Fighting an Unseen Battle


Sword_and_Shield

 “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 

 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 

 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.”

Colossians 3:8-10

As I sit here this morning and ponder these verses, I feel the need to share with you the burden that has been on my heart.

I was trying to think of some clever story I could tell, or some fun analogy I could use to grab the attention of my readers, but I feel this morning that I need to just say what is on my heart.

Friends, we, as Christians, are under attack. I am not talking about an attack from some foreign country, or from our government. I am talking about a spiritual attack that we can not see, yet one that is all round us.

 We are told in Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

I firmly believe that the devil knows his time is coming to an end and he is fighting with every trick he has left in his book to destroy Christians.

If we do not open our eyes to these tricks, we are putting ourselves in danger of being defeated.

You may read the verses that I have chosen for today and ask, “Why did you choose these verses to talk about an attack by the devil?”

Friends, the devil wants to use us to defeat each other. You see, the devil in himself has no power, but if we allow him to, he will use us to do his dirty work.

The devil knows that if he can get us as Christian brothers and sisters to turn on each other then his battle will be won for him. He knows that we will defeat ourselves. We need to wake up to this reality and realize the threat that we are under every day.

Our verse today warns us against the very things that the devil wants to use to defeat us. He wants us to be angry, and to fight and bicker with each other. He wants us to talk about each other and lie to each other. He wants to cause discord between God’s people.

This is why we are told to put off these things. We can not grow together as Christians and encourage each other as long as we are holding on to things such as this.

We go on to read in Colossians 3:12-17:

 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering;  bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

These are the things that we need to be sharing with each other. Instead of anger we need kindness, meekness and long-suffering. Instead of talking about each other and telling lies about one another we need to be loving each other, forgiving each other, and encouraging one another.

Ephesians 6:13-18 tells us:

“Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, take the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”

In order to live as Christian brothers and sisters we need to put on the whole armor of God. This is the only way that we are going to be able to stand against the devil and the things he uses to defeat us every day.

We as Christians need one another. We need each other’s friendship, and prayers. We need to hold each other up and defend each other, not fight with one  another and tear each other down.

I would ask that you commit to pray with me about these things as we stand together as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I pray these verses have encouraged your heart today. Yes, the devil fights hard against us, but as long as we are under the shed blood of Jesus Christ, there is no fiery dart that can harm us. It is vital for us as Christians to recognize the things that the devil wants to use against us, but to also understand the things with which God has equipped us to stand together.

 

 

 

We are all Beautifully Imperfect


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“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

Psalm 139:13-14

 

Do you ever have those days when you feel like you just did not hit the mark?

You might have missed a deadline at work, or lost your temper with one of your children. Maybe you spoke harshly to your husband or wife. You may have planned on finishing a project over the weekend and you woke up this morning to yet another thing left undone.

We all have those times when no matter how hard we try we do not meet the requirements we set for ourselves. In that moment we feel like failures. We feel as if we may never get it right. We realize that we are imperfect people.

We must stop focusing on our flaws and all the times we fail to hit the mark. We must begin to focus on God and the work He is doing in us. We must realize that we are all works in progress. Every time we fail, every time we fall down, we need to see it as another opportunity to learn something new. God is teaching us new things every day. It is up to us to look past our own flaws and even those of others and focus on the lesson at hand.

Today I want to encourage your heart.

I want to remind you that God loves you, and He thinks you are wonderful and beautiful in spite of all your imperfections. God created you. He knows every part of you from the inside out.  No matter how many flaws you can find in yourself, God loves you just as you are. He sees every time you fall down. But you know what? He loves you anyway.

We are beautifully imperfect people. This is a fact we must understand. But, just as a potter looks at a piece of clay and sees what it can be, God looks as us and sees what He created us to be. Just as a gardener looks at a seed and sees the potential in it, God looks at us and sees the potential that lies within each of us.

We are God’s handiwork. That is what makes each one of us beautiful.

Let us focus today, not on our flaws and our imperfections, but on the potential that God sees in each of us.

Let us pray today that God will reveal to us the people He wants us to be.

Let us ask God to help us see each other through His eyes. And let us encourage each other to be what God has called us to be.

I pray today we will realize that we are all beautifully imperfect, but with God’s help we can all become exactly what He has planned for us to be.

 

 

 

One for the Ladies


bible and ring

  An excellent wife who can find?
    She is far more precious than jewels.
 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
    and he will have no lack of gain.
 She does him good, and not harm,
    all the days of her life.

Proverbs 31:10-12

Okay ladies, this one is for us. Many times what I write is very general and can be enjoyed be everyone. Today, however, I feel the need to have a good heart to heart with you.

