Tag Archives: Prayer

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

  

  

 

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.

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

 

Standing Alone

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As a military wife, do you ever feel you're not in sync with the rest of the world?

As a military wife, do you ever feel you’re standing alone in the military lifestyle?

“The Lord, your God, is in your midst…” Zephaniah 3:17

As military wives, we’re accustomed to standing alone, either physically or symbolically in our unique circumstances. We stand alone on the pier watching the ship pull away, then once out of sight we make that lonesome and uncomfortable walk back to the car. We stand alone as the weeks turn into months. We stand alone when we tuck our children into bed at night, say our prayers for daddy, then crawl into our own bed, longing for intimacy and pillow talk. We stand alone as we continue on with our routine because what is familiar and routine brings comfort. We stand alone on holidays, birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and even the birth of our children. We stand alone on the good days as well as the dark days.

And if you’ve had some particularly hard deployments in the past, you simply don’t want to stand alone anymore. And perhaps you can identify with Jonah. Perhaps you’ve decided that your Ninevah may be somewhere else rather than in the military community. Maybe you’ve had the urge to run from this pilgrim sort of life – a lifestyle that often leaves you in a state of longing. Not just for your husband to return home, but for feeling connected, to be a family again, to make family plans, to start a family, or to simply take your finger off the pause button of life. While the rest of the world tends to live according to the seasons of winter, spring, summer, and fall, we military families live according to the seasons associated with command schedules. We’re not in sync with the rest of the world so this exacerbates the feeling that we’re standing alone.

Even though you are alone physically, remember you’re really not. God is standing beside you. He is everywhere you are. And He goes before you. As a child of His, it isn’t possible to be outside of His reach. I used to remind myself of that when there were long stretches of time with no word from my husband, friends or family.

When my husband would call home from the ship, just hearing him say, “You keep me going at this,” gave me an extra dose of motivation to finish the journey. He was counting on me. But there were also days when inevitably I’d contemplate what life without the military would be like and how my life would be different. But as soon as I pondered on that notion there was another thought that quickly bubbled up to the surface. This thought had a voice to it.

“If he must obey, so can you,” came His deep penetrating voice. “Remember, just like your husband who is counting on you, so am I.”

Our husbands took an oath; they pledged to defend all enemies foreign and domestic and obey all orders of the President of the United States. If it is important for them to obey the President of the United States, how much more important is it for you and I to follow His will. Fulfilling His will for us is paramount in order for our husbands to fulfill theirs, whether inside the military or not.

Yes, you may feel you’re standing alone, but feelings don’t make it so. Our feelings do not change anything about what we know of God. Feelings, I learned, are neither right or wrong, they just are. Joshua 1:5 says, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you…” And Matthew 28:20 also says, “And remember, I am with you always…” And lastly, Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory.”

The military lifestyle is a challenge, but you are the apple of His eye and when you commit your loneliness and solitude to Him, it will be taken care of. Trust Him on this; He’s had lots of practice and He has a good victory record.

Blessings,

Lisa

For a copy of Lisa’s book, “Faith Steps for Military Families,” you can order it here.

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).

 

Is Someone Telling Lies About You?

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Are you hurt because of someone's lies?

Are you hurt because of someone’s lies?

When my kids were small I began reading, The Power of A Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian. I was particularly interested in the chapter on lying. I wanted to know how to handle lying with a godly approach.  I found what was needed to help my son understand why God hates lying. Stormie says, “Every time you lie you give Satan a piece of your heart.” Ouch! Those twelve words was all it took for my son to grasp the magnitude of lying and the unattractive consequences. Even I had never thought of lying in that way.

 In Psalm 120, the writer is the recipient of lies and untruth. “In my distress I cry to the LORD, that he may answer me: ‘Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue…A warrior’s sharp arrows, with glowing coals of the broom tree!” (verses 2-4). Lying lips and a deceitful tongue is compared to sharp arrows. A deceitful tongue, like arrows, cuts deeply leaving behind a lingering sting. Now, consider the second part of verse 4: “with glowing coals of the broom tree!” The broom tree is a large desert shrub that adapts to dry conditions. Like hot coals glowing from a long burning campfire, the broom tree holds its heat. If you accidently get burned by an ember there’s instant pain, leaving behind a sting. It is the same with slanderous words.

