The Armor of God: Belt of Truth

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Eph. 6:10-14a (NIV) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…

I woke up ready to fight, but not the same fight as yesterday. Today, I reject the lies of depression and inadequacy. I put on the full armor of God, starting with truth. I am beautifully and wonderfully made by The Creator (Ps. 139:13-14) and in His image (Gen. 1:27). His design is evidenced in me! Will you join me in this fight against the darkness of this world? 

This season is bittersweet. I miss the hoopla my mother would put together for Christmas Eve: Gingerbread cookies, cut-out and frosted sugar cookies, Chex mix, fudge, divinity, Rice Krispies treats and many other delicious delights would fill the dining table. My father would gather the family and read the story of Jesus’ birth. We would sing Christmas hymns, play cards, and eat the tasty treats. In case we had guests, Mom always made more than enough goodies. When there were leftovers she would groan, “Oh, I made too much!” 

Christmas is quite different now. Between COVID restrictions, decision and death, many family members are missing this Christmas. Let us focus on what is here and now. Like the twinkle in the eyes of children beholding sparkling lights and decorations, the joy of singing Christmas carols, and being able to video conference with loved ones.

My own children are adults and our traditions have changed as loved ones have relocated to other cities, states, countries or even heaven. It’s ironic that as a young married couple my husband and I wanted to create our own traditions, but now that our parents have passed we miss the traditions of our youth. God’s traditions are stable, unchanging. His love, mercy and grace are the same yesterday, today and forever. As we experience the strangest Christmas season of our lifetime, let us remember Christ came to earth as a baby, He bore our sins and died a horrible death on a cross to give us eternal life. This will not change. Jesus loves us with an everlasting love. 

It can be a struggle to stay focused on God especially with current national and world events. Even when we cannot sense His presence, He is here, there, and everywhere. Our flesh can block us from knowing His presence, but as we put on His armor, truth sets us free from the lies of darkness. Alas, perfection is not of this earth and we will still have times of depression. 

I will have times when I wonder if I’m going down into the dark pit of depression again. When I do, I cry out to God, grab hold of His robe and He grabs me by the scruff of the neck. Papa making sure I don’t get lost. God created us in His image, including emotions. He understands and faithfully holds us closer even when we cannot see His face or feel His presence. So let’s begin today and fight for God’s truth. Will you join me?

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Hope: The Expectation of Good

Heb 6:19 (NIV) We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

Ps 119:114 (NIV) You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.

In this chaotic world, hope is what we need every day.

It would be easy to let the darkness take over. In fact, for a number of years, I lived in the darkness of clinical depression.  It consumed every moment of my life. Depression stole my joy, my happiness, my peace, and tried to steal my hope. When I was on the last strand of the hope braid, help found me. With professional help and medication, the darkness was slowly peeled away. It was a painfully slow beginning, but the alternative was grave. As the strand of hope grew stronger, delusional thinking was replaced with realism. Joy and peace have returned.

Our hope in Christ anchors us to Father God. Even an anchored vessel is tossed by turbulent seas with waves crashing across the bow being swayed by the wind. The best anchor holds the boat from drifting and getting lost. God is our anchor, shelter, refuge, security. He holds us firmly even when we don’t have the strength to hold on to Him. The holiday season can be difficult when family members are missing whether by decision or death. We could dwell on the feelings of sadness, or choose joy through our hope in Christ. During this sometimes difficult season, know God will bring hope when it seems there is none. His anchor holds firmly.

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Today’s Prayer (12/7/2020)

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2 Corinthians 12: 7b-10 (NIV) Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Dear Lord,

What am I doing? I need Your mercy and grace Father. This season is full of many struggles. I want to stay in bed and pull the blankets over my head. I try to understand what you are doing with me, but I do not. I can only trust that Your ways are higher and You only want the best for me. I long for Abba’s arms to hold me and rock me with comfort and peace. What am I missing in processing my emotions and letting You lead? Why do I feel the need to take charge when You have it all planned?  I have been reading of Paul’s travels, his beatings and his imprisonment. His life was traumatic and difficult. My life is easy-peasy in comparison to Paul’s life. Paul was completely plugged-in to Your Spirit. He was consumed with spreading the news of Messiah. Paul suffered with an affliction and He asked three times for You to remove the torment. However, You did not remove it. Yet, Paul proclaimed Messiah everywhere he went. When I compare myself to him, I fall so short! I am weak in the flesh. I hear You whisper, “Daughter, you may not have the exuberance of Paul, but you play an important role in my Kingdom.” Our culture is fixated on instant results, immediate gratification. I need to be content when I don’t immediately see how You work.  Thank You for hanging on to me always. I am grateful for Your grace, for life and for health. Help me to tune out of fleshly thinking and unnecessary comparison and tune into Your shepherd’s voice. May I be a reflection of Your Light and grace.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Gratitude

November 28, 2020

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

This passage has been running in my mind this Thanksgiving week. Am I grateful in all circumstances? As much as I would love to say that I am the perfect follower of Christ, the reality is I am not perfect, the world is not perfect, and life is not perfect. Christ is perfect.  How do we transcend the imperfect world to be grateful? As I reflect on life, the good, the bad and the ugly, God reveals blessings that were immediately known and others it took hindsight to see.

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I Thes. 5:16-18 tells us: Father God’s will in Christ Jesus is three commands: rejoice first, pray constantly, be thankful. As a child of the King, I submit to His will and His commands.  

We need to put first things first. Scripture says: “Rejoice always” (emphasis mine). It doesn’t say to rejoice when we feel like rejoicing or when things are going well for us. It says to always rejoice. Praising God is our direct connection on the long distance call. Do you remember needing an operator to place a long distance call, to dial “1” before a long distance number, or use a long distance company in addition to the phone company? I do! Christ provides the direct connection. There is no need for an operator or long distance account. We have direct vertical access to Father God when we choose to connect, to plug in through praise, worship, and rejoicing in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Secondly, it says to “pray continually”. Personally, I believe God hears my prayers from the shower and the car just as well as from my knees. A prayer can be lengthy or not. The point is to have conversations with God. By conversing with Him, we solidify the vertical connection: God speaking and listening to us. Our fast paced lives can easily push prayer and devotional time to the back of our minds when it should be on the forefront of our minds. Prioritizing our quiet time with God ensures the connection. By seeking Him we stay centered on truth and love. This gives us peace. His peace leads us to the third command of our verses.

It says to “give thanks in all circumstances”. Wait. ALL circumstances? I will admit I like to have a pity party now and then, which is definitely not being grateful for any circumstance! At a recent pity party, God revealed how my thinking was based on worldly values. I had to cancel the party and go back to the first and second commands of our key verses: rejoice always, pray continually. When we follow these three commands, we tap into God’s heart. In turn, He gives us a grateful heart. A heart that acknowledges His ways are better and wiser. Even during difficult seasons, we can thank God for walking with us or carrying us through it.

This imperfect world will always disappoint us. However, constant connection with God gives life, love, peace and joy which leads to thankfulness and gratefulness. Someone from years ago coined the phrase “attitude of gratitude”. While we cannot be devoid of emotions, we can acknowledge our emotions and decide what to do next. When we follow the three commands, we plug-in to the source of gratitude. Let us not disconnect from our source of peace and gratefulness!

Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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.