(Day 2 of our 8-day study, “The Struggle”, on the armor of God)
"Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work." - Oswald Chambers
By Kandice Adams
As we close our series on the Armor of God, the best way to end any study, or devotional time with Him, is through prayer. But do you ever find yourself wondering if your prayers are capable of changing things in your everyday life, let alone effect enough to fight off the thwarts of the devil?
You aren’t alone. Until early this year, it seemed that most weeks in the midst of the hustle and bustle, I left prayer as a last resort, after I had tried everything else… after I had attempted every other “actionable” solution.
It was then that I truly learned that prayer is designed to be more than mere passive words recited from us to our Father. In fact, prayer is the action; and more than we realize, it is the actionable solution that transforms us amid our circumstances.
As Jesus is our example, the following are several places in the scripture where He separated Himself to spend time in the Father’s presence, and by doing so modeled the attitude of worship so that we might have the same intimate relationship with God the Father.
Prayer humbles us.
We find in Luke 22:42 that Jesus approached the Father in prayer with a heavy heart because of the knowledge of the crucifixion to come, but instead of making demands, He humbled himself and said, "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”
Though often we approach Him with our minds made up and wanting absolute control over the people and situations around us, the very nature of prayer is a spiritual acknowledgement that we are not in control-- He is. It changes our posture to one of submission and humility which honors God (2 Chronicles 7:14; Micah 6:8). It is in our humility that our hearts are prepared for the manifestation of His power which works in us (James 4:10).
Prayer focuses us.
As Jesus continued in prayer, the scripture says that, “... He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground (Luke 22:43).
It is important that we acknowledge the intensity and focus that Jesus modeled before us in regards to prayer (as His sweat became like drops of blood), and it is equally important that we follow His example.
While, as moms, our brains are often filled with millions of things from grocery lists to carpool schedules, whether it is by writing our prayers in journals, praying aloud, or praying in our prayer closets, it is so important that we each find a way to really put everything aside and focus as we pray. It is only then that prayer has the ability to re-center us and realign us with the One who holds the power to change our circumstances (Hebrews 2:8). And it is when we approach His throne in prayer with quiet hearts and minds, that our perspective changes and we begin to look up at our Savior, instead of down on our circumstances.
Prayer strengthens us.
And then finally, the Word shares that He was strengthened (Luke 22:43). To be strengthened would mean that there was a point of weakness; even our Savior had moments.
Ladies, it is ok to take our weaknesses, our worries, and our cares to God because it is then that we will to learn about His character. As we seek Him for provision or protection for our families, He delivers, and we will come to know Him as our provider and as protector. And when we seek Him not knowing how to pray because our hearts our overwhelmed, and His spirit intercedes on our behalf through wordless groans (Romans 8:26), it is then we come to know Him as the lover of our souls.
When we continue to see Him work on our behalf, responding to our petitions through prayer, our faith is strengthened, and we are transformed into becoming more like Christ.
Today, let’s cherish and recognize the value, the opportunity, and the privilege we have in approaching God in prayer, and let’s use it proactively for the building of the His Kingdom.
Prayer is the action; and more than we realize, it is the actionable solution that transforms us amid our circumstances.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6
1.) Study the scriptures above and ask God to reveal weak areas in your prayer life, and then ask Him how and what to pray for.
2.) Ask your what are some ways you can practically improve my prayer life so that it is more of a focused priority?
Father, we come before you praising you and glorifying you for being God. We praise you for always being available for us to seek your wisdom and guidance. Today Lord, I ask that you chasten my spirit that I will remember to pray as often as you have deemed necessary, and I ask that you remind me that prayer is the greater work, which is important work for the Kingdom, in Jesus’ name, amen.
(Day 7 of our 8-day study, #thestruggle, on the Armor of God)
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. “ -Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”
By Katie Gibson
In any battle, it’s good to know your opponent.
Our enemy, Satan, is described several times throughout scripture:
He’s a murderer (John 8:44)
He’s a thief (John 10:10)
He’s a master of disguise (2 Corinthians 11:14)
He is an accuser (Revelation 12:10)
He is powerful (2 Corinthians 4:4)
I think we can all agree that those are some pretty intense descriptions right there.
