I find it quite interesting that I am in my mid 40’s and I continue to learn new and profound lessons. I know you have been doing a work in me to make me aware of some areas of my life that still need some adjusting, perhaps at times a major overhaul. Okay, that last part may have been a bit of an exaggeration, but I do know that I am not yet where I need to be. Like the apostle Paul in Romans 7, I find myself doing exactly what I do not want to do. It is a raging war inside of me. I long to always do what is right, and going where you lead; but more times than I can count I fail. Thank you that your mercies are new each morning.
I come to your feet this morning and as most days I pray that you change me. Shine your light into my dark places. Reveal to me the areas where I need to be rebuked and challenged. Align my thoughts and actions to be pleasing to you. All that is good within me is because of you Lord, and I want to please you by showing your righteousness to others. Use me; I long to be your humble servant. Give me your eyes to see, and may I gain understanding and wisdom through the Holy Spirit leading me while I meditate on your word. You have proven yourself to me by being trustworthy and a promise keeper. You never leave me, and you will never abandon me. You always welcome me back with open arms, separating me from my sins as far as the east is from the west.
For the last couple of days if not weeks, the word malleable keeps appearing in my prayer journal. As a science teacher, this was a vocabulary word I was familiar with and I was praying for God to “shape me.” Today, I decided to dig deep with actual definitions from the dictionary and here is what I found.
The second definition showed the word “tractable” that I was not familiar with so I looked it up to and here is its definition:
In previous posts entitled, “Faith Story” I share details of my life, and my late uncle. Here is one of my favorite parts of our story. I have gathered my journals from what would really be his last days of life. Here is my journal entry from the morning of March 18, 2015
What awaits me today O Lord? May I trust that ALL is in your hands. May the words spoken today during the care meeting be filled with grace and may the words spoken be received well by my uncle. The progression of his symptoms and continued weight gain from edema mark the external signs of a failing internal system. He is weak Lord, but YOU are strong. Your love endures forever. May my uncle not pass until his eternal address is secure with you.
On this day I would be using Batterson’s Draw the Circle as a daily devotional for the second time around. Here is what I wrote,
‘Write down the revelation’ -Habakkuk 2:2 Batterson says journaling is one of the most overlooked undervalued spiritual disciplines. The shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory. It is a way to look back and remember what God has done. Thank you Lord that I tapped into this discipline and have seen its power in my spiritual life. I don’t ever want to go back to the way I was before.
On March 20, two days after the care meeting in which my uncle was on pending:denial medicaid for medical necessity. I was caught off guard a bit. Here is where I share my journal entry,
We were all on a conference call in this meeting with the state of Texas authorities when the nursing home LVN promptly used these words, “The family (referring to me) will appeal if denied.” What? I don’t know what that looks like, but I pray that you Lord would approve him before we have to fight another confusing red tape battle. Your glory and your good provisions have been at work all along these many months, and there is no stopping now. Amen!
Knowing that and trusting in you brings a smile to my face. I must continue to remember what you’ve brought me through in order to keep a positive outlook on difficult circumstances…You will provide. You Lord have proven yourself trustworthy. May I be able to show my strength and faith in you by sharing with others as my testimony of your righteousness. Lord, I know that you provide for all who love you. You bless us beyond our comprehension. You control the Earth’s rotation, orbit, placement, the birds of the air, down to each heartbeat and breath of all of your children. Thank you for my uncle. Thank you for letting me love on him as he once was (by my grandmother who has been gone for more than 20 years). May he feel it, and receive. Finally, Luke 11:8 is worth noting here because it says ‘yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.’
You met our needs all along the way. March 22, 2015 I would write these words in a brand new journal.
The first page of a new journal. Oh Lord, how I hope that in between these pages I listen to you and obey your still small voice. Reveal more of yourself to me and expand my mind to accept your righteous wisdom. Let my time with you each morning keep my armor in tip-top inspection ready shape, and reading and studying your word sharpen my sword; my only weapon of offense…I would end this day with Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.”
March 23, 2015 early morning excerpt
…I’m running out of umpf with my uncle. Please revive my servanthood. I know he is depressed and wants nothing more than to go back home.
