Final Thoughts: Armor of God

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By Marlys Burgett

This is our last time together. I’ve done multiple Bible studies over many years, yet this has probably been one of my favorites!

Has it been so for you too?

What has made it meaningful for me is the focus on this passage of scripture in Ephesians 6 that’s abundantly full of truth and practical ways to battle well.

Let’s review the armor we get to dress up in daily:

  • The shoes of peace
  • The belt of truth
  • The breastplate of righteousness
  • The shield of faith
  • The helmet of salvation
  • And our offensive weapon: the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God

And we can cover ourselves up in continual prayer!

I was encouraged by our lesson that the sword of the Spirit fights on our behalf . The Rehma (the utterance of God) speaks personal and intimate words for me alone and for you alone. The Word is our power – to help us stand firm and victorious! For example, yesterday I was reading in Ps 55, “He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle within me.” As Priscilla said in the DVD, “the Word will jump off the page; like it was highlighted just for you.

Why was this verse so meaningful?

As most of you know, it’s been a little over a year since my husband passed away. You survive the first year full of memories now experienced alone. The “firsts” they call it. (Who is they anyway?) So I’ve survived through the first holidays, birthdays, anniversary’s; this Monday would have been our 39th anniversary.

But now as I enter the second year, it seems the enemy of grief and sorrow has been hounding me:  sad, teary, sleepless, feeling like a needy and pathetic friend. I even find myself crying in Wal-Mart! Some days it’s difficult to get up, and when I do, it feels like I’m plodding through a muddy quagmire. Maybe some of you can relate as you experience your own challenges:  illness, relationship losses, prodigal kids, job stress, financial concerns, among other struggles.

But the one thing I don’t stop doing, no matter the pain, is running to Jesus. It’s the best thing I can do! And each day as I run to Him, pleading and praying, He shows up with fresh new mercies, and a good cup of coffee. Every. Single. Morning.

Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT says, “His faithful love never ends. His mercies never cease! Great is His faithfulness. His mercies begin afresh each morning.”

This study was a beginning, a great first step of learning how to clothe ourselves with the armor of God. It seems fitting as we conclude to take some time to ponder …

  • How will we choose to live life differently after having gone through this study?
  • I wonder, will you continue to embrace His word and identify specific prayer strategies in the days to come?
  • Or will you go home and put this study on a shelf, never to open it again? I hope not, for me nor for you!

I’d like to give you a few minutes to jot down and answer some questions; just between you and Jesus.

  1. Identify specific ways you can keep the momentum of prayer moving in your daily life.
  2. What is the one piece of armor Jesus is prompting you to focus on?
  3. How will you be prepared to stand firm when the next battle comes around? Or, if you are currently in the heat of battle, how can you respond in new ways to battle well?

In the coming days, ask Jesus to help you follow through with these action steps you have identified.

Thanks so much for joining us this summer! We pray The Armor of God will continue to encourage you in your faith walk with Jesus.

Truth Hinge

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As I worked through our lesson 5 homework, these words on Day 4 caught my attention:

“[Truth] is the hinge upon which the entire issue of faith-filled living rests.” Priscilla goes on to explain,”the truth of God’s character and His Word provide the framework that allows our faith to flourish and thrive.”

I love the picture that conveys!

Just like a strong commitment to Truth, a strong hinge holds our faith-life together. It allows us to open ourselves to good, God-honoring activities and people. It also closes to keep unhealthy and evil things from entering our lives.

Simon’s example of faith shows just how a commitment to Truth helps us navigate in a world of choices and opportunities. (Luke 5:1-7,11)

Having just met the Savior and hearing Him teach only once, the Truth of God’s character was evident to Simon as he revealed raw faith in saying, “But if you say so… ”

Remarkable!

He didn’t ask for further proof : “Have you ever caught fish in deep water in the middle of the day?”

He didn’t demand a safety net if things didn’t pan out : “If I don’t catch anything, will you pay me for my time?”

He didn’t walk away:  “That sounds like the kind of idea a carpenter would have!”

Can you hear the hinge squeak as it swings open to Simon’s opportunity? It was THE hinge of truth, spoken by the TRUTH in his moment of truth. Eternity hung in the balance.

How might a moment such as that look in my life? Would it come in a religious moment, like on a Sunday morning, or when I’ve just paid it forward in the drive-thru lane? Or would it come on the heels of disappointment, cleaning up a mess, interrupted and irritated as it did with Simon?

Do I weigh each opportunity against the timeless Truth, “Does Jesus say so?”

Does Jesus say I should spend my time on something good, even if it takes me away from His BEST for my life? Does Jesus say I should exercise my freedom at the expense of someone else’s temptation with addiction? Does Jesus say I should speak my mind, share  a blistering podcast or rage online while I support the Prince of Peace?

It’s a question I plan to keep asking, with big choices and seemingly small opportunities. “Does Jesus say so?”

Squueeaakkk . . .

