sword-of-the-holy-spirit

This is War

This past week I started a new Bible study based on Priscilla Shirer’s book, Armor of God. I’m only two days into the 7-week study and I am loving it. Too often, I get so caught up in the day-to-day monotony of this world, that I forget we are at war. Sometimes, we think our war is the Indy 500 traffic (if you live in South Florida), the ornery woman at the register, or that student who just refuses to listen. But can I tell you that they are not the problem. The Bible reminds us of this when Paul writes, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV).

We devote so much time fashioning our words, emotions, and attitudes into weapons in a vain effort to strike down those who have offended us. We are the only casualty in those scenarios as we are at the receiving end of frustration, anger, loss of relationships, and bitterness. If you ask me, it looks like Satan is the only winner in the battles of the flesh. So, what are we to do? Well, if our war is in the spiritual realm, then maybe that is where our battle should be waged.

In her book, Priscilla highlights that fact that prayer is essential to the battle. Ephesians 6: 13-17 tells us how to “put on the armor of God” as Paul eloquently reminds us of our weapons of spiritual warfare, but we often miss the most important weapon. Look at Ephesians 18, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and request…” Putting on the armor without praying is like going into war only partially dressed. Your defenses are easily left open to attack.

Prayer requires precision and intentionality. It’s not easy. The devil wants to distract us in every way possible. He knows that he is in a losing battle, and he realizes his time is almost up. He knows that a believer in Jesus Christ will never be his, so instead, he uses his tactics to keep us tired, busy, frustrated, and essentially, useless for God’s Kingdom purpose. Prayer keeps us on the frontline. It also keeps us connected to the Father, so when we can’t go on, He is there and steps in to fight on our behalf.

As you proceed to put on the armor of God this week, remember to pray. Pray for strength as you face the struggles of this world. Pray for love as you are confronted with those who wage war against you. Pray for wisdom when you find yourself face-to-face against a threat. Pray to be filled with immeasurable peace as you remember the battle is won, and you are already seated in Victory in the heavenly realms.

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Hope in the Desert

I don’t know about you, but I am busy. At least I feel busy most of the time. Even if I am not physically doing something, my mind seems to be in a constant state of work, either I’m mentally creating, going over my lesson plans, or thinking about my to-do list. I have noticed that in one’s refusal to get quiet before God, He sometimes takes drastic measures to get our attention. Surely, if you’ve spent any time in Christiandom, you’ve heard of “desert experiences” or “seasons of drought”. These can be as traumatic as a sickness or job loss or as subtle as a flat tire, coffee on a new shirt, or just a real awful day. In seasons of drought, it often seems that God is far away. But maybe, God is using these moments of His silence to show us just how far the distance has grown.

A quick study of Scripture will show just how often Jesus retreated to the desert places. After healing many people in Capernaum, Luke writes, “But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer” (Luke 5:15-16). After the miraculous feeding of the 5,000, Mark says, “After telling everyone good-bye, [Jesus] went up into the hills by himself to pray” (Mark 6:46). Unlike us, Jesus sought out the desert. Jesus knew that he needed the quiet barrenness to meet with God. He needed to get away from the people, the busyness, and the noise of city life. In the desert, he could reflect on His mission and refocus His attention on His purpose. He understood just how desperately He needed God’s strength to carry out His arduous journey.

What is taking up your time? Is it a ministry? Is it a job? Is it family? While God is giving us all these avenues to glorify His name, we must make sure that we take significant time to meet with Him. As a teacher, I experienced extreme burnout last school year. I was drained. For 180 days, all I could do was cling to Jesus. Even into the first month and a half of summer, I spent it at His feet. At the end of the appointed time, I finally knew what Jesus meant when he said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Thankfully, God worked through my for the entire school year; there was no way I could have done it without Him. I am even more thankful that while I still cling to Him just as much as I did last year, He has given me a new strength for the current year.

Too often we wait until we are suffering in the unquenchable desert before we even think about asking for help. How much better would it be if we stopped frequently on our journey, and allowed the One with rivers of Living Water to nourish our weary souls?

Stop often. Sit daily. Journey more.