Category Archives: The Fight of Faith

21 Day Experiment-Day 18

Jesus talks a lot about His heavenly kingdom. This kingdom dwells within us, He tells us. I’ve heard the caution that we shouldn’t be “so heavenly minded that we’re no earthly good.” Yet Jesus tells us to set our mind on things above. To be absorbed with His kingdom.

Our challenge is to dwell in Jesus’ kingdom, while also living as temporary citizens of earth. God must have thought we could inhabit both kingdoms, or He would have simply taken us to heaven the minute we accepted Jesus.

Welcome to day 18 of our 21-Day Experiment. We’re near the finish line—so hold on tight!

Biblically, the word kingdom describes the royal dominion and eternal sovereignty of God.  Jesus knew this, and when interrogated by Pilate, He said simply, My kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36).

Think about it: We live on earth and in heaven. Sometimes the two clash. So how do we respond?  I’m sure the disciples wrestled with this “dual citizenship.”

Let’s look at what Jesus taught them:

It all begins with prayer.  His disciples had watched Him wage kingdom battles. He healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons.  The forces of darkness had to bow before this Savior. Yet the only thing the disciples ever specifically asked Jesus to teach them was how to pray (Luke 11:1).

Jesus gave them a short tutorial—what we call the “Lord’s Prayer.” He teaches them to pray from a kingdom vantage point: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” 

We’re to pray for God’s kingdom to be brought to earth. In heaven, God’s will is done perfectly. So when we pray for His kingdom, we are praying for His will.

In the original Greek, this verse is in the imperative tense—more of a command than a request.  It’s as if we are to pray, Kingdom come!  Will be done on earth!”  I sometimes think Jesus wants us to stamp our feet, shake our fist, and shout a bit as we speak God’s Word into a fallen world that is still crawling with enemies.

Spiritual victories don’t come without a fight. Without God’s Word as our authority.  But the Bible calls it a “good fight” (1 Timothy 1:18).  Jesus wants us to have a heavenly perspective to our prayers, but a watchful eye toward earth for our results.

Prayer: Lord, I declare that Your kingdom will come and Your will is to be done. In heaven, on earth and in my own life.  Help me to be “kingdom-minded” as I go about my day. And give me open eyes to see Your results here on earth!


21 Day Experiment-Day 14

“No way! My older son used to exclaim to his younger brother when something amazing or unexpected had just happened. To which his little brother would answer back,” Way!”

Way can describe a course of action. Or directions to a destination: “What’s the quickest way to go to the beach?” A method of doing something: “What’s the best way to prepare a healthy meal?”  Or execute a good golf swing?

The word way in the Bible comes from hodos, translated “road.” It can describe our course of life, conduct, or behavior. The “way of the Lord” is the revealed will of God. That’s why the early church was called “The Way,” well before believers were referred to as “Christians.”

But the word way brings up an important question:  “Is Jesus the only way to God?”  Some people believe that Jesus is simply one of many ways.  Sounds appealing at first—easier to swallow. Until you think about the reality that without Jesus, there is no firm assurance of the forgiveness of sins. No promise of eternity in Heaven.

There are really only two world’s religions, as my husband David often says:

  1. You’re saved by perfectly obeying a standard of rules or laws, thus trying to work your way to God. Impossible for imperfect humans.
  2. Or you are saved by grace. You accept Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as full payment for all your sins and follow Him as the only way to God.

My watchword for today from John Chapter 14 is short and simple:   

I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).

People the world over would agree that Jesus was a “good man, wonderful teacher, a true humanitarian.” But not the only way to God.

Yet Jesus, Himself, claimed to be the long-awaited Messiah and the only way to the Father. Such a claim—if not true—makes Him an out-and-out liar. The very same man people esteem as a great moral teacher would be the greatest of imposters.  Or as C.S. Lewis so eloquently put it, Jesus is “a liar, a legend, a lunatic, or the truth.” I would also add, He is the “Way.”

Prayer: Lord, I pray for Your Holy Spirit to open the door to a conversation with my friend ___________ who has been seeking You—but just doesn’t know it yet.


21 Day Experiment-Day 11

Believe. To believe means to accept something as true.  What you believe impacts your thoughts, feelings, actions—and ultimately, the course of your life.  “What do you believe?” just might be the most important question you’ll ever answer.

In John 11, the word believe” is used eight times.  Here we find two of Jesus’ dearest friends, Mary and Martha, grief-stricken over the death of their beloved brother Lazarus.

Can you imagine their hurt and confusion?  They knew Jesus could have saved Lazarus if He’d just gotten there sooner. They’d had seen Him heal many times. The disciples were also perplexed—especially when Jesus told them, “Lazarus is dead and I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe” (John 11:14).

When Jesus finally arrives—four days late—Martha cries out, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died!” Jesus reminds her that her brother will rise again. “I know he will rise again at the resurrection,” replies Martha. I can just imagine her blurting out, “But what about now…I am hurting now!”

“I am the resurrection,” Jesus says. “The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” He asks her.  “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (John 11:25-27).