But the key attribute we’re going to focus on today is found in John 8:44, which tells us, “…He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Or to put it in modern, musical lyrics, if his lips are moving then he’s lyin’ lyin’ lyin.
Sorry… I couldn’t help myself (grin).
But back to the point—if there is great advantage to knowing the enemy, and we know that Satan is the Father of Lies, then it seems pretty crucial that we are armed with a weapon capable of fighting back, right?
The good news is that, on top of all the defensive armor we’ve studied so far, we’ve also been provided with a single, offensive weapon, designed to take down our enemy—the sword of the Spirit.
Ephesians 6:17 says, “…and take the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”
The Word of God is truth (John 17:17, Psalm 119:160).
The unknown author of Hebrews also describes the word of God as a sword:
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
“even to dividing soul and spirit… it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”
Now isn’t that interesting.
What he’s telling us is the Word of God draws the line between what we feel is truth (soul), and what really is truth (spirit).
Friends, that sneaky Father of lies has a way of prodding at our feelings, causing us to do and decide in ways contrary to God’s best.
We must learn to divide between truth and lies by engaging the sword of the Spirit.
Jesus left us an excellent example, when He was tempted in the wilderness by Satan, himself, in Matthew 4:1-11.
It is clear that Jesus spent time in the Word, and knew the scriptures inside and out. Three times Satan tempted him with twisted lies, and three times Jesus responded, wielding the truth of God’s Word, and ultimately defeating him.
We, too, can follow Jesus’ example and become expert swordswomen when we:
Meditate on the Word of God. The point is quality, not quantity. Don’t rush, but instead focus on the truths, the stories and the promises within.
Memorize key verses. Identify the area(s) Satan lies to you the most. Research truths found in scripture that counteract these lies, and memorize them.
Maneuver your Sword. Identifying a lie does no good if you do not act. When Satan comes at you with deception, it’s time to counterattack with truth by speaking them out loud.
One of the biggest lies we believe is that Satan is nothing more than a nuisance. Satan hates us, and He won’t hesitate to try to take us down little by little with his seemingly “harmless” lies.
Take the offensive by picking up the Word of God, and committing it to mind. Then you will be ready and able to wield your sword the moment the “father of lies” tries to take you down.
When we know our enemy, we can know how to defeat Him. Satan is the father of lies, and we can defeat him with the sword of the spirit—Word of God, which is truth.
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11 (NIV)
1. Memorize the 3 M’s: Meditate on the Word of God; Memorize key verses; and Maneuver your sword
2. Make a plan to put these three into action. Set your alarm 5 minutes earlier to make time to read a chapter of the Word each morning. Write down key scriptures on post-it notes and place them in your car, on your mirror, over your sink—or wherever you will look at them most often!
Father, thank you for the gift of your Word. Forgive me for often undervaluing its power. Help me to be diligent to soak up your Word on a daily basis, so that I will be ready to wield its power against my enemy, the father of lies. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
(Day 6 of our 8-day study, “The Struggle”, on the armor of God)
By Jess Ledwell
My one-year-old son loves the toilet, so I wasn’t surprised when he had an earth-shattering melt down when I lovingly diverted him from the “John.”
He screamed, crawled between my legs, banged on the door, and tried to squeeze under it. He was determined to get back to that commode even if he had to fight me.
My hardheaded child made me think of an obstinate woman in the book of Mark. She had been dealing with an “issue of blood,” for twelve years (Mark 5:25). We can assume that since she had been bleeding for 12 years without dying, this was a menstruation problem.
First of all, that is just terrible.
And secondly, according to Jewish culture, a woman who was menstruating was considered unclean and should be separated from society during that time, in her case-- more than a decade.
But then she heard of Jesus.
He was traveling, thronged on all sides by his disciples, followers, priests, believers, and highly respected religious people. Who was she, the unclean, to speak to him?
Regardless, she clawed her way through the crowd. Desperate, determined, and totally taboo, she managed to reach out and touch the hem of his garment.
She was healed… her faith had made her whole (Mark 5:34).
While my son's tussle with me would ultimately lead him to yucky disappointment, her relentless pursuit of hope led her to victory.
Dear mother, what is deep within your mind that itches each day, calling you to take up arms and fight against the tide?
Is it that neighbor that needs Jesus, but you don’t have the guts to walk across the street?
