Is Our World a Reflection of Who We Are?

 

The more I read Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the other Old Testament prophets; the more I have to wonder if the modern day church is just repeating the same patterns and faux pas of the Hebrew people.  Many question how Jesus ended up being rejected by His people when they were scholars of the Torah. With prophecies of the Messiah’s coming all throughout their scriptures, many puzzle today asking HOW did they miss the time of His appearing?  However, we must be very careful in our judgemental questions…

Why? I would submit to you that those of us in the church today would do well to examine ourselves before questioning or pointing fingers at those who have gone before us. We would also do well to examine ourselves before blaming the world we live in, the government or anyone else for the current state of affairs in our communities or our country. It would also behoove us to examine how controversial laws have come to be passed rather than complaining.  How is it that we now have to be concerned about explaining to our small children or grandchildren why a child or an adult person of the opposite sex is allowed in their bathrooms?  1 Peter 4 may give us a hint…

  “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.  If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right. 1 Peter 4:12-19 HCSB

Is it possible that portions of the church over the last 30-50 years have spent more time judging those outside it walls rather than focusing on rightly judging ourselves by scripture?  Could it be some of us have been trying to hold the unbelievers accountable to God’s standard and preaching their doom rather that focusing on the great commandment to love God whole-heartedly and then loving our neighbors as our self-perpetuating His love to our neighbors no matter their beliefs in order that some may be won by seeing His love through us?  Then again, have we been living up the very things we say we believe??

First Peter 4:17 clearly states that Judgement will begin in the house of the Lord; the household of God.  If you’ll permit me another question, has there ever been a time in history where the church blended so well into the culture?  The rates of divorce, broken families, abortions, affairs are almost as high in the church as they are outside the church, and yet many of us walk around like we have it all together and have the answers. This should not be so.  If I were an outsider, the first thing I’d ask is, “if you have all the answers (and we do in God’s Word), why are you struggling, unhappy, discontent, complaining, or fill in the blank with what fits? Better yet, why are you judging me and criticizing me; I thought God is love and teaches His followers to love. Are we studying to show ourself approved, 2 Timothy 2:25; correctly teaching the truth? Are we speaking the truth in love? Ephesians 4:15  Would God say about us what He said to His people in Isaiah 56?

“His watchmen are blind,
All of them know nothing.
All of them are mute dogs unable to bark,
Dreamers lying down, who love to slumber;
And the dogs are greedy, they are not satisfied.
And they are shepherds who have no understanding;
They have all turned to their own way,
Each one to his unjust gain, to the last one.
“Come,” they say, “let us get wine, and let us drink heavily of strong drink;
And tomorrow will be like today, only more so.
” Isaiah 56:10-12 NASB

Are we each going our way; doing what seems right in our own eyes/minds?  (Judges 17:6;  Proverbs 21:2; Judges 21:25)  Are we going down the same old path and circling the same ineffective cycles that are found all throughout the Old Testament. Could the words the prophets of old spoke be totally relevant to us today?  As I have spent much time in their writings over the last year, I believe their words are completely applicable today. Something is not working, at least not working well. Wisdom dictates that if that is the case, we need to change what we are doing.  Will we follow the Word of God and first examine ourselves?

““Cry loudly, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet,
And declare to My people their transgression
And to the house of Jacob their sins. “Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know My ways,
As a nation that has done righteousness
And has not forsaken the ordinance of their God.
They ask Me for just decisions,
They delight in the nearness of God.
‘Why have we fasted and You do not see?
Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice?’
Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire,
And drive hard all your workers.
“Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist.
You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high.
“Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it for bowing one’s head like a reed
And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed?
Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the Lord?

“Is this not the fast which I choose,
To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free
And break every yoke?
“Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?                                                                                          

“Then your light will break out like the dawn,
And your recovery will speedily spring forth;
And your righteousness will go before you;
The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
“Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you remove the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,
And if you give yourself to the hungry
And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday.
“And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
“Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;
You will raise up the age-old foundations;
And you will be called the repairer of the breach,
The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.” Isaiah 58:1-12 NASB

Will we step out in faith, take the time, and have the courage to examine ourselves regularly?  Are those of us who call ourselves believers or followers of Jesus Christ following His example? How do we know? People either loved Jesus or hated Him. Typically people loved Him, but the religious/pious hated Him and saw Him as a threat. It will be no different for us, are we up to the task??

May His Grace and Peace reign moment by moment in your life!

