Category Archives: VBS 2018 Battles <3

VBS 2018 Day 5 <3 For such a time as this

I started Monday with a quote from A. W. Tozer in the September 11 devotion from the book Tozer on the Almighty God:

 “The whole Bible and all past history unite to teach that battles are always won before the armies take the field. The critical moment for any army is not the day it engages the foe in actual combat; it is the day before, or the month before or the year before.” 

Today we are looking at how this truth plays out in the story of Esther.

I hope you will take time to read through this short book sometime today, but in summary for our time together let me refresh your memory.

Esther is the cousin of Mordecai, who takes her to raise as his daughter after the death of her parents. They are Jews living in the highly fortified city of Susa in the Persian Empire.

After the King of this Empire is displeased with and thus dethrones his wife Queen Vashti; a bizarre game of Bachelorette ensues.

Young girls are gathered from all over the Kingdom and brought to the palace to be groomed and prepared as candidates for the Queen job.

Esther is among those taken and in obedience to Mordecai, keeps her nationality a secret.

In a weird kind of fairy-tale (unless you really think hard about this whole sordid event and then, yuck…) the King falls for Esther, she is crowned Queen and seems to develop a super loyal staff because she is able to maintain communication with Mordecai and still not be found out as a Jew.

Whew…that was as brief as I could make it. Hope you could follow!

So all is well except Mordecai refuses to bow to a man named Haman, a descendant of Israel’s arch enemy – the Amalekites. (for more background read 1 Samuel 15…the Bible is better than Netflix, people!)

Haman hatches a plan to annihilate the Jews and tricks the King into signing a decree to kill all of them. There will be no battlefield. It will just be a legalized, mandated massacre.

But Haman has picked a fight with the wrong people group and God is not about to let His people be destroyed.

Mordecai finds out and notifies Esther that intervention is needed ASAP.

The Jews need a miracle and God has set up the path through the crazy circumstances by placing one of His own on the right hand of the King who can change the course of this evil plan.

But the pre-work that Tozer talks about needs to happen and so the first battle that is waged is in Queen Esther’s heart.

Because when Mordecai sends word to her that she needs to let the King know what is about to happen, Esther does not jump at the chance to come to the aid of her people.

She explains that the King has not called for her in thirty days and if she marches into the palace without his invite and he is displeased, she would be worse off then the ex-queen…she could be killed.

It would appear she has grown accustomed to the trappings of her existence. Perhaps she had children by now and would be banished from them and from her home and her status and all that had become her life.

She had forgotten who she was…and Whose she was.

Mordecai gives her these words as a wakeup call…

“Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:13-14

So Esther battled first…in surrender and fasting and prayer and obedience.

And then she moved forward with careful steps until she boldly identified the cruel plot of Haman.

The law could not be changed, but the King was able to decree that there would be a fair fight and the Jews could defend themselves against their persecutors.

Haman was hung on the gallows he had built for Mordecai, and all his house and property and authority were handed over to this faithful servant of God.

The Jews were victorious over any who dared to try and destroy them.

Like Esther, we were all placed in this time and place for a reason. 

Maybe not one as dramatic and historic in appearance as Esther’s story, but all impactful for the Kingdom to the extent that God has given us influence.

We all battle our addiction to comfort, familiarity, assimilation into the culture we have grown to know; and, even if we don’t love it, we have learned to adapt to it.

Whether we are biding our time by taking care of daily life or called to a moment of truth where we must surrender and obey, are we being mindful always…of who we are…and Who we belong to…for such as time as this?

Every day of VBS we have had a snack.

Today I would challenge you to consider one of your meals a “feast” or a “fast” and remember Esther as she fasted and prayed for three days and then God prepared a table for her in the presence of her enemy. Think about how God strengthened her and gave her courage to do what needed to be done.

May God bless you and guide you as you ponder this today <3

VBS 2018 Day 4 <3 The gift we bring out of the fire of our battles

Good morning! 

I was doing fairly well getting these posts up in a timely manner, but we have come to the end of the ones I worked ahead on and we are back to me writing fresh from my quiet time and based on thoughts I have in the notes section of my brain…

so here we go, campers and let me say…

I much prefer the more organized and well-planned method, but we get what we get…from my heart to yours <3

We have talked about battles involving large armies this week, but most likely the battles you and I will face tend to be on a smaller and more personal level in our daily lives.

They don’t involve physical swords and weaponry.

But they are no less real and they are no less threatening.

And we may not even realize we are about to be engaged in a skirmish that could inflict devastating harm until we are in the midst of the heat of it.

Pun possibly intended.

Today, as you may have guessed by all the fire references, we will be looking at three men who were thrust into a battle simply because they would not conform to the pressure of their peers, their bosses or their culture.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego are three characters familiar on flannel boards from our childhood.

