Category Archives: Family

Navigating Troubled Waters?

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Competitive busines concept with businessman swiming among sharks in stormy seas

What troubled waters are you navigating through? Years ago while on a snow skiing trip with my dad, we got caught in a blizzard at the top of one of the trails at a Lake Tahoe ski resort. Because of the blinding snow, we couldn’t even see our gloved hands. Our vision was obscured and we just stood still until it passed.  In life, trials can do the same. They can obscure our reasoning and paralyze us. Thankfully, God has given us promises from His Word that help us find our way to the other side of a problem or crisis. But, He often wants something from us first.

  1. We need to be willing to wait on the Lord to instruct us. I recently heard the perfect definition for patience in waiting by Dr. Charles Stanley. Essentially, he said that being patient is the willingness to wait. So, you’d naturally conclude that impatience is the unwillingness to wait, but actually that isn’t quite the gist of it. Dr. Stanley went on to say that impatience is the inability to tolerate delays. Hands down, that is the best definition for unwillingness to wait that I’ve ever heard. When we pray and wait on God, with confidence  in Him, He will give us understanding of our situation. God sees the end from the beginning and knows all things, so He knows the path we are to take in order to get to the other side of our dilemma. We also need to be mindful that the way God will see us through is often not the same way we would take. Since His wisdom is infinite, it may be drastically different (Isaiah 55:8-9).

One of my favorite verses that I claim when I need direction is Psalm 32:8.  “I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” You can’t get it in any simpler terms. God offers to guide us with love and wisdom. Our job is to obey.

  1. God promises to show us how to use what we’ve learned from His Word to put it into practice. The Bible is like medicine–it only works when we apply it to the affected areas.1 Psalm 119:125 speaks to that. “I am your servant; give me understanding, so that I may know your decrees.” The best way to know what we are to do in a difficult situation, in addition to prayer, is to read God’s Word. This is because He often will teach us in such a way that it will reveal the relevance of Scripture so we can apply it to our situation.

     3. The Lord will Guide You as He Keeps You. Psalm 121: 5 says, “The Lord is your keeper;    the Lord is your shade at your right hand.” God tirelessly watches over those whose heart’s are His. Nothing can take His attention off of us and nothing will dissuade or prevent Him from keeping watch. In the same way, the Holy Spirit will guide our decisions by giving us spiritual promptings. But be careful, not all promptings are from God. Some can be from Satan or just from within yourself. Also, avoid taking Scripture out of context to fit your need. The best way to know whether a prompting is from God or not is to test it against Scripture. Does it agree with Scripture? If so, claim that Scripture for your situation. It is God’s promise.

            Are you trying to navigate your way through difficult seas? Find clarity and direction by using these promises so God can keep you in His channel.

Grace to you,

Lisa

Notes:

1 Bible note for Psalm 119:125, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA:, World Bible Publishers, Inc., 1989).

 

Notes:

1 Bible note for Psalm 119:125, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA:, World Bible Publishers, Inc., 1989).

5 Reasons to Contemplate Before Getting A Tattoo

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Are you contemplating a tattoo? Read this first.

Did you know that one in five adults in the U.S. will get a tattoo, according to the Harris Poll? Also, we know that tattoos are popular in the armed forces. But despite their popularity, should you get one? Here are five reasons to contemplate before getting a tattoo:

1.What’s my intention?  What’s driving your interest in getting a tattoo? Some reasons might be due to rebellion towards parents. If this is your sole purpose, it isn’t appropriate. It won’t prove to be effective. If you’re a teen and all your friends are getting tattoos, again, not a great reason to go and do the same. Is getting a tattoo really who you are? Be true to yourself. You may regret having that tattoo when you’re in a different stage of life. Is your motive simply as a means of self-expression–to show off your artistic talent to draw attention to yourself? Or are you using it to be a witness for Christ? Although a more worthy goal, remember there are other ways to glorify the Lord.

2. Keep Discretion and Humility in Mind – Think further down the road. If what you have tattooed would be seen by your future child(ren) is this really what you want revealed to them and the world? Tattoos in certain places bring attention to a particular area of the body, say the low back. Tattoos in these places do not cause us to think about our Lord. They direct our attention elsewhere. Allow modesty to guide you in your placement, size, type of message, etc.

3. Employment – Despite their popularity, there is still a social stigma around tattoos. Employers do take that into consideration. From the viewpoint of the employer, does your tattoo fit in with their values or the message they promote?

