Are you in the midst of a battle?  If so, you are NOT alone!  Do you feel like you’re getting beaten and pressed from every side?  Do you feel like you are “dying” from the pain of your current circumstances?  If so, I have great news for you!

There is rest for those on the front line. There is refuge in the middle of your war.  There is peace for you, despite what weapons are pointed your way.  And there is LIFE for those who share in the suffering of Christ Jesus!

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies.  So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you. But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. {2 Corinthians 4-8:18}

I know you are probably wondering how you get to a place where you can find JOY in the present battle you are facing.  First, I want to be vulnerable with you so that you might know the heart behind this blog.  If I am being really honest with you, I am still trying to find this answer for myself.  I set out to write this in hopes that God would use my fingers to provide the peace and refuge I NEED for my current battle.  I have been taught all my life to “give it to God.”  However, I don’t know that anyone ever followed that statement up with HOW you do that.  It sounds simple.  Maybe it would be easy for someone who has never been hurt, rejected, lied to, abused or abandoned.  I don’t know a single person that has never been hurt or rejected, do you?  In my experience, what it means to “give it to God” is to “die to your flesh”.  Ouch.  We must DIE (not physically), in order to have peace and joy.  Again, sounds like one action will make everything “feel” better.  Quite the contrary, there are multiple things we must learn to do if we want to break free from the oppression of our “battles.”  The FREEDOM, peace, safety and REST has already been purchased for us.  All we have to “DO” is LEAN IN and allow the Word of God to breathe life into our circumstances.

For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God.  For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said,  “In my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest,’” even though this rest has been ready since he made the world.  So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God.  So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted:  “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.” Hebrews 4:2-3,6-7 

Have you ever heard people say, “you don’t have to DO anything for God’s blessings?”  Well, I have.  And quite frankly, it confused me greatly.  After some time studying this principle, I have come to my own opinion on this subject.  I will share. YES, God paid a high price for us to be set free from the law.  He died a cruel death for us to freely enter His presence as a “hot mess” and still be deserving of everything He desires for us to have.  He DIED, so that WE MAY HAVE LIFE.  Do we have to earn that promise, those blessings?  No, it’s already done and ours for the taking.  However, where I believe some people are deceived is in the thinking that once we receive His blessings and promises we can just sit around and “DO” nothing with it and our lives will look like a episode of “My Little Pony.”  (Don’t judge, I know you watch it too.  It’s what I imagine when I think of a perfect place.  Who wouldn’t want to live where there are rainbows, unicorns and fairy dust?)  My point is, God gives us His promises freely, then it is up to us to take those promises and “APPLY” them to our lives.  I highlighted the words “apply” because it is an action word.  We have to DO something with God’s promises in order to see them manifest in our lives.

Recently, I heard that someone bought a car for an Embrace Grace girl who was in desperate need of a vehicle.  What if that car was parked outside in her driveway for the past few weeks since receiving such a crazy awesome gift?  She was in need of this so that she could get to work and go to the store to buy food for her baby.  God put it on someones heart to meet this need.  They sacrificed something in their own life, I am sure, so that this sweet girl would have a better quality of life for her and her baby.  She has the gift, it has been bought and paid for.  She could use it to meet every need imaginable.  However, it’s up to HER to walk to the car, open the door, get in, turn the engine on and start the car.  Then she must operate this gift someone so lovingly gave her with caution and wisdom to protect the gift.  She must point the car in a direction and GO.  The GIFT is hers, but it’s up to her what she DOES with it.  Just like Jesus bought and paid for our freedom, and with His blood all his blessings are available to us.  It is only a matter of if we will accept them and steward them as He has written in His Word.

In the case of finding peace and refuge in our battles, we must APPLY His instructions, His WORD to our circumstances, our relationships, our conversations and our lives in general.  We must “LIVE” (another action word) it out.  As I write this and I research scripture to back my theory, I am bombarded with wisdom and instructions on things to “DO” to apply his promises to our lives.  Already, in the scriptures above you can see some clear actions we might take to “give it to God”.

In 2 Corinthians, we see that it is through our suffering that we share in the death of Jesus.  That LIFE will be seen through us when we SERVE Jesus.  When we LIVE in the face of death but we have faith to SPEAK about the eternal LIFE He has for us.  It also instructs us to “Never give up” though we’re “dying” (in pain from our circumstances), our spirits are being renewed daily. “Don’t look at the troubles we can see now, rather fix our gaze on things we can’t see,”  another action we can take to “CHOOSE LIFE” in our battles.  In the Hebrews 4 passage, I see a few things we can “DO” to experience God’s rest.  1. Have FAITH 2. Listen to God 3. BELIEVE He is who He says He is 4. Be obedient to Christ as He brings you revelation and as you studied His ways. 5. “When you hear His voice, don’t harden your hearts”.  WOW!  That passage is packed full of things we can apply to our battles to have the privilege of entering into the REST that is waiting for us.

Let me get real with you now about where I am at.  My battle almost took me out a couple of days ago.  I felt like I was literally going to die.  It was bigger than me, it was stronger than me, it was heavier than me, it was vastly overwhelming and deeply oppressive to me.  Have you noticed how many times I said, “me”?  A few days ago, it was all about me.  I was living in my flesh, not dying to it.  I have been a WARRIOR for God many times in my life.  I know how to fight.  I know how to DIE so that He can resurrect new LIFE.  And through the past 2 weeks of my current battle, I have tapped into those promises and I have followed the instructions written on my heart.  And as a result, I have experienced a strong and supernatural peace.  Doesn’t change that I am hurting.  Doesn’t change that I am broken.  However, it CHANGES everything when you can TRUST God to FIGHT for you.

