Tag Archives: Spiritual attack

Are You Wearing God’s Helmet?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope. Sacrifice. Salvation

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

Faith Helmets

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

Salvation as a Treasure

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

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

 Lord Jesus Christ

Protect me from those who plan evil against me.

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

 

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.

Prayer for Protection Against Enemies

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Lord,

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

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

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

Lord,

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

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

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

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

Amen.

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

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

 

 

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).

 

King Solomon’s Wisdom for Discontentment

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Are you discontent? Discover Solomon's Cure.

Are you discontent? Discover Solomon’s answer to discontentment.

“…for I have learned to be content with whatever I have.” Philippians 4:11

In my previous post, we looked at discontentment from the standpoint of Eve’s mistake. The serpent (Satan) was successful at getting her to doubt God. She ignored all that God had provided in the garden and instead focused on what she lacked. This triggered a forever battle with discontentment in all of mankind. We fall into the same kind of trouble when we center our heart on the few things we don’t have rather than on the many blessings God has given us. If we allow a nagging discontentment to linger, a state of restlessness will hijack our contentment. King Solomon learned this vital lesson.

 The book of Ecclesiastes is likely King Solomon’s last words of reflection on the meaning of life and his search to derive satisfaction from it. He discovered that a life void of a relationship with God led to a discontented state of being. Solomon learned this truth the hard way–through bitter experiences. Whatever contentment gained from worldly opportunities and successes are merely temporary. When we leave the Lord out of our quest for contentment, it results in a lost search. Frustration and inner turmoil will continue like a cut that festers until we seek a cure. And since God created us with eternity in mind, our souls long for something more–something that satisfies. Security, satisfaction, and contentment are found in pursuing a relationship with the Lord.

 Are you feeling restless about another PCS (Permanent Change of Station) and the upcoming move? Burned out with the moving process? Dissatisfied at leaving your job? Dry and Disillusioned about the future? Is there a nagging sense of discontentment about where you are occupationally or physically in the military life? Or are you agitated and impatient concerning your current circumstances, but can’t put your finger on what will improve it? Consider using this discontentment to draw close to the Lord for the answers, contentment, and direction you need. If you have a concordance, look up Scripture verses that pertain to discontentment.  And pray. Prayer is the channel for connecting to the heart of God. His desire is satisfy your soul’s search for contentment in Him.

 The Cure

Like Solomon discovered, the cure for discontentment is to center on God. If you’re serious about getting through the impasse, ask Christ to teach you how to be content and patient in your current situation. The apostle Paul found contentment by a willingness to obey Christ and by doing what Christ asked of him, for this brought joy to his heart knowing it pleased Him, rather than insisting on what he felt was due him.  And also, realize that life is ultimately better with God.1 He provides the wisdom, direction, and knowledge for our searching hearts. Consider the truth of Chuck Swindoll’s words:

God never intended anyone to sail his own boat, without help, through the uncharted waters of life or ministry.

True satisfaction and enjoyment is ours when we build our lives around God’s guidelines for living. We must not build our lives on perishable pursuits, but on the solid foundation of God.2   Then, even if we lose it all, we still have God, who is all we really need anyway.3

Blessings,

Lisa

If you would like to order a signed copy of Lisa’s book, Faith Steps for Military Families,

Notes:

1 Bible Note for Ecclesiastes 8:12,13, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, Inc., 1989).

2 Bible Note for Ecclesiastes 2:16, Life Application Bible

3 Ibid.

 

Three Spiritual Battles that Undermine Spiritual Readiness (Part 3: Discouagement)

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How do you handle discouragement?

How do you handle discouragement?

 The third spiritual battle that can undermine our spiritual readiness is discouragement. Sometimes we become discouraged over a circumstance that doesn’t improve. We’ve asked God to intervene in our situation but for whatever reason His hand hasn’t moved in its midst. Our earnest prayers go unanswered. Perhaps the timing isn’t right or God is still orchestrating behind the scenes or His moving in our situation is dependent on the heart moving in another person.

 We can also become discouraged over a physical condition, too. Maybe our illness is chronic and it pulls our spirits down.