Dry Places

Have you ever found yourself right smack-dab in the middle of a dry place? That place where you feel a bit out of place or out of touch? In a spot where answers evade you to the questions pressing on your mind or heart? Have you ever felt distanced and far from all that seems normal and feels right in your life? I know I have during seasons of my life!

I am willing to bet that is exactly how the Hebrew slaves felt walking in the wilderness after being freed. Likely it is also how Moses felt during and after his experience with God at the burning bush in Exodus 3. Consider for a moment, if you will: seeing that bush on fire yet not consumed; a voice from nowhere calling out for you by name; asking you to stop and remove your shoes because the ground you are standing on is holy; followed by an encounter Most High God. Can you just imagine, not only being called out by name in the desert but being commissioned to return to the town you grew up (where they know you killed a man while defending another) to exact freedom your people enslaved there?

God had heard His people’s cries. After four hundred years of slavery increasing in workload and pressure, this group was suffering more than ever. God commissioned Moses for the job and allowed Aaron as his side-kick. Interestingly, after this encounter when Moses entered Egypt and approached the Pharoah, he approached with the request to be allowed a three-day retreat into the desert to worship and sacrifice to God. Notice Moses initially mentioned nothing about freeing the people or the Promised Land.

If you know the story, you also realize it was a long, arduous process but in the end leads to the release their people. Time after time Moses approached Pharoah each instance Pharoah either answered no or changed his mind. Ten plagues later, Pharoah released them and sent the people away with many riches only to chase after the Hebrews and be swallowed up by the Red Sea.

Two Choices in the Wilderness

It only took a short time in the wilderness for the people to begin complaining and grumbling about their circumstances. God purpose was to get His people to the promised land via the desert. There was a shorter way, but it would lead them to the land of the Philistines, and they were not yet prepared to face this enemy. Here the people had two choices: trust, obey and worship the God of their fathers that had freed them from oppression; or we can grumble and complain. As we observed, they choose the latter.

When faced with a dry place, desert experiences or simply times that God seems quiet in our lives we have a choice of how we respond. Will we choose to turn inward and if we do will we focus more on ourselves or seek to change and grow? Will we grumble and complain fighting against whatever God may be trying to bring forth in our life? Will we choose to press into the things of God and accept that He has a purpose or plan for the things we encounter? Will we continue in faith to trust His heart and His goodness? Will we worship Him in these times?

Many times we can not control our circumstances, but we can control our response. Our response can mean the difference between a more direct route and a long winding journey. The Hebrew response resulted in a forty-year journey; ours does not have to! Our response to our circumstances can make all the difference!

 

Challenged to be Bold

How bold are the prayers we pray?  In  Christ, do we truly pray with the realization that the creator of the universe calls us sons and daughters?  I just finished watching a video clip  by Lisa Bevere. Speaking at the Love Life Women’s Conference, she said: “The world needs you to pray scary prayers instead of scared prayers!” Another quote was: “If you are not praying the kind of prayers that scare you; believe me, they are not scaring the enemy!” That is challenging just by itself.  Then I laid down my Bible and it opened to Isaiah 45 and my eyes were drawn to this passage…

 “Drip down, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds pour down righteousness; Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, and righteousness spring up with it.  I, the Lord, have created it.  “Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker—An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth!” Isaiah 45: 8 & 9 NASB

 Now that is a powerful prayer!! 

 This passage is talking about a King named Cyrus who is appointed by God to set His people free from exile and return them home to Jerusalem and to rebuild the temple so they could worship God freely as free people once again. Verses 1-8 were a commission by God to Cyrus rather than a prayer. However, if you have been even somewhat keeping up on the political scene or even have just perused the social media scene for a few minutes; I am betting you have seen some of the craziness! If you ventured to watch one of the many debates, I know you’ve personally witnessed it yourself.  The debate last night was a very loose interpritation of the rules of debate at best. Three people competing to all talk at once, over and over again. There were times I just wished the moderator would speak up or the sound tech would cut the microphones to stop the chaos. Alas, this is the nature of political debates today.

    The people across all races and all belief systems in this country are worried about the course things have taken or will take over the next years. What will we be leaving behind for our children and grandchildren to clean up with the great debt this country owes? How can we bring back balanced spending and get rid of debt? Is our military strong enough to protect us? What about the economy? Borders? Will the Constitution and it’s amendments including the 1st and 2nd be upheld? The questions just keep coming and many Americans whether or not they will admit it range from concerned to flat out scared of the course that seems to be played out before us. People want answers. They want to choose the right leader.

