Tag Archives: victory

Does Your Shield of Faith Have A Door Knob? – Armor of God Series

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Ancient Roman soldier with his shield

There are three purposes of the Shield of Faith.

Today, we will take a look at the fourth piece of armor that Paul encourages us to put on–the shield of faith. My last three blog posts have dealt with items we wear: the belt, the breastplate, and the shoes. Click on the links to check those articles out.

Instead of the typical shield that we see depicted on movie screens, the shield the Roman soldiers carried were actually a slightly curved rectangular shape between three and three and a half feet tall, and equally as wide. And centered in the middle of the shield was a large metal knob. This knob was called a boss.1 The size of the Roman shield afforded the soldier a great deal of protection. Because of its curved nature, it could deflect attacks from the side. With the added metal knob, the soldier had an edge to knock down his opponent. So, what does the Roman shield have to do with faith?

What Is Faith?

To understand the link between the Roman shield and our faith, let’s understand first Hebrews 11:1:

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (NRSV).

When we are hoping for something to materialize it means we haven’t seen it yet. When we do see it materialize, it becomes tangible or it becomes a reality. Faith then is the confidence in God that we already have what we are hoping for. It is the belief, or the confidence, that because of God’s faithfulness, He will fulfill His promises to us. This conviction is based on trust. We trust in God’s character, meaning we believe who He says He is, and we believe in His promises-that He will do what He says He will do. From the perspective of trust, we then have assurance and conviction and we will demonstrate our faith in that we will have what we hope for.

How Are the Shield and Faith Connected?

First, the shield guards. The shield of faith also guards us spiritually when we’re in the trenches of physical hardships. Remember Shadrach, Meshack and Abed-Nego? They were physically in a burning furnace – a real physical crisis. These three teenagers had an unwavering faith, supported by their obedience to God’s commands. As a result, God empowered them to hold onto their faith with the boldness to tell the king they wouldn’t bow to worship the golden image. Thus, God protected them physically, even though these boys didn’t know if God would actually deliver them from certain death.

If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up (Daniel 3:17-18).

Shield of Faith Averts

Since the ancient Romans used shields that were slightly curved around the edges, it had the ability to repel hits from their enemies. We have an enemy today-Satan. And he often pursues us by shooting his fiery darts of worry, doubt, and fear. These are some of his weapons to pull us off our game and to get us to doubt God’s faithfulness or that God isn’t in control of all that touches our lives. If we let our shield of faith down, then we are exposed and we are vulnerable to Satan’s attacks.

Shield of Faith Fends Off

Remember that boss- the doorknob? That doorknob-like structure has a purpose. It can be used by the soldier to shove back or repel his enemy. It can literally knock his foe to the ground, thereby incapacitating him for that final attack. What would we use as a modern day boss? The doorknob in our faith today would be our obedience to God’s will and His ways, and in our works of service. These actions build our faith, they repel attacks from Satan and help us to live a resilient life.

Shields Work As A Wall

I’m sure you’ve seen it–when enemies sent arrows up into the sky, soldiers closed ranks. Soldiers on the outside used their shields to form a wall around the perimeter. Then those in the middle raised their shields over their heads to protect everyone from free-falling arrows and other projectiles. This technique is called the “tortoise,” formation.2

The Call-to-Action

If Christians today use their faith to build up one another, we too, can become a strong soldier in God’s army.

Blessings,

Lisa

Notes:

1 The Great Teachings of the Bible and What They Mean for You: The Armor of God, Lesson 5: The Shield of Faith, www.freebiblestudyguides.org/bible-teaching/armor-of-god-shield-of-faith.htm, accessed 9-1-16.

2 Ibid.

 

Breastplate of Righteousness – Are You Putting It On?

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

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

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

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

Goals are not reached without a steadfast heart.

A Pledge to Devotion to Commitment

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

Breast-plate of Righteousness: Our Heart and Bowels

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

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

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

Satan’s Goal is to Destroy the Breastplate of Righteousness

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

Breastplate of Righteousness Becomes a Fortress

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

 Blessings,

Lisa

Notes:

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

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

 

The Belt of Truth and the Presidential Campaign

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Belt of Truth Shields Us in its Freedom

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

Belt of Truth Makes Us Ready

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

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

Truth Directs Us

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

Put on the Belt of Truth and Pray

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

Lisa

Click here to order Faith Steps for Military Families.

Lessons From the Wayward Nephew – Lot

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The first recorded war was between 4 kings and money, but it also included a search and rescue mission.

The first recorded war was between 4 kings and money, but it also included a search and rescue mission.

