Jericho Lesson 1

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The last two posts told about my Jericho Walk, and asked if you have a “Jericho” in your life: a blessing you believe God wants to give you, but you feel unable to achieve on your own.   Following the example of Joshua’s battle, I completed a Jericho Walk.  Check those posts out.

Besides the big victory I was walking for, God met and taught me lessons along the way.  They came when our group circled the lake 7 times.

As we began to walk, our paces spread us out.  We weren’t far apart then, but it was clear I wouldn’t be at the head of the line.

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Soon thoughts of whether I could catch up by the end began to dissolve into panic that I wouldn’t be able to finish at all.

 

My heart began to race.  Halfway around the first lap, I had the distinct thought that I would have a heart attack, literally, before this was done.

 

first-responders-3323385_640Rather than question this thought, I began processing how God might use this turn of events – I could witness to the ambulance and Emergency Room people!   Telling them all about the Jericho Walk would be a great way to get the word out and share God’s love and plan for their lives too.

Perhaps the local papers or tv stations would do a story on me – even a heart attack couldn’t stop her!  Or maybe I would just die.  My thoughts were running wild and my heart was pounding harder.

Then, it became clear: this was not God speaking to me.

chalk-board-303457_640Satan will attack you!  And if your mind is unguarded it will run away with those thoughts.

Any time you step out in obedience to God, the enemy will try and defeat you with whatever means he can.   And the thoughts and fears you have may not be your own, but a form of spiritual attack to dishearten and oppress you.

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Pray on the armor of God.

 

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At that point, I began to pray on the spiritual armor from Ephesians 6.  The helmet of Salvation protects your mind and thoughts, and bears the insignia of God Almighty in whose army you fight.  It allows you to take every thought captive to God and hold it up against the truth of His Word.  Instead of taking that first thought captive, I accepted it as a real possibility.

The breastplate of Righteousness, forerunner to the bullet-proof vest, protects your organs, heart for instance, and allows the enemy’s bullets and glancing blows to bounce off.

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The belt of Truth helps you discern truth from the lies and deceit of the enemy. I should have taken that lie and rebuked it with scripture “God has not given me a spirit of fear.” 2 Timothy 1:7 So I didn’t need to fear an imagined harm.

When we put on the shoes of the gospel of peace we say we are ready for God’s marching orders.

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And we take up the shield of Faith and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  Our head to toe protection can repel the enemy’s launched attacks.  And speaking God’s Word in prayer and praise can launch attacks of our own.

After I prayed the armor on, I felt much more protected from outside attack.  With a renewed and energetic step I began the third lap.

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Remember that when you step out in faith for God, you need to be armed for battle.  And you can trust that God’s armor is the best.

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My Jericho Walk

Joshua_Jericho_1024The last post asked if you have a “Jericho” in your life; referring to a blessing you believe God wants to give you, but you feel unable to achieve on your own. And it explained how God delivered Jericho into Joshua’s hand.  Check it out to catch up if you haven’t read it yet.

Here’s how I did my Jericho walk.

Even though I felt God had showed me what to do, I felt a little silly telling anyone about it.  And was afraid of what people might think of what seemed like a crazy idea.

my-lakeFor my battle, I believe God directed to walk this lake near my home.  And not alone, He brought women to walk with me, walking for their own Jerichos.

The plan was to walk once around the lake at sunrise for six days.  And then seven times on the seventh day.

The day had come.  A friend brought her Bible and held it out in front of the group as we walked in silence.  It seemed appropriate as the Israelites had the priests with the Arc of the Covenant at the head of their line.

It gave me chills. I felt part of something larger than myself. It even seemed there was a connection to obedient believers from long ago, stretching back across time.

That day was an easy enough task, but we felt like we were truly a part of something amazing. At the end of the lap, one cried, one read a scripture, and we all hugged. They were each walking for their own Jericho. And it was remarkable!

agenda-black-calendar-273011Each day, we steadfastly walked on, holding our Bibles to our chests or in our arms, stepping silently, sensing God at work. Each day, at the beginning or at the end of our lap, we shared and prayed.

Words of support, phone calls and emails came in from friends saying they were praying for us in our walk. We were so encouraged. None of us felt silly anymore. We walked with a purpose and a passion, on a mission.

On the seventh day, we had calculated sunrise to be 6:41 am. God’s timing had allowed that it was late into Fall. The week before, we had shifted out of Daylight Savings Time, making it an even later sunrise. For a night owl like me, this was just another example of God’s grace at work. We locked our cars, bundled up, and headed out in the soft, subdued light of daybreak.

As we began to walk, our paces spread us out. We weren’t far apart, but it was clear I wouldn’t be at the head of the line. Thoughts of whether I could catch up by the end began to dissolve into fears of whether I would even be able to finish at all.

It was as if God could hear my thoughts and I could hear Him saying to me, “Go at your own pace. Take breaths! Just be with me.”

nature-2115661_640By the third lap the sun was beginning to rise.  It was uplifting and I was having a real conversation with God as I continued to walk.

