The Armor of God: Prayer

Ephesians 6:18-20 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

There are many types of prayers and petitions: thanksgiving, praise, lament, mourning, asking, seeking…

Prayer is simply to ask of God, to talk to Him, to express your wishes to Him but I liked this definition, “literally, to interact with the Lord by switching [your] human wishes (ideas) for His wishes as He imparts faith.” Otherwise known as “divine persuasion.” Prayer and faith are closely connected, interwoven, you can’t have one without the other.

Petition on the other hand is a need, to be in want or need of or lacking something. Often it is looked at as a heart-felt, deep, personal need that may be urgent but is definitely specific. Have you ever been moved to tears by a prayer that God presses on your heart? This happened to me several times within a matter of a week some months back. I was overcome with a deep end to pray for weary couples, marriages, and those feeling lost.

To pray at all times means at all times, every fitting season, opportunity, occasion, any other synonym you can think of for time. Derived from the word kara which means to come to a head, to take full advantage of at the opportune moment. It reminds me of a zit. Waiting for it to come to a head so you can seize the moment to pop it. With a zit there isn’t anything you can do except wait for it to come to a head. You can try to treat it in the mean time, but then hopefully it will treat the inflammation and infection and then dissipate. Unlike with prayer, in which we are to be praying at all times. And then, when that one moment comes, where you can seize that moment to pray for someone in the aisle at the grocery store, you can pray healing over someone, whatever that moment may be…you’ve been practicing for it. And if you’re in constant communion with God then those moments aren’t scary, we don’t shy away from those moments. They are natural, and joyous.

In the Spirit…if the Church was praying at all times in the Spirit, we would have a very different world. Very, very different world…marriages would be stronger, children would be walking in righteousness rather than down a path of destruction, we would be out changing our world rather than sitting down doing nothing to further His kingdom. Oh, how lazy we’ve become as followers of Christ. How complacent we have become! Believe me when I say: this is the pot calling the kettle black. I am talking to myself more than anyone else.

“Be on the alert” is to be sleepless; not to be asleep; especially, to be watchful and careful, staying vigilant, without any unnecessary “time-off.” What is unnecessary time-off? Necessary would be sleep, but we see Biblical examples where even sleep, food and drink are pushed off as unnecessary. The more we have, the more we fill our schedule, I fear the more selfish we are with our time. The importance that we place on things that don’t really matter, in the grand scheme of eternity. How many opportunities I have missed, how many times I have regarded myself as more important than another, how many times…

When we look at this passage about the armor, Paul’s first instruction is what? “To be strong in the Lord.” How are we able to do that? Through reading the Word, prayer, and love and obedience. You can’t be strong in the Lord without seeking God, and you can’t seek Him fully without talking to Him.

We must remember to always be praying for our fellow brothers and sisters. To me, particularly those who are of higher target: missionaries, pastors, elders, leaders, teachers, FaithFull politicians…but everyone. No one is above need of prayer.

One of the most inportant things we could pray for fellow believers is that we may all speak about Christ boldly, without fear or shame. I would say particularly in this society but back in Paul’s time when he wrote this people were being grievously killed at the mention of His name. What happens to us, people oppose us with words?

He’s some more Scripture about prayer.

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; (Colossians 4:2-4)

I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. (2 Timothy 1:3-4)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. (Jude 1:20-21)

Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit. (James 5:13-18)

Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith. (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2)

We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; (Colossians 1:3-4)

“[In our fast-paced life] we have no time for contemplation. We have no time to answer God when He calls.” A.W. Tozer

How wonderful is it that we get to talk to God on someone else’s behalf? We get to pray for blessings and protection and aide for someone we love, someone we don’t know, a non-believer, anyone. And not only does God hear us, He answers. We get to help someone out, and God is going to take care of it.

The Armor of God: Sword of the Spirit

Calvin’s commentary says this about the Sword of the Spirit, ”There is no man of any rank who is not bound to be a soldier of Christ. But if we enter the field unarmed, if we want our sword, how shall we sustain that character?” This is so true, isn’t it? No one is exempt from needing God’s Word. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, what your title is, or how much schooling you have, it certainly doesn’t matter if you come from a family with generations of Christians. And most importantly, it doesn’t matter if you’re in charge of a church or not. No man is exempt from needing the Word of God.

What other book can give us the solution to every question we have, every political issue, guide us to world peace, show us how to feed the starving, and give the answer to some of our major medical issues of today?

As a yong teenager I often find the Bible was boring. I would almost completely ignore the Old Testament; and honestly, when I did pick up my Bible, I didn’t know where to start so I was often reading a Proverbs to correlate with the date. The Bible was not alive and active to me, and this was by no one elses fault except my own.

As Believers we have become complacent in the most important thing we can do for growing our faith. Too often we excuse away time with God. How many times am I guilty of saying, “I’ll read my Bible after I do this…” But something else always comes up that’s more pressing than sitting with my Lord.

There are those who claim to be Christian that believe the lie, ‘the Bible is a bunch of stories, made up to prove a moral point or to convey a general concept’, particularly the Old Testament. There are men and women who claim to be Christian that do not pick up their Bible and do not pray, except on Sundays and maybe a midweek service; maybe they were really good this week and went to a Bible study too.

We have to stop playing the Heaven game and actually live the Heaven life.

Do you understand what I mean by this? We must be authentic in our walk. Walk the walk and talk the talk. We have to stop doing all the things because it’s the right thing to do, or because it’s what we’re supposed to do. We have to starting doing because we love. Start reading your Bible because you love God and want to know Him more. Start praying, without ceasing, because you love talking with God. Start serving because you love to further His kingdom on Earth. Start telling people the truth about Jesus because you love them, and would not see them perish but have everlasting Life!

Enough just going to church. The revival we pray for beings within. How do we seek out the lost, how do we find those that are pushed to the side, how do we love the unlovable?

First, we have to catch that fire. And we catch it by reading God’s Word, meditating on it, delighting in it, and do according to all that is written (Psalm 1:2-3, Joshua 1:8). The Bible is inspired by God, it’s useful for teaching truth, and for convicting our hearts (2 Timothy 3:16-17), it’s sharper than any two edged sword-it pierces the division of soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:12). It is alive and active, the Word is the main vehicle to which God uses to speak to us, to convict us, and to restore us.

In Isaiah 55:10-11 “For as the rain and the snow come down from Heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” Now turn to Luke 8:4-18, the Parable of the Sower. This passage alone could be a study itself. But here are two things that I want to point out that Jesus says, “He who has ears, let him hear.” And towards the end He says, “So take care how you listen…” This goes back to inner revival and what you do with the calling God has placed in your heart. This goes back to what you do with the spiritual weapons you have. This goes back to how you are loving God. What are doing with what you have heard?

You know, naturally, I’m not a “start something up and get it done” sort of person. If there’s a cause or an event to get behind, I’ll jump in, but to lead something, no that is not me. God has pressed it so hard on my heart that we as the Church are not doing our part. We are not loving as God loves. We are not loving the way our Jesus demonstrated. There is still so much more we could be doing. We just have to have His eyes. I say this not to shame, but to inspire, just as the Word does. Catch that fire that God offers within His Holy Word.

