When I Want to Fight

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Exodus 14:13-14 (ESV) And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

A church leader shared this passage in Sunday service last week. It was good then…but this morning, I wasn’t sure I liked it quite so much. The Lord told Moses and the people to fear not…stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord – He will work for you today! The enemy in their sights would be gone forever. This is the good part. Now comes the struggle in certain situations – “the Lord will fight for you and you have only to be silent.” There are situations in life when one might prefer to wage war against other people or vilify themselves and seek revenge in order to give the other person what they have coming to them. When facing the giants in this world, it is much easier to let the Lord have His Way and slay them. But when the foe that is faced is of a sizable match – it is up to us to let the battle be the Lord’s and to remain silent.

I Timothy 6:11-13 (ESV) But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 

There is only one fight that I am called to as a believer. I am ordained to fight the good fight of the faith. Faith is confidence in the Lord and putting all expectation in Him. It is an act of trust that causes us to stand and wait rather than pursue and overtake. We must fight the battle within our flesh to let the Lord fight our battles, win our wars, and even to be silent while watching and waiting. As believers, the encounters and engagements with the enemy become more and more unjust as our life is aligned to Jesus Christ. To hold on to eternal life rather than prideful rightness is so hard when right. Our good confession in the presence of many witness is always faith in God through His Son, Jesus Christ. We must stand in victory because Christ lives in us and not fight amongst each other.

As believers, our lifelong pursuit is righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness. Ugh! Sometimes these qualities and characteristics of the Lord that He is attempting to create in me cause a war in the flesh. I must stand on the Word of God and walk in His Ways even when the enemy knocks on the front door, meets me at work or even shows up in the church parking lot. The struggle is real. It is an everyday battle of our mind, will and emotions to remain in partnership with Jesus Christ. To maintain our relationship so that it is thriving, growing, maturing and constantly developing into an inseparable bond both now and forever.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Is it a coincidence that the great cloud of witness are mentioned immediately after the great hall of faith in Hebrews 11? A reminder that faith is not easy. Trusting God is hard. When the enemy comes throwing his weight around, trying to stick sin on us, and attempting to trip us with lies, we must continue to run the race of faith to the prize that waits before us. It will require endurance. You will get tired of turning the other cheek. Standing doesn’t release the adrenaline that fighting for your right will, but righteousness comes from living as one with Christ. We must keep our eyes fixed on our Champion. The One who is the Founder and Perfecter and Author and Finisher of our faith in the first place. The Lord will fight for you today. He will fight for me. I must be silent and wait on the Lord even when it hurts. To know whose I am and who I am in Christ must lead me down a pathway of peace in life so that others will entertain His Presence through my influence. Peace lives in me. The war waged in my mind and heart are against flesh and blood that seeks retribution. My flesh is called to die so new life will take its place. Lord, help me to be confident and silent as you fight my battles today. Help me to stand firm and having done to stand firm. In Jesus Name…

Ephesians 6:12-13 (ESV) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

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Take a Stand

Take A Stand

Psalm 18:32-34 (NLT) God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.

“He (or she) who kneels before God can stand before anyone.” (Unknown and paraphrased)

Psalm 18 is David’s song to the Lord praising God for rescuing him from all his enemies particularly Saul. Who better to sing it than the shepherd boy turned mighty warrior with a single stand and monumental victory over a Philistine giant with one small pebble hurled by faith and powered by the Hand of God. David did stand in strength and power full of self-confidence and natural abilities. He was a scrawny kid surrounded by a battalion of soldiers whose heart was firmly established in the Lord. God arms me with strength. He makes my way perfect. He makes me surefooted. He enables me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle. He strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. One might think this is a battle cry of a highly trained tactical fighting machine but really it is more about the human heart than any man’s ability.

Adrenaline fuels our heart and mind to react to a situation. We will either fight or flee depending on our perception of the outcome of an encounter. In the natural, it is often an assumption made after sizing up our opponent or obstacle to determine one’s ability to overcome. But with God all things are possible to those who believe. Do you believe today? Do you have faith and confidence that God is for you? Do you believe that He loves you and will never leave or forsake you? Our mind can play tricks on us especially when the enemy comes with clever traps of half-truth and deception. He cannot stop the plan or purpose of God in our life. He is successful only when we give up or give in to human temptation, weakness or emotions. Yet even still God’s Word for you will never return to Him void. What the Lord has promised – He will deliver – if we stand!

God arms me with strength. God’s Power is delivered by grace in our weakness. It is the humility of repentance when our life is turned over to the Lord and trust begins to develop that victory is secured. I know it seems preposterous that in surrender that His Power is most effective. It seems illogical. But what if this strength mentioned in Psalm 18 is not about anything our physical body can do but rather strength of spirit to trust the Lord until the bitter end. To stand in the field well sown but not growing. To believe in famine and drought that you will do more than survive but God says you will thrive. How do we find our way to the source of strength that becomes the sound foundation of a prosperous life? Tell us today David where does your strength come from? “I love you, Lord. You are my strength.” (Psalm 18:1) From beginning to end, David put his heart and soul into knowing and loving the Lord. From the pasture full of sheep to the battlefield of soldiers, God was God to David.

