I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT)
All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
What a day! Yesterday was one of those days when it feels like being pecked to death by ducks just one thing after another. Nothing fatal all by itself but combined with everything else quickly it becomes an overwhelming load. Of course it did! We have been celebrating openly our son’s new birthday and one year of remission. Giving God glory and praise as loudly as possible for the miracle that He has accomplished in our boy. The enemy doesn’t like praise it brings the Lord closer. He doesn’t like when we worship God out in the open for everyone to see because it draws men and women to Christ. But what if was your child who lived and did not die, would fear keep you from giving honor to the One who did it? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
The warfare was inevitable, and oh so worth it but by Monday it was really beginning to get to me. Our youngest left for camp so I arrived to my husband wandering around our empty home which I immediately began to tidy up which is my stress reliever, I know it’s weird but it works setting my natural world back in order. As I cooked a healthy dinner for two and a loaf of banana bread (comfort food) to make use of some old fruit, I began singing under my breath – “Holy Spirit – you are welcome here. Come fill this place and change the atmosphere. Your Glory God is what our hearts long for to be overcome by Your Presence Lord…” over and over again trying to press through the wall around me. It was just one of those days.
This morning I awoke just before the alarm with my arms in the air and moving like I was lacing on boxing gloves. Odd, I know I thought so too. It was in the dream I was having right before I opened my eyes. There was no boxing ring or fight planned. Just me in a dark empty space lacing up boxing gloves and punching them into my hands to make sure they were tight. The craziest part is that I have never donned a pair of boxing gloves like that so how would I know if they were properly positioned and perfectly laced but in my subconscious I knew. Opening my eyes, I knew today would be a fight, but will it be a good fight? Will I be victorious? Will I bring down another giant?
Every day the enemy battles us to take our faith away. He was to steal, kill or destroy every good thing and the fruit of God’s Spirit cultivated to satisfy our life. It is really up to us whether or not we fight back. Will we take a stand or cower back as he roars like a toothless lion who seeks those he can devour. I am fighting back today. I hope that you will, too. Our new life in Christ is worth having and definitely worth fighting to maintain our inheritance. We fight to keep what is ours. Jesus gave it all to us. It belongs to us.
Joshua 23:9-11 (NLT)
For the Lord has driven out great and powerful nations for you, and no one has yet been able to defeat you. Each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy, for the Lord your God fights for you, just as he has promised. So be very careful to love the Lord your God.
Joshua gives us some insight to how this thing works. These words should encourage your heart and boost your spirits today. First, the Lord has gone before you. There are no surprises for the Lord and He has given you the victory and everything you need to maintain the prize resulting from it. It says right here that “each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy”. I bet if we counted our “enemies” or problems or troubles though they may feel like tons of pressure there are just not that many battles going on in our life. The Word of God says that each one of them could put one thousand to flight. I back that up with the statement that greater is He who is in you (and me) than he that is in the world. Jesus fought every bit of opposition in our life handing us victory. So now what…we are to very careful to love the Lord your God. Loving God is how we respond to the struggles of life effectively. Such faith and trust empower us to fight the good fight, endure and win.
Matthew 12:18-21 (NLT)
Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, who pleases me. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not fight or shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally he will cause justice to be victorious. And his name will be the hope of all the world.
We must fight back like Jesus did. He is our example in life. But be warned, you may not like what you are reading because Jesus did not massacre people to secure our salvation. What does that mean? As we fight to keep our faith in this life, we must learn to respond as Jesus did and not as the world suggests. Life is not fair. Love has grown cold. Sin is rampant and justice perverted. There I said it, now we have to get over it because this world is not our home. We are not governed by society but by the Spirit of the Living God. Jesus did not fight, shout, or raise His Voice in public. Oh boy, here we go. He will not crush the weakest reed no matter how hard, stiff necked and unbending that person is. He will preserve the light in another even when they are wrong and hurt Him so we must do the same. He will cause justice to be victorious. We were not put here to change the rules or make this some kind of utopia. No, our mission is to bring the Light of His Love to every single person who we encounter. To show them the love of Jesus Christ even when they are totally unlovable. We are to magnify faith, hope and love to a lost and dying world even when they are fighting back.
2 Samuel 5:18-19 (NLT)
The Philistines arrived and spread out across the valley of Rephaim. So David asked the Lord, “Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?” The Lord replied to David, “Yes, go ahead. I will certainly hand them over to you.”
