A Simple Life Is A Contented Life

daisy in hand

(FreeImages.com/Ne¾a Èerin)

It was August.  I was rushing everywhere.  Life had me on a merry-go-round — that is, the life I had chosen…  In one of my reflective moments, God’s still, small voice spoke to my heart, “A simple life is a contented life.”  It struck me.

A simple life is a contented life.

Most of us are rushing around, striving, struggling, doing, trying to prove… what?  We are trying to prove that we aren’t our parents, that we are significant, that we are intelligent, that we are worthy, that we are pretty, that we are one of the best mommies out there, that we are the “all-American” family…

If we are honest, that’s what this is all about, most of the time.  The problem is we are rarely really honest with ourselves nor do we take the time to ask those pointed questions.  God will, if we will listen.  The problem is we are too busy rushing to listen.

And God…  He keeps speaking into our chaos and calling us to Himself.  We don’t need to be more.  We don’t need to prove. 

We don’t need silly craziness that stresses us and makes us less able to be the spouse and parent we need to be.  In addition to all that stress that makes us less gracious and patient, we then add shame because we should be able to do everything on our agenda and be super-mommy, super-nanny, super-chef, super-cleaner…

Right after God showed me that simple but profound truth, a simple life is a contented life, I was talking with a mom of quite a few kids.  She was expressing that she was feeling that maybe she should do more outside of the home with her kids.  I looked at that mom, and I saw a contented woman.  She was peaceful, restful, and happy.  Her kids were content and happy.  I then told her what God had shown to me: “A simple life is a contented life.” 

Those other voices, telling her to be more and to do more were trying to steal her joy and her peace.  They were trying to tell her that being a good mother is equated to running like crazy.

This summer, I ran like crazy, I confess.  I remember though saying, “I feel like I am doing more things for my kids than with my kids.”  That’s the trap with this never-ending crazy cycle of busyness.  What do your kids really want?  For what are they going to remember you?  For how you ran or for how you spent time with them?

The same is true with our possessions.  More doesn’t equate to happiness.  You can’t buy happiness.  You just become a greater prisoner to the things you own.  There are more things to replace, to repair, more debts to pay off, more financial strain which leads to relationship strain, more fears, and suddenly, a simpler life sounds more appealing.

Remember, a simple life is a contented life.

Perhaps, we need to make changes to the life we choose to live.

Save

Divine Guidance

Path to the light

(FreeImages.com/Dhany Syamsuddin)

I hear so many Christians either erring on the side of ignoring the reality of Divine guidance in the everyday details of life or erring on the side of placing “Revelation,” as it is sometimes called, above the written Word of God.

The former group of people tend to be those who are so scared of false teachers that they ignore the reality of the Spirit of God and His divine inspiration and guidance within our daily lives.

This group of people tend to imply that God’s Word alone is our source of inspiration and guidance.  They believe that God speaks only through His Word, with few exceptions.

I believe this is mainly in reaction to so many false leaders that have led people astray from supposedly hearing directly from God.

We are wise to “test the Spirits.”  There are many false teachers, and it is especially wise to be prudent when someone claims to hear something from God.  Every word needs to be “checked” against the truth of the Word of God.

Yet, to imply that God speaks only through His Word alone is to imply that we live most of our lives outside of the realm of Divine guidance.

For example, when it came time to moving, job changes, academic choices for our kids, business decisions, relationships, etc…, I asked the Lord for wisdom and relied on His Holy Spirit to lead/direct.

The Bible does not address specific life events.  It does give overall life principles that do help to govern our daily choices, but it does not tell you if you should buy a specific house or relocate to a specific area.  So, if God does not speak in any other way than through His Word, are we living most of our lives outside of Divine guidance?  

I remember when I heard a friend say that she looks for the open door.  If the “door” is “open,” she assumes it’s a go.  If it closes, she assumes that means a “no.”  I believe there is a lot of danger in this.  There are many open doors, but they are not all for us to enter.  That seems more like relying on chance than actual Divine guidance.

What if instead, God does desire to direct our lives in every area of life?

Makes sense, right?!!!  If every decision in our lives does impact our lives, then would it not make sense that God would want to give us wisdom to make the best decision — rather than the most convenient?

There are many ways God speaks, and His Word is replete with verses that talk about His thoughts towards us and His speaking to His people.

God has used music, creation, dreams (on occasion), godly advice from friends, books, and many other ways to speak to my heart.  Sometimes, I get this definite impression from God that is very different from any other type of thought. I have known, in those times, that the impression was from God.  I usually ask Him to confirm with His Word that what I thought I “heard” was from Him.