Wow. Martha presses through her grief and testifies that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah! Jesus knew the big picture—the ultimate story of redemption. But He was also moved by their present grief. The text tell us He was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”  The word translated as “troubled” is tarasso. It implies great agony of soul and is the same word used to describe Jesus as he contemplated the cross (John 12:27).

Jesus agonizes over the death of his friend and weeps intensely. “I know that you always hear me,” He prays to the Father, “but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

Then in a loud voice that must have shaken all of creation He shouts, “Lazarus, come forth!”  And out walks the man who came back to life. No wonder many onlookers put their faith in Jesus.

Maybe you’re facing a huge disappointment. You know Jesus could fix it, so why hasn’t He shown up yet?  Maybe your faith has been shaken to its core.

I’m reminded of what Jesus said when He learned of Lazarus’ sickness. It’s my watchword:

This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory, so that God’s Son may be glorified through it (John 11:4).

Jesus knew the end of the story. He knows the end of yours.  Would you entrust that heartbreaking situation to Him, believing that your pain may be the raw material for a miracle? Dare to pray that those who see His work in your life may truly believe He is the Son of God.

 


Woman of Valor: She Fights for Her Dream

A woman of valor who can find? For her price is far above rubies (Proverbs 31:10 JPS Tanakh).

 A woman of valor is a warrior at heart. She fights for her faith, her family and her community. But sometimes, her toughest battles are for her God-given dreams. I wonder if some wars are harder than others because the enemy knows the stakes are so high?

I think back to our long years of infertility and my fierce fight to have a baby.  I couldn’t have known it at the time, but I was waging a battle not just for our firstborn daughter, but also for our next baby, a son.  Then another son.  And now, four grandchildren and counting.

Our daughter recently said something to me which made me pause: “Mama, you didn’t know when you were going through all those years of infertility that you were also fighting for all these little people to be born,” pointing to our grandchildren.

Perhaps my fight was so fierce because the enemy wanted what I had—the promise of children and grandchildren who would glorify God.  And ultimately, generations beyond those.

But I had something else the enemy wanted. And so do you. He wanted to steal my testimony. He wanted to make it impossible for me to tell the miraculous story of God’s healing that enabled me to have those babies. He wanted to rob me of the chance to encourage others who are waiting for answers to their own prayers.

Quite simply, the devil wants to steal the story God is weaving through your dream.  Or through this trial you’re enduring so bravely.  He wants to steal your testimony.  In the end, he wants to steal God’s glory.

Dear friend, don’t give up. God is faithful. One day you will have a story to tell. A story that will cause others yearn to know this wonderful God Who is the Giver of Dreams.

Adapted from: Marilynn Chadwick, Woman of Valor: Discovering the Courage and Strength God Gave You (Eugene: Harvest House, 2017).


Mighty Man of Valor

Valor comes in all kinds of packages. Perhaps you or someone you love is in the military—bravely guarding our freedom. Or maybe you’re a first responder. Or a caregiver holding the hands of the dying. You might be quietly and faithfully caring for your children—raising up the next generation. Or nursing your spouse through a long illness. People show courage in different ways.

Perhaps you don’t feel strong enough or brave enough to do what’s required of you. If so, you’re in good company. Some of God’s most courageous men and women started their journey in weakness. But God’s power transformed them into mighty men and women of valor.

Take Gideon. He was the youngest son in a family and tribe that were the weakest in Israel. The people had fallen into great evil, so the Lord handed them over to the Midianites for seven years. “But Israel grew weak and cried out to the Lord” (Judges 6:11 CEB).

So the Lord sent His angel to Gideon with a message: “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor” (Judges 6:12). To which Gideon said something like, “Who me? I’m just a frightened nobody.” “Mighty man of valor” was a term that described warriors. Heroes. Champions.  Not a scared young man from the weakest tribe in a beaten down nation. The word translated “valor” is chayil, the very same word that describes the “woman of valor” in Proverbs 31.

God must have seen something special in Gideon and said to him: “You have strength, so go and rescue Israel from the power of Midian. Am I not personally sending you?” The Lord promised, “Because I’m with you, you’ll defeat the Midianites as if they were just one person” (Judges 6:14-16 CEB).  And that’s just what happened. It took some persuading, but Gideon took courageous action to save his nation. He became a new man in the process. A man sold out to God. A mighty man of valor.

Friend, God sees within you the strength and courage He put there—even if you’re anxious and full of fear. Even if your family is a mess. He loves us when we’re weak; but He delights in making us strong. Men and women of valor.

We may feel exhausted, rejected, ignored, or afraid.  If so, His words to us are His words to Gideon: “Because I am with you, you will defeat your enemies. Enemies like job loss, depression, anxiety, marriage problems, a rebellious child, the inability to have a child, or loneliness. Maybe you struggle with fear like Gideon did.

God is whispering to you right at this moment: “The Lord is with you mighty warrior, man or woman of valor. And because I am with you, you will have strength to prevail!”