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Archive for the tag “Armor of God”

The Shield

A few years ago, I took one of those spiritual gifts assessment tests. One of the gifts that came out highest of all was faith. In my past, I have taken a few risks, but I never attributed it to having great faith. I have left jobs to move to other cities. Over five years ago, I took a leap of faith to leave a good paying job. At the time, I believed it was the right thing to do. I believed God led me to that decision. Taking a risk always causes a bit of trepidation. Sometimes, God will reveal part of the plan to me, and I feel a bit more certain in my decisions. However, it’s been over five years, and I am having doubts as to the plan God had for this time. God isn’t doing what He has done in my past. He is not meeting my expectations, and I just fail to recognize that God has a different plan than what I expected. He’s creative that way!

In the study of the shield of faith in the Armor of God, Priscilla Shirer quotes her Daddy’s (Dr. Tony Evans) definition of faith: “Faith is acting like it is so, even when it is not so, so that it might be so, simply because God said so.” She also gave this definition: “faith is acting like God is telling the truth” (both quotes found on page 127). One thing that was revealed to me in this week’s lessons is the fact that God wants to see faith in us; faith is what is counted as righteousness. And He is all about growing our faith. This season for me maybe a time of truly putting my faith to a test!

Abraham was the example of having a righteous faith. He believed God – to show him where to go when he left his home; to have a son in his old age; and when he was asked to sacrifice that promised son. But Abraham made some wrong moves throughout his life, yet his faith was still counted as righteous. Hebrews 11 is gives a highlight of those who have had faith through the Bible. However, Genesis is the Book that shows the beginning of the faith journey. It is ripe with stories of faith building. Through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we see the times of building faith through their journeys. However, the further the story goes in Genesis, the further back God recedes. Faith is rooted in the past but focused on the future. Faith is built on what we have experienced in the past.

One of the questions Priscilla asked (page 124) is what is the difference between belief and faith? My response was that belief is wings and faith is the air beneath the wings. It helps us take a leap of faith and fly. We can believe all we want; but until we put action with the belief, we will never get anywhere. We believe God will still do what He said He would do and act on the promise. It’s what we do when we believe God. When we doubt, we actually believe the enemy’s lie rather than God’s word. The enemy does whatever he can to keep us from taking a risk. He sends doubts, fears, distractions; anything that will cause us to shrink back from God’s word.

Paul likened faith to a Roman shield. It was a protection from the enemy. Also, it could be linked together. Soldiers in a battle could link their shields together to form an impenetrable barrier. There was no way an enemy’s arrows could make it throw to do harm. So instead, the enemy would send a flaming arrow to something flammable. This would cause a distraction to the soldiers and cause them to focus on the flame instead of the enemy. As long as the soldier stayed behind the shield, the enemy had no power over them. The minute they dropped their protection to fight the fire, they were vulnerable.

In these troubled times, we have to link our shields together. The enemy is sending all kinds of distractions. The fires are raging around us. Our faith is the only thing that will keep us from getting burned by the enemy. It’s important to know who we can trust and who to turn to. Our faith has to be in someone or something much greater than the problem or else there is no point in having faith. Without faith, it’s just religion; it’s just a tradition that does nothing in the name of Jesus. Taking a risk for Jesus activates the shield and brings God glory. It’s time for God’s people to link up and become a mighty force. The world is waiting to see how we will react to our circumstances. Faith or fear. It’s either one or the other. Let’s act as if God is telling the truth and believe He will do a mighty work in and through us. Take a leap of faith and trust Him in the process.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

The Anchor

As I was walking up the sidewalk to my church building on Sunday, I noticed two women coming out of the first gathering. They were talking with one another in a different language. Isn’t it amazing that we can all gather together no matter the language barrier and worship the same God? No matter the color of our skin, the language we speak, the culture we grew up in – God is God of all. He knows every one’s name; knows every one’s heart and He loves us anyway! God’s family is so diverse, and we can be a part of it. My local church body represents about eleven different nations under one roof. I find that amazing.

Contrast the unity I experienced on Sunday with the divisive experience we are having in this country at this moment in time. My perspective will be totally different than one whose skin is darker than mine. I cannot walk in their shoes. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have empathy and compassion for their struggles. I wish there wasn’t a struggle. I wish we could live like we’re supposed to live – as one who loves another – not as tolerant people, but ones who truly love one another and even love all our differences. Differences make the world go round. If we were all the same, how boring would that be? Yet, we were all made differently AND all made in the image of God.

