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

Silence

 

Woman talking through a megaphone and a man plugging his earsThere are times that I love the peace and serenity I feel in silence. Recently my family celebrated my Dad’s 80th birthday. It was a lot of fun with a lot of my family gathered as well as friends and neighbors. I must say that silence was not really part of the celebrating, but afterward I was looking forward to silence. I’ve been both the giver and receiver of the “silent treatment” when someone is angry or frustrated with me. There are times when silence is a blessing and at other times it’s very painful and hard.

The Lord had gone silent on Saul for his disobedience when the Lord told him to carry out His furious judgment on the Amalakites. Saul is on his own and the silence of the Lord is deafening. Check this out….

4 The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunem, while Saul gathered all Israel and set up camp at Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. 6 He enquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. (1 Samuel 28:4-6 NIV)

Samuel was gripped by fear and this was magnified when he realized that the Lord had turned away from Him. He actually sought out a witch or medium. This is extremely dangerous territory where the Lord is involved. He wanted to hear from the prophet Samuel who was dead. It is the beginning of the end of Saul’s leadership and I think he knows it.

I don’t want to experience the silence of the Lord. I want my hearing from the Lord to improve as my body ages and my physical hearing slips a bit. I would rather hear from the Lord than anyone else. I’m so thankful that the Lord speaks to me through His Word and through my daily journey of prayer. He gives wisdom and understanding that blows my mind. He prompts and He directs. He speaks and He whispers. He stirs my heart to hear Him more clearly. I’m grateful to be called His kid. I’m grateful that He listens to my heart. I’m grateful that He speaks to me. When I sit before Him in silence, I’m so grateful that He isn’t silent.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Super Strength

 

Smiling sport child boy showing hand biceps muscles strengthI remember reading the stories of Samson as a young kid and fantasizing about how cool it would be to be as strong as he was. I’ve never really considered myself a wimp, but compared to him – I am certainly a wimp. He strikes me as a bit uncontrolled with his God-given strength. His first experience with his power came on quickly. Check this out…

5 Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring towards him. 6 The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done. (Judges 14:5-6 NIV)

I’m not sure how this went down, but I have a feeling that Samson was stunned by what he was capable of. The scripture never tells us that he’s a giant, only that he’s extremely strong.

I used to lift weights and work out 5 days a week – I drifted away from that routine. I enjoyed the feeling after the workout more than the work out. I understand that in order for my muscles to grow they have to be broken down a bit by pushing them very hard. As I work out my muscles and push through the pain of that – I get stronger. Although my body has aged a bit since my “work out” days – I see great value in daily exercise. I wish I would work more at “push-backs”. I didn’t say “push-ups”….I need to improve a pushing back my plate and not eat so much.

As I finished up processing this story of Samson, the physical strength He possessed was super natural. I don’t have that and unless God does something super natural, I won’t ever have that kind of strength. I do believe that the Lord has given me inner strength that is super natural. I can’t explain walking through the struggles and the sufferings of my life any other way – He gave me the strength. When life is hard, that is when God really shows up and shows out. I’m a bit more relaxed these days because I know that He is in control and will walk with me through the darkest valley or highest mountain.   I don’t want to take His Presence for granted. I don’t want to ignore His Prompting of my heart. The Spirit of God is on me and my perspective of my life is really different in a good way.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Here’s My Heart

 

Girl holding a heart-shaped boxI believe that love is an activity of both the brain and the heart. I believe that the two go hand in hand when surrendering to love. The love that the Lord has for is profound and powerful. It is hard to understand and process. His love is deep and wide. His love is strong and long. His love is relentless. He wants us to love like that. While I believe that love is a function or activity of brain and heart, I believe it begins with a decision. I use my head to guard my heart in love. The Lord appeals to my head and my heart.

Joel was telling Israel about destruction that was coming, but help was on the way too. He challenges the people to surrender to the Lord knowing that they are powerless to change the current circumstances. Check this out….

12 ‘Even now,’ declares the Lord,

    ‘return to me with all your heart,

    with fasting and weeping and mourning.’

