Reigniting Hope: His Banner Over Us

Let’s imagine…

We’re dragging our discouraged, defeated, and bruised bodies into the locker room at halftime. Nothing has gone the way we planned. Everyone is doubting our chance at victory. All hope seems gone.

Then Jesus steps into the stinky, sweat-filled room, establishing Himself at the center of our sulking circle and slowly starts to spin Himself around so that He can look each one of us in the eye.

And when our eyes meet His, we see flames of confidence. 

As He speaks, His body takes on the same fervor He possessed on the day He tumped all the tables at the Temple – minus the anger. This time, He’s fired up but in a way that seeks to reignite our fires. Sparks fly and His spinning picks up speed to the point that we’re locked in and moving with Him as One body. Within minutes our hearts and minds are renewed, aligned with His truth, filled with His love, and fused with His presence.

Our bodies thrumming with faith, we resolve to follow Jesus back onto the field, confident that we would follow wherever He leads. He hoists His banner, and we half-run, half-skip behind Him with hollers of pure joy, ready to face the enemy and the jeering crowds. With hope.

Friends, this is a moment when our imaginations will not fail us. This scenario illustrates what it looks like to follow our banner-waving Savior onto the fields of life. 

This banner, it’s the one He has revealed to us each time we’ve met with Him one-on-one, so we trust it. In fact, we have said we would actually follow it because it leads us forward toward the path the Father has for us – in love. With hope. By faith.


I had the enormous blessing of being a Pasadena High School cheerleader in the mid-80s. Every week we practiced and performed chants, cheers, dances, and pyramids, loving every minute of it. During football season, we also rolled out reams of paper onto our cafeteria’s floor, cutting three equidistant portions to glue together in order to form a giant sign called a run-through. On it we would paint peppy phrases to cheer-on the team and the crowd as the Friday Night Lights grew bright and the drum line pounded out a pulse-raising rhythm. 

Here we are — a little blurry but ready to run ahead of the players as they crashed through the “banner.”

Then, BOOM! A line of team leaders would crash through the paper, all the players and staff running behind them, pumping fists with enthusiasm. That run-through served as a banner that led the team onto the field, before the roaring crowd, as we cheered-on the Pasadena Eagles.

You could say that on our side of the field, we were united under that banner – at least for the night.

In a much more serious, self-sacrificing sort of way, ancient armies rallied under the banners of their kings. Not unlike football teams today, each army wore the colors of their king and literally followed their king’s battle flag – not only to identify themselves with a particular “side” but also to help them discern friend from foe while on the field.

It’s actually in this context that Moses names God, Jehova Nissi – the Lord is My Banner (Exodus 17:15). It had been a day of battle between the wandering, former-slaves called God’s children and the fierce, battle-tested Amalekites. Each “army” met in a field, overlooked by a low mountain peak on which stood Moses with his aids, Aaron and Hur. Moses demonstrated his faith in God to bring his people victory in this lop-sided battle by raising his arms high. When his arms were up, reaching toward the heavens, the Hebrew people were winning the fight. 

But when Moses’ arms grew tired and fell, the tide would turn, and the Amalekites would take the lead. 

With the help of Aaron and Hur, Moses’ arms stayed up until victory was theirs, and that’s when Moses built an altar to God My Banner – the One he followed and trusted because with Him, victory was promised.

According to the Holman Bible Dictionary, battle standards – aka: banners – would give soldiers a rallying point. For Moses, the banner was God Himself. To follow God My Banner “into battle” established identity and gave the “troops” a focal point, a reason to fight, and a hope for victory.

It’s no different for us. Just as Paul teaches us in Ephesians 6, we are in a battle every day. We’re fighting for our faith. We’re battling for our hope. We’re giving it our all to hang onto love. But our enemy is subtle. His tactics resemble guerrilla warfare more than two armies facing off in the days of old. That’s why Paul wants us to be clear about who our enemy is – it’s not flesh and blood (v.12). It’s. Not. People. 

I know…it sure feels like it.

But our actual enemy is Satan and all his groupies – his powers and authorities and spiritual forces of darkness (v.12). When we can identify our enemy, we can better align ourselves with the Lord. We can rally behind His banner because HE is who we look to and fight for.1 And we can trust, at the same time, He’s fighting for us. 


When the Pasadena Eagle fans would cheer for the team as they burst through our banner, it rallied us as one entity. And it raised our hopes – I think because we felt stronger together. Maybe it helps you to know that our team rarely won a game. In fact, our cheers grew really loud if they scored a touchdown. But that fact didn’t impede our hope-building chants and cheers. We thrived in the unity it brought us.

And when former players and coaches made appearances, the energy notched up another level. It was like they were there to cheer us on from a history of former Eagles who’d gone before us. In other words, we weren’t alone. We had a legacy behind us.

Hebrews 12:1 serves as a banner for us, pointing us backward so that we can move forward in faith. Hebrews 11, if you’ll remember, is dubbed The Hall of Faith, listing numerous Old Testament people who stepped out in faith to obey God. Men and women of our past have gone before us to show us that this battle called life can be done. With them as our cloud of witnesses and with God as our banner, we can step out onto the battlefield with trust and obedience because we follow the One who is able. And is love.