With my new set of boxing gloves etched in my mind, I decided that I should probably learn the rules of engagement before the fight so I went directly to the Word of God that gives me clear instructions on how to live and what to do in life. The first thing that I discovered is that we have to ask the Lord is this my battle? Do I need to fight back or simply take a stand? David was a might warrior but more than that he was a man after God’s own heart. Rather than being self-confident, David knew his skill and ability as a warrior came from the Lord. So he consulted God before the battle to see whether or not it was something to fight for. What about you? We must be very careful not to develop a warring spirit that chooses to pick a fight with the devil every day even on those days that God called us to stand or to rest. Some challenges are not for us but someone else close by. We have to be sensitive to the Voice of God and obedient to what He says to live victoriously.
Isaiah 1:16-18 (NLT)
“Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.” “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”
Are we fighting for the right things the right way? Arguments and disagreements do not win people to Jesus Christ, love does. Our ability to quickly forgive others and not take offense to their attack or actions against us will fortify our stance of faith in God. It is to decide that God is bigger than our adversaries in life and that we can count on Him to right the wrongs against us. Fighting with our hands and our words are not the weapons of our warfare. The enemy goads us to attack by telling us we are right. We are righteous. We did not become righteous all on our own but the Spirit of the Living God inside us makes it real. We cannot take credit or become self-righteous so humility must govern our life. God did something for us that we could not do for ourselves. Jesus died to hand us back our life and give us freedom. We choose whether or not we are willing to in turn give our life right back to Him. To do so is enlisting in God’s Army and follow the example of Jesus Christ. Confidence in the Lord allows us to stand tall on our faith with our head held high in confident hope even if no one else believes us.
Galatians 5:16-17 (NLT)
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.
A settled heart, soul and mind that knows the greatness it contains will live in quiet confidence because we know, trust and believe. The Holy Spirit helps us win the biggest battle of all. The one over self. This is the greatest war we fight and it comes on a daily basis. It barges in during our prayers demanding its own right. It interrupts our worship to say, “Are you really gonna take that?” It bursts out during our praise – “what have you done for “me” lately?” This is a constant engagement that demands our focus each day as we nail all our sinful natural desires to the Cross. Even that one that wants to rip somebody’s head off or tell them like it is. The same one that wants to punch someone in the face or cut them with our tongue. Sticks and stones WILL break our bones BUT words WILL also hurt us. I must align my body, soul and spirit using all my strength to align my life with what God has for me and becoming confident in what the Lord is doing in my life.
Ephesians 6:12-13 (NLT)
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.
The enemy does not fight fair. He is ruthless and cunning. He works in areas of our life that he is given access to due to disobedience or sin. We must shut those doors tightly to win the good fight of faith. The devil is more powerful than us. The only hope that we have is the One who lives inside of us. Don’t forget that it is important to know before you charge the devil in your flesh rather than remaining covered in the armor of God. You need to be prayed up, praised up and acting on the Word of God before you go after the enemy. Otherwise, you are going to get your feelings hurt if not more. We win the battle when we endure. That is it. We just have to be the last man standing after the enemy has leveled his attack, raising our hands praising the One who gives us victory over sin, freedom to live in His Power and wins our wars for us.
If the enemy has been wearing you down, it’s time to inspect your armor to be sure it is holding. Gird up with the belt of Truth that is the Word of God. Find your promise and hang on to it no matter how rough things get. Put on righteousness – not by doing the right thing but doing everything you can to live in the Presence of God. Walk in humility, peace and love no matter where you are going or who you encounter. People are not the enemy even some may be manipulated by him. Hold on to your shield of faith. Keep it in front of you at all times. Decide in your mind that God has done exactly what He promised and that Jesus died just for you. Protect your mind in the knowledge of God’s Amazing Love. Start wielding the Sword of the Spirit. Release the Word of God the atmosphere. Say it out loud. Confidence tells a story. Trust keeps going when things look bad. Hope never leads to disappointment so why not embark on the journey despite the giants in the land?
I Timothy 6:11-12 (NLT)
But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.
As I get ready to begin my day, it feels like I am sitting on a bucket in the corner of the ring. My coach is in my face holding both the tightly laced gloves. This is what He is saying, “But you, Lori, are a woman of God so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you!” The bell is ringing and it is time to enter the ring. I know have a battle plan. My objective is clear. I will fight the good fight of faith today and I intend to win!
II Timothy 4:7-8 (NLT)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.