Tag Archives: prayer warrior

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.

 

Breastplate of Righteousness – Are You Putting It On?

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

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

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

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

Goals are not reached without a steadfast heart.

A Pledge to Devotion to Commitment

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

Breast-plate of Righteousness: Our Heart and Bowels

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

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

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

Satan’s Goal is to Destroy the Breastplate of Righteousness

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

Breastplate of Righteousness Becomes a Fortress

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

 Blessings,

Lisa

Notes:

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

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

 

The Belt of Truth and the Presidential Campaign

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Belt of Truth Shields Us in its Freedom

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

Belt of Truth Makes Us Ready

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

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

Truth Directs Us

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

Put on the Belt of Truth and Pray

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

Lisa

Click here to order Faith Steps for Military Families.

Penned Prayers

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When was the last time you wrote your prayers down in a prayer journal?

Recording our prayers in a journal offers three benefits.

A journal is a place where we give expression to the fountain of our heart, where we can unreservedly pour out our passion before the Lord. -Donald S. Whitney

Ask yourself, when was the last time you wrote your prayers out using a prayer journal and a pen? If you’ve ever studied the book of Psalms, you’ve likely noticed many of them are penned prayers. You may have also noticed that many of them were written by King David at a time when he fled from his son, Absalom, who rallied up an army in an attempt to overthrow him.

“O God, you have declared me perfect in your eyes; you have always cared for me in my distress; now hear me as I call again. Have mercy on me. Hear my prayer…” (Psalm 4:1). Or Psalm 5:1-3, “O lord, hear  me praying; listen to my plea, O God my King, for I will never pray to anyone but you. Each morning I will look to you in heaven and lay my requests before you, praying earnestly.”

From these prayers we can sense the despair and anguish in David’s heartfelt petitions.

There have been times in my own life where my prayers have been a reflection of a desperate heart. Later, when that season had passed I re-read those prayers and gave God the praise for how He came through for me or gave me victory in a certain area. Often times, I see God’s answer in a whole new perspective.

Another prophet, Jonah, recorded his prayers on the written page, too.

“Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish: ‘In my great trouble I cried to the Lord and he answered me; from the depths of death I called, and Lord, you heard me!’”(Jonah 2:1-2). I guess if I was in the belly of a large fish, I’d be praying too.

Benefits of Penned Prayers

I also find that journaling my prayers helps me to stay focused and achieve three goals:

  1. Recording my prayers forces me to clarify what my prayer needs actually are rather than just a vague generality.
  2. Recording my prayers allows me to write Pen-Point Prayers where I focus on the specifics of my petitions.
  3. Our lives are busy and we often just snack on God’s Word, reading a short devotional or grabbing a Bible verse and running out the door.  Writing out my prayers mean keeping an appointment with God. This slows my mind and body down so I can have an honest heart-to-heart connection with the Lord.

Legacy of Faith

One of the blessings that come from a life of penned prayers is the legacy of faith you leave your children and grandchildren. When my grandmother passed away, I received one of her journals. It’s a mixture of her daily reflections on life, family, faith, but also some very gut-wrenching prayers. I can say that it was her prayers that I most treasure. They allowed me to get a glimpse of her pained heart laid raw and hurting before God.  Underpinning her petitions to her heavenly Father was a heart of humility, recording her failings as a parent, her shortcomings, fears, sorrows, and even some regrets. But for all the grief that filled her life towards its end, she remarked how thankful that Jesus stood in the gap as well as the void, between what was all wrong and missing in her life, and the forgiveness and acceptance Jesus offers.  Her repentant heart reflected in the truth that she needed God – every day.

And there’s more, something I will always carry with me- her prayers for me and referring to me as a blessing in her life. Of course, she wrote letters to me often and expressed her love for me and offered affirmations, but to know that I was a blessing to her life impacted me when I was a young adult. She wasn’t perfect, but I know from her prayer journal that in all her weaknesses, she placed her confidence in God, and trusted in His love and forgiveness. Her prayer journal, in turn, was a double blessing back to me.

Blessings to you,

Lisa

Tweet/Post: One of the benefits of penned prayers is the legacy of faith you leave your children and grandchildren.#PenPaperAndPrayers@lisanixonphillips.com/blog

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Are You Trusting God for That?

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A red "TRUST" and a gray "FEAR" sit on opposite ends of a gray board which is balanced on a white question mark. Isolated on white.

Our American culture fails in the area of patience. Yesterday I was in line at a grocery store. I had a few small things so I went to the self-check-out area. Every one of the do-it-yourself scanners were busy so I waited by the one that looked like it would be free the soonest. The gentleman at this scanner was wrapping up his purchase. He pulled a few dollar bills out of his front jean pocket began to feed them into the machine. To his frustration, the machine didn’t like the bills and it quickly rejected them.  Each time one of the bills was rejected, he took the bill and smoothed it across his knee and tried again, only to have the machine spit them out again. As I watched, the look on this man’s face was not only growing more impatient with the machine, but he also began to show signs of anxiety. He didn’t look at me directly, but he knew I was there waiting. I decided I was not going to add to his angst.