4. Tattoo Regret – A tattoo conveys a message. Your tattoos reflect what you value in this life. Are you proud of the message your tattoo conveys? If in doubt, don’t get it. Tattoo messages must be carefully thought out or in your latter years, that tattoo may become an embarrassment or an obstacle in some way in your life. As we age, we change. This change may mean we have no use for our tattoos we got when we were young because life has a way of changing our values.

5. To Glorify God – Although not the most effective way to use a tattoo, they can prompt a faith conversation. For example, in my previous article Tattoos – Are They Sinful,  I mention that a retired military Chaplain can use his tattoos to share his faith with teens or young people, while also conveying the message that Christians don’t look one certain way.

However desirable, don’t rush out and get a tattoo. For the most part they are permanent. In addition, they can bring on allergic reactions, infections, and diseases such as Hepatitis B and C. When getting inked, remember there’s a risk in contracting bacteria because you are exposing your own blood. Think long and deep before getting inked. The best advice is to talk this over with a trusted and seasoned Christian adult.

Blessings,

Lisa

If you would like to order a copy of my book, Faith Steps for Military Families click here.

If you’d like a signed copy of my book, email me at info@lisanixonphillips.com and we can connect via email. Thank you. Books are $10.00 each and this includes shipping. When you order a book, I will also include a set of my colorful prayer cards that also make excellent bookmarks. Makes a great gift idea!

Tattoos – Are They Sinful?

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What Does the Bible Really Say About Christians Getting Tattoos?

What Does the Bible Really Say About Christians Getting Tattoos?

The Air Force recently announced a change in their tattoo policy for service members. This new policy which takes effect February 1, 2017 will now allow both arm and leg sleeves. In addition, the Air Force is doing away with the “25 percent rule.” This rule stated that no more than 25% of a visible body part, say an arm or leg, could be tattooed. However, what hasn’t changed is having tattoos with inappropriate messages, whether wording or images and including racist or sexist tattoos. The regulation continues to forbid tattoos on head, neck, face, tongue, lips or scalp, according to LT. Gen. Gina Grosso, deputy Chief of Staff for the Air Force Manpower, Personnel and Services.1

For Christian service members, is it sinful to get a tattoo? What does the Bible tell us about tattoos and whether or not it is wrong? The most popular Scripture verse that addresses this concern is Leviticus 19:28:

“You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the Lord.”

Get the Whole Picture

If we take Leviticus 19:28 literally without taking into consideration the rest of this passage, without understanding the culture of that time, we would say that tattoos for Christian service members is not allowed. But is this what Leviticus 19:28 really teaches? First, here is the complete passage that includes the references to tattoos.

26“You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it. You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes. 27You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard. 28You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord. 29Do not profane your daughter by making her a prostitute, lest the land fall into prostitution and the land become full of depravity. 30You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.’”

In the above passage, God is addressing the people of Israel. These practices mentioned were habits of the Canaanites. Since the Israelites were God’s beloved people this command was specifically directed to the Israelites to protect them from being corrupted by the habits or customs of the Canaanites. God knew it would lead them towards the false gods of the Canaanites and ultimately draw them into sin. As you can see, tattooing is included in this pagan religion.  

When taken as a whole, this passage is referring to the practices of heathen people groups. The word ‘heathen’ refers to those people who didn’t acknowledge the one true God. The above practices referring to hair and beards go back to what the ancient Egyptians did. The Israelites while in Egypt were exposed to these cultural norms. God required His people to be separate from them, or to be set apart.

Pagan Customs

Verse 28 referring to making cuts on their body for the dead or getting tattoos is another pagan custom. The marking of bodies with tattoos or cuts was a custom done in respect for the dead, however, again, this was a custom the Israelites witnessed during their time in Egypt. So, with that basic understanding, what does this passage say about Christ-followers today? Do we conclude, like the Israelites did, that getting tattoos is sinful? Not so fast…

Christ Freed Us from Old Testament Law

New Testament Christians are not bound to Old Testament laws in order to have salvation in Christ. If we were then we’d also have to be bound to other laws of the Old Testament such as how we wear our hair, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, etc. This, however, doesn’t give us the license to now disregard the Ten Commandments because there are verses in the New Testament that speak to them.

“And he [Jesus] said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”’ Matthew 19:17

Additionally, we are still held accountable for moral laws such as lying, stealing, adultery, and cheating. Sabbath-keeping is the only commandment of the Ten Commandments that is not referenced in the New Testament.