Nearing the end of my fifth lap, even with the exuberance I felt, my legs were giving out. And then I heard the sound of the Shofar!  A friend had brought it and sounded it when she finished her walk.  With my legs feeling weak but my heart feeling strong, I made it to the last lap.

I felt God was with me, coaching me, and moving me little by little around the lake till the end was almost in sight.

I was plodding along pretty slowly when to my surprise, one of my walking friends came to meet me. With a big smile on her face, she met me, turned, and matched my gait to walk the last bit with me.

She had already finished her seven laps with the others, but had stayed. Even though we didn’t speak, her presence made my step lighter and helped me press on.

When we rounded the final turn I gave my loud shout. We hugged and praised God. It felt amazing to finish the walk around my Jericho!

20190526_215651I don’t know how far it was for the Israelites to walk around the city of Jericho, but they must have been in great shape to have had the energy to “go up and take possession of the city” after the wall fell. All I wanted to do was rest! Yet the feeling of victory was undeniable.

I knew in my heart that the wall had fallen. And I could claim the victory that God had given me.

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I took key chains that had little tennis shoes on them to pass out to all the women as a reminder of our Jericho Walk.

In the days that followed there was a new openness in a significant relationship.

What is your Jericho?

Where will you walk?

When will you start?

What will you shout?

 

The Battle of Jericho

Is there a blessing you believe God wants to give you: one that you cannot achieve or get on your own? A “Jericho”?

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Though Joshua was unable to get it for himself, God delivered the blessing of the city of Jericho into Joshua’s hand when he was obedient to do what God asked him to do. Your obedience to God could bring the wall down so you too can “go up and take possession” of your blessing!

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At a prayer retreat I was directed to Joshua 6:1-20 for a quiet time of meditating on God’s Word. The directions were to read it through one time to understand the events and people, and then a second time to ask for God’s personal message.

As I read about the events of the conquest of Jericho, I believe the Lord was also speaking to me about my own life. Telling me there are things in my life that He wants to give me, blessings He wants me to have, that I have not been able to take possession of.

These are “Jerichos” in my life. And God was telling me He was ready to break down the walls keeping me from these blessings, if I would be obedient.

ring-179693_1920Think about your own life. Is there something God wants you to have, a blessing that you can’t make happen on your own? Is God wanting to bless your marriage and make it all it could be, all that He meant marriage to be? Is something standing in the way of the happiness and unity God wants to give you; something that you can’t remove on your own?

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Is there a child who has wandered away from God, and try as you might, there is a wall that stops your words and actions from getting through to them? Is there a broken relationship that God wants to mend and bless, but something stands in the way of reconciliation?

Is there a job, a goal, a ministry, something you feel God has shown you and is calling you to be a part of, but you have no idea how to make it happen? And there are obstacles that seem insurmountable in the way?

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Maybe there is something you have been praying for, and you believe God is saying “Yes,” but you don’t have the knowledge or skills yet.  And you can’t imagine how it will actually happen.

There are many ways God desires to bless our lives that come with challenges or obstacles that we are not capable of removing in our own strength. This is when we’re to call out to God, our Father, who can and will act on our behalf. He can and will move heaven and earth, for nothing is too difficult for Him.

So I ask again:  Do you have a Jericho?

*Read Joshua 6:1-20 twice. The first time, get a clear picture in your mind of what is happening in the passage. Before reading it a second time, ask God to speak to you, to teach you, to show you what He has for you in this passage. Is there a Jericho, a blessing, a gift He wants you to have? How do you need to be obedient, trusting Him to bring the obstacle down? Are you prepared to go straight up and take hold of it?

*If there is something He shows you, ask where you should walk. What can you walk around that is the equivalent of taking the ground that He is giving you? For me it was a nearby lake.  It might be a neighborhood, a house, a school.

*Make a decision to be obedient, and begin walking! Don’t put it off for long.

*While you walk in silence, pray. Ask God to speak to you during your walk. This is a time for communing with God, for listening, not just talking.

*Write down whatever He tells you. What God says is important. You don’t want to forget it.

*On the seventh day, it’s not about speed or personal accomplishment. It’s about spending time with God, and rejoicing in His power and His blessing. Revel in that when you give a shout!

*The wall has come down! Ask God how to go up and take your blessing. Follow through on what He has told you. Rejoice in your victory!

In the next post I will share about my Jericho walk and what I learned.

God won’t ask you to be what He didn’t already make you to be

One morning I started out walking around the lake very early.  The sun had not come up yet.  My mood was as dark as the sky.

I had been thinking about some of my friends who seem to have their successful lives totally together.  And by comparison, I was not measuring up.

car-160343_640.pngSo much of our life is spent in comparing ourselves with others and ranking our performance.  Men compare jobs, incomes, physical strength, intellect, cars, houses and material possessions, then often glean their self worth from how they rank against those around them.

Women will gauge their self-approval by their career versus home choices, their physical appearance, their children’s behavior and successes.  Even Christians will compare ministry participation, missions’ involvement, or spiritual gifts.

