Write It On A Rock

Faith and Family
April 21st, 2012

Don’t Forget Your Shoes-Part 2


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cheap Toms shoes 2012

 

If you have not read the first part of this blog post you can read part 1 here.

I have read and reread Ephesians 6:10-20 on the “armor of God.”  I have taught it to my older children as well, but it struck me as I studied each piece of armor that though I would say the passage out loud, I did not apply the passage as best as I could.

Paul, the author of Ephesians, had a reason for each piece of armor that we need to put on so that we “will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.”

I hope you are inspired, as I have been, to put these things on everyday.  I talk about two of the six pieces of armor in Part 1, and here is what I have been applying from my study of the other four.

The shield of faith.  Shields, at the time Paul wrote this passage, were large and used by Roman legions.  They were held above their heads to protect their whole body from flaming swords.  Paul used this figuratively because Satan will fire arrows of doubt, fear, lies, and hardships at people, and we need to have a way to defend ourselves.

Paul says to take up the shield of faith in “all circumstances.”  Taking up the shield of faith means trusting that God loves us and wants the best for us no matter what circumstance we’re in.  There are some circumstances that really make you wonder “why?” And, in those times we have to trust in His promises, and obey Him, knowing that He is good and has good in store for us.

How do we increase our faith?  I often simply ask God to increase my faith, as it is spoken in Scripture as a gift from God.  Romans 10:17 also says that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”  Listening to and reading/studying our Bible is another way we can increase our faith.

I want to have a faith in Christ that will withstand the hardest of trials and even death itself.  We have no idea what kind of hardships the future holds, but with a strong faith in Christ we will be able to extinguish the flaming darts of the evil one.

The breastplate of righteousness protects our hearts right?  Proverbs 4:23 says “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  I often hear people say that they will follow God when they’re older and done “having fun.”  That is satan’s deceitfulness right there.  Sin is not fun.  It turns on you.  It is pleasurable for a moment, but there are devastating consequences that hurt our hearts when we don’t obey God.  He wants the best for us, and is not a kill joy.  He wants to give us the best joy!

I have experienced trying to do things my own way, only to end up with a wounded heart.  What can we do to guard your hearts?  We can choose to obey God’s Word, even when it goes against what “feels right.”   We can share our sin and temptation with other Christians and ask for accountability.  We can remove tempting situations or bad relationships.

No sense in buying a bag of Oreos, that stare you in the face every time you look for a snack, when you’re trying to eat healthy.  This same concept goes for guarding our hearts.  I know that when I am struggling with coveting or discontentment the best place for me to hang out is not at the Parade of Homes or the mall.

We can only be “righteous”  through the strength of Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:30 says “Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.”  We can never be right with God on our own.  One single sin separates us from Him, but when we trust Jesus for what He did on the cross we can be made righteous because He traded us; our sin for His righteousness.

The belt of truth is what holds everything together.   Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”  In contrast, John 8:44 speaks of Satan as the father of lies.  When Satan lies he is speaking in his native tongue.  One of the ways Satan ruins people’s’ lives is through getting us to believe lies about ourselves, God, and others.  When we speak the truth we are arming ourselves against satan.  I think we can “put on” truth in a few different ways.

One would be to be honest with others.  It is easy, when we are afraid of what others think of us, to not share the whole truth about our struggles or sin.  Adam and Eve, when they sinned, innately tried to cover it up.  It is scary to share our sin with others, especially if it will hurt someone, but in the end John 8:32 says “the truth will set you free.”

The second way to put on truth is learning and telling ourselves the truth about God and who we are in Him.  I hear people say things like, “there is no truth, what’s right for you is right for you and visa versa.”  That statement in and of itself is a contradiction.  How can there be “no truth” when that is a truth claim in and of itself.

You cannot say two contradictory ideas are true while being intellectually honest.  It’s just not possible.  We do need to be humble in our pursuit of Truth, not thinking that we are better than anyone else.  I believe that Jesus is God and raised from the dead for intellectual and experiential reasons, and making that truth claim doesn’t mean that I believe I am better than someone who does not believe it.  I do however want everyone to find the joy that I have found by putting my trust in Christ.  I love the quote, “Christians are just beggars telling other beggars where to find food.”

And last, as shoes for your feet put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  I never realized that Paul, being the Old Testament scholar that he was, probably got this illustration from Isaiah 52:7.  It says “how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace.”

Sometimes I get preoccupied with prayers for myself, and my own friends and family.  It is so important to be praying for ourselves, but I have been praying more lately that we, the body of Christ ,will proclaim boldly the good news of Jesus.  I have been praying for churches to be started all over the world and for God to send out workers to share the gospel.

We have peace with God through Christ.  All of us have turned away from God leaving our relationship broken.  We started it.  It’s our fault, not His, and yet rather than getting back at us, He gave His only Son to take on our sin and give us His goodness so that we could have peace with God and with each other through forgiveness.

We can put on this piece of armor by preaching the gospel to ourselves every day, remembering when we sin or fail that we can come to God and turn away from our sin at any moment, and He will forgive us… we have a friend, a perfect Father in Him.  Lets live joyfully knowing that we have the peace of Christ, but lets not keep it to ourselves.  As my Grandpa says when I leave his house.  “Sarah, don’t keep the faith.. share it.”