 “Don’t you hate it when that happens?” I said, trying to let him know I wasn’t getting uptight with him.

“I’m sorry this is taking so long,” he said, with an apologetic tone.

“That’s ok. I’ve had that happen to me a few times, too.”

A moment later, the last bill was finally received by the machine. A small smile of relief came over his face. He grabbed his receipt and bag of groceries and turned to me.

“Again, I’m sorry I kept you waiting.”

 Living in a country where everything is instantaneous, we have lost the timeless quality of patient waiting, and for believers today this includes answers to our prayers. As military wives and mothers, we have plenty to pray over: transfer orders, new duty stations, the upcoming deployment, spousal jobs, financial matters, getting out or staying in the military, children’s concerns, and other prayer needs.

 There have been times where I have been impatient with the Lord, frustrated that He’s taking too long with the important matters of my heart. And I’m guilty of influencing circumstances hoping it would hurry God along in bringing about the answer I desperately wanted. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I hoped He would welcome my efforts being the backseat driver. God’s lateness seemed like He didn’t appreciate my sense of urgency. However, it took awhile, but God eventually showed me that I was getting into my own way. I wasn’t trusting God for my prayer needs. I began to take a look at why I sometimes jumped ahead of God. It came down to one word: fear. I asked myself a series of questions regarding my prayer requests, and the resulting gut feeling was always fear. I was afraid God wouldn’t understand what I deeply needed. I feared I wouldn’t like the way He changed things, or I feared He’d never change things. But deep down, the number one fear was that I didn’t trust God in coming through for me. Not long after this realization, I read an article about what the Christian’s posture ought to be while waiting for answered prayer. While reading the article, I came upon the words something like this, “My dear child, why won’t you allow me to do my job of working it out and you do your job of trusting me?” Wow! those words stuck like Velcro on my heart. Now whenever I become impatient with God’s timing, I remind myself of who’s job it is to change things.

God created all things and that includes time. He numbered the days in a year, hours in a day, and the minutes and moments of our lives. The concept of time, when you think about it, influences every aspect of life. Because God controls time, we can’t assume He isn’t hard at work in the background. This is the nuts and bolts of what “walking by faith and not by sight” is all about. The problem with humanity is that we always want proof. We base everything on whether or not we can see it, touch it, or hear it. But when there isn’t anything evident yet, we start the doubting process. Doubt leads us to question God’s faithfulness. (See my 3-part article series: Doubt, Disillusionment, and discouragement here) To overcome this tendency, it’s imperative to keep our focus on God and His many attributes: loving, good, patient, Omni-present, omniscient, just, merciful, and faithful, among others. God’s faithfulness includes His guidance and answered prayer, but sometimes He waits for us to get out of the driver’s seat. There’s only one steering wheel for a reason.  Picture yourself sitting on the teeter-totter in the graphic above.  Which side are you leaning towards- the trust side in red, or the fear side in gray? Then ask yourself, “Am I trusting God for that?”

Blessings,

Lisa

 

The Practical Side of Prayer

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Needing some rest for your soul? God has the cure for that – Prayer.

The more reverence we have for the Word of God, the more joy we shall find in it.

Matthew Henry

Have you ever woke up one morning (or several mornings) and decided that you didn’t have time to pray? When we skip our prayer and quiet time we convey the message to God that our day has other things in it that are more important. In essence, what we are really doing is giving God a “no show.” However, in reality, there is a practical side to prayer that is for our benefit and provides an answer to how we go through our day.

 If you’ve been a Christ-follower for a while, you know about His omnipresence–God’s attribute of being everywhere at all times. It is that internal knowledge that God is always with us. So, in our mind, skipping a day here and there for prayer doesn’t seem like a big deal. Knowing that He is always available, we promise ourselves and God with I can make time for prayer tomorrow when I don’t have so much to do. I’ve done that. And perhaps you have, too.

 But stop and think a moment. Ask yourself this question: Am I taking advantage of God’s omnipresence when I don’t show up for prayer time? After all, God is never a “no show” when we call upon Him. He never sets his phone answering machine to take messages. And there’s a reason for that. Since God created us, He knows how we function, specifically, how we’ll respond to stress, unforeseen events, criticism, a downturn of circumstances, bad news, or to a crises. He knows what our day will bring. And He wants us to be empowered by the quiet time we have with Him to meet those challenges. There is a practical side to prayer time. And He doesn’t want us to miss its benefits.

