Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Excuse Me,.......but Your Vulnerability Is Showing

Have you ever felt vulnerable?

This past summer, I had the privilege of serving as a camp counselor at a summer camp for students in 4th-6th grade. Our time in the mountains together was more than I could have ever expected it to be. The theme of the camp was "The Armor of the Lord". As we dug into God's Word each day and studied about the armor of God, I became uncomfortably aware of how "underdressed" I was.

Have you checked your spiritual wardrobe lately? Upon close inspection, you, too, may discover you are stepping out into life with nothing on but your own strength and power. Ummmmmmmmmm????? Could this be the reason the world (and Satan) leaves us feeling ill-equipped, uncomfortable, weak, defeated and..... vulnerable?

www.dictionary.com defines vulnerable as:

1. capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon

2. open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.

3. (of a place) open to assault; difficult to defend

Does this describe you? Today, far too many Christians are walking around in an extremely vulnerable condition. Without even thinking about it, we charge right out into life. We give no thought to our spiritual covering, our spiritual armor. I hope you don't mind me asking, but when you got dressed this morning, did YOU think about it?

And yet, this should be our first order of business. Before our feet even hit the floor in the morning, we need to spend time with God, putting on His armor. Yes...before you even get out of bed! Have you ever noticed how Satan doesn't wait for you to leave your house before he starts attacking? The home is where Satan fights the fiercest. We cannot afford to give Satan one opportunity to catch us unaware or unguarded.

But what exactly are we to dress ourselves in? What does our spiritual wardrobe consist of? What is the armor of God? How can we be strong in the Lord and live in the power of His might?

Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 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.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6:11-17 (NLT)

The armor of God consists of six crucial pieces.

1. The belt of truth

2. The body armor of God's righteousness

3. The shoes of peace and readiness

4. The helmet of salvation

5. The shield of faith

6. The sword of the spirit

Each of these serve an important and unique role in our ability to fight (and defend our self!) against spiritual attacks. If even one of these pieces of armor is missing, you and I are VULNERABLE!

Also, I might point out that each of us is responsible for acquiring our own armor. My armor won't fit you and your armor won't fit me.

Remember when David went up against Goliath? Saul, thinking David needed all the armor he could get, started placing his armor on David. Talk about uncomfortable, ill-fitting and cumbersome. Saul's armor didn't come close to fitting or defending this young man of God. In fact, it would have been a hindrance to David had he kept it on.

Besides, David didn't need Saul's armor. David had a very real, deep, intimate relationship with the Lord. He and the Lord had already won many a battle together while David was tending sheep. This shepherd boy knew it wasn't his strength or physical armor that would win the battle against Goliath. It was the Lord. All David needed to do was to put on the Lord. David knew this; when he was dressed in the armor of the Lord, his victory was SECURE!

Back to you and me and right here and right now. What is your spiritual condition? As you look at yourself in the mirror of God's Word, do you see a Christian who is dressed for battle, or do you see only your vulnerability staring back at you? Do you see someone secure in their God?

www.dictionary.com defines secure as:

1. free from or not exposed to danger or harm; safe.

2. dependable; firm; not liable to fail, yield, become displaced

3. affording safety, as a place

4. in safe custody or keeping

5. free from care; without anxiety: emotionally secure.

6. firmly established, as a relationship or reputation

7. sure; certain; assured: secure of victory

8. safe from penetration or interception by unauthorized persons

WOW! Don't you long to be secure in God? I do.

It's time to get dressed. It is time to get serious about fighting the good fight of faith.(1 Timothy 6:12) It is time to start slaying the giants in our life.

Not in our might, not in our strength, but in the power of our God! (Zechariah 4:6)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dying to Truly Live

December 23, 2004. Standing at my father's gravesite, I was reminded of a sermon I once heard.

The pastor was preaching on "dying to self" and to drive his point home, he asked the following question:

"How do you know you are truly dead?"

After a short pause, he answered his own question.

" When people can throw dirt on you and it doesn't even faze you."

Dying to self. I'm sure you would agree this is one of the hardest, most painful things Christ calls us to do. And yet, it is also one of the most loving. Think about it for a minute.

As long as self is alive, we are miserable. Selfishness doesn't bring joy or happiness to our life. It only delivers jealousy, envy and self-pity. Pride doesn't bring us satisfaction. It only keeps us keeping up with the Joneses. As long as self is alive we have a reputation to defend, an image to maintain, and feelings to keep happy.

The last year of my father's life was filled with sleepless nights, suffering and fear. He was alive, but far from living. He was a slave to his sickness, held prisoner by a body under attack.

But....

Once death came, he was set free. No more pain. No more suffering. No more fear. He was no longer touched by the things of this world. His death, while being one of the hardest and most painful things for me to accept, was a loving gift from God.

The same is true when, spiritually, we die to self. When we choose to let go and let God, we don't lose our life. No! We gain life. Life, and life more abundant! Once self is gone, dead, and buried, we are finally free.

And because we belong to Christ Jesus, we have killed our selfish feelings and desires. ~ Galatians 5:24, CEV

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. ~ Galatians 2:20, NLT

We now walk in newness of life. Christ is now living in us and through us. People can throw all the dirt at us and on us they wish, but if we are truly dead to self, and living in Christ, it won't even faze us! We are no longer slaves to our reputation, image or feelings. We are free to be Christ to the world. We are free to truly live!

Dying to self. One of the hardest, most painful things Christ calls us to do,......... but also, one of the most loving.

(Note: I wrote this for GRACEFUL SISTERS, but felt impressed to share it with my Heartprints of God readers, too.)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Resolution or A REVOLUTION

New beginnings. A fresh start. A new page. A clean slate. As I head into 2011, I have been thinking about how I want to live this new year of my life.

Resolution. This is a word we hear a lot this time of year. But what exactly is a resolution?

Resolution: a decision to do something or to behave in a certain manner; the act of making up your mind about something

Obviously, a resolution starts in the mind. It is making up your mind that you are going to do something different. This year, you are going to lose those extra pounds. This year, you are going to get out of debt. This year, you are going to drink more water. A resolution begins with a decision to make a change.

But, is a resolution what you and I are really wanting?

Each year, I make resolutions. Each year I sit down and decide what I am going to do (or not do). And, each year I usually end up living life in the exact same way as I did the year before.

Lately, instead of resolution, the Lord has been bringing a new word to my mind.....REVOLUTION.

Revolution: a single complete turn; a movement in a new direction; a far-reaching and drastic change

This is what I want in my life. I have a feeling it is what you are wanting, too. We don't just want to decide to make a change, we want the change! We want to make a complete turn and head in a new direction. We want far-reaching and drastic change.

So, the question begs to be asked. How do we turn our resolution into a true revolution?

By being intentional. By keeping our goals forever in front of us...always in view. By doing something each day to bring this goal to a reality.

Change starts in our mind, but comes to fruition in our actions.

If I want to lose weight, I have to do more than simply decide to drop those extra pounds, I have to start monitoring what I eat. I have to start practicing portion control. I have to swap non-healthy choices for choices that are nutritional powerhouses with fewer calories. To lose weight, I will need to start exercising more....or for the first time. For my resolution to become a revolution, I will need to intentionally make choices EVERY DAY to support this change.

Our resolution will never become a revolution unless we daily choose to make the change.

It's the same spiritually.

The most important resolutions we can make are those that draw us closer to the heart of God. How many times have you resolved to spend more time reading God's word? How many times have you decided that THIS year, you were going to spend more time in prayer? Are you still waiting for the revolution in your spiritual life?

The victory is found in our daily choices.

Jesus said to all of them, "If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing to give up their lives daily to follow me." Luke 9:23, NCV

A true revolution will only come when we are daily committed to making it happen.

It's not enough to decide one time. We must keep deciding and keep choosing and keep resolving each and every day.

So, what kind of revolution do you want in your life?

Start by planning out your strategy, writing down the necessary steps you will have to take, then keep these goals and this game plan in front of you. Each and every day take action to make it happen. Call on the power of the Holy Spirit to help you be faithful to become all that you want to be come in and through Christ Jesus.

Remember...anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

Are you ready for a revolution? Me, too!

It CAN HAPPEN.

Let's choose to do it today!

And tomorrow!

And the next day!

Let's not settle for simply a resolution, when God wants to bring about a complete revolution in our life!