For the past five weeks, we’ve been walking through the life of Jacob. We’ve seen him wrestle with God himself, but also greed, envy, selfishness, pride, his identity and his family. And through it all, we’ve learned about the faithfulness of God and the consequences of fighting Him.
So how do we ensure that our own stories are defined by God’s will instead of our appetites? What lies are we letting stew? How do we back away from our weaknesses and instead embrace His promises?
Regardless of your own battle — temptation, identity, forgiveness — God wants to teach us how to fight. He wants us to confront the lies waging war in our mind and heart. And he wants us to be victorious, so that we can live lives of freedom.
Here are five ways to continue the fight now that the series is over.
1). Know what you’re up against.
Is there an area of your life that you are giving over to destructive lies, instead of trusting God? What’s weighing on your identity? Where in your life are you acting like a fool?
If you’re still working through this, ask God in prayer to reveal at least one area to target. Maybe you’re battling greed, envy, lust, pride, anger or bitterness. Or maybe you’ve been chasing success, money or influence.
Like a coach reviewing game tape, pinpoint your weaknesses. When do you feel most susceptible to envy? What are some steps you can take to ward off lust? How can you interject God’s truths when experiencing anger and bitterness?
Ask God to reveal what’s really fueling that emotion or habit. Throughout Jacob’s life, he struggled with many things. But behind much of that was his inability to trust in God’s promises. He thought he needed more.
2). Be intentional.
Knowing your enemy is half the battle. The other half is the fight itself. And if you’re serious about winning, you need to be intentional. Most fights require consistent training.
Last month, we talked about the power of incorporating Rhythms into our lives. Try picking one day of the week to pray through your fight. Be upfront with what you’re battling and ask God for strength in the process.
Also, seek accountability in a friend or your dinner group. Ask that they keep tabs on your progress. Fights usually turn out best when there’s someone alongside us.
3). Work on curbing your appetites.
Throughout scripture, we see people called to fast. Fasting is a spiritual discipline that, over time, teaches us to stop prioritizing our immediate needs. It’s a symbol of humility and dependence on God as we learn to lean on Him.
Try incorporating fasting into your life on a routine basis — perhaps once or twice a month. And don’t forget that fasting can go beyond food. If it’s lust you’re battling, consider a dating fast. If you’re struggling with envy, try taking a break from social media.
4). Dive in.
If you haven’t already, read Jacob’s whole story, from Gen. 25-50. If you have read it, read it again. Now that the series is over, focus on the story’s major themes. Where do you see examples of God’s faithfulness? Where do you see Jacob living with the consequences of sin? And where do you see parallels between Jacob’s story and your own?
5). Read on.
There are several books that expand on some of the themes we’ve been talking about for the past five weeks. Here are a few recommended by members of our church family:
Crash the Chatterbox: Hearing God’s Voice Above All Others by Steven Furtick
Day in and day out, each of us goes through life listening to and believing voices that tell us who we are or how to feel. How often are we letting God’s voice rule above all others? In “Crash the Chatterbox,” Pastor Steven Furtick exposes the many voices that lies sound like – fear, insecurity, condemnation and discouragement. We’ve all faced them at one point or another, just as Jacob did. Read this book to learn how to change your internal dialogue and embrace God’s truths in your heart and thoughts.
The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller
In this short but savory read, Tim Keller discusses what true humility is by raising our awareness of the ways our ego is either building itself up or tearing itself down. He breaks down the fight within and explains how the freedom and joy God has for us can be found in self-forgetfulness.
Unashamed by Christine Caine
By exposing how we let experiences of shame weigh down our identities, Christine Caine points to the truth that God is greater and longs to love and set us free from our pasts. “You can deal with your yesterday today,” she writes, “so that you can move on to what God has in store for you tomorrow — a powerful purpose and destiny he wants you to fulfill.”
Did you miss any part of “The Fight” series? Listen to it here.