Hebrews 6:5, God’s Word is good. Hebrews 4:12, sharper than any two edged sword. Ephesians 6:17, take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

I found something written in my Bible: strongholds of my soul will be destroyed by the sharpest sword, God’s Word. My strongholds at the time were fear, self doubt, selfishness, low self esteem, worry of what others think of me. As I have dug deep into the Word, as I have applied the Truth to my life, as I have believed the words that God has spoken about me as His child, as I have allowed His Word to transform my heart and renew my mind all these strongholds have been demolished. That ‘s not to say they haven’t tried to come back and rebuild a place in my heart and life. But I have found that it’s all about what I am doing, or not doing, with Scripture.

Are you feasting on the bread of life, or surviving on leftovers from last week?

Are you drinking the living water, or sipping from the well of self?

Are you delighting in the promises of the Lord, or are you overcome by the weight of the world and your circumstances?

The Bible “reveals a different kind of wisdom, comes from a different source, and tells of a different love.” It’s in the Bible that we will find the ability to forgive the unforgivable, to love the unloveable, to help the needy, to find the lost. It’s here we will find the strength and boldness and courage we need to face another day, to defeat our giants, and to win souls for Christ. It is His Word that will break the strongholds of your soul. It is Scripture that will provide you with the wisdom, the joy, the comfort, the compassion, the answers you need.

You can know the truth, but until you start walking in the truth, it doesn’t do you much good.

I want to encourage you that if you find reading the Bible a duty, or challenging, or boring even, talk to God about it. Tell Him your woes, ask Him to change your heart. I am a big advocate for exploring the Bible on your own. I think we get so caught up in “this is how you should study the Bible,” and forget that God gave us a mind of our own. Devotionals are amazing, don’t get me wrong, I still use them. But I have found the most joy, the most passion, the most information, the most knowledge by exploring on my own. That’s how this started. I had always wanted to know more about the Armor of God, but hadn’t ever found a study that went in-depth. So, I just started doing it myself, because why not.

If you’re feeling stale in any way in your faith, let us know. We can pray for you, encourage you; and trust that God will inspire you. But you have to be seeking, you have to be willing, you have to be ready for what He’s going to show you.

