Choose Battles Wisely – When to Fight and When to Walk Away

In the upside-down world we live in, we must choose our battles wisely, knowing when to fight and when to just walk away. I don’t always have a clear direction to know when a fight is worth it.

My younger cousin and I would often wrestle. Both wiry and good-natured, the wrestling usually resulted in healthy competition and laughter. On one particular occasion, my cousin’s intentions shifted. My father sensed it and gave warning. This fight ended all future fights! I limped away with a black eye and bleeding nose, while he was unscathed. Though younger, he clearly overpowered me.

Dog Fight

It was the beginning of learning to choose my battles wisely!

Meet Jacob

Jacob was used to fighting. He fought his way out of the womb holding his brother Esau’s ankle, later robbing him of his birthright and blessing. Jacob lived up to his name, grasping the heel, taking advantage of and deceiving others.

The contention in the womb led Rebecca to seek God, “Why is this happening. . .?” (Gen 25:22)

“The LORD said, to her,
Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger.”
Genesis 25:23

The battle between the two brothers grew so strong that Jacob fled for his life with only a staff and the clothes on his back. Alone, there was no one to swindle or fight, but himself.

Fighting FIsh

The first night away, Jacob had a God-inspired dream of a staircase to heaven. Jacob called the place Bethel, meaning the house of God.

“When Jacob awoke from his sleep,
he thought, ‘Surely the LORD is in this place,
and I was not aware of it.’
He was afraid and said,
‘How awesome is this place!‘ . . . “
Genesis 28:16-17

Jacob’s Match

After the long trek to his ancestor’s homeland, Jacob met both his future wife, Rachel, and her father, Laban. Jacob didn’t know it yet, but in Laban, he met his match.

Try as he might, he was unable to out-swindle and out-connive Laban who cheated him into marrying the wrong woman and changed his wages continuously.

“You know that I’ve worked for your father
with all my strength,
yet your father has cheated me
by changing my wages ten times.”
Genesis 31:6,7

After twenty years, Jacob learned to pick his battles; he ran for the hills instead of fighting (31:21,38). Sometimes, I’m just as slow in learning which match to engage and which to leave alone.

Cat Fight

Laban, though a cheat, was no fool. He recognized God’s blessing on Jacob created increased wealth in his coffers. Gathering a renegade mob, he pursued Jacob to bring him back, but God warned him against taking action.

Laban chose his battles wisely. Jacob he could handle, but once God stepped in, Laban backed out of the fight.

The Real Battle

Our ultimate battle isn’t against people or any political or economic system. The real battle we face rests within ourselves. The closer Jacob came to “home,” the closer he came to himself.

Genesis 32:1 says, “. . . the angels of God met him.”

I would appreciate a few more details, but none are given. Jacob knew he was entering hallowed ground. Yes, he was “in great fear and distress” over seeing his brother Esau, but a deeper foreboding cast its shadow. Jacob knew it (Gen 32:7).

Fighting Tigers

Finally, we witness a glimpse of the “new” Jacob: a humble Jacob, a contrite and God-seeking Jacob.

“Then Jacob prayed, ‘O God of my father Abraham,
God of my father Isaac, LORD . . .
I am unworthy of all the kindness
and faithfulness you have shown your servant,
I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan,
but now I have become two camps.
Save me, I pray,
from the hand of my brother Esau,
for I am afraid. . . ”
Genesis 32:9-11

What’s this! An honest Jacob, too!

A Battle Worth Fighting

In the night, whether through self-protection or God-direction, Jacob sent gifts ahead to Esau to pacify him” (Gen 32:20). In the middle of the night, Jacob also moved his entire household, servants and possessions across the Jabbok. A vicious battle was about to ensue. Unsure of the outcome, he moved everyone to safety.

“So Jacob was left alone,
and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.”
Genesis 32:24

Tearfully, I remember my moments “alone.” Moments of only God and me. Contending for His promises. Resisting His discipline. Questioning His agenda. It wasn’t easy with Jacob; its certainly wasn’t easy for me either.

Horse Fight

Did his family hear his screams of anguish, his groans of pain, or his wails for mercy from the other side of the stream? How far did his voice echo through the once still night?

Neither God nor Jacob relented. The past needed to be dealt with before the unfolding of Jacob’s future destiny. With not even a staff to lean on, Jacob faced God. It was both his darkest night and his brightest dawn.