There are dangers in putting too much emphasis on human “revelation” rather than God’s Word.  Within the groups of people that fall into this category are those who seem to even disregard the written Word of God over their own “divine inspiration/revelation.”  That immediately sends off a “red flag” to me.

God’s Spirit will never contradict His Spirit-inspired written Word.  The Word of God was inspired by the Spirit of God.  God does not contradict Himself. 

A truly Spirit-led person will love the Word of God, the people of God, and God Himself.

I believe there are two groups of people often seen within the present-day Church:

  1. There are those who from fear act like the Word of God replaces the Spirit of God.  These churches are known for their emphasis on truth but spurn many allusions to the Spirit’s leading and seem to have difficulty understanding grace, outside of the theory of it.
  2. There are those who put such emphasis on the “Spirit” that it becomes questionable whose spirit is directing them.  Their “revelations” contradict the Word of God, or there is a lack of love for the Spirit-inspired Word of God.  In other words, they seem to ignore the fact that God’s Word is Spiritual.  Their concept of grace is another man-made theory that is as effective as slapping a smiley face sticker on a person who just lost a loved one and telling them that if they smile it will be all better.

I love the following verse which expresses the balance so beautifully:

John 4:24

24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

It is the Spirit of God that directs the Word of God to penetrate into our hearts with unfailing precision.

We can, indeed, live every moment of our lives within the protection of Divine guidance.

This. Is. It!

Ray Of Light

(FreeImages.com/CarterPerrier)

I love it when God removes the “blinders” and reveals truth to me!  The interesting thing is that often it’s truth I have known in my head but somehow didn’t really understand and/or believe it, meaning live it.

Remember, what you believe is what you live.

It’s interesting how “old truth” suddenly becomes “new truth” when you finally really “see” it!

That’s how it was for me when I realized anew the truth of the following insights God was revealing to me — truths I had “known” before but not really knew.

For example, I blogged previously how God showed me that faith isn’t something God quantifies; it’s something we simply need to have, and that it’s the Object of our faith — God Himself — that is the Source of our faith.  We can’t produce authentic, powerful faith through our own ability to muster up faith.  We have faith as a result of knowing our God — Who He is.

Secondly, I have come to treasure prayer and to view it as the amazing privilege it is — the opportunity to partner with God in His work in another person’s life and the incredible privilege it is to communicate with God.

I used to think prayer was me, naming off a bunch of requests to God and hoping He would choose to answer some of them the way I wanted or thought they should be answered.

I grew to understand that prayer involved some worship of God.  I remember trying to “tack on” a few worshipful-sounding words in order to meet a higher level of spirituality, or so I hoped.  Sounds really shallow, doesn’t it?!!  To be honest though, my prayer life was often exactly that — shallow.

My prayer life was shallow though because my understanding and therefore relationship with God was more shallow. 

It’s hard to pray to One that you don’t know that intimately, don’t really grasp that His love is unconditional and not affected by performance, and don’t really trust. 

The power of prayer is the One to Whom we are praying.

The problem is we so often don’t really understand God, or our thoughts about Him are based upon misconceptions, twisted truths, and harmful misrepresentations.

I recently read the following quote in the book, Wonder Struck:

The wonder of prayer is rediscovered in Who we are speaking to.

— Margeret Feinberg

Reminds me what God showed me about faith.  Once again, it’s the recipient of our prayers and His interaction with me because of Who He is that makes prayer so vital and so incredible!  It’s not the words, in themselves, that make prayer so powerful.

Prayer is so incredible because it is the opportunity to speak to God or as the following quote says:

“Prayer is the opportunity to bend the ear of God.” — Margaret Feinberg

It’s a big deal because of Who God is!  He isn’t some conniving, selfish, evil, uncaring God.  He is a God who longs to hear our voices, especially when they are lifted in awareness of Him.

Have you ever sat with someone and experienced their inattention or complacency?  It’s not exactly pleasant or satisfying.

A lot of prayer life consists of mumbled phrases thrown out to appease a false view of a vindictive God.

A prayer life is transformed though when we begin to see the amazing and incredible gift it is — an opportunity to commune with an ever-present, ever-loving, ever-powerful God!!!  It is an opportunity to be heard by God but also to hear from God.

This brings me to a third truth.  I read the following quote recently and loved it:

“Hope is confident expectation.”  (Not sure in which devotional I read it.)