Psalm 139:1-6 (NLT) O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

He makes my way perfect. In Psalm 139, there is a glimpse of the moment of creation. An intimate encounter with God even delving into His Thoughts for us. God is greater than our emotions and feelings. When He created us it was with the full potential of purpose that would completely satisfy our life exceedingly and abundantly more than we could think or ask or even imagine. Knowing this and believing this requires a self-discipline that stands when every fiber of our being says to run. It is the hardest part of spiritual maturity. To develop an understanding that doesn’t understand everything (or anything) God is doing yet still chooses to continue following His Path. To decide God you are who You say you are and will do what You say You will do and live life with such a conviction and confidence that keeps us in place. It is hard. It is completely contrary to our education and life experience that is until we encounter the Living God and begin to experience His Promises.

It is not uncommon to come to crossroads of decision each day. Who will I trust? What will I believe? Will I consistently choose the better way? Jeremiah 6:16 talks about crossroads – “This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’” How many times have I made a rational choice rather than a radical commitment to do things God’s Way? I cannot count the number of times that I have taken my toys and gone home rather than continued laboring in the field God has placed me. What about you? Have you done the same? Well, I have good news. His Mercy is new every morning. His People are called to endurance so there is still time. The God who created you knows you. He had to if His Son would provide enough grace to save and empower you. You may have made a bad choice but today is a new day. The Lord inside of you is full of resurrection power and life which is yours for the asking and ready for the taking of those who surrender it all to Him.

A little knowledge of God is worth more than great knowledge about him. (J.I. Packer)

He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. God is fortifying our feet to be surefooted. To stand on mountain heights and look at life from His Perspective requires conditioning. I could not hike up a mountain in my present condition. I am embarrassed at my unhealthy state compared to a few years ago. When I finally foray back into the gym, I will have to recondition my body. It will take time. It will require a commitment. I must ignore screaming muscles and dying fat to continue to bring my body into subjection. And so it is with our heart, soul and mind when it comes to being “surefooted” in the Lord. His Perspective is higher than our own. His Plan is naturally uncommon. His Purpose fully encompassing a life not fully lived. It is our passion to know God that keeps us engaged. Knowing about him does nothing for us. I have thoroughly researched the gyms close to my work and home. I know their hours of operation. I know the equipment offered. I have inquired as to membership fees and requirements. I have not made a commitment yet. Therefore, my knowledge is really doing nothing for me. We must exercise our knowledge of God by faith to make it wisdom beneficial in our life. It requires a commitment. It will take trust to get us there. Our confidence must be in the Living God who is not fully understood yet embraced just the same. Maybe the greatest battle in standing is not taking one but staying there until the battle is won!

“God is not what you imagine or what you think you understand. If you understand – you failed.” (St. Augustine)

He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. The battle is the Lord’s today and every day. His Plan for you and me is in full effect. The stand to be taken is in solidarity with God. To continually walk in His Ways while training our heart and mind to trust Him implicitly. It doesn’t matter whether you think your enemies are many and your strength too small – greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world. No weapon formed against you will prosper. God is offering you His Strength today. He will be your refuge. It is all up to you. Will you take a stand against human understanding today? Will you believe past your doubt and disbelief? Will you say to the Lord forsaking all others I choose you? These are the words of warriors who win battles and overcome all obstacles in life. The warrior is you! Take a stand! The war waged against you is won in your heart not with your hands!

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Philippians 4:7 (NLT) Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Still Standing

Still Standing

Ephesians 6:13 (NKJV) Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

There are some things in life that just take time. The inescapable lapse of immediate gratification to absolute fulfillment have a prescribed wait time that is insurmountable. The compromise of convenience, comfort and control are conflicted in the long periods of divine intervention as God grows, develops and matures His Promise, melts a hard heart, finds a lost soul, heals a sick body, pressing our patience and producing it from within us to change outcomes around us. It takes time. Say, that with me today, it’s just going to take some time.

There are some things in my life – situations and unfavorable conditions – that I am waiting on the Lord to do His Work. Promises yet to be fulfilled. Dreams not yet a reality. Relationships in need of mending. Processes yet undone. What do you do when you have sought the Lord, prayed, and believed – and nothing has happened? You wait. You trust. You stand. The word “withstand” or antihistemi (Strong’s #436) means anti – “against” and histemi – “to cause to stand”. It suggests vigorously opposing, bravely resisting, standing face-to-face against an adversary, and standing your ground. Compare it to the commonly used word “antihistamine” which puts a block on histamines. A histamine attacks cells in the body causing the cells to swell and leak fluids. This can cause itching, runny nose, sneezing and watery eyes. An antihistamine blocks the histamines relieving the symptoms. Antihistemi tells me that with the authority and spiritual weapons granted to me I can withstand evil forces in the moment of distress. Withstanding is important in facing opposition but then comes the final exhortation in this passage…”and having done all, to stand.

Habakkuk 2:1-4 (NKJV) I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected. Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.  “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.

I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart KNOWING that the vision is for an appointed time. Faith and confident hope become trust in the waiting room of God. The place of presence where you see the Lord, feel Him, and know that He is with you yet nothing seems to be changing and often seems to be getting worse. Tiptoeing to impossible which is the birthplace of miracles where only God can receive the glory for what is not achievable by man. We want God to pour out His Glory on us but are we willing to stand and keep standing until our appointment time arrives.

