Tag Archives: family blessing

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

  

  

 

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

Have You Thanked God for Future Blessings?

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Have You Ever Thanked God for Future Blessings?

Have You Ever Thanked God for Future Blessings?

I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Genesis 12:2-3

Did you know there is a Thanksgiving Day story in the book of Genesis?1 It’s tucked in chapter 12 and very easy to miss. It reveals Abram thanking God for future blessings. The chapter opens with God promising Abram (later becomes Abraham) that He would make a great nation out of him. God’s promise:

In order for this promise to become a reality, God required something of Abram. Abram had to obey God and go where God instructed him. That meant leaving his home and moving to a new land, called Canaan. Abram complied and he and his wife, Sarai (who later becomes Sarah) took all that they owned and traveled to the land of Canaan.2

Upon their arrival in Canaan, “the LORD appeared to Abram, and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land”’(v. 7). “From there he moved on to the hill country on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the LORD and invoked [petitioned] the name of the LORD” So he [Abram] built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him” (V.8).

Past

Many religions built altars for sacrifices, but with God’s people, building an altar was not just about sacrifices. The altars also represented communion with God, prayer, worship, memorializing special encounters with Him, and in Abram’s case, a visual reminder of God’s promise. For Abram, blessing God in return was giving thanks back to God.

Present

Today, we also give thanks to God for our blessings. We don’t build altars, but we do make a traditional meal, along with a thanksgiving prayer commemorating God’s blessings in our lives and relationships.  We give thanks for the blessings we’ve received.

Future

But have you ever considered giving thanks for future blessings? If you didn’t catch it, this is exactly what Abram did. He didn’t simply give thanks for blessings he already received, but also for the blessings that were to come in the future. How could he do this? Because God made a covenant (promise) with Abram. He promised certain things would take place and Abram knew he could trust God’s spoken word.

But there’s more. Not only did Abram give thanks for future blessings he hadn’t received yet, but he didn’t live long enough to see the future blessings God promised!3 Abram didn’t live to see the Promised Land that God assured Abram’s descendants. But Abram still gave thanks for those blessings anyway, because He knew His God always kept His promises.

Call to Action

Giving thanks to God should be a normal spiritual discipline for Christ-followers. Feeling a sense of gratitude is pleasing, but expressing it to our heavenly Father takes it up a notch. Telling God thank You is gratitude expressed.

This Thanksgiving, while you’re thanking God for the blessings you and your loved ones have received, why not also give thanks in advance for those blessings yet to be realized in the future, even if it means you might not be around to witness them.

Grace and Blessings to You this Thanksgiving,

Lisa

Notes:

1 Craig McLaughlin, Pastor of Marysville Church of the Nazarene, 2014

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

 

Three Subtle Attacks on Military Marriages

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A sailor kissing his new wife.

Use your marital struggles to grow together not further apart.

In 1987 I was a new Navy wife–straight from the land of Oz. And I didn’t know the first thing about the Navy lifestyle; There are no warships in Kansas! So, when I moved to California and met and later married my husband, Ray, I became a member of the larger military family and Uncle Sam became my father-in-law. Thanks to my friend, Vernel, a Navy wife I met at my new job upon arriving in California, she offered a quick lesson one Saturday afternoon on Navy life 101. I learned to expect occasional squalls between my husband and I brought on by rotational deployments with following seas of emotional anxieties. I realized there would be repeated adjustments, unique challenges unlike traditional marriage, intermittent miscommunication, with large doses of trust a certain requirement. On the up side, moments of well-deserved joy at homecomings would be the pinnacle of pride and honor in our beloved military member, all to say this lifestyle is worth it. Either way, I embraced my new role as a supportive Navy wife, determined not to throw up the white surrender flag when the stormy seas crashed in.

Marriage is hard in the 21st century, but a military marriage is not for those with one-sided expectations or a casual commitment. Like a warship undergoing sea trials to test the limits of the workings and maneuverability to determine its seaworthiness, there are also difficult hardships inherent in  military marriages. These challenges will test a military marriage to see whether or not it is seaworthy. Three of the top concerns for today’s military marriages are outlined below.