Peace for My Soul

As military spouses, we have plenty to pray about. We’re concerned about how our kids will handle the upcoming move to a new duty station, another new school, or making new friends, let alone, will I find a new job, or is my marriage strong and committed to make it through the next deployment? Our heavenly Father tells us to give Him our concerns in Psalm 55:22. “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved” (nrsv). I love that verse because it says that God wants to carry our burdens. He’s asking us to trust Him. We are to trust the same strength that supports our very being to also trust Him with our burdens.1

 When we get off the hamster wheel and pray regularly He gives us something practical in return–and it’s a sweet gift. He gives us a sense of spiritual well-being. It’s that feeling based off of James 4:8 of knowing I drew close to God and He drew close to me. We connected on a spiritual level and He gave me rest (peace) for my soul. He heard my prayers and they lay tenderly in His hands. He will work them out for my ultimate good. Because of the rest and security I have from spending time in prayer, I am encouraged to move through my day with a continual Source of Peace. Now imagine meditating on God’s Word and being in God’s presence every day. Imagine the day to day stream of rest filling our hearts and imagine how much more fruitful (our actions and attitudes) we’ll be by daily delighting in God’s presence.

 May you find rest for your soul today through prayer,

Lisa

Notes:

1Bible Note for Psalm 55:22, Life Application Bible, (Iowa Falls, IA:, World Bible Publishers, Inc., 1989).

You can find me also on www.Facebook.com/FaithStepsForMilitaryFamilies and on Twitter @lisanixonphilli. Thank you for visiting! Please comment below.

 

Respond With Resolve Not Resolutions

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Resolve

What do you resolve to do this year?

For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. Hebrews 10:36 nrsv

Do you get excited about the start of a brand new year? I do.  For me, a new year is like the blank page of a new journal. All that white space just waiting to be filled in with the outcomes of the new year’s executed goals. Indeed, we wonder what the new year will bring, however, there’s a tendency to over implement. I’m guilty of doing that in the past. But part of goal-reaching also involves something else–resilience and real resolve. Resilience includes taking the three parts of our humanness–the physical, emotional and the spiritual aspects and applying them to our goals. Resilience is also about planning for the “what-if” scenarios of life. And it also involves how well we bounce back after a major setback or a downturn of circumstances. But, we can protect ourselves from getting overwhelmed with our personal agendas by first seeking what the Lord would have us do.

Resilience and Resolve Mean Perseverance

If we take our faith walk seriously, we prayerfully ask the Lord to guide our steps in this new year. As a Christ-follower, what is important to God should be important to us. And since we know God desires obedience, doing His will should be our over-arching goal. This is where the importance of resilience comes in. For example, the people God chose to carry out His will were people just like you and me. They struggled to overcome failures, obstacles, and discouragement. However, in the end they kept their resolve and resilience in order to follow through with God’s agenda. When God calls He also equips. Biblical examples include Esther, Moses, and Gideon. Esther left her own home to go live within the king’s palace. She represented her people, exposed a traitor, and confronted the king to put an end to an evil plot, putting her own life at risk.  Moses chose to be a slave instead of living a life of privilege, and Gideon, despite his fears, trusted God. Each of these people possessed quiet perseverance created by a resilient faith.

Resilience and Resolve Require Love and Obedience

Taking the path of resilience and resolve is a far better for accomplishing God’s will then merely new yea’s resolutions alone. The secret is in keeping close to the Vine, (Christ). By closely abiding in Jesus, He’ll provide our resolve and resilience to carry out His agenda as well as keeping our life in balance. In those times when we feel weak or when our resilience or resolve is waning, go to the Lord in prayer. Out of love for Jesus comes obedience so continue to do the will of God even when you don’t feel like it. Love is not just lovely words; it is commitment and conduct.1 Jesus says in John 14:21, “They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father…” (nrsv).

 In this new year, consider what the Lord wants you to do that will require resolve and resilience. And if you make prayer a significant part of your life, He’ll help you to stay focused and balanced. Through prayer, God’s Spirit softens and molds our heart. Like other worthwhile endeavors, you may not always feel spiritual, but because the Lord desires obedience, follow through anyway, as this leads to blessings. “By faith he [Moses] left Egypt, unafraid of the king’s anger; for he persevered as though he saw him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27 nrsv).

Blessings to you in the new year,

Lisa

Thanks for stopping by! You can also find me on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/FaithStepsForMilitaryFamilies and on Twitter @lisanixonphilli

Notes:

1Bible Note for John 14:21, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, Inc., 1989).

