Hold Your Ground

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Freedom is still the theme capturing my attention in this hour. Not just because we’ve recently celebrated our nation’s independence, but because I am a woman who’s been set free by the love and the grace of God. I remember what it was like to not be free, and rarely does a day go by that I don’t marvel at the gift of my freedom in Christ. There are, however, certain seasons when I am brought into a fresh awareness – a greater revelation of – the reality and the value of my freedom. This is one of those seasons, and the Spirit of God has been using all sorts of images to drive this thing so deeply into my heart that I won’t be able to forget it. And, hopefully, neither will you!

One of the Scriptures that has been coming alive to me lately is Ephesians 6:13, which says:

“That is why you need to put on God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the whole fight, you will still be standing.” (New Century Version)

The English Standard Version puts it this way:

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”

And the Passion Translation says:

“Because of this, you must wear all the armor that God provides so you’re protected as you confront the slanderer, for you are destined for all things and will rise victorious.”

No matter which translation you prefer, the message is still the same: we’re going to have to hold our ground, and when we do, we will plant the flag of freedom in the places where we have prevailed.

It’s important, of course, to know what we’re fighting for, and why. The verse preceding Ephesians 6:13 explains that our battle is not with people, but against the spiritual realm. It’s not against what we see and encounter in the natural realm every day, but with the unseen that we are often unaware of. This is why we’re told to put on the armor of God in order to be successful in the battle, because in Christ, we are equipped to see and to face all that wars against our freedom. The armor of God is really the fullness of who we are in Him, who we are as Christians, which is something we tend to forget often.

In our busy, chaotic lives, we don’t always take the time to start each day by clothing ourselves in the new nature we have received. More often than not, we rush into our days still clothed in the old, familiar person we’ve always been. We don’t take time to connect our hearts with God, to soak our minds in the truth He has died to give us, to step into agreement with our new identity, and so we live responding from the old one.

And this is, so often, our place of defeat. It becomes the territory of the enemy, as he plants his flag in one more piece of our lives: capsizing our hope, shaking our faith, imprisoning our hearts with bitterness and resentment, shattering our dreams. Little by little, he is out to own us, and yet, little by little, God is out to liberate us. It really boils down to what we choose to wear (which is ultimately where we choose to live) each day.

I went to Disneyland with my family over the holiday, and I had a vivid illustration of this very thing on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. As we toured through the pilfered village underground, we came upon a scene of a nasty pirate sitting atop a pile of treasure, celebrating his victory. In that moment, I was awakened to a spiritual reality we might not always see, and a righteous anger and fierce determination rose up in my soul. As I looked at that pirate, I saw the enemy, the devil, and I realized that he has stolen so much of our treasure. But the infuriating part, the part that awakens me to fight, is that it’s our treasure he has taken!

I see and know so many Christians – including myself – who have stopped fighting at the point of defeat and given up. They’ve – we’ve – surrendered the treasure, for whatever reason, accepting that the enemy is just always going to steal, kill, and destroy. It’s what he does, and when we fall victim to his attack, we just move on and try to survive it, while he heaps up more and more of our treasure and plants his flag of victory in yet another place of our heart and life.

But it’s our treasure! We don’t have to surrender it. We don’t have to yield. We don’t have to run away or limp away or even be afraid when he comes in with his band of minions to do what he always does. When we realize who we are in Christ, and that the Spirit of God lives within us, we can hold our ground and refuse to surrender another ounce of territory to that dreadful enemy. And we can determine to take back what’s already been stolen. We can run that devil and his army right out of our lives, because God in us has given us all we have. The enemy has no right to take anything from us, unless we let him.

I went to dinner with my mother-in-law lastnight, and we were talking about the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, because it’s her favorite. She is an immigrant to America from Cuba, and she cherishes and respects her freedom in this land because she had none in hers. Nevertheless, she loved her land, as most Cubans do. When they speak of it, they get a dreamy look on their faces. Their island is one of beauty, despite its troubles. So much do the people love their land, my mother-in-law told me lastnight, that when the pirates came to Cuba back in the 1800s, they were unable to get in. Though they ravaged the surrounding lands, the people of Cuba held their ground and refused to let the pirates take anything from them.

What a picture of the power and the promise we have from God! I wonder if we realize what a promised land we’ve been given in Christ? I wonder if we could love what we’ve been born into so much that it could be worth fighting for? I wonder, dear Woman of Breakthrough, if you realize that, weak and fragile as we are, the Spirit of the Living God has been placed within us, and we have so much more than we are often aware of?? Our faith, our hope, our love, our peace, our power to impact the world around us through the way we think, speak and act, our attitude, our dreams – all of this and more have been given to us, and we don’t have to surrender any of it just because the enemy comes in to take it. When someone accuses me or attacks me or tries to hurt me, I don’t have to surrender my patience, my kindness, my joy, my peace. I don’t have to hand over my testimony of the power of God to transform me and make me new. That’s what the enemy is after. He wants to prove that we don’t own it, that it’s temporary. And when we fall into the traps of the issues we encounter – in relationships and in life – we lose sight of the fact that our battle is not with the people who are wounding us, but with the dark spiritual forces in operation, aiming at our treasure and seeking to send us away empty-handed.

Dear Woman of Breakthrough, may you be awakened to all the places in which the enemy comes daily, seeking to rob from you, seeking to destroy you and take your promised land from you. And more importantly, may you make it your highest priority each and every day to come before God and enter into deeper relationship with Him, clothing yourself in your new identity, in Him, and there find the strength to hold your ground. Who knows how many others will discover their freedom because you discover and hold onto yours? Who knows if the dream of God’s heart doesn’t start right here, with you and me? Who knows if, in more ways than we realize, we can truly be one nation under God once again, as the Kingdom of God in you and in me becomes an emblem of hope to those around us, because we’ve stood our ground?

Dear Woman of Breakthrough, take your stand and be determined to possess and re-possess all that God intends for you to, starting now!

{Photo images courtesy of http://www.pixabay.com}

 

 


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