The Armor of God: Helmet of Salvation

Ephesians 6:10-18 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints…”
As I was preparing for this topic of the Helmet of Salvation I began pondering the set of armor as a whole. If I were going out to battle I would want the strongest metal available. Do you know what the strongest metal is? We know that gold while very valuable, is a weak and soft metal. Not one of you would want to take that into battle. Adamantium, perhaps? This is the fictional metal that appears in the X-Men universe. This metal is practically indestructible. It’s most common appearance is in Wolverine, where this metal was infused into his body and bonded to his skeletal system. It became one with him. And really when you think of it, isn’t that what happens upon salvation for us? The Holy Spirit comes upon us, becomes one with us, and is an indestructible force within us. I found that there isn’t one metal that is ideal; in order to create a metal strong enough to withstand impact, tension, or forces that may try to bend it or squish it you have to combine metals. Much like the whole armor of God. It’s not one attribute that keeps us protected and ready to fight, it’s the whole of them. However, there is one you must have in order to obtain the rest. The Helmet of Salvation.
But, what is salvation? What does is do for us as followers of Jesus? And why is it likened to a helmet?
Salvation, comes from the Greek word sōtér (so-tare), which is derived from sózó. Sózó means to deliver out of danger and into safety. Sōtér, the word used here in our text means the Savior, Jesus Christ Himself, who saves us from our sin, and delivers us into His safety. 
God, from the very beginning, has been striving to save us. Even before sin entered into the world He was coming up with solutions to save us. Man was the first one needing saving, and woman was the solution. Genesis 2:18 “And the Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him.” You see, man needed to be saved from loneliness. As we move through the book of Genesis alone you can see the many moments of salvation and redemption: the blood sacrifice needed for Adam and Eve’s sin (Genesis 3:21), God seeking out Cain and his attitude before he even killed his brother (Genesis 4:6-7), God gave another son to Adam and Eve after Abel was killed (Genesis 4: 25-26), the world wide flood (Genesis 6-9), God’s promise to Abram (Genesis 12), Lot’s physical salvation (Genesis 14)….on and on and on in Scripture God is faithfully saving us. And every bit of Scripture points to His ultimate Salvation plan.
Even the priestly garments pointed to the coming of the Messiah. Look at Exodus 28:36-38. The turban was fitted with a plate of gold that read “Holiness to the Lord.” It was set on the front, that the high priest may bare the iniquity of the children of Israel. And it shall always be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord. Ok, let’s unpack this a bit. The turban, which the High Priest wore, was a picture of the sin of the people that he took onto himself. God said in Exodus that the turban, which represented the Holiness the High Priest carried to the Lord on behalf of the people, would be continually on his head, so that the people of Israel and their offerings would be accepted before the Lord. Our High Priest is Jesus (Hebrews 5:9-10), He took on our sins (1 Peter 2:24, Romans 4:25, 1 John 2:2), and He bares the mark continually of our sins (John 20:27). So, if Jesus is the High Priest, and He is, He bore our sins, and we have accepted this as truth, then Jesus is the holiness that sits on our head so that we may be accepted by God the Father. The helmet of salvation. What the High Priest wore physically, Jesus now is. Done through the cross, resurrection and ascension. 
This is what salvation is, then: Jesus Christ, a free gift of grace from God (Romans 6:23). Even Merriam-Webster Dictionary agrees, salvation is “deliverance from the power and effects of sin.” [This is what they have to say about Jesus, “the Jewish religious teacher whose life, death and resurrection as reported by the Evangelists are the basis of the Christian message of salvation.”] Look at John 1:12-13, salvation is the act of believing. John 3:16-18, salvation, or believing, is rescuing us from condemnation. Jesus Himself is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). He is salvation, not condemnation as many would say He is. Romans 10:9-10, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart of a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth confesses, resulting in salvation.” You can claim God all you want, but until you believe His Son is the Way, the Truth, and the Light then you won’t be saved, for even the demons believe and shudder (James 2:19).
Look again at John 1:12-13. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” When we have faith, believe, and confess, then we are given the right to be called children of God.
But if it’s a right, then it is simply a right, right? Wrong. 
Examine for yourself what a right is. It is not automatic. There are qualifications that come with the right-either you are born into the right, or you have somehow earned the right. Citizenship for example. You are born into the citizenship, or you prove through processes and tests that you have earned the citizenship. John 3 is the account of Nicodemus coming to Jesus in the night. In verse 3, Jesus says this, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” One more verse, Philippians 3:20, “For our citizenship is in Heaven…” So you see, upon salvation we are born as a citizen into Heaven, therefore earning the right to be called Child of God. Daughter of The Most High.
[As a citizen of Heaven then, we are ambassadors unto this world. Therefore, it is our responsibility to represent Christ appropriately. To quote Pastor Mike, “Do you see people or a problem?”]
I have been so moved by this extraordinary, indescribable love that He has shown, not only to me, but the entire world. He has loved the world so much that He has given us the choice. But on top of that choice, He gives us every opportunity to chose correctly. When Jesus was entering Jerusalem on the back of the donkey, and the crowds were praising Him, the Pharisees tried to tell Him to make them be quiet. But how did He respond? “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” (Luke 19:40). Can you imagine that? If no one on Earth was praising Him, the very nature He created would be shouting His praise. Romans 1:20, in fact supports this. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” Nature itself holds, represents, and points to the power of God, so that no one is without excuse when they meet Jesus face to face. What love! I am astonished and marveled at this love. I pray that I could one day love an inkling of this kind of love. 
What a beautiful picture of God’s pursuit of us, love toward us, redemption and salvation offered to us.  
If God pursues and loves us so, then why are we not all taken to Heaven? Why do people go to Hell? 
In short, God is just, and He must judge justly. If you appear before Him with the promised Holy Spirit, and Jesus’ blood running through your veins you are saved. If you present before Him with anything less, you are condemned. However, that being said, God did not intend for us to be sentenced to an eternity of damnation. He created us to commune with Him. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.” It’s important for us to know that God didn’t create this world to condemn it, but to save it, to love it, to love us. God doesn’t force this decision on us. He waits so patiently for us to turn to Him. 
Although God does not force us to make a decision to love Him, we will eventually face Him with the choice we have made on Earth. Just as I said before, if we choose to love Him and follow after Him this side of eternity we choose Heaven. If we don’t make that choice, we have then abdicated. We have given up our right to be co-heirs with Christ. We have given up our right to live in God’s presence forever, and we are to live eternity in the complete absence of God. When we choose God, what happens after that? 
John 14:15-17, 26-27. From the very lips of the One who went to the cross for you, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you…But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be trouble, nor let it be fearful.”
What else does Holy Spirit do for us upon faith, belief and confessions? John 16:13, He will speak to you and through you, He will guide you in the truth. 2 Corinthians 3:6b, Spirit brings life; verse 17 brings freedom; verse 18 He transforms. Keep your finger here, we’ll revisit this passage in a moment. We are also sealed with Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13).
Unfortunately, with salvation we are not given perfection or untroubled lives. How often do we hear this said, but then grumble against our circumstances? John 16:33, we have trouble but we also have hope in Christ who has already overcome this world. 2 Corinthians 1:3-6, 9 answers that question we often ask in the midst of troubles: why? We are afflicted for the salvation of others, and we are afflicted so that we may trust in God rather than trusting in ourselves. 
What are some other benefits of salvation? Of course eternal life as we’ve already mentioned (John 6:35-40). We walk in light, not darkness (John 8:12). If you’ve ever struggled with depression than this is a great reassurance. Here’s one for everyone: we are set free from the bondage of sin and death (John 8:31-34). This reminds me greatly of some of Jesus’ most spoken words, “Your faith has made you well.” The last benefit, so to speak, that I’d like to talk about, but certainly not the last mentioned in the Bible, is the idea of God’s glory being unveiled within us. Turn (or click) to Exodus 34:29-35. Here is the account of Moses, who after spending time with God, had a glowing face. This frightened the people, so he made it a habit to put on a veil after spending time with God. Now turn to 2 Corinthians 3:6b-18. Here we see several things, but what I would like to point out is that through the work of the Spirit and His righteousness the veil covering our heart is removed, we are given freedom and life, and we are being transformed. This is the mark that we wear when it’s said that someone should be able to simply look at you and know you’re different.
How are these marks portrayed in our lives though, how does it look? Look at Galatians 5:16-26, paying attention to verses 22 and 23.
Can we agree then, that salvation is the biggest decision you will EVER make in your life? Here’s how I imagine it: upon salvation God fits you with your helmet, signaling to all those who see, you are His child. Not only are we fitted with tailor made armor, we are also a new creation; the old you is gone, replaced with new you. Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26 both talk about God taking out our heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh. If we are also a new creation, then I would think that before salvation we are fully made of stone. Upon salvation we are a new creation, made of flesh, which is why we are immediately fitted with God’s armor. Am I inferring too much, maybe…but if the armor fits, wear it…
If you think about the heavenly realm being this kind of “parallel universe.” I imagine that there are things of this realm which are present, but we can’t see in our physical world. As believers walking around in this realm we are marked by our armor in the spiritual world. And the helmet is the key piece to being clothed in all the other pieces. Because without salvation, we can not have a breastplate of righteousness, or the shield of faith, or any other piece of God’s armor. Now I would venture to say that there are varying degrees of what our helmets and armor look like: some are shiny and well taken care of but weak (someone who plays the plastic Jesus game), some are beaten and worn but strong (those who are walking the walk and talking the talk), some are rusting and essentially useless (those who have walked away, or are apathetic in their faith).
How our armor looks is a picture of what we are doing with our salvation and call to holiness. [2 Timothy 1:9 “[He] has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity…”]
So, then, this begs the question: what does your armor look like? 
Remember what the beginning of this passage in Ephesians says? Our armor is for the purpose of this heavenly realm. To stand against the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:11), and that our fight is against the dark and evil powers and rulers and authorities of this heavenly realm (Ephesians 6:12). So if this picture I’ve painted of a “parallel universe” is accurate, then our enemy can see the state of our armor

Armor of God: The Shield of Faith


What is faith?

  1. Faith is having been persuaded, or to come to trust in something or someone. 
  2. Faith brings assurance(Hebrews 10:22)
  3. Faith is persecution, bearing each others burdens, confidence in the things of Heaven, perseverance, believing, courage(Hebrews 10:32-39)
  4. It’s a lifestyle (Hebrews 10:38, Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17)
  5. Faith is confidence in what we hope for, it’s assurance about what we cannot see, it helps us to understand, and we will be rewarded for our faith. Hebrews 11:1, 3, 6
  6. When we have faith, great things will come: sacrifice, offerings, righteous living, please God, hear God, obey/move, become heirs with Christ, dwell in foreign lands (Earth), receive (Phil. 4:19), bless others, worship, confidence/courage/no fear, walk away from the ways of the world and choose the path of life, keep God’s commands, pass through various trials, walls will fall, the ungodly will claim the name of God, eyes will be opened, turn from dark to light, turn form Satan to God, receive forgiveness of sins, receive inheritance, be sanctified.
  7. When we have faith, horrible things will come: tested, sacrifice, temptation, war, strife, death, persecution, wandering/desert times. If you look at Hebrews 12:11, you can catch a glimpse of why all these terrible things must come, even when we have faith.
  8. Without faith: Cain who offered not his best, Lot who compromised his holiness, draw/shrink back, in light of Ephesians 6:16 we have no protection/no shield, without faith there is no hope, Hebrews 12:15-17

There is an expectation of how one should live for someone who confesses to have faith in Christ. Fair? Absolutely! We are called to holiness, to be different. Now, that’s not to say the world has often twisted those expectations, but we has a Church have also often failed to live up to the expectations that God has placed on us. Wrestle in your heart to see where you might be compromising your faith, where the weak spot in your shield is.

