Wholly Surrounded by Holy Protection

The Armor of God: Shield of Faith

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Ephesians 6:16 (NIV) 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. 

As children of God, we are covered in His righteousness and shielded by faith in Him. 

If we already have the breastplate of righteousness, why do we need a shield of faith? The breastplate covers the shoulders, chest, abdomen, pelvic region, and thighs. It provides a great deal of protection for battle. In addition to the breastplate, the Hebrews had two types of shields available. One type of shield was small, light, and easy to move to block blows, arrows, and other projectiles. The second type soldier’s shield or coat of arms was large enough for the complete protection of the soldier. He could crouch behind it to be protected from the enemy’s arrows and missiles. Some arrows were tipped with poison, while other arrows were tipped with a combustible material to cause fire where they landed. I won’t speak for you, but I wouldn’t want either type of arrow to touch me!

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Although we may be unaware of it, faith is often a routine part of our day. When you step up to the sink to wash your hands, you turn the faucet handle or wave your hands for the sensor, and water begins to flow. When you flip the light switch, you expect the light will turn on or off. When you start your vehicle by turning the key or pushing a button, you believe the internal combustion engine will roar to life or an electric motor will hum. (We like to joke that our hybrid vehicles should play the song “It’s a Small World,” written by the Sherman brothers, when in all-electric mode. Then people would hear us coming!) While we have been conditioned to believe these results will occur, it is still our faith in practice. I cannot see how the electricity gets to the light but that doesn’t prevent it from occurring.

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary defines Christian Faith as “the rich inheritance which the Holy Spirit has given to that one supreme faculty of their souls, the faith which is the evidence of things not seen.” The Holy Spirit gifts us faith as a divine revelation of God’s character. When we envelop ourselves with God’s character, we are wholly surrounded by His holy presence and protection. Each one of us has been given a measure of faith. It is our job to develop this faith by reading the Bible, learning more about God’s character, and memorizing Scripture. The more in tune we are with God, the more we can sense His head-to-toe protection.

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Romans 12:3b (NASB)…as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

The Protective Sole for the Soul

(The Armor of God: Shoes of Peace)

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Eph. 6:15 (NIV) …and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

Think of the gospel as the protective sole for the soul. With soles of peace on our feet, we walk softly and gently, carrying the calm soul protection of Jesus which gives us His view of the world. John 3:17 (TPT) “God did not send his Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it!”

Our footsteps express our mood or intention. If our baby is sleeping, we tiptoe, trying not to wake the sleeping angel. When angry, we tend to huff and stomp around, posturing, and conveying displeasure. When we are elated and happy, we jump up and down and maybe even spin around.

So, how do shoes relate to armor? The right shoes help us run faster. Soft shoes allow us to sneak around silently. Without the protection of shoes, we could step on rocks or other debris, become injured and unable to walk.

Recently, I have been working on an attitude adjustment, trying to see each person as a creation in the image of God. This perspective allows me to see a human who is loved by God, who is just as imperfect as I am, and who may need extra grace as I do. With the gospel of peace on my feet, I have more peace, patience and understanding. I am better equipped to share about Jesus and to be His hands and feet on this earth.

What is your sole protection for your soul?

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Snow in Houston?

Let’s take a look at nature. After several inches of lingering snow in Houston, my outdoor plants  looked dead or mostly dead. They have suffered severe frostbite.  Oh, I covered the plants the best I could with sheets. The sheets became wet, frozen snow catchers. I know God created plants to endure the changes in weather. So, I am waiting to see which plants start greening before I prune off the dead parts. One of my roses already has new foliage. My lavender plant surprised me with new sprouts after seeming to be completely dead!

John 3:17 (TPT) “God did not send his Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it!”

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When Jesus physically lived on earth, He brought those dead in spirit back to life, just like the dead plants. The gospel of Jesus reveals how what seems like a life past redemption, engulfed in sin, is not. Jesus came to give us life and more abundant life at that! Jesus encountered murderers, prostitutes, adulterers, thugs, and many others whose pasts had followed them. Their spirits were dead. All hope was lost. He gave them absolution and new leases on life. He still does that today. When we repent of wrongdoing and proclaim Jesus as Lord, we receive Him into our hearts. Knowing the history of Jesus’ life on earth (read the Bible book of John) helps us grow more like Him. After all, we are made in His image.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NIV) “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Jesus is the only one who brings truth, light, love, life. He is the only One who can repair everything and anything. Will you give him a chance?

The Plan

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Proverbs 16:1 (TPT) Go ahead and make all the plans you want, but it’s the Lord who will ultimately direct your steps.

Proverbs 16:9 (TPT) Within your heart you can make plans for your future, but the Lord chooses the steps you take to get there.

I admit it…I’m a planner. In my young adult years, this perfectionist was obsessed with planning and making lists, trying not to miss or forget anything. Fast forward a few decades and a couple of daughters, I don’t make as many lists. I am a somewhat reformed perfectionist, but I still make plans. I like to know which days I go to the gym. I have one day set for laundry, house cleaning, etc. I have regular days each week for volunteering. 

In 2015, I trained for three months to hike Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. My plan was to be physically prepared to conquer the summit and view God’s glorious panorama from the top of the ginormous granite boulder. While on the elliptical with my 22-pound pack, I prayed “God do not let me get injured during training or on this hike!” My husband told me that I trained like an animal! 

Finally, hike day arrived and my little group of three set off in the early morning stillness of the park. As darkness gave way to the sunrise, we laughed and sang, soaking in nature’s beauty along the way. All was well until it wasn’t. I began to have symptoms of high altitude sickness, something I could not have trained for in Houston. With less than two miles to the summit, I knew something in my body was not right and decided to turn back. It would be three days before I would be aware of what had happened. I believe God carried me two miles down-trail where I waited for the others to return from the summit. He orchestrated the Search and Rescue Team to be less than 30 minutes away when our call for help reached them. He granted the medical staff wisdom for treating me. You see, it was a perfect storm of hyponatremia in addition to altitude sickness. Without medical intervention, I would have died. My electrolyte levels were gravely below normal, and my body had started to shut down. When I came out of the medical coma, I did not understand what had happened or why I needed a hospital. Slowly, my brain fog lifted. I recognized my family again and recalled that I had been in Yosemite. 

Despite the fact that I had somehow survived this ordeal,  I still failed to grasp how dire the situation had been or how atrophied my muscles became from only three days in bed. Regaining strength would take months. For several months, my vision was hampered by the effects of hemorrhaging behind the eyes which meant I could not drive. Even so, God gave me peace throughout the healing process. If my vision were never to be restored, it would be fine. God’s patience soothed my impatient brain. 

My plan for no injuries and reaching the summit didn’t go quite the way had I expected or preferred. However, none of it surprised God. Although I never had the opportunity to view that glorious panorama, God provided for my life to be saved and restored. He miraculously saved me that day. God used this event for His glory and His purpose. Prayer warriors from over 75 churches in the United States were praying for me, and my family witnessed my miraculous recovery. My story has become a stepping stone for me to speak of my faith.

Here’s the take-away: consult God, make plans, and expect the unexpected. Then, hang on for the ride with God.

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Is 14:24-27 (NIV) The Lord Almighty has sworn,Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.”

Proverbs 19:21 (NIV) Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.