Ever found yourself blindsided by life? Ever have one of those days when if it could go wrong it did? Maybe the alarm clock failed to sound and you woke up late for work or school. Maybe the electricity was off when you got up and you couldn’t take a shower, or if you could, you couldn’t blow dry your hair, and nevermind about breakfast. Maybe you ran out of the house not realizing you had two different shoes on, or that your shirt was inside out, or that something was wrong with your contact lens. Maybe your car wouldn’t start? Maybe on the way to work/school you passed a cattle truck and a well-aimed cow made a Hershey squirt all over your windshield (yes, this happened to me once). Maybe you found yourself on an on-ramp behind a cement truck, and they lost their load all over your car (yes, this also happened to me once).
Maybe when you got to work/school you found yourself inexplicably at odds with all of your coworkers? Maybe you got to work only to find you have been fired, or you got to school only to find you failed your final exam and your grant or scholarship has been cancelled? Maybe the boss, or the teacher, really does have it out for you? And as you went to leave you found your car in the parking lot with a totally flat tire. And it’s raining. Maybe your car wasn’t there – maybe you didn’t notice the sign that said, “Tow Away Zone” when you parked. Maybe you walked 20 blocks in a bad part of town to get it back and the only credit card you had to pay with got declined! I tell ya, I’m talking from experience. I’ve totally been there.
Maybe you woke up in the middle of the night suffocating from an attack of worry, and unable to go back to sleep? Fretting about work? Fretting about bills? Fretting about your marriage? Battered by thoughts about an affair, or task that feels utterly daunting, or that you are soberingly ill-equipped to handle? Perhaps fears over medical issues or a scary diagnosis has your gut in knots? Maybe you are worrying about a child that is struggling with something or someone? Maybe your husband has not made it home from work and the weather is absolutely awful outside?
We all have bad days. We all find ourselves down on our luck on occasion. We all have times when we feel overwhelmed and all alone. The Bible says rain falls on the just and the unjust; that in this world we will have troubles!
If you are in this place right now, my heart goes out to you. I know exactly how you feel, and I’m so sorry. Most of the things I’ve listed here are from my own foot-locker of hard knocks. I usually realize, when I’m in the middle of one of these kind of days/weeks/months, that it’s been a long time since I spent any time in God’s word, or in the prayer closet, or in fellowship/worship with other Christians.
When I’ve lost my joy I search out joyful people! I put on joyful worship music and totally lose myself in it! I go to God’s word and start reading the Psalms….
Be Strong in the Lord and in the power of His Might!
……. And I go to Ephesians six and put on my BIG GIRL PANTIES!!!!!!!!!!
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)
Withstand in the evil day, and to do all that we can do to stand!
I can’t help but draw a parity between “the evil day” and Wyoming on an exceptionally windy day. If you life where the wind blows, and I mean blows hard, then you know what a chore it is to try to stand against the swirling, battering tempest, much less walk in it. I’m telling you! Unless you live, or have lived, where the wind blows all the time, you have no idea what it is like to get in and out of a car, or in and out of a house in such raging winds? …Or the comical futility it is of having to almost literally claw your way across a parking lot and have any dignity in the exercise – hair blown upward to a tattered mess and then whipping across your face like a strobing blindfold, eyes filled with sand and dirt, breath sucked out of your lungs, shirt or dress blown up around your neck, hat gone and doing somersaults across the prairie, your body leaning hard into the pressing gales only to have the velocity change and knock you almost off your feet, and as soon as you recover the speed changes back again. Oh, and then, just to make things even more interesting, let’s add ice and snow to the equation. Right? Yeah, you know!!!!! …Or you can picture it at least. (Laughing out loud!)
That’s the kind of battering the enemy deals us sometimes, and sometimes it is all we can do to stand, much less WITHSTAND. The word “withstand” in this passage is anthistemi (pronounced anth-is-tay-me) in the original language of the Ephesians. Anti = against, and histemi = to cause to stand. My study Bible says this verb suggests vigorously opposing, bravely resisting, standing face-to-face against an adversary, standing your ground.
Think “antihistamine.” Like when an allergen attacks us our bodies react badly by sneezing, our eyes water, and our nose runs like a faucet – we are out of control, but an antihistamine helps us to stand against it. An antihistamine stops the horrible, ineffective reaction that our body produces naturally and makes us strong. It renders the allergen harmless.
So it is when we suit up in the Spiritual armor of God.