According to Matt Slick, President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, “We see no New Testament commands that tell us to keep the sacrificial system, forbid work on the Sabbath, forbid the shaving of beards, or forbid tattoos, etc. Since we have died to the law and all things are lawful (except sin, of course), then the Christian is not under obligation to keep the Old Testament command not to get tattooed.” Remember, if tattooing is sin, then so are the other elements of this passage. (shaving of beards, working on the Sabbath, etc.),

Freedom in Christ Comes With A Warning

Because Christians are ‘free from the OT Law in Christ’ we don’t have to be unnecessarily worried about any ‘pagan association.’ However, Paul does give us one warning that we do have to observe. We shouldn’t exercise our freedom at the cost of hurting a Christian brother or sister. We must be sensitive to others spiritual and physical needs. Nothing we do should cause another believer to stumble. Simply, what we practice in this life must be for promoting His glory.

So, is it ok then for a Christian to get a tattoo? Yes and No. It boils down to the believer’s motives and opinions. Since tattooing is a permanent marking AND it comes with a particular social stigma, he or she needs to really consider if this is a right thing to do. The Christian needs to determine whether or not getting a tattoo will glorify God and be a good witness to non-Christians. Does the tattoo represent who you are in Christ or does the selection of tattoos merely represent self- expression or body art? Tattoos that glorify our Lord and Savior can be a powerful witness, prompting faith questions or sharing their life testimony, thus giving God the glory. For example, if a Christian is a retired military Chaplain and works with youth in his local church, his tattoos could be a starting point for powerful faith conversations.

One Final Thought…

And finally, those Christians that tattoo their bodies (or pierce their bodies or any other body modification) do not fall from a right standing before God. Since we are no longer under the law– we are in good standing with God. This is because we placed our trust in Jesus and accepted His death on the cross to pay for our sins.

“Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.” Galatians 3:24-25 (New Revised Standard Version)

If you’re considering getting a tattoo, come back and read part 2 of this article. A great deal of thought should go into the decision before getting a tattoo. Remember that there are Christians who feel strongly one way or the other about tattoos. Leave room in your heart for grace. 

Notes:

1 Oriana Pawlyk, “Air Force Relaxes Tattoo Policy, Allows Sleeves.” http://www.military.com/daily-news/2017/01/10/air-force-relaxes-tattoo-policy-allows-sleeves.html, (accessed 1/10/17).

If you would like to order a copy of my book, Faith Steps for Military Families here.

If you’d like a signed copy of my book, email me at info@lisanixonphillips.com and we can connect via email. Thank you. Books are $10.00 each and this includes shipping. When you order a book, I will also include a set of my colorful prayer cards that also make excellent bookmarks. Makes a great gift idea!

 

 

 

 

10 Prayers for Military Families

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Did you get the blessing?

Did you get the blessing?

The greatest thing you can do for today’s military families is to pray for them.

Prayer activates God’s manifestation and presence into that which we are praying for.

One key area to pray for is spiritual resilience. Spiritual resilience is the fruit, or the by-products of an abiding relationship with Jesus. It means the difference between simply reacting to adverse circumstances as opposed to working through them with God’s involvement.  When spiritual resiliency is present in military families faith makes a genuine difference in their lives and circumstances. Spiritual resilience positions the military family to rebound. Here are 10 prayers for military families:

Spiritual Growth

Having a weak spiritual foundation leaves a military family vulnerable to adverse circumstances. Pray that Christ’s power, His love, and His presence would be manifested in their lives. Pray for God to give them a hunger for the Lord. Ask the Lord to establish a stable and godly foundation in their home.  “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1).

Maintaining a Spirit of Praise

God’s Word shows us that there is great power in praise. Ask the Lord to give military families a praising tongue even when life is hard and things aren’t going well. “I will praise You, Lord, my God, with all my heart; I will glorify Your name forever” (Psalm 86:12). Ask God to remind them that when they pray, even in the most challenging circumstances, God’s power transforms them, their attitudes, and even their circumstances. Pray that God will show them that in giving God all praise the Holy Spirit moves in and brings new insights and a fresh anointing of inspiration and a greater awareness of God’s involvement in their daily lives.