 And then there’s the all too common cause that can propel us into discouragement–when other people fail us. (see part 2 on disillusionment below). What we thought or believed about the other person turned out to be false. We were counting on this person and he or she didn’t come through. Who hasn’t had that happen?

 Pastors can become discouraged, too, when someone gives their heart to the Lord, but later turned his or her back on God. This happened to Demas, one of Paul’s co-workers. In 2 Timothy 4, Paul is sitting in a prison cell and writes, “Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica” (v.10 nrsv). Demas loved what the world offered and chose to leave his faith. This deeply discouraged Paul.

 Believing God has let you down or that He broke one of His promises can also lead to discouragement. You worked hard to build a certain ministry but it wasn’t sustainable. You were convinced it had God’s blessing on it and can’t understand why it failed. And now you’re weary, discouraged, and not sure if you want to try something new for the Lord. You may even be disappointed in yourself. You were so sure that you were in the center of God’s will, but now you have doubts.

 Do any of these sound familiar? All of us have probably experienced one or two of these examples. There is even an example of discouragement in the book of Ezra.

 Ezra was a priest. In fact, his name means “help.”1 After Cyrus, king of Persia allowed groups of Israelites to return to Jerusalem, at the start of their release from captivity in Babylon. The first group was led by Zerubbabel. He encouraged the people to rebuild the temple that was previously destroyed. Unfortunately, wherever there is commitment to God and enthusiasm for a blessed project, not far behind are those opposed. Not unlike today, there are always going to be people in opposition to God’s work.2 Opposition to building the temple became so strong that a cloud of discouragement blanketed the hearts of God’s people.

Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah, and made them afraid to build, and they bribed officials to frustrate their plan throughout the reign of King Cyrus of Persia and until the reign of King Darius of Persia (Ezra 4:4-5 nrsv).

God’s people didn’t expect this kind of opposition and it totally stopped them in their tracks. They became discouraged and intimidated; rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem came to a complete halt lasting about sixteen years.  But when God has a plan nobody and no earthly king can spoil it forever. What could be done to turn this bleak situation around? God sent two people uniquely suited with a gift of encouragement.

Two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah are attributed to reviving the temple rebuilding project. They not only encouraged the people to return to rebuilding the temple, but they physically got involved by working side by side other laborers. Despite continued opposition, the temple was finished in about four years. Their focus was reverted back to God and this enabled them to push through their discouragement.

 When we feel discouraged it’s natural to turn our focus inwards. We fall into the “woe is me” mentality when we take our focus off God and turn it inward. Be careful of this–this is where Satan wants us. By focusing on ourselves, we have the propensity to become bitter, resentful, and doubtful. And our godly perception becomes skewed. Even if you initially don’t feel like turning to God, resist that urge and come before the Lord. When fighting mind and heart battles, we will fare better on our knees in prayer, acknowledging God is the source of all encouragement. Like in the story of the rebuilding the temple, God will send just the right people to encourage our hearts.

Push Through Opposition

If you noticed in the Ezra story, as soon as God’s people returned to rebuilding the temple, the opposition came out of the woodwork again. The Persia-appointed governor of Israel and his cohorts challenged them. Essentially, the Israelites were questioned by whose authority were they allowed to return to rebuilding the temple. Although this question may have been used to intimidate, God’s people continued to build while the matter was under appeal.

When faced with opposition it’s easy to allow others to discourage us from doing the Lord’s work. If we let their opposition intimidate us, our discouragement will cause us to become paralyzed with fear. If that happens we become less effective. To offset the burden of opposition, recognize we are workers for God.5 We should be faithful to God’s work first.

 God Uses Others

God brought Haggai and Zechariah, two prophets to be encouragers for God’s people. God will send just the right people into your life to be Jesus with “skin on.” You know these people. They have a word from God or Scripture on their tongue to give you just enough encouragement to take the next step forward with God. Welcome these encouragers.

