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Learn to Fight - A Devotion

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I Timothy 6:11-14 (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 confessed so well before many witnesses. And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.

There are some days that I must really look deep inside my heart and mind because I am not sure if I have faith or have gone completely crazy. When my outward reaction to the circumstances in my life are not what the world would have them to be, I am faced with the fact that I am not of this world or out of my mind. Perhaps, I am a little of both. Is this the good fight of faith or have I given up? It’s both of these things combined. When the chaos of our life no longer unsettles us but we have peace – it is highly suspect to those around us and sometimes even myself. Faith is a view from the top. It is overlooking a plan that encompasses our entire life from Creation to Eternity. It is much more complex than the finite human mind and too much for human comprehension, yet as believers we are called to this place. There are the facts of life that are driven in our psyche from an early age and then there are those things that we learn from experience. When Jesus Christ is introduced into our life, all of these mindsets are challenged. Circumstances no longer have to become the consequences produced by nature but are acts of God to lead us to His Promise. We are called to run from evil things, pursue righteousness and live a godly life with faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. But in the next verse, it says that we are to fight the good fight…for true faith. Perhaps, this is the hardest battle of all.

There are rules of engagement that define one’s life according to the one they have chosen. Those who live in this world are subject to what they think is random fate. What a waste of time considering that God’s Plan is firm and established? (Psalm 33:11) He has a plan for each us complete with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) He has written out every moment of our life before we were born. (Psalm 139:16) So what is my role? What am I fighting for? If everything is predetermined and predestined by the Lord, what am I supposed to do? Stop resisting His Plan. Wow, that seems simple. Not so fast. When a soldier enlists, there is a longing in their heart to be all that “they” can be. They have an idea of what military life will be like and how it works in conjunction with “their” future plans. It is in the first few weeks of “boot camp” that they come to the understanding that to be all that they can be means becoming part of something much greater than themselves. They are broken to be rebuilt beginning with their body and mind until their spirit conforms to the plan and purpose of their unit. As they become one, their strength and power is increased as their mindset becomes firm. They know trust and will faithfully fight to the death for their country and fellow man at the sacrifice of themselves. This is what it means to be a good soldier. It is the foundation of obedience that Jesus Christ marveled at when He encountered the centurion who did not need a sign or wonder to believe but all he needed was His Word. Jesus said, “I have not seen faith like this in all of Israel.” I want to be that kind of soldier. I want to be the believer that has the kind of faith that makes the Lord marvel. I want to learn how to fight.
I Corinthians 9:24-27 (NLT)
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 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.

The last three years have been a struggle. When faced with uncertainty of life that leads to death, we are required to look past the light and momentary stressors of each day that we allow to consume us to determine what we really believe. Church no longer is a social obligation but a much necessary training ground. The Word must become our foundation or we will lose the fight for our soul. Faith becomes the stand that we take if we will make it out alive. Trust is testing and tried in each trial but the stakes are much higher. Confident hope must become our anchor to keep us running away in fear. It is one thing to have a disease invade your body that will potentially take your life. But to see it in the life of your child, it is without a doubt the most devastating thing that I have ever been through but in terms of my faith it has resulted in a prize that I cannot live without. We are taught at an early age to go with the flow. Chase the American Dream (life, love and happiness). We are taught to go after what we want. Do not give in to weakness. Never let them see you sweat. It is all about me or what have you done for “me” lately. This is the character of the flesh reinforced by many sinful generations from which we all descend. I have friends that seem to have been saved from birth and incapable of sin. Even they have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard. Sin is just that. It is falling short of God’s Glorious Standard. However, we have looked at this from man’s point of view. Let’s take a few minutes to discover the real prize of righteousness rather than what man has defined it to be. We have a prize. We have the power to win. We do have a purpose. Your struggle is not in vain. The enemy is real even though he remains unseen. Do not be disqualified and risk forfeiture of the prize – it is worth having for those who fight to win!

Deuteronomy 1:26-32 (NLT)
“But you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God and refused to go in. You complained in your tents and said, ‘The LORD must hate us. That’s why he has brought us here from Egypt—to hand us over to the Amorites to be slaughtered. Where can we go? Our brothers have demoralized us with their report. They tell us, “The people of the land are taller and more powerful than we are, and their towns are large, with walls rising high into the sky! We even saw giants there—the descendants of Anak!”’ “But I said to you, ‘Don’t be shocked or afraid of them! The LORD your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt. And you saw how the LORD your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now he has brought you to this place.’ “But even after all he did, you refused to trust the LORD your God, who goes before you looking for the best places to camp, guiding you with a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day.”