All by ourselves, and even with a passel of friends by our side, we are hopelessly outgunned against Satan and often react badly: paralyzed by fear, angry or bitter, overcome by the poor-me’s, but Greater is He who is in us, than he who is in the world. God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. And His armor is an absolute necessity in this world.
“When the enemy comes in like a flood, God will raise up a standard against him” Isaiah 59:19
The full armor of God helps us to stand. “Resist the devil and he will flee” it says in James 4:7.
“Let us put on the whole armor of God, that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that we may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore… Ephesians 6:10-13.
Would you like to put some distance between you and that old devil today? C’mon! Get dressed with me!!!!!
Helmet of Salvation
I love that salvation is pictured as a helmet. Without salvation we are dead-people-walking. So let’s start with that. Are you saved? Have you asked Jesus into your heart? Do you have Him living inside of you? Our heads will always be vulnerable until the Lord’s salvation is living inside of us.
- And take the helmet of salvation…
Even after we’ve asked Jesus to live in us there is still a major war going on for our minds. Satan cannot read our thoughts but he can plant them – sexually immoral thoughts, hate and envy, greed and pride, worry and doubt. We must constantly withstand…
“Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” 2 Cor. 10:5b.
Don’t be deceived. Know this, that Satan got Eve to eat the forbidden fruit by first getting her to think about it, then look at it, and finally to touch it. Don’t let him trick you into doing his bidding by enticing you with the same vain imaginations. Catch those thoughts, toss them in God’s incinerator, and then let Jesus Christ, the head of the church, our Salvation, replace them:
“Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate (think) on these things.” Philippians 4:8
Breastplate of Righteousness
Another vulnerable place is our heart, for our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). Our hearts cause us to chase after people and things that are not good for us. Our hearts can become bitter, and out of the overflow of our hearts our mouths speak. Only the Lord’s righteousness can give us a new heart. Create in me a clean heart O God (Psalm 51:10).
- Having put on the breastplate of righteousness…
Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness (Romans 4:3, Genesis 15:16, Galatians 3:6, James 2:23). Do you BELIEVE God?
“Let not mercy and truth forsake you…write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 3:3
“Keep my words, and treasure my commands within you…write them on the tablet of your heart…that they may keep you…” Proverbs 7:3
“clearly you are an epistle of Christ…written…by the Spirit of the living God…on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.” 2 Corinthians 3:3
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23.
We worry so much about what we eat being bad for us, but it is not what we put into our bodies that makes us unclean, it is what comes out. Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. If our hearts are pure, our words will be also. We must hide God’s word in our hearts that we might not sin against Him. If we do this we need not fret about what we will say when an enemy confronts us, because when that time comes those hidden words will come out. Matthew 10:19; Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11. The Holy Spirit will wield them as a sword against our enemy! And He’ll help us not to have the horrible, ineffective reactions!
Let’s reach our arms up (in surrender) through the straps of the breastplate, and receive (Christ) our Breastplate into place. Feel the impression of the cross pressed into the breastplate and rest assured that our heart is safe behind that cross of Christ.
Belt of Truth
Martial arts beginners start with a yellow beginner belt, and as they become more skilled, they graduate on to the coveted black belt. Being a good Christian, doing the right things, hearing God’s will and doing it, these all take practice for us to become proficient.
- Having girded your waist with truth…
Wear truth like a belt, because, liar liar pants on fire, we don’t want to get caught with our pants down in an untruth. Lies destroy integrity. As Christians we must stay away from them. Guard against them. They are the devil’s playground. He is a liar and the father of lies. Let no lie depart from our lips.
And do not let that nasty devil lie to us either. Has he been in your ear about something? Tempting. Taunting. What has he been lying to you about? Strap on that belt of truth and find the promises of God in the scriptures. They are the same yesterday, today, and forever!!!! When the devil says we are worthless, remember that God created you for the sole purpose of knowing you. He knew you before you were even born. He knows every hair on your head. He ordained every day of your life before you ever even lived one of them. He has plans to prosper you, to give you a hope and a future.
Has Satan used people to sow seeds of doubt in your mind or your heart? There is a way that seems right to men, but in the end it leads to death. Jesus is THE Way, THE TRUTH, and THE Life; no one comes to the Father but by Him!
If we ask Jesus into our hearts, and let Him wear the pants in the relationship, that’s how we’ll keep our belt of truth firmly fastened.
