The Fight Within

 

devil angelI remember the cartoons when I was a kid that depicted the devil with a red body and a pitch-forked tail sitting on one shoulder whispering in my ear. He’s coaching me to do bad stuff. Then, on the other shoulder is an angel trying to coach me to do the right thing. I remember thinking this was “cute” when I was young. As I aged and grew in wisdom, I can see some truth in that. The enemy has never relaxed at pushing me. He is constantly pulling and trying to coach me into areas of weakness of my flesh. As I read God’s Word and lean into Him for wisdom and strength to live out my faith, the fight within keeps going. In Romans 7, Paul, the Apostle addressed this very battle and in fact, he verifies the inward fight. Check this out…

18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. 19 For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one that does it, but it is the sin that lives in me. (Romans 7:18-20 CSB)

There is always a fight with my flesh brewing somewhere in my life. My fight can be traced back to pride. I must constantly beat down pride so that The Lord can do some good work inside my soul. Pride is like the fuel that fuels my fleshly desires of lust, greed and notoriety. When the Spirit can win the battle for my heart, I become humble, grateful and generous. I have been approaching the Word of God differently because I believe The Word is a huge help in putting pride in its place and allowing the Spirit of God to shine through me. I want the Spirit of God to direct my flesh in proper choices and ideas. I want the Spirit of God to win today’s battles. I’ve read the end of the book and I know Who wins in the end. I want to finish my life strong with the Spirit of God clearly keeping my flesh in check.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Outcome

 

tug of warI am a bit different than those who live around me when it comes to sports. I live in the deep south where college football is the main topic of conversation pretty much year ‘round. I grew up in Kentucky and basketball was king. I grew up bleeding blue – Kentucky Wildcat blue. We talked basketball all year long. I’ve not lived in Kentucky for 37 years, but I still love college basketball – specifically UK Basketball. I used to go so upset if the Wildcats were losing, I could hardly enjoy the game. I ONLY enjoyed the game if they were winning!  If I know the outcome of the game prior to watching it, there is not nearly as much anxiety or thrill.

The Psalms of David often give perspective on God and His Power. He reminds us that while it may seem like the wicked win – the Lord will prevail in the end. Check this out…

16 The Lord is King for ever and ever;

    the nations will perish from his land.

17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;

    you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,

18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,

    so that mere earthly mortals

    will never again strike terror. (Psalm 10:16-18 NIV)

One of the reasons I follow the Lord is because of things that He’s already done in my life over the years. It validates His Word over and over because of His Presence and His Power shown in my life – even in some very dark times. He has never left me or forsaken me, even though I’ve not won all the battles that I’ve faced. I still have my eyes on winning the war. That is the outcome I’m most concerned about.

I’ve seen people who are suffering at the hands of others, but they know that this life is not all there is. They living for a life that we can’t yet see, but we’re promised eternal life in His Word. When I go through trials and struggles and I can’t see how this can turn out good, I must surrender all I have and all I am to the Lord so He can help me make sense of this and make it through the struggle.  The Lord knows the outcome of what I’m going through now and what I’ll go through in the future – He will lead me no matter what.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Defeat

 

There are times when everything lines up against me and I know I can’t win no matter what I say or what I do. I do feel as I have to concede defeat in situations like that. I’m not saying I’m a wimp or a push over, but I think I’m bright enough to know when I can’t win. In those moments I have to do the best with what I have.

Job was in a conversation with God. He has just survived the most incredible test that anyone could hardly even imagine. God is responding to some of Job’s outcry to Him during the suffering. The Lord starts describing this incredibly powerful creature that sounds to me like a dinosaur. Check this out…

31 It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron

    and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.

32 It leaves a glistening wake behind it;

    one would think the deep had white hair.

33 Nothing on earth is its equal—

    a creature without fear.

