The Armor Of God

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The Whole Armor of God 

 

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand inthe evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Girlfriends In God

November 20, 2018
Wavering Between Two Opinions
Melissa Spoelstra

Today’s Truth 
Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent. (1 Kings 18:21 NLT)

Friend to Friend 
My daughter Rachel is limping right now. Her knee likely hurts from all the jumps and back handsprings she does as a cheerleader. The pain in her knee affects the way she walks, and limping is no fun. It calls attention to a weakness or flaw. I have stubbed my toe, banged up my shins, and had sciatic nerve pain that left me hobbling like a person twice my age. Elijah uttered the words in today’s truth just before he challenged the people of Israel to a contest on Mt. Carmel. He asked them, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions?” It seems the nation of Israel suffered from a limp of their own.

In his question, Elijah used a Hebrew idiom that “means, literally, ‘hobbling upon two branches. The imagery is probably that of a bird hopping from branch to branch or a person on two crutches made of branches.’” Elijah was basically telling the people of Israel to stop sitting on the fence! Earlier in Israelite history, Joshua similarly drew a line in the sand and compelled those entering the Promised Land to choose whom they would serve: “But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve (Joshua 24:15).

These types of biblical statements can leave us feeling uncomfortable because we all know the wavering in our own hearts. None of us does the right thing every time. We all operate out of some level disparity between what we say we believe and how we think and act. Many times our duplicity grows not from a deliberate decision but a slow erosion of awareness. This is when we claim the name of Christ but acclimate ourselves to living contrary to His teachings. We all struggle with this hypocrisy to a certain extent, trying to reconcile our beliefs and behaviors. However, some behaviors do not co-exist well with our faith. Just as worshiping Yahweh and Baal did not work for the Israelites, in the same way trying to serve both God and greed, or God and adultery, or God and bigotry does not work for us. We cannot have it both ways. Either we serve God and obey His commands or we live according to our own set of standards.

Though we all struggle to live this out, we must guard against being lukewarm as the church of Laodecia is described in the Book of Revelation. God said, “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” (Revelation 3:15-16). It’s an indictment of indecision—of sitting on the fence. 

Walter Bruggeman wrote about the indecision of the German Christians in the days of Hitler, saying, “These were church people who thought they could live faithfully without choosing between the dominant ideology of National Socialism and the claims of Christ.” The truth is, we cannot waver on issues of morality. When it comes to our favorite ice cream flavor or our hairstyle, waffling is okay. But in the case of pursuing God and avoiding the sins He says destroy our souls, we cannot continue to waver between two opinions. We must choose. God didn’t create birds to hobble from branch to branch. He made them to fly. In the same way, the Lord knows that wavering keeps us from the victorious life He has planned for us. Elijah insisted that the land of Israel could not have it both ways, and the people fell silent when asked to decide.

Every day we make either/or choices: we will choose food that is healthy or unhealthy; we will be active or sedentary; we will scroll through social media and read about others’ lives or go out and live our own; we will count our blessings or our problems; we will pray and study God’s Word or we will find other things to fill our time. God calls us to make the choice to fall in love with Him. When we set our hearts and minds to love Him, the disciplines of following Him become less tiring. We find our spiritual stamina building as we choose to imitate His faith, hope, love, and forgiveness. Yet rather than try to do it on our own, we invite the Holy Spirit to do it in and through us. We choose rather than waver.

We all have areas of duplicity in our lives, but as we begin to recognize them, we then ask God to help us. Rather than sit in silence as the people of Israel did after Elijah called them to stop limping along between Baal and Yahweh, let us live what we say we believe. Though none of us is perfect, over time we will grow in faith and obedience as God’s Spirit draws us more and more to Jesus’ way of love.

Let’s Pray 
Dear Lord, I long to rediscover an undivided loyalty to You. I don’t want to limp along in my faith anymore. You know how the world presents so many ideas that are contrary to Your truths. Help me Lord to stop wavering between following You and chasing worldly ideas and opinions that don’t line up with Your Word. Show me what it means to be loving rather than legalistic when it comes to seeking You with wholehearted devotion.  
In Jesus’ Name, 
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn  
Is there an area in your life where you sense you have been wavering, dabbling in both cultural accommodation and intentional Christian community? Take some time to really consider this question. Don’t allow this evaluation to lead to shame. Shame is not from God, but conviction that leads to repentance is right up His alley. Ask God to help you identify any clear areas of duplicity and ask for His help in overcoming them with faithful choices through the power of His Spirit.