Selfishness. Last year while driving to work one morning I heard that selfishness is the number one destroyer of relationships. John Paul II said, “The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort, and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.” In any marriage, selfishness is a deterrent to a lasting relationship, but in a military marriage, its tolerance is short-lived, potentially sinking your military marriage soon after it departs the pier. Other than infidelity, selfishness left unaddressed, is the fastest channel to sabotaging your marriage, deeming it unworthy for a sea-faring relationship.

There is a new viewpoint out there in our marital culture. Dr. Brad Wilcox, the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, has written about this new perspective of marriage and its enemy, selfishness. “In the new psychological approach to marriage, one’s primary obligation was not to one’s family but to one’s self; hence, marital success was defined not by successfully meeting obligations to one’s spouse and children but by a strong sense of subjective happiness in marriage–usually to be found in and through an intense, emotional relationship with one’s spouse.1

This new view, contrary to the Christian belief of marital love, which highlights Christ’s love for the church, involves freely giving of one’s self to his or her spouse, is short on roots of generosity but deep in self-serving motives and entitlement. One way to stop or prevent selfishness is to focus on spiritual readiness. Instead of asking, “what will make me happy and fulfilled in my military marriage?” ask, “what will make us blessed and fulfilled in our military marriage?”

Unwarranted Expectations. Like selfishness, having idealistic expectations will send tempests into your marriage. Young military marriages in particular will benefit from recognizing that your military spouse has a job unlike most civilian jobs. Even on shore duty, he or she can’t be expected to always be available for wedding anniversaries, children’s birthdays, or even funerals for in-laws. Although the military understands the importance and value of these milestones and events, they can’t appease every request, nor can they be expected to. They must continually balance the needs of the military with military morale and sensitivity to family. I recall halfway into my husband’s military career, he was underway three consecutive wedding anniversaries. I was disappointed, but when I reflect back, was there really anything he could do about it? Try the following to increase the sea-worthiness of your military marriage:

  • Focus on the purpose and value of faith and discuss together whether or not your expectations are warranted and fit the example of faith Christ modeled.
  • Resist the urge to punish your spouse for what he or she can’t change or control.
  • Refuse the impulse to blame your spouse for being in the military.
  • Comparing your military marriage and family’s rhythm and schedule to that of civilian marriages only creates discontentment and plants negative thought patterns that the military lifestyle isn’t honorable service. Even in the civilian sector, there are unattractive job requirements. Albert Einstein once said, “There are two ways to live; you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”

Deception and Distrust. These two undesirable traits are linked. If there’s deception, distrust soon follows. In  military marriages, getting to the first base of trust between you and your spouse is a must. Trust is a raw material that has to be cultivated. Trust is the cornerstone of marriage. It is what binds and links the other walls–unconditional love, commitment, transparency, communication, and honesty together. Conflict is inevitable in marriage. And our jobs as marriage partners is to navigate through trust issues, with sound resolutions, not around them, believing they will fade away on their own. Otherwise, the same storm returns over and over again, threatening to shipwreck your marriage. For trust issues related to infidelity, a couple can’t go wrong with biblical counseling. It may be a needed first step. Doing so will take hard work. There are no easy fixes, but if you’re committed it can lead to necessary discovery and growth. Pastor Chip Ingram, author, and radio host of Living on the Edge said about marriage, “conflict is an opportunity to grow.” Other ways to build trust are:

  •  Be transparent – While on deployment or even short underway periods, be emotionally responsible with your spouse to maintain trust. Share your day, the good and the bad. If you’re the spouse at home, tell your husband or wife what you did that day or week, where you went, people you met with, the money you spent, the bills you paid as well as those you forgot to pay. If you’re the spouse underway, do the same. If on a port call, share the places you went to, venture out in groups with the same sex, how much money you spent, and interesting events you encountered.
  •  Forget being right or wrong. We’ve all been there, but there comes a time when this mindset has to end if what is truly wanted is a healthy and working marriage. Strive for solutions that steer you in the direction of unity.
  •  Reconfirm your commitment to your spouse throughout the deployment. Think of ways that honestly convey emotional trust. Start with “I appreciate that you ________________ (fill in the blank).
  •  When failure happens, don’t give up. If trust was breached, it’s normal to feel hurt and want to shut the offending spouse out. However, if you’re willing, let your spouse know he or she can earn your trust back, but genuine changes that bear results must happen. Put accountability steps in play, but be realistic about time frames. Seek out a counselor trained in dealing with military marriages. Rebuilding trust takes time on the part of both spouses.