Shoes of Readiness (for the gospel of peace)
Don’t be like my granddaughters, who, bless their sweet little pea pickin’ hearts, shuck those shoes the instant they enter a house, and then when it’s time to go, spend forever, running around like chickens with their heads cut off, sending us all off on a wild goose chase looking for them. Be prepared. Let us always be prepared! Keep those shoes on!!!!!!!
- And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace…
Let’s be prepared every day for God’s will and for the work He has for us to do. Look for opportunities to randomly sow kindness. Seek to always be busy for the Lord. We don’t have to be nervous about it – for it is the gospel of peace, not war, that Jesus sends us out with. Jesus said, “My peace I give you! I do not give as the world gives.” His perfect peace casts out fear!
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” 1 John 4:18
“Seek peace, and pursue it!” The gospel is neither high pressure, or mean, it isn’t insulting, or rude, it should never be argumentative, or hostile, or accusatory. It is not conceited, prideful, arrogant, self-seeking, or unprepared. The gospel is…. well….peace and love, man, peace and love – 1 Cor. 13.
We need a good, tough pair of hikers if we are going to make it up and down the steep cliffs of life, sensible cleats, for the rocky terrain out there is filled with loose gravel, cactus and centipedes, mountains and mud puddles, tall grass and fallen logs. We’ve got a long road ahead of us and lots of seed to sow – Matthew 13:1-23.
“Every place on which the soul of your foot treads shall be yours…” Deut. 11:24
“How beautiful are the feet of them who bring good news.” Isaiah 52:7 and Romans 10:15
Pull those shoes of peace snuggly onto each foot. Grab the laces and yank hard, twist, and tie, not with pretty laces that break easy, but with a three-fold cord that is not easily broken. Tie those cords into a double bow knot so we don’t lose our shoes in quicksand if we should step in any of it today. And then let’s be about the Lord’s work, scattering seeds, and taking some beautiful peace and good news to our world. We have the answer for what ailes humanity – the cure for the cancer of the soul!!!!!
Shield of Faith
Do you have works? Check your wallet. What are you spending your money on? Check your calendar. What are you spending your time doing? Faith without works is evidence of spiritual death. Have you laid your shield down somewhere? Where is it? Let’s find it in a hurry and pick it back up!!!! Of all the pieces of armor, it might be the most important. Even just a tiny mustard seed of faith can grow into a giant tree!
- Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one…
The shield Paul spoke of was called a thureon, and was a plank of wood, 4 feet long and 2½ feet wide. It was covered with linen and treated leather. It was the one piece of equipment that all the others could hide behind. Picture a turtle, with tough skin, snapping beak, and sharp claws, safely tucked into his shell. Only the shield will protect a warrior from blazing arrows, and believe me, Satan is generous with his flaming arrows.
The devil wants nothing more than to get us to lay down our shield of faith. He is always attacking it. If he can destroy our faith, he’s got us. That shield is the one piece of armor that protects us from his weapons of mass destruction.
Have you had a crisis of faith recently? Welcome to the club; I think we all have. No sin has overcome us except what is common to man. Has something happened that made you question God’s love or existence? That, my friend, was the devil, and it was one of his perfectly aimed fiery darts. He sprays them at all of us, aggressively, incessantly. When you are having a crisis of faith, go back and find where you laid down your shield and take it back up again. Read testimonies. Talk to people who have experienced miracles. Get in the word. Pray. Cry. Work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Connect with a faithful mentor. Read the book The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. Watch the movie The Shack, or Miracles from Heaven. Joni Erickson Tada has an amazing testimony. Do whatever it takes to find our faith again.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen!
Our faith will shield us from the accusations of the devil. Hold on to your faith! Hide behind your faith! It is the only thing protecting us against arrows of death and destruction.
Sword of the Spirit
How did Jesus fight Satan in His temptation in the wilderness? With the word of God! Have you hidden God’s word in your heart? God gave us the Holy Spirit the moment we asked Jesus into our hearts for many purposes, one of which is to remind us of the words of God that we’ve hidden in our hearts. We must, must, must be in the word. We must know the word, so that no one will ever be able to deceive us!
- And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…
“The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and morrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
God’s word brings conviction. It shines a light on lies. It extinguishes deceit. It makes promises that increase our faith. The Holy Spirit will teach us all things that are written in the word, and bring to our remembrance all things that Jesus said (John 14:26). We can wield the word of God as a sword against our enemy, as Jesus did when Satan tempted Him in the wilderness.