More from the Girlfriends 
Melissa Spoelstra is a women’s conference speaker, Bible teacher, and writer who is madly in love with Jesus and passionate about helping women of all ages know Christ more intimately through serious Bible study. She is the author of several women’s Bible studies including Numbers, First Corinthians, Joseph, and Jeremiah which include video teaching and daily study. Her newest study, Elijah: Spiritual Stamina in Every Season   released in 2018 and is available for personal and group study. She lives in Pickerington, Ohio, with her pastor husband and four kids. Find her online at http://www.melissaspoelstra.com.

 

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Encouragement For Today,TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2018

Lysa TerKeurst November 20, 2018

When Our Opinions and Feelings Get Us in Trouble
LYSA TERKEURST

“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25 (ESV)

A few months ago I was walking with a friend when we passed two huge trees that had fallen during a storm. I was sad to see these trees that once stood so tall being cut apart and hauled away. I stopped and asked the guys clearing the trees why those two in particular hadn’t been able to withstand the storm.

An older man who’d been working with trees his whole life explained that the first tree had incredibly shallow roots for such a big tree. Its roots had grown used to getting surface water from the sprinkler system. As a result, the roots didn’t dig down deep to get water from below. Shallow roots can keep a big tree alive but not stable during storms.

The second tree looked big and strong on the outside, but inside was hollow. At some point, an ant had found a weak spot in the tree and started chewing a tiny little tunnel into the tree’s center. Soon other ants found their way in as well. Then water got in the opening and softened the wood. Over time the tree rotted away internally.

These scenarios with the trees make me think of the condition of God’s people at the end of the book of Judges. The final words of this book provide such a heartbreaking reality check even for us today. Judges 21:25 says, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Sadly, the patterns of sin and destruction that felt “right” to them were completely outside what God called right and good.

This is where we discover three things that happen when we follow our opinions and feelings (what’s right in our own eyes) rather than the absolute truth of God:

1. We mistake opinions as truth. 
Just like the tree with shallow roots, if we aren’t digging in deep to seek the source of living water for ourselves, we won’t have the grounding necessary to stand strong when the world’s ways try to pull us down. We must seek and apply God’s truth every day, so we aren’t easily swayed by opinions that aren’t in line with God’s truth. Shallow seeking will lead to shallow believing — that dangerous place where we will fall for whatever opinions make us comfortable and make our lives more convenient.

2. We make feelings our false Holy Spirit. 
This is like the big tree that was taken down by some small ants. The little ants are like desires that lead to eventual death: “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:15, NIV). When we care more about what feels right than what is right, we open ourselves up to the destruction of sin. Feelings are wonderful indicators that remind us to turn to God and let Him direct our desires with His best provisions. But feelings should never be dictators to get our unmet longings and desires met however we see fit.

3. We will fall when we try to carry the crushing weight of being our own god. 
What happens when the king is absent? There is chaos. The book of Judges shows us this reality one story after another, one judge after another. The people are without leadership and direction, and the result is absolute chaos. It makes me think how different the fate of the trees could have been if the tree man had been on the scene years before to help them grow big and strong instead of shallow and susceptible.

We need rescue. We need a king. But not just any king; we need the righteous ruler who will right all wrongs, direct and protect us and redeem and restore all things. We need King Jesus — the perfect Savior who humbled Himself to take on human form and subjected Himself to the cross for the atonement of sin.

We aren’t kingless, like the people in the time of the judges. We have the assurance of knowing our eternal King. We have absolute truth. We have the gift of the Holy Spirit. And we have perspective from reading in His Word how dangerous it is when people just do what is right in their own eyes.

Let’s not be people ruled by our feelings. Shallow and susceptible people who merely look confident and capable on the outside. Let’s trust our King. Let’s follow our King. Let’s live by the truth of His Word and become a people with true strength residing within.

Father God, I want to be a woman with deep roots. A woman firmly anchored to Your truth and filled by Your Spirit. And so I’m asking You to search my heart. Reveal any areas in my life where I’m pridefully and foolishly choosing to go my own way. I confess today how much I need You to lead me, guide me and be my King. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 3:7, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Stop being pulled into the anxiety of disappointment by discovering how to better process unmet expectations and other painful situations with Lysa TerKeurst’s new book, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way. Order your copy here today. 

CONNECT:
You can follow along with Lysa TerKeurst at her blog and on Instagram.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Have you ever struggled with following your feelings instead of the absolute truth of God? Is there any area of your life you need to let Jesus step in and be Lord and King over? Join in the conversation here today.

© 2018 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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