 While living in 1940’s transient military housing that was considered sub-standard living quarters, gossip and lies spread like an uncontrolled wildfire. Perhaps the shoddy and inadequate temporary accommodations stirred up inferior feelings that provoked residents into this unattractive behavior. Often this is the underlying reason for unjust criticism; there may be some sort of pain or suffering going on within the offender. In this case, you can’t go wrong with praying for this person.

 So, what is the Christian service member or military family to do when a victim of slanderous talk or unjust criticism? Even though you may want to seek retaliation, resist that urge. It’s unbecoming of a military member or his/her family. And revenge isn’t God’s method for us anyway. The psalmist in verse 7 of Psalm 120 steers us in the direction to seek peace. He says, “I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.” More often than not, our egos get in the way and giving the situation more attention just sparks more controversy and incites a verbal war.

 Instead, be smart by first taking your complaint to God in prayer. If you’re serious about hearing from God, pray earnestly and consistently for Him to bring justice and rebuild your reputation and integrity. Just be on the watch for His hand to direct. Because God hates sin not all of His justice will be postponed into the future. He also rescues and vindicates His children in this life as well. So trust Him to reestablish you.

 I also like what First Peter 2:23 has to say. “When he [Jesus] was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.”

 As a Christ-follower, we gain comfort and strength from the knowledge that God is on our side because God is Truth. If we have done nothing wrong, then truth is on our side. If we are wrongly criticized or lied about, one aspect of God’s nature is to uphold you.  Joshua 23:10 says: “It is the LORD, your God who fights for you” and Psalm 124:2: “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies; you stretched out your hand, and your right hand delivers me” (NRSV).  God will deliver you from those that seek to bring you down with lies and deceit. All truths come to the surface eventually, but meanwhile trust in God’s promises. God will deal justly with the one who has lied, deceived, or criticized you with an untrue assessment. The best action one can take in times when we’ve had more than enough disrespect is to settle our eyes upon Jesus and seek His guidance. He will make straight what is crooked either now or later. Pray and trust Him. This isn’t idle behavior, but exercising discipline and faithfulness to the One who will uphold you and truth.

 Blessings,

Lisa

 To order a copy of my book, Faith Steps For Military Families, click here. Do you have a thought on this topic? Comment below. You can also follow me at http://www.Facebook.com/FaithStepsForMilitaryFamilies and on Twitter @lisanixonphilli

5 Habits to Do While Waiting on God

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What unanswered prayer are you waiting on God to answer?

Still got unanswered prayer? Try these 5 habits while waiting for God to answer them.

Like you, I have unanswered prayers. And it is from a place of deep longing to see those prayers answered that I write this post.  Waiting on God is just plain hard. And sometimes we wonder why it takes so long to see the hand of God move in our circumstances or in people’s lives.  I’ve been a Christian for forty years now, but twenty-eight of those years there’s been one prayer request in particular that I’ve been waiting for God to answer.  Sometimes the waiting just overwhelms me. My heart is torn and I’ve written in my journal the words, “How long, O Lord? How long before You answer?” (Taken from Psalm 13:1) (nrsv)  It’s not that God doesn’t want to answer my prayer request, but there may be some serious behind the scenes work that must take place first. And it seems like it takes longer for people to change then it does for circumstances.

Do you have a prayer request that has gone unanswered for many years? Are you praying that your next PCS move will be to the place you want or need? Are you a military spouse who is praying for a certain job to come through? Are you praying that a possible deployment won’t take place so your husband or wife can be home during a critical time in one of your children’s lives? Do you or a loved one need a healing? When praying,  do you wonder what He wants you to be doing while waiting? I’ve asked myself that question, too. Here are 5 habits worthy of doing while God is working on your requests:

1). Recollect God’s Faithfulness. When we become restless over unanswered prayer it has the potential to turn our attention inward and to focus on ourselves. This mindset might even lead us to accentuate other things we perceive to be wrong in our life.  As soon as you notice you are doing this, turn your heart and mind back on God. Focus on what remarkable things God has done for you in the past. I often start my journal with a psalm that reminds me of God’s faithfulness. For example, Psalm 40:5:

 “O Lord my God, many and many a time you have done great miracles for us, and we are ever in your thoughts. Who else can do such glorious things? No one else can be compared with you. There isn’t time to tell of all your wonderful deeds.”

