Does Your Shield of Faith Have A Door Knob? – Armor of God Series

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Ancient Roman soldier with his shield

There are three purposes of the Shield of Faith.

Today, we will take a look at the fourth piece of armor that Paul encourages us to put on–the shield of faith. My last three blog posts have dealt with items we wear: the belt, the breastplate, and the shoes. Click on the links to check those articles out.

Instead of the typical shield that we see depicted on movie screens, the shield the Roman soldiers carried were actually a slightly curved rectangular shape between three and three and a half feet tall, and equally as wide. And centered in the middle of the shield was a large metal knob. This knob was called a boss.1 The size of the Roman shield afforded the soldier a great deal of protection. Because of its curved nature, it could deflect attacks from the side. With the added metal knob, the soldier had an edge to knock down his opponent. So, what does the Roman shield have to do with faith?

What Is Faith?

To understand the link between the Roman shield and our faith, let’s understand first Hebrews 11:1:

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (NRSV).

When we are hoping for something to materialize it means we haven’t seen it yet. When we do see it materialize, it becomes tangible or it becomes a reality. Faith then is the confidence in God that we already have what we are hoping for. It is the belief, or the confidence, that because of God’s faithfulness, He will fulfill His promises to us. This conviction is based on trust. We trust in God’s character, meaning we believe who He says He is, and we believe in His promises-that He will do what He says He will do. From the perspective of trust, we then have assurance and conviction and we will demonstrate our faith in that we will have what we hope for.

How Are the Shield and Faith Connected?

First, the shield guards. The shield of faith also guards us spiritually when we’re in the trenches of physical hardships. Remember Shadrach, Meshack and Abed-Nego? They were physically in a burning furnace – a real physical crisis. These three teenagers had an unwavering faith, supported by their obedience to God’s commands. As a result, God empowered them to hold onto their faith with the boldness to tell the king they wouldn’t bow to worship the golden image. Thus, God protected them physically, even though these boys didn’t know if God would actually deliver them from certain death.

If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up (Daniel 3:17-18).

Shield of Faith Averts

Since the ancient Romans used shields that were slightly curved around the edges, it had the ability to repel hits from their enemies. We have an enemy today-Satan. And he often pursues us by shooting his fiery darts of worry, doubt, and fear. These are some of his weapons to pull us off our game and to get us to doubt God’s faithfulness or that God isn’t in control of all that touches our lives. If we let our shield of faith down, then we are exposed and we are vulnerable to Satan’s attacks.

Shield of Faith Fends Off

Remember that boss- the doorknob? That doorknob-like structure has a purpose. It can be used by the soldier to shove back or repel his enemy. It can literally knock his foe to the ground, thereby incapacitating him for that final attack. What would we use as a modern day boss? The doorknob in our faith today would be our obedience to God’s will and His ways, and in our works of service. These actions build our faith, they repel attacks from Satan and help us to live a resilient life.

Shields Work As A Wall

I’m sure you’ve seen it–when enemies sent arrows up into the sky, soldiers closed ranks. Soldiers on the outside used their shields to form a wall around the perimeter. Then those in the middle raised their shields over their heads to protect everyone from free-falling arrows and other projectiles. This technique is called the “tortoise,” formation.2

The Call-to-Action

If Christians today use their faith to build up one another, we too, can become a strong soldier in God’s army.

Blessings,

Lisa

Notes:

1 The Great Teachings of the Bible and What They Mean for You: The Armor of God, Lesson 5: The Shield of Faith, www.freebiblestudyguides.org/bible-teaching/armor-of-god-shield-of-faith.htm, accessed 9-1-16.

2 Ibid.

 

Why Do Our Spiritual Shoes Matter?

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spiritual shoes

Why do our spiritual shoes matter?

Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. (2 Tim. 3:15-16 NRSV).

The third piece of God’s armor is our spiritual shoes of readiness.  The word readiness implies eagerness, preparedness, and vigilance. The Roman soldier, if he wanted to be victorious had to be ready for battle. What soldier would go out onto the battlefield without his shoes! A soldier missing his shoes reveals he’s not ready. It also reveals he has compromised his position in a battle. The enemy will immediately know that without shoes this soldier will stumble. The point is, in the heat of the battle and without shoes, a soldier can’t be worried about what he might step on.