     Maybe it is time; perhaps past time, for believers all across this country to lay down our concerns, fears and questions down at the feet of our Creator and begin to pray bold prayers.  Our God hears His kids when they cry out!  We can vote; we can speak out about injustices, freedoms, rights; we can educate people; we can be an informed and educated person; all these are important! But it is He Who: “removes and establishes kings and rulers.”  Not sure or unconvinced? Do your remember the ‘hanging chads’ and the declaration that Bush would not have a second term? Or the declaration that the little known candidate Obama would not get enough votes?? 

Daniel’s prayer – Daniel 2: 19- 23  The mystery was then revealed to Daniel in a vision at night, and Daniel praised the God of heaven and declared:  May the name of God be praised forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him.  He changes the times and seasons; He removes kings and establishes kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals the deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.  I offer thanks and praise to You, God of my fathers, because You have given me wisdom and power.  And now You have let me know what we asked of You, for You have let us know the king’s mystery.”

 Maybe, just maybe it is time to we make sure our hearts and motives are right and find some great scriptures and pray some very bold scary prayers for our lives, for the lives of those we love, for our country, and even for those who are against us!  Our battle is not with flesh and blood…Ephesians 6:10-13 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil.  For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.  This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.”  

Brothers and Sisters;                                                                                                                                       May grace, peace and boldness be multiplied to you! 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Struggles?

     Over the past few days, I have been looking back at life. You see, my husband and I have been asked to be a part of a relationship conference this next weekend. It will consist of a brief testimony from five couples about marriage and then will be followed by a “rapid fire” question and answer period. The groups will be divided into unmarried, married under ten years, married over ten years. Then all the groups will reunite for an overview and more q&a.  We are blessed to have four couples with over 35 years experience participating!

     I have to say the secret to our longevity in marriage is most likely tenacity. That put plainly; stubbornness.  We are both stubborn people and come from stubborn people. We also started our marriage out with the mindset that this is forever. By beginning from the faith perspective and from a Biblical world view, that means our perspective was to make it work; fix what was broken.  Have we ever felt like quitting? Yes. Thankfully, when one was discouraged the other usually picked up the slack and we muddled our way through by prayer, God’s help and sometimes sheer determination. Has it always been easy? Not at all!  We really were just babies starting out; though we’d never admit it then.  I remember one couple in their sixties who were friends with our parents declaring, “they will never make it! It’s puppy love and they are too young to get married.” I wonder what they’d say today…

     I spent some time this weekend looking back at the things we have been through together.  I was amazed to see how quickly the challenges began in our marriage and how those struggles were clustered together; back to back, and sometimes year after year. Many were heavy duty challenges, not just the typical adjusting to life together or financial issues.  Those can be difficult enough. We experienced a number of deaths of loved ones close in succession; some following long term illness and some sudden.  It was  a little shocking to look back.  It was also pretty gratifiing at the same time seeing all that we have come through and how it changed each of us; how we grew through those times.

     The thing is, often it is those very struggles in life that cause us to grow, mature and strengthen.  They push us to do something other than just get by.  They force us to look for answers, to seek wisdom.  Hopefully they lead us to seek out God; His wisdom and understanding; and godly answers.  Even when that is not the case, we are able to learn what not to do the next time and what does not work.  As we grow and mature through these times, it puts us in the perfect place to help others who go through similar situations.

     “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ESV  

     I could’t help but feel a little overwhelmed and amazed as I glanced the highlights of the years.  Just the major events, both the good ones and the hard ones.  Would we have ever signed up for this if we’d known what was coming?  I really don’t know. I would hope so!  I have to say as good as the good has been and as hard as the hard has been; I wouldn’t change a thing! There are times we each wish we had done better or differently but the truth is it has all worked together for good to get both of us were we are today.  We are better for those struggles because they have changed us. They have stretched and matured us.  Fears are fewer; faith is stronger. Best of all, our Heavenly Father is so very real and present in our lives.  He is the true reason that we are here today!  If our stories can help others coming along behind us, all the better.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16

     By His mercy and grace, we have and continue to hold fast in both our faith and in our marriage.  Love deepens with both the good times and the struggles we face when our hearts are set on Him! He is the unifier and the glue that holds this relationship together on the sunny days and on the stormy seas.

 “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43:1b-3a ESV

May God’s mercy, grace and peace surround you this day!