Is it that habit that you are dying to kick, but it keeps getting easier to let it slide one last time?
Is it a bold prayer of healing that you don’t believe is possible?
God has given you the same relentless drive and determination to overcome these struggles as the woman with the disease in the form of the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17). No, not a, metal head covering used on a battlefield, but a tool used in spiritual warfare, and with it you will achieve her same victory-- a closeness to Christ.
But how do you use it?
The helmet of salvation protects your mind; it is the first line of defense when facing a battle head-on. It protects your thoughts from doubt, disbelief and ideas of unworthiness because your salvation is secure in the fact that it was a gift and had nothing to do with your ability to earn it. Once you have accepted Christ’s gift of salvation, your sin is dead once and for all (Romans 6:10).
Believe there is a solution.
The helmet of salvation protects your eyes and gives you clear vision of the battles in front of you. Once you have received this amazing gift, the Holy Spirit gives you the power of discernment. You have the ability to see your battles with new eyes and you can effectively find a way to overcome them while giving God all the glory (Philippians 1:9-10).
Focus on the goal.
The helmet of salvation protects your ears and allows you to hear from the One that can cast all doubts aside. How many times have you not fought for something because you were told it’s impossible? The world, Satan, and even your very own human nature will tell you that you should give up; you are weak and like the poor woman-- dirty, but with salvation you are washed, sanctified and justified by your Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 6:11).
Ignore the naysayers.
With Christ you have the power to face your battles with a hard head. Take up your helmet and elbow your way through the throng of doubts, temptations, and obstacles that lay between you and the victory that is found in Jesus.
In order to achieve victory over struggles, you must trust Jesus, the giver of your salvation, to prepare you with the confidence, drive, and determination to face them head-on. Have faith in your own salvation so that thoughts of doubt and fear have no place in your mind, and focus on your goals with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose (Philippians 2:12-13).
1) Think of instances where you have been called or pushed to fight against all odds. What is keeping you from making that first step towards victory?
2) Take a few moments to encourage yourself. Make a list of battles you have already won, thank Jesus for the courage to overcome them, and know that you have it in you to do it again!
Thank you Jesus for offering me the gift of salvation. I am eternally grateful for what you went through to give it to me. Please help me be firm when facing hard decisions, doubt, and daunting situations that seem out of my control. Help me to face them with the confidence of knowing that you have my back by covering my head. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
(Day 5 of our 8-day study, The Struggle, on the armor of God)
By Katie Gibson
“Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of what [we] do not see…” (Hebrews 11:1 Amplified).
I scribbled these words on the decorative chalkboard, hanging over my kitchen sink, where I knew I would see it over and over again throughout my day.
We were in the final stages of closing on a new home when, much to our discouragement, several challenges presented themselves at the last minute.
I could feel the onslaught of doubt aiming straight for my vulnerable heart.
Fear threatened to consume every thread of faith woven by God’s faithfulness, prior.
The temptation was to cry,
Sit back and have a “Woe is me,” pity party, expecting the worst,
Raise my fist at God shouting, “I thought you promised!”
Or resort to dishonesty in order to work out a “miracle” on our own.
But, much to God’s glory (in spite of my weakness), I didn’t do any of these things.
Instead, I scribbled those words; I texted them to my husband; I posted them on my social media accounts; and I circled them in my Bible.
Instead, I chose truth.
I chose trust.
I chose faith.
Since the beginning of time, Satan has used the same mode of attack to get us off track, time after time. This tactic is doubt, and it is why Paul implores us to “hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil” (Ephesians 6:16).
These dangerous arrows call into question: God’s truth, His existence, His goodness, His faithfulness— the very essence of who He is.
Let’s look at a few ways faith conquers doubt:
1. Faith reminds us that God is good, His intentions are purse, and His promises are true (Psalm 18:30).
Trust is the very foundation of every relationship. If we do not trust God, we cannot be in relationship with Him (Hebrews 11:6). While doubt calls into question God’s good will towards us, faith reminds us He is faithful.
2. Faith makes us fearless (2 Timothy 1:7).
When we trust God’s ability and faithfulness, we are free to experience the abundant life He has for us, instead of cowering in fear, caused by doubt.