 All through the Old Testament are accounts of God’s faithfulness to the Israelites. So often they were the targets of oppression and persecution by their enemies, but many times over God intervened on their behalf.  God was for the ancient Israelites, and He is still for us today.

Remember, if God could be trusted in the past, He can be trusted also for our tomorrows. We have hope as the anchor for our souls. Since God’s Word is unfailing, it’s also true that God does not fail either. He will answer your prayer requests, but it may not be exactly as you expect.

If you keep a journal, record those times where God came through for you. That way when you grow weary in waiting, go back and read those accounts when He proved His faithfulness. It will refresh your soul and restore your confidence in God.

 2). Allow God to Do a Character Make-Over. One of the truths about God is that He doesn’t want to leave us in our current spiritual state. His goal is to mold our character and grow us into the mind of Christ. But, for this to happen, we have to allow God’s Word to do a make-over in our minds. As this process takes place, we become more Christ-like.  His character is manifested in our life. What I’ve also found to be true is that while I waited for God to answer a prayer request, He was also working on some aspect of my own character. Instead of resenting this process, take God up on the challenge and ask Him, “What aspects of my character do you want to change?” Ask Him to show you, then when He does record it in your journal.  You’ll discover new ways to react to circumstances.

 3). Safeguard your heart from A Complaining Spirit.  If like me, you’ve been waiting for many years for God to answer a prayer request, the years of longing can take their toll. It’s easy to grow impatient. When we become impatient we tend to complain. Complaining comes out of a sense of dissatisfaction. The Israelites found themselves in the complaint department while on their journey to the Promised Land.  They had become dissatisfied and stopped trusting God. In doing so, they became rebellious (Numbers 14).  Their rebellion led them to complain about their present circumstances. What’s worse, when they succumbed to the emotion of the people, they lost their perspective on God’s nature. They forgot about God’s faithfulness.

 While waiting for God to answer our prayers, reframe from complaining, verbally or in our thought life. Instead, cultivate a habit of thankfulness.  It will safeguard your heart from becoming rebellious which leads to stepping away from the Lord. Psalm 37:34 gives us clear instruction:

 “Don’t be impatient for the Lord to act! Keep traveling steadily along his pathway and in due season he will honor you with every blessing…” And God’s blessings are worth the wait.

 4). Seek Godly Discernment. Sometimes God’s answers don’t come in the way or in the time we expect. Then there are times when we don’t even understand what He’s doing at all. It just doesn’t make sense or we can’t figure out the reason why a situation went this way or that way. While waiting for God to answer, seek His face for understanding. He is a generous God and wants us to know we can come to Him for clarity on our prayer requests.

 Psalm 119:27 says, “Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works” (nrsv) When we make seeking His face for understanding a habit, it helps us to assess what course of action is needed. It will give us insight into people and circumstances that we might not otherwise have.  Discernment is one of those habits that will serve us well all our lives.

 “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright…” (nrsv).

Did you catch that last part? God stores up wisdom and understanding for those whose hearts are His. How marvelous is that! Our job is to ask Him for it, and He will gladly supply it. This will help us to know how to pray for a situation or person. At the same time, be still and wait. This is called, “active waiting.” We are not throwing up our hands and saying, “oh well, I’ll just let the chips fall where they may.” Instead, we pray for discernment, so that when God supplies it, we will know how and for what to pray for.

 Psalm 119:169, “Let my cry come before you, O lord; give me understanding according to your word” (nrsv).

 5). Praise and Honor Belongs to Him – The Book of Psalms is a treasure trove for how to praise God. One of my favorites is Psalm 118. Praise is acknowledging God’s greatness, His power, His forgiveness, His authority, His sovereignty, His faithfulness, and other attributes. When we feel powerless to change our circumstances or people’s hearts, our praise catches God’s attention. Authentic praise helps to drive out doubt, and in particular, discouragement over unanswered prayer.

When I take the time to write out a psalm of praise in my prayer journal my hope in God is restored. Complaining focuses on the problem, but praise focuses on God who has the solution. Praise changes my outlook and I can trust God with my personal concerns and requests. And praise quiets my restless heart. And this gives me the endurance to keep praying for that one prayer request I still desire to see to fruition. If what you’re praying for is in alignment to His will, You can be confident God will answer. You have His Word on that.