 

Fear of Flying

flyingI used to be a white-knuckle flyer. Today, after many years of flight experience, I’ve graduated to what I’d call a reluctant flyer. The fear is still there. I’ve just learned to cope. Recently, my husband and I were returning home on a flight that originated out of a very small airport. Seriously, y’all, when I say small, I mean the same two people who checked us in and took our luggage were the same two who collected our boarding passes at the gate. They were also the same ones (we noticed) who loaded our luggage on the plane and guided us out onto the runway. Yeah. Two-man operation small.

Needless to say, our plane was no 747. If you’ve flown much, you’ve probably been on one like it–two miniscule seats on one side, one on the other with an aisle so narrow it’s best navigated sideways. But as I mentioned before, I’ve learned to cope. After an intimate conversation with Jesus on take-off, I immersed myself in a book by one of my favorite authors.

All was good . . . until we hit turbulence.

Really, there’s nothing like a good bit of turbulence to bring you smack dab into your present circumstances. After one particularly violent dip that left my heart hovering somewhere near the ceiling of the plane, I looked up from my book and took stock of my surroundings. Panic squeezed the air from my lungs. I was in a stinkin’ aluminum can, bobbing around like a manic ping-pong ball, 30,000 feet in the air. What in the name of sanity had convinced me this was a good idea?

Thankfully before I decided to run screaming for an exit, the plane leveled out, and I was able to escape into my book again. Because deep-down inside, despite how I might have felt at that moment, I knew this truth. If I didn’t really believe the plane would get me to my destination, I would never have left the airport.

Isn’t that a lot like this faith-walk we’re on? I love this quote from our study this week:

“Faith is when you act like God is telling you the truth.”

Faith is not static. It requires that we step out into seemingly impossible situations believing God is going to make good on His promises. Some days the path seems easy, but on others, when turbulence hits, suddenly this grand faith-adventure we’re on is not so grand anymore, and like Peter walking on the water, all we can focus on are the waves around us. Satan has us exactly where he wants us–paralyzed by fear.

If this is where you find yourself, consider this. If I had let my fear of flying keep me in the airport, think of all the adventures I would have missed, the wonderful places I’d never have experienced.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us:

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Are you allowing fear to keep you from what God has created you to do? Maybe it’s time to get out of the airport and onto that plane.

 

 

Prayer Strategy

{Marlys Burgett shared with us during class this week, drawing from her own experience crafting a prayer strategy from this study}

Some of you have asked about the Prayer Strategy Cards that are located in the back of the book.

I’m sure some of you have filled them out. But if not, I thought I would share with you a few of mine to help you get started. There is no right or wrong things to put on these cards. It’s a good way to record how you’ve been encouraged throughout the study – maybe a scripture you want to focus on, something that stirred you in the DVD, a light bulb moment, or perhaps you want to jot down one of God’s many promises.

This first Prayer Strategy came out of the lesson on Truth:

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Jesus said in John 8:12 “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of Life.”

Isaiah 8:21 says, “This is the way; walk in it.”

So how do I do this walk? As I immerse my heart and mind and spirit in His Word (it’s my lamp, my light, my truth) I will have the wisdom and power to abide fully, to walk faithfully, to order my life and to trust Him with my decisions. Immerse means to submerge myself, plunge, to engage my entire being.  I want to walk in a way according to truth, not rely my feelings, In the video, you may remember that Priscilla said; “feelings don’t have intellect”. Being a very high feeler, I need to be reminded of this quite often. Acting on feelings alone can bite you in the fanny and cause lots of regret and consequences to deal with later on. Can anyone relate? 

This next Prayer Strategy was inspired by our DVD lesson from this past week on the breast plate of righteousness.

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I am to put on the breastplate of righteousness. The breast plate protects my heart! The Holy Spirit works righteousness in me from the inside out! I rely on the spirit to help me look more like Jesus by aligning my life to God’s expectations and standards. This is so hard to do in real life, isn’t it? We learned in Romans 7 where Paul talks about “I want to do what God wants me to do but there is this war of flesh and spirit.”  Proverbs 4:23 “watch over my heart with all diligence for from it flowers the streams of life.”

I pursue truth by aligning my life with God’s expectations. I want to have holy boldness and holy courage to live obediently.Personalizing scripture helps me realize God’s word in a more meaningful way. For example:

Ps 81:13-14 “Oh, Marlys  that you will listen to me, walking in my paths! How quickly I will then subdue your enemies.” I really like the fact God as I walk with Him, He promises to womp on my enemies. Yeah!

And as we move into tonight’s video on peace, here are some thoughts that I wanted to focus on this week.

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Priscilla will share that we cannot survive the storms in life without God’s peace.

When God’s peace is locked in your life it will become your guard and protector. Peace means an inner tranquility, to trust, a calmness of my soul, a grateful heart, anchored. If you were a fan Seinfeld, you’ll likely remember the episode where Kremer says “serenity now!” Peace and serenity are something we need NOW!

Thankfulness activates peace! Col 3:15 says,”Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart, to which indeed you were called, and be thankful.”