It’s interesting that this week of all weeks I was studying “shoes of peace” in the Armor of God study. The week that has been without peace shows our greatest need of peace. But it will not come at the expense of removing guns from the hands of individuals – if one wants to kill, they can find any method available to do the job – sure guns are the most available and impersonal way of killing; but there has to be another way to solve the problem. The very simplistic answer is Jesus. He is the only peace we’ll find in the craziness of this world. And Scripture tells us, it’s going to get worse not better. There doesn’t seem to be much hope in the future, does it?

In Andy Stanley’s message on Sunday – actually it was an interview of sorts – he made the comment about the diversity in the early church. For the first twenty years, the early church dealt with a great deal of racial tension. Between Jews and Gentiles, slaves and freed men, and then throw women in the mix; it was just all kinds of tension going on. Jews did not associate with Gentiles on any level. The women were considered second class citizens. Before the early church even got off to a running start, God had to deal with the racial tensions, or else the movement would have fizzled from the start. Jesus elevated everyone to the same level.

Jesus had already addressed the idea of “clean and unclean” in a message to the Pharisees. The Pharisees were concerned with the disciples’ unsanitary eating habits. Jesus said it wasn’t what was on the outside that made a person unclean but it’s the heart that matters. The Pharisees had a heart problem, and it would keep them out of the Kingdom of God.

The heart is still the problem today. Nothing has changed much in 2000 years – actually since the beginning of time. We still have issues that need to be resolved; not through violence but through love. But nothing will change unless hearts are turned toward Jesus. Jesus told His followers that we will have trials and sorrows; it’s part of life. However, He came to give us a new life and a new hope. He is the only one who can give us peace. We cannot have peace of God if we do not have peace with God.

Apostle Paul likened peace to the shoes of a soldier. A Roman soldier wore sandals with knobs. It helped the soldier stand firm in the face of the enemy. Peace is our anchor; it holds us firmly in place when the craziness of the world around us feels off kilter. Jesus is the answer we seek to overcome the strife we find in this current world. He is our anchor in the storm. Peace is available for every individual who calls upon the name of Jesus. He provides what we need to calm the storms in our lives.

I wish we could all live in harmony now, but I know it is impossible through our own human effort. But what’s impossible for us to do, God makes all things possible. One day it will be different. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream. One day it will be realized. One day all things will be made new. That’s the hope of our future.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

What is truth?

This past week, I have been studying the Belt of Truth in Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God. This is the first part of the armor that Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 to put on. For armor, the belt or girdle was essential for a Roman soldier. The soldier carried about 60 pounds of armor. After the girdle was in place, then the soldier could take up the other pieces of armor while the girdle bore some of the weight.

This week’s first day of the study, Priscilla said the belt of truth is like our core strength. In order for our body to stay strong as we grow older, we have to strengthen our core – our abdominal muscles. These muscles help us keep us stable; helps with balance; keeps our stamina over time and helps us to resist injury (pg 40). Resistance. Balance. Stability. Stamina. This is the essence of truth. It is resistant to the devil’s schemes. It gives us clarity; unification; balance; as the Body of Christ is held together with the same truth. It provides stability; we are no longer tossed about like waves on the ocean driven by the winds of change. God’s truth gives us stamina for the long haul. It gives us perseverance.

What is truth? This is the question that Pilate asked Jesus (John 18:38). But Pilate walked away before he heard Jesus’ answer. When I think of truth, the first thing that jumps into my head is this: “You can’t handle the truth.” You remember that line from A Few Good Men? Can we really handle the truth? Experts say in order to know real currency is to study the real thing. When you study real currency in all its details, you will know a counterfeit when you see it. Just as with Jesus, when you study His life – His actions and what He said – we will know the truth. Jesus says that when we know the truth, it will set us free (John 8:32).

I have a book by Andy Andrews called How do you kill 11 million people? Why the truth matters more than you think. This little book is a must read for every person in this nation – Christian or not. Spoiler alert: The answer to the question was this: You lie to them. Everybody hears what they want to hear and believes it. The book centers on the Holocaust. The people didn’t question the establishment because it really didn’t affect them until it did. Everybody had a badge who was not of the “pure” race or who was not in line with Hitler’s ideology. It has been reported the Jews got the yellow badge. But did you know that Christians had a purple badge? Or that brown badges were for ones with Roman descent? Pink were for the sexual “immoral” (homosexuals, rapists, pedophiles, etc). There were many more badges handed out. Hitler was “cleaning up” the Aryan people. One day, it all mattered; but it was too late to do anything about it. The trainings were already rolling down the tracks.