Roman Shoes

It is said that the sandals of the Roman soldier were fitted with nails or spikes to give them a firm hold in the ground while fighting his enemy. Thus shoes were the means to maintain a firm foundation. It means we are ready to go, to move forward, without fear of what we may encounter in the battle of life.

Physical Shoes to Spiritual Shoes

Since Christians are God’s soldiers, we are to wear spiritual shoes because we fight a spiritual battle. If we’re ready for battle, we must also know our enemy and his plans of attack. We must have our own battle plan and remain strong and confident. We must have a firm footing so we can hold our ground. We’re sunk if we fall to the ground in battle without our physical shoes on. But what is the connection between physical shoes and spiritual shoes of the gospel of peace?  The gospel of course, is the good news of God’s Kingdom. God’s church must be ready to go into the world and share the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we are wearing our spiritual shoes, we are ready with the gospel and we do so with the understanding that we are under attack from Satan.

One of Satan’s flaming arrows is doubt. He’ll get us to doubt ourselves, our purpose, our skills, our profession, our choices. We may question our station in life. “Is the military lifestyle really worth it? As a military wife, you may ask yourself, do my contributions make a difference? “What if this happens or that happens…” When flaming arrows of doubt hit our heart, we must dig our spiritual shoes of readiness deeper into God’s Word regardless of fear. Satan knows that self-doubt is a powerful strategy. However, self-doubt is a mute-point in the gospel of peace because our salvation and position as child of God are not based on our skills or how creditable we are.

When Satan shoots arrows of self-doubt, fire back with God’s Word: “We [I] know that all things work together for [my family’s] good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose,” (Romans 8:28 NRSV). When Satan pulls back his bow and shoots the arrow of resentment over another deployment looming, respond with, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13),  or “The joy of the Lord is my strength,” (Nehemiah 8:10).

In short, wearing our shoes gives us the ability to step unfettered and without dread, distress, or anxiety, while we focus on our spiritual battles.

Blessings,

Lisa

 

Breastplate of Righteousness – Are You Putting It On?

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Why are we to put on the Belt of Truth first as one piece of God's armor?

The Breastplate of Righteousness – it’s not what you think.

“Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, … and put on the beastplate of righteousness…” (Ephesians 6:10, 14”

The breastplate of righteousness involves three areas: our heart, mind and emotions (our bowels). Today we will focus on our heart and bowels. But before the breastplate of righteousness can protect us, we first must pledge to a lifestyle of devotions. Putting on the breastplate of righteousness involves having a steadfast heart.

Goals are not reached without a steadfast heart.

A Pledge to Devotion to Commitment

Military members in our armed forces who lack a devotion to commitment are in the wrong profession. We can’t fight threats of war or terrorism without a strong commitment from our government leaders or our military members. One of the pitfalls of America is related to its ‘good life’ or its seemingly ‘life of ease’ is that it is very appealing to our young people. America already struggles with a lack of devotion to our country by many of its young people; they are disconnected from a sense of patriotism and duty. The correlation between freedom  and sacrifice is broken. A lack of commitment can be a deathtrap for America’s readiness to fight all threats. Likewise, without a devoted pledge of commitment to put on the breast-plate of righteousness, we can be ensnared by Satan’s assaults.

Breast-plate of Righteousness: Our Heart and Bowels

The breast-plate of righteousness refers to our hearts. We all know that the Roman’s wore a breast-plate to protect two important areas: their heart and their bowels. The bowels refer to the stomach area where other vital organs to sustain life are located.  Our bowels are associated with feelings and emotions.1 This makes sense because emotions affect us in the stomach.2 If we’re afraid, sad, lonely, happy, or excited we feel it in our stomach. We feel the ache in our gut when discouraged. Likewise, when everything is going well, our bowels feel wonderful.

The heart refers to our emotions and where our thinking originates. “For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person…” Matthew 15:19-20 NKJV.

Putting on the breast-plate protects our hearts. It’s possible that many of us are wearing the false breast-plate of righteousness. Satan tries to deceive us into wrong doctrine.3 It comes out this way: we know people who subscribe to their own righteousness. They think they’re all right because they are good people; they have morals and healthy values. God’s righteousness has to do with a certain standing with God. It means having a right relationship with God. And He approves of us. We have His stamp of approval. God determines, through His Word what is a right relationship, not us.