Things to ponder:

How are we able to use our faith as a shield?
What keeps us from having faith?
Do you have any weak spots in your shield?
If you were to “fix” your weak spots, how would your life be different?
What are you waiting for? Go talk to God about those weak spots and start living a more faith filled life!

Lord, thank You for giving us the opportunity to have faith. Thank You for the joy, the peace, the hope, the love that comes from having faith. I pray, God, that these words would have stirred a heart to consider having faith, strengthening their faith, or somehow loving You. May Your words settle into the hearts and souls reading this, and may my words pass away like chaff in the wind. In Your Holy Name we ask these things…

Armor of God: Gospel of Peace

Ephesians 6:15

…and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. (NIV)
I was having a conversation with a friend recently about the state of Portland, OR. It’s this strange microcosm of anything goes” mentality. It’s as though they are convinced everyone believes the same thing that they do, on any subject. While they accept some varying degrees of opinion on the social and political issues of today, there is a point that most believe the line is crossed. They scream for tolerance and coexistence, yet condemn those of us who would dare be on the opposing side. They are walking around in darkness.
Physical darkness literally surrounds our eyes so that we can’t see where we are going. Spiritual darkness surrounds our heart, mind, and soul so that we cannot truly see where we’ve been, where we are are, or where we are going. When you walk in the darkness, there is one thing that you crave, and you seek earnestly, and you desire most of all. Whether you acknowledge it or not? well, that’s a different story. Peace. 
The Greek word for peace here in Ephesians 6:15 is eirene (i-ray’-nay’). It’s this idea of wholeness. God’s gift of wholeness. It’s derived from eiro which means to join, tie together into a whole. This brings new life to the word peace for me. I’ve always thought of peace as a sense of wellbeing, tranquility, or lack of chaos…a feeling. I had never thought of it as a state of being…a choice, a lifestyle. Feelings come and go. Peace does not have to. Joy does not have to. Love does not have to. All three are choices.
If we look at Scripture we’ll get a picture of what peace truly is. Psalm 29:11 The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace.” John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” Isaiah 26:3 The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.” James 3:18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” Colossians 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!”
Think back to a time you experienced God’s peace during a situation that, according to the world, you should have been like a chicken with your head cut off? 
If you haven’t experienced this peace, consider asking God to show you. Spend time talking with Him and pondering what it would take to experience His peace. 
Perhaps you need to examine your life to determine if you are a part of God’s family.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you.” We can see here it’s a benefit of having believed in and followed after Jesus, but it can be taken away. If you are ever in a situation where there is no peace, I can guarantee that it is not the Lord’s work, but your own. Look at Isaiah 9:6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He can’t not be who He is. Double negative’s, I know… But it’s true right? God can’t go against His nature, He doesn’t lie. So if Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and Jesus lives in you, but you have no peace, well that’s not God’s fault. I’ll give you an example of my life: I was faced with this extraordinarily heavy situation last week. The rest of the day I was distracted, easily frustrated, and all along I kept thinking I was handling the situation rather well. And while I may have been through the world’s perspective, I know I could have done much better through biblical filters. At any moment, I could have actually stopped to pray or read Scripture. Rather than throwing up half-hearted prayers. I was not in severe chaos or turmoil, but I can tell you that I didn’t have godly peace. You see how the level of peace we experience can be directly correlated to our choices? 
I want to move onto this idea of the Gospel of peace. Really, just this word Gospel.
Gospel. What is it? It literally means God’s good news. We have come to this place in the Church where the gospel has morphed into, essentially, the prayer of salvation. The gospel is that Jesus came to Earth as human, lived, died, and lived again for all people because He loves us that much. That’s the shortened version. What I mean by that, is that the Gospel is not simply how one comes to salvation, it is the entirety of the God’s Word. God’s good news did not begin when Jesus came to Earth, God’s good news came In the beginning.” Check out John 1:1-3 Jesus is the Word, and the Word was with God at the beginning. Jesus has always been. If Jesus is our way to salvation, the way, the truth, and the life,” and He was at the beginning of time, then the gospel began at the beginning of time.
If the Gospel was simply the sinner’s prayer then we would be free to do and act any way that pleased us after accepting the Lord into our life. But that’s not what God requires of us. He requires our whole lives, not just a one and done moment. The Gospel, the whole of the Gospel, the whole ofScripture is our path to righteousness.
There’s this great book I’m reading by JD Greear, Gospel. He has created something he calls The Gospel Prayer:
“In Christ, there is nothing I can do that would make You love me more, and nothing I have done that would make You love me less. Your presence and approval are all I need for everlasting joy. As You have been to me, so I will be to others. As I pray, I’ll measure Your compassion by the cross and Your power by the resurrection.”
Are you living in the victory of the Gospel? We are promised freedom and peace. Does your life reflect that to those around you? Are you living in such a way that makes the Gospel seem like it’s a one and done moment? Or are you living as if the Gospel is truly the Word of God. If we aren’t actively applying the truth of the Gospel to our walks than what good is the knowledge we’re ingesting.
Romans 10:15 How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things.”
Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 
Here in Ephesians 6:15 it says we are to shod our feet.” Our feet are the foundation of our body, right? We are to put the Gospel as our foundation, and tie or attach it, making it a part of us. We are to be one and the same with the Gospel and all it contains. The Gospel, God’s good news, provides peace beyond all that we understand. Psalm 119:165 Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble.” When you are grounded, founded, and tied to God, His law, and His Gospel we will not stumble.
So then I ask, are your feet firmly rooted in God’s Word, or are you trusting yourself to get through your days? What does your foundation look like? Is it cracked, sloppily put together, in need of some maintenance, maybe you need a full overhaul? Are you growing in the Lord?
Your Bible either says to shod your feet with the preparation or readiness. This word in Greek hetoimasia (het-oy-mas-ee’-ah) means foundation or firm footing. Get this: Roman soldiers shoes were cleated. These cleats were designed to allow a firm foundation in the midst of their battle. It allowed them to keep their ground, to stand firm. It would even give them the advantage over the enemy. It allowed them to push forward through the enemies attacks, and to take ground from the enemy. The same and even more is true of God’s Word. 
Therefore, it is of vital importance that we are firmly rooted in God’s Word. Where we plant our feet determines the path on which we walk. We walk on a path of righteousness (Prov. 2:20, 8:20). We walk with the Lord (Ps. 119:3). We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). When we walk in integrity we walk on solid ground (Prov. 10:9). 
Where are you feet planted? Are you standing firm in the Lord?
What is the main message of the Bible? God loves you and wants to be in relationship with you. If you have that as a foundation upon which you walk…well then, my friends, the Devil ain’t got no hold on you! There is hope for any situation you are currently facing, or any situation that may arise. We have a choice: life or death, peace or chaos, flesh or Spirit. I’d like to leave you with this truth: Galatians 5:24, 2:20, Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires…I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Armor of God: Belt of Truth, Breastplate of Righteousness