Friends of Daniel who made the journey from Jerusalem to Babylon to be indoctrinated into all things pagan and yet had determined in their hearts to remain faithful to God, these men were tested time and again because of a decision made early and never compromised over.

In Daniel 3 we read the familiar story of the 90 foot statue of gold, most likely forged from the plunder of the Temple treasury vaults.

Commanded by Nebuchadnezzar to bow before this self-styled god man, the three refused and were reported to the King by a whole list of officials that you could probably recite with me because they are named numerous times throughout the twenty-five verses of this portion of the book of Daniel.

Say it with me since it’s VBS and we do this repetition thing when sitting cross legged around story time…

and it’s just fun to repeat big words when you are a kid…

“…the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the province…”

There now…don’t you feel accomplished?

So all those guys reported to King Nebuchadnezzar that our three friends:

Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego were not following his order and refused to bow…

are you ready for another list?

“…whenever they heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music…”

I personally think this sing-song repetition of phrases makes a contrasting background for one of the most powerful portions of battle scriptures ever.

Because these three are pretty much destined to be incinerated in the very furnace from which the statue of gold had been formed.

But God.

God showed up in the furnace.

And the three men who had declared Him able to deliver were seen dancing through the flames with Him.

They celebrated the victory in the midst of what should have been the war because they had prepared themselves before they ever were thrown into the battle.

Like Tozer said on Monday, the outcome was determined before the first shot was fired.

Along with Daniel, they had set a purpose in their hearts from the start to not defile themselves in Babylon.

They knew God could deliver and yet had surrendered to the “even if He doesn’t.”

Whatever God did, they would bow only to Him.

Have you walked through the fire with a heart purposed to remain faithful “even if”?

Oh you will feel the heat, but you won’t be burned.

He may deliver or He may not.

But I can assure you, He will be with you.

And when you have danced in the fire of the hottest of trials with Jesus, you will never, ever be the same.

Let’s celebrate with something toasted…maybe a nice S’more?

May you savor His sweet presence with every bite and I will see you tomorrow <3

VBS 2018 Day 3…Make sure you aren’t dragging baggage into the battle

Welcome back!

I am attempting to keep this short or at least shorter than yesterdays, so let’s go!

A classic example of the quote I used on Monday from Tozer can be found in Joshua 7 and 8.

After Joshua led the army of Israel in a supernatural and stunning defeat of Jericho, they were primed for the next battle against Ai.

However they were soundly defeated.

Let’s look at the circumstances.

Joshua sends spies to check it out, just like they had done with Jericho. They report that this one is a piece of cake and not many men will be needed.

However, what they didn’t know was that one of the Israelites named Achan had disobeyed God’s commandment to take nothing from the fall of this city except Rahab and her family.

The disobedience of this man Achan causes the Israelites to incur heavy losses and drives Joshua to his knees in robe-tearing grief.

I truly do love this portion of Scripture and find new things every time I read it.

This time I am struck afresh with how God speaks to Joshua.

“Stand up! What are you doing down on your face?” Joshua 7:10

Then He tells Joshua how someone broke the covenant and until that one is exposed, they will continue to lose battles.

So Joshua seeks counsel from God to determine the guilty party and then the one who sinned and brought this on all the people is dealt with. 

I am being delicate here. 

The truth is Achan and the stolen items, his animals, all of his possessions and his family are taken to the Valley of Achor where everything is stoned and then burned. 

This is hard, isn’t it? 

Grown Up VBS is not all fun and games but it is truth. 

Achan himself admitted upon being found out that he coveted the items he took. He knew they were forbidden but he wanted them so badly that his greed was bigger than his devotion to God. 

So he took them and he couldn’t even enjoy them. He had buried them under his tent and then allowed his kindred to go to battle as if God would not notice that he had brought sin onto the warriors. 

People were killed in that battle because God was not with them. Families lost loved ones. 

And so we can say what happened to Achan was unfair, but we would be missing the bigger picture of what Achan brought on others through his disobedience and covetousness. 

After Joshua obeyed the instructions of the Lord, God spoke these words to Him:

“Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the King of Ai, his people, his city and his land. You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king, except that you may carry of their plunder and livestock for yourselves.”

Interesting is it not? 

When they did it their way, they were going to take just a few men. 

God sends the whole army.

And this time, they CAN take the plunder. 

God gives them the exact battle strategy with specific instructions and Joshua follows them. 

It was a huge victory.

For me the takeaway today is to be very careful before I go into battles of whatever nature or size.

I want to be diligent in obedience in following God’s words to me. 

And I want to make a thorough check of myself to see if I have tucked away anything that I was not supposed to bring with me from the enemy camp into my new life in Christ.

There are so many passages in the New Testament that are clear about what I am to leave behind…here is just one to end our time together.