Do you see that?!!!  Hope is confident expectation in Who?  The power of hope is in Who the expectation is!  Hope isn’t lasting or “powerful” because it’s something we just randomly possess or stir up in ourselves.  Hope is a powerful emotion that comes from a powerful Source. 

It’s the Source of the hope — what we are expecting or looking to — that determines the resilience and strength of our hope.

As I was pondering the above truths, I was thinking how all kinds of other emotions I can think of owe their power and passion to their source.  If it’s a good source, it can be a good emotion.  If it’s a negative source — a reaction, fear, or bitterness — it can be an emotion that wreaks great destruction.

I couldn’t help but ponder that the authentic reality of truth, love, peace, joy, grace, wisdom, life, hope, faith, and prayer all owe their power to the object or source of their existence: God Himself.

It really is that simple!

This is why I have experienced the pure, authentic fullness of these characteristics only in the Presence of God Himself.

You can pursue peace, purpose, and joy outside of God, but I can personally tell you, it won’t last, and it is only a shallow representation of the authentic reality of knowing the Divine Source!

The secret therefore to the full life is knowing the God of life.  The secret to the above three characteristics is knowing God — truly knowing God.  In order to do that, it may mean laying aside all the false ideas and harmful representations of God so you can finally meet the reality of God Himself.

Additional Notes: 

As I was contemplating these truths further while washing my dishes, it “struck me.”  We often think that people who don’t believe in God don’t believe in God because they are lacking faith or because they are rebellious.  What shattered that pre-conceived idea for me is that just as I need to understand God is my Source of the abundant life so it is with the “unbeliever.”  Perhaps, the person who doesn’t believe in God isn’t about his/her lack of faith at all but more about his/her lack of understanding or false understanding of God.

In other words, how can you believe in One that you think is angry, harsh, uncaring, vindictive, and selfish?  It’s easier to pretend He doesn’t exist than that He does but could be those things.

It is a wrong view of God that is the biggest hindrance to a person’s ability to trust in God.  How can you trust in One you don’t believe loves you unconditionally, perfectly, and eternally?

Rather than telling people they need to have faith, maybe we need to be telling them and showing them more what our God is truly like — not a man-made version of a god but God Himself.  That may mean, we first need to get to know Him more intimately ourselves.

Save

Save

A Full Calendar But An Empty Life?

 

 water fall

(FreeImages.com/RebeccaVaughan)

“We learn to praise God not by paying compliments but by paying attention.” — Frederick Buechner.

How many of us actually take the time to pause, reflect, and ponder upon the wonder of our God and allow His love to flow over, through us, and in us?  It is the absence of this that is the prevailing reason why we find ourselves “parched,” despondent, unsure, restless, and longing for something more.

This summer has been very full — full of fun moments, plenty of activities, and many opportunities to engage with friends and to make new friends!  In the middle of all of this “fullness,” I began to feel such emptiness.

A full calendar does not indicate a “full” life.  In fact, the busier my calendar became, the more depleted I felt until I knew I was getting close to a “crash.”

Then God, in His love, intervened.  He created unplanned space within a day — actually two days — for me to be able to pause.

I took the opportunity to dive into satisfying that for which I was starving — time in God’s Word/time with Him.  By this time, I have learned that I am never at greater authentic peace and fully “satisfied” then I am when I spend time with God.  I knew I needed it.  So, I partook, and was it ever satisfying!!!

As I began to open God’s Word, read my devotional, participate in my Bible study book, every word pointed back to the need to pause, rest, reflect, and ponder.  The “words” addressed my need to create boundaries and to be intentional in creating “space” for this to happen.

The words I read also absolved my guilt over the fact that I have noticed when I am too busy, I am less able to handle life with as much grace. I become reactive rather than responsive to God’s voice.  Why?  Because I am unable to hear God’s voice in the deafening cacophony of the chaos.

I would tell myself that I should be able to handle the craziness if I was strong enough…

Do you see it, like I see it now?  How proud and self-reliant that is!  What was I really saying?  Wasn’t I saying that if I was strong enough (in myself — not in God), I could handle this?  Why in myself?  Because I wasn’t taking time to actually gain strength from God.  Therefore, I was drawing or attempting to draw strength from myself and therefore “crashing.”

My “well” will never be full enough to quench all of the winds, fires, and droughts this world sends my way.  And neither will yours.

It humbled me to see that God loved me enough to intervene, to stop me in my head-long race to burn-out.

He created “space” for me and then provided the refreshment I needed to be recharged and resupplied in order to live the “full life.”

It doesn’t make us weak to acknowledge our dependency upon God.  It actually makes us strong!  How so?

