Sow & Gather

Fighting Battles

Whose Opinion Shapes Your Decisions?

Fighting BattlesMarci AnthonyComment
#sowandgather #fighttherightfight Pride Goes Before Destruction. Whose opinion shapes your decisions?

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.  Proverbs 16:18 (NASB)

Living in a suburb, I see many bicyclists.  Talking to my friends who participate in the sport, I admire the passion, dedication, and health benefits that motivate them to ride.  However, as I have often discussed with them, I find myself frustrated when trapped behind them on a two-lane highway with no option to pass.  A refreshing discovery is that while they are acutely aware of this sentiment, they refuse to make their decision to ride based on what car drivers think.

I really just want to soak in the ability they have to ignore what people think. I desire to let it infuse every thought that I have.  I find so often I begin my decision-making process with one question:  “What will they think?”  When fighting battles, this question is not the beginning of success.  Popular opinion is like attempting to stand still in hurricane force winds.  I might experience the calm of the eye for a brief period, but only until societal thought changes once again.

The very source of the question at hand is pride, my pride.  Proverbs 16:18 states “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” 

I have made countless decisions that have ended disastrously because I wanted people to think well of me.  Honestly, this life isn’t about me. Until I can learn that I must be humble before an amazing God and let my choices be driven by obedience to His desires, then I really won’t be as useful to Him as I wish to be. 

Winning the battle means laying my life down so that I can become what He needs regardless of what others think. 

Dig Deeper |

Matthew 27:1-31  How did Pilate let his pride and popular opinion sway his decisions?  What were the results? 

Action Item |

Be aware of what information you base your choices on.  Practice having the compassionate courage to do and say what may go against popular opinion always conveying the love behind the thoughts.

Prayer |

Dear Loving Father, convict my heart that this life is not about me but about You and Your glory.  Help me be brave to do what will reflect well on You even if it means that I am rejected.  Remind me on a regular basis that You experienced rejection and showed me that true discipleship is costly.  Help me to be more devoted to Your ways and to love You greatly.  In Jesus name, Amen.

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When Our Words Are Cruel

Fighting BattlesSow & Gather - Tamera B.Comment
#sowandgather #fighttherightfight When Our Words Are Cruel

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. James 3:9 NIV 

"Sass" has been the downfall of many a child. It's those few biting words of disagreement often accompanied with rolling eyes that creates an explosive battle on the homefront. As a child I seemed to learn the lesson of not talking back over and over again. I'm wondering as an adult if I have changed my words or their delivery when I don't like someone's opinion? 

I wonder how I sound to my husband or child in moments of frustration. Do my co-workers cringe when I get upset at the office? Are my words speaking so loudly that others cannot see or hear God in my daily life? 

Jesus said, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." Each time I open my mouth, I wonder what my heart is actually saying. Is there hate or love in my heart? Bitterness or joy? Pride or humility? 

We seem to be at a time in our Nation when there's a free pass to speak hatred versus kindness. As Christ followers we are called to examine our hearts and our speech. We are called to "Love our neighbor as ourselves."  We are called to rise above this world because we are not of this world.  And we can do all of these things through Christ who strengthens us. We are not alone in this world. 

Jesus never said speaking with love, joy, or humility would be easy. It takes practice. Join me today in the practice of loving your neighbor, finding joy in your surroundings, and doing all things with humility. 

Dig Deeper |

James 3; Romans 12:9-21 

Action Item |

Show kindness to someone today and write down that experience in your Bible or journal. 

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, It is such a very trying time in our world. We are surrounded by people speaking hatred toward those created in your image. We may be miserable in our life and unable to find any joy in our surroundings. Lord God, help us to humbly come to you and ask for forgiveness of our sins. Help us to model your actions. Amen

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Christians Can’t Fight, Can They?

Fighting BattlesMarci AnthonyComment
#sowandgather #fighttherightfight Is It Ever Ok For Christians to Fight?

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  2 Timothy 4:7(NIV) 

Have you ever heard the saying, “I don’t have a dog in that fight”?  It means that you don’t have a stake in, or don’t want to be exposed to the risks associated with the outcome of some problem or dispute.  Basically, it means, “I don’t want to get involved”!  Sometimes we say this because we are too tired, too busy, we just don’t care, or it’s really not any of our business. 

How can we know when to mind our own business and when we need to “put our dog in the fight”?  There are two good scriptures that talk about minding our own business.  Second Thessalonians 3:11 says, “For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.” And 1 Timothy 5:13, “And besides they learn to be idle, wondering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not”.  OUCH!  So many times, I need to be busy doing what I’m supposed to be doing, but I would much rather point out what YOU should be doing.  Well, I shouldn’t have a dog in that fight! 