God Provision for Strength

Pray that in times of weariness that God would be their Source of strength. Second Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the entire earth, to strengthen those whose heart is true to him…” Ask God for His Word to revive their hearts and refresh their spirits for renewed strength. Pray that God’s power would be sufficient to face each day in His strength and confidence. Ask God to add a measure of endurance during trials. “May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience” (Colossians 1:11).

God’s Blessing Upon Their Home

Pray that God would be in the establishment of their home, as well as in the building of the “lives” of the home. Pray that the hearts of each military family would come to revere (respect, honor, and awe) the Lord. “Happy [blessed] is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways. You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be happy [blessed], and it shall go well with you” (Psalm 128:1-2). Ask God for a lifetime attitude of reverence and awe of God to be genuine and evident. Pray that obedience to God’s Word would become a priority in their home, and that God would be an active participant in the life of the home, affecting circumstances to bring about His desire will. Pray for a spirit of unity and forgiveness to be present in their home.

Peace

Pray that military families would cast their cares and burdens upon Jesus. May they take these worries to Him in prayer.  Ask Him to protect their hearts from fear or dread. Pray that they will know that God is on their side. Ask God to encamp around their hearts when oppressed. “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9).

Contentment

Pray for a quiet trust of God for all of life’s unknowables.  Our humility from the standpoint of Who He is produces trust and when we quietly trust He gives us contentment. His Word satisfies and ruts out discontentment. Pray that military families will always seek God in all their ways. Ask Him to protect their hearts from wandering from His Word. 

An Umbrella of Protection

–As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people” (Psalm 125:1-2). Pray that God’s protection will be like that of the ancient days in which our strong and mighty God surrounded Jerusalem–protecting her. Pray God would also surround and protect military families stationed in all parts of the world.  Protect them from injury, danger, acts of evil, diseases, or calamities. “You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me” (Psalm 139:5). Ask God to also protect them by keeping their spiritual resolve strong. “…he will cover you with his pinions, [to restrain someone] and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler” [small shield worn on the forearm] (Psalm 91:4).

Military Marriages

Marriage is hard these days, but a military marriage is like no other with its multifaceted issues and concerns. Pray that military couples will walk in love seeking the good of the other, abandoning pride, anger, disrespect and self-seeking ways. Ask God to draw their heart’s close with a lasting commitment. Pray that they can walk in agreement with one another (Amos 3:3) whether home or deployed. Ask God to give them a heart that desires to honor their spouse. Ask God to maintain a loving attitude towards each other, sprinkled with grace and compassion. While there may be growth when apart, pray it is the kind of growth that adds life, blessing, and meaning to their union. And pray the Lord will maintain a strong spirit of unity within these marriages.

Maintaining a Positive Attitude

Pray that military families will embrace God as the One to place their hopes and expectations in. Ask God to strengthen them in their resolve and spirit to prevent bouts of doubt and lingering discouragement when lonely or insecure. Pray for the Holy Spirit to fill them with fresh hope and wash away any negative emotions. Ask the Lord to lift our military families from any pits of discouragement. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

Being God-Minded

 Pray for times of quiet reflection and meditation so that they can hear God’s spirit directing their lives. Grow in them a love for God’s Word and ask for God’s spirit to govern their human spirit so that they seek after Him and not the things of the flesh. Pray for God’s spirit to lead them into Christ-likeness. May they not “lean on their own understanding” (Prov. 3:5) but trust in Your divine leading. Pray they will walk in the light of God’s Word, so the eyes of their understanding will be enlightened and gain wisdom for how to live a life that pleases God.

See also my article Praying For Our Military here

If you would like to order a copy of my book, Faith Steps for Military Families here.

If you’d like a signed copy of my book, email me at info@lisanixonphillips.com and we can connect via email. Thank you. Books are $10.00 each and this includes shipping. When you order a book, I will also include a set of my colorful prayer cards that also make excellent bookmarks. Makes a great gift idea!

Lisa

  

  

 

Joy – It Isn’t What You Think

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Joy - It Isn't What You Think.

Joy – It Isn’t What You Think.

 Did you know that the words “joy” and “happiness” aren’t even related? Perhaps the reason why we partner the two together has more to do with the English language, namely, a poor translation of the word “joy” in the English language that misses the target of the original Greek definition. Indeed, joy and happiness are opposites. A right understanding of the Greek word “joy” will not only illuminate the difference between the two words, but we’ll discover another English word that is compatible for “joy”, and it offers another meaning to ponder on this Christmas.

