This last Friday, a sports legend passed away.
Muhammad Ali, perhaps the greatest boxer of all time, died at the age of 74.
I've never been a boxing fan, but I have to admit that Ali was gifted with incredible athletic ability.
He was an innovative and strategic fighter (who could forget "rope-a-dope"), a flashy and quick-witted character ("float like a butterfly, sting like a bee"), and became perhaps the first boxer to bring celebrity to the sport.
His death made me think of a post that I wrote five years ago (with some 2016 *tweaks*), and I hope you don't mind me sharing a re-post of it.
The original was titled, "Two-Fisted Faith."
Faith is tough sometimes, isn't it?
And yet, we need to have tough faith.
Faith that stands against the enemy's attacks.
Faith that stands strong…
But are you like me?
Sometimes I struggle with faith – struggle with what it requires.
You know that little red-and-white bullseye logo for a certain company? (Target…)
Paint one of those right on my back.
And it always seems like the enemy seeks us out when we are least able to fight.
When we are weak or tired or sick or hurt or overwrought.
It's like our vulnerability draws him in – like a heat-seeking missile.
He zeroes in – waiting for the perfect, unprotected moment to strike.
And strike he does…over and over…
I'm being bombarded.
Suffice it to say, the attacks are coming on various fronts, and my family has had more things happen in the last month than has happened in the last year…
Sometimes it makes me feel like I just want to run and hide.
It was easier flying "under" Satan's radar.
It is so easy to doubt God's presence and His plan, when our eyes are so short-sighted, our minds so limited by human understanding.
Sometimes we have doubts and fears – and they seem overwhelming.
After all, we're still walking through "the valley of the shadow of death."
And it is in that valley that the devil whispers one of his worst taunts…
"Is God really good?"
Sometimes, the evidence seems to point otherwise.
I think this is the believer's greatest battle – to believe, no matter what.
A few years ago, at my church down-the-hill, the pastor gave a message that talked about this battle, and about the kind of faith that we need to fight it.
The pastor called it "two-fisted faith."
He used this Scripture to explain what he meant:
"O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power…" (Daniel 3:16-17, NLT)
That's one fist…
"But even if he doesn't, we want to make it clear to you…that we will NEVER serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up." (Daniel 3:18, NLT)
That would be the second fist – and I'd say it's the one that delivers the knockout punch.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego trusted God to deliver them.
BUT, they were determined to be faithful regardless of the consequences.
This is crucial – we must be faithful to serve God whether He intervenes on our behalf or not.
That's such a tough one for me.
But I am asking the Lord to increase my faith muscles.
To strengthen my shaky legs, and restore my spirit.
To enable me to stand strong, in spite of the attacks.
To give me a sense of His presence and peace.
We are never alone.
Remember that fiery furnace?
Catch this dialogue:
"But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, 'Didn't we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?'
'Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,' they replied.
'Look!' Nebuchadnezzar shouted. 'I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!'"
(Daniel 3:24-25, NLT)
Let me tell you this, fellow fighters...
There will always be that fourth person in the fire…standing alongside…keeping the fires of adversity from burning us up.
God is good.
He has a Master Plan that is unfolding, though it may be unknown to us.
We must ground ourselves in the faithful promises of God, not in our feelings.
We have to allow our doubts and fears to lead us closer to Him.
We must fight strong.
So, even though I have a target on my back, I'm asking the Lord to help me raise two little fists in faith.
One punch – I believe God will save me...
Two punch – and even if He doesn't, I will never bow down...
Will you join me in the fight?
hits the mat,
down and out,
"Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign LORD is my strength!" (Habbakuk 3:17-19, NLT)
"The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, 'The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!' The LORD is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the LORD."
(Lamentations 3:19-26, NLT)
"'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.'" (Isaiah 43:1-3, NLT)
"Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance." (Psalm 32:6-7, NASB)
"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." (Psalm 18:16-19, NLT)
"...if the Lord had not been on our side when people attacked us, they would have swallowed us alive when their anger flared against us; the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away. Praise be to the Lord, who has not let us be torn by their teeth. We have escaped like a bird from the fowler's snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." (Psalm 124:2-8, NIV)
"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." (Ephesians 6:13, NIV)
"Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you."
(James 4:7, AMP)
"And the satraps, the deputies, the governors, and the king's counselors gathered around together and saw these men – that the fire had no power upon their bodies, nor was the hair of their head singed; neither were their garments scorched or changed in color or condition, nor had even the smell of smoke clung to them. Then Nebuchadnezzar said, 'Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who believed in, trusted in, and relied on Him!'"
(Daniel 3:27-28, AMP)
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