Later that day, I would get a call with my uncle sounding unsettled and an urgency in his voice. I was there asap, especially since his nursing home was only two miles from my home. By the end of a long, hard, and scary day, I would be meeting with hospice people and he would be signing his own Palliative Care forms. That day he would tell me of his favorite verse that was in a poster of photos and scripture I had made for his room. In his words, “even with faith being as small as a mustard seed, you can do all things.” I would write in my journal on March 24 the following:
My uncle told me I was comforting to him, and he told me he loved me. I prayed over him thanking you Lord for the extra time that allowed Paul and I to get to have a relationship and restore family. I pray that our story will be seen and heard by others and do nothing, but touch others and bring glory unto you.
I had been with my uncle all day, and was blessed to have a friend to pick up my children and care for them. I stayed. I was exactly where I was supposed to be: holding his hand, comforting him. I left only after a hospice nurse arrived to keep 24 hour care and watch. I received a call a few hours later and at 11:07pm on March 24th he left this earth. I arrived so fast, he was still warm to the touch. I was shocked, and caught off guard by the next steps. I had to arrange for a funeral home to come get him. I had to mourn with another sleeping residence on the other side of a curtain, as well as a uniformed police officer to keep guard until the funeral home arrived. That right there is harsh; before this night, I had no clue. I was totally 100% unprepared for the reality of death. Only with God’s help did I survive this night. I also know my Lord and Savior was with me and cared deeply for me. After a sleepless night, I would experience the best and only “good” conversation with my mother (my uncle’s sister) for a couple years before this time, and never since. I would sit down at my normal time to begin my day with quiet time, with my Bible, my prayer journal, and my current study or devotional. Here is what I would write and discover in its entirety.
Through puffy, teary eyes with little to no sleep I praise you Lord. My uncle is with you. He is no longer struggling. I have visions of him running and jumping and testing out his new body. I see him reunited with his mom, and the most awesome thought is that he has seen Jesus and is worshipping you face to face!
Today will be filled and days to come with planning, paperwork, etc. Please Lord guide my steps. Be with me each decision and appointment as they come. Thank you Lord for a good conversation with my mom. You allowed my uncle to open up and share and be honest and vulnerable with me. I take great pleasure in my heart knowing he saw and felt the good in me. He loved me. He and my kids got to know each other and create memories. Yesterday he told me that his time here he has collected some of the best, and more good memories than years combined back at his home. (hours away)
As my usual, I then open up my study. This day I was continuing in a prayer devotional. As I opened to the page marked, I look down to find a great sign from above. The tears flowed as I see the title
Sow a Seed – Matthew 17:20 “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed…” This is my uncle’s favorite verse that I had written out, and prayed over him dated November 19th. Just yesterday he said it was his favorite out of so many. You God are faithful and you add to my faith everyday. Thank you Lord for caring for me and loving me.
God provided. He did not have to, but he did. He gave me a gift that is priceless. A certain sign that my uncle was indeed with him in paradise. I know that God has, is, and will continue to bless me beyond my circumstances that at times seem to be pressing in on all sides. My faith will not be shaken. Jesus is my hope and my future! He is my rock and my fortress. I will trust him until my very last breath. He gives life, and he is love!
Monday, November 10, 2014 I would see my Uncle for the first time in 5 years. I was prayed up, and thankful that I have my journal to share my exact prayers for that day.
Lord, keep me focused on my Uncle. I will abide by his wishes and do not want him to be disturbed. Give me calm, give me guidance, give me direction as to what I need to know, do, say, and feel. I surrender. I can not effectively (and with a level head) do this on my own.
When I walked in that ICU room that day my uncle met my presence with a question, “What are you doing here?” My earlier prayers were immediately answered because I calmly replied by telling him that, “I loved my grandmother, and she loved me. You sir, are my grandmother’s son. Out of love and honor for her and my Lord, I am here for you.” I also reminded him of her favorite verse, “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
That first week, I was met with some big challenges and realizations. My uncle told me that he was a Buddhist. His best friend from grade school (a married lady) was caught in an uncomfortable position because my Uncle had named her as medical guardian and possible executor of his will. Like never before I realized things/stuff/items don’t really matter. I was reminded of my mother’s inability or unwillingness to behave in a manner in which I desire. God’s timing is perfect. My husband and I attended a marriage retreat that first weekend he was in ICU. I was encouraged to go, and grateful we did because it united our marriage in God, and gave us strength that we would need to draw from in this season. Above all, I learned that God will do amazing things when you follow his plan and keep the most important thing as the priority in your life. God first!
