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.

The Armor of God: Breastplate of Righteousness

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Ephesians 6:14-17 (NIV) Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

“Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until He comes and showers His righteousness on you.” Hosea 10:12 (NIV)

The breastplate of armor covers and protects the heart. Righteousness is purity of heart. Our righteousness is truly not our own. It is Jesus’ righteous covering. Through Him, we receive full rights as children of Father God. As such, Jesus transfers God’s righteousness, the breastplate of armor, to us (Rom. 5:1-5).

How does this happen?

In Hosea 10:12, we have the instructions: 

“Sow righteousness for yourselves”  When our actions are pure of heart, morally grounded, not just doing good or right things, we plant God’s presence on earth. Our motivation is God’s love. When we accept Jesus into our hearts, the heart is transformed or purified to be more like Jesus’ heart.

“reap the fruit of unfailing love”  When we share with others the unconditional love Jesus gives us, we  have heart growth. By treating others as we would treat Jesus or as Jesus would treat them, we become His hands and feet on this earth. Bitterness and resentment will fall away. The fruit of joy and peace will take up residence. 

“break up your unplowed ground” If you have ever tried to plant a garden, you know that it is nearly impossible to dig a hole in hard, dry ground. Ideally, you need to prepare the soil by watering and tilling it and adding compost or fertilizer. We need to prepare our hearts for growth by asking God to reveal and remove bitterness and resentment, anger and hatred, and any other hinderances to growth.

“He comes and showers His righteousness on you.”  Jesus’ gift of salvation and atonement is a pardon once for all, a transfer of righteousness from Father God to followers of Jesus. In the Old Testament (prior to Jesus’ birth), appointed priests offered sacrifices and atonement for the sins of the people yearly. This seemed to be a never-ending process. Priests entered the Temple (originally built by Solomon) and petitioned God to pardon sins on behalf of the people. Only the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies, and then only once per year on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. No other priest dared to even look into the Holy of Holies. Every year, the High Priest would petition for the forgiveness of the people’s sins.

When Jesus died on the cross, the veil between the Holy of Holies and the rest of the temple was torn from top to bottom. There was no longer a need for the High Priest to petition God by offering sacrifices. Now, we approach God directly without a priest to mediate and He bestows His righteousness, purity of heart, on us.

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Romans 5:1-5 (TPT) Our faith in Jesus transfers God’s righteousness to us and He now declares us flawless in His eyes. This means we can now enjoy true and lasting peace with God, all because of what our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, has done for us. Our faith guarantees us permanent access into this marvelous kindness that has given us a perfect relationship with God. What incredible joy bursts forth within us as we keep on celebrating our hope of experiencing God’s glory! But that’s not all! Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope. And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!