The woman of Song of Solomon describes being led by the man she loves to his banquet hall where he “let his banner over me be love” (2:4). When we think of ourselves as Christ’s bride, remembering the way “His love conquered us to Himself,” we can look up to see our King’s name, “Love,” on the banner above us and know that we are not only protected and provided for but also well loved.2 

There are so many ways to pull all this together to see how our trio of Christian graces work here: Love over us, guiding us. Faith behind us, pushing us onward. And hope with us, helping us look ahead free of fear and doubt. Or, we could say: Love locks us into the present. Faith builds us up from the past. Hope believes for the future.

No matter how we describe the way faith, hope, and love work together as we follow God Our Banner, the truth is we are God’s and He is ours. Therefore, as we put Jesus at the center of all we are and do, we can know that God is love, and His banner over us will always be love; God is faithful, and we can trust He will continue to be faithful; which means, our hope can deepen, strengthen, and believe with fiery confidence for a future we cannot see.

Father God, You are love. And You’ve been so intentional to place a banner over us to remind us of your love, to lead us in our lives, to rally us in your name, and to give us a place of belonging. We are yours. You are ours. And your banner over us is love. Lord Jesus, it continues to wreck us when we realize what an act of love your death on the cross was. So, to think of your death as the means for ‘conquering us to Yourself’, our hearts grow heavy with a humility that has no likeness in all the world. You died for us. And You did it so that we could conquer our enemies in your name. You did it so that we’d die to ourselves in order to live in You. “Thank You” will never be enough, but we’ll keep saying it. And we’ll keep following You, our Banner of Love. Holy Spirit, the longer we live the more we realize just how much we need You. Help us slow down and get still each day this week so that we can readjust our vision to focus on the flaming eyes of Jesus who desires that we’d trust Him and follow Him wherever He leads. Help us to put Christ in the center of our lives, onto the throne of our lives so that we will stop trying to do life in our own strength. Hear our battle cry, Jesus! We’re following You with joy, confidence, and hope into the world — may they know we are yours by our love! In Jesus’ name, amen.
(Inspired by 1 John 4:16; Song of Solomon 2:4; Psalm 100:3; John 17:6; Romans 5:8; 1 Peter 3:18; Matthew 16:19; Galatians 2:20; Exodus 17:15; 1 John 2:6; Matthew 16:24; Philippians 3:10-13; John 14:16-17; John 13:35)

Resources: I love sharing with you the books, podcasts, articles, and anything else that has inspired, encouraged, or taught me. These are humble offerings with no expectations.

  • 1 – Jen Wilkin in her Exodus lecture, p.168, from Exodus 17:15-17. She defined a banner as what (Who) we look to, rally to, fight for, elaborating that Hebrews 11 gives us faithful people who have gone before us to tell and show us God’s faithfulness. “Turn around to see and know, to help us keep moving forward in faith.” She said not to look ahead for a sign but to look behind, quoting Jesus the time He told the people to stop looking for signs – that the only sign needed is Jonah. And, of course, Jonah is from the past. He’s part of that great cloud of witnesses. By looking at him, we can see the faithfulness of God, and in doing so build our own faith for our current circumstances and our hope for the future.
  • 2 – Taken from Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary on
  • I read this article to get a better understanding of Moses’ naming God, “The Lord Is My Banner.” And this article fascinated me about the Hebrew word for hope — it ended with this treasure: “‘These three abide – faith, hope, and love – but the greatest of these is love.’ These words in 1 Corinthians 13 remind us that the assurance of our faith and the hope we have in our Messiah must continually be worked out through love. Because Love came in the form of a God man named Jesus, who is our Living Hope.”
  • And if you’re not singing “His Banner Over Me Is Love” by now, I’m just shocked. It is on our Flames of Faith, Hope, and Love playlist, so sing along with greater understanding of what you’re singing! 🙂
  • On Wednesdays I’ve begun posting 5-7 minute teaching videos on my Facebook Author Page and Instagram (@shelleylinnjohnson). We’re weaving threads of faith, hope, and love!

Rhythms we can incorporate into our daily lives to aid us in our dwelling with God, living for Him, and putting our hope in Him:

  • How are you doing with getting still with the Lord? My week was full of appointments, so my usual morning routine was completely disrupted. 🙁 So. I determined to get up earlier. And, instead of playing a game on my phone while sitting in waiting rooms, I read holy writings. I also allowed myself to pray inwardly despite people being around me. I mean, life still happens, but I’m figuring out how to live in it less distracted. Well, at least I did this week. 😉 Stillness remains our abiding rhythm, so let’s get behind that banner of love and let it do its work of uniting us with our King and bolstering us with faith and hope!

Finally, as a community, let us not neglect sharing God’s hope with others! Share your God-stories with people around you. Share this site. Share God’s Word. Shine His light of His hope into the world!

Featured Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash. Bits & Pieces Photo by Arjun Kapoor on Unsplash


Published by Shelley Linn Johnson

Lover of The Word. And words. Cultivator of curiosity about all things Christ. Lifelong learner who likes inviting others along for the journey. Recovering perfectionist who has only recently realized that rhythms are so much better than stress-inducing must-do's.

2 thoughts on “Reigniting Hope: His Banner Over Us

  1. Amen🙌
    Shelley, you are right! It is important to identify the enemy and align with our team.
    Go God!!❤️❤️❤️
    I did sing the song in my head 😅

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