How many of you had no idea what you were doing when you got married? Go ahead, you can raise your hand. I know I am raising mine. When I married my husband 13 years ago, I was so love struck and young. From the time I was a little girl I had dreamed of finding the man of my dreams, getting married, and having babies of my own. I would imagine that most little girls do this. This in and of itself was not a mistake. Where I messed up was when I did not stop to consider what each of those positions would require from me. I did not take the time to prepare myself for the task ahead.

Most of the time, when trying something for the first time, we take the time to prepare and make sure we are equipped for the task at hand. If you are going to run a marathon do you wait until the day of the race to find running shoes and begin to run? No! That would be crazy. You start months, maybe even years, in advance and train. You begin small and run short distances. You train and practice for the big race to come. If you are going to cook a meal, do you just walk in the kitchen and begin to cook? No. You prepare. You first decide what you are going to cook and then you find a recipe for it. You make sure you have all the ingredients. You get everything in order and you follow your recipe.

Why then do we as young women believe that we can just jump into marriage without being prepared?

When I married my husband I am sad to admit that I did not pray about it first. I did not seek God’s will for my life. I did not search my Bible to find out what kind of woman God wanted me to be. Somehow I fooled myself into thinking that I had it all figured out.  I would be a natural, just like June Clever. How hard could it be? I would cook, and clean. I would eventually have a few children. Life would be perfect. It did not take me long to realize that I was wrong.  I had no idea what it meant to be a submissive wife, or what it meant to let my husband be the head of our household. I had no idea how to make the day-to-day decisions that came with being a wife. On top of that, we decided to start a family right away. Within nine months of marriage, I was already a new mom. So, not only was I trying to be the perfect wife, even though I had no idea what that meant, but I was also now trying to be the perfect mom. Can I just tell you that I was headed for disaster?

It took me quite a few years of struggling to be June Clever before I realized that I was failing miserably. What was I doing wrong? All those years as a little girl, I had dreamed of this day and now that it was finally here I was a wreck. Why? Because I had not prepared. Sure, my mom had taught me to cook and clean. She had taught me how to carry a baby on my hip while shopping for groceries. Looking back, she had even tried to warn me about getting married before I was ready, before I had searched for God’s will for my life. But, I was young and did not realize the wisdom in her words until much later in life.

So, when did things begin to get better for our family? It was when I submitted my life to God and admitted that I was not June Clever. Our marriage began to improve when I committed to being that submissive wife that God wanted me to be. Our lives began to improve the day I realized that I needed to trust my husband and let him step up as the man of our household. Our whole life together changed the day that I committed to pray for my marriage, my husband, and our children every day. You see, I put my priorities in order. I allowed God to show me what it meant to be a Godly wife and mother. I allowed God to teach me that I did not need to be June Clever to be a good woman. God taught me, through His word, that He had equipped me with all the things I needed to be a good wife, mother, and woman. When I messed up was when I tried to do it on my own.

Do we still have our struggles? Yes. Do I still mess up on a daily basis as a mom and a wife? Yes. But, God is faithful in extending his grace and mercy to me every day. With God’s help I am learning what it means to be the woman He wants me to be. It is my desire every day to be more like the woman I read about in Proverbs 31, and less like the women I see on television.

Ladies, let me encourage you today. Whether you are preparing for marriage or have been married for fifty years, God wants to help you grow. He wants to teach you what it means to be a submissive wife. God wants to teach you to be that precious jewel in the life of the man who God has planned for you.

To you ladies who are not yet married, I want to encourage you to take the time to seek God first in your life. Allow God to lead you to the man who you are to marry, and then take the time to prepare for that marriage. Take the time to read your Bible and find out what kind of woman God wants you to be. Learn what it means to be a submissive wife. Learn what it means to be a Proverbs 31 woman.

To the lady who can, in agreement, nod her head and say, “Yes, I have learned that too,” I want to say to you, “Good job.” You are well on your way to being the woman God wants you to be. Stay committed to Him and His word. Cover your family and your marriage in prayer daily. God wants to bless your family and He will, if you will seek Him in all that you do.

To the lady that may be reading this thinking that this can never happen in your marriage and in your life, let me reassure you that it absolutely can. No marriage is too far gone that God can not mend it. No family is too torn apart that God can not put the pieces back together. I want to encourage you to commit to pray for your family every day. Seek God first, and ask Him to help you become the woman He intended for you to be. Ask God to bless your family and to mend the broken pieces. Yes, it is going to take some work, but God is faithful. He will mend the broken pieces and He can help your marriage and your family to grow if you will allow it.

The Wicked Gardener


fields

“The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil.” Matthew 13:38

Satan is a gardener.

Did you know that?

It is true. I pray that by the time we are finished today, we will all have a better understanding on this matter.

If you know anything about gardening then you know that there is a process by which one gets ready to plant. I must admit I do not have a very green thumb, but I do love to plant flowers in my yard. We even tried our hand at a garden last year. Nevertheless, whether you have a green thumb or not, you have a garden; it is your heart and your life.