 Get Back to God’s Work

A bad case of discouragement kept God’s people from working on the temple for many years. However, a few encouraging words gave them their courage and strength to begin again. It is the same with us, even if we’ve been away from doing God’s work. When God gives us a project after a long dry season He will also give us the encouragement and strength to do it, whether that encouragement comes from His Word or through people He sends into our lives. There is even encouragement inherent in the words we hope to hear someday, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Returning to God’s work is one of the best ways to send discouragement packing. Even simple tasks like sweeping the floors of a food bank, folding clothes at Clothes Pantry for those in need, or simply listening to a soldier telling his war story to start the healing process of a wounded soul. To overcome discouragement often means getting back into the mission field for God’s eternal kingdom.

Blessings,

Lisa

Would you like to read another article about unanswered prayer called, “Are You Trusting God With That?” If so, click

Three Spiritual Battles that Undermine Spiritual Readiness (Part 2: Disillusionment)

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Disillusionment can lead us into the valley of disappointment.

Disillusionment can lead us into the valley of disappointment.

Disillusionment is the second spiritual battle that can undermine your spiritual readiness. We’ve all experienced a state of disillusionment at one time or another,  in which something or someone failed our expectations. For example, the trip to France was supposed to include seeing the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but it was a misprint in the itinerary and a sense of disappointment or dissatisfaction settled in, or the person you dated held certain beliefs, but later found out that this was not true.

 Spiritual Readiness as I define it is: Incorporating one’s Christian faith in preparing for adversity or living under difficult circumstances, and includes how well a military member or military family can bounce back.  A sailor by the name William A said this online about disillusionment: “It is like joining the Navy to see the world and getting stuck with latrine duty on a nuclear submarine and not seeing daylight for 30 days at a time.” Obviously, the Navy didn’t live up to this man’s expectations, or his expectations were false, perhaps because someone didn’t paint the correct picture of life on a submarine. It’s very possible he was fooled into a false belief of what to expect in the Navy and became dissatisfied. His real experience didn’t line up with his initial belief and became disillusioned. If he doesn’t recover from his initial disillusionment, his spiritual readiness is undermined.

 Vocabulary.com says this about disillusionment: “Disillusionment is when the hard truth of reality makes you lose faith in your dreams and ideals.1 The Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary Eleventh Edition has this definition for disillusionment: Disappointed, Dissatisfied.2

Disillusionment is when we no longer believe in something–a goal, an aspiration or ambition or a passion. What we thought was real turned out to be false. We believed in the illusion, but we were fooled. As a result, we become dissatisfied because we’ve been disappointed. We often see this in relationships too.

 People Disappoint Us

When a couple marries they’re excited about their future together. They make plans and begin to work those plans for a certain common result. But as time passes one aspect of a partner’s true character surfaces, such as a bad temper or a habit of deception or one’s beliefs don’t line up with their behavior.  The expectation or hopes of one or both partner’s turned out to be an illusion and has the potential to undermine spiritual readiness.

We can also become disillusioned about our parent’s love and acceptance. As children, we had their unconditional love, but as an adult, we discovered their love had conditions or limits. They may have disapproved of the person we chose to marry or condemned a certain belief we held, and it triggered a disconnect or a rejection in the relationship. Led to believe from childhood that we had our parent’s unconditional love and approval, we learned it was only real to a certain point. Beyond that it was an illusion. Our faith, too, can be subject to an attack of disillusionment.

 Prayers that Go Unanswered

 ve been waiting a long time, perhaps years, for God to answer a prayer need, like David in Psalm 13, it can wear us down. In Psalm 13, David expressed his feelings to God and he found strength in doing so.

In our waiting, it seems like God takes too long to turn the tide of our circumstances, or move in the heart of a loved one or bring relief from loneliness due to long separations, or a chronic condition, but if we let our impatience deeply trouble our souls, we’ll become disillusioned about the life of faith – and our role as a supportive military spouse. The same can happen when we see God move or answer in a way that isn’t to our liking. We become disappointed and we begin to doubt God’s ability to come through for us. The valley of disappointment is barren and void of contentment. In this state, we become disillusioned about God and our disillusionment will undermine our spiritual readiness if we don’t “draw near to God” (James 4:8). Do not pull back in doubt; move forward in faith. By studying God’s Word, we discern how God sustained the faith of those who also became weary of disillusionment.