Satan’s Goal is to Destroy the Breastplate of Righteousness

Satan’s goal is to keep as many people from entering God’s kingdom, so his goal is to deceive, kill and steal. He tries to achieve this by affecting our thinking and our emotions–our heart and bowels – the two places the Breastplate of Righteousness protects. If we don’t put on our breast-plates of righteousness, Satan will make his attack. He’ll feed you with wrong information, such as a wrong doctrine of righteousness, such as “I’m a good person, I’ll go to heaven.” That is confidence in the flesh.4 Satan will also feed you lies, corrupt you with untruth about God and His Word, or get you to react with inappropriate emotions. He’ll entice you with sin and your heart will justify it with false doctrine. “Oh, it’s just a little white lie; it won’t harm anyone” we may tell ourselves. And before long we become tolerant to the lies Satan feeds us. But this is a snare. From here it only gets worse, he’ll move into other areas of your mind, such as your will and emotions.5  He’ll go after your will and try to break it down and he’ll get you to compromise your desires.

Breastplate of Righteousness Becomes a Fortress

If you protect your thinking and your emotions by checking it against God’s Word, you put a fortress around your heart. Satan won’t be able to penetrate it. When we are in a right relationship with Him, God’s stamp of approval will be our breast-plate of protection.

 Blessings,

Lisa

Notes:

1 John F. MacArthur, “The Believer’s Armor, Part 2: The Breastplate of Righteousness,” http://www.gty.org (accessed 17 July 2016).

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

 

The Belt of Truth and the Presidential Campaign

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Why are we to put on the Belt of Truth first as one piece of God's armor?

Why are we to put on the Belt of Truth first as one piece of God’s armor?

What is the Belt of Truth and how can we use it in this year’s presidential campaign? I was drawn to post an article about the believer’s armor because of what we are seeing on our televisions­–the presidential race. As ugly as this race to the white house is, it can be hard to determine what we hear is a lie or the truth. We need the Belt of Truth to discern which candidate is worthy to serve our country as the Commander-in-Chief.

Hilary has a cloud of distrust over her and Trump is a loose cannon with a questionable faith. And both are slewing accusations and insults in all directions. It is hard to see the truth about a candidate behind the verbal darts of lies that sound like truth. We’ve heard it said that Americans want a third presidential candidate, somebody with a digestible character, integrity, and at least one godly trait.

As different as this presidential race is, what’s most befuddling to me is how all the other contenders of the GOP have fallen away, those with more integrity, who carried themselves more smartly, more presidential, and with more godly character and faith, leaving the least likely candidate to secure the presumptive nominee. Could it be that for whatever reason, God has given this man favor as televangelist Frank Amedia suggests in this Charisma news interview? Click here

On the other side of the coin, we have this Charisma News interview with David Ravenhill who states that Donald Trump is a Deceiver. Click here.

I only point these articles out to show the extreme spiritual views and to add how challenging and problematic this voting decision is. It reveals how urgently we need to be praying for who our next president will be.

What does the Belt of Truth have to do with the presidential campaign? Lies and deception. Not only does the Belt of Truth surround us in our battles with Satan, but it is useful as a defense against lies that are presented to us. Since God is the Source of our help, it makes perfect sense that He would provide His children a way to be strengthened in their faith and be prepared in this fallen, greedy, and selfish world. Satan is constantly at battle with those who belong to Christ. He uses various attacks to bring us down, to not only defeat the body of Christ but to get us to turn back to sin. This means we must put on the various pieces of God’s armor if we want victory.

Let’s start with the first piece of armor. This is the belt of Truth. We can’t separate Truth and Jesus Christ. Each one represents the other: Truth is Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ is Truth. Truth is a priority in the spiritual sense. In John 8:31, Jesus affirms:

“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

Belt of Truth Shields Us in its Freedom

Satan can’t handle Truth. He can’t stand to be in Truth’s presence either. When we accept, bear and stand firm in Jesus’ words and follow His examples, we are exercising Truth. It is this truth that sets us free because we have ditched a life of slavery to sin. If we have not aligned ourselves with the One who represents Truth, how can we expect the rest of God’s armor to protect us? We first must be in agreement that Jesus is Truth.