Joy and Happiness are Not Compatible

 Have you ever considered why the word “happiness” is an imposter for the word “joy?” In addition to the two words not being related, consider their opposite meanings. In our materialistic culture, we married joy and happiness together. Our “happiness meter” fluctuates up and down depending on what is happening in our lives.

If we are getting what we want out of life and our circumstances are favorable, we consider ourselves happy, or joyful. And if our circumstances take a negative turn, likewise, we consider ourselves unhappy, or less joyful. The flaw with this understanding is that happiness is tied to emotions.

Word searches for “joy” produces words that describe feelings, or emotions-blissful, thrilled, elated, delighted, pleasant, gladness, and happiness. Therefore, emotions come and go and cannot be relied upon for experiencing genuine joy. In a nutshell, happiness has to do with getting, while joy is about giving. Did you get that? Joy has to do with giving….Interestingly, the word “joy” shares a root word with another important Christian word – grace.1

Christ-followers know that the definition of grace is the unmerited favor from our Lord Jesus Christ. Born with a sin nature, we can never earn grace, but out of God’s immense love for us, He has given Christians unmerited favor. This is because grace should prompt our hearts to respond with joy. Joy, then, is deep grace. And what are Christians called to do? They are to give grace to others. My family’s pastor Craig Laughlin of Marysville Church of the Nazarene explained it this way:

Joy is that fleeting moment as you witness small children opening presents on Christmas morning. This is a picture of unmerited favor. You, as parents, have purchased for them, or put something into their lives that they couldn’t possibly put into their own lives. They cannot earn it on their own.2

 Other examples of joy are: a child’s first step, an “A” on a child’s test, witnessing a troubled teen turn from a life of sin, serving meals to the homeless, stocking a food bank, using a spiritual gift to benefit someone else, and a restored relationship. Joy isn’t about what we get, but what we give away to others. Thus, joy is giving away grace.

Grace is in the parents who guide and encourage their baby to take her first step. Grace is the many hours parents pour into their children to do well in school. Grace is the parents guiding, directing, encouraging, training, and praying­‑pouring their energy into a troubled teen who decides to live God’s way. It’s that “something” we know they can’t possibly do for themselves. Grace (unmerited favor) was given and joy (grace) is the giver’s response. Joy is our response from what we experience when we give away grace. Christ wired us to give to others. Likewise, He also wired us to respond with joy. Consider the words the angel spoke to the shepherds in Luke 2:10: “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”(niv).

 Because of shorter life spans, the shepherds of those early days in all likelihood didn’t live to see Jesus grow up and start His ministry. The shepherds were told of the good news-that the Messiah had come, however, the joy they experienced wasn’t so much for themselves as it was for the benefit of their children and the generations that came after them. For these shepherds who had seen the Christ-child, they realized this baby would change the lifestyle of their descendants. They responded in grace – deep joy in giving away the life-changing announcement for all time. And their joy lasted all their days. Deep in their hearts, these shepherds knew the world would never be the same again.3

 If we, as parents, receive joy as the giver of gifts to our children, who cannot obtain these gifts for themselves, think of the joy God has over His gift of Jesus to us. What He gave to us is meaningful beyond measure­‑something we cannot put into our own lives or obtain for ourselves. The only appropriate response is joy.

Blessings,

Lisa

Notes:

1Pastor Craig Laughlin, “Joy-It’s Not What You Think,” www.MarysvilleNaz.org. (Accessed 20 Dec. 2014).

2Ibid.

3 Ibid.

 

God’s Cloak of Zeal

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We need the Cloak of Zeal to fuel our faith to serve our Lord.

We need the Cloak of Zeal to fuel our faith to serve our Lord.

The last six posts have been on the Armor of God. But did you know there is another piece of armor, not described by Paul in Ephesians 6? It’s called the Cloak of Zeal. Even though it isn’t with the other pieces of armor it is vital to know because it often determines the result of doing battle with Satan.

Consider this: A teenage boy completed a 13-month long sailing around the globe. He officially became the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe alone in his 36-foot boat, the Intrepid. No small feat, the accomplishment of this young man can be partially attributed to his own zeal, spurred on by the support of his sailing family.  No doubt Zac Sunderland’s family spent a lot of time sailing and not only did they pass their sailing skills to their son but also their passion (zeal) for this particular adventure.

