Psalm 118:14-17 (NLT)
The LORD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly. The strong right arm of the LORD has done glorious things! The strong right arm of the LORD is raised in triumph. The strong right arm of the LORD has done glorious things! I will not die; instead, I will live to tell what the LORD has done.
Let me preface this today with transparency and total honesty – I hate camping. The thought of pitching a tent, sleeping on the ground with every other creepy, crawling creature, without running water or facilities does not appeal to me in the least. My parents are the proud owners of a motorhome which they call the “coach”. When they “camp”, it is not as one would expect lacking modern day comfort or technology. The motorhome in which they travel has all the features of a finely appointed home including a living room with comfortable recliners, flat screen televisions along with cable and internet. The little kitchen has nice cabinetry with stove, refrigerator and microwave lined with mahogany wood floors leading to a full bathroom. At the end of the hall is a small private bedroom complete with a queen-size bed. The entire coach is temperature controlled. It is a home on wheels much nicer than many people live in as permanent residents. This certainly is not the traditional definition of camping but rather man’s comfort zone created on such a notion. The most basic level of camping in my eyes is an inexpensive hotel chain such as Motel 6 where Tom Bodette promises to “leave the light on.” Not known for fancy accruements, you will at least have a bed and bath at your disposal for the night in a fixed shelter out of the elements. My parent’s motorhome and the cheap motel are what one might call temporary housing but this is not necessarily the case as it is better than many men and women around the world will enjoy tonight. We lose sight of sacrifice and service in the midst of a modern world that offers comfortable compromises in every situation that allow us to escape the reality that there is a battle in this world raging for our very soul. But I am determined that camping is the life that the Lord has called me to lead as a temporary resident in a foreign land.
Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly. Our kids went on a mystery trip with their youth group many years ago that turned out to be a camping trip deep in the woods complete with tents and campfires. This was a new notion for our kids because as stated before I do not camp. It rained on this trip and there is a tall tale of an encounter with a bear. The food was less than desirable to children fed a hot meal at the family table each night with utensils, plates and comfortable chairs. Even though they admit spending time with each other was fun and they have lasting memories, they never wanted to embark on another “mystery trip” that resulted in camping. The definition of camping today means to “live temporarily.” But the original word related to the military referring to battle or the battlefield. Camping referred to the open space or field where armies engaged. We have made it a soft term that reflects a family vacation. In fact, we want following and trusting the Lord to result in the same experience vowing never to go if it means discomfort. As Children of God, this world is not our home. The sooner that we learn to live in the Presence of God, the quicker we will see the Promise of God come to pass. I found the word “camp” tucked neatly in the Psalm that the Lord keeps pointing to in this battle against cancer that we are facing. His Promise is that our son will live. He will not die. He will declare the Works of the Lord. Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp (battlefield or field of engagement) of the godly. This is where I belong. Camping is the life.
Hebrews 13:8-15 (NLT)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God’s grace, not from rules about food, which don’t help those who follow them. We have an altar from which the priests in the Tabernacle have no right to eat. Under the old system, the high priest brought the blood of animals into the Holy Place as a sacrifice for sin, and the bodies of the animals were burned outside the camp. So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood. So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore. For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.
Jesus never changes. He is just like God who does not lie or change His Mind either. (Numbers 23:19) The Lord does everything that He says that He will do. He carries out every single promise to completion. It is impossible for His Word to return void. (Isaiah 55:11) These key principles are absolutely foundational in the life of a believer. Jesus Christ the foundation of our life. He may be the cornerstone that the world rejected but when it comes to our faith. He is the firm foundation of our life as “temporary residents” and “good soldiers” in this world. The world has taken grace and twisted it into a doormat for sin. Many people think that they can live any way that they choose and still inherit the blessings of God that belong to His Children. It is perfectly okay to think that way even though it is completely false. We have the freedom of choice in Jesus Christ. I choose to accept the stone the builders rejected as the cornerstone for my life. Our strength and endurance comes from the Grace of God nothing more or less. We must build an altar for our life in this temporary place and choose to worship Him with our life to have all that He has promised. Jesus died and suffered outside the city gates because His Blood is the foundation for a brand new city without sin or shame just the Light of His Love drenched in mercy and grace. It is a new place. It is a forever place. But you must successfully make it through this place into the Presence of God forever. This world is not our permanent home. Yet human beings try to make it so by building nice houses, buying expensive cars and fancy clothes that will all fall apart when this world is destroyed. In the meantime, they live with broken hearts and filthy souls hoping the good life will cover the absence of God in their life. The Lord sees right through you today. God is trying to give you a future and hope according to His Good Plan for your life, but you cannot accept it as a resident of this life but rather as a temporary foreigner traveling to His Kingdom. We must proclaim our allegiance to His Name so that He will call us His Children.
I Peter 2:11-12 (NLT)
Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.
We represent God in the earth as His People. But that does not mean that we are without God’s Help and Assistance. Our plan includes provision, promises and prosperity for this planet that become our inheritance through obedience and god-likeness. The world doesn’t want your stuff. The enemy is after your soul. So if the treasure of your heart are the things of this world, you are easily taken as quickly as your stuff is stolen, broken or unaffordable. Those who put all their expectation in other people are easily unsettled when there is conflict in human relations. The Lord promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. Abraham believe God even when his body was too old to bear children and his wife too elderly to conceive and carry a child. He believed God in a foreign land and did not waver in righteousness. (Hebrews 11:8-14) What Abraham discovered is that he indeed would become the father of many nations. But the permanent home that he was after was the Kingdom of God not real estate here on the earth. Abraham lived as a foreigner in his own land. How about you? Are you uncomfortable in the perverse and loveless world in which we live? Are you offended by the dramatic violence and demonic influence in the media today? Do you feel out of place? If not, every believer should because this is not our home. Our allegiance to His Kingdom requires our immediate attention to become sons and daughters worthy of inheritance. The Lord told Isaac to live as a foreigner and he would be blessed. (Genesis 26:3) We become wealthy in our Knowledge of God when we determine that this world has nothing for us but we are alive and thrive in the Presence of Almighty God. This is the birthplace of miracles.