13 Rend your heart

    and not your garments.

Return to the Lord your God,

    for he is gracious and compassionate,

slow to anger and abounding in love,

    and he relents from sending calamity. (Joel 2:12-13 NIV)

My heart is what the Lord wants surrendered. The enemy wants the same thing. It seems that the enemy appeals to making the outside beautiful while the inside is diseased and destroyed. The Lord’s Presence in me changes everything I touch, see and know. He wants to be invited into every area of my life. He does not invade my life; He waits for an invitation. Check this out…

28 ‘And afterwards,

    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy,

    your old men will dream dreams,

    your young men will see visions.

29 Even on my servants, both men and women,

    I will pour out my Spirit in those days. (Joel 2:28-29 NIV)

When the Lord is given first place in my heart, I see everything from a different perspective – His perspective. He wants me to love like He loves. He wants me to live like I was designed to live. He wants me to give like He gives. He wants all of me to be filled with Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

P.S. Here’s My Heart by Crowder

Place of Peace

iwo jima memorialThere are places that I can go that are very peaceful and serene settings. There are other places that I can that are extremely noisy and distracting. I’m learning that with the Presence of God in my heart, I can have peace and even serenity in the midst of the noisy situations. The Presence of God in me makes everything about me different. The Presence of God in me might not change my situation, but it definitely changes my response to every situation. Check this out…

5 The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high;
    he will fill Zion with his justice and righteousness.
He will be the sure foundation for your times,
    a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
    the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.
20 Look on Zion, the city of our festivals;
    your eyes will see Jerusalem,
    a peaceful abode, a tent that will not be moved;
its stakes will never be pulled up,
    nor any of its ropes broken.
21 There the Lord will be our Mighty One.
    It will be like a place of broad rivers and streams.
No galley with oars will ride them,
    no mighty ship will sail them.
22 For the Lord is our judge,
    the Lord is our lawgiver,
the Lord is our king;
    it is he who will save us. (Isaiah 33:5-6;20-22 NIV)

 

I had the opportunity recently to go to the World War II museum in New Orleans, LA. I watched a short film/documentary of what happened leading up to the war as well as the bravery and tenacity of the American spirit in the midst of great turmoil. My heart was moved by the willing sacrifice of so many to fight for the life of our country and the freedoms that we hold dear. War is the opposite of peace. There are times when the unfettered aggression of another brings conflict. When the conflict subsides then peace can move in and find a home.

There are occasional times of war inside my heart. The Spirit of God is fighting against my flesh that wants what it wants when it wants. My flesh can be wild and out of control – the Holy Spirit can help bring my flesh under control. When my flesh is under the control of the Holy Spirit then the peace of God can rule and reign in my heart.

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Produce

Bag full of healthy fruits and vegetablesThis is one of those words in the English language that has double meaning but is similar. When I hear the word produce in certain situations, I think of lettuce, peppers, beans, squash…. fresh fruits and vegetables sold at the local market or grocery store.  I believe that this might be a “southern thang/slang”. I also hear the word produce and it means activity to create desirable results. When I hear the words produce or productivity as a REALTOR, I know that it means to sell homes or help buyers buy homes.  If I am going to make a living at it, I must produce results pretty often.

As a follower of Jesus, my life is supposed to produce service to the King of Kings. John the Baptist called everyone out on simply wearing a name that says you follow God. He makes it clear that your life should produce fruit that comes from repentance. Check this out….

Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Luke 3:8-9 NIV)

 I’m not necessarily trying to simple check off a “punch list” of good deeds, but I’m really to live a life of service to God by serving others.  If I’m to be productive in God’s world, it’s not as much about “doing” as it is about “being”.  My good deeds come out of my walk with the Lord. I’m not doing good because I wear His name. I want to do God because He’s changed my heart and my perspective on life.  I want my life to produce fruit that shows the Spirit of God inside of me. I want to be a tree that produces fruit for the Kingdom of God!

Pressing On!
Dwayne