“This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.  But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then STAND STILL and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!”  Then King Jehoshaphat bowed low with his face to the ground. And all the people of Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping the Lord.”  {2 Chronicles 20:15, 17-18}

The other day, I moved from my post.  I stopped worshipping.  I was afraid and discouraged.  I took my pain in my own hands and marched into the battle swinging. I was disobedient because GOD asked me to get out of His way and in return He promised He would fight this one for me.  I wanted to control my hurt, and I got beat up and bruised trying.  I felt justified in my wrath, rage and self pity.  So I tried to use my “feelings” as a source of self medication.  I tried to harden my heart as a form of protection.  I drowned out the Lord’s voice because I felt He had misled me into thinking it was safe to remove my “armor.”  I had exposed the depths of my heart and become vulnerable for the 1st time in years.  I had removed walls I had built in hopes that God would remind me who I am in my raw vulnerability.  I opened my heart to believe that maybe  “I was enough.”  As quickly as I allowed myself to be “seen” the enemy began flooding my mind with lies.  That day, I bought them.  I didn’t trust.  I didn’t obey.  I didn’t listen.  I didn’t worship.  I didn’t stand still.  And I DID NOT have peace!  

He sang: “The Lord  is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. He is my refuge, my savior, the one who saves me from violence. I called on the Lord , who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies. The waves of death overwhelmed me; floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path. But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I cried to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry reached his ears. Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the heavens shook; they quaked because of his anger. He shrouded himself in darkness, veiling his approach with dense rain clouds. A great brightness shone around him, and burning coals  blazed forth. The Lord  thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot arrows and scattered his enemies; his lightning flashed, and they were confused. He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the Lord supported me. He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me. The Lord rewarded me for doing right; he restored me because of my innocence.  To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the wicked you show yourself hostile. You rescue the humble, but your eyes watch the proud and humiliate them. O Lord, you are my lamp. The Lord  lights up my darkness. In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall. God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God is my strong fortress, and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. You have given me your shield of victory; your help has made me great. You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping. I chased my enemies and destroyed them; I did not stop until they were conquered. I consumed them; I struck them down so they did not get up; they fell beneath my feet. You have armed me with strength for the battle; you have subdued my enemies under my feet. For this, O Lord, I will praise you among the nations; I will sing praises to your name. You give great victories to your king; you show unfailing love to your anointed, to David and all his descendants forever.”   {2 Samuel 22:2-8, 12-15, 17-21, 25-40, 50-51}

WOW!  The WORD is ALIVE and it will breathe LIFE into your dry bones!  As I searched for the right scripture to move me to my next point, I was led to 2 Samuel 2, the whole chapter is amazing.  I am blown away by the promises and instructions that can be found in just one passage.  Are you encouraged yet?  I AM!  No matter what our battle looks like and no matter how big our army is, HE SUPPORTS US!  People will hurt you and abandon you in your greatest time of need.  And God will allow that to happen so that we will come to realize that, “He is our shield, our refuge our safety our savior.”  He HEARS our cries and He comes to rescue us from the battle, He leads us to a safe place where He rewards our trust, integrity and our humility.  He rescues us from the deep waters of our circumstances and restores us because of our innocence.  He rescues us from our enemies, those who attack us when we are in distress.  He does this because He DELIGHTS in us!  He LIGHTS up our darkness and then He gives us STRENGTH and trains us to fight our battle. GOD and only GOD can make our way perfect and make us GREAT!  No spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend, No family member, No best friend, No addiction, No job, NO ONE and NOTHING but GOD can rescue us.  Only God has the power and “unfailing love” to cover us, rescue us, fight for us and then strengthen us to fight for ourselves.  “All the Lord’s promises prove true, He is a shield for those who look to Him for protection!”

This promise belongs to you and me.  It has already been paid for.  All that we must “DO” is remain faithful to Him, stay humble, have integrity and put our hope and trust in Him.  We must die to our fleshly need to control and vindicate, because HE will do that for us!   It isn’t easy, it’s a painful process of “dying to self.” We must stay in a constant state of worship and surrender.  For we already know that God is a just God.  He is a strong and mighty force to be reckoned with, especially when there is an attack on His children.  God will allow us to be in a battle… but He will ALWAYS FIGHT FOR US THROUGH IT!  He will provide safety and refuge when we are being wrongfully attacked.  He will rescue us when we are in over our heads. He will restore us and strengthen us.  Then, He will breathe NEW LIFE into us.  He will RESURRECT us and our hopeless situations. There is VICTORY at the end of our battles.  And there is surely PEACE & JOY free for the taking as we are in the battle.

“But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”  {John 14:26-27}

Will you join me in accepting this gift?  Will you bow in worship with me on the front lines?  Will you allow Christ to fight for you as I have chosen to do?  Will you make a decision today to find your REST and REFUGE in Jesus, not in the battle, the army around you or the ones who failed to join you?  I want you to join me because I believe in you and I need you to believe in me.  We can do this.  We can GIVE IT TO GOD.

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.  A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10,12

So let us go to the front lines, together.  Let us take our positions.  Let us BOW in the BATTLE.