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I felt that I could hear God say to me: “Don’t you know I love creativity!  I didn’t use a cookie cutter – I made you  – and each individual different.  I love you and I’m pleased with you regardless of who else I made, or how I made them!”

 

Although it was getting lighter, His message wasn’t getting through my gloom.

I rounded the far end of the lake and headed back to the east.  By now, the sun had risen in the sky, but because of cloud cover, the sunlight was not direct.  It was, however extremely bright.  As you looked toward the sun, there were parts peeking through, but the thin clouds were so brightly illuminated they were glowing!

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God was showing me something new.

Seeing the brightness reminded me that we, as Christians, are supposed to be light in the world.  But the sun is so bright!  I told God I couldn’t possibly be a sun.

 

It was as if God said, “My dear, I don’t expect that.  But see how much brighter it seems because the clouds are scattering the light?  And what are clouds made up of?  Tiny drops of water!”

droplet-161679_640It brought tears to my eyes!   God is the sun, but I can be a drop of water!  I can reflect the light God has illuminated my life with, to others!

That is so doable.  And not so threatening at all.

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Accept who God has made you to be.  Don’t compare yourself with others, or the life they are called to or the gifts and talents they have.   Accept God’s love for you – for who He has created you to be.

Whatever He calls you to be, He will equip you to be.

It can be as simple as a drop of water.

Could that be what He is calling you to do?

You can simply reflect the light He is bringing to your life to those around you.

And in doing so, magnify Him.  What an amazing purpose!

 

 

Spring! Planting and Weeding

gardenThere are lots of gardening plans out there for your garden – you can find them in magazines and How To books at libraries. 

Even Home Improvement stores have Do It Yourself guides for wherever you live organized by climate, growing season, water and sunlight needs, how much space you have, or what kind of plants you want – vegetable, blooming or ornamental.

I just came across one of the many Spiritual Garden Guides – perhaps this looks familiar:

Consider planting:

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. . . Peace of mind

. . . Peace of heart

. . . Peace of soul

close-up-cultivation-dig-169523four rows of squash

. . . Squash gossip

. . . Squash criticism

. . . Squash grumbling

. . . .Squash selfishness

three rows of lettuce

. . . Let us be faithful

. . . Let us be thankful

. . . Let us love one another

and no garden is complete without turnips

. . . Turn up for church

. . . Turn up with a smile

. . . Turn up ready to serve

It reminded me that we need to be planting purposefully in our lives as well as our gardens.  That we need to be weeding intentionally and regularly to avoid our beautiful blossoms being choked out by the weeds of the world.  So here are some fun weeds and seeds to consider!

You reap what you sow, so sow acts of kindness, encouraging words, and supportive attitudes.

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Recognize that when you smile at someone, you are planting kindness and acceptance.  When you play with them, you are cultivating fun and joy.  When you give them a hug, you are fertilizing with love and security.

 

When you help a friend or child learn a task, you are planting patience and success into their future.   When you give them encouragement, you are growing confidence.  When you share, you are seeding goodness and selflessness.

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When you pray with someone, or let them see you pray, you are sowing faithful fellowship with God.

Everything you do is a seed of some kind.  Be intentional about what you plant.

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And weeding!  There are many things that will choke the joy out of your life like weeds do to a garden.

If they’re not forcibly removed these weeds will use up all your resources – time, energy, enthusiasm.

So roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Start with something simple: weed out your family’s wardrobe.  Children grow, so every year box up clothes that don’t fit to store if you have younger children who will wear them later.  Or sell them, donate, or give them away.  Maybe you know a friend who has a younger child to pass them to.  Then pass them back if you can use them again!

That goes for your personal wardrobe too.  Box up nostalgic items you want to keep but clear out the rest that are out of style or no longer fit well.  And while you’re at it, get rid of any guilt or stress too, over bygone sizes.  Find the style and size you feel most comfortable in.  You will look more confident and attractive when you feel comfortable in your clothes.

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Weed out parenting strategies you think you should be doing, but that don’t work for you.  Parent from your strengths!  Know who you are and what things energize you so your children can see you parenting from joy, not guilt, fear or obligation.

 

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Same for relationships.  Examine the ones that are thriving, then check the conditions of the others.  Some may be in need of TLC to keep them growing and others may need to be weeded out.

 

Weed out negative talk and self-condemnation.  We all make mistakes from time to time.  Some of us tend to dwell on those; constantly reminding ourselves of past failures and possible future ones.  Stop those inner voices with a “You wouldn’t talk to a friend that way!”

Instead, plant kindness to yourself – say positive things to yourself every day.  Rephrase “Well, you blew that!” to ”From what I just learned, I’ll do better next time.”

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Ask God to show you where weeds of sin, rebellion, or unforgiveness may be hiding.  Sometimes the roots grow deep before the leaves can be seen above ground. Confess those routinely to keep your soil healthy.

Planting and weeding.  It’s a process we go thru every year.  And not just in the garden!

Every day, by your actions and choices, you are planting things into and weeding things out of your life and the lives your family and friends.

The key is to recognize it and be intentional.

Happy Gardening!  Happy Spring!