God’s Rest and Work (Part IV)

Moses told the people of God that the Lord had rest for them in the Promised Land but that they had to fight their enemies before they could enjoy the rest He promised them. Similarly, we have spiritual enemies that we need to fight against before we can truly experience the rest God has for us.

These are the statutes and judgments which you shall be careful to observe in the land which the Lord God of your fathers is giving you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth.  You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree.  And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place.  You shall not worship the Lord your God with such things. Deuteronomy 12:1-4

“You shall not at all do as we are doing here today—every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes— for as yet you have not come to the rest and the inheritance which the Lord your God is giving you. But when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety…Deuteronomy 12:8-10

The Israelites had been through a long journey in the wilderness due to unbelief and disobedience. God had brought them out of Egypt to bring them into the rest He had for them in the Promised Land. However, they had work to do before they could enjoy this rest. They had to fight their enemies and dispose of false gods that their enemies worshipped.

Many of us come to salvation but still carry old mindsets, bad habits, and false identities that we need to deal with. Those old mindsets don’t automatically go away after salvation, but they require our effort to dispossess them and break down the strongholds that we have erected.

For example, some have learned to protect themselves by holding on to grudges and not allowing people to get close to them. As a believer, if we carry bitterness and forgiveness in our lives, we cannot experience the rest of God. The Lord’s Prayer teaches us that we are expected to forgive others regularly if we want the mercies and the forgiveness of God in our lives. The rest of God cannot enter a heart that does not let go of bitterness and unforgiveness.

Some of us have a tendency to get negative when things that don’t go our way. The truth is before complaining starts, we must have entertained negative thoughts and emotions. If we desire to experience the rest of God, we need to learn to hold every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and dispossess negativity and complaining that is part of the old nature. Instead, we are called to give thanks to the Lord. We fight negativity in our lives and learn to be content, which allows us to remain in the rest of God.

Furthermore, the above passage shows us that the rest of God and His inheritance are intertwined. If we truly want to experience all that God has promised us in His word, it will begin with entering His rest. For example, the fruit of the spirit is every believer’s inheritance, but it requires our cooperation with God, and it also needs His rest in our lives. Just as in nature, it takes time and patience to see good and tasty fruit developed,  we cannot develop the fruit of the spirit by striving. We partner with the Lord in our growth, but, at the same time, we rest in God and are being patient with the process of growth.

Sometimes we look for Promised Land as if a particular location, job, relationship, or church can change everything for us. While in some cases that may be true, in many cases, it is more about the internal work we need to do to be at rest in God while at the same time fighting the spiritual enemies that want to steal our peace and identity amid the Promised Land that God has given us.

Do you have a healthy balance where you can rest in the Lord and at the same time are intentional in fighting your spiritual enemies and allowing God to grow you and use you?

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Fight the Good Fight (Part IV)

Sometimes fighting the good fight is not what we do actively, but what we allow passively in our lives! One of the subtle ways that we lose ground in fighting the good fight is our thought life! Many times we can be passive with the thoughts that come to our minds not recognizing that they will impact our attitudes and actions!

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. 2Corinthians 10:4-6

Apostle Paul exposed the thought life as one of the key areas that we must take control of to gain victory in our lives. This warfare cannot be won unless we are willing to take down the strongholds that gave us false security. Our carnal nature is designed to protect itself from harm and pain. One of the ways we guard ourselves is that we create strongholds to hide behind them to ensure we are protected. The strongholds can be created due to past experiences, hurt, ungodly soulish ties, and disappointments. We also develop arguments based on our carnal understanding, which justify the existence of the strongholds. Therefore, strongholds and arguments work together to create a carnal shield or fortress against pain. The problem is that this carnal shield also hinders our growth and development in the faith and the new things God wants to do in our lives in changing our attitudes and our perception of the world around us.

If we want to be freed from the bondage of lies and not be held captive to the deception of the enemy, we must tear down strongholds and arguments and hold them captive to the obedience of Christ. We are either held captive by them, or we must hold them captive!

How do we recognize what is of the enemy? Below verses give us insight into it.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

When we begin to walk with God, He desires to change us inside out. Many of our visible habits can be stopped much easier and faster, but it is our internal world that requires deep work of the Holy Spirit! One of the ways that God wants to change us is the way we think. Our thought life either produces life-giving attitudes and actions or it causes negativity, suspicion, and animosity in the way we see our world! When we are willing to actively pay attention to our thought-life and hold thoughts that cause stress, anxiety, and pain captive, then we can meditate on thoughts that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy.

To live life according to the above scriptures is much harder than a strenuous exercise! It requires attention, focus, consistency, and faith to continue to push through all the negativity that tries to barge in our hearts and minds. The good news is that if we commit to following through with the above two scriptures, we will experience a new dimension of deliverance that will wipe out depression, anger, bitterness, jealousy, insecurity, strife, and division in our lives. Over time, it will also get easier to think the right thoughts. The by-product of this disciplined lifestyle is that we are fighting the good fight according to God’s instructions and blueprints!



