(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.
By Jess Ledwell
Every Christmas, my mom got a bottle of her favorite perfume. It was Eternity by Lancome. Every time someone walks by me with that scent, I am reminded of her. She would make that tiny bottle last an entire year, so that the next Christmas she would receive the same gift.
However, during my Junior Year of high school, it only made it to October.
I don’t know where the deer came from. I only know it had been in my father’s truck for quite a while. He may have been trying to get it to a taxidermist to have it mounted, but regardless of the reason for it being in the back of his truck-- it had started to stink.
Imagine my surprise when I came home one night, late after practice, and he was spraying the ghastly thing with, you guessed it, my mother’s favorite perfume. I stood there, mouth open, nose closed, suppressing laughter, as I thought, ooohhhhh, you’re in troooouubbbllleee!!!
Spiritually, I find myself doing the same ridiculous task with much greater consequences and less hysterical results. How many times do I waste my perfume on the dead carcasses I carry around with me?
How many times do I rehash conversations with people from years ago, wishing I had said something different?
How many times do I think of all the negative things I think others are thinking as they see me trying to figure out this mommy thing in public?
How many times do I go out of my way to dress, act, think, smile, and speak, so that other people, who I don’t even know, will accept me?
How many times do I allow past injustices fester into unforgiveness and bitterness?
How many times do I ask for forgiveness for the same sin feeling worthless and hopeless?
Perfume on a dead carcass-- useless.
Instead, I should act like Mary in the book of John. She poured her precious and expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet. She took her most precious possession, which took her a YEAR to save, and poured it on Jesus’ sandal-clad, dirt-stained feet.
In John 12:5, Judas stood back and exclaimed: “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?” But in verse seven Jesus replied: “Leave her alone, it was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.”
To Judas, the perfume was wasted on just another dirty, soon to be dead, carcass.
Fortunately, Jesus did not stay dead long. He rose victorious, leaving death and all of my sin in the grave. He has given me victory over my hopelessness, bitterness, insecurities, and sin. Since I am follower in Christ, I have trusted him to free me of all my “junk.”
But then why do I keep throwing all of it back in the trunk, spraying the perfume of my thoughts, time, energy, and actions on it, and dragging it around?
Ladies, we don't need to cover up the stink; Jesus has freed us from all of our junk... completely! It's our choice whether or not to keep carrying dead carcasses around. We need to take a long look in the mirror and yell at ourselves, "I'm freeee!"
Instead of worrying about what the cashier thinks of our screaming children, let's invite her to church.
Instead of rehashing past conversations, let's make intentional time to bless our friends and family.
Instead of harboring bitterness, let us extend forgiveness to those who have wronged us.
Instead of pouring our perfume on "dead carcasses", let's pour it out on the precious feet of Jesus, the one who rose that we might be free.
Word of the Day:
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12. (NIV)
Jesus I praise your Holy and Gracious name for the work you did on the cross. Thank you for freeing me from all of my “junk.” I’m sorry for carrying it around like a stinking dead carcass even when you have sacrificed so much to keep me from bearing it. Please show me daily ways that I can pour my time, energy, and thoughts on you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Last summer I gave birth to a perfectly healthy baby boy, despite being 6 weeks premature.
He was 6 lbs 10 oz and beautiful. The NICU nurses all believed that my doctors had gotten my due date wrong, and I thought so too, until it was time for him to eat.
Whenever I tried to feed him, he would look at me like, “What is this? I shouldn't have to work for my food; I want to go back to sleep, whatever…Zzzzzzzzz.”
My doctors, nurses, consultants, family members, and friends all had advice and tried to help. We tried spoons, bottles, syringes, tubes, guards, etc, but all he wanted to do was sleep.
They finally sent me home with about seven pages of “to-do’s” including countless appointments and weight checks. So you can imagine at the end of just a couple of days, I was exhausted, miserable, and fed up.
I pleaded with God to make him eat;
I pleaded with God to help him gain weight;
I pleaded to God… for fat rolls.
One night, as my whit’s end quickly approached, I looked at my husband in tears and cried, “I know what is best for him; I know what is best for me: I know what is best for our family, but I cannot make him eat.”
My husband, in all of his wisdom and love, told me something I would never forget:
“You I just learned what most moms take a lifetime to understand.”
We all know what is best for our children. We know what they should eat, when they should sleep, and what friends they should hang out with, but the problem is that we cannot always force them to do what is best. Sometimes they have to learn to do things on their own-- on their own time, and unfortunately, we must sit patiently on pins and needles, waiting for them to figure it out.
“We can lead a horse to water, but we can not make him drink.”
The old adage is ultimately true. It is a farmer’s job to take the horse to the water, and the horse’s choice to drink or not. But whoever said that’s the end of it? The farmer can’t just give up…right?
Parenthood is a game of endurance and perseverance. It is still our responsibility to guide them to the truth even though we cannot force them to adhere to it.
Patience is a virtue not easily obtained, but the reward far outweighs the cost of all those uncomfortable pins and needles. They will “buck” you every step of the way, but take heart my friends; you are not alone.
Don't lose hope. Be encouraged that the God of the universe cares and listens when you are frustrated and tired. He hears you when you are crying in the middle of the night; he listens when you are pleading with your children. He will comfort you while you wait for your children to “get it.”
He will give you the strength to continue leading your child to better decisions, and he can also help them to “drink” in your advice, love, and guidance.
Word of the Day
"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." Romans 12:12
Lord, let us feel your presence when we feel ignored. Let us have your strength when we grow weary of repeating ourselves. Give us peace when it takes time for things to change. Let us be grateful when our voices are finally heard. Thank you for your everlasting patience with us, we know that you constantly pursue and love us in the same manner with your grace and mercy. Thank you for being our patient and understanding heavenly Father. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Author: Jess Ledwell