Having been in the place of waiting for impossibilities to produce promises and living in the realm of hope, one might think I would become immune to long waits, difficult circumstances, hurtful situations and unfortunate disappointments but in my humanity I must be reminded to return to the watch…and climb up higher to the rampart. To look with my spiritual eyes for the hope of His Promise to work all things together for my good (Romans 8:28) and perfect that which concerns me. (Psalm 138:8) Up and down the ladder – the constant wavering between waiting and wondering. Thank you Lord for Your Grace that covers me when fear, doubt and anxiousness overtake me. I know God’s Word is true. I know His Promises are real and valid for me. It is my privilege to wait for Him. However, like you, I am still human – so I must remind myself when I have done all – to stand – for the just will live by faith. Faith doesn’t see the outcome from its present position but decides it is still worth having so waits for it to come.

James 2:19-20 (NKJV) But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

Faith is demonstrated by our attitude and actions in life not influenced by the world but defined by our relationship with Christ. It is total trust and reliance on His Word no matter what happens in our life knowing the outcome is dependent on His Promises. We respond therefore to His Commandments with obedience to remain in alignment with the process outlined by the precedence set forth by God not society norm. To believe in Jesus Christ is not enough. To be a Christian demonstrating religious perfection is still not good enough. Our flesh responds to the good fight of faith and engages in battle against the adversary. It is when pride must lay down in humility to the sovereignty of God and wait that our reality of faith is revealed in us. It is genuine faith in God that includes the “work” called standing that exhibits confident hope. When I can do absolutely nothing to change my situation, and choose to wait on the Lord right where I am in the midst of what I am going through completely and solely dependent on His Word and Promise that faith gives way its potential and the impossible becomes my reality.

Hebrews 10:35-39 (NKJV) Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.

To live by faith will require wait times. It is inevitable because endurance is a quality to found in our Christ-like character. Jesus said that those who endure to the end will be saved. Endurance is not an offensive or defensive move – it is to stand no matter what your position is. To remain confident in your hope and to live by faith even during long waits and delays that weary our heart and try our emotions. The life of waiting is part of standing for the Lord. Not grumbling, complaining and striking out against others but with the same love, peace and joy found when we see His Word come to pass. The life of consistency is desired of the Lord as it resonates true and genuine faith in Him.  He loves when we believe His is Good when things go bad. He loves when we wait patiently knowing He is faithful. Our response in the waiting is the greatest test of where we stand in our faith. Are you still standing?

Isaiah 35:3-4 (NKJV) Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will  come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you.”

Free Indeed

Free Indeed

John 8:36 (NKJV) Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Happy Independence Day! The Fourth of July is a day of celebration. People gather to cook out, go to the beach, watch fireworks and enjoy the freedom men and women literally died to attain and maintain for us in America.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. (Preamble of the Constitution)

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. (Preamble of the Declaration of Independence)

A preamble is an introductory statement of a contract stating the purpose, aims and justifications of the document or contract it prefaces. It is a summary of purpose. Clearly it was the purpose and aim of our forefathers to establish “a more perfect union”. In doing so, they determined the presiding factors of such a place to be “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” To insure domestic tranquility, provide a secure place for families to prosper, to promote the welfare of all people, and secure the “blessings of liberty for ourselves” and “posterity” meaning future generations. They believed that these truths were self-evident. All men are created equal and they are “endowed” meaning provided these rights by Creator. This country was founded by people who believed in God. They served God. They established these historical documents including the Bill of Rights with the prosperity of God in mind whether anyone likes it or not. The freedom described in these articles also give people the right to choose not to acknowledge God without forsaking their freedom.

Enough of the history lesson for today – my son is a history buff but did not get if from his mother. Last night and into this morning, John 8:36 played over and over in my thoughts and dreams until I finally had to seek it out in a quiet place. The Lord promises us freedom. The Sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ is all about freedom. Liberty to choose who to serve in our natural life. I know that when I see someone desecrate the American Flag anger rises inside of me. My first thought is not Christ-like at all, but rather if they don’t like it here then why don’t they choose a country more to their liking and belief system. But the soldier on the battlefield fighting for my rights as an American is fighting for freedom not legality. The person who decides to burn the flag is given that right by the very same servant giving up their time and risking their life for me. It is hard to wrap one’s mind around it. The same applies to the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ for me. Jesus Christ died for every person ever created by God. The freedom of choice gives each person the right to decide if Jesus will be their personal Savior and Lord. Just the same, they have the right to reject Him. Love demands a choice. If there is no choice, there is no love.