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Fight the Good Fight (Part III)

Are you laying hold of all that Jesus laid hold of you!? Apostle Paul shows us how to do it. He is a good model of someone who continually fought the good fight! His life is a testimony of longevity and success in fighting the good fight of faith!

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

Although Paul had accomplished much in his ministry, he knew that he needed to continue to press on and lay hold of God! The above scriptures give us insight on how he persevered and continued to advance in God’s purpose!

Paul did not think that he had attained everything or had arrived spiritually. He did not see himself as a completely perfected believer. Instead, he saw himself as one who was still on his way to perfection. This reminds me of what Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 13.

For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 1 Corinthians 13:9-12

Paul likened his walk to a child and saw himself putting childish things away as he matured. Even though he had put childish ways aside, he still only saw in the mirror dimly. He did not assume that he saw everything clearly. Paul had a correct evaluation of his maturity in the Lord. He did not confuse his success in ministry with perfection in the faith. He also was not deceived with the fact that just because the Lord had given him revelation and insight in the spiritual realm, that it meant that he knew all there was about the Kingdom of God! This humility and correct evaluation of his walk allowed him to remain dependent on the Lord and keep pressing on!

Similarly, we may have impressive ministry in preaching, prophecy, or writing, but none of those should make us think that we have arrived! The Lord graciously gives us insight, revelation, and understanding, but what He shows us, is minute in comparison to the magnificence of God and His total plan for the humanity. Recognizing our dependence on the Lord will cause us to continue to press on and not get complacent or lazy.

In the above passage in Philippians, Paul continued by stating that as he pressed on, he forgot what was behind him! He did not look back! Paul’s past was a mixture of worldly success and failure since he had persecuted the church. If Paul had looked back at his life, he could have been trapped by the guilt and shame of the past and what he did to the innocent believers such as Stephen. On the other hand, he may have missed the prestige and the status he used to have among his counterparts. Looking back would not have produced any good fruit, and it would have only trapped him in the past and derailed him from pressing on and moving forward in God’s purpose.

The only benefit of looking back is when we remind ourselves of God’s loving kindness and His deliverance in our lives. Otherwise, the past can trap us. Some people stay stuck in  “the good old days”, which causes them to want to be focused on the past. Others may be burdened by the pain of the past. Neither of those memories produce any good fruit.

Instead of looking at the past, we need to focus on the fact that God’s mercies are new every morning. Everyday is a fresh new day with new possibilities and new mercies. God is always at work, and He has new opportunities, new encounters, and new revelation. The Lord is never done with His work on the earth, and He chooses to use us in partnering with Him in bringing His Kingdom and His will on the earth. That requires all of us to press on and to lay hold of what Jesus laid hold of us! This is fighting the good fight of faith!

How do you perceive your spiritual maturity? Do you find yourself leaning on your laurels from past accomplishments? Are there things from the past that causes you not to press into the Kingdom of God?Do you continue to press on towards God, so you can lay hold of what Jesus laid hold of you?


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Fight the Good Fight (Part I)

This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; 1Timothy 1:18-19a (KJV)

Mightest (According to Strong’s Dictionary): to make a military expedition, to lead soldiers to war or to battle, (spoken of a commander).

Paul told Timothy that he should wage a mightest war with the prophecies spoken over him. Paul saw Timothy not only as a spiritual son but also as a fellow soldier in the army of God! Paul’s instruction to Timothy shows clearly that some of the prophesies were not going to be fulfilled unless Timothy was willing to fight the spiritual fight!

When the Lord speaks to His people, it is generally two-fold. He speaks about the person or people’s lives, but it is also about His Kingdom purpose in their lives. Similarly, the prophesies over Timothy would not only have been about his personal life, but they also would have been about God’s purpose in his life,  his role in the Kingdom of God, and how the Lord saw Him in the spirit. As Timothy fought for the fulfillment of those prophesies, he was also fighting for God’s kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth!

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. Matthew 11:12 

Jesus told his disciples that they needed to possess God’s Kingdom by fighting in the spirit. This is not a carnal fight, and we cannot fight it with our natural strength! Our authority to fight the battle in the spirit realm is because we know we are God’s children, redeemed, and bought with the precious blood of the lamb. We belong to the Kingdom of God, and we have been authorized by God to fight the good fight. This fight is about standing secure and settled in our identity in Christ!

When we fight, we are fighting with faith and hope in the unchanging character of God. Jesus won the victory over every form of darkness, evil, sin, and principalities. Therefore, we fight the good fight by declaring that we want God’s kingdom to come and God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven!

Are you aware that you will have to fight the good fight to see God’s purpose fulfilled? How do you engage in this fight?

I will continue with this subject in the next devotional.



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