 

Find Rest in the Promises

 

What a powerful scripture!  We have received the same promises as the Hebrew children wandering in the wilderness! This challenged me to ask this question…  Just how many promises does the Bible contain? Enter Internet search engines. They are great for my inquiring mind; just remember we can’t believe all we read there.

How many promises are there in the Bible?  The answers I found varied widely.  The first site I found concluded there were 3,573 (bible info.com). Others ranged from 3,000 all the way up to over 30,000! No two sites agreed on the number but that doesn’t really matter for our purpose today.  The point is the Bible is full of all kinds of promises for our life and according the the verse above they are not just for the people of old; they are for us.  I don’t know about you, but that gives me great hope and excitement.

You don’t have to live long on this planet before you realize that life can be very challenging at times!  Our desire is to live fairly uncomplicated lives and we want that for our children as well.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t always turn out that way for us.  If you have circled the sun a few times on this planet, you know this!  When life decides to hurl curve balls and fast balls our way, what do we do?  How do we keep the gale force winds in life from blowing us right into hopelessness, depression and despair?  Sometimes we seek out council from a trusted parent, sibling, mentor, friend or other relative.  It’s great to have those people in our lives!  What if the situation is too overwhelming; too complicated; to big; to tender; or perhaps just too embarrassing to share?  What happens when that burden is excruciatingly heavy and there seems to be no relief from it’s weight in sight?

Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (HCSB)

Or as the Message words it:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Live freely and lightly! That’s what I want every day! So how do we accomplish this is our lives?  What are some practical steps?  How do we rise above what the world throws our way?  How do we overcome discouragement, fear and doubt?  I guarentee many will think my answer is over-simplistic and that’s ok. I’ve been there too!  For many it will seem not only over-simplistic but far fetched.  It’s fine, your doubts will not cause any resentment from me.  The answer to every question, need or dilemma we have is in the Word of God.  I have put it to the test and every single time I have come away with help; comfort; peace.  Our post modern culture will tell us God’s Word isn’t revelant or that it’s archaic.  They may say it’s too restrictive; all about rules, etc.  Even if there is just a bit of truth in what is culturally said about the Bible in our day, how can you dismiss it if you have never truly tested it for yourself?

Whether the actual number of promises found within it’s covers is 3,000 or 33,000; one thing is sure.  One of them will fit what you’re facing at least on some level and is worth deciding to stand on that promise in faith.  When doubt comes, pray and speak the promise over and over. I doesn’t hurt to keep a check on your motives in the process; are my motives pure and is my heart in the right place?

As a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, the best gift we can give ourselves is knowing who God says we are in Christ and being grounded in His Word and His promises. Why? Because the Holy Spirit will remind us or bring it to our mind in time of need or crisis. This is a process and takes time. In the mean time, when attacks or problems come what do we do?  Personally, if I don’t know a promise for my situation, I grab my phone; open the browser and search… Scripture for ______? You can fill in the topic with the need. Example: scripture for doubt, fear, discouragement, rejection, etc. Who does the Bible say I am in Christ? What does the Bible say about healing?

A word of warning,  if you are using the Internet, not everything you find will be accurate and true so test what you find. Also, check it against God’s Word; that it is in context with the scriptures around it; test it against other scriptures; and pray for wisdom, understanding and revelation reguarding the scripture.   This may seem a little complicated, but it is worth it because it works. It is possible to rest in Christ even in the middle of a storm!

A few promises to start with:

2 Timothy 1:7  “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” NASB

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” NIV

James 1: 5-8  “If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.” MSG

Deuteronomy 31:6  “Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Hebrews 13:5-6  “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said,  “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

Isaiah 43: 1-2 ““Now this is what the Lord says — the One who created you, Jacob, and the One who formed you, Israel — “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you.”
‭‭ ‭HCSB‬‬

Well Placed Confidence

This morning I woke up still trying to unravel a puzzle. Most Sunday evenings, a couple of friends and I get together to fellowship and study God’s Word. Currently we are working our way through the Book of Ezekiel and are focused on idolatry and Israel’s problems with it and punishment for it. Prophecy can be a interesting study but It can also be very challenging. As we read the commentary on this particular passage, the section about original meaning was helpful and clear but as we read the sections bridging context and application for today we were perplexed by some of the statements we read. Perhaps because we were looking at it from this side of the cross and his focus was more from just the Ezekiel context. Next, I opened my Bible to Psalm 49; captioned “Misplaced Trust in Wealth” (HCSB). The NASB captions it “Confidence in God Rather Than Riches”.