Romans 8:2 (NKJV) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

“Made free” comes from the word “eleuthero” which means to liberate, acquit, set free, and deliver. In the New Testament, it is used exclusively to describe freedom attained through Jesus Christ. Jesus has set us free from sin and death. But are we pursuing and exercising our rights of freedom according to His Word, Will, Nature and Holiness? Freedom in Christ is not a “get out of hell free” card to be used when meeting the Lord face-to-face. There are rights and responsibilities of freedom in the way we live each day. I was born in the United States. I have only known a lifestyle of freedom given by the laws and bylaws of this nation. It is not foreign to me. I was taught all about this country’s history and heritage from grade school to college. Freedom is comfortable to me because it is all that I have known. But to reborn in Jesus Christ introduces a new way of life. I am a new creation. I must learn what freedom in Jesus is all about because it is contradictory to my nature and the place I live now.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NKJV) Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

The word “liberty” used in this passage comes from a variation of the same word as “made free”. “Elutheria” means freedom from slavery, independence, absence of external restraint, a negation of control or domination, and freedom of access. The Lord is a Spirit. The Spirit who lives in you and me is none other than the Spirit of the Lord, Jesus Christ. We have access to all of His Power and Strength to attain every promise He has made. We have the freedom to pursue and attain all things given to us as an inheritance. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. I ask you today – are you exercising your liberty today? Do you feel free in Jesus Christ? There is a distinct difference between knowing something and believing it. It is called trust. Given access to God by the Blood of Jesus Christ, we can come boldly before His Throne and achieve all of His Plan and Purpose walking daily in freedom. The Glory of the Lord is evidence of transformation in our life. Is your life glorious today? If you are like me, just knowing Jesus has made my life radically different for the better. But in those times that I was able to apply my mustard seed of faith to trust Him, I have seen supernatural and miraculous results.

Today we celebrate liberty as American citizens, but what about our citizenship in Heaven? The founding fathers of this great country believed in a Creator who endowed His People with blessings and prosperity. Do you believe that today? Take some time, just a few minutes from all the festivities, and thank God for your freedom as His Child. I encourage you to ask the Lord to show you the way to greater freedom and liberty in His Son Jesus Christ. To step out of bondage. To claim your blessings. To walk in victory. To live the life that Jesus died for you to have. I have a taste of freedom in Christ, but today I want more. I want to know the glorious existence found in full transformation into the Image of God through Christ. I want to know what it means to be free indeed. Free from fear, worry, stress and anxiety. Delivered from every shackle and chain that tries to bind me to the past and keep me from my future. To live in the abundance and prosperity promised in the rich and satisfying life promised by the Lord to us.

Galatians 5:1 (NKJV) Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty…I wonder if that is the missing link to our spiritual success. The bridge that takes us to transformation marked by trust. It is easy to claim our natural rights according to the law of the land. Today, make a commitment to claim every spiritual blessing offered in Christ. It is our rights as Christians but we must be believers. Joseph Prince said, “You fight from victory ground by standing. You don’t fight for victory.” Jesus secured the win for us. We have been given freedom and liberty to walk in His Love. He promises to work all the details for our good and His Glory. We must stand. Standing is tough. We must make faith logical by studying God’s Word, communicating with Him and partnering with His Spirit for freedom’s sake. There is a whole new life full of new possibilities as a new creation only when we choose freedom!

Psalm 119:45 (NKJV) And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts.

Boots on the Ground

boots-on-the-ground

Psalm 18:30-36 (NLT) God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great. You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.

“Boots on the ground” is a military term. It is used to convey the belief that strategic success can only be achieved through the direct physical presence of troops in a conflict area. It is the idea that presence makes prominence. Maybe concurrent with the thought that “possession is nine tenths of the law” which further implies that ownership is easier if one has possession of something or difficult to enforce if one does not. I believe that both convey confidence. Confidence in strength and power according to that which is attained. Man of valor fight for a cause dear to heart as they are called to serve and protect the people of their country. Their mind is focused on battle and maintaining the safety and security of those who reside in the land. They fight for freedom. Even if someone uses their freedom to protect their mission, they do it just the same.

Jesus Christ died to set us free. It is our option to use our freedom to trust the Lord or continue wandering in the darkness of this world. Truly – who the Son sets free is free indeed. However, if we do not know our rights as a believer it is difficult to understand the benefits offered by obedience. To choose to live for the Kingdom rather the world is impossible if we do not see the point. We can see, hear, feel, touch and experience this life with our senses. How does one come to their senses by faith that cannot see, hear, feel or touch the Lord in a tangible sense? How does one find confidence to walk by faith and not by sight? How do we win the war of flesh versus spirit when one is intimate and the other foreign? God has given us His Spirit but we must empower Him by eliminating the influence of our flesh. In short order, every lie must be dissolved in Truth so we can fully walk in the freedom intended for us and imparted by Jesus Christ.

“God’s way is perfect.” Do you believe this is true? Think about it for a moment. Do you really believe that God’s Word is true and valid for every aspect of your life? If so, do you do what it says? Are you willing to give up your will to have God’s Will just as it is without reservation? This is the freedom to be fought for by faith. To secure our freedom in Jesus Christ and walk His Perfect Way to overcoming victory in our everyday life. It’s not easy. It is not logical. It is faithful.

He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights… You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.” I would venture to say that if following Jesus was easy there would have been more than 12 disciples. In fact, even in the handful of men with Jesus one still managed to betray Him. I am challenged today to find purpose in my steps. (1 Corinthians 9:26) To be surefooted as a deer enabling me to stand on a firm foundation of faith in all things. I long for the wide path of obedience called the Highway of Holiness that keeps me from slipping. I want to follow the Lord walking in close fellowship with Him as Enoch did until I disappear and only God remains. Is this even possible? Absolutely. Is it logical? Not in reality only faithfully.

