A Share of the Spoils of Victory

“…as is the share of him who goes down into the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the provisions and supplies; they shall share alike.” (1 Sam. 30:24 AMP)

Do your part! If you have an assignment in the Kingdom of God, then a win for the Kingdom is also a win for you! I’m not talking about grace vs works; I’m talking about how we are meant to serve one another as the Church, faithful in big ways and small.

When they passed out Super Bowl rings for yesterday’s game winners, they didn’t just give a ring to the ones who happened to be on the field when the clock ran out. Oh, there’ll be MVP’s and recognition given for those who went above and beyond, but the whole team is credited with the win. They passed out championship rings to the entire team whether a player got to play from the first quarter till the final buzzer, or whether he had to remain on the bench the entire time! As a matter of fact, a set number of rings are cast every year, far above the number of actual football players on the team. Although it’s at the discretion of the person in charge to bestow these rings, it’s said that they are most often awarded to anyone who brought some level of value to that team at ANY time throughout the entire year leading up to the Super Bowl. Victory is a collective effort!

When the 200 exhausted foot soldiers were left behind as David’s army pursued the enemy after the Ziklag incident recorded in 1 Samuel 30, David didn’t kick them out of the army because of their battle fatigue–nor did he completely excuse them from responsibility while the others went after the Amalekites. He left them in charge of watching over their supplies as the other 400 soldiers continued on.

Those 200 were still of use to the cause even though their role had changed for the time being; and moreover, they were still part of the army. They were a fraction, yet still remained part of the whole. And when David “recovered all,” he did not allow greed among his other soldiers to withhold from the ones who weren’t on the battlefield at the actual moment when they recovered all! David’s decree to share with them also validated their worth not just when they were frontline people, but also when they had to serve in a lesser capacity.

Perhaps in this season, your role in the Kingdom has shifted because of sickness, caregiving, disability, parenting small children, a personal crisis, or whatever. There is STILL something you can do in your off-season, even if it’s not the thing you originally set out to do: pray and support the work of those who ARE on the battlefield, and in general, be open to whatever else your God requires you to do!  Your assignment may be different but you are still called upon to do the part you can do. We are all on-call!

During WWII, an entire nation felt compelled to do its part–giving up creature comforts like extra food and fuel to make sure soldiers had supplies on the battle lines; spouses working the factories while the traditional breadwinners of that day were off defending their country; buying war bonds, etc. Everyone got to feel the joy of a victory, because everyone had a chance to contribute something of value.

There is no reward for deserters and for those who are dishonorably discharged; but for the person who stands ready to serve in his or her unique level of capability, or who has had a role in the overall victory during any part of the campaign, there is a share of the reward! Unless you’re unconscious or incapacitated or dead, you are still on-call! One of our responsibilities, when we’re down, is even to do the work of being restored (yes, sometimes it’s a painful recovery and process!), not just for our own sakes, but so that we can then strengthen our brothers and sisters. It’s never just about us. And just think–even if you go on to heaven before your prayers are answered, you’ll still receive a reward when at last they are! The church at Corinth was a result of different people doing different assignments…planting, watering, etc., to which God gave the increase…and everyone benefited!

There is always a “help wanted” sign on God’s door! Support a missionary if you can’t go yourself.  Are you grieved because you don’t feel your church does enough for the sick or elderly? That could be a sign that God wants to use YOU to minister to them!  Pick up your phone and call someone who’s shut in and can’t come to church.

Drop off some canned food, or make a donation to, the local food pantry…and volunteer to help if you can! Encourage someone who’s feeling down. Sponsor a kid who wants to go to youth camp. Be a bus captain. Rock a baby and change a diaper in the nursery. Pray for the lost and demonstrate the love of Christ every chance you get. Pray over and stand behind your pastor and leaders. Show up and volunteer, even behind the scenes, even for the things that don’t gain big attention. Remain faithful to tithe and give. And speak well of your church and its leaders to others, rather than belittling them and weakening their influence in the community. Remember, we are all still works in progress, including those who’ve been set over us in the Lord.

Be the person who will pray when no one else is praying. Those of you who say you are called to teach and then conclude that your church just doesn’t have an opening to use your gift, there’s no excuse…you can host a small group or just agree to be the teacher for someone else’s small group! Who says the group even has to all go to the same church? 🙂

Don’t say that you just can’t seem to get connected–perhaps you are called to connect others who also feel unconnected! If you have a gift that’s not being used, you can expand the overall results of the Church worldwide by thinking outside the box (or outside the four walls). If you preach, teach, sing or play an instrument, or have some other gift that’s not being used, find a platform to use it anyway without leaving your church or being offended that it’s not the platform you wanted!

Make your gift count in the places where there’s still a need but not many people filling that need; and if you do it without making sure everyone hears about what you did, so much the better! For the good thing you did in secret, God will reward you openly! Guarding the supplies didn’t sound like a very glamorous job for David’s “left behind” soldiers; but it was nonetheless a very important role…one for which they received a share in the victory. If you think about it, even when soldiers are in training, they’re required to do the things that seem “beneath” their skill set or level of importance. They keep their weapons polished. They keep the latrines clean. They still are up early and ready for duty even if they’re not in the heat of battle. Remaining faithful over a few things will make us rulers over many!

Find those unique places to minister, remain accountable to someone over you in the Lord, and bring glory to God. Preach on the the street corner or at the jail or the homeless shelter (or even in the nursing home when we are no longer restricted by COVID). Host a Zoom call Bible study! Play an instrument, read to, and/or sing for someone who’s sick or lonely. We know how to stay connected when it’s something WE want to do–just look at how much time we waste on social media talking about trivial, negative, or even ungodly things; what if we were to make that social time ministry time, using the gifts God’s given us!