What about the privacy of a woman having the “right” to choose life or death for her unborn child?  Surely that is none of my business…right?  Proverbs 31:8 says, “Open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause of all who are appointed to die” (NKJV). But, it’s not really a baby…right?  Psalm 139:13, “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.”   

How do I put my dog in that fight?  Pray!  Pray for God to tender your heart to these women who are about to make a decision that they may not fully understand.  Pray that you would have compassion for them; they are probably hurting and need to know the love of Jesus…pray that you could be His hands and feet.  Titus 3:14 says, “And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.”  There are many ways to get involved in this fight.  Volunteer at organizations that promotes life, check with your church to see if they are already involved in this fight, give money, and most importantly, pray!  This is definitely a fight worth fighting! 

Dig Deeper |

1 Timothy 6:12-15, Proverbs 17:9, Ephesians 6:13-15 

Prayer |

Oh Lord, every child You create is precious in Your sight.  Help me to do what I can to help these women choose life.  Help me to get involved, show me what You would have for me to do.  Let me be Your hands and feet. 

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Fighting the Physical Battle To Maintain the Temple

Fighting BattlesMarci AnthonyComment
#sowandgather #fighttherightfight Honor God With Your Body

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV

One….Two….Three……. Keep it up! Keep your back straight and pull in your stomach. You can do it!  

Whew! I just did ten pull-ups. Yes!!! 

But, wait, I now have to do ten more and I’m so tired. 

Does this sound familiar?  

These phrases and many more run through my mind every time I exercise or work-out. For me exercising is a chore and is an event I have to endure. I have tried every form of exercise from running a 5K to dancing and most of the time I dread it. I get hot, super sweaty (as if I just took a shower), stinky and tired. 

Yet, I know I need to fight through these feelings of agony and exercise on a regular basis. My goal is to work-out at least four times a week not only for my personal health but because my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. God is telling me to honor my body by caring for it through physical exercise. 

I hate to admit it but when I exercise, I physically feel much stronger. I sleep more soundly, eat healthier and have stamina. With these attributes I am able to serve and minister to others much easier and even spend improved quality time with Jesus through reading His word and praying.  

Therefore, in those weeks and days ahead when I battle within to go and exercise this body, I will choose to remember its benefits. I will choose to honor God by exercising my temple. 

Dig Deeper |

I Corinthians 3:16

Action Item |

Go exercise! 

Prayer |

Dear God, Thank you for my wonderful body. Help me to honor you by exercising on a regular basis and caring for this glorious temple you gave me. In your name. Amen. 

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The Struggle Is Real

Fighting BattlesMarci AnthonyComment
#sowandgather #fighttherightfight Our Struggles Are Real

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV

“The struggle is real!” Lately, this has become a common saying in my household over the hardship of cleaning dishes to not having a date to the prom. Neither of these issues is a true picture of a struggle, but we all face battles in this world that are real.    

Often times our struggles begin with those things that seem innocent enough but are actually disguised as temptations. Most temptation triggers never shout “WARNING – STAY AWAY!” Instead, they say, “That dress will make you look skinny,” “One bite never hurt anyone,” “It’s just a fiction book with some romance,” or "One more glass of wine with the girls.” We all have temptations; they just look different for each person.   

The problem with our temptations, if we are not aware of them, is that they can lead us down immoral, destructive, deceitful, and shameful paths. One small decision leads to another and before we know it, there is a fork in the road. Which way are we going to go? Are we headed down the path of destruction or do we take the path that God has created for us? This verse reminds us that when we are tempted (and we all are), God will provide a way out so that we can escape from it. The question is, will we take it? 

We have to remind ourselves that there is a battle for our attention, hearts, and minds. Daily we have to ask the Holy Spirit to cover us, to give us ears to hear the warnings and a heart that desires to obey those warnings. We need to spend time with God in prayer and in His Word to remind ourselves of His holiness and righteousness. When we do these things, we are arming ourselves for the battle.  “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 NIV

The battle of the spirit and flesh is real; temptations are real. The good news is that Christ came to end those battles. Jesus himself understands all of our temptations as He himself was tempted yet never gave in. When we give our hearts to Christ, we don’t have to give in to them either. The struggle is real; but, thankfully, God always gives us a way to stand up under it.  

Dig Deeper |

2 Peter 2:9 

Action Item:  What temptations are leading you down paths of guilt and shame? Are you living in victory or are you living in defeat? Christ can set you free if you just believe in Him.   

Prayer |

Dear Father, may the Holy Spirit guard my heart and mind each day, warn me when temptation is calling, and open my eyes to see the door of escape You have provided. Please give me the heart to obey You and You only.  Amen.

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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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