Psalm 91:1-2 (NLT) Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.

Trust labels the steps that lead to greater faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. It is faith in Jesus Christ that opens the door to Him in the first place. I must protect my faith. Feed my faith. Condition my faith. It is the most important thing in my life that leads to eternal life. Without, faith I will die. It promotes perseverance and endurance in me that is far from natural and instinctual. It is supernatural. A soldier joins the army with potential. It is through rigorous training and conditioning that changes his potential into purpose. When that purpose engages in battle, the soldier becomes a warrior. I want to be a warrior of faith. I have been in some fights in my life. I have the battle scars to prove it. The Lord promises those who seek refuge in Him will have security. A place of safety. This place is secured by trust.

If we continue to read Psalm 91, it tells us of more than just a place to hide in the Lord but a place also to take a stand against sin and darkness that attempts to overtake us and invade the good things in our life. By faith, “a thousand fall at your side, thought ten thousand are dying around you these evils will not touch you.” It goes on to promise that “no evil will conquer you” and “no plague will come near to your home.” His angels are positioned to protect you. I love this part. “You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet.” If you look at the verse right before this one, it says, “They (angels) will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.” Are you tired of stumbling? Are you sick of struggling? There is a better way. God’s Way is perfect.

Proverbs 3:21-26 (NLT) My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them, for they will refresh your soul. They are like jewels on a necklace. They keep you safe on your way, and your feet will not stumble. You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly. You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.

God’s Word is a lamp for our feet. (Psalm 119:105) Common sense and discernment must become fast friends and constant companions to make faith logical for our life. God’s Word is the Truth for our life. We must learn to walk in it every single day. This takes our common senses and applies discernment too it from God’s Perspective. His Thoughts are higher than ours and so are His Ways so it is imperative that godly knowledge counteracts stinking thinking. Common sense and discernment is logical faith defined by the Word of God applied as wisdom for our everyday life. We must change the way we think by deciding the Word of God is true and valid for today.

Hebrews 12:12-13 (NLT) So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

I must not evaluate my life or decide my course of action based on how I feel, what I think or the circumstances in the natural. If I do, I will have life based on fate not faith. When I set my heart and mind on achieving God’s Purpose for my life which is always by faith then I will respond to His Word rather than reacting to the daily struggles I face. This will cause me to walk in victory. The man sitting on the ground asking for handouts was limited by his ability to walk. He fell victim to his circumstance and identified with his infirmity. When Peter passed, he begged for money. Peter said (to paraphrase), “No brother I will do you one better than that…” The man was immediately healed and then “walking, leaping and praising God went to the Temple with them. I cannot give others what I have not discovered and obtained for myself. I cannot pawn fake faith that doesn’t believe enough to follow through with each day. I cannot share a truth that is not a reality in my life. So if I want to walk in victory and be boots on the ground for Jesus Christ, it is imperative that I believe. Believe enough to walk with Him and follow Him each day. Where He goes I go. Are you tired of limping through life? Have you fallen on hard times? In the Name of Jesus Christ, it’s time to get up and walk. Get those boots back on the ground. Fight for your faith. You have victory up for grabs.

Proverbs 4:25-27 (NLT) Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

Why does something simple seem so hard? Our faith must be daily fed the Word of God to strengthen it. We must continually strap truth to our feet so it protects us as we tread over lions, serpents and the enemy in life. (Ephesians 6:15) The enemy is acutely aware of our weakness because most days we complain and grumble showing him the insufficiencies of our faith rather celebrating our victory in Jesus with constant praise, endless worship and consistent gratitude for our freedom. We lose simply because we do not believe we win! Not me. Not anymore. I am tired of fighting losing battles especially when I have figured that the Christ in me is enough to always overcome if only I believe. Do you believe? If not, there is no partnership between common sense and discernment. The two will disagree making it even more difficult to find the way. Jesus is the Way. He is our Champion. The Author and Finisher of Faith. If I am willing ahead and stop living looking in the rear view mirror. If I choose to fix my eyes on Jesus who is before me. If I make a conscious and decisive effort to mark the pathway of my life with the Light of His Word. My path will be safe and secure in the Lord. The enemy will remain under my feet where He belongs. I will have victory in all things.

Romans 16:19-20 (NLT) But everyone knows that you are obedient to the Lord. This makes me very happy. I want you to be wise in doing right and to stay innocent of any wrong. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

Still Standing… Still

still-standing-still

I Corinthians 16:113-14 (NLT) Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.

With the New Year, many have great expectation, resolutions and revelations that life will be different in this brand new segment of time. New chapters or even whole new books filled with blank pages. Or for some, chronicles of life marked “to be continued” while waiting on the Lord just as they did in the year before… and the year before that. Looking for the next great “move” of God – to stand seems to be a lack of progress. It is hard to find satisfaction and contentment in the waiting room of God yet it is a place that believers find themselves time and time again.

When the promise comes, it is exhilarating. The view from the mountaintop is always the best. But when the promise is delayed and the valley is shrouded in darkness, it is time to stand. Are you still standing even with the New Year and new season? When the ball dropped and the calendar flipped the page, I found that I was still standing…still. I have no idea what is in the future but I know that I have hope there. Not very exciting but valid. I cannot see what is going on behind me yet I know the enemy is hot on my heels. People are moving all around me in a flurry of activity yet I sense the Lord telling me to stay right here. The watchtower is not a funny or exciting place but is where our blessing and promise meets us.