King David went to God regularly and reaffirmed his trust in Him no matter what and no matter how long God took to answer his prayers. He was a learner of God’s ways to prevent doubt from leading him down the path of disillusionment. I thank God for David’s examples because it reveals that if we abide in His Word we will stay out of Satan’s camp of disillusionment. If we succumb to a state of disillusionment, it will take us into one of Satan’s valleys – the valley of discouragement.  This is no place we want to find ourselves in. Come back for how to avoid this detrimental place in part 3 of “Three Spiritual Battles that Undermine Spiritual Readiness.”

 “Keep your eyes focused on the Victor and your mind filled with His word.”  -David Jeremiah

Blessings,

Lisa

For part 3 click here

Notes

1Dictionary definition of disillusionment, http://www.vocabular.com/dictionary (accessed 13 July 2014).

2 Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, s.v. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc. 2005).

Three Spiritual Battles that Undermine Spiritual Readiness (Part 1: Doubt)

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Do you struggle with doubt in your military marriage?

Do you struggle with doubt in your military marriage?

If you’re a dedicated military wife, or spouse, then more than likely you are also committed to supporting your military husband, or spouse. And that is not always an easy task. It’s a menu of many open-ended responsibilities and burdens that require numerous skill sets. Last week, for example, I gave a radio interview on my new book, Faith Steps for Military Families, which is on the topic of developing spiritual readiness into our military families. The radio host made a good point in that even though America continues to have an all-volunteer force, spouses and family members fall in the category of drafted. The backbone of the service member is you, the spouse and your family. But, as the acting chief of the home front in your husband’s absence, staying encouraged, motivated, and determined can quickly go from a small challenge to an all-out battle–spiritually. This is because when things fail to go the way we expect or we’re beset with problematic circumstances, we feel disheartened, sometimes even marginalized. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll take a look at three assaults that Satan uses in an attempt to erode your faith and wear down your supportive role as a military wife, or spouse. If we lack spiritual muscle, these flaming arrows have the propensity to spread like a contagious disease to other family members. The first one we’ll look at is doubt.

Doubt

Satan has been using doubt since the Garden of Eden. In the Genesis account, the serpent, Satan, called into question the goodness of God. Satan contradicts God by telling Eve, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it [the fruit from the forbidden tree] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God…’” (Genesis 3:4 NRSV).  The serpent misled Eve, planting the seed of doubt that perhaps God is withholding something from Eve. Satan didn’t come right out and say it, but he implied that God was strict, stingy, and selfish for not wanting Eve to share his knowledge of good and evil.1 By taking her focus off of God’s goodness, protection, and provision, she focused on the things she couldn’t have, and began to focus on her desires. The seed of doubt causes us to lose our trust in God’s sovereign care. In a state of doubt, Satan tempts us to question God. Does God’s Word really say that I can do all things in His strength? Does He really expect me stay committed to a man that is gone so much when I need him home? What about my needs? Is this lifestyle really worth it?

Doubt is a natural human response. Opposite of belief, its purpose is to get you to mistrust, become subjective in your skepticism, and ultimately disbelieve the basics of your faith.  When circumstances of your military lifestyle become problematic, they may trigger anxiety or feelings of distrust and lead you to question your role as the supportive military spouse. You may even question your overall ability to go the distance.

 Recognize that doubt is a feeling and feelings are neither right or wrong, they just are. Your doubt may be reasonable, but it has the power to grow, distorting your true perception of your actual circumstances, spreading to other members of your family. Satan’s deception caused Eve to become discontent with her current circumstances. Like Eve, doubt undermines your contentment and commitment, even making an alternative lifestyle appear more attractive. Ask God to remove any feelings of doubt that would lead you astray. Pray He will give you the true perception of your circumstances.

Danger! Danger!

Remember the television show, “Lost in Space” and the robot who signaled trouble when he yells, “Danger! Danger!?” If doubt becomes a welcomed guest for an open-ended stay, recognize you are in dangerous waters. Left to grow in our hearts and minds, doubt will mature into the second of Satan’s flaming arrows. It also begins with a “D.” Leave me a reply with your guess as to what could be.

 Blessings,

Lisa

For Part 2, click here

 Notes

1 Bible Note for Genesis 3:1-6, Life Application Bible, (Iowa Falls, IA:, World Bible   Publishers, Inc., 1989).