 Unfortunately, in a military marriage there are no sea-trials to determine if your marriage will be seaworthy. Once married, the marriage must depart from the pier and the challenges and complexities of this military lifestyle will prove its readiness. But with the support of Family Readiness Groups (FRG), churches that offer a military ministry, and keeping your military marriage as a high priority will help ensure it is lasting and fulfilling.

Blessings,

Lisa

Lisa Nixon Phillips is a retired Navy wife and author of Faith Steps for Military Families – Spiritual Readiness Through the Psalms of Ascent. Visit Lisa at www.LisaNixonPhillips.com and check out her blog page for additional articles on the military lifestyle.

You can also find me on facebook at www.facebook.com/faithstepsformilitaryfamilies.

 Notes:

1 Richard P. Fitzgibbons, “The Selfish Spouse/Relative, www.maritalhealing.com/conflicts/selfishspouse.php (accessed 17 June 17, 2014).

 

Military Family: Unity is Key to Spiritual Readiness

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Book_Cover_for_Faith_Steps_for_Military_Families

How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity. It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes. Psalm 133:2

 If you’re familiar with King David’s story, you know that he was probably a better ruler than a parent. He triggered a string of unfortunate consequences when he sinned with Bathsheba. To make matters worse, he tried to cover it up by having her husband, Uriah, killed in battle. Even though God forgave David, He didn’t hold back David’s consequences. “Thus says the Lord: ‘I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house…”’ David’s consequences included a tumultuous home. His son Absalom plotted to overthrow him, David’s other son, Amnon, raped his half-sister, Tamar, then Absalom took revenge two years later and killed Amnon. It isn’t hard to see why David’s home starved for unity.

I can’t help but wonder if David wrote Psalm 133 while enjoying a rare moment in his household in which things had quieted down, his family members were getting along for however brief it might have been, and he reflected on how sweet unity is “when kindred live together in unity” (verse 1).

Because spiritual unity was rarely a part of my home growing up, I can relate to David’s desire and appreciation for harmonious relationships. At the time I left home for college, many of my family relationships laid in ruins. And the devastation extended several generations deep. Disunity had a strong foothold. When my husband, Ray, and I began our family, nurturing a spirit of unity in our military home became paramount. My heart’s desire was to stop the cycle of disunity that began with the three generations before me.

 Let’s see what golden nuggets are tucked in this beautiful psalm.

 In verse 2, David makes a comparison. It says, “It [unity] is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes.” Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Its purpose was to bless someone for a particular calling. Aaron was Israel’s first high priest. He was anointed with oil for his new role. Recall that Mary anointed Jesus before His death on the cross. Once she broke the jar open, the sweet fragrance permeated the air. Likewise, when we live in spiritual unity with our own families our homes are blessed with the sweet fragrance of harmonious relationships.

 Unity also serves another purpose. David provides a hint in the second part of verse 2. It says: “…running down on the beard of Aaron…running down over the collar of his robes.” Oil spilling over Aaron’s beard and running down over his robes conveys the idea of spreading out to others. Thus, when unity is present in our homes, it multiplies and unifies. What happens when we unite? We become one, but stronger.  A spirit of unity also deepens our resolve. This resolve is that tough inner edge to persevere; it is what aids in building resilience for those hard days of military life. Psalm 133: 2 provides us with a beautiful illustration of what a blessed home looks like.

 When unity is the prevailing rhythm and energy of your military home, it not only multiplies, by extending to others, but it reaches down to successive generations-to your children to be lived out in their homes.

 Next, we’ll unpack the meaning of a unique metaphor in our final verse of Psalm 133 that also includes an interesting geography lesson revealing how to maintain a spirit of unity. You don’t want to miss part 2.

Blessings,

Lisa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He is Who He Says He Is

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Do You Say He is Who He Says He Is?

Do You Say He is Who He Says He Is?

Exodus 3:14 says: “God says to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’”  Simply stated, He [God] is who He says He is. We live in a time period in which society embraces relative thinking. Basically, that means if someone doesn’t believe in an idea, concept, premise, or in someone, or something, then it doesn’t exist. They may even go so far as to say, “Well, it may be true for you, but it isn’t for me.”