Just what is it that we humans are tempted to put our trust in? Could it be that we are trusting in something other than in God; even those of us who confess Jesus and profess to be Christians? When something comes up, small or large, do we first try to fix it ourselves before seeking Him and His wisdom for the situation?  Maybe you haven’t, but I have. At one point in my thirties, I was suffering with some undiagnosed  joint pain and walking at that time was pretty painful. We were running low on groceries and I had a family to feed. Shopping was imperative and I had to go.  The only parking spots were about thirty-five cars out from the door. I had a nudging that I should pray. I ignored it at first thinking that’s silly to bother God with this. It seems strange now when I am not suffering the malady that I would have considered this small.  Over-working the joints at that time had the potential put me in bed for a day or two afterwards, yet still I considered it small and not worthy of bothering God with prayer.

I repeatedly circled and nothing was available.  As I thought of walking that far, as well as around the rather large store; I became concerned about being able to accomplish the task at hand. I felt that nudge again, so I prayed driving down the lane. I proceeded up the next lane. As I rounded one more time, back-up lights switched on and the very first spot became available and it wasn’t a handicapped spot. That day proved to me once and for all that God is concerned about even the things we consider small in our lives.

Through Paul, God tells us “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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”   Philippians 4:6-7 NJKV 

     Where do we place our confidence? In ourself? Our family or friends? Our financial standing? Our position or lack of position? When struggles, trials or troubles reach our way, where do we tend to turn first? Wisdom tells us to seek God first; pray. How often do we run to Him first? In light of these questions, the next one that comes to mind is: If God is not the first place we run as believers; is it possible that the place we choose to run may actually be an idol in our life? I have heard it said anything that we exalt over God in our life or anything that keeps us from placing Him first in our life is an idol. If that is true, is seeking to solve our problems ourself outside of prayer and His wisdom for the situation idolatry? Hmmm, Selah. (pause and reflect)

How about when someone does something and the gut reaction is to call a trusted friend rather than hit my knees? Or just react with a knee-jerk reaction? Oh, I guarantee that I have been in each of these places more than once. Yet as I study wisdom as defined by scripture, I am challenged to run not walk into a quiet place and seek God first. I am not saying it is easy or convenient but I will say that when I manage to follow through and do it things turn out a great deal better.

It is far from easy to hold your tongue in a volatile situation and say let me get back to you so that you can take time to seek His face about a situation. Nor is it easy to have the mind to not panic when you get some really bad news. I vividly remember one sunny afternoon answering my phone. It was my daughter, who had only been driving for a short time. She had an accident on a winding, hilly road fifteen minutes away from our home. She had run off the road and hit a tree. A young lady a couple of years older came along and saw the wreckage. She stopped and let my daughter sit in her car until I arrived.

That call sucked the breath right out of me and all I could do was pray! I had to get to my baby girl and fast! I didn’t know if I could drive I was shaking so badly. God got me there quickly and safely. Thankfully, other than some bruises and scrapes, she was fine. Those who saw the car damage were amazed she walked away with little injury.  The car had actually jumped a big culvert rather than careening into it. A tree finally stopped the car.  The scar in that tree remains even to this day! God’s protection and provision was very evident. He got me to the scene safely and even before the officer arrived to question my very shy daughter. It is easy to run straight to God when you are in crisis mode but will we choose to seek His wisdom more routinely? Will we seek to make it more and more a part of every day life?

Just a few wisdom scriptures to ponder today:

“Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.” 

Psalm 90:12

“The proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel: That people may know wisdom and discipline, may understand intelligent sayings; May receive instruction in wise conduct, in what is right, just and fair” Proverbs 1:1-3

Proverbs 2

“Happy is a man who finds wisdom and who acquires understanding, for she is more profitable than silver, and her revenue is better than gold.” Proverbs 3:13-14

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!

How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways!

 For who has known the mind of the Lord?

Or who has been His counselor?” Romans 11:33-34

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor?” Ephesians 1:7-9

May wisdom and understanding be ours!

 

Courage in Battle

As early as I can remember, my parents read me Bible stories.  You know, the Creation; Adam and Eve sin; Cain and Able; David faces the Giant; Daniel and the lion’s den; Joseph and his colorful coat… the list could go on and on. They taught me biblical principles from the time I was a tot even we were not a “church going family” or as some would say a “religious” family. My parents and my Nannie (grandmother) taught me the importance of living my life based on God’s Word; that He was always with me and that He knew and saw everything that happens. They taught me the importance of prayer and that God answers our prayers. By the time I was five or six, I was in a very frightening situation, and I put it to the test. This timid little girl prayed and prayed hard. Did I say I was terrified?? That evening I promised God if I made it out of that situation alive, I was His, forever. As you can see, He saw me through! My family had set the stage by teaching me God was faithful every time they read those stories of His faithfulness to me! When I found myself in a pinch, I remembered and held fast to those stories, and He answered in a mighty way that has affected my life ever since that evening.