Habakkuk 2:1-3 (NLT) I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint. Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

This is a word for the “waiters” today. Those who are sitting in the watchtower and standing guard at the post. Wondering if the Lord will ever come. Will He do what He said that He would do? Was it really Him talking? It has been a long time. The pain is real. The impatience building. Did I miss you God? Did I take a wrong step? Or am I still standing… still? It is often hard to realize and remember that the Lord gives us vision for a future time. It describes the end well before the beginning. It will be fulfilled. It usually is the slowest in coming. It will take place. It will not be delayed. You just have to keep standing…keep waiting…keep watching…and keep believing. This is called trust. It is evidence of our faith. When nothing is happening or all hell breaks loose, when peace flows like a river or life rages like a hurricane, to stand still and wait on the Lord is evidence that you are in the right place at the right time.

Luke 6:47-49 (NLT) I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.

My family lived in a single wide mobile home during my early years. A house on wheels worked when you’re a military brat. When I would visit my grandparent’s home, I loved the feeling of hardwood floors beneath my feet. I decided then that when I grew up, I would have a “real” house on a firm foundation rather than a “temporary” home on wheels. I wanted walls you could paint and a floor that did not shake the whole house when someone walked in it. The Lord gave me the desires of my heart.

Our family endured tornados in our trailer. I can only think it might be like sitting in an aluminum barrel while someone beats the sides of it. Yet, moving into a “real” house did not change the fact that storms came and went. It only made me feel more secure if one did. Faith is the structure in our life that offers security. To trust Jesus offers security forever. Yet in the trials of life, it is difficult to see our Protector and Redeemer. When shaken to the core of our faith in testing, if we are still standing it is a blessing. Faith is small. Given the opportunity to “see” the amount of faith in us, it is riveting to see that it is tiny. Christians every day profess to believe and trust the Lord, But if when all of “self” is removed and the façade of service removed, who is willing to admit to be barely standing?

My ability to stand through a test or trial is evidence of the expert builder at work in my life. The greatest challenges in life bring me to the end of myself every time. If you come away with pride intact, you missed it. Brokenness is the pathway to fulfillment. If you move to and fro, freedom will not restrict you but it is in standing and waiting for God to move even when it seems to take forever or destroys everything that is comfortable to us, then God moves us into His Glory. We have been set free by the Son and promised to be free indeed. The Lord will not force you to wait on His Promise – it is your choice. He will not force His Blessings on you – you decide whether or not you want them. God will not make you do anything because free will is yours by design. You will choose the pathway you take and what is to be found at the end of your journey.

Jeremiah 6:16 (NLT) This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’”

I am standing at a crossroad in my life. I am looking around wondering what is next. I know that I am exactly where God told me to be. I am now waiting on Him. Personally, I find that waiting on the Lord though never easy is worth it so much so my endurance level has grown bit by bit over the last fifty years. Yet I am still impatient when I have to wait too long. We put our “hope” in so many temporary things that when it comes to time to stand and wait on the Lord, we are all out of patience. God has promised us rest in Jesus Christ, but we look for it in so many other places. He offers us peace giving us the Mind of Christ, while we trust in everyone and everything wasting expectation. Christ completes us, but instead we chose to live partial lives in the gray area of life.

Look around. Are you standing in the midst of a war zone? Is your life falling apart at the seams? Do you know where you are but do not know where you are going? Let me ask you one more thing. Are you still standing? Good! You choose the way you walk. You also choose to take a stand. They are equally important in following the Lord and having His Way in our life. Sometimes the Holy Spirit inspires us to “do” or “move” or “be” which is what we like most. Faith that jumps over cliffs or moves mountains. Other times God tells us to stand. Keep standing. Wait right where you are. Don’t move an inch. These are sometimes the most difficult moments in our life.

I Corinthians 10:12-13 (NLT) If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

I used to compare my life to people. You know Christians who have been at this a long time and seem to have it altogether. I have known some people I was quite sure had never committed a single sin and were worthy of God’s Grace just because of their goodness. Well, I have been a Christian for a very long time. I have seen the rise and fall of preachers, teachers and evangelists to know that is a lie. Comparison is a joy killer and counterfeit maker. My life is only improved by my acceptance of Jesus Christ and willingness to give my entire heart.

Every desire, want, and need must be included to have enough faith to endure the trials, tests and temptations of life. I am my own worst enemy. People who have perfect lives cannot help me. Those who have not endured offer no example to cultivating more faith in my life. Show me someone who is completely broken yet can still lift their hands in worship. Allow me time with the one who has lost it all but glories in the fact that still have Jesus. I want to know the one who sits in the back always seeking God’s Approval because surely this grace is too good for them so they humbly seek the Lord day after day and moment to moment just to survive. I want to meet overcomers who achieved victory by crawling over the finish line of faith or just barely got their hand over it. The ones who choose to stand when nobody else would – not in front of an audience but all alone at home when no one else is watching. Lord, send those people my way. Let them cross my path especially when I am considering moving from the place you called me to stand.

I Corinthians 15:1-2 (NLT) Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.