 As Christians we must never forget that when we celebrate Christmas, we are saying to the world that not only is Christ our Savior and God’s Son, but that God also exists.  We acknowledge that we are also celebrating the God who made human beings, the world, and heaven. But wait! There’s more! God’s Word also says that He put eternity in our hearts–meaning that we sense that life goes on beyond this present existence.1 We find that truth in Ecclesiastes 3:11. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart…”

Even though there will always be people who will take the modern “relative” viewpoint–that God doesn’t exist, it doesn’t change the position God has. He is who He says He is. And He will always remain that way. God is permanent. God is sovereign–an absolute.  And He is holy. “…for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name” (Luke 1:49).

 Jesus is our Lord and Savior whether He is recognized as such or not. But what God is concerned about is whether or not we are placing Him as the Lord over our lives. The key point here is that if we fail to give Him first place in our hearts, the circumstances of our lives and in our homes, we are in jeopardy of missing out on the blessings He desires to bestow upon us.

Blessings to you this Christmas season,

Lisa

 Notes:

1 Bible Note for Ecclesiastes 3:11, English Standard Version Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008).

Ask God First

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Who do you go to first in making a decision?

Who do you go to first in making a decision?

 

Who do you go to when you need help with making an important decision? Do you ask God first? Or do you usually talk to your spouse, family, friends, even coworkers first? Or do you seek out your pastor as a last resort if you’re still unclear of what to do? Jeremiah 33:3 says:

 “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known” (NRSV).

 Don’t Rely on Guesswork

Jeremiah was a prophet–God’s spokesman to Judah. God tasked him with confronting the people of Judah about their sin. The basic message God ask Jeremiah to do was, “repent and turn to God.” As Babylon, Egypt, and Assyria struggled for world dominance, Judah found itself in the middle of this triangle.1 Even though Jeremiah prophesied for 40 years declaring God’s messages of doom, nobody listened. And Judah was eventually destroyed and the people were carried off to Babylon. They failed to heed to Jeremiah’s warnings.

God spoke to Jeremiah many times over many years, but Jeremiah’s job was to determine what God wanted him to do each day.2 It is the same with us. We have God’s Word and it is filled with His messages to us. When we have to make an important decision, like which orders should I take (if there’s a choice), should I reenlist or take that civilian job opportunity, buy that house my husband and I really love, or wait? And even should I ask my girlfriend to marry me?

 Rely on the Lord

Instead of going to our friends, coworkers, or family with our dilemma, we are to go to God first. That’s what Jeremiah did and he was found to be faithful. We can ask, “God, what do You want me to do?” Then explain your situation. He already knows what is best and He is faithful to answer.

King Jehoshaphat also went to God first. His kingdom was on the verge of being invaded. The armies of the Moabites and the Ammonites were coming against Jehoshaphat for battle. Deeply distraught, he alerted his people to seek God’s help. In not knowing what to do, Jehoshaphat sought God first. “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you”3

 (2 Chronicles 20:12). God heard this king’s humble prayer and God destroyed their enemies.

Call to Action

Instead of fretting about a pending decision, seek the Lord through His Word and in prayer. It’s entirely possible that after going to Him first, He may use others to direct your steps. Ask Him what your next step may be. He may not give you the entire picture, but He will give you your next step. Take that step of faith, trusting Him for the rest. Don’t make the mistake and decide your course of action first, then ask God for His blessing. Just ask, “Lord, what is it that You want me to do? This is the best course of action because His plans already have His blessings. Like King Jehoshaphat, when we follow God’s plan, we’ll have victory.

 Blessings,

Lisa

 

Notes:

1 Bible Note for Jeremiah 1.2,2, The Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publisher, Inc. 1989).

2 Ibid.

3 Lisa Nixon Phillips, Faith Steps for Military Families–Spiritual Readiness Through the Psalms of Ascent   (New York, NY: Morgan James Publishing, 2014), 19.

Military Family: Unity is Key to Spiritual Readiness – Part 2

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Are we wearing the garment of unity in our military homes?

 

It [unity] is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion.

Psalm 133:3

In my previous article, we learned about the metaphors and their meanings in Psalm 133:1-2 and their importance for our military families–namely, how unity spreads, unifies, and builds resolve–that necessary grit to overcome the challenges of the military lifestyle.