Belt of Truth Makes Us Ready

Why is Truth represented with the belt? The ancient Roman soldiers stored their swords in their belts. This way they were equipped, organized, set, or fixed. Anytime we are equipped, organized, and set, we are ready, trained, and prepared. The word girded comes to mind. It isn’t used all that much today, but it means to fasten something to yourself. In this context, used as a verb, it means to fasten yourself with preparedness for forceful and strong action.

Since Satan is a deceiver, his lies can sound like the truth. And thus we can be deceived. We need the Belt of Truth in order to discern lies from the truth.

Truth Directs Us

When we know what is true, we can safely follow. Think of navigation maps. My family enjoys boating. We have a GPS system installed on our boat. That system directs us because the information contained in the system is true. When it is true it means it’s also reliable. It shows us the dangerous areas so we can steer clear of them. The same goes for spiritual truth. The best route to follow is the one that reveals truth. Jesus is that Truth. He is our GPS system to navigate the risky, threatening, and scary seasons of our lives, like America’s future with our two presidential candidates.

Put on the Belt of Truth and Pray

As Christ-followers we ought to be praying for our government leaders and the upcoming presidential election. There is a lot at stake. Some of our freedoms, such as freedom of religion is under attack. Other biblical principles are being trampled upon and biblical truths have been watered down into lies and digested as the truth. We are a nation under the thumb of deception.

We need to be in prayer for our supreme court judges so they rule with godly wisdom. We need to be praying that our leaders would be God-fearing and recognize that they are accountable to God.

If you are interested in a thirty day prayer calendar by Intercessors For America, go to www.ifapray.org

Come back for the next piece of God’s armor: the Breastplate of Righteous

Blessings,

Lisa

Click here to order Faith Steps for Military Families.

Why Is the American Flag Folded Thirteen Times?

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Do you know the significance of each fold of a flag?

The flag is folded 13 times. Do you know what each fold means?

 

My husband and I recently attended a military retirement ceremony of a friend who served 30 years in the Navy. It was a beautiful service–full of tradition, protocol, honor guard, rituals, local dignitaries, guest speakers, words of praise and honor, and of course, the folding of the American flag. However, I didn’t know that the flag consisted of thirteen folds, each representing either a person or persons, religious principles our country was founded on, an honorable ideal, our armed forces as a whole, and other significant tributes.

 The next time you watch the folding of the flag, keep in mind how the red and white stripes wrap into the blue area, known as the “canton”, signifying the light of day giving way to the darkness of the night. The portion of the flag denoting honor is the canton (region) of blue containing the stars representing the states our veterans served in uniform. The canton field of blue dresses from left to right and is inverted when draped as a pall on a casket of a veteran who has served our country in uniform.

Here are the tributes represented by each fold:

First Fold: Represents the symbol of Life

Second Fold: Represents our belief in Eternal Life

Third Fold: A tribute to those in the ranks who gave their lives for the defense of our country in an effort to attain peace in the world.

Fourth Fold: Represents our weaker nature. As Americans, trusting in God, it is to Him we turn to in wartimes as well as times of peace.

Fifth Fold: This fold represents America–our country. “Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.” -Stephen   Decatur.

Sixth Fold: A tribute to our hearts. We pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America with our hearts. We stand together, one nation under God,      indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

Seventh Fold: A tribute to the armed forces. It is because of our country’s armed forces that our country and flag is protected from all enemies, whether they are within her boundaries or outside of them.

Eighth Fold: The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered in to the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on mother’s day.

Ninth Fold: Is a tribute to womanhood; for it has been through their faith, their love,    loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.

Tenth Fold: Is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.

Eleventh Fold: In the eyes of a Hebrew citizen represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies in their eyes, the God of     Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Twelfth Fold: In the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and   glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.

When completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God we Trust.” Now folded, it takes on the appearance of a tri-cornered hat. This serves to remind us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington and the sailors and marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.