I learned when I have no words, all I have to do is turn to the words of holy scripture. Always with a nod of permission from my uncle, I would sit and read the Bible out loud with great clarity and immodesty. My uncle would be intubated on and off for the next 30 days. He would spend more than a week tethered to a bed with tubes, lines, and alarms at all times. Our normal Thanksgiving trip would not happen, as I would be in an intensive care room, with no turkey, and without hopes of a grand family meal occurring. However, Thanksgiving 2014 was remarkable because I would get to experience first hand God’s saving grace. The entry below is from my journal dated November 27, 2014.
My uncle told me he loves me for the first time in 44 years. Today I know that his ability to love me was a gift from our savior. Paul’s salvation is secure. He feels God’s presence. I needed this Lord. He is a blessing and a miracle in my life. Thank you for blessing me with this time of him being in Houston. He is not a burden. He is a joy. He is my uncle who is now my brother in Christ. Receive him into your loving arms where all his fear and anxiety, frustration and weakness will be replaced with safety, security, comfort, joy, praise, and strength. What a glorious day when heaven comes and floods his eyes.
Just days later, I would have to advocate for his quality of life. Day by day, I would be determined in my approach to learn and seek the best care for my uncle. My prayer life grew, my spiritual eyes were opened wide, I was humble in declaring the work God was doing; not on my strength, but all from the power of Christ in me.
Not every moment was I able to be a rock and a crown wearing sister of sainthood. There were moments where I would get angry at my mom’s attitude, or sad at her lack of help. I would suffer a few times in despair with the red tape of trying to navigate government entities, nursing homes, lawyers, banking, taxes, liens, and bills. There was even a situation where there was a person who stole valuables from my uncle, and refused to leave my uncle’s property. But without fail, the times my emotions went awry I took my eyes off God. I would look at my situation, and not rely fully on the one who holds it all in His hands. Often I was reminded of this scripture in Exodus 14:13-14 “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Over the course of the next 4 months, my uncle and I restored a family legacy of love. There was forgiveness, genuine care, and grace displayed for all to see. A true living testimony of the power of Christ. James 1:2-4“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
It has been two years since my life was forever changed by that season my uncle arrived in Houston. I am blessed to know my uncle’s salvation is secure. I am humbled and blessed beyond measure to be used by God for His purposes. The Lord has awarded me in His perfect timing with an Earthly inheritance as well. Not only would my grandparent’s home be saved from the government entities, and be left to me as rightful heir; I would receive something of even greater value. I was honored in getting to know my uncle’s true friend as my own. She and I became prayer partners, we are friends forever, and I am proud to say she is my sister in Christ. Thank you Lord for all you have done. Let us not forget who we are in you, and may we be obedient to your continued calling in our lives.
I was 12 when my brother was born, and I moved by the time he was two. His father had been an abusive alcoholic (the reason I moved out) and my mother finally divorced him by the time he was in grade school. However, after a few years of living with my mom, he ended up living with his father by the time he was 11 or 12. My mother never continued a relationship with my brother after he left. I continued to reach out to him, and maintained a relationship with him. My husband and I would make a point to get him for a week each Summer. By the time he was in college, he announced that he was gay. I told him that I expected that, and it didn’t change my love for him.
On the heels of my baptism, right around the same time as my stand against my grandfather, my brother and I discovered we were living in the same city. We were super excited to meet up. I invited him to my son’s birthday party and he dropped by to get a hug, drop off a gift, and left me a letter to open later. This letter revealed that he was a practicing Wiccan. I spoke with him on the phone once or twice more, we had agreed to meet face to face, but he would only agree if it was at a Wiccan establishment. I declined, and he has never responded to any of my attempts over the last 10 years to reach out to him.
By 2003 my mom was still living in the garage apartment and began dating Jim . On the surface he seemed ok enough, he wasn’t abusive, and seemed to treat her well. I knew he read the Bible, and for years I would assume that he was a Christian. My mom started staying at Jim’s place more and more. Her father, and brother didn’t like this new guy at all, and the relationship between all of them began to deteriorate. Meanwhile, Jim allowed her to see her father through a different lens. The exposure of my grandfather’s offensive controlling behavior was hard for her to take. She had idolized her father, and in her 20’s had even legally changed her name to identify more closely with him. She became bitter, and avoided her childhood home at all cost. By 2004, my husband and I rented a U-haul and made the trip to pack up her things up, and move her belongings from the garage apartment to Jim’s place out of town.