Today, we’ll unpack the meaning of verse 3. David, our psalmist, doesn’t want us to miss the all-important takeaway. This is the golden nugget of the entire psalm. Verse 3 says, “It [unity] is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion.” There is an interesting geography lesson that makes this psalm more meaningful.

David is describing two mountains: Mount Hermon and Mount Zion. Mount Hermon is the tallest mountain in northern Israel. It stands approximately 9,000 feet tall and creates the morning dew. Mt. Zion, located in Jerusalem, is a mere 2400 feet tall. Yet, the dew manufactured over Mt. Hermon falls on both, even though these two mountains are 145 miles apart.

 Additionally, these two mountains can also represent the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. Recall in the Bible that after King Saul died, Israel split into two kingdoms. The tribes of Israel struggled with conflict and ultimately their disunity split the nation in half. Their struggle went as far back as the patriarch Jacob–each tribe going after its own objectives and separating from the rest. Here’s our golden nugget: It was David’s desired that like the dew that fell over the two mountains, he longed for unity to fall on both kingdoms, so the Lord could bless both. Thus, Psalms 133 provides us with three great illustrations for our families.

 1). Unity spreads, unites, and multiplies – Like the oil that ran down Aaron’s head, beard, and collar, unity that is present in our homes is contagious. It has the power to influence other members of our homes. It multiplies by spreading to successive generations.

2). Unity brings blessings – Like the dew that falls on both mountains, blessings can fall on our families and our children’s families, and

3). Mt. Hermon symbolizes God – Like Mt. Hermon that manufactures the dew, likewise, God is the maker and sender of the blessings of unity.

Psalm 133 is a vivid portrait of God’s desire that His children live in unity. And when we do, He blesses us. He doesn’t want our homes divided by disunity, each member seeking its own agenda and self-seeking ways apart from the others. His desire was that like the oil that ran down from the head, to the beard and to the collar of the robe, sanctifying and unifying his spirit to Jesus’ spirit, so today Christians are one body, unified by one Spirit.

Spiritual unity then, is one aspect of the Holy Spirit and when we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, we are then able to put the garment of unity on. I think it’s possible that King David learned a few lessons about unity, albeit the hard way with poor parenting, but this only made his appreciation and desire for unity all the greater.

 Psalm 133 was David’s hope that his kingdom people would love God and seek after a spirit of unity–to bring two separate kingdoms together under one Headship to be the recipients of God’s blessings. This same spirit of unity is what brings the hearts of your family together today, establishing the spiritual energy of your home to persevere constant fluctuations common to our unique lifestyle. Ephesians 4:3 is our walking papers. We are to “make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (nrsv). In doing so, God blesses us with harmonious relationships.

Blessings,

Lisa

Lisa Nixon Phillips is a retired military wife who believes that faith and prayer make a lasting difference in the lives of military families. She combines her warm and gentle approach with her passion to mentor military wives and mothers of today. She enjoys leading women’s Bible studies and helping women grow in their faith. Lisa simply enjoys being a source of spiritual encouragement pointing them to Jesus and His Word. She hopes her experiences as a former military wife will inspire them to seek God while living out a difficult lifestyle. She is currently pursuing her credentials to be a Christian Life Coach with an emphasis on military families through the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC). Lisa writes, speaks, and blogs on themes that address the military lifestyle at www.LisaNixonPhillips.com. Lisa’s book, Faith Steps for Military Families releases May 1, 2014. To connect with Lisa on Facebook, go to www.Facebook.com/faithstepsformilitaryfamilies and on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/lisanixonphilli

War (What God’s Word Says About It)

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Smaller size Bible on top of Flag

What is God’s perspective on war?

War. It’s been going on for centuries. Just like in the days of the Old Testament, countries today still invade and take over other countries. It’s the same purpose, just a different century.

The first recorded war was in Genesis 14. And not surprisingly, it was over money. It was customary in those days that a city that was conquered paid money, called a tribute, to the king that overthrew that city. In the first recorded war five cities, including Sodom and Gomorrah paid tribute to King Chedorlaomer for twelve years. However, those five cities decided they would withhold Chedorlaomer’s tribute money. “In the thirteenth year they rebelled” (Gen. 14:4). They joined forces and rebelled against King Chedorlaomer. This kind of rebellion didn’t sit well with Chedorlaomer so he retaliated. He joined forces with four other eastern kings. What fueled his anger? By refusing to pay the tribute, the king realized this would have a devastating effect to the territory known as the “way of the kings” which was the corridor of commerce between Egypt and the four eastern kingdoms.1 Whoever controlled this land bridge maintained a monopoly on international trade.2 In retaliation, King Chedorlaomer overtook the city of Sodom, carrying away its people and their possessions.