34 It looks down on all that are haughty;

    it is king over all that are proud.” (Job 41:31-34 NIV)

As I was reading this chapter and the Lord is describing this incredible creature, I’m thinking about the guy who brought a knife to a gunfight. I can’t think of any weapon at Job’s disposal that would put up a fight against this creature. I think if we had dinosaurs, it would take a bazooka or some sort of missile to take them down. I always think of a scene in the first Indiana Jones movie where this dude comes up to Indy with a couple of swords and he’s swinging them back and forth ready to attack and Indy has just escaped some other pursuers. After this guy puts on a show with his shiny swords, Indy pulls out a pistol and drops him. It epitomized “bringing the knife (aka swords) to a gun fight.

I’m thankful to know the One Who created the dinosaur. I’m thankful that we don’t see them around anymore. I’m also learning to lean into the Lord and let Him give me counsel when facing giant odds and not knowing my next move. I want to pick my battles carefully and realize that He ultimately determines my victory in battle. If I go down in defeat, I realize that I may have lost this battle, but I know Who wins the war.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Battle Strategy

 

battleI think it would be cool to have sat in on some of the strategies featuring General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. He was the Commander in Chief of The United States Central Command and the leader of all the coalition forces in the Persian Gulf War. I remember watching some of the news briefings when he would report to the American public what was going on in the war effort. He was very pointed in his descriptions of what took place and it was sometimes a bit comical. I found this famous briefing from General Schwarzkoph about the strategies used in Persian Gulf War.

King David was provoked into battle by the neighboring Ammonites and he anwered the call. The Ammonites recruited or hired the Aremeans to help them fight against Israel. David’s commanders were faced with an interesting situation. Check this out…

10 Joab saw that there were battle lines in front of him and behind him; so he selected some of the best troops in Israel and deployed them against the Arameans. 11 He put the rest of the men under the command of Abishai his brother, and they were deployed against the Ammonites. 12 Joab said, “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you are to rescue me; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will rescue you. 13 Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight.”

14 Then Joab and the troops with him advanced to fight the Arameans, and they fled before him. 15 When the Ammonites realized that the Arameans were fleeing, they too fled before his brother Abishai and went inside the city. So Joab went back to Jerusalem. (1 Chronicles 19:10-15 NIV)

I picture the fighters from Israel as quick and scrappy. However they did it, the evidently intimidated the Arameans and they fled which in turn lead the Ammonites to flee as well. Just like that, the battle was over.

I think sometimes when I face battles on several fronts, I’m not sure where to start first. The answer might just possibly be to find a way to fight both fronts at the same time. It seems like the Israelites where cornered and came out fighting fiercely.

I know that when I’m faced with seemingly impossible odds, I’m learning to trust the Lord for strength, knowledge and wisdom. I’m also looking to Him for help to win. The battles I face aren’t really mine since I’ve turned it all over to him anyway. I’ve even lost some battles, but I want to always keep my eyes on the war (aka the big picture or in spiritual terms- eternal life). I want the Lord by my side as I walk through the darkest of valleys or skip while on the mountaintop. My battle strategy is to trust Him as the Commander In Chief of my life!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Big Battles

battleOne thing I’ve learned, as I’ve grown older and hopefully wiser, is which battles to fight and which ones to work around. They are definitely some things I should fight for because of the issue or the principle involved. At other times, the battle really isn’t worth it because it’s just my opinion versus someone else’s opinion. I really do think I’m right whenever I head into a battle and there are times I’m on the losing side of a battle.