Five years later, in 2009 I knew my grandfather was not doing well, and had been put in a nursing home. I pretty much thought my mom should make peace with her dad, and also should pay a visit to check on her disabled brother. He had been dealing with all of this on his own, with absolutely no skill or aptitude in knowing what steps to take. She did not want to go, but I persuaded her to make the trip with me and her grandbabies. Upon arriving, the house that I remembered looked run down, and sad. My uncle could not take care of it well, and he didn’t care nor have adequate funds to pay others to help. Many times over the years, I offered help to my uncle, but he always refused. It was clear that my uncle didn’t like me, and he certainly didn’t trust me because he had been victim of a father of lies and cruelty. I would continually defend him and his situation to my mom who couldn’t say a nice word about the brother she once loved. My uncle didn’t know better, he wasn’t wise to the world, he lived in a protected bubble of his childhood room. His life was lived by osmosis with fantasy lived through books, music, and video games. My mother refused to make peace, or say goodbye to her father in the nursing home. Within a month of our visit, my grandfather would die, and I would be notified of this news via Facebook. I reached out to my uncle, and he refused any help and chose to keep matters to himself. There would be no funeral for my grandfather.
Over the next several years my mom and I had some great times together. She and Jim would house and dog sit when we went on vacations, she would come visit just because, and enjoyed meeting us in the Texas hill country as often as possible. She taught her grandkids to sew, and spent lots of quality time outside sharing her love of nature with us. For years my husband and I had helped her financially and did not consider it a burden, but a gift we willingly gave. After many years of living together, my mother and Jim married. I watched him read the Bible and never had too much in-depth conversation.
By December of 2013 my mom revealed to me that she was following a cult. Of course, that is not what she called it, but after some research, lots of prayers ,and taking note of her words, actions, and attitudes it became apparent. By Easter of 2013 we pretty much stopped talking. In that last conversation, I began to cry and she did not. I quickly realized she was well rehearsed and ready for this expected interaction with me. She asked why I was crying, and I told her that her actions had eternal consequences. My heart broke that day, and when I realized how far gone she was, the Holy Spirit came over me like I experienced with my grandfather all those years before. My tears dried up. I had a boldness and strength to tell her that there was nothing she could say, or do would make me deny my faith in Jesus Christ. My husband and I would not tolerate her or Jim trying to influence us with their false prophet’s teachings. I told her I loved her, and that I would be praying for her.
John 14: 6 “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'”
Back to November 9, 2014, and I see this hospital pic posted by my uncle from the previous day. I called my mom, and she knew nothing. Yes, she had seen the post and thought he was just seeking attention, and she wasn’t biting. My next call was to a cell number I had, and sure enough my uncle answered. He quickly handed the phone to a nurse and she informed me that he was being prepped for transport from his hometown to the Houston med center by air ambulance. After many moves to various places, my husband and I now live in a suburb of Houston. Some may say this was just a convenience, by luck, coincidence, or fate, but I believe God had me move here for such a season as this.
Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
November 8, 2014 as scrolling through Facebook, I come across a photograph from inside a hospital room. My uncle was in a hospital several hours away. He and I were only 7 years apart, and quite frankly never had a great relationship. He had been born with an extremely rare congenital heart defect, and had lived his entire life as a miracle. His parents, my grandparents, raised him at all times concerned about his fragile health. Neither the doctors, nor either of his parents ever expected him to outlive them. He was never “normal”. He never was able to ride a bicycle, run or play sports, never had a career, never learned to drive, never moved out, never married or had children. He was never taught the skills necessary to live independently.
Though we were close in age, and from first through seventh grade I was under his same roof regularly, we never quite connected. He became jealous of me because I was able to do all the things he couldn’t, I was healthy and active, and very outgoing. My grandparents’ home was my safe place. It was the only place that would remain constant my entire life. My grandmother would always have these words for me, “This is the day that the Lord hath made, rejoice and be glad in it.” (found in Psalm 118:2) She loved everyone she ever met, and her family knew we were her prized and cherished gifts. She passed away in 1991 after a long hard battle with cancer. Many people expected my uncle, her only son to die without her care, or simply die of a broken heart because he too loved her with the same love I did. That was not the case. God had something else in mind.
Shortly after my grandmother passed, my grandfather began a series of abusive verbal attacks towards me. He would say hateful, hurtful, bogus things to demean and degrade the memory of my grandmother (his wife of 45+ years). He had a way of doing this when only I was around, and he would tell me I needed to hear the truth. For years, although not as frequently, I continued to travel and visit my grandfather, uncle, and mother in my hometown. After the death of my father, this maternal grandfather started these painful confrontations regarding the daddy I loved. Again, I continued to visit and meet with my family, and he got to meet and hold his great-grandbabies, an honor and experience neither my beloved grandmother, or daddy received. With each visit, I would be crushed at the horrible things this grandfather would say about the two people who had shown me the most love in my life.