This reminds me of a vacuum cleaner.  A vacuum cleaner is a very important machine that helps to keep my house from falling into total disarray.  It’s a product of ingenuity for which I am very thankful!  The vacuum cleaner has a powerful motor that sucks up dirt, pieces of food, dust bunnies, and insects.  Yet, unless I plug the vacuum cleaner into the source of its power — the outlet — it is a useless piece of equipment that takes up unnecessary floor space.

So it is with us!  God has designed us to be used in many amazing, creative, and productive ways!  Yet, when we aren’t “plugged in” to our Source of Power — God Himself — we are incapable of producing that which will have eternal value.

Today, let’s you and I pause and contemplate, reflect upon our God, and allow Him to nurture our souls and fill us once again with His abundant life, true peace (wellness of soul), and true joy.

There is no better place to be!

Let’s pursue the full life rather than the full calendar.

Save

Sufficiency

nature 1

I awoke this morning and began my day my favorite way: a Bible in my lap, my journal, two devotional books, a pen, and a study book.

I kept it simple this morning: read from the two devotional books, glanced at the study book and closed it back up, read a chapter in II Corinthians, prayed, listened for what God wanted to teach me, and then journaled some thoughts.

These are the simple but profound truths, I believe, He wanted me to hear from Him today  (Journal Entry):

I prayed to surrender myself to God for the start of the day.  Felt the Lord challenging me, “Are you surrendering yourself to me?  Then why are you holding onto your cares?”  (I was stressing over some concerns for my day — wondering how I was going to accomplish everything I need to do today.)

The theme of my life in 2015 seemed to be surrender — learning the profound and beautiful truths of surrendering to God — what that looks like and how it happens.

I try to start my days with a simple prayer, telling God that I surrender myself to Him, to be used by Him, and to be empowered by His Presence as I go about my day.

God, though, this morning was challenging me that when I am worrying, stressing, fearing, I am not surrendered.

To surrender is to let go.

How do I let go of those things that worry me?  The question is, “Why do you feel you need to hold onto those things?”  If you are holding onto something, you are in essence believing that you have to protect that thing, that you can’t trust those things with anyone else — even more importantly, with God.

To surrender is to trust in the all-sufficiency of Christ.

A thought that stood out to me in my one devotional this morning was the idea of contentment and how that relates to trusting in Christ’s sufficiency.

Here’s what I journaled:

At the heart of a lack of contentment [and fear] is not understanding or believing in the sufficiency of God — His provision, protection, presence, power, and peace.

That’s it, isn’t it?!!

Contentment comes from a personal belief in the sufficiency of God — that He is the Great “I Am”!  He revealed Himself to the Israelites as the “I Am,” meaning, “Everything they needed, He is and will provide.”

God directed me to read from the following passage in Scripture:

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I feel this was God’s personal encouragement to me, following a heart cry for Him to deliver us from some present trials.  I knew the lie was coming that God wasn’t powerful enough, didn’t care enough, or my faith wasn’t enough.

Instead, God led me to the truth in this Scripture.  God spoke the following thoughts to my heart:

As I was reading II Cor. 12:9-10, I felt God was showing me that in the areas He answered my requests with a “no” — in regards to my own weaknesses and some personal challenges we are facing — that He was telling me it’s so that in our weaknesses we come to rely on His sufficiency, and we experience the intimacy of the personal reality of it.

Let me restate that…

In our weaknesses, we come to rely on His sufficiency, and we experience the intimacy of the personal reality of it.

Doesn’t that change the entire way we view our struggles, weaknesses, and trials?  It doesn’t minimize our challenges, sorrows, and suffering, but it does give us the hope — that as our bodies grow weaker, our spiritual lives can grow stronger; as our circumstances grow more challenging, our spiritual lives can find greater vitality and fullness; and as earthly sorrows threaten to crush us, the immeasurable glories of the reality of the eternal can produce within us the peace and joy that passes all understanding.

The immeasurable glories of the reality of the eternal God can produce within us the peace and joy that passes all understanding!

Belonging & Being

Rose

(FreeImages.com/MARIE JEANNE Iliescu)

It had happened once again…  I had allowed the temporal to distract me from my eternal purpose.  I had looked to things, to relationships, and to accomplishments for a sense of satisfaction and worth.  The thing is they hadn’t.  I only felt more distracted, rushed, stressed, and pressured.

My time with the Lord was lacking because I was not making it a priority.

Other important relationships were also seeing some neglect as I wasn’t giving them the time, energy, and focus they deserved.