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, and the breastplate of righteousness in place…”

Ephesians 6:14 NIV

What is truth? This is a question plagued by our society, and probably the whole world. Do we not see it around every corner? People searching in all the wrong places for truth. But did you know, it was also a question plagued by the world over 2000 years ago too? Look at John 18:37-38. Jesus is with Pilate, and Jesus says to him, I am a king, as you say. This is why I was born. I was brought into this world to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” To which Pilate responds, What is truth?” If this isn’t a reflection of Pilate’s heart, then I’m not sure what would be. Can you imagine being in his position? Standing face to face with THE TRUTH, convinced that Jesus is innocent, yet torn with what society wanted him to do. How would you have responded? Have you ever been in such a place of turmoil with what was true vs what you had” to do? I think it’s safe to say that the way a person responds to objective truth, the Word of God being that objective truth, shows their heart’s condition; it’s a reflection of their righteousness.
When faced with the truth, how do you respond? Are you defensive or humble? Does your reaction depend on how the truth is shown to you? Should it really matter how truth is shown, if it is in fact the truth?
Truth is the basis of our faith, it is our foundation. At some point in time, your heart was faced with the truth about who Jesus is, the Savior, Messiah. And in your frailty, humility, and deep heart ache for His presence you submitted to the truth, you submitted your life and heart to Christ. Thus beginning your journey in truth. Jesus is the the way, the truth, and the light (John 14:6). Your heart responded to the truth that Jesus is the truth.
Do you remember that moment you responded to Him? What was it like to finally know real, unadulterated, living truth? 
There is beautiful freedom that comes with knowing Jesus (John 8:32). We have Joy by knowing the Truth (John 17:13). We are sanctified by the truth; God’s word is truth (John 17:17). We are to worship in Spirit and truth (John 4:24). The Gospel of John is filled with Jesus’ words, and it seems to me that every other word out of His mouth is about truth: what truth is, where we find it, what to do with it.
The more I dug in to this idea of truth. The Word of God being truth, and Jesus being truth, the more amazed I was at the connectivity of everything. I used to have a faith that was so segmented. Like a child building with blocks , one piece on top of the other, but still separate pieces. And now, as I dig into His Word in a way that I never have before, it’s like I’m now building with brick and mortar. Everything is connected, it’s not disjointed and segmented anymore. 
If the Word of God is our objective, solid, always relevant, yet never contradictory truth, then are you living your life according to it’s truth? According to God’s truth? 
You’ve been exposed to the truth. If you’ve made the choice to believe God’s words, accept Jesus as your Savior and asked Him to be a part of your life then you are continuously exposed to the truth through Holy Spirit’s work. What are you going to to do with the truth? Are you going to be responsive and obedient, or are you going to brush it off? My friend told me once that her mother-in-law, who is a born again Christian, refused to further her knowledge of God and faith because she didn’t want to be accountable for what He revealed to her. Are you scared of the truth?
What you choose to do with the truth is going to determine your righteousness. Now, I’m battling with this statement because it’s not completely true, but to an extent it is. Your righteousness is not your own, it has been placed in you by Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection (Philippians 3:9). God Himself is righteousness (Psalm 11:7, Psalm 24:5, Psalm 37:6). Isaiah 56:1 “Thus says the Lord, Preserve justice and do righteousness, for My salvation is about to come and My righteousness to be revealed.”” Who does it sound like He might be talking about? Couldn’t be Jesus could it? God sent His righteousness down to Earth in the form of a man, not removing any bit of His holiness, leaving it all. In order that His Word would be fulfilled; in order that you may attain everlasting relationship with Him; in order that His name would be known.
Our righteousness is not our own, it is not our weight to bare. The righteousness is Jesus’ alone; so, you may rest in knowing that you are not responsible for perfection. You are not responsible to please God, for He is already pleased with you. Otherwise, why would you exist? 
Although our righteousness is not our own, we are still responsible for what we do with the truth revealed to us.
Figuratively, this breastplate of righteousness protects our heart, and emotions, and their desires as they bear our decisions. But we can’t rely on on our heart, emotions and desires unless we are also permeated with the truth. And if you’re living in truth then you’re going to remember not to make decisions based on feelings, and emotions. Here in Ephesians 6:14 we see the breastplate of righteousness; 1 Thessalonians 5:8 refers to the Breastplate of Faith. This indicates that the righteousness we have is a result of obeying the faith that God births in our hearts. If you take a look at James 2:14-26, you’ll see that the work of faith and righteousness go hand in hand. For our works of faith are proof of our righteousness, or rather, proof of the righteousness of God that dwells within us.
So what does a life look like when truth is permeating a heart, and righteousness is abounding? Romans 10:4-10 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes that the man who practices righteousness which is based on the law shall live by that righteousness. But the righteousness based on faith…” will result in true righteousness and salvation. A life filled with truth knows that we are set free in Christ of all sin and bondage. It’s filled with unspeakable joy because of what God did for us. That life is covered with peace despite any circumstance.
Take a look at Psalm 132:9 Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness and let Your godly ones sing for joy.” Now take a look at 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” Those verses sum everything up for me: we lived in darkness because we did not know the truth, we were exposed to the truth, accepted the truth and now live in the truth. In response to the truth we now live in we are clothing ourselves with righteousness. It’s not that I’m doing the right things because God told me to. It’s that, God loved me so much, He let my heart know and understand the truth and now I want to live right for His sake. 
Psalm 23:3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” God isn’t demanding us to love Him and obey His commands. Rather He is leading us down a peaceful path, filled with His love. His heart behind commands and laws and rules is not to control. His heart is this, I love you, therefore you need to know….” 