At the sudden death of my mother’s third husband. She called because she was distraught and grieving her loss. Within hours of this death, my grandfather had immediately started whispering his ugliness to her. My grandfather had built a garage apartment for my mom and her then husband. So now, knowing she was broke, and at a time of raw emotion he was making her more miserable with his verbal hissing and deceit. My little family was a week out from moving to a new city and knee deep in all the normal moving stressors, when I received the heartbreaking news from my mom. However, within mere hours my husband and I dropped everything to be at my mother’s side. I helped with finances, made phone calls and got her caught up by paying delinquent accounts, while my husband was the guard between my grandfather and my mom and me. We also made arrangements for her to come stay with us during the move and setting up the new house.
Within months of being settled in our new home, my grandfather and family were traveling to my new city to celebrate his birthday. I was so excited and wanted them all to come see my house, and even had been baking a cake for his surprise! The first cake, I had made was a total flop, and I baked another to make everything just right. It would be the first time my grandfather had seen where I had lived in almost 25 years. When they got to town, through a telephone conversation I learned that they would not be visiting my house at all this visit, and was told to just bring the cake to the hotel. What? Why? I was told by my uncle, and my mom not to push, and not to ask. I was disappointed to say the least, and I loaded my two beautiful babies, and the cake, and drove to their hotel room 15 minutes away.
I asked my mom to watch my kids while I went and had a talk with my grandfather. I wanted to know why he was refusing to come to my house. He first started in with the fact that he thought I was trying to show off. Then, he began his diatribe against my grandmother and father. I had recently been baptized, and I guess the Holy Spirit finally gave me the courage to tell him to stop. So, I did. This last face to face, one on one conversation we had I can only describe as a battle of spiritual warfare. I felt as though I was looking evil in the face. I put my hand on his knee and told him to stop talking about people who can’t even defend themselves. My truth, my memories of them, nor my feelings would be changed based on his outlandish claims attacking their good name. I told him that I loved him, I would be praying for him, but he would no longer get to share his warped “truth” with me ever again.
I left him sitting there after those parting words, and I was still physically shaking when I met up with my mom and babies. I told her of the conversation that had just happened. “Why did he want to hurt me?” I asked. What came next was a continuation of hurt and betrayal. My mom, and my uncle had been listening to my grandfather spew his “truths” about me for years. They were either too scared to stand up to him, or started believing the lies he was shoveling out. This was not the first, nor the last time in life my mother and I would stop talking.
There is hope in this story, but I pause here and will continue with more very soon. Let me share Psalm 27:10 with you that is my favorite of all time because it clearly says that my earthly father and mother will forsake me, but my God, my Savior will never leave or abandon me.
Are you struggling to be in the word? If so, I guarantee your Armor is not at its full power. Do not be surprised by the enemy gaining ground on you. 1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Stop, do not pass go (remember monopoly?) Go find your Jesus issued uniform. Put on your protective gear, the Armor of God. Return to the word, dig in and cover yourself in truth. Rest in his promises. May this post encourage you to be in prayer, be in the word, and know truth, develop your faith, be at peace, stand firm, and take a posture of victory. James 1:22 “Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” (NLT)
I have been growing in the word for many years now, and the last several I have been walking ever so closely to my Savior. He called me out upon the waters. My faith gained much growth once I started the practice of writing in prayer journals. Naturally I am not a writer. I have not been trained and I’m sure my style is unorthodox to say the least. Writing just isn’t my thing. Remember, I am a retired science teacher. I love quirky teenagers, sports, and I have a strange sense of humor. I have a difficult time staying still and focused.
Journaling is a discipline that I found really difficult at first, but soon realized it allowed me to stay focused and organized in my thoughts. When I try to pray without writing my mind wanders, and before I know it, I am making a mental list of things to do, and/or finding some pressing household chore that must be done immediately. Even worse, I may fall asleep right in the middle of my conversation with God. How’s that for brutal honesty? Thankfully we have grace. I developed a daily habit of writing. Soon, I found that my time spent with God began to increase. I would have such focused moments that words would flow through my hand with ease and fluidity. This process also helped me remember how faithful God was because I could look back and see how my prayers were answered. At times it felt like he wasn’t listening or acting in my timeframe, but once the scope was widened (time passed) I could see His sovereign fingerprints all over my life. His ways far surpass my limited perception. I have also developed a habit of meditating on his word and writing it in my journal. When I have no words, I pray His words! My quiet time has become my daily bread, my manna.