That’s pretty scary when you really think about it. The truth is fundamental in discerning a leader’s heart. Andy wrote it isn’t what a person says; it’s about their character. It’s the pattern of their behavior – past and present that will lead to their future behavior unless something or someone intervenes to change their behavior. Andy Stanley called this the Principle of the Path. Andy Andrews stated from another one of his books (The Final Summit), a conversation with Abraham Lincoln. “Power corrupts. Trust me on this. And because power corrupts, humanity’s need for those in power to be of high character increases as the importance of the position of leadership increases.” (pg 65 from How to Kill.)

This isn’t a political statement. This is a life statement. We need to be in pursuit of truth. We cannot discern lies if we do not know the truth. This week, I listened to a teacher from Dallas Theological Seminary. His taught from Genesis and mentioned Jacob and his deceptive practices. Jacob practiced deception when he received the blessing from Isaac. When Jacob was in pursuit of a wife, Laban deceived Jacob by giving his first daughter instead of the promised second daughter. You would think Jacob would have spotted the lie, but Jacob was thoroughly deceived. The teacher gave this profound statement: “When you live your life by scheming and cheating, you lose the ability to recognize a lie.”

We need the essential foundation of our faith – truth – to be at the very essence of our being. Without it, we will surely be bound in deception and ultimately be led down the wrong path because we couldn’t judge between truth and lies. Like discerning the real thing from a counterfeit, we have to study truth. God’s truth is the foundation for our lives. It will keep us on the right path for us as individuals and for our nation. Can you handle the truth?

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. John 16:13

Sources:
Shirer, Priscilla. Armor of God Bible Study. Nashville: LifeWay Church Resources, 2015.
Andrews, Andy. How do you kill 11 Million People? Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011.
Allman, Dr. James. Dallas Theological Seminary. Study of Genesis, 2007.

The Helmet

My study group is in the last week of the “Armor of God” study (by Priscilla Shirer). We are studying the helmet of salvation. Paul writes about the Armor of God in his letter to the Ephesians. Paul was very familiar with Roman body armor. He would have had ample time to study each piece while he was sitting in a prison cell being guarded by Roman soldiers. He saw the different pieces and linked certain spiritual weapons with those pieces.

We are to “gird our loins” with the belt of truth; much like a soldier would have used a belt to help secure his weapons around his waist. We have the breastplate of righteousness to guard our hearts just as a breastplate was used to protect the vital organs of the soldier in battle. We are to put on the shoes of peace as a soldier put on specific shoes to help him stand firm while fighting. Then lastly, we have the helmet of salvation to protect our minds like the Roman soldier had for comprehensive coverage to withstand a direct blow to the head. Each piece builds upon the next piece until we are completely covered for battle and able to take a stand against the spiritual forces of evil.

The armor is more than just protection though. We need additional weapons for offense and defense. We are given two important pieces that give us victory against the enemy. We have a shield of faith and the sword of the spirit. Both weapons cause Satan to flee from us because of the power these weapons provide. He cannot stand against God’s word or the faith of the people who live by it. These weapons are then ignited in power by the Holy Spirit through prayer – activating their usefulness in the battle.

I didn’t realize these weapons were found in the Old Testament book of Isaiah. I thought Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to come up with these spiritual attributes. He was inspired to write; but Paul being the scholar that he was, would have known about Isaiah’s word to his ancestors. Priscilla pointed out these weapons were introduced back in Isaiah 59. Speaking of the future King Jesus, God tells Isaiah to tell the people:

He put on righteousness as his breastplate,
and the helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on the garments of vengeance
and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak. (Is 59:17)

These weapons are the same ones we have for our own battles. We have the same power through the Holy Spirit to wield against the enemy. Isaiah wrote in chapter 54 that no weapon formed against us can prevail. Paul writes in Second Corinthians 10:4-5: The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

The purpose of our helmet of salvation is to protect the mind. Salvation is not just a onetime event. However, Priscilla points out; we have salvation through Jesus, but we also are to live out our salvation daily. We are supposed to die to our self and live through Christ – daily. Paul says in Philippians 2:12-13 (NLT): Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

One of the primary targets for Satan is our minds. Insecurity, fear, depression, confusion, etc can cripple our lives. We give in to stinking thinking and will cause us to shrink back from living the abundant life found in Jesus. We have to be able to think clearly and apply God’s word to our lives in order not to be deceived by the enemy’s schemes. God gives us this armor as part of our inheritance as His children. The trouble is we never unpack the gifts that He gives. We think we have to wait until heaven to experience God’s true salvation. But salvation is lived out here on earth to give God glory. He leaves us here after receiving the gifts so that we can be the light to others and draw them to His glory.

Priscilla summed it up for me in this thought (pg 162): “Your lifestyle should reflect your true inheritance which will enable you to live a spiritual life of lavish abundance and grace.” We have a “lavish inheritance” through Jesus. It’s time we live up to the potential Jesus gives to us through His death and resurrection. Put on the helmet and live abundantly!

Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. Romans 5:5-8 (NLT)

Core Strength

I work out at the gym about three days a week. Every time I work out, I work on my abdominal muscles (also known as the core muscle group). Without strengthening the core, all other muscle work becomes futile in the long run. A strong core brings balance – will keep us from falling and give us good posture. Core strength brings stability and stamina. If the core isn’t strong, standing upright for any length of time is hard. Eventually gravity will pull the shoulders forward unless we counterbalance those muscles with strength training. Balance, stability and stamina are essential for longevity.

These elements of a healthy, physical body are also essential for a healthy, spiritual body. In the Armor of God study (by Priscilla Shirer), Priscilla writes about the first piece of armor being the belt of truth. It is the core of our strength to stand firm against the enemy. We are to “gird our loins” by strapping on the belt of truth. With this first piece of armor, it carries the weight of all the other pieces. The enemy’s first line of attack is always with deception. The truth will shine light on the enemy’s lies.

In the very beginning of time, Satan knows exactly what is being said in the Garden between God and Adam. When Eve was questioned, she responds in generalities. God said you will die if you eat of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the Garden (my paraphrase of Genesis 3:3). However, Satan counters with specifics as God told Adam. You will not surely die; you will be like God knowing good and evil (my paraphrase and emphasis of Genesis 3:4-5). Satan plays us like a fine instrument. He has been studying us all our lives. He knows our hot buttons and those things that will draw us into his trap.

When we know the Truth, we will have the first defense to know when we are under attack. Satan asks those little questions that cause us to doubt what we heard. Then he gives us another choice that will entice us by playing with our insecurities or our desires. It will meet a need in us or involve our senses or feelings. Satan will personalize each attack. His desire is to destroy our relationships; our families; anything that has to do with God; anything to get us off track. Maybe the choice we have to make doesn’t seem so bad in the present time, but in the long run is it worth it?

Even Jesus had to endure the half-truths in the desert when He was weak and vulnerable to Satan’s attack. He had not eaten in forty days. He was tired and alone. And Satan came to Him whispering in His ear “if” this or that, then “do” this or that. But Jesus stood firm on the truth – “It is written.” Satan knows the truth as well and will twist it for his purpose. Priscilla said in the video portion for week two, “Satan can craftily make you think that God does not mean exactly what He says.” He speaks with half-truths and will deceive us to believe his lie. Charles Spurgeon is quoted as saying “Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right.”

We can’t trust our feelings or even our senses. We have to know God’s truth. We have to have a source outside of ourselves in order to know the difference between what we’re sensing and/or feeling and what God desires for us. Our core strength keeps us stable in an unstable world. It gives us the stamina to endure the pressures of this world. We need core strength for balance to keep from falling for the temptations from our enemy. Priscilla said in her simulcast and in this second week video “feelings don’t have intellect.” We need something more than intellect and our own perspective. God’s truth shines the light on the enemy’s schemes and will expose the lies.

God’s Word is our life-source; it is the strength of our core being. Let us not only know God’s truth and how it pertains to our lives, but let us put these things into practice! Let the truth of God strengthen us to endure and withstand every wind and wave that Satan uses to throw us off-balance. The rest of the armor counts on the strength we have in the Truth.

So watch your step, friends. Make sure there’s no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it’s still God’s Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn’t slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we’re in this with Christ for the long haul. Hebrews 3:12-14 (The Message)

Suit Up!

Earlier this year, I attended the Priscilla Shirer simulcast. She taught on the Armor of God. I wasn’t so sure when my small group decided to do Priscilla’s latest study – Armor of God. After all, I sat through the teaching the first time around. Would it hold anything different? After just one week into the study, I realized the simulcast was just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much meat in this study that it’s going to blow up any notions that I have ever studied about the armor of God before!

With Priscilla’s involvement with the War Room movie project, it’s become evident that God has been working this study in her for quite a while. The movie script probably sent a spark into her soul that has been fanned into a roaring flame through the message she carried forth in her simulcast and now in this study. The War Room movie is about prayer. (Disclaimer: I haven’t seen the movie yet, but have heard much about it.) The first day of the study was about the seventh piece of armor which doesn’t get much attention: prayer. Prayer activates the armor to work more efficiently.

Both the movie and this study have a similar message – it’s time to for the Body of Christ to wake up and suit up! We are in a battle and one that remains unseen to the naked eye. However, when we pray for eyes to see, I believe God clears our vision to see the devil’s schemes and the battle that is being waged over us in the spiritual realm. We have a very real enemy that wants us to stay asleep and stay comfortable in our complacency.

We can see the darkness closing in around us. Prayer reinforces the light, and the darkness has to recede. Darkness is the absence of light. If we have no light, the darkness will grow darker still. We as the Body of Christ have to shine the light. There is no other way that darkness will recede. I want to reinforce my words with love – I do not want to write hate speech about the things we encounter in this world. There are lost souls who need to understand the love Jesus has for them. We are to do our work and shine the light in love. I heard long ago: the opposite of love is not hate, its apathy. Apathy knows there is hopelessness in the world, but it’s an attitude of not caring enough to do anything about it.

I picked up a free book on the children of India. It’s overwhelming to know the numbers of children who beg and live with a constant state of hunger; who have nothing; who expect not to live past their teen years, if they make it that long. They are abandoned and lonely. They are exploited; and fearful. Think of your eight year old self; surviving on your own, doing anything you can to stay alive. Or your children abandoned on a train, to be kicked out on the street when the train comes to the end of the line. How can we help such an overwhelming plight of humanity? I have no answers yet. But we need to wake up and see there is a world out there counting on someone to step out and do something.

God gives us the armor; we have to pick it up and use it. Armor is defensive and offensive. Prayer brings the power to effectively wield the weapons. The weapons formed against us are nothing compared to what we have at our disposal. Priscilla wrote on day three during the first week of study (pg27 Wake-up Call paragraph): “The call to victorious Christian living is a wake-up call out of laziness, urging you to rise up and take serious action. Satan and the demons of darkness are hoping you’ll be disengaged and disinterested instead of alert, aware and active.” She goes on to say “Lazy, lethargic Christianity can no longer be an option.” The darkness will not recede on its own. We have to be lights in our communities and in our world. Let’s suit up! The battle is already in process; we just have to pitch in and fight for what we believe in!

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 (The Message)

The Warrior

As a child, I loved to pretend. When I was growing up in the 70’s I followed all the action heroes of the day. I was introduced to martial arts through a television show. I loved it. I grew up in a small town in the south that didn’t offer martial arts. The probability of my Mom allowing such a thing for me was relatively low since it wasn’t proper for young girls at that time. So I pretended that I could do all the things that I saw in that television show. I was a fan of Wonder Woman too. I envisioned becoming a mighty warrior. I loved to see women who were more than the damsel in distress. They could stand up for themselves and for their loved ones against their own bigger, stronger adversaries. They could defeat the enemy without the aid of a man to fight their battles for them.

As an adult, I learned a form of martial arts when I was in my thirties. By the time I took the class, I had underlying health issues that eventually caused a lack of muscle strength that took me out when trying to perform a hard kick. My dream of becoming a “warrior” chick ended. I don’t think becoming a warrior was God’s plan for my life. Or was it? Maybe my vision was a bit different from God’s. In Ephesians 6, Paul wrote about the armor of God that we are to put on. We are to take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. There is confirmation there that we are supposed to be warriors for Jesus! I don’t have to pretend, God makes it possible for me to be that warrior chick after all!

Paul wrote to the Ephesians to take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (6:17). The sword is used to go against our enemy. It is an offensive weapon. When we have the sword of the Spirit, we have the most dangerous weapon in our hands for moving us forward against the enemy (Louie Giglio’s teaching in his sermon series Breath on a Page). The enemy is always trying to get us to turn back. When we have the sword, we have the weapon that can cause the enemy to flee from us. Jesus gave us the example when He was led into the desert after He was baptized. After forty days of solitude and fasting, the enemy came to tempt Him. But Jesus spoke the truth to Satan, and Satan could not stand against Him.