Yes, I confess all of this.  This was me before this past Monday…

I had allowed myself to become distracted by “good things,” but those “good things” weren’t my ultimate calling, worth, or source of life.

Then into the “void” that comes from not “being” centered, God’s loving voice began to convict me.

I love the fact that God loves me too much to keep me in an unhealthy state!  When I am “off,” He will speak conviction in order to bring me back into “alignment” with Him.  His conviction is often so gentle and kind and yet truthful.

God began to convict me that I when I began to be distracted by those other things, I had subtlely begun to look to those things to fulfill me, to bring me happiness, and to give me a sense of worth.  Without fully recognizing what was happening, I had “transplanted” my sense of “being”/belonging to those things.

That’s why Scripture says,

Matthew 6:21

21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

God began to ask me to yield those things to Him.  I know better, but my will didn’t want to easily submit this to God.  I am honest with God.  (You can’t be anything else with Him.)  My response was, “God, I know I need to yield this to you, but I am really having a hard time giving this up, giving over control of it to you.”  I guess I was afraid that if I gave it up to Him, I would be “missing out” or would lose something important.

The truth is I had already lost the most important thing: my intimate fellowship with God.  Instead of my thoughts being continually centered and satisfied in Him, I was constantly worrying, striving, and obsessing over some other things.

The interesting thing is the things we think will fulfill us don’t.  We can see this by the way we are never satisfied.  We achieve a new goal or accomplishment, and we want more.  We acquire a new possession, and we want more.   It’s never enough.

The one thing I have found always, always, always satisfies is God Himself.  I have never found anything to satisfy or complete me like He does.  When I am “centered” in Him, I am complete, at rest (soul rest), and utterly content.  It’s an amazing and beautiful experience that you can only understand if you too have found God as your Source of Life!

As I close this post, may I encourage you to “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

There is nothing more beautiful, fulfilling, or that gives  a greater sense of worth, being, and belonging then being “centered” in Him!

It is the eternal that gives the temporal its purpose.

The Connection Between Pride And Fear

(http://www.freeimages.com/photo/osprey-leaving-nest-1547342)

I believe God gave me one of those “light-bulb” moments when I began to realize there is a big connection between pride and fear.

At first glance, they can seem like total opposites.

Pride seems to indicate self-reliance and an over-inflated ego/view of oneself.

Fear, on the other hand, seems to speak of the opposite.  It speaks of self-doubt, doubt of others, circumstances, objects, and events.

The opposite of these two negative qualities is that of faith and humility.

Humility speaks of a sweet submission, a concern for others, and love.

Faith speaks of trust, reliance, and a measure of humility as well.

Just as pride and fear go hand-in-hand so do faith and humility.

When people are self-absorbed, we would call them proud.

What produces an obsession with self?

I believe that a lack of contentment and resting in the Lord brings about a preoccupation with ourselves. 

When we are “complete” in Him, we are secure in who we are in God, and we don’t need the validation of others.  It is insecurity that causes us to be preoccupied with ourselves.

What is faith — the true definition of faith?  Is it not a complete trust in the Lord and submission to Him?

Pride relies or trusts only in itself and will not allow itself to be mastered by anyone else.

It takes faith to humble ourselves before God.  It takes humility to submit ourselves to the care of God.

Faith is submitting oneself to the care of someone or something.

Fear, on the other hand, refuses to completely surrender to anyone or anything other than its own rationalizations or self-preservation.

For example, if I have an improper fear of riding in a car, I will refuse to get in one or will ride in it while anxiety roils through me.

There is no sense of security or peace while I am encountering the object I fear.

When I am proud, I am relying on myself — my own rationalizations, self-preservation, and strength to protect me.  I am my own “master.”  As my own “master,” I instinctively know that I cannot control everything or anything and thus I live in fear of the things that I can’t control.

Let me reiterate that again because it’s worth repeating:

As my own “master,” I instinctively know that I cannot control everything or anything; and thus, I live in fear of the things that I can’t regulate, contain, or dominate.

An indication of both fear and pride being alive in my life is if I struggle with “control.” 

Those who are able to put their trust/faith in the Lord and surrender to Him (in humility) experience the greatest peace and flexibility.  They understand that relying on themselves is the greatest position of weakness, but relying on God, the Great I am, is their greatest source of security.  They are confident and “relaxed” because they are “resting” in God — in Who He is — rather than in who they are themselves.

Pride produces fear.  It’s that simple.  It’s also a good chance that if you “suffer” with pride, you “suffer” with fear.  The opposite is also true: if you “suffer” with fear, it’s a good chance you “suffer” with pride.