Back in December of 2015 I felt a stirring inside of me and began to pray. I asked others to pray for me as well because I felt that a new season was coming. Like many, I have lived the majority of my life making decisions based on feelings, doors that were open, natural advancements, etc. On occasion I would sprinkle prayer in for good measure. More times than not, I would move ahead without any clear answer from the throne. With my faith at an all time high, I felt that I would continue to pray it through and fully trust God. I wish I could say I was consistently patient and quietly waited for the Lord to point me in the right direction. Admittedly there were several times I would circle around my prayer and pick it back up and try to “help God out”. Um, hello, newsflash…God doesn’t need my help. He does need my cooperation though. I would try to figure out ahead of God what “new season” could mean, and I had several “what ifs” that had my brain swirling. In the end, there would be nine full months of praying while the Holy Spirit corrected me in my impatience and my feeble attempts to gain control of the situation. He firmly, consistently, and lovingly reminded me again and again of His will, not my own. Isaiah 55:8 is a verse that continually is on replay in my mind, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
My last big event of the Summer was a family cruise (right before school started and kick off of student ministry season). I had slipped away on a very quiet early morning on a large ship in the middle of the Caribbean to spend time in the word and to pray with my journal and Bible in hand. Very clearly, I was told to step out of student ministry. Who told me? Jesus spoke, and I felt compelled to tell everyone I was with later at breakfast of my clarity. I would have to say “no” to something that was so near and dear to my heart. Working with students had been my love for nearly 20 years. My new season first had to begin with an end.
How do you know if you are following God’s will and following the path He is calling you to? PEACE is the answer. I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself and my time, but I had peace. I knew all I needed was Him. He got me this far, and I was listening for his direction to where I would go next. I decided I would not move until he said go. God tells his people over and over throughout the Bible to be still, or to wait, or to rest. So here I was in the sit and stay position.
Do not buy into the world’s idea of coincidences, or luck. May you fully realize that God is in control, and He has called each one of us here. For me right now that means, opening up and writing for others to read. More importantly, for others to be encouraged to develop faith that can move mountains. God alone holds the power to my words. He alone is my rock, my refuge, and satisfies my every need. I was lost, but now I’m found. Dear Friends, find out what he is calling you to do. If he is pushing you outside of your comfort zone, do not shy away. I pray that God would confirm his next step and direction for you. For me and many followers before me, through a few tears and in much awe and with lots of prayer I hope that you are encouraged by strong Christian friends (wise modern day sages). I pray that your spiritual eyes and ears be open to other timely affirmations regarding your calling. Be bold to submitted fully to truth of the living word of God.
Lord, help us all to realize that YOU Lord equip those whom you call so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-10 It is all for your glory!
This study focuses on the Helmet of Salvation. In Priscilla Shirer’s The Armor of God my attention was brought to certain words that made me think of jobs, companies, or businesses. Newly hired employees typically receive some type of Human Resources training to go over protocol, chain of command, benefits, and lots of paperwork.
Priscilla tells us that salvation gives us believers comprehensive coverage. Unlike the minimum state requirement, it isn’t just liability. Salvation is the premium insurance policy. This is the policy with all the bells and whistles, the most expensive because it even covers things like complimentary roadside assistance. Think about this too, our salvation is the best insurance policy, and it is absolutely paid for in full, and for all time by our Savior. It doesn’t go under review every six months to a year either. Once and for all, Jesus delivered us from our sin. Also, we answer directly to the Lord of lords, and the King of kings!
Priscilla shares a story of her son skinning his knees and elbows taking a hard fall off his skateboard. It wasn’t like he didn’t have protective pads that would have prevented these injuries, he just wasn’t wearing them. The same holds true for each of us. We must not avoid using our coverage of protection. You never know what lies ahead, so the best prevention is to be prepared. How many of us have come upon some troubled times and complained of how hurt we were, nursing our wounds. Upon closer look, our daily uniform (Armor of God) might be stuck in the dirty clothes hamper, maybe even nicely laundered but hanging in the back corner of your closet. Where is the protective armor your loving Father has placed in your reach? It is at those times, when we were trying to do things on our own that we come out battered and bruised. A favorite excuse used by many is the old, “I didn’t have time.” Another one is that you didn’t want to bother God with something you could easily do on your own. Well, take the time to put off your old ways of independence, and protect yourself with the Armor of God that is at your disposal.