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.”  Don’t forget your shoes.

 

April 12th, 2012

Don’t Forget Your Shoes- Part 1


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Last week I called my mom on the way to Bible study and told her how thankful I was to be going.  Every week I feel so blessed and encouraged by it, and that day I felt like I really needed the time to be refreshed with other women by God’s Word.

We parked our car, arriving a little late after a hurried morning, and out of the mini-van steps a shoeless boy.

“Hudson, did you forget your socks and shoes?” I ask.

He looked down and said, “oops.”  We live 25 minutes away from Bible Study Fellowship so I wasn’t about to go home.  I felt a like I was going to cry because it’s a minor miracle for me to get out of the house with three little kids and an eight-week-old by 9:00, and here we are in the parking lot with a missing pair of shoes.

I said a quick prayer, and then I saw a friend pull in and I began to tell her about my circumstance.

By the time I turned around, still deciding what to do, Hudson said “look at my shoes Mommy.”  Both of my boys were gleaming with proud smiles on their faces.  Micah had taken two covers off of his booster car seat and put them on Hudson’s feet.  His shoes looked like little slippers, and they fit perfectly on his feet.

I laughed and said, “great creativity!  Lets go with it.”

When I told Hudson’s wonderful teacher our story, she looked at Hudson and said, “well Hudson, we’re learning today about how God provides for our needs and look how He provided for you today.”  I love it!

Here’s a picture of Hudson’s shoes for the day.

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I left Bible study not only feeling encouraged and blown away at how great out God is, but also more motivated to pray than I’ve been in a long time.

We were studying Ephesians 6:10-20, a passage I’ve read many times before.  This time studying it gave me a whole new vision on how to apply it.

When you find yourself discouraged, doubting, afraid or struggling in a relationship what do you do?

Here is a synopsis of what I learned and how I am attempting to use this passage of Scripture and apply it to my life.

We are in a battle whether we are actively engaged or not.  Ephesians 6:11 says to “put on the whole armor of God.”

It may sound weird that we are talking about a cosmic world going on around us that we can’t see, but when you look around at some of the evils in the world it is not so difficult to imagine.  I watched a video the other day about the number of little girls and boys who are kidnapped and forced to be prostitutes at a very young age.  It makes me sick to my stomach to think about.

More close to home we see marriages and families being destroyed every day by anger, selfishness, and sin.  Every one of us is tempted to sin on a regular basis, and there is no doubt a spiritual battle going on around us.

Ephesians 6:12 says  “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Are you struggling in a relationship?  Paul says that we aren’t fighting against flesh and blood… remind yourself of that when you are in a fight with your spouse.  It is easier to stop and pray in the midst of conflict when we keep that in mind.

Satan is real and the Bible says that he is at work in our world attempting to “devour,” “steal, kill and destroy.”  No one is immune so it is important that we apply God’s Word by putting on the full armor of God.

Paul gives us six ways we need to be prepared for battle using the analogy of literal armor.  Here are two of them, and I will write briefly on the other four in Part 2.

The Sword of the Spirit: This is the Word of God and prayer.  Isn’t it interesting that this is the only weapon mentioned that we can fight with, rather than just defend ourselves.  The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God and then Paul mentions prayer.  Paul says, “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere,” verse 6:18.

We are to be in communication with God all throughout the day.  We may forget momentarily but like the loved one you text or call, you stay in contact throughout the day.

I am  trying to “take up the sword of the Spirit” by stopping to pray when I notice any doubt, fears, discouragement, lack of joy or disharmony in relationships.  I pray for myself, for others, for faith, and that God will help me to obey Him when I’m tempted.  I recite or read a Scripture that has to do with what I’m going through.

I have been more motivated to pray for others and looking for ways I can be praying.  It is easy for us to be deceived into thinking that our prayers don’t make a difference.  When we hear about children being kidnapped as sex slaves we can pray knowing that we may never see the result of our prayers until we get to heaven.  When we see an ambulance, pray, our child struggling in an area, pray.

Prayer and the Word of God are our only offensive weapon.  Use them, they are powerful and effective.

Here are some ideas of ways we can get Scripture into our souls… write Scriptures and tape them on places you look so you can read and memorize.  Get the Bible for free on your phone, computer or Ipad here. There are different Bible reading plans there, and you can even listen to the Bible, all free!

Have a time and a place to read your Bible and if you get out of the habit don’t give it up, get back in.  Another great way is to join a Bible study at your church.  I also recommend Bible study fellowship.  The groups are nondenominational and are offered all over the country.

Another piece of armor…

The Helmet of salvation covers our head, and I am guessing Paul used this metaphor because we need protection for our mind.

Many of us trust in Christ for salvation and then we walk around frowning in defeat as if we are not saved.  I know I am guilty of doing this.  We act as if we aren’t good enough, or maybe we depend on ourselves instead of Jesus.

In difficult circumstances, Satan wants us to be discouraged.  To think this is it, we will never be delivered.  But when we look around at this world that is so easily shaken and uncertain, we can put on our helmets and look to Jesus knowing with certainty that He has and will save us.

On our own we are easily defeated, but with Christ we cannot be defeated.

In Part 2 I will share practical ways that we can “put on” the other four pieces of armor from this passage.