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 this quick-forming alliance. 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 – the Drifter

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.

Why Is This Important?

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. 

We Were Like Lot Once

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.

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.

The Unseen Commander

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“For dominion belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations” (Psalm 22:28).Pharaoh

What is it about the amusement we receive from watching ungodly people in positions of power and authority fall? We saw this with the former dictator, Saddam Hussein, of Iraq and the head of the al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and other rulers in recent years.

 In the Old Testament there were several evil rulers, or commanders, who wouldn’t listen or alter their minds or decisions in light of God’s authority and might. Their hearts were hardened by their own proud estimation of themselves. When God sent Moses to go before Pharaoh and request that he let the Hebrew slaves go, Pharaoh gave it no attention. He saw himself as the supreme commander and even claimed himself to be a god. The Pharaoh didn’t give the Hebrew God much credibility. After all, how could their God be powerful if His own people were lowly slaves?  

Pharaoh’s doubt in a God above himself boosted his own confidence and he put some of this confidence in the strength of his army. Moses’ efforts to speak God’s truth to the Pharaoh at first failed, but in the end, God prevailed. The Pharaoh had to learn God’s truth the hard way. The death of his young son with the tenth plaque made his life uncomfortable, and he conceded, but only briefly. After letting his slaves go, His pride resurfaced again. God had to strike that final blow to his trusted army, by drowning them in the Red Sea.

  As God did then and still does today–He maintains control over earthy rulers. He sees their evil deeds and it will only prevail as long as God allows. In Psalm 125:3 it says, “For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous…” A scepter is a rod or a staff symbolizing authority. In other words, God will not allow ungodly rulers to reside and maintain authority in the land he designated for His people indefinitely. Nations and rulers continue to rise and fall as we have seen in recent years in the Middle East. There will be a day in which God will allow them to stumble and eventually fall. But He, at a time only He determines will execute His judgment and eradicate those with a scepter of evil. We can trust our God on this truth. Because He never changes He is completely trustworthy, consistent, and steadfast.

Delight in the Lord’s mighty power today,

Lisa

To order a copy of my book, Faith Steps for Military Families, click here. You can find me on Facebook.com/FaithStepsForMilitaryFamilies and Twitter @lisanixonphilli

 

Hello, I Am…Waiting For Better Times

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  O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; [my prayers] in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch [wait]. Psalm 5:3 NRSV

What has the military life put on hold for you?

What has the military life put on hold for you?

In our waiting for God to usher in better times, it can seem like God has forgotten us. We know in our heart it’s not true, but that doesn’t always remove the ache of waiting. Even the ancient Israelites wondered if God had forgotten them at times. But then, God did something so incredibly wonderful that it seemed too good to be true. Have you ever experienced something like that? The author of Psalm 126 wrote about an event that was truly wonderful that it seemed like a dream. “When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream” (Psalm 126:1).
The Crockpot of Waiting
Because the Israelites had been taken into captivity by the Babylonians, their lives took a drastic downturn. Due to their exiled status, their lives and better times were on hold-indefinitely. Commentator James Limburg describes this period of waiting perfectly. “Psalm 126 comes from a people who are living between the times, between a good time remembered and another good time hoped for.”

What about you? Do you find yourself living between the times-between a time filled with fond memories and another time waiting for good times to return again? I have. I recall as a Navy wife in which circumstances were less than desirable and for a span of five years it seemed like life in the military would never yield better times. I frequently wrote in my prayer journal “how long, Lord? When will these discouraging times end?” But God is not concerned about our discomfort so much as He is concerned with molding and shaping us into mighty vessels for His kingdom work as a result of those dry, and disappointing times. It’s as if that period of feeling stuck between the times is God putting us into the crockpot of life and keeping us at the “simmer” setting. We have to patiently bear the wait as the obstacles of our dry circumstances grow and shape our faith, saturating us with the aroma of God’s spirit permeating our lives.

Active Waiting Brings Discernment

Our fast-paced culture desires quick fixes. We want the easy 5-steps for bringing happy times back into our lives or homes. God, however, operates in a totally different fashion. He ordains our days and the circumstances in our lives for our good and His glory. And when we find our lives on hold this is our cue to soak our minds in God’s Word. Doing so enlarges our spiritual perception to better discern our circumstances. “But those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). By anticipating God’s promise of strength, we grow in hopeful expectation that God will move in our less-than-desirable circumstances and usher in better times. The results are worth the wait.