No matter your background, socio-economic status, sir-name, relationship status, no matter your skill level, education, worldly travels, no matter the size of your bank account, IQ, or how many stockings are hung in your home each Christmas, there is a truth you need let sink down deep and penetrate every fiber of your being. Here it is… YOU are His. When we admitted that we were sinners, believed that Jesus died for our sins, and confessed with our mouths that he is our Savior we received more than a ticket to heaven. Our joy doesn’t have to be put on hold because Jesus offers the most amazing Salvation Benefits package, with the best comprehensive insurance plan, and an inheritance that would make the richest man in the world envious.
How? Realize there is a spiritual war. What’s more is that you can’t take a vacation and let your guard down. Even in times of peace, or mountain top moments, you must pray and depend on God the Father. Daily manna is what I call my mornings in prayer and study. I pray for you to develop spiritual muscle and be diligent, obedient, and completely honest in your time with the Lord. You can’t be lazy. You can’t finish one bible study, and just wait for the next one to start. Doing that is just signaling to the enemy you are left unprotected and easily blind sided. Expose the lies that Satan speaks to you, and match them one by one with TRUTH. Become familiar with the lavish benefits package you have in Christ. You are co-heirs. You are highly cherished. You are forgiven. You are the child of the one true King. Start renewing and rewiring your mind to the things of truth that are from the one that loves us!
I hope this post finds you well and knee deep in God’s word. In order to “take up” the shield of faith, we must be active. Faith isn’t passive, or a good luck charm.
Just almost 2 years ago I found myself in a season of life that I had not really foreseen. There is a huge God story, with so many intricate details and life lessons learned, but one lesson seems to fit perfectly for this study regarding the shield of faith. I became the caretaker of a disabled uncle for 5 months. Shortly after my uncle’s death, I was looking for an on-line spiritual gifts assessment to share with some students I was leading. The teacher in me knew I should take the test first to assure its validity. I had taken these assessments before, and knew what should be reported as my top 3. At the completion of the questions, I was surprised at what gift came back in the number one position. I almost disregarded the results as a faulty test, and was just about to search for a different one. However, the Holy Spirit promptly brought to my mind all that I had been through over the previous months, and I knew that the results were without error. Faithis now my number one spiritual gift. Never before had it even been recorded in the top half for me.
How could faith supersede my previous spiritual gifts? The short answer is that I was willing to be used by God. Faith is an action. I was Jesus with skin on for my uncle. I tell others what started as a mere visit out of obligation, and obedience turned into a beautiful love story of restoration, trust, and love. There were times that I was so overcome, and in awe of God’s perfect timing, that I would tell God to stop. In Luke 5, have you ever paused to take notice that Peter in verse 8 told Jesus to depart from him right after the biggest haul of fish he had ever experienced? I think I know what Peter felt, and maybe you have been there too. It is a fear from experiencing the overwhelming awesome power of God. Perhaps you may think you aren’t worthy. Oh Friend, join me in learning to fully embrace God’s presence; don’t ignore or push aside his lavish blessings. Ephesians 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Realize there are no coincidences, it isn’t luck, or by chance that you are where you are right now reading these words. Open your eyes to God’s holy fingerprints; He is active and alive!
I pray this week that you be bold enough to ask, just as the disciples did, for God to increase your faith. May you be drawn to an intimate closeness to Jesus, our Savior. Let your faith be evident in your words and actions. Come alive! May we be considered people who could be added to the present day Hall of Faith. Look at Hebrews 11, take the time to circle or highlight all the times you see the words “by faith.” Do me a favor will you? Read over the following sentence, and insert your name in the blank.
By faith, __________ did as the Lord had purposed for his/her life.
Now repeat that line, as many times as you need to. Try it out loud so Satan can hear you. Get your shield up an be encouraged because you are advancing against the enemy. Take back what is rightfully yours as a child of God. What is He calling you to do in faith? Lord, it is the desire of our hearts to serve you. Enable us to step out in faith according to your will.
Priscilla Shirer’s The Armor of God has a day of study titled, “My Father’s Shoes.” The title alone reminded me of being my Daddy’s little girl and sweet loving memories of dancing with him. When I was very young I would stand on his feet and he would carry my weight as he glided around the floor. As I got older, I danced with him knowing the steps from the experiences we had earlier in life. During those times, nothing else in the world mattered. I was with my Daddy, and my Daddy was with me. I was protected and had no question that he loved me with all his heart. Lord, thank you for my Daddy here on Earth that gave me love and tender care.
