A popular term in “boxing” or just the sport arena period is “the underdog”. The underdog is described as the loser or predicted loser in a contest. However, many people like to hear of the underdog coming back to be on top. We like underdogs because they give us a sense of confidence in that individual. Perhaps it is the tenacity that they possess, or the confidence in overcoming obstacles or maybe it is the drive that keeps them pressing. Whatever it is, these individuals do not give up because of something deep inside of them that will not allow them to just bow down and succumb to what is before them.
Throughout history, there have been countless heroes and underdogs that had the courage to believe different than what was before them. Oftentimes, the underdog went through relentless persecution for who they were. It is not easy to hear someone believe that you are not qualified or you are the predicted loser of a thing. This can really mess with a persons psyche -especially in the boxing arena, however, this can also be to the advantage of that boxer as well. This will/can strengthen him for the task at hand and prepare Him for what ever is next to overcome his opponent. The underdog must be relentless and use that what arises before him to give him focus and determination.
Even in this christian walk it requires us to be relentless in our faith. This christian walk is not easy and we too can be portrayed as the underdog at times. The walk makes us submit our will to the Lord and have to take on some bumps and bruises because of that which lives inside of us, the Holy Spirit. For example, having to hold your tongue when you want to lash out, having to turn the cheek or deflect a negative word from someone else or just deal with an uncomfortable situation. All these things are seen from the worlds perspective as weak because the norm is to lash out and retaliate. We must always understand who we are representing-not our egos, not our reputations, not ourselves but the one true God. The reward of going through suffering for living a Christ surrendered life is worth it-denouncing sin and saying yes Jesus Christ is worth all of what we go through. Walking for Christ will cost us a sacrifice, which is a different perspective from the norm, but it does not exempt us from trouble or pain. In fact, you will experience these in different ways when you surrender your will to His. If you can just remember that once we have suffered – the Lord will restore, support and strengthen you and He will place us on a firm foundation. Now that is good news that we cannot always see or feel while walking this walk. You may feel defeated or distraught because of how this season is looking for you. Do not be discouraged and do not give up-continue to denounce sin and press in (to press means to resist) against sin.
Yes we may appear to be the underdog because of what God is requiring of us to be considered a Christ like one but He is setting you up for the big comeback. The text reads, “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen you, settle you.” The Lord is letting us know that we are going to suffer for being a Christ like one, there is no getting around it. There will be temptations and trials but (as the underdog) we will come out if we keep our focus on the Lord and what He is building in the midst of what looks to be pain. Yes we all can be viewed as the underdog because of the sacrifices that we appear to give up to those in the world-but just as in the boxing arena it is about how you take that what people may believe or you may believe about yourself – and channel it to get the best outcome. Best believe that the underdog is training, studying his opponent that much more to get the results he believes he can achieve. The Big comeback can not be won by ourselves but only with “the God of all grace”. You can rest in that.
Most of the time the things that are good for us require much effort and sometimes come with some agony or discomfort. Think about it, to lose weight- you must change eating habits (get rid of the chocolate chip cookies or ice cream); to get in shape – must workout (whether at home or at LA Fitness) which in turn may cost you some money for a membership. To be more productive at work -must get up forty-five minutes early just to get there to be ahead of the curve. To be prepared to take an exam (any kind of exam) may require long nights or early mornings to be prepared. No matter in what form or for what purpose-there is always some discomfort when we are trying to change or work towards a goal.
There used to be an old saying in the workout arena stating “No pain, no gain” meaning greater value rewards for the price of hard and even painful work. Under this motto a lot of people, including athletes and bodybuilders adopted and this became there lifestyle. Sometimes we can even admit, that if we do not have a little pain the goal was not worth it. Sometimes we put this condition on ourselves. Not saying anything is wrong with putting a bit of pressure on oneself but I think that we can glean spiritually from this physical motto.
Let me just be honest, this christian walk is not easy nor is it without some pain and hurt. Sometimes it requires us to give up some stuff -that we really may not want to do but because of the ending we are trying to achieve, it is necessary. Sometimes in order to grow in the Lord, we have to give up some stuff but also put on some stuff. “No pain, no gain” may mean that we have to hold our tongue when we want to let someone have it for disrespecting us. It may mean having to go through heartache of loss of a relationship that the Lord has said is not fruitful. Or sacrificing something that the Lord is saying let go of but (you) we are wanting to hold on too. This is painful and requires us to look beyond the moment of temporary discomfort and focus on the goal.
For years I have worked out and have tried to form a type of regimen that keeps me in some form of shape. (these days not so consistent but I am working on it) So I can remember being in the gym on a leg day and trying to make it through the last few reps of an exercise-wanting to give up but the drive in me not allowing me to. Or maybe on a cardio day, wanting to stop short of the last mile because I was tired and even attempted to convince myself – that I have done enough I can stop now. The interesting thing was that when I would feel that way something innately in me would say don’t sell yourself short. The Holy Spirit one day reminded me that this same attitude is needed when it comes to conforming to a changed lifestyle for Christ.
It is not easy but it is rewarding when we stay with the goal of being changed for Christ. Anything worth having must be worked to maintain and this Christian lifestyle that brings about an expected end is all of that. I challenge you to not focus on the pain but think about the rewards that will come from your determination to live a changed life. Not only will Christ be pleased but your life will be a reflection of what you put into it. (remember the example of workout) Friend, we can be successful in the earth with our life and how Peter is reminding us in the text to control our thinking. Oftentimes, what you think about is how things will come about. Peter made a conscious choice to denounce the fleshly thinking and live for greater gratification. Not only must we control our thinking but we must arm ourselves the same way as Christ did. This is good news because this means what Christ did we too can have the same outcome if we put on the same thinking and follow through with his example. I love this good news because this is how we can grow in the midst of our pain. (No pain, no gain) We must keep our focus on the End results, which give us the expected end.
