Sow & Gather

encouragement

Picking Our Battles and Fighting the One Fight That Matters

Fighting Battles, encouragementMarci AnthonyComment
#sowandgather #fighttherightfight Fighting The Right Fight Means Knowing What We Fight For

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.  1 Timothy 6:12 (NIV) 

Middle school lurked on the horizon for my oldest son.  This would be uncharted territory for our family, and I must admit fear crept into my mind on occasion.  With all of the unknowns, all of the questions and all of the fears, I did have one comfort.  I KNEW the school that he would be attending. 

The comfort of knowing teachers and even the building, created some sort of relaxation for me until that dreaded day.  The day I received notice from the school that the school lines had been redrawn and my son would be going to a different school.  Oh mercy, it seems so trivial as I look back, but in the moment, it felt like a giant problem.  I joined the other moms in the neighborhood and began a fight with the school district.  The fight felt like a worthy one in the moment.  Hindsight tells a different story-- a story of wasted time! 

Have you ever fought a fight you regretted? The description above is certainly one of many that I have participated in that goes down in the books as complete and utter lack of judgment.  Over the years, God has taught me a thing or two about fighting fights.  As I spend more and more time in HIS word and in HIS presence, I am discovering that God has amazing plans for believers regarding fighting. 

According to God’s plan, there is only one fight to be fought.  It is, “The Good Fight of the faith.”  Recognize that in the verse above the word fight is singular.  There truly is only one fight worthy of our time. 

Our fight is not a physical fight but a spiritual one.  “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  Ephesians 6:12 

As believers, we fight with spiritual weapons.  “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4 

My dear sweet friends, with the culture in which we find ourselves, there is much to be angry about.  There is much to be upset about.  There is quite simply much to fight about.  BUT, there is only one fight that we are called to, the fight against Satan. This very moment, Satan and his dark forces are quite literally doing all they can do to destroy you, destroy your family and make you completely irrelevant. 

As Paul is sitting in prison in Rome, penning the letter to the Ephesians, he exhorts them to be ready to fight the good fight.  He gives them instruction in suiting up for battle with the full armor of God.  Then, he concludes by saying, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:18. While it seems completely contrary to everything within us, the most powerful position in fighting this good fight is on our knees.  Moment by moment, calling out to the God of the universe, asking Him to fight for us, to go before us, to protect us, to use us, to empower us, to strengthen us and to make us ready for all. 

Even as I sit here typing, I am moved at the very thought of asking THE God to fight for me and to fight for my family.  I encourage you to resist the urged to get distracted with all that surrounds us in this incredibly perverse culture, and simply join God in conversation daily, continually.  Fight the Right Fight.  Choose well my friends. 

Dig Deeper |

Ephesians 6  

Action Item |

Are you involved in battles that are “wasted time?”  Evaluate your schedule and determine if you are involved in fighting the good fight. 

Prayer |

Dear Jesus, fight for me!  Please give protection to my family.  Protect me from the attacks of Satan.  Help me, Lord, to be relevant for you.  Help me to protect my time and to fight the good fight.  Amen.

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Medicine for the Soul

Cheerfulness, encourage, encouragementMarci AnthonyComment
A Cheerful Heart Is Good Medicine #sowandgather #proverbs

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. Proverbs 17:22 (NLT)

Recently I was reminded of this little bitty Proverb. The day was gloomy outside and it was fairly gloomy inside. Irritation, frustration and lack of guidance engulfed that morning and then this little proverb creeped into my day. I must tell you the reading of it almost sent me into a rage.

A CHEERFUL HEART????? All I could picture was Tigger (from Winnie-the-Pooh) bouncing brainlessly around the room. Why in the world would God in His divine word, give us such a pronouncement? A Tigger- filled reaction is good medicine... really? My anger led me to a few books because I simply had to get to the bottom of this. In all of my gloom, what exactly was God asking me to do?

Much to my surprise, that rainy morning God had a very personal message for me. That message had nothing to do with personality or with bouncing around. Here is what my precious Jesus taught me in all of His incredible Grace:

  1. The word cheerful in this verse has nothing to do with our outward actions, but has everything to do with our inner heart. That word can be interchanged with words like joy, blessedness and happiness in the Bible. A deeper searching of the word reveals the most amazing definition, “inner peace that transcends circumstance.”
  2. This state of the heart, a cheerful heart, is medicine for something! It is literally the band-aid, the antibiotic, the ibuprofen for something in our lives.
  3. The verse goes on to tell us that the opposite of a cheerful heart is “a broken spirit.” It also reveals that a broken spirit (or better translated in the Hebrew, heartache) that is not tended to, that is not healed, will sap a person’s strength.
  4. Conclusion: Inner peace that transcends circumstance will heal heartache and prevent you from being completely crushed!

The rain continued outside, but the inside of my house was looking brighter. It was as if God spoke out loud to me and said, “Kelli, your frustrations and irritations are sapping your strength. Your heartache is trying desperately to crush you. Sit with Me here. Allow My spirit to fill you so that you can experience divine joy. Your circumstance may not change today, but you can prevent this from crushing you! A cheerful heart will be medicine to your soul.”

I have no idea what you are facing today, but I do know one thing: Women know a thing or two about heartache. Our roles, in the home and out of the home, bring about so many moments that quite simply crush our spirits. If you are facing heartache today, for whatever reason, I tell you with complete confidence that a heart that is filled with joy that comes from your creator will be good medicine for you. Take a moment and ask God to fill you with His perfect peace. This cheerful heart will prevent your heartache form crushing your soul.