There was one thing back in the day; it seemed no one ever told us. At least I never heard it once even after I started attending a church nearby a couple of years later. The truth is I was an adult before I realized that a decision to believe God and accept Jesus brings a Declaration of War against us! Many of us were told a decision for Christ was the greatest, most important decision we would make and it is. Many of us believed or were taught once that decision was made it is smooth sailing from then on. Let me just tell you; nothing is further from the truth! The battle between good and evil and light and darkness began in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit to “be like God”.  This age-old battle has raged ever since!

Jesus came to give us life and life abundantly, but the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10)  Jesus came to set us free from bondage/captivity; heal us and heal our brokenness; and bring us wholeness: “The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of our God’s vengeance; to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the Lord to glorify Him.” (Isaiah 61:1-3 HCSB)  Once we choose to join Team Jesus, we are no longer off the radar of His enemy; we are now a threat because we have chosen sides. Jesus Christ has already paid the price and won the victory over sin and death. Satan refuses to admit defeat and uses all means possible to keep us distracted and deceived about our worth and our standing so that we find it difficult to walk in the abundant life and freedom Jesus has already made available to us.

It is important for us to know the truth and that begins with understanding the Word.  “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” (Ephesians 6:12 HCSB)  “Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world. Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little. The dominion belongs to Him forever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:8-11 HCSB)  The priority is to know whose side we are on. Next, is knowing that there’s an enemy and a battle going on; we are targeted.  Third, that person who doesn’t seem to like you; who lied to you or about you; who betrayed you…it is not about them. Perhaps they have misunderstood you or been deceived about you; they may be a pawn in the battle of the ages, but it is really not about them.

So what do we do with this info? Ephesians 6 tells us:

“Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil.”

Because of this, you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take the shield of faith; with it, you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alerted in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:10-11, 13-18 HCSB)

•    Be Strengthened by the Lord’s immense strength; don’t fight in our

strength!

•    Take up the Full Armor of God.

•    Stand Firm.

His Armor:

The Belt of Truth – ” Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6) The belt holds the armor together and gives stability!  Likewise, Jesus is the truth; He is the One who holds us together and gives us confidence. Colossians 1:17 says. ” He is before all things, and by Him, all things hold together.”

The Breastplate of Righteousness –  “We are Christ’s Ambassadors…Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21) This piece guards our heart!  Above all else, guard your heart for it is the source of life.(Proverbs 4:23)

The Gospel of Peace –  “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” He (Jesus) said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” which is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend  on these two commands.” (Matthew 22:38-40)

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” (Romans 12:17-19 MSG)  Just as the sandals protected the warrior’s feet from the terrain, keeping peace with others helps us keep our walk safe.

The Shield of Faith – “The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. (Hebrews 11:1-2 MSG)  Our faith is our shield that protects us. It is a huge barrier that protects our full body and quenches the tactics of our enemy!

The Helmet of Salvation – guard your mind!  Our greatest battles are fought in our minds. Our mind is where we form strategies and plans. It is where we reason and decide how to move forward. It is where the battles between fear and faith are either won or lost. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2)
Romans 8:37 “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

The Sword of the Spirit (God’s Word) –   “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.(Hebrews 4:12) This is our one offensive weapon and it is powerful!  God’s Word has an answer for every question; a solution for every problem!

Pray at all times – “Pray constantly.  Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Don’t stifle the Spirit. Don’t despise prophecies, but test all things. Hold on to what is good.  Stay away from every kind of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:18-22)

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.…” (Luke 11:9-10)  In the original,  this passage really reads ask and keep asking, seek and keep seeking, knock and keep knocking indicating perseverance in our  prayers.   Our battles will be won not by using earthly weapons but by walking in faith using the spiritual weapons He provides us!

May grace and peace be yours!

Note: You can find many additional scriptures by using a concordance or Google to search keywords about this or any topic. I highly recommend that you are sure to keep them in their original context and always check out the accuracy for yourself rather than relying on what any individual may say. Part of being armed is knowing God’s Word for ourselves. How else can we be on guard and not be unintentionally or for that matter, intentionally deceived?