Humility and faith are two of some of the best characteristics for walking in freedom.

Humility frees us from the bondage of self.  Faith frees us from the bondage of everything else, including ourselves.

Knowing the above truths have caused me to look more closely at my own heart and life and to be convicted of more areas that need to be yielded to the Lord.  It’s not from fear or “self-righteousness” that I confess these things but because I desire to walk in greater freedom in my spiritual walk.

The Simplicty About Sin…

(http://www.freeimages.com/photo/checkmate-chess-1181519)

This past Saturday, I was pondering some truths I had read in Scripture, dialoguing with the Lord, and then He gave me this thought…

It was so “simple” and yet so profound in its impact…

Anything independent from God is sin. 

That means any time our wills are not aligned with God’s or simply put, submitted to God, we are in sin.

Understanding this simple truth is changing the way I pray and is changing the way I view my own sin.

It “emblazons” my sin before my eyes so that I no longer can justify or minimize it.

When I understand that I am sinning when I am not aligned with God’s will in ALL AREAS, I realize that I have a decision to make: I either respond to God’s conviction with contrition/repentance, or I rebel and reject His ways and reap the consequences of my own actions.

Thinking about this simple truth means I have been doing a lot of confessing lately — not prompted by fear or pride — but prompted from my own desire to walk in freedom and for greater communication in my relationship with the Lord. 

I don’t want hindered communication in my relationship with the Lord.

Sin hinders communication.  It produces “soul noise” that “drowns out” the voice of God.

Repentance reopens those channels, “unplugs” my ears, and removes the “blockades” in my spiritual life.

True repentance produces unprecedented peace and joy. 

Understanding the profound truth that my will needs to be aligned with God’s will in order to walk in truth, life, freedom, and righteousness means that I now pray the following prayer:

Lord, may your will be done in such and such a situation…”

“Lord, change my will to be yours in such and such a matter…”

So simple and yet so life-changing!

It does not matter that I want certain things.  Unless what I want is in alignment with what God wants for me at that time or in that way, to proceed ahead would be sin.

Yes!  I have been praying a lot of prayers, asking God to change my will in many matters and asking His will to be accomplished in many situations.  It is so exciting and amazing to be a part of His work in the lives of others and to be receptive and responsive to His leading!

May 2016 be a year of amazing revival in my life, my home, my family, and yours as well!

Putting On Your Armor…

Soldiers from Battery B, 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, pause at the end of a patrol near Wynot, Iraq. This photo appeared on <a href="http://www.army.mil">www.army.mil</a>.

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=2722810&searchId=afc4d1bde8a35eac244d4d7fc35b2e44&npo)

I am enjoying a study on spiritual warfare.  It’s been absolutely needful, encouraging, and convicting!

What a difference it makes when we begin to recognize the attacks for what they are! Knowing the source of our attacks helps us to begin to “muck” through the lies.

Our enemy is very conniving, and his attacks are always directed “below the belt.”  They can be lethal if not recognized and dealt with properly.

As horrific as the attacks can be at times, the encouraging truth is there is hope and also guaranteed victory for us if we walk in our position in Christ.

In the past, I would have seen this as one more reason to pile on fear.  “What if I am not fighting him properly?  What if I start to believe the lies?”

Here’s the truth:

The armor is something we have because we have Christ.  We are in Him, and He is in us.   — Kay Arthur from Lord? Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand

1 Corinthians 15:57

57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus won our victory at Calvary!

We though are active participants in our victory.  We are “to quell the enemy and hold our position.” (Kay Arthur)

Obedience guarantees victory.  In warfare, there’s nothing to fear but your unbelief and disobedience — and those you determine.

It is each individual’s responsibility to put on the armor; it is not a passive claiming of something which happened at salvation.  We are told to take up the full armor!  It is an act of … believing, embracing, responding.  — Kay Arthur from Lord? Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand

What does our armor look like?  How do we “wear” it?

The Belt Of Truth

You could tell by the way a Roman soldier wore his belt whether or not he was on duty.  If his belt was tight, he was prepared for action.  If it hung loose, he was off duty.

… the belt was essential and foundational to the armor because it kept everything in its proper place.  Truth performs the same function! …It keeps righteousness in its proper place.  How can we know what is truly right or wrong apart from truth?

You must be convinced of the truthfulness, the veracity of God’s Word to be firm in your faith.

If you are not convinced of these things, then the rest of the armor will be useless.

Truth must become at home in your, and you must be at home in it.  Otherwise, you’ll find it easy to diminish it or to add to it.

