Fighting the Good Fight

War is not something that one would call “good.” Lives are lost, countries are destroyed and there’s nothing good about that. But, the Second World War is often referred to as “the good war.” The words “war” and “good” just seem incongruous, don’t they? But, look at what was accomplished as a result of World War II. By the end of the war, the Allied forces had defeated Hitler and the Third Reich and put an end to the atrocities that regime had inflicted. Hitler’s regime was prevented from dominating Europe. So, despite the fact that many lives were lost, there was “good” in World War II.

As believers, we are in a war and, just like the Second World War, it is a good one. This war that we are fighting is the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12). In this fight, we must remain faithful to God and to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We must hold on to our faith even in the face of opposition. That opposition can be from the world or it can be from the spiritual realm, where our enemy is always seeking to destroy us by destroying our faith (1 Peter 5:8).

To fight the good fight of faith when the opposition comes from the world, we need to flee the things of the world and the things of the flesh. We need to pursue such virtues as righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11). In the face of opposition from the world, these things will help us to keep our eyes and hearts focused on the victory, the prize of eternal life.

To fight the good fight of faith when the opposition is from the spiritual realm, we need to be strong in the Lord and to put on the armor that God has provided. We need to put on the belt of truth, don the breastplate of righteousness, fit our feet with the gospel of peace, and cover our head with the helmet of salvation. We need to take up the shield of faith to protect us from the fiery darts that our enemy throws at us. And, most importantly, we need to take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

When we fight the good fight of faith, using the weapons that God has given us, we can be sure that evil will be overcome and our enemy will be defeated, just as it was in “the good war.”

Trust in God

In just a little over a month, my wife and I adopted two greyhounds, Toby and Flo. As I sat looking at these two beautiful dogs yesterday, the word “trust” came to my mind. Although to them we were perfect strangers, they were willing to get into our car and travel home with us to a place they had never been before. Why? For one thing, greyhounds love people. But I believe it’s more than that. I believe that these two dogs believe that they can trust us.

When dogs trust someone, they are putting their confidence in that person. They are relying and depending on that person to be there for them when they need him or her. They trust that person to feed them, to take care of their needs, to guide them, and to give them love. As I reflected on this, I felt the Holy Spirit telling me that the trust that my dogs are showing me is an example of the kind of trust we should have in God.

God is trustworthy. This is affirmed throughout Scripture, especially when it comes to His promises to His people. God always comes through on His promises. When we, as believers, have faith in God, we are putting our trust in His person and in His character. It’s important for us to place our trust in God and, when we do, it will find expression in a life that is lived according to His purposes.

When we truly trust in God, we are placing that trust in His unfailing love, rejoicing in the salvation He gives us through His Son, Jesus (Psalm 13:5). When we truly trust in God, we are believing that He will provide for our daily needs (Matthew 6:11) and that He will stand by His promises to us (Romans 4:20-21). And, when we truly trust in God, we do so with all our hearts, knowing that He will always guide us on the right path (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Ordinary Things as Worship

It’s very easy to compartmentalize our lives into things that are sacred and things that are secular. We can easily fall into the trap of considering only certain things in our lives, such as going to church, studying the Bible, and prayer, as sacred things, things that give glory to God. We look at the ordinary things in our lives as secular. The ordinary, secular things can be our jobs, the meals we prepare, the things we build and create. We do these things for ourselves so they can’t be sacred, right? Wrong!

John 1:3 tells us that all things were made through Christ, that nothing exists without Him. Colossians 1:16-17 says that all things were made by Him, through Him, and for Him. He holds all things together. And this includes things in heaven and things on earth. It includes things visible and invisible. It includes all things.
Jesus is both the Creator and Lord of all things. When we look at the ordinary things through the lens of Christ, there is nothing in our lives that cannot be offered as worship to Him. We can go through each day of our lives offering to Jesus, as acts of worship, the “ordinary” work that we do, the meals we prepare, the things that we build and create. When we do so, those things give glory to God, and the ordinary becomes sacred. 

God Promises to Be with Us in Trouble

But now thus says the LORD, 
he who created you, O Jacob, 
he who formed you, O Israel: 
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; 
I have called you by name, you are mine. 
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; 
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; 
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, 
and the flame shall not consume you.

These verses from Isaiah 43:1-2 are one of my favorite passages of Scripture. In these two verses, we can find one of God’s greatest promises to His people – He will be with us in everything that we go through in life. What comfort comes from these words! The God who created you, the God who calls you by name because you are His, promises that not only will He be with you in times of trouble, but your trouble will not overwhelm or consume you.