 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Ephesians 4:31

Heavenly Father, like Achan there are times I have coveted something that is not mine to have. Whether it is a habit or a thought pattern or an actual physical thing that I know you have told me is not mine to possess, I have continued to tuck it away. Buried deep under where I live out my daily life. And then I enter into battles and get knocked down. I cycle through my days, defeated in the same spiral of ineffective living and I wonder why. Help me today to drag the things that are stolen goods out into the open and renounce them once and for all that I might live open hearted in Your presence. Free me from the ties to things that are not mine to hold that I might live victoriously in the freedom You have given me through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen <3

In light of the seriousness of this passage, perhaps we should skip snack today and instead we could just feast on reading Joshua 7 and 8 and spend some time listening to what God would like to say to our hearts.

Blessings on each of you.

Today’s was a tough one. I hope you will come back tomorrow <3

VBS 2018 Day 2…One of my favorites <3

Hi! You came back! 

Thank you for comments yesterday…loved them! So much! I answered…but you have to look back to see them.

So today’s battle is one of my go-to’s in Scripture when I am sensing the overwhelming presence of an enemy who has teamed up with other enemies and all of them are the sum total of my greatest fears. 

I probably have written on this passage numerous times, have sent it to you in a private message to urge you into God’s presence and I know it is marked up in every Bible I have used for reading because it is just that good. 

Yes, we are looking at 2 Chronicles 20 today. 

In the very first verse we find the words all Bible students love, love, love… 

“After this…” 

Our ears and hearts need to be looking for that phrase when we are reading a passage of Scripture. That way our minds can know we need to go back a bit and get the context for what we are about to read. 

So I did that for you.

You are welcome.

And here is the Laura Reimer Reader’s Digest version of the “this”… 

  • With a not-so-stellar beginning in his role of leadership of God’s people, King Jehoshaphat begins to institute major reforms in the land.
  • He lived in Jerusalem and went out among all the people and brought them back into worship of God.
  • He set up a solid political system that was godly and fair and honest. He blended church and state in a God-ordained system that was good and right. 
  • And after he did THAT…
    we find ourselves in Chapter 20. 

Now you all need to look this up for yourselves and read it, but for today I am going to give you a summary of the events and how they fit in with our study of how battles are won before the armies ever reach the field. 

1. Sets up the situation.       Verses 1-4

Three armies have teamed up and are rapidly surrounding the land of Judah. This turn of events was unexpected and deadly; the battle was imminent and decidedly against them and so we are told with all the facts in front of him Jehoshaphat did the following… 

  • He feared
    He set himself to seek the LORD
    He proclaimed a fast throughout Judah 
  • and…
    the people of the land united and gathered. 
  • Can we just stop for a minute and take that in … what would that be like? Amazing. 

Ok…let’s move on to what King Jehoshaphat can teach us about preparing for a battle in the early stages. 

2.  Declare who God is.          Verses 5-6

Jehoshaphat stated the facts about God as he knew them:

  • God is the God of the history of His people.
  • He resides in the highest places beyond our comprehension.
  • He rules over all kingdoms and powers and authorities known to man.
  • No one can defeat Him.

3. Declare what He has done.       Verses 7-8 

You drove out the inhabitants of the this land before us and You gave it to the descendants of Abraham…and remember…Abraham is Your friend. 

4. Declare what He has promised.   Verse 9 

Jehoshaphat pulls out the familiar words of Solomon at the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem, words that would have sounded familiar to God’s ear. 

How God promised if His people were in trouble and turned toward Him and prayed, He would help them. 

5. Declare what the enemy is doing.        Verses 10-11

The nations who were attacking were nations God had spared Israel from defeating and now they were encroaching on the territory God had promised to His own people. 

6. Declare you dependance on Him.      Verses 12-13

“We have no power to face this vast army”

“We don’t know what to do”

“Our eyes are on You”

7. Listen and listen well. Take note of His specifics.      Verses 14-17

As all of Judah, from the King down to the smallest infant, stand before God and wait for what He will do, God sends His Spirit onto one named Jahaziel. The man, a Levite, addresses the assembly and announces God’s message to them. 

First of all, God wants to assure them they have nothing to be afraid of. Neither should they be discouraged. He informs them that they will not even fight the battle, but instead He will take care of it. 

He does, however, give them specific instructions.

The next day they are to march down toward the approaching armies, take their positions, stand firm…and then just watch. 

And then He tells them one more time…Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. Go out and face them…the LORD will be with you. 

8. Believe and respond.      Verses 18-19

Jehoshaphat responded by bowing down and worshipping. All the people did likewise. They had a praise and worship service and then early in the morning, they obeyed what God had told them and they marched out in full battle gear to the specified location.

9. Go forward in praise.    Verses 20-22

As the army formed ranks, Jehoshaphat gave them one final pep talk reminding them to have faith in God and to believe His Word and His promises to them. 

He then placed the praise team on the front lines of the troops and they marched into battle singing praise songs. 

Picture that. Picture your church’s praise team up in front of the United States Army about to enter into one of the fiercest battlefields with three nations marching against them. 

As they moved forward, loudly praising God, the armies that had gathered to over take them panicked and turned on each other. 

10. Collect all the spoils the enemy leaves behind.     Verses 23-25

The battle was being waged in the midst of the enemy so that by the time Judah arrived on the scene, all the say were dead bodies. 

According to God’s Word, no one escaped. 

Except God’s people who never even had to pull a weapon from their sheath. 

It took them three days to collect all the spoils of war.

11. Rejoice and give thanks to the LORD giving Him honor and praise.    Verses 26-28 

And on the fourth day, they assembled on what should have been the field of their battle and they praised God with great rejoicing. 

12. Rest.          Verses 29-30 

And then they rested because the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at says God gave him rest on every side. 

Oh…can I tell you…I happen to love there are twelve points to this and I didn’t have to work at coming up with that number. 

Often when I am facing great opposition, I simply turn to this chapter and go through the steps borrowing the wording and tailoring it to my situation. 

I don’t believe it is against regulations to use a manual that is proven in time so war. 

I hope you will take some time today to read through the passages above and let them sink into your soul. 

Today’s snack is something sweet…anything from a slice of fruit to a little teeny tiny Dove square…but only if it is dark chocolate. 

Enjoy and I will see you back here tomorrow. 

VBS 2018 …. Battles <3

Hello and welcome to Grown Up VBS 2018!

If you are new to the blog, I did this last year and some people liked it a lot. (I see both of you waving a thumbs up in the corner of my eye…)

So if you are interested in checking out that series you can do so here

There is a  week of posts on the 2017 theme which was about when we feel we are “lacking” something and what God has to say about it. You just move through the prompt at the bottom to go to next post. Because I can’t imagine you have anything better to do than that, right?

This year our theme will be “Battles” and it all started with a note I took in my quiet time from A. W. Tozer’s September 11 devotion in a book called Tozer on the Almighty God, compiled by Ron Eggert. 

Based on Mark 6:31: 

And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.

There are two amazing quotes from Tozer that I took down and chewed on for quite a while and oh, how I hope and pray this is not a copywrite issue…but here they are…

“The whole Bible and all past history unite to teach that battles are always won before the armies take the field. The critical moment for any army is not the day it engages the foe in actual combat; it is the day before, or the month before or the year before.” *


“Preparation is vital…We can seek God today and get prepared to meet temptation tomorrow; but if we meet the enemy without first having met God, the outcome is not conjectural; the issue is already decided. We can only lose.” *

I can relate to this clearly in the minor skirmishes of a relatively normal day and the train wrecks of life that have side-lined me for a couple of years…or more.

In my mid-30’s, when I realized I needed a daily time in God’s word, I began reading the Our Daily Bread devotion each day.

With three small children to tend, sometimes I didn’t get to it until the end of a day and invariably on those days I would discover exactly the counsel I could have used at some point that would have guided me into a wiser choice. 

I learned by experience that, for this girl, starting the day with Jesus is better for me and everyone around me. 

An example of preparation that happened months before would be the timing of our church doing an intensive read through of the New Testament in 90 days. 

It was a push, but I dug into that challenge whole heartedly and with gusto. 

Shortly after we finished, I inherited the role of caregiver for my aunt (severe dementia), my father (stage 3 of Alzheimers) and my mom (completely broken down mentally, physically and emotionally from trying to care for the other two for too long.) 

With children ranging from 7th grade to freshman in college, I had little to no time for personal spiritual development when I desperately needed it…but God.

We got through the initial crisis that brought them to our town and the hard days ahead of finding different facilities and while I was completely overwhelmed, my head stayed above the waters. 

I knew without a doubt, God had bolstered me good in those 90 days to face a battle I did not even see on the horizon. 

So this week we are going to look at some other people’s battle stories found in Scripture. 

As I have been preparing this series in my thoughts and prayers, I am led to listen to the new Michael W. Smith song. 

It is so simple I didn’t think much of it the first few times I heard it because he repeats the same line over and over…”this is how I fight my battles…” and I kept waiting to hear how he fights them and then with more repetitions, I would get distracted and think I missed the key phrase. 

But finally I heard it enough times that I finally got the point…

This is how I fight my battles…I sing. 

I praise. 

I repeat the simple truth that makes up the rest of this song…

“when it looks like I’m surrounded, I’m surrounded by You….”

I hope this week we will see that no matter how complex the battle is, the strategy is always the same …. 

Now go grab your goldfish crackers and google the song by Smitty and meet me back here tomorrow <3


*  from : Tozer on the Almighty God a 366-Day Devotional compiled by Ron Eggert; Wingspread Publishers 2004