When God’s people, the Israelites were getting ready to take the Promised Land, there were three tribes who like the land east of the Jordan so they made a commitment to take that land and settle there. They also promised to go with the rest of the tribes/families to help them take the land. They learned some important lessons about the battle. Check this out…

18 The Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh had 44,760 men ready for military service—able-bodied men who could handle shield and sword, who could use a bow, and who were trained for battle. 19 They waged war against the Hagrites, Jetur, Naphish and Nodab. 20 They were helped in fighting them, and God delivered the Hagrites and all their allies into their hands, because they cried out to him during the battle. He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him. 21 They seized the livestock of the Hagrites—fifty thousand camels, two hundred fifty thousand sheep and two thousand donkeys. They also took one hundred thousand people captive, 22 and many others fell slain, because the battle was God’s. And they occupied the land until the exile. (1 Chronicles 5:18-22 NIV)

That one phrase jumped into my lap this morning… “because the battle was God’s”. I needed to be reminded that the battles I face really aren’t mine. If I’m walking within His Will and His Way for my life, then He takes care of fighting the battles on my behalf. I only have to go to Him and lay all my “crap” before Him. He has strong shoulders. He’s incredibly patient with me. He has UNLIMITED RESOURCES to fight any battle with.

I love this song by Chris Tomlin, “Whom Shall I Fear”

You hear me when I call

You are my morning song

Though darkness fills the night

It cannot hide the light

Whom shall I fear

 

You crush the enemy

Underneath my feet

You are my sword and shield

Though troubles linger still

 

Whom shall I fear

 

I know who goes before me

I know who stands behind

The God of angel armies

Is always by my side

 

The one who reigns forever

He is a friend of mine

The God of angel armies

Is always by my side

 

My strength is in Your name

For You alone can save

You will deliver me

Yours is the victory

Whom shall I fear

Whom shall I fear

 

I know who goes before me

I know who stands behind

The God of angel armies

Is always by my side

 

The one who reigns forever

He is a friend of mine

The God of angel armies

Is always by my side

 

And nothing formed against me shall stand

You hold the whole world in Your hands

I’m holding on to Your promises

You are faithful

You are faithful

 

Pressing ON!

Dwayne

Battle

 

Negatives Positives Computer Keys Showing Plus And Minus Alternatives Analysis And DecisionsI am not experienced in military tactics or training. I am a huge fan and supporter of our military. I’m thankful each day for the freedom that has been fought for over the years and is continually being defended. The men and women in our military have made great sacrifices on behalf of our nation and this idea of freedom and democracy.

King David was defending himself and his nation against a coup from his son Absalom. Absalom basically chased David from the capitol city of Jerusalem. David still had quite a force of men fighting on his behalf. He gathered all his men and sent them out in 3 divisions and he gave specific instructions to be “gentle with the young man Absalom…” David’s men fought valiantly and routed Absalom’s men and they began fleeing to their homes, Absalom was fleeing on his donkey and his hair was long and thick and was caught in the branches of a tree. He was hanging there and was found by one of David’s men. He had heard the words of King David about being gentle with Absalom. Check this out…

14 Joab said, ‘I am not going to wait like this for you.’ So he took three javelins in his hand and plunged them into Absalom’s heart while Absalom was still alive in the oak tree. 15 And ten of Joab’s armour-bearers surrounded Absalom, struck him and killed him.

16 Then Joab sounded the trumpet, and the troops stopped pursuing Israel, for Joab halted them. 17 They took Absalom, threw him into a big pit in the forest and piled up a large heap of rocks over him. Meanwhile, all the Israelites fled to their homes. (2 Samuel 18:14-17 NIV)

The physical battle was over for David and his men, but the battles faced here were also spiritual. I believe that every day, there are spiritual battles that I face. I can appear to be good and doing well on the outside, but inside there is this constant battle for control of my heart. I must put in place some defensive strategies and make offensive plans to win each battle. Each battle I face with the enemy is part of the big picture of war.

I am in constant pursuit of God’s heart with my heart. I can certainly feel the enemy seeking to kill and destroy my faith and trust in the Lord. As I read the Word, I’m reminded that the enemy has no hope and no future. I would be wise to treat any counsel he offers as futile, empty and worthless. The Word of God speaks volumes of wisdom and truth into my heart and prepares me to win each battle for my heart. Today will be another day of spiritual battle even though physically everything appears fine. The Lord is with me and He never backs down from this fight.

Pressing On!

Dwayne