Choosing Battles Wisely
by Lonnie Lane
We are advised to “choose your battles wisely.” I take this to mean that not every battle that comes to us is one we need involve ourselves in. This past week several battles were presented to me. Three were quests for truth. Each had some merit and significant issue in their own right. One concerned a newly publicized book that seems to misinterpret Israel’s need for salvation. In its attempt to turn away what has sometimes been an anti-Semitic view of Israel and the Jewish people by the church, it basically eliminated or at least soft-peddled the need for Jews to believe in Yeshua in order to be saved. What is that old expression? “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” In this case, it couldn’t be more true. The premise of this book in this regard is false teaching.
As a Jewish person, I can tell you without any doubt that before I knew Yeshua I had no relationship with God despite all my active involvement in my synagogue and my holiday-keeping. Upon accepting Yeshua as the One who took the punishment for my sins, I entered into a new and fresh relationship with God Whom I now saw I had never known at all before. I found out that it was my sin that had separated me from God, and when I trusted that my sin was paid for by the Blood of Yeshua, I had “peace with God through faith.” (Rom 5:1) No one can ever tell me there is any “other name by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) Yeshua is the only way to knowing God personally. But was it my battle, as the person who told me about it, suggested it should be?
The second battle was also about Israel, and also a book, this one written by someone who had lived in Israel who has had some inside information on what’s supposedly going on politically in the world and the pressures on and within Israel. Once again I was made aware that things are not always as they appear. And certainly not as they are presented – or not presented – in the media. Much is hidden that the average person like you and me haven’t a clue about. It would seem, from this book’s perspective anyway, that advancement toward a one-world-government is operative in moving the chess pieces around on the earth’s political chess board. This world-wide government is not likely to want God to be in control, and especially if He looks like He’s the Holy One of Israel!
In the mean time, I am besieged with a plethora of emails about the Annapolis talks about the fate of Israel. Good chance you may be also. Plus another set of emails from a sort-of family member who is verbose about yet another issue, this one affecting the lives of innocent Arab people, whom I care about actually, whom he is attempting to protect by bringing what he feels is truth to the attention of whomever will read his impassioned emails. It’s sometimes all just a bit too much to take in, don’t you think?
So what are we to do? How many things can we take on to care about? How are we to pray? What are we to believe? Personally, I’d much prefer the “ostrich syndrome” of sticking my head in the sand so I don’t see all this. Maybe it would all go away if I did. I, like you I expect, really just want to live “happily ever after” here in this life and beyond. But since we live in the here and now as it is, and since God has told us we’re in a battle (see Eph 6:10-18), albeit not one of “flesh and blood” (:12), we must find out what battles God wants us to fight and how, as well as which ones He is not calling us to fight.
As we have said before, today the media causes us to be emotionally responsive to threats that are not really in our lives. We are exercised daily, adrenalin pumped emotions stirred as we agree or not agree with what’s taking place before our eyes as we read or on a screen, including the various interpretations we receive. Trouble is, these are not “just the facts, ma’am.” There’s too much we don’t know and what is presented is first of all, too often only someone’s interpretation, and secondly, it can only be a part of what’s really going on.
For instance, after having been indoctrinated that our troops are in constant danger and peril, and suffering terribly, I was surprised to meet a flock of fatigue-clad soldiers on leave from Iraq on an airport shuttle not too long ago. They were home from Iraq for Thanksgiving and were heading back there in 2 weeks. They were normal, seemingly well-adjusted, didn’t seem traumatized at all, and in what little conversation we had (I thanked them for defending our country) or I overheard as they talked among themselves, they evidently felt they were relatively safe and that they were there in Iraq for a good reason and were proud to be a part of it for our country. I’m not telling you that I’m for the war or against it. I’m just telling you that we only get pieces of information, not the whole picture, and the pictures we do get only represent someone’s interpretation, not everyone’s. There’s more than meets the eye no matter how clear a picture we get on our TV or computer screens.
One could get the impression that what we see in the news is ALL or MOST of what’s going on in the world. And one could be fearful of how horrible it all is. I’m not saying we do not have significant problems. We do. Yes, we really do. And when God calls us to do so, we must be there to fight HIS battles and reach out to help others. But the bad news isn’t all that’s going on in the world. God is at work all over the globe and in our individual lives and in our communities doing wonderful, extraordinary, even supernatural things. There’s lots of GOOD NEWS happening on the earth today. True, we’re not likely to hear too much of it through the media. That’s why programs like Sid’s and other truth-baring, Gospel-sharing programs are so very important.
While it may call for some discernment, good Christian programming often helps bring the glory that’s reigning down on us in these days of darkness to our attention. God being omnipresent He is able to touch you in your home while you are watching some anointed program happening entirely elsewhere and be blessed. It’s still quite amazing to me. The link-up is in the Spirit.
It is admittedly dark out there in this world, and increasingly so. But God has made us a promise in the midst of it:
“Arise, shine; For your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples; But the Lord will rise upon you, and His glory will appear upon you.” (Is 60:1,2)
This promise was made to Israel first of all. These words are most meaningful in light of all that’s coming against her today. Her light will not go out, by God’s great grace. And it also applies to all who have joined themselves to the God of Israel through faith in Messiah Yeshua, e.g. the Gentile church. This is a good Scripture to pray into and use as a jump-off point for intercession for Israel and for the church, by the way.
No matter what is projected to us as trouble and woe, for those of us who are followers of Yeshua, the glory of the Lord IS rising upon us. We need to occupy ourselves with that reality and not unending recounting and rehashing of the darkness. There’s a whole other part of life to be involved with. It brings up the oft-asked question: Do I really believe what I believe? (Selah.)