Armor of God Study: Part 4

Ephesians 6:13
Therefore take up the whole armor of God so that you will be able to resist in the evil day and having done everything to stand firm.
We must take up every part of the armor: we must read the word, pray, apply truth, walk in righteousness, remember the hope of our salvation, and walk in peace. If we don’t do all the things then we won’t be able to stand firm in the Lord. Sure, will be able to stand, but you’ll be tossed around like you’re in a storm.
Andrea‘s version: because our enemy is a spiritual one, not a physical one, we must pick up the complete armor of God with intent to use it. Looking forward to the purpose of the armor, with which we are being empowered by God to stand against the schemes of the devil during the bad days, and we have done everything to produce a decisive finality on which to make ourselves stand. 
What are practical ways we can take up” our armor every day? What keeps you from doing this? More personally, what do you identify in your life as an area that you can improve on taking up your armor”? What specifically is keeping you from doing that?
It is imperative that we pick up, with intent to use, the entirety of God’s armor. If we are picking up the Bible in order to check it off of our list as done”, we’re not intending to use it properly. If we’re praying because it’s what we’re supposed to do, then we are not really intending to use it as the weapon it is. Our faith is not about us. Our relationship with God is not about serving our own needs. We must do some heart digging to know if we are working out our faith with fear and trembling or if we’re working out our faith with an equation. A+B=C; Prayer+Bible Time=Blessings and Righteous living. I lived this way for many years, I learned much, my heart was moved. But it was based upon feelings and emotions rather than truth. We can’t live our faith from one emotionally captivating moment to the next. Because during the times in between emotional moments we’ll be left wondering if God is there, if He loves us, or maybe we’ll over criticize ourselves and tailspin into the lie of perfection. 
Can you identify with this equation of faith living? Are you there now? Do you have portions of your life where you might be living this way, if not entirely? Pray that the Lord would change your heart; that He would fill you with the fullness of His knowledge (see Colossians 1:9-12).
1 Corinthians 13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or clanging symbol. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move a mountain, But do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” Often we look at this chapter as how we are to treat others, but how about we apply it to how we treat God? Is your relationship with God about You loving Him, or has the enemy come in and twisted His truth in awful ways? I’ve carried the lie of perfection, I’ve been entrenched by the lie of equation faith, I’ve lived from spiritual high to spiritual high with depression in between. 
I love this idea that we must pick up the armor of God. When we reach down to take something up, to raise it up to the appropriate level we must exert effort, strength, time, resources. Pretend your moving…it may not be too much of a stretch for some of you to pretend. You have a ton of boxes laying around, waiting to be loaded into the truck. Each box holds something of yours. Something important, necessary, special. Without all the boxes your move wouldn’t be complete.
Now you come to the part of your move where you have to start loading your boxes onto the vehicle. With every box you bend to pick up there is an intent, effort and resources used, and a consequence. Your intent is to load the boxes onto the truck, thus one more box closer to be moved. You exert physical force. You’re using up time. And as women, generally speaking, a lot of emotion goes with moving. Lastly, the consequence: you now have that one box loaded. Being one box closer to your goal or your intent. As your moving day progresses you’ll hit trials: erupting emotions, physical injuries or pains, exhaustion, hunger and thirst. But when you keep the end in mind it tends to encourage you to push through all of these trials. My prayer is that this analogy will help you remember to put on the full armor of God. With intent to use it.
What is our end goal as a follower of Jesus? We can look forward to the hope of our salvation rather than focusing on the specifics. How does this work in your life? Is this something you’re struggling with? How can you make one small change today to change your focus?
In one of the earlier studies we briefly discussed that the purpose of our life is to worship God. I have a friend who commonly says, Who can I love on today?“ This is her conviction and version of worshipping God with her life. So what if we too, woke up in the morning and instead of begrudgingly exited our beds, we asked, How can I worship God today?“ Can you imagine the impact this would have on our days!?
I’d like you to pause a moment. Reflect on your past day or more, how could this question have changed one of your reactions, thoughts, the way you went about a situation? For me I probably would’ve had a softer reaction towards my daughter had this been floating in the back of my mind. I might’ve been more generous or loving toward someone. So I ask you, how can you worship God today?
Ephesians 6:13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.”
1 Thessalonians 5: 5, 8 You were all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or darkness… But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breast plate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.”
2 Timothy 4:15 You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.”
I think this verse in Timothy is so fascinating in light of the context here in Ephesians. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood…” Yet here, Paul is warning Timothy to guard himself against Alexander the metal worker, who caused much harm. The word used to describe the actions of Alexander here, is lian.” It means to exceedingly, greatly or vigorously oppose Paul and Timothy’s ministry. He was standing, so sure and so strongly against the grace, hope, love, joy, forgiveness and the completeness that God offers. 
Have you ever done that? Been so sure about something that your stubbornness and pride, your sin, blinded you? Have you ever been so sure in yourself that whatever anyone said you pay no attention to it? 
man worshipping at ocean
We can look at the politics of today; any major social issue, and see this happening. I imagine a court room: two sides, both so sure they’re right, neither party willing to give an inch.
I’ve personally been in this sinful state. I was so opposed to church, Church, and all things God. I was having too much fun in my sin. When it comes to taking your stand in this temporal world, we would do good to remember just that: it’s temporary. It all burns anyway. As my mom told me growing up, Know those few things you would be willing to die for on a hill. Then hold them in your hand so tight that you don’t let anyone take them away.“ 
I was reminded today as I was editing this that even when we have a personal conviction, we’re on board with God, we’re gung-ho, ready to accomplish it, we can still fail. I did. But it’s because I was doing it in my own strength, I was not putting on the armor in the way that God called. I was not using my spiritual weapons properly. I was trying to be righteous in my own power, and that just doesn’t work. We must remember to stand in the might of the Lord.
The stand we take in the spiritual realm is of utmost importance. Because if you’re standing on the wrong side, it could cost you eternal life. I stood against God. He was gracious enough to humble me here on Earth for His purpose and will to be done. It saddens my heart to think that people passed by the opportunities He gave them to bow their knee here in this temporary world. For we know that every knee will bow at the name of Jesus Christ (see Philippians 2:10 or Romans 14:11 or Isaiah 45:23). We must be careful what we stand your ground on. 
Are you standing your ground on this Earth, or are you standing your ground on God’s truth? Are you trying to stand in your own strength, or are you relying on the Lord might to stand? Examine the ground in your life. Is it full of truth, love, joy, peace, contentment, compassion? Or are you standing in a forest of lies, deceit, anger, impure thoughts, greed?
Colossians 3 and Galatians 5 are very clear about the ground we should and should not be standing on. Set your hearts on things above, set your mind on things above.” We have to burn the forest of weeds , we have to pluck them out one by one. I don’t know where you’re at in your walk. Truly only God knows. Maybe you need to burn it all the the ground to allow new life, Jesus’ life, to grow up from the ashes. New life is always born after a great forest fire. Maybe it’s gardening season for you, and you need to be actively plucking the sin that keeps growing in your fertile soil.
I experienced recently a season of first growth. Here’s what I mean by that. If you’ve ever planted a garden and waited for sprouts to shoot through the soil you might begin to wonder what’s a weed and what’s going to be good fruit. Salad is especially difficult to know until it’s maturing. This is when a seasoned gardener can come in and help you determine weed from plant. You may be here spiritually. Unsure what’s truly good fruit, and what’s sin disguising itself as light. It’s tough sometimes. 
John 15 is when Jesus Himself uses gardening as an analogy. God is the gardener. Jesus is the vine. We are the branches that bear fruit, or don’t. Our fruit is our life. How much of our life is full of good fruit? Are you in chaos, are you overwhelmed, exhausted, surrounded by drama? How’s your soil? Maybe you need a little manure added in to give your soil a restart. Spiritually, where are you sowing to the flesh, and where are you sowing to the Spirit?
Galatians 6:8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” I’m going to give you an example from my own life. I’ve been convicted of the way that I eat-my body is a temple created to house the Spirit of God, and if my temple is not properly cared for then how could I possibly expect to accomplish all that He has planned for me? Is it nourishing foods, or not? I have not been heeding that conviction lately. James 4:17 says that for those of you know the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin…” By not living in such a way that God has called of me I have been poisoning my heart slowly, allowing sin to take root. There are consequences for our sin, sometimes we see these consequences immediately, maybe later down the road, maybe not until we reach eternity. Galatians 5:9, and 1 Corinthians 5:6 a little yeast leavens the whole lump.” A little bit of poop in the brownie makes the whole batch awful. And earthquake isn’t just felt at the epicenter but has effects worldwide. Don’t fool yourself into thinking…no…don’t let the enemies lies take root in your heart and mind, thinking that a little bit is ok, especially if God has said no. 
1 Peter 5:9 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of settings.”