 Delight in the Lord today,

Lisa

Praising God in the Depths of Despair

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Praise Letterpress

Praising God results in seeing God’s Power revealed.

 “…the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle. Messengers came and told Jehoshaphat, ‘A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea…’” Jehoshaphat was afraid; he set himself to seek the Lord , and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the towns of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

I love the stories of the bible in which God defends the underdog. Such is the case in 2 Chronicles 20. It is the account of a king on the verge of disaster.  Warned that a great army was bearing down upon him, King Jehoshaphat became fearful. These three kingdoms coming against him all at once had formed an alliance against him. And Jehoshaphat knew he didn’t have enough fighting power to defeat them. “For we are powerless against this great multitude that is coming against us” (2 Chronicles 20:12 nrsv). Jehoshaphat may have been terrified, but he didn’t panic. Instead, this king did five incredibly wise things:

1. King Jehoshaphat’s fear was the catalyst to seek the Lord first. He positioned himself before God. He committed his dire situation to God before moving forward with preparations. Then he told all of Judah to do the same. Knowing that the army was fast approaching, this king did the opposite of what one would expect. Rather than quickly ordering his army to assemble and gather weapons first, Jehoshaphat assembled “all [his people of] Judah before the Lord” (v. 13). This communicated to his people that their victory was not in their hands, but in God’s.

2. King Jehoshaphat  recognized that God was in control. King Jehoshaphat knew he had little fighting power, and in fact, didn’t even have a plan! “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (v. 12). Just imagine for a moment, this king didn’t know what to do, and instead of throwing together a hasty counter-attack, looked to God to be their unseen Defender. As the enemy bore down on Judah, God spoke through Jahaziel: ‘Do not fear or be dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s’” (v. 15).

 You and I may not fight an actual enemy army, but our loved ones serving in the armed forces do. Even today, when it seems like the enemy is gaining ground, recognized that God still remains in control. We are to keep our eyes focused on God, ask for His help, acknowledging every battle they fight is really His. And God will fight for us.

 3. King Jehoshaphat praised God for the great God He is.

“…are you not God in heaven? Do you not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? In your hand are power and might, so that no one is able to withstand you. Did you not…drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham?” (vv. 6-7). The above verses are verses of praise to God. They are the expression of faith. Before the battle even started, Jehoshaphat praised God.

In the midst of our own battles that are greater than our strength or abilities, if we praise our Lord for His sovereignty (His control) over our situation, acknowledging the battle is not ours but His, then move forward with God’s Spirit in us, and trusting in His promises, God will prevail in our behalf.  When we praise Him, He reveals His power.

 4. King Jehoshaphat declared to the people of Judah his dependence on God, for their deliverance.

“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (v. 12). Jehoshaphat relied on God’s power and might instead of his own. He knew what his own weaknesses were. A sign of a great leader is one with a humble heart towards God and who also acknowledges his strength comes from God.

 5. King Jehoshaphat was content in God’s promises. God promised Jehoshaphat victory. “This battle is not for you to fight; take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the Lord on your behalf…do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.” Jehoshaphat trusted in God’s plan and promise. We are to do no less. A key factor in having victory in God is having confidence in God’s promises. One of my favorite promises is Deuteronomy 31:6:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.

You can’t get a better promise than that. Praise, Promises, and Prayer–all keys to moving the heart of God in your personal battles.

 But wait! There’s more to King Jehoshaphat’s victory. As they went out to meet their enemies, Jehoshaphat had the people of his kingdom do this one thing while the Lord set an ambush against their enemies. Return for part 2.

Blessings,

Lisa

Have you experienced a situation in which you praised God even while in dark circumstances? How did God reveal His power in your circumstances? I would love to hear your story. You can post it below in the “reply” section. For more on this subject, see chapter two of my book, Faith Steps for Military Families

Also find me on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/FaithStepsforMilitaryFamilies

 

 

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.

 

The Lord is Your Keeper (Your Night Watchman)

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 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Psalm 121:3

The Lord is Your Keeper

The Lord is Your Keeper

While my husband was on active duty we enjoyed the “Dependent’s Day Cruises” as a Navy family. Dependent’s Day Cruises allow family and friends of crewmembers to come aboard ship to get a feel for life on a war vessel. In the early morning hours, hundreds of family members and friends descend upon the ship.