Do your part and be available when God needs someone to just say, “Yes;” and when progress is made, you will have your share of the blessing for having remained faithful! Poise the entire team, the Body of Christ, for a win– by your sheer availability and obedience to the Lord.

We can all do something in the Kingdom of God, and we can all share in the victory!

“He who receives and welcomes you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives and welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous (honorable) man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives to one of these little ones [these who are humble in rank or influence] even a cup of cold water to drink because he is my disciple, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward.” (Matthew 12:40-42 AMP)

Post-It Notes of Remembrance

IMG_3956My mind today is on my friend Cathy, who was one of the bravest and most stubbornly faith-filled women I’ve ever known.  Cathy may have left here sooner than those of us who loved her would’ve allowed…but her short life was not shadowed over with a spirit of grumbling and complaining.  She had a thing about Post-it notes, and she didn’t care one bit to litter her beautiful home with them.  Scriptures, prayer requests, blessings to give thanks for, Cathy would have notes on mirrors, door frames, refrigerator, walls…wherever they’d stick.  They were her deliberate effort to maintain a grateful heart, right thoughts in her memory and on her lips.  It worked.  I watched a woman fighting for her life who made room for jubilant thanksgiving and praise of her God, and it humbled me.  It made my petty groanings seem a lot less significant when she’d say of her own major obstacles, “Hardly nothing.”  I’m trying to get a little less stingy with my Post-it notes; and because her friendship is one of those blessings I’m honored to remember, she is getting her own note on my wall.  Today’s devotional doesn’t start out on a sad note at all…I’m just integrating a bit of very important nostalgia to support the idea of remembering one’s blessings.

The reason why God established the feast days for the children of Israel is to help them remember.  You might ask, “How could anyone forget miracles like watching the parting of the Red Sea…or the deliverance from the bondage of Egypt…or the passing by of the angel of death?” Don’t be too quick to judge!  If you do not consciously make room in your life for thanksgiving, celebration, and remembrance, you too will forget your miracles when faced with another mountain. Why, we do it all the time…but for the grace of God and the Holy Spirit jogging our memory, we’d become plumb full of ingratitude, forgetfulness, complaining, wishing for what we don’t already have, bitterly living in the past, coveting other people’s blessings.

You are looking at a bill in this morning’s mail that you have no earthly idea how you’ll pay…but shift your focus back to the last time God sent provision right when you needed it. The medical report the doctor’s office just gave you is not at all what you were wanting to hear…but don’t be overwhelmed by today’s trouble when there’s a memory of a previous healing begging to be unlocked.   It’s practically screaming through the soundproof glass, “Wait!  Wait, you forgot all about ME!  Let me out of here and let’s talk!”  Shut off the distresses of the moment, right now. If but only in your mind, place them in a tucker tote and put them in a corner out of your way. You can still deal with them, but for the moment, set them aside. It sounds elementary I know, but please don’t be insulted by the simplicity of what I’m going to suggest next–I’m not downplaying your serious needs. Get a piece of paper and begin to list some things from the past which God did for you “in the nick of time.” Add to that list the blessings you already have. You might have to press through pain to get there, but list what’s good. If your left leg’s hurting, praise Him that your right leg isn’t.

There’s an old hymn that says “I can take you to the time, I can take you to the place, where the Lord saved me, by His wonderful grace.” A major weapon of spiritual warfare is that determination to remember the victories. Maybe you don’t remember the exact date or place when something happened…write it down anyway. It will be the testimony that begins with, “There was that time when______.” It will be no less powerful! God’s not like an angry spouse who’s upset that you forgot the anniversary…His reasoning for you setting that time to remember is more for YOUR benefit than His. Anyway, make that list. If you know specific days on the calendar, find some way to commemorate them. Jot them in the margins of your Bible, or Post-it notes on the cork board, whatever. We mark everything else on our calendar from mortgage due dates to doctor appointments…make some room for good things! Whenever May 22 rolls around again and you’ve got even a small story of thankfulness that coincides with that date, make an all-out celebration of it. Today, you might say to others, marks 17 years since the doctor gave me six months to live! Next Thursday marks 2 years when God saved us from losing our business. Or, I’ll always rejoice in April because that’s when I got a letter of acceptance to a university that by all human reasoning, I shouldn’t have been able to attend. Or, it was on a New Year’s Eve 30 years ago when such-and-such relative tried to take his own life, but God spared him. I can’t tell your stories because I don’t know them all, but if you’ll sweep today’s troubling circumstances to the side for just a bit, you have some incredible victories you NEED to relive. You need the strength from those memories to inspire you to forge ahead in today’s trials.

Yes, you need to make a big deal of these things. Who cares if someone else doesn’t want to have a party with you? You have a party with God! Recently, Dana and I started a journal of blessings. Oh, we might not post to it every day, but we’ve gotten into the practice of talking about blessings at night before we go to sleep, and he has me jot them down. Sometimes I go back through and read a few entries. It might be a major healing, or it might be thanks that God helped me to change a faucet under our sink without it leaking. On either end of the wow spectrum, these blessings are worth remembering and giving thanks for all over again!

What has He done for YOU–past or present–that’s worth a celebration? It’s time to put on the garment of praise and ditch that spirit of heaviness!  Grab the calendar, grab the pad of sticky notes, and encourage yourself in the Lord.  He’s worthy of praise, and His loving kindness is so worth the remembrance.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” –Psalm 103:2-5