Armor of God Study: Part 3

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Have you ever come to a place in your life where you suddenly realized that what you have been doing has been playing right into the Devil’s schemes? I have a dear friend who struggles with bulimia for 30 years. She has confided to me that moment of deliverance. One day as she was getting ready to purge, all she saw in that toilet bowl was Satan laughing. It was then she realized that all this time she was right where the enemy wanted her: trapped, alone, desperate, and physically dying a slow, painful death. Praise God Almighty! In that moment her Savior showed up and worked a miracle in her life.
As I was examining a very precious relationship recently, the Lord revealed to me the grip that Satan had on this other person. With the amount of worldly influences this person was involved in, all I could see was Satan laughing maniacally as this one I love was sinking deeper and deeper into a pit. It’s heartbreaking when you see the godly potential in someone’s life and they are refusing it. The tangles mess of lies that someone can be so caught up in is devastating. Not only to themselves, but also to those around us. This is why it is so important to lean on God’s truth.
I have been to that place in my life, where Satan’s lies were drowning out God’s truths. The deceit and darkness can have an iron grip on someone’s heart. The grasp that Satan had on my life was to tight the only escape I saw was death. Satan wanted me dead. The word pale”, the word we translate into struggle is more accurate translated into wrestle, at least for the way my brain works. To literally pin your opponent to the ground by the back of the neck. This paints a very vivid picture of what Satan is trying to do to us.
It’s interesting to think that Satan had probably seen the godly potential in me before I ever did.  He was working tirelessly, and still is to derail, destroy and distract. We know that Satan isn’t omnipotent, he isn’t all knowing as God is. But I think we forget sometimes that he knows God’s power, he knows he looses in the end; that is why he is working so hard to take as many with him as possible. Satan understands the might of God talked about in verse 10. He is afraid of what someone can do with God when their heart is fully submitted to him. On January 3, 2007 I had no hope, and I certainly had no idea that almost 11 years later I would be teaching a Bible study. God knew. Satan saw God’s potential in me. 
It is so important for us to acknowledge where we have been and where we are. Our battles continue all around us. Sometimes they are big battles, and sometimes they are much smaller ones, but a battle all the same. God is writing our story and no matter what we face, He gets the glory. The fact that we are all sitting here is testament enough of His strength. It’s imperative we share our war stories so that we can learn from them, and so that we can teach others to not make the same mistakes. 
And I know that if you are holding onto that darkness you once lived in, keeping it safe, keeping it hidden, then Satan will continue using it as a foothold to keep you in bondage. We must expose evil to the Light. For the sake of community, healing, relationship, freedom and support spit it out ladies. 
Let’s shed some Light on those dark places. My daughter and I often pray that our hearts and lives would be so full of God’s light, there would be no room for darkness. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
As I pondered this morning where I was 11 years ago spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally these words spilled out:
“I posted about this some time ago but find it important to mention again.11 years ago, January 3, 2007 was a dark night for my family and friends. It was a Wednesday night. I was depressed, overwhelmed, I felt so alone. I was so entrenched by lies. The weight of my sin and burdens was so heavy that there was only one solution available. Death.

With my own hands I tried to take the life that God gave me. Everything in me wanted the sweet victory and taste of death. Oh that enemy of our souls would not deceive your heart as he did mine.

So much around this event is a mystery, but there are truths abounding too.

TRUTH: God is with me. He always was, always is and always will be-I WAS NEVER ALONE.

TRUTH: God is my JOY. And joy is a choice. I can choose to wallow in the filth ones of this world and my life, or I can choose to look to the Lord, my God and put a smile on my face. I AM NOT DEFINED BY DEPRESSION. CHRIST HAS SET ME FREE.

TRUTH: Nothing I have done, or ever will do can change God’s love for me.

TRUTH: I am loved with an everlasting love.

TRUTH: I am alive today as proof that God is real, alive and ever present.

Oh, that the God of all would speak HIS OBJECTIVE TRUTH into your heart today.

I should have died that night. What I did to my body should have killed me. But God saw something in me worth saving; I see it now too.

I am tagging those who I remember that night and the following week in hopes to remind you how great our God is and the beautiful things He has done in my life and yours.

Tonight I get to celebrate God’s victory in my life with fellow followers of Christ. Tonight I get to join hundreds at God’s altar and sing His praise. Today I get to proclaim that God is my exceeding JOY.”

Psalm 43-4

The Armor of God: Part 1

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.

“Be strong” – endunamoo – Increase in strength, to receive strength, to be strengthened, to increase in union with the Lord
“in the Lord” – kurios – The Lord, exercising absolute ownership rights
“and in the strength” – kratos – dominion, power; a mighty deed (from a root word meaning “to perfect, complete” … in this verse context is the might of HIS strength
“of His might”– ischus – strength, power, might, force, ability…power (over external things) afforded by strength

After looking at the original Greek, I have come up with my own version of this verse: “This strength is the ability for us to increase our union with the Lord, who has complete rights to our lives anyway, through His perfect and complete power over external things.” This brings new life to Philippians 4:13 for me: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Since we are going to be looking so much as strength today, it’s important to look at our weaknesses too. Take a look at 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. I think Paul is saying that he rather enjoys his weaknesses because then Christ has all the more opportunity to shine, and isn’t that the goal in life? To let the Lord’s light shine before all men. Matthew 5:14-16 is a great illustration straight from Jesus’ lips about how brightly our lights should shine. Look at the end of verse 16 – so “that they may see…and glorify your Father in Heaven.”

It circles back to that infamous question, “Why are we here?” Answer: to worship God. How then, are you worshipping God? Is your whole life a reflection of Christ? Where are you struggling in your journey of faith? Look to the Lord for your strength!

Weary? Isaiah 40:29-31; Psalm 73:26
Fear? Isaiah 41:10, 13; Deuteronomy 31:6
Rejected? Isaiah 41:9; 2 Timothy 4:16-17
Dry/Empty? Isaiah 41:17-18
Knocked Down? Psalm 18:33
Psalm 18:2, 32, 28:7-8, 29:11, 46:1, 59:9; Proverbs 31:25

I wonder if what Paul was getting at is that in devotion to Christ we offer our lives as a living sacrifice to His will. In that sacrifice we are bound to see we have weaknesses, but God is so much bigger than our weaknesses. And when we’re honest with God, with ourselves and those around us, our weaknesses begin to fad as Christ steps in and covers them. He doesn’t always take them away as if they never existed, but He covers them in a way that He is seen in our lives rather than us. The Lord is seen, not our inadequacies.