One of my favorite Bible teachers, Beth Moore, encourages her students in a Breaking Free video session, to “Get you some bullets – a word from the word – every morning, and load your weapon, because Satan isn’t afraid of the chambering SOUND of the shotgun. He’s only gonna run if he gets shot at with REAL bullets – scriptures.” She has an excellent book, Praying God’s Word, and a couple of wonderful devotionals that I encourage you to get.
Fellow soldier, let’s load our spiritual magazines right now, and every morning, and be ready for whatever may come our way. Here are some of my favorite Bible Promise Books. They have categories which lead to specific Bible promises for every problem we could ever face. Keep one in your car, your desk drawer, your purse, on your table. So when we come face to face with fear, for instance, we can find scriptures that offer courage in that moment. If depression, we can find joy. Health problems? …healing promises! And also be able to offer encouragement for others!!!!
No weapon formed against us shall prosper, all those who rise up against us shall fall!
- Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit
Keep seeking, keep knocking, keep asking in Jesus’ name, and the door will be opened to us. Let the Holy Ghost pray for us when we don’t know what to pray, with groanings that cannot be formed into words. Pray out loud with our hearts and our minds and our mouths, but also inwardly and with the secret prayer language that the Holy Ghost came to give us, to keep Satan out of the loop, and have holy mediation. Pray by ourselves every moment of every day, and get together often to pray with others. Fast and pray. Ask the Lord to teach us how to pray and what to pray, as the disciples also did, and He will show us.
- Being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.
When I was first writing this blog post it was back at Christmastime, and I had a bag of treats sitting on my desk to give to my garbage man. As I wrote I also was keeping an ear out for his rumbling truck. When I heard what I thought was it, I grabbed the bag, and jumped and ran for the door, only to find it was a darned semi. The next time I jumped and ran, it was only farm equipment. Later still it was a dump truck. Good grief. Until this day I never really noticed how many heavy trucks traveled down the highway past my house.
Finally the garbage truck did come, and I was able to catch him, and tell him Merry Christmas, but wouldn’t you know it, God had a little object lesson waiting for me when I returned to my work. His still small voice spoke to my heart and said, “THAT is the kind of watchfulness I want you to have for all things spriritual.”
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12
Our Lord wants us to keep one eye constantly open, watching, and if Satan picks on us, our families, or any one of the saints, we are to use our weapons to chase him away, before he gets a foothold.
Watch, for the devil roams around like a prowling lion seeking whom he may devour. He is an opportunist and goes after the easiest lambs of the flock. Let’s not be easy. He comes to kill and to steal and to destroy, but do not fear, “Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world” 1 John 4:4.
At the cross of Christ, the enemy was defeated (Colossians 1:13-14; 2:15; Revelation 20:7-10). Let us stand together and have endurance in our watchfulness and fight him off together, calling 911-Jesus when we see anyone under attack, because a three strand cord (us, with our brethren, and entwinded with Jesus) is not easily broken.
THAT is also the kind of watchfulness we are to have for our Lord’s glorious return. Our Savior, hallelujah, shall come for us one day, praise His glorious name, to snatch us away from this evil world (Thess. 5:6). I pray He finds me and YOU ready, worthy, and watching!!!!!!! Oh how I pray!!!!!!!!!
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Did you get dressed with me? Yay!!!!! Let’s go take a good look in the mirror at our bad selves, and not forget what we look like with all our armor on. Let’s not be sitting ducks when we get out of bed in the mornings, as we go throughout our chaotic days, or as we lay our heads down on our pillows to sleep at night. Our Spiritual Armor doesn’t need to be laundered, so let’s just always keep it on!!!! And like God’s mercies that are new every morning, may His armor be as well. Put it on again whenever the Holy Spirit prompts us to put it on!
Rejoice with me, that our Father knows how to give good gifts to His children. Besides the gift of Salvation in His Son, we also have the gift of the Holy Spirit that stays with us always, and let us thank the good Lord for the gift of armor that protects us along life’s narrow roads and dark alleys, His hedge of protection He places around us, and His mighty angels that go before us, surround us, and are our rear guards. Lord cast that devil away from us, far away, as far away as the east is from the west. And if he should ask you to sift us as wheat today, I pray dear Lord you will tell him NO! In Jesus’ name.
“My soul rejoices in my God, for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.” Isaiah 61:10