It is a tragedy for a person to have blind faith. It is not faith at all. We are given an opportunity to know Jesus Christ. Know Him. Not to grope in darkness but to build a foundation of faith in His Word, Will and Way that can sustain our life. Most often, Christ is accepted but never really known. I can invite Jesus to live in my heart and crowd Him out with the things of this world. To continue to grow deep roots in Jesus Christ is to develop a relationship with the Lord in Spirit and in Truth. We cannot survive as believers without the Bread of Life. Our strength for the coming test or trial is found in the life lived beforehand. An athlete doesn’t just show up to an event without investing a single moment in training beforehand. When it comes time to secure victory, they don’t have what it takes to win. Neither do I if my whole life is given to other things until the storm comes or I am called to endure. My relationship with Christ must be secure beforehand. I must train my mind to believe and my heart to trust Him. I must begin to take into consideration His Word before I am blindsided by the lie of the enemy. I must study and meditate to prepare for the test before the big day arrives.

Romans 9:30-31 (NLT) What does all this mean? Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God’s standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded.

The need to do and move is human nature. It is the inner drive to change our own situation. Faith is the only thing in my life that will give me full satisfaction in Jesus Christ. I can do everything I think is good and right and remain lost. I can portray the image of perfect Christian and become so good at it – I fool myself considering personal pride to be evidence of amazing grace. I will die one day to discover the awful truth of living a lie. The only way to be made right with God the Father is through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is my example. He is my everything. The platform of faith is small. It doesn’t offer much leeway when it comes to my flesh which is purposeful. Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life. I have a future with hope. God offers me success, but first I must learn to stand. When I feel like I am still standing after all this time rather than complaining about the wait time maybe I should praise God that I was able to endure and ask for just a little bit more of His Power to make it through.

Romans 5:1-2 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

For years now, I have studied God’s Word every day. I have sought to know Him more than superficially. In that time, I have faced some pretty tough challenges and powerful storms. My anchor called hope remains secure. My faith has kept me from utter destruction. Yet, now after all the years, I am completely undone. I am at a crossroad myself this year. I am standing. Still standing. I came this far by faith but since I do not have clear direction I must wait on the Lord. I know His Voice. When He speaks, I know it is Him not because I am anything special but because through it all God is constant. He is faithful. I can trust Him. When I came to the end of me, I found that He is more than enough. Some days, I try to go back to find normalcy in life. He loves me too much to let me go back to the way it was before even when I loved Him yet remained naïve. There are days I just want to get this party started. I want to move. Make waves or at least a good splash. I must resist and keep standing. Standing is just as important when following the Lord as running, jumping and walking in His Ways. Our ability to stand exemplifies endurance. Jesus said the one who endures to the end will be saved. When there are no signs or wonders to amaze and mystify us but we choose to believe just the same.

Ephesians 6:13-14 (NKJV) Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore…

Having done all to stand…stand therefore. Are you still standing? The battle has been rough. The enemy relentless. The time long. The heart grows heavy. Yet through it all you are still standing…still? You have not failed or grown faint, friend. You are growing new faith. Real faith. Authentic faith. The kind that will bring blessings and prosperity well beyond those manmade things we want in life. You are growing the Fruit of His Spirit that will sustain you until the end. You are sparking a fire that will become a blazing light for all to see. You are not wasting your time waiting. Your labor is not in vain. Just one more day, one more hour or even a minute – if you could just make it through standing still – God is moving and working on your behalf making good out of every detail of your life. He is perfecting all that concerns you. God is faithful. He is always good. You can count on that. You can stand on it. Faith is the foundation of our life that cannot be taken from us and is strong enough to hold us through every trial and temptation known to man. Will you stand with me? What good is it to don the armor of God and never enter a battle? Fight the good fight of faith even when it is all alone. Truly faith is a personal endeavor and has nothing to do with anyone else. If you don’t have faith in God – you have nothing at all.

Romans 8:29-30 (NLT) For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

If you think about the great examples of faith, God most often calls us to the mountain alone. Moses, Elijah, Daniel, Joseph and the others endured their painful trials and hardships alone. Well not completely alone, God was with them. He proved to be more than enough. I think this may just be why we are called to stand sometimes not because God wants to punish us or isolate us but He is removing all the other distractions so we hear Him, seek Him and desire to know Him more. If all hell breaks loose, we seek Him, It’s just what people do in hard times – praying harder and seeking answers in His Word. What if we lived like that all the time? Yes, there would still be waiting periods to endure and giants to face. God knows us. He knows what it will take to manifest His Glory. In fact, He is working on that right now even if you are doing nothing more than standing, still standing and standing some more. Do not forsake the waiting periods of life. Learn to embrace them. Let God be God. He is always good. His Promises true. He is working on you. Will you wait on Him?

Psalm 121 (NLT) I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.

Good Soldiers

good-soldiers

2 Timothy 2:3-5 (NIV) Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.

What is a good soldier? Paul invites Timothy to join in suffering with me “like a good soldier”. How does that seem fun or rewarding? Aren’t Christians supposed to be lovers not fighters? Well, honestly that is exactly what I believe soldiers do. They love their country and the people in it too much to not preserve it and defend them. It is too easy to enjoy the comforts of home and enjoy the pleasure of freedom and take for granted that it is possible because men and women are fighting our enemies every single day. The difference in a soldier and civilian is found in their heart. The heart of a soldier comes with a sense of purpose to serve and protect from the very beginning. We are to be good soldiers in Christ Jesus. We are to live to please the commanding officer – King Jesus. We must act as though our lives depended upon it – which they do along with every other person who lives in darkness. Will you step up the calling of good soldier today?