It’s much easier for us when we are seeking God during this process of refinement, is it not? Not that it will be easy-because life in a sin stained world is not easy. However, look at what Jesus Himself says in Matthew 11:28-29: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Is anyone else just absolutely basking in that promise?

As we go through our lives we would do good to remember this: God is pruning the branches that bear fruit so that they may bear even more fruit; no branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine. The vine being Jesus. As He remains in us, let us also remain in Him (John 15). Let us do this so that we may be the Father’s glory by bearing much fruit. I love what one of my pastor’s said this last Sunday about glory: it is to live your life in such a way that those around you have a good opinion of God.

But what fruit is it that we bear? The fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5 and Colossians 3. Love. And through love we see joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control and compassion. As we devout ourselves to God’s, love and all these things ooze from our pores. We are a pleasing aroma to God. If you know about my love for essential oils, then you know I’m all about pleasing aromas.

This may beg the question then, how do we remain in Christ, how do we continue shining His light, how do we worship God with all of our life, particularly when life is hard?

1. You must stay in the Word of God, or use The Sword of the Spirit. Daily! “Oh, but everyday is so hard. I’m just too busy. I don’t have the time.” This may not come out very gracious, but really!? You don’t have time for the creator of the universe? You don’t have 5 minutes you can devout to Him? But I agree, it can be a challenge to figure out when and where to fit in the time with God. Here’s my personal belief, which is supported Biblically by Jesus: first thing in the morning. (And make it something interesting ya’ll). Let me drive my point home a bit further here: how often is Satan trying to steal and kill and destroy you? Every single day. And sometimes he’s not even taking a break while you’re sleeping. So, yes, read and study your Bible daily.

2. You must exercise faith. Exercise implies that you’re strengthening something. How do you strengthen your faith then? Stay in the Word of God as you walk, run, stumble and fall through this race of life. Faith is the assurance of things not seen and confidence in what we hope for. As we go through life with confidence in our hope in the Lord, and assured through the Word of God, our faith turns into a Shield with which we can duck behind, or hold high as we extinguish the fiery darts of the evil one. I’ve even recently pictured my Shield of Faith growing larger with each trial.

3. When we equip ourselves with the Sword of the Spirit, and the Shield of Faith, our Breastplate of Righteousness begins to form around our life. Righteousness will protect our heart and vital organs and our back. The righteousness that God is working out in you and allowing to flourish will give you strength to make the right decisions when facing temptation, it will protect you from relying solely on your own strength, or, may the Lord forbid, your emotions or feelings. Instead you are able to rely on God’s truth. When circumstances begin to loom over you like a dark cloud, or your life seems to be spinning out of control, or a situation rises up suddenly, you get to rest in your righteousness. Knowing that you have already have a line of defense in place.

4. Speaking of God’s truth…we are to wrap the Belt of Truth around ourselves, as if allowing it to hold us together. We are then able to walk in His truth which we can find in the Word of God. If you follow Priscilla Shirer with Going Beyond Ministries there are several events she has spoken about regarding the Armor of God. In her speech she talks about how the Belt of Truth helps take the weight of your own righteousness.

5. When we strive to equip ourselves with all these attributes and disciplines we are then moved, and fully prepared by God to spread the Gospel of Peace. It becomes natural to spread that peace where ever our feet take us.

6. And isn’t that our great mission? To tell others about the Helmet of Salvation. With which, none of these other pieces would fit. So you see, it’s a full circle. Salvation leads to the Word which leads to faith, and righteousness, leading to knowing and walking in the truth, and where we walk we carry with us the Gospel of Peace. Salvation leads to the Word, and to faith and righteousness and truth…it’s all connected. They aren’t really separate pieces at all.

7. And then there’s Prayer.

The power and strength and might that Paul is mentioning here in Ephesians 6:10 is most certainly an active strength. When you think about a battle, it’s not a place you imagine to be relaxing, or comfortable, a nice place to rest and rejuvenate. NO! Why then do we think that we can rest in our devotion to God? Leaving fellowship, or taking a day off? I’m guilty of this. In fact just just a few weeks ago, when I was sick (flu sick), I thought, ‘I don’t need God, I’m sick. I’ll be fine. I’m not going to work; I can barely have an attitude anyway with how sick I am. I got this.’ Let me tell you how well that didn’t work for me. I was an awful human being to be around. Isn’t it so reassuring though, to know that the power of Christ can cover a multitude of scenarios? Cancer, death, moving, relationship struggles, mental or emotional distress…the list could on. If Christ’s power works in the midst of a battle, then boy howdy, He can do anything!

I did a quick search in the Bible to see what else the power of God is described as, likened to, or emulated as. [This is where you can grab your Bible and look with me]. Ephesians 1:19-20 The Resurrection Power. Psalm 68:32:35 It can be/should be proclaimed; resides in Heaven; over us-not tyrannically, but rather compassionately, with a downward care for us; the power of His sanctuary is awesome; he freely shares it with us. *Mark 12:24 The power of God is for the living. Job 27:11 We teach others about God’s indescribable power. 1 Corinthians 1:24 Christ is the power of God. *Acts 8:10 Satan often disguises himself as the power of God.
*Context is important for these verses; go back far enough to get a feel for the Scripture and message.

The power of God: justifies, saves, reconciles, judges, loves infinitely, creates life, gives life, demands holiness, forgives.


If we go back to Ephesians 6:10, we see that the power of God lives within us, working personally and communally, as the Church. And it’s God’s power working in us and through us that puts us in a place to choose to put on the Armor of God to fight against our enemy. Don’t miss this: it is a choice; it is your choice. God is not going to force you into relationship with Him, that would go against all He is. But He has given you all the tools to fight successfully, you just have to pick them up, clothe yourself with them, and stand firm in your choices.

We agree then, that the power of God is in us, right? Then let’s talk about the kind of environment you have you created for the Lord to dwell in. What is the state of His house? You’re the keeper of the house, what have you been doing to it? If you watch the show “Stranger Things,” is it like the Upside Down? Do you have locked doors that disallow Holy Spirit to truly roam freely in your life? Do you have piles of clutter you or Holy Spirit are tripping over, or is your life so full right now ya’ll are walking in pathways in your house? Are you holding on to anything that you know the Lord disapproves of? Are you an active participant in keeping the house clean? Are you like I was as a teenager, allowing things to gather and sit and build and pile for ages, and then finally doing a big, deep clean, only to let it all fill up again? Are you putting up a front of cleanliness or righteousness, knowing that inside it’s really a different story? What kind of place have you built for God to dwell in?

Can God truly move freely within you in order to accomplish His plan? What are the obstacles you have out you might be tripping up on, or might be holding up God’s plan?