3. Faith helps us resist temptation by reminding us that God’s way is perfect, and He is working things out for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).
When we question whether God’s way really is the best way, we often choose to go our own way. There are countless examples of this throughout the Bible, including Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 18), The Israelites in the desert (Exodus), and even King David (2 Samuel 11).
Faith protects us from getting off track because we learn to trust God’s plan above our own.
Jesus himself said, “Anything is possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23)… words that, I’m sure, shake Satan to his core.
Is it any wonder why faith is his primary target?
In the quest for God’s best, we must continuously recognize the “fiery arrows” of doubt that seek to slow us down, and get us off track. Today, let’s hold our shields of faith close and ready to raise up in response to any attacks of doubt from the enemy.
Satan uses doubt to get us off track from God’s best. We must raise our shield of faith, in response!
“God's way is perfect. All the LORD's promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.” Psalm 18:30
1. Take a moment to recognize any “arrows” of doubt you’ve allowed to stick in your life that have led you off track.
2. Dig into the word and find a verse or two to combat these lies. (i.e. If you’re struggling with trusting God in finances, you might write: “…My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:19).
Father, thank you for opening my eyes to see the tactics of the enemy. I ask that you will point out any areas where I’ve allowed arrows of doubt to stick, in my life. Help me to be ready to raise the shield of faith in response to any attacks that come my way, in the future. Thank you that, with faith, all things are possible. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
(Day 4 of our 8-day study, The Struggle, on the Armor of God)
By Katie Gibson
“Good morning. Can you talk?”
My phone lit up, revealing the message from a dear, childhood friend.
Thinking it would be a quick conversation, I pressed “dial” and set my phone on speakerphone, as I finished applying eyeliner to my exhausted eyes.
“I have cancer.”
The three words hit me in the chest, knocking air from my lungs and rendering me speechless.
“I... I… don’t know what to say,” I choked.
After exchanging more words— dumbfounded mumbles from me, and information from her—my friend stated calmly,
“I’m going to be okay.”
I admired her.
I admired her peace in great uncertainty.
A cancer scare two years ago (that ended up false) was enough to unwind me, fraying my faith and sending me reeling in fear.
But here was my friend, diagnosed, and yet peaceful as a summer evening stroll.
Friend, it’s easy to be anxious. But how do we maintain peace when life hurls a shocking loss, unexpected hurdle, or even a grim diagnosis our way?
Ephesians 6:15 tells us, “For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.”
What is this “Good News?”
The Gospel, His Word.
The message that reminds us that Jesus has already conquered sin, sickness and death, winning victory on our behalf (2 Timothy 1:10, 1 Corinthians 15:57).
The truth that tells us that He has gone to prepare an eternal home for us in Heaven (2 Corinthians 5:1-2).
And the reality that “from Him and through Him and for Him are all things” (Romans 11:36), for He holds the world in His very hands (Psalm 95:4).
Jesus summed up this kind of peace in John 14:27, saying, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
Paul urges us to put on the shoes of peace so that we will be “fully prepared” for the challenges that Jesus himself warned about He said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Yes, the truth is that we live in a fallen world, full of broken people.
The sickness won’t always go away.
The marriage won’t always be saved.
The child won’t always come home.
But we can walk in peace in the midst of these storms by standing firm on God’s Word.
Knowing He has already won the victory.
Understanding that this world is not our home.
Trusting that He holds our lives in the palm of His hand.
Friends, we don’t have to retreat in fear. In the battle against our enemy, we can advance, donned in the assurance of the shoes of peace. Just as a soldier’s sandals protected him from the rocky terrain of battle, so will peace cushion us from the blows of life.
Today, let’s choose peace by heeding the words found in Philippians 4:6-7:
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. ”
When we are prepared with the Gospel, we can walk peacefully through any situation of life.
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 26:3
1.) Are you experiencing anxiety about an situation, conflict or diagnosis in your life? Identify any area(s) where you’ve been retreating in fear, instead of advancing in faith.
2.) Look up several verses about peace, courage, and God’s faithfulness and post them around your house where you’ll see them often.
Father, Thank you that you are trustworthy and faithful, and that you have already won the victory on my behalf. Help me to combat fear and anxiety with the truth of your Gospel of peace. Thank you that you hold my life in your hands. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.