Blessings,

Lisa

-Information obtained about the 13 folds is taken from www.usflag.org

You can also find me at www.Facebook.com/FaithStepsForMilitaryFamilies and Twitter @lisanixonphilli

 

How Do You Relate to God? Four Points, Part 1

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Salad or Stew

How Do You Relate to God – As a Judge or Father

“How you think of God, determines how you relate to God,” said Pastor, Craig McLaughlin of Marysville Church of the Nazarene. Indeed, “family is the primary way God relates to us.” That is certainly true for me. All my major turning points in my life were through relationships with my family, and how God manipulated those family circumstances that moved me along His path for my life. God thinks in terms of family, too. “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are” (1 John 3:1). This verse is evidence of the concept of ‘family’ used in Scripture. God is the parent and we are His children. But the crux of the matter is this: How you think of God, determines how you interact with Him.

If you were brought up with the understanding that God is a detached being, uninvolved in your life, you may also see Him as a distant ruler that you can’t relate to. If this has been your perception of God growing up, then that perception will influence how you relate to Him later in life.

God As A Judge

When John Calvin arrived on the scene in the 1500’s his view of God wasn’t so much a distant king or a ruler, but as a judge–a righteous judge. As a result, many people of his time viewed God in the same way. This mindset believes God is always ready to condemn us. It’s the inner belief that if I fail in any one area, or break some rule, He will judge me harshly.1 This view of God fosters an unhealthy manner in which we relate to Him.

God As A Father

Then, in the 1700’s along came John Wesley. His view of God was more in line with how we believe God wants us to view Him–that as Father. He is our heavenly Father and we are His children, not just in eternity, but right now.2 And just like we would be available for our own children, God is also available to us. Like parents, God also wants His children to seek Him for meeting all our needs–the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. God isn’t some remote king uninterested in our lives. Quite the opposite, He created family and this means family matters to Him.

Have you seen the television commercial of the daughter who is backing up in her car and she hits the lamp post at the end of the driveway? She turns around to see her father coming towards her with a serious look on his face, but then her father’s countenance suddenly changes to a gentle grace-filled smile. This is not the face of a parent coming to judge her for backing over the lamp post, but to come alongside her and teach her how to use care and caution in backing out of the driveway.

God is Grace as Expressed in the Flesh

When our children break a house rule and they need discipline, that discipline isn’t all about punishment, but in showing grace (to extend kindness to a person who doesn’t deserve it or can never earn it). True, grace corrects, but always with accepting the person, not with dismissing remarks such as “you can’t do anything right,” or “you never use your head or think.” These are shaming statements and it breaks down a person’s sense of worth.

The Creator Knows His Created

The first thing God deemed not good was Adam being alone in the garden. Adam needed family, so God created Eve. Ever since, we have the ‘essence’ of family wired into us; It was put there by God. “All that is good in life is connected to family whether directly or indirectly.3 Since family matters to Him, it also means our heavenly Father is a relatable God.

Next Post: Part 2, Is Your Family Like A Salad or A Stew?

Tweet: How do you relate to God? http://www.LisaNixonPhillips.com/blog.

Blessings,

Lisa

Notes:

1 Pastor Craig McLaughlin, “What Matters to God?” (accessed 4/3/16).

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

Prayer for Protection Against Enemies

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Lord,

Lord, protect their feet from slipping (Psalm 121:3).

Lord, protect their feet from slipping (Psalm 121:3).

My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand…the Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in” (Psalm 121:2-5, 7-8).

Lord,

Thank you for every member of our armed forces. Each one serves from the heart with a strong sense of duty for his or her country. Each one has voluntarily given up certain freedoms in order to answer to a higher calling. Lord, may their sacrifices be appreciated by the citizens of this country. Bring a revival in the hearts of the people of America to pray for our military so that under God we remain the strongest military force. May each military operation be just and carried out with a clear and honorable vision.

The challenges are many, Lord, and I pray for daily strength as they march into unknown dangers. Arm them with courage, shield each one from evil intentions, injustice, deceptive tactics, and reveal every unknown threat that would undermine their safety and the mission. Protect their feet from slipping (Psalm 121:3), no matter where they are, no matter the circumstances. In the light of day or the darkness of night, shield them with Your protection. When exhausted, be their Source of strength. I boldly come before You and ask that You would protect them against our enemies.

 Lord, like You did for the pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem, be the Keeper of our men and women in uniform (Psalm 121:5). Protect our military against all enemies. Should any return home wounded, physically or from the effects of posttraumatic stress syndrome, I pray that immediate help would be theirs for a complete healing and for the return of a sound mind. For those who have already given the ultimate sacrifice, comfort their families by encamping around their hurting hearts.

Faithful Father, the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22). May the mercy You provide be experienced by my loved one and all our troops. Let Your compassion be theirs and give them opportunities to see Your faithfulness daily. Psalm 25:21 says: “May integrity and uprightness preserve me.” May our military leadership be men and women who value Your vital role in the affairs of our country. May our military commanders call on You for guidance, and give them understanding of things they don’t know (Jeremiah 33:3). In doing so, may Your name be exalted. In addition to physical readiness, may our government and military leaders be dedicated and speak out for preparing our service members with spiritual readiness, so faith can make a difference. In the mighty name of Jesus, I ask these things,

Amen.

Tweet: Protect the feet of our U.S. military. Shield each one. www.LisaNixonPhillips.com/blog

To order a copy of my book, Faith Steps for Military Families, click on the blue button beneath the book’s cover.

 

 

Where Did All the Good Go?

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“The graveyard of history testifies that God rejects nations that reject Him and His Word. Is God getting ready to reject us once and for all?” -Dr. Mike Evans

In the World, but Outside of Its Influence

We are told in John 17:16: “They are not part of this world any more than I [Jesus] am” [emphasis mine]. Just think for a moment what it may have seemed like to Jesus. He left heaven, a perfect and glorious home, to live on earth, fallen and weighed down by sin. Even though he came to the world as an infant and adjusted to the culture of the world, He knew He wasn’t a permanent resident. Even though he didn’t tolerate lying, murder, profanity, sexual sin, deception, rebellion, false teachers, pride, covetousness, adultery, stealing, etc., Jesus lived in a world of sin but remained outside of its influence.

It’s no surprise that our culture is moving further away from God, and His Son, Jesus Christ. There’s a prevailing style of thinking in the world today that says, “I can get by in life without God,” and an over-indulgence for pleasure is the new god of our land. Our country has adopted a new set of values for good and evil. Isaiah 5:20 explains:

“Ah, you who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Ah, you who are wise in your own eyes, and shrewd in your own sight!”

Evil Is Good and Good Is Evil

As the line of distinction between good and evil and bitter and sweet becomes blurred, a catastrophic breakdown has been set in motion.

It used to be good to pray in school. It used to be good to say the Pledge of Allegiance before class began. It used to be good to take a stand for biblical beliefs without fearing reprisal. It used to be good to love your neighbor as yourself. It used to be good to close stores for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, putting God, faith, and family first. It used to be good having nativity scenes set up on public grounds to demonstrate Who the Light of our faith and nation is. It used o be good to apologize when needed. It used to be good to offer your seat to an elderly person. It used to be good to say thank-you. It used to be good to earn something worth working hard for. It used to be good to respect authority. It used to be good to respect our elders. It used to be good to respect and honor God and His son Jesus Christ.

What used to be good is now unpopular and in fact, intolerable, wrong, offending, or even criminal. This is because it is now good and pleasing for people to base their actions on the relativity-thinking model, meaning what may be right for one person may not be for another, dismissing the truth that consequences aren’t removed for rejecting God.

Sacred Out – Sin In

Today, what used to be evil is considered good. Evil doesn’t have to mean just wicked, but also malevolent, sinful, malicious, immoral, foul, revolting, and disgusting. We now have classrooms without prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance removed, creating a disconnect of pride and servitude to our country. Faith based family businesses are targeted or sued for being genuine to their faith because faith means living out God’s presence in all aspects of our lives, not just our private lives.

Today, our nation would rather ignore our neighbors, let alone love them. And the dollar bill drives our holiday seasons instead of family unity, leaving nothing sacred anymore. It is now evil in our culture to put a Christmas nativity scene, so the baby Jesus won’t be offensive. It is now evil to apologize. We’ll forsake restoring a relationship over correcting a wrong. Pride has gotten in the way and apologizing is viewed as a sign of a character flaw. And parents are far too busy to teach their children the godly value of saying thank-you.

A society can’t exist without structure, rules, boundaries, and principles. As church relevance drops in America, the churches influence also declines. Sadly, the torch the Statue of Liberty holds up to the heavens is dimming and she is losing her flavor.

The Torch of Freedom

The Bible offers structure for our lives, boundaries for protection, principles for living, basic rules for conduct, wisdom, and many other virtues. However, since the days of our founding fathers until present time, America has subtly estranged herself from its biblical roots and is now outside of the protection of the harbor. I recently read an article by Dr. Mike Evans inside the February 2016 issue of Friends of Zion magazine called, “Is America A Christian Nation?” he concludes his article with this sobering possibility:

“The graveyard of history testifies that God rejects nations that reject Him and His Word. Is God getting ready to reject us once and for all?”

Take Up the TorchLight

The Statue of Liberty’s torchlight is a symbol of freedom, showing its people the path of liberty. But the liberty that God intended for the citizens of America was for a different purpose. He gave us this beautiful nation, not for our own purposes and agendas, but for God’s. According to Galatians 5:13: “For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence…”(nrsv).

This freedom we are blessed with isn’t for following our fallen natures or acting in opposition to God’s standards for living. That is no freedom at all. That is actually being slaves to our fallen nature. True freedom is living to do right by God’s Word because there is protection in that – God’s protection.

If those of us who are Christ’s remnant allow our light to dim because our values and beliefs are in direct opposition of the worlds, the darkness of this world continues to grow and its reach becomes broader.

I began this article with John 17:16, but the verse before it, verse 15 is Jesus’ prayer for His children, and today’s remnant.

Take Up the Battle Cry

We are Christ-followers are called to be His vessels – to be that torchlight to show true freedom is godly living. God has given us this land as a blessing. Bible-believing Americans, we need to wake up and make good on that blessing. We need to take up the battle cry against the evil that is sweeping across our nation. We need to pray “against the rulers, against the authorities [Satan’s evil army] against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil…” (ESV). As the remnant, we don’t have the strength to stand on our own; we must rely upon the Lord’s strength. We get that strength through prayer. And we need to heed the warning in Proverbs 29:18:

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (kjv).

There is a correlation and a consequence for a nation in this verse. It describes a nation in upheaval. That nation is America. A country that removes God is a country that is overrun with crime, sin, corruption, and turning good into evil and sweet into bitter. We have lost our vision – a vision that was once admired by other countries. This vision was once a model for other countries to aspire to. God has a consequence for such a nation. It perishes. America, don’t forget there are countries that would, in an instant, elevate their god in our country, in our government, in our schools and in our churches – in place of the one true God of the Bible.

Yes, we live in the world, but like Jesus, not of it. I urge you to stand up for the Lord Jesus Christ. Take Him off the dusty book shelf and exalt Him. For I am still hungry for God’s blessing upon our land. Are you?

Blessings,

Lisa

 

Godly Wisdom vs. Human Wisdom

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Godly wisdom protects us on the road of life.

If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you” (James 1:5 nrsv)

The definition of wisdom according to the eleventh edition of the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary is the ability to “discern inner qualities and relationships through insight, good sense, judgment, a generally accepted belief, a wise attitude, or course of action.”

For the most part we would agree the above definition is accurate, but there are two flaws in it that I see. First, it lacks wisdom (understanding and insight) gained from the spiritual element, and second, a generally accepted belief doesn’t automatically qualify as wise living and decision making. Only seeking human solutions is operating in self-confidence. It isn’t sin to use human means to solve our problems, but it is sin to trust them more than God, to think they are better than God’s guidance, or to leave God completely out of the decision making process.1

 School of Hard Knocks

It’s true that we make sensible decisions and judgments from two sources: accumulated knowledge and experience. Worldly experience, whether good or bad is a prudent and intelligent teacher, and God can use our life experience as a rutter to steer us in a particular direction, but how do we make good decisions for difficult circumstances if we lack knowledge, and/or experience? We need the Holy Spirit for that. Providing wisdom is one of the Holy Spirit’s role.

God’s Rich Storehouse of Knowledge

The Holy Spirit will escort us into the knowledge we need. But we must do that intentionally. The key is to daily seek God to reveal His wisdom in all the areas of life we find challenging or in the opportunities we encounter. We need to seek His storehouse of wisdom deliberately and purposely – with hopeful expectation. When we do God will supply and He does so willingly or without reservation.

