I’ll not even pretend I know anything about boxing, but on Sunday morning while scrolling through social media an article popped up about some boxer Andy Ruiz Jr had been defeated by Antony Joshua (great name right there). Well, this Antony guy got the win and blah blah blah, I guess it was a big deal, but what caught my attention was that the headline to the article was Andy Ruiz Jr apologises to coach and father for not training for Anthony Joshua rematch.
So it turns out that Ruiz beat Joshua earlier in the year, but since then he seems to have become a bit complacent after his victory and spent a lot of time relaxing, partying and getting lazy; in this build-up to the match he was obviously given some advice by his trainer and Dad which he decided to ignore. which lead to him losing his title.
He made the apology to his Dad and his coach saying, “I trained myself for this fight… I’m sorry to my coach and my Dad. I’d like to say the three months partying didn’t affect me, but it did… I think the partying and all the stuff got the best of me.”
Oh man, my heart kinda hurt for him. I’ve been there, not so much on a physical level, but I have been in some spiritual battles and, with God’s strength, gained victory, and you know what happened straight after, I got complacent, I relaxed and started enjoying the good times. I stopped listening (or obeying) to my Father (in heaven), stopped taking advice of loved ones, didn’t keep up essential training and, before I know it, I’m three stones heavier with burdens and in a ring with the enemy getting my butt kicked again.
How do we keep in training to avoid such spiritual defeats?
Well here are a few wee pointers that I believe help keep us in the best shape.
PRAISE GOD! Not just in the victories but in the battles, whatever you’re facing, face it knowing that it is God’s power that sustains you. It renews hope and the enemy hates it!
“Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”
Zechariah 4:6 NLT
READ HIS WORD! and apply it to your life. Not only does reading the Bible bring us closer to God, and allow us to enjoy greater fellowship with him; it also enables us to battle and defeat the enemy.
“Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Ephesians 6:17 NLT
PRAY! No brainer really. You can not possibly keep a connection with someone unless you talk to them. Big and small stuff, God wants us to talk to him about it all. all day everyday, this doesn’t always look like the on your knees eyes closed hands clasped although that works too. this can be while walking the dog, doing the dishes, cooking the dinner, driving in your car.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.””
John 16:33 NLT
DO NOT BECOME COMPLACENT! The enemy isn’t ever going to give up in his attempt to win you from God. EVER! He hates that you love God and will go to great lengths to try and secure a victory of a soul from God.
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8 NLT
It may not always feel like every battle you face is a victory, sometimes in life, you will feel like the enemy is beating you senseless with no room to breathe, but remember. Jesus has already secured the victory on the cross.
“So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”
Romans 8:31-39 MSG