God created you and it is His desire to grow beautiful things in your life. Satan, however, wants nothing more than to destroy what God is doing.

Before we are saved our gardens (our hearts and lives) are filled with weeds. Nothing healthy is growing there. The ground is hard and dry. We read in Galatians 5:19-21a: Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.” These are the things that are growing in our gardens, in our lives, before they are turned over to God.

When we are saved we allow God to come in and take over. As we do this, God begins to get rid of the weeds and dead things. As we read God’s Word, He works in our lives. That hard, dry ground begins to soften up and becomes a place that God can plant His word. As we grow as Christians, beautiful things begin to happen. God begins to develop in us the fruit of the spirit. Galatians 5: 22-23a reads: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” These are the things that God wants to plant in us. These are the things, as Christians, that we should be allowing to grow in us.

Now, I said at the beginning that satan is a gardener. Here is what I mean by that:

As we grow as Christians, satan is always going to be at work trying to trip us up. As we begin to develop love in our hearts, satan is going to do his best to plant a seed of hatred in there to choke it out. As we allow God to develop temperance in our lives, satan is going to plant that seed of strife there to hamper that growth. If we feel God developing meekness in our lives we can be sure that satan is going to try to plant a seed of emulation ( that is rivalry) in our lives.

We must remember that satan does not want us to grow as Christians. He will do whatever he can to hinder our growth. We read in 1 Peter 5:8: ” Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” If satan knows that God is working in your life, he is going to do what he can to stop that work. We must remain faithful in our Christian walk.

So, do you believe now that satan is a gardener? He is a sly trickster. This is why it is so important for us to allow God to work in our lives. We need to allow God to develop good things in our hearts. We need the fruit of the spirit to grow in us so that by the power of the Holy Spirit we can defend against the seeds that the devil tries to plant in our lives.

I want to encourage you today. God loves you and He wants to do a wonderful work in your life. He has great things planned for you. God wants to plant good things in your life and grow in you a beautiful garden of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Remember, however, that satan will try to plant his own seeds in your life. Go to Jesus, allow Him to work in your life. He will take those negative things that satan plants and use them to continue to grow you into what He wants you to be.

 

 

Glory in Tribulation? Really?


glory

 “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Romans 5:3-5

Throughout the school year our students are required to memorize different portions of Scripture. The past few weeks our children have been working to memorize Romans 5:1-8. As we have been studying this passage, verses three through five have really spoken to my heart.

Can we really “glory in tribulation”? It tells us in this verse that we can. How do we do this? First, let us look at the meaning of the word “glory”. It is used as a verb, which means it requires some sort of action.  I believe that the word “glory” here means to exult with triumph; rejoice. We are being called to rejoice, even in tribulation. 

One of my favorite examples of this is found in the Bible. It is the story of Paul and Silas in prison. Do you remember the story?  You can read about it here: Acts 16. Basically, Paul and Silas find themselves in prison for casting a demon out of a young woman. It made the masters of this woman angry and they had the men thrown into jail.

Now, here is where the “glory in tribulation” comes into play. Around midnight, Paul and Silas are sitting in jail. Do you know what they were doing? Let us look at verse 25:And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” Imagine that. These two men are sitting in the jail at midnight. They are not crying and complaining. Thy are not fussing with each other. They are singing and praising God! These two men have learned to “glory in tribulation.”

How do we glory in tribulation? Just as Paul and Silas did. When we find ourselves in a rough spot, we need to keep praising God. Remember the word “glory” here is a verb. It means it is something we are to do. This means we have a choice to make. Do we rejoice and praise God even in our struggles or do we sit down and complain and cry about how unfair life is? The Bible tells us to glory in tribulation. It is our choice.

So, we have talked about how to glory in tribulation. Let us look at the rest of the verse and see why we are to do this. The second part of this verse reads: “knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope.”  Here is the answer. We can glory in tribulation because we know that through it we are going to learn something.

Each time we go through a trial God is teaching us patience. Along with learning patience we are also gaining some experience and knowledge. True knowledge does not come from a text-book, it comes from experience and through the trials of life. As we go through these trials and gain this knowledge we develop hope.

Why could Paul and Silas sing and praise God while sitting in jail? Because they had been through tribulation before and they had learned patience. They had gained some knowledge and they had hope that God was going to take care of them no matter what they were going through.

You see, when we learn to glory in tribulation, we defeat satan’s plan. He wants nothing more that to see you go through rough times, beat down and defeated. When he sees us praising God and dancing in the rain it takes away the only power he has. Remember, satan has no power over you. He will try to magnify your problems and get you to doubt God’s love for you. He is the father of all lies. It is up to us keep the faith, to glory in tribulation.

My prayer for us this morning is simple. I pray today that we will learn to glory in tribulation, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope. Praise God while you are in your storm. Remember that He loves you and He has great plans for you.