You can walk in the futility of your mind, or you can walk in truth.

When we meet the Lord Jesus Christ, we encounter truth, pure unadulterated truth.  Jesus is the way, the truth, the life (John 14:6).  His Word is truth (John 17:17).  We have to come to know the truth, and the truth has set us free (John 8:32).

…truth in it love.  — Kay Arthur from Lord? Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand

The belt of truth is imperative for the rest of our armor to function properly.  Truth is our foundation to walk in freedom and power as a Christian. 

There is no spiritual strength or freedom where there is a “foundation” that is built upon mere human reasoning, which changes with the opinions of society.  There is no true freedom where lies are keeping us from fully seeing and living the truth.

John 8:32

32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The Breastplate Of Righteousness

The breastplate — righteousness — is a gift given to every child of God.  Without the Holy Spirit, you could never be righteous, let alone walk in righteousness.  (2 Cor. 5:21)

God’s righteousness has been put to your account.  It is imputed through His death and imparted to your life through His Spirit.  God does not condemn.  God does not accuse.  God convicts of sin and seeks to lead us to repentance.

…we have been declared righteous.  We are also expected to live righteously day in and day out.  When we don’t choose to live this way, we must confess our sins so that the devil has no opportunity to wound us in our vital organs.

The breastplate of righteousness protects us against deadly attacks to our heart.  Our “heart” is the seat of our desires and emotions.  It is what motivates us.  It is the essence of who we are.

This shows how important righteousness is because it is the “armor” God has given to protect our desires, our motivations, our emotions, the essence of who we are.

If you want to know the projection of your life, then know what’s in your heart.  In other words, what’s in our hearts is what is going to determine the direction of our lives.

God is saying that righteousness is that important!

Sin, left unconfessed, within the life of the believer can become deadly.  This is not to condemn us or leave us in fear.  It is to warn us so that we recognize the sin in our lives and repent.

It is so easy to condone, minimalize, or excuse sin in our lives.  I have been guilty of doing that — of overlooking pride, unforgiveness, selfishness, anger.

I love it though when God brings those areas to my attention and says, “It’s time to deal with these…”  He doesn’t say that to condemn me, but He says it because He loves me and wants me to walk in freedom.

Ephesians 4:27

27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

“…sin in the life of a Christian gives Satan a place of occupation, an opportunity.”

The word translated opportunity simply means a place… [occupation]

Any sin that we harbor in our lives, that we know is there and yet we refuse to acknowledge and confess, will give Satan a beachhead for further attacks. 

— Kay Arthur from Lord? Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand

The Shoes Of Peace

If you’re at peace with God and others, then you can withstand almost anything.  But let that peace be disturbed, and you’re in torment.

… peace is so vital to our being able to withstand circumstances…

Paul shows the necessity of the believer’s participation in putting on shoes which will enable him to stand firm when the enemy attacks.

…our position with God is one of peace — peace with God and with those in the body of Christ.

…to stand firm in warfare we must be convinced that we are at peace with God.

If I have done everything I can to walk in peace with God and others, I will be able to stand against the enemy’s accusations.

…anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, and depression — four tactics of the enemy to rob you of peace.

— Kay Arthur from Lord? Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand

It has been said that without proper footwear, a soldier becomes useless.  In order to hold our position, we need to be able to stand.  Our footwear is vital to our ability to stand.

In ancient times, it was common to hide spikes that would penetrate the footwear of enemy soldier’s feet.  Wounded feet would immobilize the soldier.

It’s interesting that our ability to hold our position, to stand in our victory in Christ is to keep short “accounts” with God and others.  Our ability to walk in peace is vital to our position of victory.

What a warning this is against harboring bitterness and unforgiveness in our hearts!

Let’s be honest; we have all had people that have offended or wounded us in some way.  The question is, “What do we do with those wounds?”  Holding onto unforgiveness does not punish the offender; it punishes us.  Bitterness is a prison that will keep us in bondage until we release the lock and let go of the hurts.

Forgiveness is a choice we make — not a feeling.

Forgiveness does not ignore the pain, but it allows us to walk free from the bondage of those wounds.  Bitterness keeps us enchained to the wounds of the past so we can never walk free from them.

If you harbor anger and don’t deal with it biblically, then you can know for certain, Beloved, that you are giving the devil an opportunity or place in your life.

“The day of anger should be the day of reconciliation.”

Forgiveness, faith, and obedience would spring anger’s trap.

Healing begins when we are willing to forgive.