If you’re a Christ-follower, a generally accepted belief is not always the answer. There are numerous worldly perspectives that are in opposition to God’s Word and do not meet the criteria of ‘wise living.’ This is because God sees all the potential harm, whether physical or spiritual, such as temptation, or what is hidden from our understanding. Many of His precepts, those that are contrary to a worldly view, are there to protect us. If what we are trying to decide on is in direct disagreement to God’s Word, we can automatically rule that option out. The world will often adopt what is easy and convenient, but in my experience God doesn’t subscribe to just what’s convenient. It isn’t always convenient to obey God’s Word, but God blesses those who do.

Second Timothy 3: 16 says, “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work” (nrsv).

The Bible is the standard for testing everything else that claims to be true.2 It is our safeguard against false instruction and our source of guidance for how we should live.3 It is one thing to know what to do when God gives us the guidance we need, but it’s another thing to actually do it. And if that’s the case, we also ask Him to equip us to carry it through. “All the paths of the lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees” (Psalm 25:10 nrsv).

Blessings,

Lisa

Notes:

1 Bible Note for 2 Chronicles 16:9, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publisher, Inc., 1989).

2 Bible Note for 2 Timothy 3:16, Life Application Bible

3 Ibid.

To order my book, Faith Steps for Military Families, click here. If you’d like a set of prayer cards for our military members and military families, email me at info@lisanixonphillips.com. Be sure to leave your address for where to ship the prayer cards. Free shipping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Psalm 134 – What Does It Mean to Bless the Lord?

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Did you know that word for to "bless" is related to the Hebrew word for "knee."

Did you know that word for to “bless” is related to the Hebrew word for “knee.”

“Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD, who stand by night in the house of the LORD! Lift up your hands to the holy place, and bless the LORD. May the LORD, maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion” (Psalm 134 NSRV).

Psalm 134 is a psalm of thanksgiving. Written by King David, it is three short verses with a powerful call to bless the Lord. But what does blessing the Lord mean?

The Great Overseer

First, the word blessed (barukh) is related to the Hebrew word for knee (berekh), as is the word for blessing, (b’rakha), thus implying an association between humbling ourselves, (i.e. kneeling before God in recognition of His blessedness) and receiving personal blessing from Him. Simply, to bless the Lord is to acknowledge God’s goodness He has bestowed on us, as well as His exalted status. In short, blessing the Lord is thanking Him for being the great Overseer of our lives. Psalm 103 is just one psalm among many that praise God for His greatness. Check out these reasons for why we should bless the Lord:

  • His forgiveness. “…who forgives all your iniquity…” (v.3 NRSV).
  • His healing. “…who heals all your diseases” (v.3).
  • His kindness. “…who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy” (v.4).
  • His provision. “…who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (v. 5).
  • His justice. “The LORD works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed” (v. 6).
  • His mercy and grace. “The LORD is merciful and gracious” (v.8).
  • His patience. “…slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (v.8).
  • His compassion. “As a father has compassion for his children, so the LORD has compassion for those who fear him” (v. 13).
  • His steadfast love. “But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear (revere, honor, in awe of him)” (v.17).

We Are the Apple of His Eye

This psalm highlights God’s magnificent acts He will do on behalf of those who love Him with their lives as well as His inconceivable nature. Our list of blessing (thanking) the Lord ought to include His provision of health (v.3) even though He may not choose to heal every disease. Still, every healing does come from God. He is on the side of the helpless and extends justice for those oppressed. The Psalms of Ascent, which is what this psalm is, (Click here to learn about the Psalms of Ascent) record God’s miraculous feats of preserving the ancient Israelites from their enemies, as well as sin’s destructive nature. God is for us as well. We are highly prized. We are the apple of His eye (Zechariah 2:8). God is all-powerful, yet He is also patient, compassionate, and kind. This makes Him a perfect Father. He knows we are mere mortals; our lives are like grass “they flourish like a flower of the field; for the wind passé over it, and it is gone, and its place is no more” (vv. 15-16). Yet those who revere and obey Him, His love never ends. His nature and His ways can’t be compared with any other god. And His blessing remains upon those who are vigilant in their faith.

David’s list will encourage your heart and revitalize your appreciation of Him. It will also give you a fresh awareness of His presence in your life.  We are fragile children, but God’s care is mighty and eternal. He never takes His eye off of you.

Call to Action

As a Christ-follower, we are called to bless the Lord. Today, consider your life. Is it a reflection of His blessings? It’s important that we bless God back.

Blessings to You!

Lisa