But who doesn’t love the underdog! Who doesn’t love the one who comes in and saves the day–turning the tide of the outcome. That person was Abram, later called Abraham. Abram was actually a warrior. In fact, Abram, wouldn’t of even been involved in this first war if it wasn’t for his nephew Lot. Lot was living in Sodom when King Chedorlaomer conquered it. Like the others, Lot and his family, along with all their possessions were carried off as captives. Abram took 318 fighting men and charged after Chedorlaomer solely with the purpose of retrieving his nephew and his family.  So what does the Bible say about war and the military?

God and His Military

We see God directly involved in establishing a military in the book of Numbers 1:2-3. “The Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai,… ‘Take a census of the whole congregation of Israelites, in their clans, by ancestral houses, according to the number of names, every male individually; from twenty years old and upward, everyone in Israel able to go to war…”’ From this census, we can assume that God revers organization and considers the cost of any military endeavor a wise course of action. Moses counted the Israelites twice.1 The first census organized the people into marching units to better defend themselves. It was important to know how many fighting men Israel had so they could determine their overall military strength.

 On a side note, the organized census also provided genealogical records. As it turned out, the first census had a total of 603,550,000 fighting men all from the twelve tribes of Israel.2 The second census takes place in 2 Samuel 24: 1:2 and it prepared the Israelite army to conquer the promise land.3 It’s easy to see that God not only instituted a strong military, but His military agendas played an important role in carrying out His will. God used war and the Israelite army throughout the course of Israel’s history. God’s warriors, men like Moses, Joshua, and David were His instruments, to carry out His plans. And He gave them His blessing. For King David, God gave him victory in every battle.4 “He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze” (Psalm 18:34). David had victories over the Jebusites, the Philistines, Hadadezer of Zobah, the Syrians, the Edomites, and the Ammonites–all from the book of 2 Samuel.5

In Acts 10 is the story of Cornelius, a Roman soldier, who was the first Gentile convert as a soldier.6 Being a Christ-follower, combined with military service, is highly regarded in the Bible.7 If this were not so, how could we explain the portrayal of David, also a soldier, as “having a heart after God”?8 We know that God highly esteemed David, a brilliant warrior, and blessed his military efforts. And in Matthew 8:5-13 when Cornelius approached Jesus and asked Him to make his servant well, Jesus wasn’t disheartened or try to discourage Cornelius from having a military career. God is Sovereign and this means He doesn’t play favorites. Cornelius imparted personal integrity into his everyday duties as a high-ranking soldier.9 Even the Jews, who despised the Romans, respected this godly Gentile warrior who honored God and in return God honored him.

God is still involved in the military affairs of countries today. Nothing escapes His attention. And like He uses other aspects of events on earth to carry out His will, He also uses the world’s military campaigns of today to bring about His purposes. No country, even America, can thwart His will and plan. The Bible, even though it is predominately God’s love story to you and me, is also a military book.10 If God felt it was necessary to institute an organized military in the fourth book of the Bible, then a strong American military, in which its service is conducted with biblical character, integrity, and honor is a blessed occupation. And like the Jews who respected Cornelius, we, too, ought to show our respect for those who humbly serve under the supreme commander-in-chief. And like Cornelius, God will honor our military members today for their honorable service.

Blessings,

Lisa

Notes:

1 Bible Note for Numbers 1:2-3, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible

  Publishers, Inc., 1989).

2 Bible Note for Numbers 1:20-46, Life Application Bible

3 Bible Note for 2 Samuel 24:1-3, Life Application Bible

4 Bible Note for Psalm 18:34, Life Application Bible

5 Ibid.

6 Ron Knott, “God and the Military,” www.ronknott.net/id29.html (accessed 6/10/14).

7 Lisa Nixon Phillips, Faith Steps for Military Families, (New York, NY: Morgan James

  Publishing, 2014), 144.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid.

10 Ron Knott, “God and the Military