 

The First Recorded Act of War (What It Teaches Us)

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Mount Sodom near the Dead Sea

Mount Sodom near the Dead Sea

While writing Faith Steps for Military Families, I learned about the Bible’s first recorded war. It’s found in Genesis 14. During Abram’s (later called Abraham) life, wars and rivalries among kings routinely happened, but the first recorded war in God’s Word was between four eastern kings most of us have not heard of before, except for possibly one, King Chedorlaomer (of modern Iran) and five southern kings, that included the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Who was King Chedorlaomer? Not much is known about him, except that he was quite powerful. It was customary in those days that a city that was conquered paid tribute (money) to the king that overthrew that city.1 Five cities, including Sodom and Gomorrah paid tribute to King Chedorlaomer for twelve years. This is a testament to the might of King Chedorlaomer’s army. “In the thirteenth year [those five cities paying tribute] rebelled” (Gen. 14:4).They joined forces and rebelled against King Chedorlaomer. They withheld the tribute owed to him. This kind of rebellion infuriated King Chedorlaomer. By refusing to pay the tribute, they predicted it 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.2 Whoever controlled this land bridge maintained a monopoly on international trade.3 In retaliation, King Chedorlaomer wasted no time and swiftly conquered the city of Sodom. When King Chedorlaomer overtook Sodom, he captured Lot, his family, and his possessions. Recall that Lot was Abram’s nephew. Being a prisoner of King Chedorlaomer meant torture, slavery, or death.2

“When Abram [later called Abraham] heard that his nephew had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred eighteen of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and routed them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. Then he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his nephew Lot with his goods, and the women and the people.” Genesis 14:14-16

It’s plausible that Chedorlaomer underestimated the warrior inside Abraham as he defeated King Chedorlaomer in Damascus, even with a measly 318 fighting men. But God showed His favor on Abram. But how did Lot get himself in trouble with Chedorlaomer in the first place?

Lot had a character flaw that we see in many younger men and women today. Having no firm goals or sense of purpose, he drifted through life.4 Lacking a father (his father died when Lot was a young boy) to act as a compass for his life, probably contributed to his hunger for the sinful lifestyle in the city of Sodom. Coupled with his greedy desire for rich goods, Lot lived for the moment. As a result, he didn’t contemplate the consequences of his short-sightedness. By seeking after the sinful and greedy lifestyle of Sodom, he eventually blended in with the other citizens in this doomed city. This choice cost Lot everything, including his freedom when King Chedorlaomer overtook the town to punish it for withholding the tribute. Wise ole Uncle Abram had to do the dirty work and go to war with King Chedorlaomer to retrieve Lot.

This account of the first recorded war is short, but long on value for us today.

This may have been an incident that crossed several kingdoms–Abram caught in the middle between Lot’s greed and sinful lifestyle and a scandal between kings. It reveals God in control of earthly situations between secular kings and His warriors. God’s men numbered just 318 compared to the armies of the four kings!5

In the midst of a power struggle to control the cash cow of the trade routes, at the center of this scuttle is the story between two related men. Abram knew the foolishness of his nephew’s decisions. He could have taken the approach that Lot got what he deserved and refused to go to war to get him back. After all, living foolishly eventually breeds trouble.

Abram, however, took the perspective of grace. Grace says, “to extend kindness to a person who doesn’t deserve it.” Even God extended grace to Lot by giving favor to Abram to conquer the armies of the four kings in order to retrieve Lot.

Before the Lord reigned in our hearts, we were a Lot, too.6 Prior to giving our hearts over to the Lord, we were lured by the world’s goods and sinful offerings without thinking of the long-range consequences. We allowed our selfish desires to seek and obtain what didn’t satisfy. Sometimes we got away with a sinful lifestyle, but maybe for some of us it led us down the road of trouble. Was there an Abram in your life to go to bat for you? As Lot was carried off by King Chedorlaomer, considered part of the plundered loot, I wonder if he questioned where his lifestyle choices led him.

Is there a Lot in your family? Don’t give up on her or him. Instead, we can be an Abram in that person’s life and pray. James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous (godly and upright) person has great power as it is working” (ESV). Your prayers, prayed in faith, will change things. There is power praying in Jesus’ name and that power will change the course of someone’s life, circumstances, and choices. While praying for the Lot in your life, your own faith will be strengthened as you see God move. We can trust God because He is sovereign over all our circumstances. One of my favorite Scripture verses is 2 Chronicles 16:9. “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the entire earth, to strengthen those whose heart is true to him” (NRSV). God is looking for faithful hearts to be prayer warriors for the Lots in our lives.

Blessings,

Lisa

Notes:

1 Bible Note for Genesis 14:4-16, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, Inc. 1989).

2 Officers’ Christian Fellowship, “Abram Goes to War,” http//www.ocfusa.org.  (accessed 29 May 2014).

3 Ibid.

4 Bible Profile on Lot, Life Application Bible.

5 Officers’ Christian Fellowship, “Abram Goes to War,” http//www.ocfusa.org.  (accessed 29 May 2014).

6 Ibid.