Tag: spiritual

What armor are you wearing? Part 1

warfarehelmetsThe armor makes a difference!

Part 1  The Armor of God

I believe there’s a battle that we can’t see going on in the world today.

God gives believers armor and weapons to wear and use as protection, and as offensive and defensive weapons against the evil one and his schemes against us.

Many picture the battle for the world as 2 near equal powers fighting for control – as if on a see-saw, where any little thing could easily tip the scale in one direction or the other.

 

   <-  Us  ->

God                                                  Satan

/\

    World

 

NO WAY ! !   That is far from the truth! 

 

As a created being, the devil is in NO WAY equal to God

not in power, stature, character, not in any way.

If you are a believer, you’re on God’s team.  The truth is: once we join Jesus’ team by accepting his free gift of salvation, we NEVER return to satan’s team.  The enemy, satan, knows this and he looks for ways to trick or discourage us to keep us sidelined and out of the game.

Ephesians 6 talks about the pieces of armor.

Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians while in Rome, under house arrest.  He was guarded by Roman soldiers.  Every day, he saw men dressed in armor, bearing the insignia of their authority.  The Holy Spirit must have inspired his analogy of a Christian “soldier.”

Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us the armor we should have in place.

Belt of Truth – a wide, tight band around the waist, this holds pieces of armor in place, as well as the sword.  With it we are constantly girded about with the truth – God’s truth, and can recognize a lie from the evil one when it’s launched as a half-truth or outright lie.  With it we can hold anything up to compare it to scripture, the plumb line for truth.

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Breastplate of Righteousness – protects our heart and vital organs (a forerunner of the bulletproof vest).  It is the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ that forms a protective cover that halts darts and arrows, and deflects blows directed at us.

Shoes of the Gospel of Peace – In our homes, we often remove our shoes as a sign of relaxation.  So, to put on shoes is a sign of readiness or preparedness to accept marching orders to stand for the gospel of peace we have in Christ Jesus.

spartan-1494365_640Helmet of Salvation – bears the insignia of our authority and who we serve, the army in which we fight.  It protects our heads and guards our minds so we can reject thoughts placed there by the enemy who would like nothing more than to sideline us with thoughts of fear, doubt, insecurity, or unworthiness. “as you think, so you are…” Pr 23:7 KJV.  It allows us to take every thought captive to be sure it is God’s truth before accepting it.

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Shield of Faith – not some puny little garbage can lid with a handle, but a head to toe protection, repelling the enemy’s offense – when the shield was anointed with oil it would reflect the glare of the sun and blind the enemy.  This shield covers a soldier from top to bottom, side to side and can join with others to form a wall of protection that will fend off an attacker.  On a wooden frame, its thick covering can stop projectiles and extinguish flaming arrows.

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Sword of the Spirit – our offensive weapon, the WORD of GOD.  We can use the very words of scripture to fight against, repel, harm and defeat the enemy.  Jesus used these very words to overcome satan’s temptations.  There is power in the Word of God.

Wearing this Spiritual Armor prepares us for and protects us in battle.  So, arm yourself with the armor daily.

Speak each piece on in prayer. Out loud so the evil one hears you!

Here’s a sample prayer for the armor.

Lord Jesus Christ, with the belt of truth fastened around my waist, I say that I will not believe the lies satan would try to use to confuse me.  Give me clarity and an understanding of what is the truth in this situation.

The helmet of salvation I wear will guard my mind, and I take every thought captive to you.  Help me see past what the world and others tell me, to what you want to say to me.

The breastplate of righteousness I place over my chest protects my heart, so I can hear you with my mind and my heart.  I believe satan is tempting me with lies and half-truths so I will stand on Your promises and Your truths.

I wear the shoes of peace to say that I am ready to receive my marching orders  from you and to obey what you tell me to do.

I take up my shield to repel all the arguments the evil one would send against me.  Father, You have taught me right from wrong, help me cling to what is right.

I take up the sword, the Word of God, and say that satan has no power over me.  Lord, You are my Master, my Commander, my Creator, and it is you who I will follow and obey.  You have created me fearfully and wonderfully, and you alone are worthy of all my praise.

Father, anoint me with the Holy Spirit so I may truly hear and understand your words.  Send the Holy Spirit to guide me in this decision and to silence all the voices that are not from you.

In the name of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, I thank you for hearing my prayer.  I yield my will to You and wait to hear from You, listening with my heart and my spirit. Amen.

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Jericho Lesson 6

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Sharing the 7 lessons I learned on my Jericho Walk, I’ve been asking: Do 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?