Oh how the Children of Israel challenged the Lord’s Patience. Complaining every step of the way to the Promised Land. If Moses didn’t have gray hair when it started, you know the man did shortly after. They would gripe to Moses and he would in turn take it to God. God would tell him to tell them this or that and tell His Servant just what He thought of them. Moses the messenger would take it back to them. I not entirely convinced that it was not the Spirit of Moses that ripped the temple veil when Jesus died rather than the Holy Spirit. (I am completely kidding here no disrespect intended.) I cannot believe how Moses could have felt going back and forth. Every time the Israelites became uncomfortable or impatient that would say that the “Lord hated them” or that He “brought them out of Egypt to die.” Signs and miracles producing victory and deliverance time and time again but they did not trust God or have faith in His Plan but waited for proverbially for the other foot to fall. Now before you grab a “torch and pitchfork” to jump on the bandwagon against them and their disrespectful behavior, we must be honest with ourselves. We do the very same thing. When things are going great, God is good. When all hell breaks loose, there is no God and if there is than He hates us. We are just as bad as they were. Complaining, grumbling and griping to everyone who will listen. Posting venomous statues and tweeting our distaste for all to see never once thinking it reflects against our God but subconsciously hoping that our cries will make Him move. We want immediate gratification and when we don’t get it turn into petulant children. Do not be offended if I am not talking to you – because I KNOW that I am talking to me. OUCH! God told His People then and He is reminding us now – “Don’t be shocked or afraid of them! The LORD your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt. And you saw how the LORD your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now he has brought you to this place.” Did you really think the enemy would give up that easy? The closer we are to the Promise of God for our life, the harder he fights. God goes ahead of us preparing the way of blessing. (Psalm 139:5) He will fight for you…just like He has all the times you won without a fight. He has cared for you meeting every single need out of His “Glorious” Riches. (Philippians 4:19) Even in our wanderings, He loves and protects us in the wilderness of life until we return to Him. He brought you to this place to bless us but we refuse to go in bound by fear. Did you know that it is full on rebellion to not accept His Promises for our life? Do you realize that when you accept less than His Best or choose your own way of doing things that you have rebelled? Compromise is rebellion. Substitutions are sin. God didn’t call you to fight. He asked you to have faith!

2 Chronicles 20:15-17 (NLT)
He said, “Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the LORD’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the LORD is with you!”

In January, the doctors who care for our son determined after months of research and consultation that a bone marrow transplant was the best offensive action to overcome the cancer that continues to attack his body. Everyone was in agreement. The insurance company rejected the claim not once but six times. The hospital would not move forward as this procedure could cost up to a half a million dollars. I began to start contacting every person you could think of even on the governmental level reaching out for help wherever I could think of. When I sent out the final reviews, I had this peace inside me even when the last rejection arrived after three months of deliberation. Now if it was any other matter, I am not sure that it would be as challenging but when it is the consensus that our son’s quality and quantity of life may be determined by it you can imagine the anticipation. During that time, I was okay even when they finally came back with a rejection. We petitioned the hospital again. Yes and then another no. Finally, I was exhausted. I was tired of being told “no”. I was sick and tired of worrying. I was just at a total loss. I had lost my fight. Not outwardly so much as inwardly. I felt like I had been swinging and missing so long that I could not lift my arms again. When John the Baptist was imprisoned, he sent his disciples to ask just one more time if Jesus was truly the Messiah. He was there when God opened the clouds and told the onlookers that this was His Son. He knew in his heart from birth. However, in this moment of desperation – He just had to ask one more time. I asked, too. God if you are who you say that you are and love me like you say that you do – why all this? I need to see you. I need to feel you. I just need to know that you have not given up the fight so I can stand strong. What I have come to realize just weeks after that moment is that is when I came to the end of me. Impressive and embarrassing to think that I could hang on to my will and way that long. We can say that we have faith but until we are willing to do anything to see the Glory of God manifested – we have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard. Read 2 Chronicles 20:15-26. Human nature is to fight our own battles but that is not God’s Way of doing things. The Spirit tells us to wait and watch the Lord do it. Faith is required to hold that position until He comes. It is rebellion to do anything else. Those who learn to fight the good fight of faith and hold their position will live in a Valley of Blessing were it all just runs down like rain filling your life to the top with love, joy and peace along with the Riches that He promises to those who are positioned to receive His Glorious Standard of Life.

Galatians 5:16-18 (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. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

It would be nice if righteousness allowed us to step out of our flesh but this is not the way that it happens. The Grace of God given to us by Jesus Christ allows us to experience God’s Glorious Standard of Life despite the fact we continue to sin. Do not think that this is an excuse for all those who trample the Grace of God for their own purpose for they are lying to themselves. The Grace of God allows us to get to know God. It is the opportunity to love and trust Him to have faith in His Way and try it out. God’s Goodness is in our life before we are saved but sin does not allow us to engage in a relationship with God and express our love back to Him in obedience and worship because sin will not allow us to access Him without the penalty of death. Salvation and the Blood of Jesus Christ is the only way to experience Gods’ Standard of Life once more and it is glorious. Faith is how we live such a life. The fight is not for what God has for us but the inner struggle to remain true to His Promises until they come. We can do nothing for the Lord and we do not win His Battles or fight His Wars. Jesus came and did that when He overcame the world ending our struggle with sin so we can have all that God promised. (John 16:33) Now we can have life abundantly. We must get moving. (Exodus 14:10-14)God has a plan and everyone is involved. It is all about His Glory so stop wasting your time looking around. (Exodus 14:15-18) The enemy wants you to think people are keeping you from what the Lord has for you. (Ephesians 6:11-13) You are supposed to love everyone including your enemies based on the fact that you are confident that there is enough hope for everyone and His Inheritance is for all His Children alike. Stop fighting people and learn to walk in love. Do not give in but stay strong. Seek the aid of other believes who walk by faith and not by sight. Develop relationships with others especially those who hold you accountable in your walk with Christ. (Exodus 17:8-13) When the battle is the toughest – they will be your “Aaron and Hur”. Finally, it is time to be fearless. God goes with you! He will fight for you! He will give you victory! (Deuteronomy 20:1-4) It is one thing to say it, but another to believe it. I thought I had faith in God until every single crutch I was leaning on was taken away. Now the Lord invites me to stand up and walk because my faith is making me whole and ready to receive the Glorious Standard of Living that fear tried to take away. I will wait on the Lord. He goes with me. He fights for me. He will give me victory! This is how to win the fight of faith. I gave up trying to win! In total weakness, surrender, and faithfully trusting the Lord, this is how we fight!

Philippians 1:27-30 (NLT)
Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.

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