Matthew 8:8-10 (NLT)
But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!
Allegiance to their country has led many men and women to faithfully serve America in foreign lands. I have a son who is a United States soldier. My father served multiple terms in Vietnam. Both were in foreign place as temporary residents in pursuit of peace. Unfortunately, if you want peace it is said that you must prepare for war. I could not agree more. “And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it.” (Matthew 11:12) Who ever gave Christians the idea that there would not be hardship, struggles and striving on the earth? The devil is a liar. You will face many temptations and trials along the route to freedom. It is inevitable or Jesus would not have said it was so. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) You are a clear-cut winner. However, you must engage in battle to win the war. Jesus said that He overcame the world so you must overcome the obstacle of sin and obstinacy called rebellion to have the reward. When the soldier’s servant became ill, the man of authority knew just what needed to be done. The soldier was a man of authority who understood how it worked. He knew that if Jesus Christ issued the order that his servant would be healed. Jesus did not have to preach a three-part sermon, take two offerings, and/or plead at the altar to make it so all He had to do was say the Word. The soldier knew that he should hold his position until the order came declaring his objective and mission. Jesus was blown away by the soldier’s faith that had produced such confident hope. It can be the same with you. What will it cost you? Your comfort zone. What must you do? Put all your faith and trust in the highest authority – the Name above all names – the King of kings – Jesus Christ then refuse to move with confident hope as an anchor until help arrives from the Most High. This is what it means to be a “good soldier” of Jesus Christ. (2 Timothy 2:3-4) Refusing to move until the Word goes out and comes completing all that it set out to accomplish. We must cut the ties with civilian affairs and bind ourselves to the altar with faith and confident hope refusing to relent until He comes!
Joshua 3:1-4 (NLT)
Early the next morning Joshua and all the Israelites left Acacia Grove and arrived at the banks of the Jordan River, where they camped before crossing. Three days later the Israelite officers went through the camp, giving these instructions to the people: “When you see the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD your God, move out from your positions and follow them. Since you have never traveled this way before, they will guide you. Stay about a half mile behind them, keeping a clear distance between you and the Ark. Make sure you don’t come any closer.”
God will tell you where to go and how to get there. Before Jesus Christ released His Spirit to all mankind, they were led by the Presence of the Lord often in the form of a cloud or fiery pillar. (Numbers 9:15-23) Yet even in doing so they disobeyed and rebelled against God with His Tangible Presence right before them. When Joshua was leading the people into the Promised Land, he shared the orders that came to him from the Lord. The people followed and made safe passage. He built a memorial in the camp to remind the people that God had led them safe and sound across the water of the Jordan. Do you build memorials along the way to honor the Lord for all that He is doing in your life? Or are you so wrapped up in the pain of the process that you have forgotten to look at what the Lord has done rather than what is still undone? We must declare our temporary residency in this world and give it public notice so that others will determine that there is something different about God’s People. We must define parameters are life as consecrated and holy people who say, “This God’s Camp!” (Genesis 32:1-2) When Jacob left home to escape the wrath of Esau, his brother, he was penniless and empty handed fearing for his life. When he decided to return, he found that the Lord had prospered him and poured out his blessing in the foreign land. Jacob now knew God’s Unfailing Love and Faithfulness belonged to him wherever he went and whatever circumstances that he faced. (Genesis 32:9-12) God wants you to know this, too. You will not find it at home in this life but in the wilderness that leads to your freedom. We must learn to watch for the “cloud” called God’s Presence rather than remaining focused on our conditions. (Deuteronomy 1:26-32) God will supply everything you need from here to Eternity. (Philippians 4:19) The Lord will give you food in famine and satisfy your thirst in the deepest drought. (1 Kings 17:4-6) We need only follow the Lord. Obey His Word. Recognize His Authority. Camping is the life of those who indeed want all that God has promised because it has nothing to do with here and now but everything to do with forever.
Psalm 118:23-28 (NLT)
This is the LORD’s doing and it is wonderful to see. This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Please, LORD, please save us. Please, LORD, please give us success. Bless the one who comes in the name of the LORD. We bless you from the house of the LORD. The LORD is God, shining upon us. Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar. You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you!
They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I think I believe that based on God’s Word. When David was fleeing from Saul, he came to Ahimelech (the priest) for help. (1 Samuel 21:1-14) David asked the priest for a weapon. He gave David, Goliath the Philistine’s sword. The Lord is leading you from victory to victory so stay in the fight. He is making good on every promise so wait for it. (Romans 8:28) What doesn’t kill you definitely makes you stronger, imagine what hope must have flooded David’s Heart when he wrapped his hands around that sword once again. Renewed hope in the face of adversity is God’s Greatest Gift to His Warriors. Camping is the life of those who are committed to the Lord’s Service as temporary residents of this life looking for a permanent place in the Presence of God. Don’t give up. Press in for the win today!
I Corinthians 15:55-58 (NLT)
O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.