing you were? When we were first married Kelly commented, “I like the way to sing when you do dishes and work around the house.” Until then, I hadn’t realized I did. This happens to happy people, contented people, people in love. It also happens to the spiritually victorious. When God gives us victory, we can’t help but do a little happy dance and sing a song of love and praise to Him.

However, it’s a lot harder to sing before the victory actually happens. That takes guts; that takes faith. That’s exactly what King Jehoshaphat did, though. And that’s why he’s one of my heroes from the Old Testament. When the Ammonites and Moabites waged war on his people, King J ran to God for help. Not to his private chambers, but right out in front of the temple where everybody could see him. God honored his humble faith by promising to fight not with them, but for them.

King J believed God and his example inspired such worship in his people that the praise band was willing to go in front of the army. They praised God, not for victory, but for His faithful love! “Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever’” (2 Chron. 20:21).

Then God did His thing.  “As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated” (2 Chron. 20:22, emphasis added).

I’m challenged to praise God more – not just when I’m happy and things are going my way. Not just when I feel victorious and on top of the situation. But before I see God’s promises fulfilled; before the enemy scuttles away. That’s why I’m singing more – during devotions, with my prayer partner, in the car, as I go about my day – even, and especially, when I don’t feel victorious. After all, I know God wins in the end. So why not stop moping around and act like I’m a soldier on the winning side?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

50 Days of Victory

The path to victory may be uphill, but it's worth it!
I love the word victory. It resounds with hope and promise. I love it so much that I’ve decided to make it part of my name. With the last name of Vice we get a lot of interesting mail. I get stuff addressed to Beth Nice, Beth Bice, even Beth Spice. Over the phone it’s even worse. At first, I tried to explain that our name is, “Vice, like the Vice Squad.”

“The Mice Squad?” they ask.

Sigh. “No.” Then I had a brain storm. “It's Vice with a V as in victory, I-C-E.” We finally have a winner. Nothing rhymes with victory, so it’s pretty hard to misunderstand. Then too, I’d much rather have my name associated with victory than a gang of rogue mice.

I’m ready to experience victory in my spiritual life too. I’ve had enough of defeat and fear and grief. I’m ready to have victory over the enemy that has beaten me down and left me cowering, and even, at times, made me want to give up. So, not long ago I read every single verse in the Bible with the word victory in it and got a huge dose of encouragement.

How about you; are you ready to have victory over the enemy of your soul? If so, hold up a V with both hands and give a victory yell. Let’s get started!

In the next fifty blog entries I’m going to give you my favorite victory verses to savor and claim as your very own. By the end, I hope you are encouraged and revved up for battle!

I want to begin with an insightful quote from Beth Moore:

An obedient life grows from obedient days. Likewise, a victorious life is made up of victorious days. Thankfully, in Christ, the former always leads to the latter. Those who are obedient are those who will also be victorious.
~ in Breaking Free ~