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Posts Tagged ‘A Mighty Fortress’

Life is a Battle!

A friend told me recently, “I avoid conflict! I’ll do anything to get out of conflict!”

I was tempted to add to his last sentence, “… except kill yourself.”

Can you live life and avoid conflict or battles?

In my devotional reading today I read these two quotes:

Life is not victory, but battle. (1)

Combat comes before victory. (2)

The sum of the two could read: 

Life is a battle which precedes victory!

The presence of evil and the reality of sin assure us that life is a battle between good and evil.  This is the story of life … Good and Evil are in a battle to the finish.  Only one can win the battle.    

People often complain that the Bible, especially the Old Testament and The Book of Revelation, is a gruesome battlefield which does not seem befitting for the people of God. 

It’s a valid complaint because the battle of Good and Evil is the story of The Bible.  We often forget that the cosmic battle between Good and Evil is fought everyday on earth, as well as in the heavens.

Thus, the ultimate question of life is,

“Which will be the victor? Good or evil?”

I believe both will win.  

Evil will win the battle of the flesh and Good will win the battle of the cosmos.  

However, since the Eternal will always outlive the Temporal, I am casting my lot with the God, the Eternal Good! 

Martin Luther wrote in his great hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God:

Though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, 

we will not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us.  

The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; 

his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure; 

one little word shall fell him.

– – –

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth; 

the Spirit and the gifts are ours, thru him who with us sideth.  

Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; 

the body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still; 

his kingdom is forever.

Yes, life is a battle!  This is the bad news.

The Good News is: Jesus wins!

It’s good to know who will win!  

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  1. Samuel G. Hardman and Dwight Lyman Moody, Thoughts for the Quiet Hour (Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1998).
  2. Reimann, Jim; Cowman, Mrs. Charles E. (2008-09-02). Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (p. 239). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
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The great enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin,

but the good which is not good enough.  (1)

 

Last evening I told a group of friends, “Today may go down as the most significant day in my journey of faith!”

They asked for more information.  I told them it was too much to try to explain in a minute or two, much less in an hour or two.

For years I have been wrestling with a good which was not good enough.  For years I had been longing for this good to quench my thirst and to satisfy my heart.  It always left me wanting.  It never brought me to The Promised Land which it promised.

Yesterday I finally let go of this good.  I did not free it as much as I freed myself.

My grasping to the good, my longing for it to satisfy and become great, perfect, and true has been the enemy of my faith for decades.

Today I am free.  Today I am at peace.

The good was a false hope in something to satisfy all the hopes and dreams of my heart.  

Even though you are longing to know what the good was, it does not matter.  

It was the good to which I clung and in which I hoped.  It was the good which kept me from grabbing onto God with both hands.  It was the good which prevented me from loving the Lord my God with all of my heart, and soul, and strength. (2)

Martin Luther in his great hymn, A Mighty Fortress, (a favorite since my childhood) wrote:

Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; the body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still; his kingdom is forever.

A few years ago I began to recognize the bruise, the rotten spot of the good to which I had clung.  But I kept to the hope that with TLC, with effort, and with some buff and polish I could help remove the bruise, the spoiled rotten mark which infected this good.

Yesterday, I realized that the spoiled rotten bruise is here to stay, much like a birthmark.  I can cover it with beautiful clothing, with the best beauty cream and make-up, and with denial, but the birthmark will remain.

I am grateful I finally accepted this reality because I am free from the good which was never going to be good enough.  

My soul is no longer troubled.  

My faith in God is no longer divided between Him and this good.

Jesus said:

“Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (3)

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  1. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest : Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 1993).
  2. Deuteronomy 6:5
  3. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), John 4:14.

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We’re living here on the devil’s turf. (1)

Sport teams frequently name their stadium, arena, court, or field, after a local hero.  We have:

  • Lambeau Field for Packers Coach Curly Lambeau;
  • Wrigley Field for Cubs owner William Wrigley, Jr.;
  • The Dean Dome for UNC Coach Dean Smith;
  • Coach K’s Court for Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

When I coached basketball we frequently reminded the boys, “This is our house!”  The reminder was offered as an exhortation during a home game in which the Visitors were walking all over us and our poor defensive play.

Why would Martin Luther refer to earth as The Devil’s Turf when scripture affirms in Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.

Luther’s comment is not a declaration, rather it is a warning about present reality!

Satan does not rule the earth, but it is his playground.  He is constantly recruiting players who will play for his team and by his rulebook.

His players eventually become his victims!

Martin Luther’s words are a helpful warning, not a denial of God’s sovereignty.  Additionally, his words are one’s of comfort and consolation.

The local news can be depressing.  Daily headlines are about murders, robberies, thefts, and crime, all in our own community.

There are days when it seems as Satan is winning the battle.  Yet Satan is always one Word from defeat.

In his great hymn, A Mighty Fortress, Martin Luther writes:

For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; 

His craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate.

Though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, 

We will not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us.  

The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; 

His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure; one little word shall fell him.

The last line in these lyrics is critical:  One little word shall fell him.

That one little word is Jesus.

This world may be the devil’s playground, but the earth is the Lord’s.

Satan plays, but God wins!

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  1. Luther, Martin; Galvin, James C. (2009-05-19). Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional (p. 80). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

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