The Bible is not just another book as Pastor Louie Giglio reminded us in his second or third message of his series. When we respect it as God’s breath on a page, we understand that we hold something very extraordinary in our hands. There’s nothing else like it. It is an everlasting document that cannot be destroyed. The power that it contains cannot be matched by any other book. The purpose of the Bible is not to gather dust on a shelf or night table, but to be devoured; to give us life everlasting. It cuts deep to the matters of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 states that the Word is alive and active; sharper than a double-edged sword; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

As I take in this life-giving word, I can feel the warrior spirit rise up in me. I can hear the “swoosh” of the sword coming down to divide anything that is not relevant for the abundant life that Jesus has given me. I feel the power of the Word welling up in my soul. And I can have the confidence I need to move out with God’s breath lifting me higher. It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the work that God is doing in and around me. I get to participate in His plan. I become what He desires for me because of His work through His word. We are all a work in progress. The progress can only be made as we feed on His word. When we are full of His nourishment, we will be strengthened to complete the tasks before us. Breathe in o’ mighty warrior and let His Spirit fill your lungs and your heart full of His grace and love. Be the one He has chosen for such a time as this!

Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things. 2 Timothy 2:3-7 (NLT)

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Last Saturday, Priscilla Shirer had her annual simulcast. Her message was on the spiritual armor that we are given as children of the Most High God. One thing that she mentioned was about the distractions or the deceptions that our enemy uses to keep us from accomplishing our God-given goals. She used the analogy of a “whack-a-mole” children’s game. I have never played this game myself, but I have seen others play it. The one with the hammer tries to nail the “mole” on the head when it pops up from a hole in the board. The game has several holes in which the mole can pop up, but the participant never knows when or where the mole will pop up. What the participant doesn’t see is the person behind the game who controls the mole. Priscilla mentioned that our enemy is the one behind the scene who is causing our distractions or is deceiving us with these pop up “moles.” We are told that we are given a shield of faith to protect us in the midst of our battles. The enemy fires blazing javelins or missiles in our direction. The enemy hopes we will turn aside to put out the fires instead of advancing on the battlefield. I have seen this numerous times when I have started out on a certain path knowing that God was calling me to a task. As soon as I said yes, the enemy became engaged in the battle. He put a “mistaken” identity problem that kept me focused for a few months trying to put out the fire. I began to recognize this deception after a couple of times when it occurred every time I took a step in God’s direction. I started to pray for this “mistaken” identity person every time the name appeared before me. Prayer is one of our most powerful weapons in our arsenal for spiritual warfare! The enemy is very cleaver. When we are not looking for the “mole” puppet master, we can be deceived or distracted by our circumstances. We miss the reason these things are happening to us – it’s not about us at all, but the battle that is being waged over us. It’s the spiritual battle that we cannot see that keeps us from being ineffective in advancing the Kingdom forward. We need to be conscious of our real enemy. We have to realize this is major warfare. The enemy knows he’s defeated, and his time is running out. He only has little time left to make his claim on unsuspecting people. It’s one move against the other; we just happen to be the pawns that the enemy uses to try to hurt God’s agenda. The enemy believes he has a move left that can counteract what God put in place – salvation for the world by Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. Each pop-up tries to circumvent God’s agenda that is at work in us and through us. But we are given impenetrable armor that will thwart the enemy’s attempt for our destruction. I must admit; I fail to recognize the enemy. I see the things going on around me and think it’s the people causing the problems when in reality it’s not them, but the enemy using them for his purpose. The people are not the problem. It’s the enemy popping up behind the scenes causing the chaos. Our world feels like it’s falling apart. Our troubles are growing out of control. Reality though, is that the enemy senses the time is growing closer, and he is out for blood – our blood. We are given powerful equipment and powerful weapons to use daily in the battle. No weapon that is formed against us can harm us if we are properly dressed in our battle gear. Watch that mole continue to pop up, but don’t let the puppet master fool you. The One who is in you is greater than the enemy in the world. Stay focused on the truth; live in righteousness and keep the mind protected from the enemy’s schemes. We fight from victory – not for victory! The battle is already won! 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. Ephesians 6:10-12

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