Zac’s parents ensured that he had the best equipment. Still, Zac endured some very tough hardships while on his voyage. In 15-foot seas and gale force winds, he had broken rigging to repair as well as escaping  a potentially dangerous encounter with people that appeared to be pirates. Worrisome enough for experienced sailors, many of us would of thrown in the towel and headed home, but not Zac. He kept his heart and mind on the goal and achieved his dream. He is the youngest person under 18 to sail around the world solo.

What was it that spurred Zac on – to not give up? It was Zac’s zeal. Zeal is that special energy that fuels us to propel forward. It’s similar to the saying, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

The Cloak of the Roman Soldier

The purpose of the cloaks worn by the ancient armies had several uses. For starters, a cloak provided warmth. According to biblestudyguides.com, to make it waterproof, natural oils were applied to repeal the rain.  It also came in handy for a crude but provisional bed. Additionally, a cloak reduced the effect of the bitter cold, rain, and backaches from sleeping on the ground. We all know how little we get done when we don’t get a good night’s sleep or woke up with a horrible backache due to a worn out bed. Similarly, a cold, wet and tired soldier won’t be a productive or effective soldier.

What is Godly Zeal?

Plain and simple, zeal is the fuel that propels people towards their passion and purpose. For Believers, zeal is the fuel to carry out God’s will for their lives- some calling He has called them to do, but also includes a desire to want what God wants and to live a godly life. Take a look at Isaiah 59:17:

“For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.”

It is very hard to carry out God’s will or live in the purpose God has given us without the Cloak of Zeal. We’ll find ourselves missing the mark in our ‘good works’ because we lack the fuel, to be effective for Christ. Our zeal must be aligned with God’s will.

Can Zeal Ever Be Wrong?

The apostle Paul is probably our best example of a zealous servant of Christ, yet, before he became a servant, he used his zeal for the wrong purpose. He had been persecuting the early Christians. Once Jesus got ahold of his heart, Paul realized his zeal was in the wrong arena. Consequently, he surrendered his will to Christ’s will, Paul’s zeal found its godly purpose and resulted in bearing much fruit.

In part two of God’s Cloak of Zeal, I’ll point out some biblical examples of people who took a stand for zeal and did the unpopular thing.  If you would like to read any of the six Armor of God posts, click here.

Blessings,

Lisa

The Two Sides of the Sword of the Spirit

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Did you know that the ancient swords used in battle had two sides for two different functions?

Did you know that the ancient swords used in battle had two sides for two different functions?

As Believers, we know that the Sword of the Spirit is referring to God’s Word. It’s a weapon belonging to the Holy Spirit – and He wants us to use it.

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm…Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:13, 17).

The Ancient Swords

Did you know that the ancient swords used in battle had two sides for two different functions? Centuries ago swords were used to attack the enemy and to protect one’s self. It had two functions–as a defensive and offensive weapon. For this reason, a soldier had to learn how to use it. The ancient swords had two edges which helped to penetrate the enemy with ease as well as to cut in every direction, laying open the wounds of the foe.

In the same way, the Word of God is like the ancient sword. It too can reach and penetrate the heart, but it goes further than just penetrating vital organs. God’s Sword, His Word can also cut deeply revealing our emotions, feelings, thoughts, and the intentions of our hearts. This is why God Word says it is sharper than the ancient sword.

“Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

God’s Sword

Like the sword of the ancient soldiers, the Sword of the Spirit (God’s Word) also has two functions. God’s Word says the Sword of the Spirit is two-edged and it is also to be used defensively and offensively.  It is to be used to defend our faith as well as offensively to pull down strongholds and proclaim the truth of the Bible. It is the Holy Spirit Who reveals the truth to us and the Holy Spirit is our help during spiritual warfare.

Strongholds are a serious matter to the Lord. According to www.GreatBibleStudy.com , “a strong hold is a faulty thinking pattern based on lies and deception. Deception is one of the primary weapons of the devil, because it is the building blocks for a stronghold. What strongholds can do is cause us to think in ways which block us from God’s best.”

Besides being the longest psalm in the Bible, Psalm 119 is a beautiful example of the Sword of the Spirit.

 I cling to your decrees, O Lord; let me not be put to shame. I run the way of your commandments, for you enlarge my understanding…”Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart…”Turn my heart to your decrees, and not to selfish gain. Turn my eyes from looking at vanities [worthless things] give me life in your ways. (vv.31-32, 34, 36-37).

Because of the destructive nature of strongholds, it is no wonder Satan resorts to the tactic of casting doubt on the Truth of God’s Word. He did it to Adam and Eve in the garden and he still uses this tactic today because it still works.