God’s Discipline

Hosea offers insight into why God chose this battle wisely.

“The LORD . . . will punish Jacob according to his ways
and repay him according to his deeds.
In the womb he grasped his brother’s heel;
as a man he struggled with God.
Hosea 12:2,3

This battle separated Jacob’s past from his future, from living in self-motivated deception to walking with the God of Truth, from contending in the flesh to trusting in the Spirit.

Jacob died that night! For “no one sees God and lives!” (Ex 33:20)

Bull Fight

In the dust of Jacob’s life, Israel rose. Israel struggled with God, walking out of personal darkness into the dawn of his purpose.

“. . . I saw God face to face,  
and yet my life was spared.”
Genesis 32:30

God is just and always good. Jacob’s corrupt nature had to die before he would receive God’s promised blessing. Whenever God brings up our past, His purpose is redemptive. God’s discipline always points to future hope.

“The Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
Hebrews 12:6

God chooses His battles wisely with us, too.

Limping Forward

My battle left me with a black eye and bloody nose; Jacob’s left him with a permanent limp. Rather than a mark of weakness, the limp marked a man of divine strength — humble and submissive to His Lord.

“He struggled with the angel and overcame him;
he wept and begged for his favor.”
Hosea 12:4

Everywhere Jacob went from that time forward, he would consecrate it to God. In Shechem, “he set up an altar and called it El Elohe Israel” (Gen 33:20).

God was no longer just the God of his ancestors, but now El Elohe Israel, his own Mighty God. God longs to be personal to each one of us — intimate and near.

Goat Fight

God brought Jacob back to Bethel, the stairway to heaven. Jacob consecrated his entire family in preparation. Now instead of running from God, Jacob ran to Him.

“God appeared to him again and blessed him . . .
you will no longer be called Jacob;
your name will be Israel‘ . . .
And God said to him, ‘I am God Almighty.”
Genesis 35:9-11

When we choose our battles wisely, we walk with new identity, albeit limping in humanity’s weakness, but princes and princesses of God, nonetheless.

God Almighty

Encounter by encounter, Jacob experienced an ever-increasing awareness of the God he contended with. Jehovah, LORD God of his fathers. Then as personal LORD, the I Am. In the face to face night encounter, Jacob found God to be imitate, loving and gracious, powerful and just. At Bethel, God revealed Himself as God Almighty, El Shaddai, the one who pours Himself out, liberally and completely.

The same is true for us! The longer we walk with God, battling through our internal issues and surrendering to His invitation to intimacy, the more we discovery His greatness and goodness.

Lion

Jacob learned to choose his battles wisely, walking away from the insignificant, making peace with his oppressors, leaving behind the deceivers, and contending with the only One with Whom it really mattered.

May we all choose our battles as wisely, discovering that God is present with us in an ever-increasing measure.

The Battle is the Lord’s – Training for War!

If you are fortunate, one struggle will end before another begins. Often, however, battles invade in mass. There are times when I want to raise the white flag of surrender and say, “Enough, Lord!” Battles serve a divine purpose. Ultimately every battle we face is the Lord’s while at the same time, He is training us for war.

“These are the nations the LORD left to test all those Israelites
who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan
(he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites
who had not had previous battle experience.”
Judges 3:1,2

God’s intention is for us all to become mighty in battle, warriors who are thoroughly equipped and prepared for any affront. Training is developed in the battle field of experience not in the classroom of hypothesis.

We all enjoy singing the songs of victory; few relish in the throes of battle.

The Battle is the Lord’s

Whatever we are going through, whether small or great, God alone gains the victory for us. Though it is tempting to “handle” the small stuff ourselves, foundational principles are learned in the little battles of life that can be applied equally to larger attacks.

Turning our face toward God!

“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.”
2 Chronicles 20:15

Don’t wait for the marriage to fail, the diagnosis of cancer, the prodigal son to run off to a distant land, or the bank account to occupy the red zone before relying on the Lord’s help. Bring every struggle and battle to the Lord, seek His strategy, and follow His directives.

Jehoshaphat “inquired of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast“. Then all the people around also sought “help from the LORD.”

The King, as one in authority, went first. He set the precedent. Prayer and fasting don’t twist the arm of God, rather they position hearts to trust, eyes to see, ears to hear and minds to comprehend the agendas of God.