So when you think that you want to give in or give up- don’t. Press in friend-press in and stay committed to that which Christ will workout if you faint not in due season, you shall reap a harvest. Thinking right now about one situation that recently God worked out for you or your family and how there was some pain but the gain far outweighs the pain.
We all have seen the commercial by AllState Insurance company featuring Dennis Haysbert, and his baritone voice saying, “Your in good hands with Allstate.” Remember that. That commercial is famous, but not only that, it lets Allstate customers know that they are protected and covered. It gives a sense of comfort that if something does go wrong or occurs, it will be alright. You may be one of those who jokingly repeats the famous quote to friends and family. I am not one of those in the Allstate family, however, I can relate to the statement.
We do like to feel as if we can depend on someone to have our back (if you will) or to feel as if we do have support in times of distress, it is a natural occurrence. As much as we like to believe that friends and family will be here for us – there are times when that is not feasible. We have to find a source of help in those troubled times other than those trusted sources that we are familiar with. Ever feel as if you have no one to depend on when things become to overwhelming? And the reality is those times are real and that is how we do feel. Maybe you have received some unsettling news, or feeling a bit discouraged or down- or you have been emotionally, physically or mentally hurt. There is still hope.
The texts David writes or is declaring rather is him speaking with a boldness that can only come from someone that has felt the hand of God hold them or hide them. “For in the time of trouble he shall hide me, in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me.” Psalms 25:5 He knows that he is in good hands and can speak to what he has witnessed himself before. This word hide in some translations reads, “cover” so he shall cover me, in his pavilion. I do not know about you but being covered it means everything. It feels good being covered or kept from something. When you lay in the bed you are covered by a sheet or we are covered by clothes. This cover is important because it allows us to not be harmed. Going back to my Allstate insurance commercial- one of the services that Allstate offers is full coverage insurance. In everyday terms all that equates to is that if anything happens to your property you are covered from any type of liability and/or risk. It covers you from various levels of liability-it is protection that we cannot afford to go without. Well just like that protection, the text is speaking of the coverage or the ability of a heavenly father to keep us-even when we can’t keep ourselves. He covers us from all types of trouble, mishaps and unexpected events that come our way on a daily basis. It feels good to know you are in GOOD HANDS.
It feels good to know that there is someone working on our behalf and all we have to do is rest in His hand. When worry, doubt or fear try to invade your life- rest assured that you are in GOOD HANDS. You are being covered from all hurt, harm and danger that may try and take your mind or you out. The enemy may have traps set for us but we can be confident in the one thing that we have an advocate looking out for us. The psalmist understood and knew this to be true so he never worried about what was occurring because he was hidden by the insurer-that was going to make sure that he never was touched by any liability.
Are you in good hands? If not the lord wants to put you in good hands. If we can surrender our will to His will and be obedient to the Holy Spirits promptings then all will be fine. Allow Him to represent you and be covered by his care and grace. So when you are feeling overwhelmed or need encouragement. Just remember whose hands you are in.
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we say that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”
I was meditating on this, while I was in the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (Atlanta) on Sunday and I was just thinking about waking up daily and living the same way everyday. Not changing anything to improve myself or not even thinking that I need to improve… this only can be a stagnant life and will not produce anything. When Paul was talking about this grace, that only can come from Jesus Christ, this is what he was saying. Do not continue to live beneath what Christ has already bought for you… almost like someone purchasing a mansion for you but you are constantly treating it as your two bedroom house you came from. The mind has not (possibly cannot) fathom living beyond where you are. We are still trapped in that same thinking. We may live in the mansion but our thought process is still with the two bedroom home-and it shows by how we conduct our lives, how we carry out our lifestyle, how we control our character and crucify this flesh.
We do not have to stay in the small place we can break out and be free and live where we are supposed to live. No more of this too small thinking because I can’t get beyond what I have done or been through. Friend move out of your small houses and take on the mansion that has already been brought and paid for by our Lord. All you have to do is move in and embrace it. The down payment was made many moons ago and now you just have to move in.
A few things about the grace down payment- Paul he is saying conduct our lives in a manner that we will not be ashamed for you. How do you conduct yourself? Do your comparison? Am I still acting like I know Christ paid it all for me or have I forgotten? Think about this for a minute? Jesus came so that we can have life and have it more abundantly. So why do we still act as if we don’t believe it or can’t obtain it?
When I say carry out our lifestyle- I mean how do we take care of that which we have been entrusted with. We all have been entrusted to be stewards over our lives and to be free in Christ through grace in this life. Have you heard or seen the slogan, “I am living my best life.” Well are you? No longer do we have to be a slave to the things that we formerly were trapped by. Addictions, people, family, fads/trends, pleasing everyone, not being able to say no, just to name a few. We can carry out a lifestyle that surpasses that of which we can imagine- we can live joyous when it seems that there is pain. We can live in a state of peace when all around is chaos. Some may say it is not that easy and you are right- we cant do it by ourselves but if we take the first step. We can carry out this lifestyle, that Paul was speaking of in Romans 6:1. We don’t have to be a slave to the things that keep us tied up-freedom is our portion because of the job of grace.
Remember my example earlier, we can accept the mansion and move from the two bedroom (thought process). If we would just begin to change the mind set and know that God has us and in order to be free we must get rid of the small thinking and know we have been made free.