Those Israelites taken into captivity by Babylon were carried away in tears, but their tears of sorrow became the seeds for a future harvest. God did the extraordinary. Seventy years later He used King Cyrus to end their captivity. And this is why it seemed like a dream to them. Something this wonderful had to be from God’s hand.

God still desires to bless His children with events that astonish us-and move us to the other side of James Limburg’s quote to “another time hoped for.” God’s great harvest will come and with it His joy for our parched hearts.

Go and Delight in the Lord today!

Lisa

If you’ve experienced something so astonishing that it could only have been from God’s hand, I’d love to hear from you. Please use the “reply” button at the bottom of this page to share your story. Come visit me at www.Facebook.com/FaithStepsForMilitaryFamilies and ‘like’ my page.

 

 

A Prayer of Praise to God, Our Defender

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Facebook Template -This Weekend's prayer A Prayer of Praise to God

Lord,

As I grow to know You, the more I appreciate You. As the apple of Your eye (Psalm 17:8), You have kept me from being swallowed by the raging waters of overwhelming circumstances and from people who despise me. Out of immense care, You have made a way of escape, a way through to victory. You are my Defender. You did not leave me defenseless. People may leave me, but You will never quit on me. And Your protection is limitless; it has no boundaries. Thank You for being my Defender. Use any pain or suffering I endure to teach me spiritual lessons to that it makes me into a better servant for You. Let me be a praising person who never forgets what You have done, or will do, telling others so they will see Your mighty hand at work and praise Your name (Matt.5:16).

Lord, show me the areas I am vulnerable to attacks by Satan so I can arm myself with Your Word. Continue to develop my level of trust in You so I remain firmly rooted in my faith. With Your defensive help, I will prevail over my enemy-Satan. Like You did for the Israelites, keep Your eye upon me. Because You were on their side, I can trust that You are for me, too. Thank You for being my Defender. Amen.

-Prayer taken from Faith Steps for Military Families by Lisa Nixon Phillips. Click book cover to the right to order, or email me at info@lisanixonphillips. Each copy is just $13.00 and that includes shipping. Get free prayer cards for your service member and for military families. Thank you!

See Lisa also at www.Facebook.com/FaithStepsForMilitaryFamilies

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).

What Fear Have You Conquered?

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What fear have you conquered?

What fear have you conquered?

Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you” (Deu. 31:6).

 Sometimes to find victory in our lives we have to push forward despite our fears. The Israelites had trouble with this concept when they failed to trust God to allow Moses to lead them into the promise land. Their fear and lack of trust stopped them in their tracks –for 40 years!

  As a result, God allowed them to wander in the wilderness until the older, disobedient generation died. As they waited out the years, the younger generation was taught to obey God’s laws, and by the time they were adults they understood that faith in God and submission to his commands brought victory. But the opposite proved true as well. Disbelief and disobedience brought misfortune and heartbreak.

  When the next generation became adults they were ready to move into the promise land. Moses had died and his successor was Joshua. We know that Joshua had complete trust in God, but even he had fears to confront when he led 2 million people to conquer their enemies and claim a new land.

  Most of us have confronted some kind of fear in our lives. And sometimes this fear is simply the fear of the unknown. This is especially true if we leave God out of our fearful situations. New challenges often bring apprehension; Joshua knew this feeling well. He was overwhelmed by the task God charged him with. After all, he had big shoes to fill. Moses had stood before the Pharaoh of Egypt and requested to free God’s people. Now that was brave and courageous!

 Fear also rises up within us when we harbor doubt about ourselves. It’s possible, Joshua even doubted his abilities to get God’s job done. But, God comforted Joshua. “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them…” (Joshua 1:5-6 NKJV). Joshua moved forward, trusting in faith.

  I think it’s still reasonable to still have some degree of fear even when moving in faith. Faith is believing that God will do what He says He will do.  He may not remove all fear, but God will comfort and reassure us, so in our humanity we don’t allow our fear to completely stop us. But faith is taking God at His Word, knowing that if He says He is with us, like He told Joshua, then He is with us, too, in all our fearful situations.

  Think back to one fearful situation you had. Did your fear prompt your heart to seek God for assurance and affirmation–to ask Him to go with you despite your fear? Without God our new challenges can be frightening, but with God they can lead us into a new journey that leads to victory.

 On Wednesday, I’ll share how fear and a lack of my understanding of God’s nature stopped me from taking the next step in a career path that left me with a season of regret.

Since my website and blog is new, I would really enjoy hearing about a fearful situation you experienced and how you pushed through to victory with God. Below is a from to submit your story ­–and I promise I will reply. Connecting with you is important to me. Thanks! 

  Blessings,

Lisa