…if we are unwilling to forgive, we can’t put on the sandals of peace.  Our feet will be pierced by those barely visible, sharpened spears, and we’ll find ourselves immobilized, our feet infected.

— Kay Arthur from Lord? Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand

The life of a soldier is not easy.  It is fraught with danger, toil, hardships.  Yet, our life as a “warrior” in the Heavenly Kingdom is not one of drudgery or discouragement.  We do have a guaranteed victory!

Even past battles that were “lost” God can redeem when we yield ourselves completely to Him.  Here are some following quotes that will inspire and convict:

You’ll have no peace to stand in, Beloved, if you don’t submit to God.  Meekness is the cure for bitterness.

This is part of the good news of the gospel of peace.  Your Kinsman Redeemer will buy back the trauma, the pain, the disappointments, and use them all to make you more like Jesus.

— Kay Arthur from Lord? Is It Warfare?  Teach Me To Stand

Hoping that this encourages and challenges you as much as it does me!

Stay tuned for more on the armor of God.  There are more pieces to our armor yet to be studied.

Finding Satisfaction

Further HDR fisheye shots from B�¡rr�¡s. I was crazy enough to carry a full-size tripod there along with my lens arsenal (I'm happy that these shots turned out decent, as the extra weight was really a bitch to carry). B�¡rr��...

(Free stock photo: http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=659478&searchId=6cad826248cd3f4e93da71e7b49928e3&npos=9.)

We are only two weeks into the new year, and my thoughts have been on goals, hopes, and dreams.

A new year frequently spurs people on a new trajectory or encourages new momentum on a recurring goal.

Yet when I pondered all the dreams, hopes, and goals we have as humans, I couldn’t help but think that they all point to the same end…

I remember as a girl, having dreams of being the object of a wonderful man’s love and desire.  A beautiful wedding. Marriage.  Babies.  It all sounded so wonderful!

Being mommy meant chubby cheeks, blowing kisses, hearing “Mama”, and getting slobbery kisses.  I pictured all the cuteness and thought that I would be the “perfect” mom and my kids would be little images of “perfection.”  Why not?  No one dreams about the messes, temper tantrums, and sleepless nights.

We have other hopes and dreams too.  Traveling.  Physical fitness.  A bigger house.  Pretty things.  For women, we might think new additions to our wardrobe will make the difference.

All of these things satisfy for a time so we will often return to the things that satisfied us before in order to keep the sense of euphoria going.

This is the origin of many mid-life crises.  The old is no longer as exciting so we look for a newer, younger, more passionate version.

The old house is no longer as “big” and appealing as it was at first so we look for a bigger, more extravagant home.

Our home town is not the exotic center for excitement so we travel to destinations in distant locations.

Most of these things are fine in themselves.  The problem is when we are chasing after these things in order to either “run from” the things that intimidate us or when we are pursuing these things in order to find a lasting sense of “being”or satisfaction and joy.

As a woman, I have been guilty of ever so often wanting to shop for new additions to my wardrobe or a few new items to decorate my home in order to give me a sense of happiness.  The issue is not with the items; the issue is my desired outcome: happiness from these things.

The truth is beauty fades, strong muscles atrophy into frailty, our health gives out eventually, relationships take work and commitment, clothing wears and so do homes, styles come and go, “familiarity breeds contempt,” the kids grow up and leave the nest, spouses age and eventually die. At some point, it all ends or diminishes.

Nothing in this life is permanent.

It is a grim picture, but it’s not when you find something that is eternal and completely satisfying.

The one thing that remains eternal and transcends the earthly is the supernatural.  This is why there is within us all a desire for something greater, eternal, supernatural.  We all want to know that at some point, we will finally reach a place where we can find “rest,” permanent satisfaction, and joy.

I believe that place is what God promises in the Bible as our eternal and final dwelling: a place with Him.

What comfort it is to know that we can dream, anticipate, and hope for something that is assured to all those who believe and receive this gift.  It is the gift of salvation, the gift of son-ship and daughter-ship, the gift of eternal life, the gift of lasting peace, the gift of victory…

May 2016 be a year where we look not to the temporal to satisfy the eternal longings and needs of our souls.  May it be a year where we discover or persevere in an unshakable faith in an eternal inheritance of life, love, peace, and joy, found in Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:9-11

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”[a]

Romans 5:21

21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 John 2:25

25 And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.

1 John 5:11

11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

1 John 5:13

13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life,[a] and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

Revelation 21:1-6

All Things Made New

21 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John,[a] saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me,[b] “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

And He said to me, “It is done![c] I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.