Links Daily Devotional

Understanding the Battle

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, NIV)

Most sports are devised around a system of struggle between two opponents. Golf is really unique in its concept of a struggle against the course and not against another player. There is ultimately a winner among competitors but the competition can only be won by the player who succeeds in scoring the lowest score on the course. It does not matter what others do—there is no defense in golf. It is at heart an individual game requiring a singular battle involving one’s mind, body, and spirit to overcome and gain the prize.

We are empowered to battle through life and every obstacle we face, not in our own strength but through the power of the Holy Spirit in us.It is important to remember as Christians that our fight is not against the people we live alongside. They are neither our enemy or our competition. God’s grace abounds in vast quantities to all who will receive it. There is plenty to go around. We are not competing for God’s love and we don’t have to push someone else aside to receive it. We cannot win God’s attention or mercy through any effort to do or be good. We can’t muster enough goodness of our own to make a blip on God’s radar. Instead he asks us to come just as we are to receive his power, love and mercy. That leaves no room in our heart for pride or jealousy. We are loved inexplicably and fully by the God of the universe purely by his choice. We can rest in that knowledge.

So if we are not fighting with each other to get God’s attention, what is it we battle against? Why are our lives complicated by the interactions we have with other people? According to our scripture for today, we are in fact in a battle, a fierce cosmic battle with the dark powers that rule the earth and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. It is important to remember who we battle against. We humans are caught in the midst of a battle for the souls of every human on earth. If we have experienced God’s grace, we don’t fight this battle alone and we don’t fight it only for ourselves. We are on a tough course and our fight is individual—only we can fight our fight, but we have the help of the One who made us. We are empowered to battle through life and every obstacle we face, not in our own strength but through the power of the Holy Spirit in us, who purifies our mind, strengthens our body, and calms and brings peace to our spirit in the midst of the battle.

Those who have not yet experienced the protection, power, and love of God go through life with no defense against these same dark powers and spiritual forces of evil. They see the people in their lives as their competitors who they must ward off to get what they need. They are stingy with their love, angry when they don’t win and fearful of other people’s intentions.

Our responsibility as the redeemed children of God is to show the world a different way. We are blessed beyond imagination and are assured that we will win in the end. We can help win this cosmic battle by being generous with our love, turning the other cheek, and being last and not first. We will perhaps appear foolish before the world because these actions run contrary to what the world believes is the way to win. We know better. We play our game of life before an audience of One. He will make us winners as we grow in grace and mercy and shed light on the darkness of the world around us.

Linda Ballard

January 5, 2017

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