God is Big Enough

When we learn to fearlessly trust during the “little”, trusting in the “big” comes instinctively. God dwindled Gideon’s army down to where only He would receive the glory. First God released the fearful.

“Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave…
So twenty-two thousand men left…”
Judges 7:3

Fear spreads quickly! Twenty-two thousand fear-filled warriors would easily have destabilized the entire army! Once fear was weeded out, only courage remained!

Fear may help get the adrenaline pumping, but no one functions at their best when afraid. It is the solid recognition of Who God is, that solidifies fearless trust. Stepping forward in God’s authority, dominion, and power, increases strength, renews hope and builds extravagant faith.

“LORD, the God of our ancestors,
are you not the God who is in heaven?
You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations.
Power and might are in your hand,
and no one can withstand you.”
2 Chronicles 20:6

State the Problem

Don’t be afraid of calling things out! My father would say, “Call a spade a spade!” In other words, say it like it is! State the circumstance you are facing honestly and clearly. Acknowledging personal inability to overcome a battle is never a declaration of God’s inability, only ours!

When we are weak, God is strong!

“For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.
We do not know what to do,
but our eyes are on you.”
2 Chronicles 20:12

The important part is knowing who you are with!

We’re not asking God to come and join us in our battle. We position ourselves with Him! Like a little child standing in our Father’s shadow, we are invincible with our God! We always win!

Paul put it this way:

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Philippians 1:21

We cannot assume we know how to fight our battle! “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

Be merciful to me, my God,
for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
all day long they press their attack
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you…
in God I trust and am not afraid.”
Psalms 56:1-4

In God we trust!

Warriors Who Don’t Fight

Here comes the seeming contradiction! God allows the enemy to come close for the specific purpose of equipping and training us for battle. When we step into battle position, He fights!

“You will not have to fight this battle.
Take up your positions: stand firm
and see the deliverance the LORD will give you..”
2 Chronicles 20:17

The weapons of our warfare are not carnal!

The temptation is to pick up the weapons and run ahead of our Leader. Self-reliance and self-sufficiency must be laid down before we even begin.

We take our position in worship and adoration, standing firm on the unfailing promises of God. Our eyes are fixed on the LORD to bring victory. Positioning ourselves in Christ, we move forward.

Go out to face them
2 Chronicles 20:17

Face your battle! Even if you need to lean on others, stand and face your struggle!

The Song of Victory

Jehoshaphat was so confident of God’s victory he placed the singers in the lead! The warriors armed with physical weapons followed behind.

“What song is so powerful enemies cringe and flee at the melody?” I ask.

“His love endures forever” is the answer.

“Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD
and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness
as they went out at the head of the army,saying:
Give thanks to the LORD,
for his love endures forever,’ ”
2 Chronicles 20:21

Now that is audacity!

Songs of worship and praise disarm the enemy camp!

The song of victory buckled the knees of the enemy before the fighting began. The joyous sound of audacious faith and trust in God caused the enemy to be thrown into confusion.

The minstrels carried the tune back to the streets of Jerusalem and into the temple. When the song of thanksgiving rises, demonic kingdoms hear and tremble.

Why? The battle is not ours; the battle is the Lord’s.

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More Reading:

Intercession – Releasing The Power of The Cross Through Prayer

Beauty Instead of Ashes! Out with the Old! In with the New!

 

Rebuild the Walls! Fight for Your Families, Your Sons And Your Daughters!

Rebuild the Walls

God sent Nehemiah on a mission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, walls that were broken down through the actions of preceding generations. “Fight for your families, your sons, and your daughters!” He challenged the remnant.

We don’t have to look far to see the devastation surrounding homes and families today. Is it time for that deep cry to rise again?

“After I looked things over,
I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people…
 fight for your families, your sons and your daughters,
your wives and your homes.”
Nehemiah 4:14

Broken Walls

The walls have been broken and the gates have been burned around many of our homes. God’s defense system through marriages and families has been undermined, negated, legislated against, and maligned. The fires of hell are aimed to do irreparable damage.

Nehemiah began with prayer!

Prayer

Prayer was a constant part of Nehemiah’s life! There was more than a physical wall that needed rebuilding. Discouragement, despair and disgrace hovered over his people. God needed to first bring down internal walls of defeat  before they were able to actively rebuild the tangible walls around the city.

Every step included prayer!