Pick Up Your Sword

We can’t allow ourselves to become complacent in our faith; we should be training ourselves in God’s Word–reading, learning and committing to memory Scripture. Our Sword , God’s Word does not prepare us to defend our faith if it is never opened and read. How can we defeat the devil in spiritual warfare if we do not train ourselves in how to use the Sword (God’s Word)?

Begin by opening up to Psalm 119 and experience the wisdom, guidance and its truth. God’s Word makes us wise by allowing what His Word teaches us to guide us.

Next: Have you ever heard of the Cloak of Zeal? The Roman army wore it. Although not part of Paul’s pieces of armor in Ephesians 6, it is mentioned in Isaiah and is no less an important piece to put on. I’ll explain what it is and the meaning behind the cloak.

Blessings,

Lisa

Are You Wearing God’s Helmet?

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Are You Being Protected by God's Helmet of Salvation?

Are You Being Protected by God’s Helmet of Salvation?

We are now ready for the fifth piece of God’s armor as explained in Ephesians 6:10-17–the Helmet of Salvation. For the previous article on the Armor of God, click here.  The most obvious purpose of the Roman’s helmet was to protect the head. Most of the helmets were constructed of metal and sometimes included two additional pieces: a protective plate for the cheeks and a metal piece to cover the back of the neck.

But how is the helmet linked to salvation? First of all, we need to acknowledge that our minds are modern day battlefields. How well we perform at renewing our minds with God’s Word will determine whether we are wearing the helmet or not. First Thessalonians 5:8-9 offers insight:

But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.

You probably have noticed when watching biblical movies depicting brutal war scenes that the last piece of armor to put on was the helmet–only then was the soldier considered ready for battle. Not wearing the helmet would of been a fatal mistake.

Like the helmet, our salvation is supposed to be impenetrable, but only when we put it on. Think of salvation as an ongoing state of being, rather than one event in time. The connection between the helmet and salvation reveals to us that Satan’s blows are meant to destroy the Christian’s confidence and security in Christ. Like a helmet that continually protects, we must also continually protect our brains from worldly influences. Philippians 2:12 says,

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

Hope. Sacrifice. Salvation

In the spiritual realm, we must be continually cultivating our faith. This ‘working out’ our salvation  shields the mind from attacks of confusion that would cause a Christian to remain in a state of doubt and deception.  When we’re working out our faith, God will reward such faith. The helmet also offers hope – hope that originates from our heavenly Father doesn’t break or decay. God’s form of hope is permanent, unlike worldly hope that is fleeting– His promise of salvation is also permanent– made possible only by the sacrifice that Jesus made. Lastly, Jesus’ sacrifice also is permanent. It will never become irrelevant or obsolete. Hope, Sacrifice and Salvation are three sure treasures that won’t disappoint. Put your faith into what is the only sure thing, because He is the way, the Truth, and the Light.

Faith Helmets

However,  we run the risk, when not wearing our faith helmets to be blindsided by discouragement and doubt. One way Satan does this is by bringing to the surface all that is wrong or negative in our lives. This has the potential to cause us to lose our confident (trust) in our heavenly Father. Wearing our spiritual helmets is vital for protecting our brains, which is the control center for our bodies. By wearing the Helmet of Salvation we are better protected to survive, and spiritually speaking, to be victorious against Satan’s attacks. God will enable us to reject doubts that arise in the circumstances of our lives and will reward our faith with more faith.

Salvation as a Treasure

An aspect of our helmet of salvation is that when we perceive our salvation as a treasure, we more often tend to live a life pleasing to the Lord. This zeal for the Lord extinguishes many of Satan’s fiery darts. But how can we keep our zeal without working out our salvation? When we’ve programed our minds to think on God’s Word and simultaneously work out our salvation on a daily basis, we deliberately choose to wear our helmets–and this honors Christ. (Philippians 4:8).

Pray this prayer for the Helmet of Salvation and as you pray, visually picture yourself putting God’s Helmet of Salvation on your head.

 Lord Jesus Christ

Protect me from those who plan evil against me.

Your Word says in Psalm 140:7: “O LORD, my Lord, my strong deliverer, you have covered my head in the day of battle. I trust that You will stand by me. Help me to take every “proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God” captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). Help me to fix my thoughts on You and to the honorable task of working out my faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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