Maybe you are feeling tremendous pressure at work, maybe you or someone close to you is dealing with a debilitating or even life-threatening illness, or maybe you are in the middle of a crisis in your marriage. You may feel like you are in a river or a flood that is threatening to pull you under. Whatever the situation may be, the God who created you will be with you and will not allow the situation to overwhelm you. He will walk through it with you till you reach the other side.
Maybe you are facing criticism or even persecution because of your faith. Family and friends who do not share your faith may have turned against you or even distanced themselves from you. Maybe you are being unfairly treated at work because of your faith. The flames of persecution may take many forms, some subtle and some quite blatant. Whatever form persecution may take in your life, the God who calls you by name, the God who calls you His, will stand with you in the flames and those flames will not consume you.
Jesus said that, as believers, we will face trouble in this world. We are not immune to it just because we have accepted Him as our Savior and are striving to live a life that reflects Him. But, Jesus has overcome the world and so we can go through those troubles enveloped in His peace (John 16:33). Through our troubles, God is with us. He promises to walk through them with us every step of the way.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Prayer Should Not Be a Last Resort

“The only thing that we can do now is to pray.”

Have you ever said that? I know that I have. Usually, that statement is made when we or someone close to us is facing a challenging situation. But, why do we use those words? Isn’t that making prayer kind of a last resort? When we used those words, it’s like we’re saying, “Well, we have tried everything else and nothing has worked. Guess we just have to pray.” The things that we have tried are likely things within our own power and that’s probably why they didn’t work. So, now that we have tried everything else, we go to prayer.

When we leave prayer as the last resort, we are not acting in true faith. When we don’t act in true faith, what does that say? Do we have doubts that our prayers will be answered? Or, are we relying on our own resources or our own abilities, rather than relying on God. A person who doubts is like a wave driven and tossed by the wind. When we doubt rather than have faith, we should not expect to receive anything from the Lord (James 1:6-8). And, when we are relying on our own resources and abilities, we are placing our trust in ourselves rather than in God.

Prayer should be the first thing we turn to in times of need, the first thing we turn to when someone close to us is facing difficulties. God is merciful and faithful. When we do not doubt, choosing instead to believe that seeking Him in prayer is the best way to deal with the situations of life, we will receive an answer to our prayers (Mark 11:23). When we trust in the Lord, seeking His direction rather than leaning on our own limited understanding, He will direct our paths and show us the right way to go (Proverbs 3:5-6).

A Spiritual Heart Transplant

In Cape Town, South Africa, Lewis Warshansky became the first person to receive a human heart transplant. Mr. Warshansky was a South African grocer who was dying from chronic heart disease. His heart was dying and the prognosis was not good if he continued to live with the same heart. A 25-year-old woman named Denise Darvall had been fatally injured in a car crash and it was her healthy heart that would be given to Mr. Warshansky. Surgeon Christiaan Barnard performed the revolutionary procedure and on December 3, 1967, Mr. Warshansky had a new heart.

God’s Word tells us that we must always guard our hearts because it is from our hearts that the springs of life flow (Proverbs 4:23). If we allow things like arrogance, pride, and self-reliance to take root in our lives, our hearts can become hardened. If our hearts are hard, we become unable to respond to God in the way we should. When this happens, we need a heart transplant. We need to allow God to do open heart surgery, to remove our hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). Our new hearts must belong to Him. They must follow after Him and treasure Him (Matthew 6:21).
It is important to keep our hearts healthy. For our physical hearts, that means eating right, feeding our bodies with healthy foods. It means being disciplined to exercise our bodies. It means staying away from doing things that can damage our hearts, like smoking. We need to take care of our spiritual hearts as well. We need to feed our minds and our souls with healthy food – the Word of God. We need to be disciplined in spiritual exercises such as worship, prayer, and Bible study. And, we need to avoid the ways of the flesh, the things that lead us into sin and away from God.
When we make sure that our hearts are healthy, we may never need a spiritual heart transplant. But, if we ever do, we can rest in the assurance that we serve a God who loves us and is always ready to remove our hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh.

I Love to Tell the Story

Henry Plona, my wife’s father, was a great storyteller. Whenever we were together, he never missed an opportunity to tell me a story about his past. Of course, I heard some of his stories more than once. He’d usually start by saying, “Did I ever tell you about the time…?” The likely answer to that question would invariably be, “Yes, you did.” But I never responded in that way. Instead, I would let him tell me the story again. Truth be told, now that Henry is gone, I miss hearing those old stories.

When it comes to telling stories of things that have happened in the past, God’s people should be like my father-in-law, ready to tell the stories to anyone who is willing to listen and as often as necessary. In Psalm 78:4, the psalmist declares that God’s instructions, deeds, power, and wonders should never be hidden from our children, but should be told to all generations. The amazing things that God has done in our lives should be told to our children so that they can tell their children, on and on through generations to come (Joel 1:3).

Perhaps the greatest story that we can tell is the story of the love that God showed for all of us when He gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for our sins. He did this so that, if we believe in Him, we will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). The story of Jesus – His sacrifice for us, His birth, His life, His death on the cross, and His resurrection – is the greatest story ever told. It is a story that we need to tell, not just to our children, but to anyone and everyone who needs to hear it.

One of the verses of the beloved hymn, I Love to Tell the Story, says:

I love to tell the story; ‘tis pleasant to repeat

What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.

I love to tell the story, for some have never heard

The message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.
The story of Jesus, the message of salvation from God’s Word, is a story that we should never tire of telling, a story that we should tell over and over. As the refrain to the hymn says, telling His story, the story of His love, should be our “theme in glory.”

%d bloggers like this: