The Armor of God

Based on the quantity of my blog posts lately, to say nothing of the long stretches of time between posts, it should come as no surprise to hear that I’ve been struggling lately. Let me tell you, Satan is a jerk. I don’t know why I’m always so surprised when I realize just how deeply he’s got his claws sunk into me, but I am. So it was quite a shock this morning when I read in our devotional the following:

That’s exactly how Satan works. He begins by bombarding our minds with cleverly devised patterns of irritation, dissatisfaction, doubts, fears, and reasonings. He moves slowly and cautiously (after all, well-laid plans take time). Satan is never in a hurry. All he needs is an opportunity to inject unholy, self-centered thoughts into our heads. If we don’t kick them out, they stay. And he can continue his evil, destructive plan.”

(from Battlefield of the Mind, by Joyce Meyer)

Wowza. Satan certainly has been injecting unholy, self-centered thoughts into my head and I have been doing an absolutely horrible job (read: I’ve done nothing) of kicking them out. I’ve been stomping around all cranky and irritable, feeling sorry for myself and taking my feelings out on my husband, who most certainly doesn’t deserve any of it. Oh, how I love him even more for putting up with me!

The verse that went along with the devotional this morning is a powerful one. “Our fight is not against people on earth but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world.” Ephesians 6:12 ESV I’ve certainly been fighting against people of this earth, and this really knocked me back into the reality of what’s really going on. The person my anger is focused on isn’t responsible for what’s happening to me – Satan is. Satan is just using my circumstances for his benefit, and I’ve been playing right into his slimy, evil trap. Which leads me to the continuing verses in Ephesians 6:

 armor of god (source)

“So stand strong, with the belt of truth tied around your waist and the protection of right living on your chest. On your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong. And also use the shield of faith with which you can stop all the burning arrows of the Evil One. Accept God’s salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayers, asking for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready and never give up. Always pray for all God’s people.”

What gets me most about those verses is actually the last six words. “Always pray for ALL God’s people.” It hit me as I sit here typing this that not only should I be praying for God’s strength in dealing with my circumstances, but I also need to be praying for the other people involved in my circumstances, the ones I want to focus my outward anger on. They may not yet be believers in my God, but they are God’s people, and they need my prayers just as badly as I do. It’s a hard pill to swallow, don’t get me wrong, but it’s what we’re called to do. Take that, Satan!

And speaking of circumstances, I’ll leave you with another great tidbit from my devotional this morning. This comes from Streams in the Desert and I cannot recommend this devotional enough. Today’s message ended with this:

Faith does not say, “I see this is good for me; therefore God must have sent it. Instead faith declares, “God sent it; therefore it must be good for me.””

I may not see the good in my current circumstances; in fact most days I want to crawl under the covers and never come out; or yell and kick and scream and shake my fist at Heaven. But God has put me here in the middle of these circumstances – he brought me to this perfect place in His perfect time; therefore, it must be good for me.

Can I get an Amen?

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Prayer for the World – Prayercast

eatwriterunrepeat.com || isaiah 56_7

The speaker at my Perspectives course posed a very interesting question in class on Sunday. He asked:

If God answers all of your prayers from last week, would YOUR world change? Or would THE world change?”

Wow, right? Did anyone else feel that? It was the feel of conviction breathing down my neck. And it made me realize how largely selfish my prayers are. Up until recently my prayers have been focused on mine and my husbands circumstances – I’ve been praying for God to help US, and bless US, and take away OUR pain and OUR struggles and OUR anxieties. And while I’ve started to pray for my family as well, it’s still all very selfish of me. Very rarely do I pray for people or things outside of my own personal bubble.

One thing we’ve done in Perspectives that I’ve really enjoyed, however, is that each week we pray for a different country via Prayercast. From the website, “Prayercast exists to fuel a global movement of prayer for the sake of the lost.” The Bible tells us a few things about praying for the nations. For example:

Isaiah 56:7 “My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”

1 Timothy 2:1-2 “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgiving, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in godliness and dignity.”

And not only are we to be praying for the nations, but we are to be spreading the Gospel to all nations: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14 (emphasis mine), and making disciples of all nations in The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Our sole purpose in life is to spread the gospel of the Lord to all the nations – and a huge part of this should include praying for a spiritual revival throughout the world – which brings us back to Prayercast. For each country featured on the website you find a summary of the country, some prayer points, and a short video. They’re pretty powerful – and it’s a sobering reminder that our world is in dire need of prayer. It’s also a visual reminder, which for me puts things in perspective and makes it easier for me to pray. I’d like to get better at praying for others instead of focusing on myself – I’d like to get to the point where if God answers all my prayers from last week, THE world will change.

My challenge to you today is this: will you join me? Will you take a few minutes, check out the prayercast website, and pick a country – any country. Then, take some time to review the facts and watch the video, then spend some time in prayer for that country.

Imagine what a difference it could make in the world.

I’ll close by sharing a video that really struck me when we watched it. In addition to nation videos, Prayercast also has a series of “Special videos” that don’t necessarily focus on a country. This one is for the Muslim nations – primarily the Middle East and North Africa. Having spent several years living in the Middle East, this video spoke to my heart.

(If the above video doesn’t work, watch it on the Prayercast website here)

Love One Another

the greatest commandment | eatwriterunrepeat.com

In our discipleship group and as part of the #gomultiply study we’re doing, we’ve been discussing what it means to be a disciple. Francis Chan says in his book, “It all comes down to love. Peter expressed it well for people like us, who didn’t see Jesus on earth but follow Him nonetheless: “Thought you have not seen him, you love him. Thought you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.” (1 Peter 1:8) Following Jesus is not about diligently keeping a set of rules or conjuring up the moral fortitude to lead good lives. It’s about loving God and enjoying Him.”

The book then poses a question: “As you look at your life, how would you say that your love for God is shown in your actions? (If you’re having trouble coming up with an answer, take some time to think through some changes you may need to make in your lifestyle.)

Ouch. Tough question, isn’t it? It certainly made me take a closer look at my own life. Do I really love others like I love God? Do I really love others like Jesus loves them? Let’s take some time this Sunday to think about love – Godly love. Loving one another. Loving yourself. Loving God.

Because when you really look at it, it all comes down to love.