This really is an incredible time to be alive. Will it be easy? Maybe not. Will it be a stretch? Probably. But I’ve discovered that trying to prepare myself for what may be trouble by focusing on it, uses up my emotional energy and leaves me less prepared for what might come. But developing my trust in Yeshua, my ability to hear His voice even in the midst of noise, giving where I haven’t given before for the joy of it to make something easier or better for someone else or just to bless them, and learning how to walk by faith in a deeper way, will take me much further to being ready should something come than if I rehearsed the trouble in my mind, worrying about it. And I’m having a much better time enjoying the Lord as well.
Trust me, you will hear worse reports. Many will be true – though not all. Some will sound terrible and then slip away without consequence – though not all. But if you’re accustomed to locking in on Yeshua immediately and quieting your soul before Him to find out what He’s asking you to do, you’re more than likely going to find out that He’s not asking you to be involved in all those battles and options that present themselves before you. I believe many of them are the devil’s way of wearing down God’s people. The point here isn’t to say, Trouble is coming, you better get closer to Him. The point is get closer to Him so IF trouble comes into your back yard, you’ll be able to hear Him and know what to do. And if no trouble ever comes, well praise the Lord, you’ve come to know Him more than ever.
God is doing an unprecedented work in the world today. There are ministries in the world that are impacting souls. I met a man just yesterday who is leading thousands to the Lord in South American countries, and bringing a million tons of aid in the form of clothing and medical supplies. You know what his training for this was? He was a furniture salesman who cried out to God for His fire to come upon him so that all that was not pleasing to God would be removed from him. He spent lots of time on the floor before God in what many call “carpet time” and yielded to God, enjoying Him, as well as crying out to Him for purity and to make him like Jesus. That was it. No Bible college. No seminary. Just a heart for God that wouldn’t quit. No further qualifications. He began to find he was walking in an impartation of power that little by little touched people’s lives, until God is now using him to fight the battle of poverty and godlessness in South America.
Do you have a warm loving feeling inside because you know Yeshua? Does the mention of His name bring a smile to your face? Is your expectation high at what He’s doing in your life and the lives of others around you? If you said yes, this is normal Christianity. Or maybe this isn’t what youÕre feeling right now. That’s ok. What I’m wanting to do is fill you with hope, with anticipation that God has GOOD NEWS for you. He is our all-powerful, all-loving, all-forgiving (when we repent), spirit-awakening, care-taking, need-providing, direction-guiding, body-healing, soul-restoring, prayer-answering Father-God! And the Good News is He’s made us His own children. We’re His and He cares for His own. He is a good God!
Still, many of us have a battle going on inside. The first battle is within ourselves. We need to fight among other things, our own apathy, our own complacency, our own numbness to what’s going on in the world because we’re overloaded and desensitized to the violence and evil that is constantly presented before us. We’re so inundated with it that we shut down. We need to fight to care. We may need to ask God to wake us up and do a work in our hearts so that we really care.
Lord, give us Your heart for the lost. Wake us up to what You’re doing so we can be a part of it. Make us alive to what You want to do in our lives and right around us. Prepare us to walk out Your highest will for our lives, Lord. Show us what’s going on in the Kingdom, not just the world.
I’ll tell you who is awake and on fire. A bunch of teenagers in Jacksonville, FL. I went to a Youth Quake Alive meeting this past weekend. It was a joint meeting with Paul Wilbur and Youth Quake to share with the kids what anti-Semitism is and how silent the church was during WWII and what’s taking place now in various places in the world in this regard. They were made aware through skits and music that had been written – by a staff of 30 kids themselves I might add – to portray to the other approximately 600 or so kids that were there the theme of “Never Again.” They got to watch a DVD put to music of the anti-Semitism during WWII and today, entitled The Forgotten People (by Ted Pierce) and they were challenged to be the generation that would stand by Israel should Israel need standing by again.
The cheers and whistles that went up in their commitment to stand with the Jewish people were greatly impacting to me and my family who were there. These kids are not only on fire for Yeshua for Whom they evidence great love and passion, they made a commitment to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the Jewish people and to be there if need be. A petition was read imploring President Bush not to let America be instruments to divide the Land of Israel, and letting him know what they believe and who they are. Then 20 clip boards were passed around as everyone, kids and adults, signed their name, age, and address to the petition which is to be sent to President Bush, to congress and to the Knesset. They’re taking action. These kids had glory all over them, even if I didn’t see any gold dust or miracles. Their cheering praise and enthusiasm for the Lord Himself was nothing short of glorious. When the next generation loves Yeshua that much, there’s great hope for the future.
God takes care of His battles one way or another. I found out that a scholarly Messianic teacher addressed the issue of salvation for Israel with the above mentioned author. And I made the decision not to read the book about the one-world government that was offered to me. It’s enough for me to know the situation exists without being in on the details. I can pray God’s Word, like the suggestion to pray Isaiah 61 above. There is far more power in praying Scripture than circumstances. You can usually find a Scripture that will address the circumstance. Ask God to help. Even leafing through Isaiah will give you much to pray for Israel and for our own country. You can’t miss praying according to God’s will when you’re praying for righteousness. Pray into the Lord’s Word, not the world’s battles. The battle is the Lord’s ultimately anyway. Pray His promises with confidence, not worrying about what the devil’s doing in the world. When I pray that way, then I have an idea of how God thinks and I can see the picture through His eyes. This kind of insight can certainly help us to choose our battles wisely.
The Scriptures do tell us not to know (be familiar with) evil. The antidote is to focus on, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” (Phil 4:8). Paul said that in the midst of some pretty terrible circumstances in Rome at that time and in his own life. If it worked for Paul, pretty good chance it’ll work for us.
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundationk, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.