Read Joshua 6:1-20. Ask God to speak to you and 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?

my-lake

Following the example of Joshua’s battle, I walked around a nearby lake for 7 days.  Once each for 6 days and then 7 times the seventh day.

 

 

Shofar-Israel-001Halfway through my sixth lap, I heard an unusual sound. God brought friends to join the walk all week for their own personal “Jericho”  situations.  One friend brought her Shofar, a Ram’s horn, and was blowing it as she and each of the other women finished their seven laps. That was our Trumpet Blast. just as Joshua had done.

I could faintly hear each one give a shout when the horn was blown as their Jericho walls fell. They were overjoyed and filled with excitement! I shared in their victory from a distance and congratulated them as I came around again for my final lap.

20190526_215702I was the last one with still a lap to go.  Trying hard to motivate myself, I thought of the world’s wisdom: “Focus on the goal.” “Keep your eyes on the prize.” The goal in this case was seven laps, one more than I felt I had in me.

Thinking about the distance I still had to cover was so discouraging. It was overwhelming to even imagine myself fifty feet from where I was! Then I tried focusing on all I had already accomplished: the six laps completed. That just made me more tired!

chalk-board-Lesson 6

The wisdom of the world may not motivate you.

 

 

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Turn to God for motivation and support.

 

I looked up and asked God for help. It was as if He said, “I’m right beside you. Let’s take one step together. Focus on where you are, and take a couple of steps to get to the bench. Now a few more to the fence.  Now to the flower bed.” It really helped to just be where I was, not thinking about all that had come before or would come after.

I teach Childbirth classes. What I tell labor loaches to do when Mom is in labor is to motivate and support her wherever she is in the birth process. Since you don’t know how long it’s going to last, you can’t give a time countdown.

labor 1Even if you could, it might not be helpful. Trying to be supportive, you might say to a mom in hard labor that she’s only got twenty more minutes to go. In her heart, she is totally defeated because she feels she has only ten minutes of energy left. The truth is, you deal with what you need to deal with right in front of you, and the time or distance factor works itself out.

So when it gets hard, I encourage coaches to have coping strategies for three to four contractions at a time. That way, you make intervals of progress towards a goal without focusing only on the goal or the time it takes to reach it.

board-1273117_640This is exactly what God did with me. He coached me, motivated me right where I was. He moved me little by little around the lake till the end was almost in sight.

Is there something that feels overwhelming in your life?  Ask God to show you only the very next step. 

And ask Him to help you take it. 

 

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Father in heaven, thank You for loving us, and for giving us purpose in this life.  Thank You that when the going gets tough and we don’t think we can make it, that You come along beside us and coach us to win the battles we face, whatever they are.

Whatever each of us is in the midst of, protect us from feeling discouraged.   Help us each see the next tiny step we can make to keep us moving forward.  And give us the courage, the energy, the whatever we need to take it with You.  Amen

 

Jericho Lesson 4

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Do 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.

As I walked on the 7th day circling the lake 7 times, God continued teaching me lessons.  Check out the last 3 posts to read the first 3 lessons..

tree-933075_640I had completed four laps and by now the sun had risen in the sky, but because of cloud cover, the sunlight was not direct.  It was, however extremely bright.  Looking towards the sun, there were parts peeking through, but the thin clouds were so brightly illuminated they were glowing!  God was showing me something new.

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

It was as if God heard my comment and replied with, “You don’t have to be.  But see how much brighter it seems because the clouds are scattering the light?  And what are clouds made up of?  Tiny droplets of water!”

His revelation brought tears to my eyes.

Lesson 4

 

I can do that!  I can be a drop of water!  I can reflect and magnify the light God illuminates my life with to others!  That is so doable.  And not threatening at all.

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All you have to be is Yourself.   A drop of water!      

 

droplet-161679_640How uplifting!  God won’t demand something impossible of you.  But He can use who you are, who He created you to be, to show His love, His mercy, His grace to others.  Whatever is happening in your life, God will equip you.

 

You never know when times of frustration and waiting will bear fruit in the growth of perseverance or preparation for action.  Or times of prosperity will reap a harvest of generosity.  Or times of pain will cause strength and wisdom to grow in you.

You can trust that God will provide you with what you need, even before you know you need it.

Could it be that He is calling you to simply be yourself?  Even a small drop of water can reflect and magnify the light He is bringing into your life, to those around you.

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Let me encourage you to take a walk.  And ask God to speak to you.

Then be quiet, wait, and listen.

 

 

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.

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:

three rows of peas

. . . 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.

Thistle

 

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!