Ephesians 6:10-12 (NIV) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

My strength comes from the Lord. To fight the good fight of faith as it is called requires that I depend fully and completely on the Grace of God and not my own ability. Objective one is the hardest because we do not like to trust anyone or anything completely – it is our human nature. Trusting God is not lip service but life service. It is not based on conversation but a conversion of the heart from the things of this world to the supernatural realm of life.

I must be fully equipped in the Armor of God to stand against my enemy. Our enemy is not and will never be other people even those who seem to fully oppose our call to serve Christ. People are not the problem, they are our purpose. We are on a mission of uniting the Body of Christ so it will become His Bride. This is the objective. We do not struggle or battle against people but rather “against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil.” Whoa! Kind of sounds like a superhero move and I get to be the one in the costume and cap! I am in… not so fast there are a few things you should know!

Ephesians 6:13-17 (NIV) Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

I am not naturally equipped for this battle in life. I must turn to the Lord to equip and empower me with the proper armor. Far too many have rushed off into battles they are not called to with faulty armor and have never come back. We must put on the full armor of God which is nothing we can see or feel but simply what we know. The more our faith is empowered with knowledge the more likely we are to stand in the next battle. The platform called faith is small remember it is likened to a mustard seed so if you are looking for comfort – look no more it is not in the place or radical lifestyle. We must be belted with the Truth which is the Word of God. You cannot just carry it but it must carry you. This is not done on a dusty shelf but a well-worn desk where the Bible is constantly studied. It is our strategy and battle plan. Our heart must be cloaked in righteousness. Examining its contents daily to remove any insufficiencies we find with a strong measure of grace as it is provided to us in copious amounts. We must always be on the lookout for anything that separates us from the Lord even in the slightest. Our feed must not be ready to run to war but prepared for. How is that possible? Jesus was a mighty warrior who is our Champion. He did not do it with force but His Great Love. The shield of faith keeps us focused on the future not on the present. When we walk by faith, we walk in victory. Our faith knows that we win. The battle belongs to the Lord so if I can just deflect all doubt and fear – I will be victorious. The Helmet of Salvation reminds me constantly that I am going to make it no matter what. There are days that it is our salvation alone that keeps us fighting when everything goes wrong and it seems like everyone is against us. That’s okay. There are days that soldiers want to leave the battleground and come home, too. Nothing can separate you from the Love of God. Finally, the Spirit or Word of God is our sword. The Word of God nourishes the Holy Spirit in us. As we fill our mind with God’s Word and make our body follow through, it makes our flesh give way to the Spirit. The Spirit fights our battles by simply reminding the enemy of the outcome. He always loses when we stand. What don’t good soldiers fight? Yes, sometimes. Many times the most profound statement is when they stand.

Ephesians 6:18-20 (NIV) And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

A great army is comprised of good soldiers. Each individual must take a personal stand to join in the corporate stand. Not every Christian no matter how religious is prepared for the battle. Not every believer has enough faith to make it through. Sometimes it takes seasoned soldiers to come from behind and rally the troops. The Holy Spirit knows the outcome of your current engagement. He knows when and where victory is secured. Blinded by tears and filled with pain – it is sometimes easy to forget what we are really fighting for. The enemy is ruthless and is always trying to deal a death blow to God’s People. He never relents. But the Love of God for you and me does not relent either. We must pray in the Spirit on all occasions in the battle and out of the battle to be prepared to stand. The truth is that sometimes being a good soldier is a lonely position. We do not always have other people around to encourage us or help us. We must stand alone. Frankly, I feel that this is what our faith works towards all our spiritual life as the Lord prepares us to stand before Him on that final day. He wants us to stand before Him confidently and boldly knowing that He is our Savior and we served Him as Lord. We want to be a good soldier. I must trust the Lord with all my heart. Leaning not on my own understanding but fully committing my faith to my Champion.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (NIV) Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

A good soldier decides in his heart to give his life for his country. We must give our life to the Kingdom. We make the choice if we will stand for God’s Kingdom or live for the world. It is in each moment. Each new day comes with what we need to stand and the opportunity to step back. We decide in our heart to give or not give. God loves a cheerful giver. A good soldier fully covered in the armor of God who decides to stand today is like that cheerful giver. The one who sows generously and reaps the same. Good soldiers are the ones that God is able to bless abundantly. He will bless you and me that in all things, at all times, having all that we need, will abound in every good work. Are you a good soldier? You can be. Put on the armor of God today and take a stand. Drive back the enemy with your faith and draw a line in the sand. Guard your position. If you should happen to fall, don’t worry! The Lord will send new mercy in the morning with a full supply of joy to do it all again!

Psalm 18:30-36 (NIV) As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.

Fight to Win

Fight to Win

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.

Camping is the Life – A Devotion

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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 Tabernaclehave 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 Groveand 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 milebehind 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.