Once on board, the lines are dropped and the ship leaves the pier. While underway, the ship provides all the meals, music, and a spectacular up close air show of jets doing “touch and goes” on the flight deck.  It’s a day that sailors and their families forget about the rigorous ship schedules, training missions and deployments and enjoy this one of a kind experience. Pride in our sailor, pride in our Navy and pride in our country is refreshed in our hearts as we reflect that we are a part of something unique and important.

On this particular Dependent’s Day Cruise, my husband, Ray was stationed on the aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. He led us down steep ladders from one deck to another as he gave us the guided tour. My mother-in-law, Marilyn, who was visiting at the time, became claustrophobic as the spaces seemed to get smaller and smaller the further we descended.  Finally, she turned around and returned to the security of the surface. The rest of us found ourselves in a small square room called the pump room, far below the waterline. There, all alone was one sailor on his watch. However, he had fallen victim to the dead silence and was sound asleep. Our loud voices upon entering had suddenly awoken him, a fact that he was probably later thankful for.

Falling asleep on a duty watch is a serious matter in the military, often resulting in stiff penalties. In Psalm 121:4, God is described as the Keeper of Israel. “He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (NRSV). With God, falling asleep or dozing off, will never happen. He alone stands the “duty watch” 24/7. He is never found asleep. He is never caught off guard and nothing escapes His attention. Because of this, His desire is for us to depend on God for help. Did you know that we are the apple of His eye? “Guard me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 17:8).  God is the Keeper of our lives. He may not always

However, as a military family it’s important to give your anxieties over the safety of your loved one to the Lord. If anxieties are allowed to fester, doubt crowds out trust and your relationship with God is hindered. Like military training, spiritual training should be included in the military family’s readiness regimen. This type of training involves two things: living close, or abiding, in the Lord, and having a consistent prayer routine. With God as the fortress of our hearts, our faith is girded up and made more resilient.

Just start by reading God’s Word. James 4:8 says: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (NRSV). Consistently renewing your mind with God’s Word empowers you to resist the temptation to allow fears of what could happen to cause you to doubt God’s protective care. By doing so, we gain a daily benefit. He gives us His peace. “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3 NKJV). Neglecting God’s Word allows your mind to become vulnerable to attacks from Satan. And what does Satan do best? He steals (John 10:10). He will steal your peace if your mind and heart is not guarded by the power of God’s Word.

Prayer is the second requirement for spiritual readiness training. Think of prayer as a shield. When we cover our service member by the shield of prayer, we are engaging God’s defense system of protection. When we pray for God to be the Keeper of our loved ones serving, His power penetrates that which we are praying over. Prayer is the channel that allows God’s grace and protection to invade the lives of our men and women in uniform.

Psalm 121 closes with this reminder: God’s protection is without end-whether you wake up on unfriendly soil or on a ship in a hot zone in international waters, while on foot patrol in the light of day or in the darkness of the night, upon returning from a mission or home to the arms of waiting family. Throughout all circumstances, God’s watchful care is limitless. If harm does touch our lives, we can draw upon the peace our Lord offers because we have prayed for His presence to be in the midst of it. Psalm 91:15 is His promise. “When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble…” Our assurance comes from knowing that nothing happens to those whose hearts belong to God that first hasn’t passed through the sovereign hands of our Keeper.

Prayer for Protection

Lord, thank You for every member of our armed forces. Each one serves from the heart with a strong sense of duty for his or her country. Each one has voluntarily given up certain freedoms in order to answer to a higher calling.

Lord, may their sacrifices be appreciated by the citizens of this country. Bring a revival in the hearts of the American people to pray for our military so that under God we remain the strongest military force. May each military operation be just and carried out with a clear and honorable vision. Arm them with courage, shield each one from evil intentions, injustice, deceptive tactics, and reveal every unknown threat that would undermine their safety and the mission. Protect their feet from slipping (Psalm 121:3), no matter where they are, no matter the circumstances.

In the light of day or the darkness of night, shield them with Your protection. When exhausted, be their Source of strength. May the mercy You provide be experienced by my loved one and all our troops. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

If you like the content you get here, come visit my facebook page at www.facebook.com/faithstepsformilitaryfamilies and click the ‘like’ button to reach other military families and those who faithfully support them. And I so appreciate your support as well.

Blessings,

Lisa