Dig Deeper |

Matthew 5 talks about being Blessed. It is the perfect description of one who experiences divine joy. Read it and meditate on the details that Jesus gives.

Action Item |

Memorize Proverbs 17:22. I have memorized it with the definitions included. “A cheerful heart (a heart that is controlled by God and filled with His spirit giving me divine joy) is good medicine (will fix, heal or mend), but a broken spirit (heartache) will crush the spirit.”

Prayer |

Jesus, it is such a privilege to be able to speak with You each morning. Lord, I ask that you fill me today with Your complete and total peace. Lord, I ask that you protect my mind from being distracted by my circumstance. Lord, heal my heartache and give me the words to share with others who are also experiencing heartache today. Amen.

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Are You Ready to Run?

encouragement, encourageMarci AnthonyComment
run in such a way as to get the prize. #sowandgather #encouregement #encourage

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24

It’s an Olympic year! I get so excited when the summer Olympics air on TV. For two weeks my eyes are glued to the TV as I marvel at the physical and mental abilities of the world’s top athletes. So many of the athletes have trained for almost their entire life and sacrificed so much to have the opportunity to compete at the highest level in the world. It doesn’t get any bigger in sports than the Olympics.

I love watching the track and field events, specifically the running events. The athlete’s muscular build, strength, and speed is truly mesmerizing. From the moment the gun goes off runners are focused on only one thing, the finish line at the end. The runners know that if they reach that line first they will receive the most coveted prize of athletes all over the world, the title of Olympic Gold Medalist.

When you think about all the time and energy that goes into becoming an Olympic champion, one has to wonder is it worth it? If you ask any athlete who has competed at the Olympic level, most would answer, “Yes.” Competing on the world’s largest stage with the world’s best athletes is the pinnacle of any athlete's dream. If I told you that Christians have a similar challenge given to us by God, would you believe me?

God’s challenge is for us is to run a race, but the type of race God requires us to take part in is a race of the soul. You see, each and every day from the time we rise to the time we lay our heads on our pillows, our Coach (God) is pushing us and molding us into the individuals he wants us to be. He has given us our training manual (The Bible) which has all necessary answers to life’s hurdles we come in contact with daily. To help us with our mental stamina God equips us with the Holy Spirit. Lastly, helping us to fight through the final yards to the finish, God provides us with prayer so we can accomplish and win the race.

The best part about the race we are running is that everyone who crosses the finish line wins! God pushes us hard to reach His goal. The prize we receive when we cross the finish line is better than any Olympic medal; it’s the promise of eternity. Are you ready to run the race?

Dig Deeper |

Philippians 3:14; Galatians 5:7

Action Item |

Are you running God’s race or your own? Where do you need to make changes in your life to get back on track?

Prayer |

God help me to run your race that you have set out before me. Help me to work hard and finish strong. Amen

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His Mercies Never Cease

love, encouragementMarci AnthonyComment
his-mercies-new-every-morning-sowandgather

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT

In a few short hours we begin a new year. Maybe 2015 hasn’t been kind to you and you are looking forward to 2016. Maybe 2015 has been a wonderful year and you are sad to see it end. No matter where you find yourself, you have to admit there is something exciting about the start of something new.

A year and a half ago I became a first time grandmother. There was nothing that could have prepared me for the joy of this sweet little girl entering our lives. I love everything about being “Nana”. Well everything, that is, except when I have to send her home. I find such delight in her. I am reliving the joy and wonder of “firsts”.  I told my husband that it’s as if we’ve been given a “do-over”. We’ve been given a second chance to make right the mistakes we made as the parents of her daddy.

Last week we celebrated the birth of Jesus. The birth of this child brought unbelievable new beginnings. A new covenant, new life through salvation, and a new way to enter God’s presence. As I thought on this, the Lord brought to mind this passage in Lamentations.

So often I’m discouraged because I feel I’ve blown it in my spiritual walk. I resolve to obey but find myself doing my own thing. I give into that temptation once again. I resolve to get up early to pray but push the snooze button over and over until I have to get up and the time is gone. I then begin to feel like “Why bother? I’m never going to get it right.”  But these verses tell me that the Christ, born so long ago, is there saying, “Don’t give up. I have fresh mercy for you.  I’m always here ready to give you a fresh start.” Not only will He give me a fresh start, but He is faithful to give me everything I need to walk a life of victory with Him.

We don’t have to wait for a New Year and those New Year’s Resolutions. His mercies are new every morning, and we can have a new beginning today. Wow! What an encouragement!

Dig Deeper |

Exodus 34:5-6; I Peter 1:3-4; Hebrews 4:16: Isaiah 43:18-19

Action Item | 

If you are honest with yourself, do you or do you not believe that Jesus has mercies for you that are new every morning? In what area of your life, do you need to claim Jesus’ mercies today?

Prayer |

Precious Father, thank you for your mercies that are new every morning. The enemy would want us to believe we are failures when we don’t walk with You as we think we should. Help us not fall prey to his lies. Help us to walk in the truth that your mercies are constantly there for us. As a child of Yours, there is no failure that Your mercy won’t cover. You are a faithful Father, and we love You! In Jesus name, Amen!

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