I can get in the habit of grumbling which doesn’t bring peace, it only increases anxiety and frustration. Then I grumble to others or with others. Recently, I’ve had conversations that stirred my “grumbler”. Rather than grumble I choose to be thankful for responding well on the phone with these individuals, praying as I surrendered the grumbles to God, which in turn encouraged my peaceful heart.

Anything robbing you of your peace this week?

On page 192 in your book, Priscilla gives you other ideas for these Prayer Strategy cards. Again, you don’t need to be an artist, they don’t have to look perfect. It’s all about you and Jesus; in your quiet moments reading His word and in prayer and asking Him to reveal what He wants you to learn or hear or experience.

I put these cards up in my kitchen, on my bath mirror, in my car, my computer at work……anywhere I can  easily be reminded of God’s word.

Mind if I pray for us?

Lord Jesus, thanks for this week’s lesson on Righteousness. May we become women who live by your truth, expectations and standards YOU set for us. Not just in our minds but in our behavior. Not because of a desire to be perfect, rather from listening to your holy spirit from the inside out. Mold us into Christ likeness. Be with us as we discuss around our tables, may your word inspire and encourage us to live lives of faith. In your name, amen.

 

A Battle Against . . .

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God never disappoints with variety and impact when He teaches me as I prepare to lead a class. One time it may be through emotional upheaval while another lesson might bring a physical challenge. This week, it’s been a battle against pests!

It started with ants in my kitchen. Every morning I wander out to see if my latest attempt at pest control has worked. My strategy centers on the ants taking sweet, sticky poison back to their nest. As long as the ant goo is the tastiest thing on my counter, it works.

BUT …. If someone leaves a sticky ice cream spoon in the sink …

or a tiny chunk of watermelon slips under the cutting board …

my whole strategy is blown for the day. It takes persistence!

Just when the tide had turned on the influx of ants, I noticed a crop of tiny grasshoppers chewing their way across my landscape. Small critters can shred succulents in no time.

So, armed with 10 gallons of bugs-B-dead, I soaked flora and fauna in a 5 foot radius of home and hearth. It takes power!

Feeling a surge of force after taking back control of my habitat from unwanted creepers, I decided to celebrate with a power walk around our farm pond. It was a muggy morning with just enough breeze to keep the bugs at bay.

Then, as if under orders from a lord of the flies, pond pests swarmed my arms and legs. The stinging and biting has since been eclipsed by lingering welts, bruises and an uncontrollable itch. It takes patience!

While this pesky battle isn’t life threatening or really even that unusual, it has shown me some key ways to fight this spiritual battle as well.

While I’ve cleaned and wiped away ants (Every. Day.) I’m reminded how persistent for Truth we need to be.

  • One sticky word and pesky gossip is right there to take hold of a conversation.
  • One careless act and the swarm of shame is all over my thought life.

When I’ve taken on a tiny plague in my yard, I’m reminded to go with what works. Truth works!

  • Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 1:6
  • Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. Ephesians 3:17

As I slather on balms to keep the stinging at bay, I’m reminded the Enemy is prowling around, waiting to grab hold of some unguarded part of my life. Staying alert in the battle is an act of patience and listening to the Holy Spirit.

For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded.

I Thessalonians 5:5-6

How about you? How might God be teaching you more about the Armor of God through your everyday experiences?

Be Strong

Most of my life has been about praying it safe. I started young, tucking my heart in with this nighttime entreaty:

Now I lay me down to sleep

I pray the Lord my soul to keep

If I should die before I wake

I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.

Upon waking the next morning, I could yawn and stretch, safe for another day! Life was simple in those days.

I’m ever so grateful for the reminder in Ephesians 6 that prayer is about being STRONG, rather than merely staying safe. Life is not so simple these days.

I’m not sure which frightens me more: terrorists attacking unsuspecting infidels on American soil or Americans counterattacking with hate and twisted facts on every media outlet available. It all feeds the Enemy’s taste for deception and contempt for truth. It all paralyzes us with fear, goads us into fighting, and weakeephesians6.10ns our faith.

And I realize that God could pull us under His wings and hide us safely away until Jesus comes. Instead He gave us Paul’s words of confident hope:

“be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”  Eph. 6:10

Here’s what I notice about this truth:

God is the strong one. When it comes to fighting the Enemy of our souls, we rely solely on the strength of the Lord.

God does the fighting. Yep, it’s His might that sets everything right. Though we are engaged in this spiritual battle, the ultimate victory has already been won.

I BE. To me that speaks of the responsibility to rest in Him. Rest during the battle? Absolutely! What better way to prove to a watching world that our God is strong.

Mind if I pray for us? …

Mighty God, Strong to Save ~ we rest in Your promise to be strong through us, making us fit for this battle against hatred and fear in our country. Your grace has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. Help us to stand firm in our faith, turning our backs on Godless living and sinful pleasures. Help us live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness and devotion to You. (Titus 2:11-12) Amen!