God's plan is brilliant

Nehemiah began by confessing his own sin and the sins of his people. It wasn’t long before God began to release the strategies to rebuild the broken walls. God mobilizes his people to do kingdom work when they pray!

One person took the faith action of prayer! God gave direction on how to reverse the devastation!

Reinforce

A chain is only as a strong as its weakest link; a wall is only as strong as its lowest point. Nehemiah paid special attention to these exposed areas!

“Therefore I stationed some of the people
behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places…”
Nehemiah 4:14
 

We all carry brokenness and wounding! These are our lowest and most exposed places!

We bandage burns and cast broken bones, knowing damaged parts need extra protection and care. The same is true in the spiritual, relational and emotional dimensions of our lives.

The strong and brave!

Nehemiah sent the strongest and bravest to the positions of greatest weakness and highest need! If you are strong, ask God to put you in the right place at the right time to strengthen and help the broken and weak. If you are in need, take this moment to ask God to bring men and women of faith beside you!

Equip

The first step is placing the right people into the right position; the next step is equipping them to do the work!

“… posting them by families,
with their swords, spears and bows.”
Nehemiah 4:14

Never separate a bear from her cubs! Few survive the experience! Trying to take a newborn calf from its mother brings similar consequences. I have never experienced the first; I have had a few tangles with the latter!

Fight like a mother bear for her cubs

There is a God-given instinct in each of us to fight for and defend our families. We will risk for family what we would never risk for any other cause.

Nehemiah equipped them to fight:

  • swords for face to face combat
  • spears for an enemy advancing to engage in battle
  • bows and arrows for a pending assault from farther away

Families need the right tools to succeed! Pastors, mentors, Christian psychologists, inner healing therapists and many others form the front lines workers in the weakest and most vulnerable places among us.

These have all be an incredible healing influence in my life!

Encourage

We can easily become worn down by the sheer weight of the rebuild process. Carrying stones all day every day is tiring work!

“…Don’t be afraid of them.
Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome...”

Remember God is great and awesome!

The enemy is real! The problems unceasing! The odds seem impossible! In the midst of an overwhelming process, we can become so focused on the rocks in front of us that we miss the bigger picture.

In the midst of intense rebuilding it is necessary to zoom out and zoom up!

Zoom out! Zoom up! God is bigger than your circumstance! Nothing can outdo the cross! Click To Tweet

God is bigger than your circumstance! Nothing can outdo the cross!

Support

“The officers posted themselves behind all the people
…who were building the wall..”
Nehemiah 4:16

We all must take responsibility for our own destructive attitudes and behaviours. Willing and concentrated efforts by those actually living in broken situations is necessary!

Sometimes we think leadership is most effective in the front; Nehemiah knew his officers were most effective behind the workers!

What a difference it makes to know your back is covered! Secure leaders positions themselves behind the workers offering prayer and protection. Godly leaders hold up the weak until they reach a healthy level of stability.

Community

The enemy schemes to divide and conquer. In the rebuilding process developing a sense of community and belonging is critical.

“Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people,
“The work is extensive and spread out,
and we are widely separated from each other along the wall.”
Nehemiah 4:19

There is danger in being separated from the ones who are co-labouring with us. Seeking out support groups, community groups and mentors will help to validate and encourage us as we rebuild.

“Many hands make light work!” was a common saying in my home. It is true! Together we are strong!

Ready to Rebuild

“Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me
took off our clothes; each had his weapon,
even when he went for water.”
Nehemiah 4:23

God has given us the spiritual garments we need to live victorious. (Ephesians 6:10-18) It is up to us to put them on and to keep them on! Day and night!

At the same time, we cannot neglect the need to sustain and nurture ourselves. Water is a necessity! Water in the bible often refers to Holy Spirit. The greatest need we have is to be constantly filled with the life giving flow of the Spirit.

Without Him the task is impossible! We would be like an aimless wanderer in the desert dying of thirst!

The rebuild process can seem overwhelming. Make every effort to be refreshed and renewed spiritually, physically and emotionally.

Nehemiah followed these God strategies to rebuild the ruined walls of Jerusalem. God’s gracious hand was with him! The walls were rebuilt in just fifty-two days!

God is brilliant! His plans are perfect! Following His pattern to rebuild our homes and families, creates strong defenses to help us fight for our homes and families.

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More victorious reading! Trophies of Victory! Bring the Trophy Home!

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