I pray for the ladies reading this blog that do not associate love, gentleness, kindness, peace, and joy when they think of their Dad. I pray for those who don’t even know their dad. Fill them as only you can. You are Abba. For new believers, or the ones who have never stood on your feet and let you lead, and teach them the steps of Your ways of truth and life. I hope that I can encourage them to step up and take your hand. Embrace them Lord, pull them close and give them peace despite their circumstances. May they let you lead, and guide them in their life. May they be equipped with their go shoes to be ready to stand firm and link arms with other believers. May they be able to escape temptations and move away from sinful habits because they wear your shoes of peace.
My daddy has been gone for many many years now, I was 29 at the time and he had just turned 49. Upon his death I turned to God for counsel and comfort. Jesus provided peace that surpassed all understanding. Thank you Lord for being with me every step of the way. I have had many short starts, and the long seasons where I have shown little or no spiritual growth. However, God never left me and always welcomed me back. His grace is enough! My obedience, commitment, and continued pursuit of an intimate relationship sustains me when all seems to be crumbling around me. The Holy Spirit sanctifies, and I am proof that He makes beauty from ashes. He restores my soul. He pours out peace beyond any momentary happiness, or feel good moment this world can offer. The calming peace that only a relationship with Jesus is what I desire above all else.
I pray that we all be well equipped with our “go shoes.” I ask that you Lord expertly fit each of us with your shoes of peace. May our custom made designer shoes fit so well as to give proper support that we not become weary during times of trouble. You have blessed us with such an awesome armor including matching shoes! May we be warrior women who choose them daily. Not only does it feel good, PEACE looks good on us. May we go and be peace-filled people that can be messengers of the good news by sharing the peace you have given us with others.
As I grew closer to my Heavenly Father, I danced with him remembering the steps from the experiences we had earlier in life. During those days dressed in his armor, nothing else in the world mattered, and my trust and faith was deeply rooted in Him. I was with my Savior, and my Savior was with me. I am protected and I am highly cherished. My desire is to be used for His kingdom and glory!
How is the condition of your heart today? When the Bible speaks of our heart, it is in reference to our soul. Priscilla Shirer in her book The Armor of God says our soul is whatmakes us who we are, and each of us unique. She goes on to say that our heart is divided into four parts: mind, will, emotion, and conscienceLook at the heart diagram above and place those four words that make up the heart in each quadrant.
Priscilla lays out 4 types of righteousness.
- Perfect Righteousness
- Comparative Righteousness
- Imputed Righteousness
- Practical Righteousness
I have personally struggled with all 4. I’ll leave you will some of my personal prayers and victories after completing this part of study.
Oh Lord, how many attempts at taking control and trying to be perfect have resulted in my complete life equivalent to a belly flop. Father forgive me for often comparing myself to others, or judging someone else. I am called to be humble and a servant, considering myself less than others. Jesus, thank you for paying it all on the cross. My past failures, struggles, and sin is not in any file you keep on me to use against me when I mess up. I now know that Satan is the keeper of the negative thoughts. My past guilt that likes to creep in happens when I am unprotected by your Armor because I am forgetting to put on my uniform, and I take my eyes off you and onto myself. Lord, I receive your word as truth and the standard by which I strive to live. May my life be a fragrant offering to you by my obedience to your will. I submit to your perfect ways to be seen in my practice during daily experiences. Everything I am is because of your love, mercy, and grace.
As a science student and later in my life as a science teacher, I really got excited over tests where you got to move around from station to station. It is a ton of preparation on the instructor’s part, but totally worth it when you see your students excel. Typically, I was the first teacher to give students this experience. These tests are hands on, and chairs are not supplied. There is no multiple choice answers to guess your way through to a passing grade. Have you had experience taking one of these kinds of tests? Do you know what they are called? Well, they are LAB PRACTICALS. Your instructor isn’t me, it isn’t Priscilla Shirer, it isn’t your pastor, it isn’t your God loving Grandma, and it isn’t you either. Your instructor is God Himself. He has done all the prep work and he wants you to get up and be hands on in your faith! Be a doer of the word. James 1:21-22 Thank you for the Breastplate of your righteousness and that the Belt of Truth carries the weight of our pursuit. Lord, I ask that you give each and every woman an opportunity to do something for your Kingdom, and to bring glory to your name this week. Sanctify us Lord, do a mighty work among us. We praise Your Holy Name, the Name Above All Names, there is power in the name of Jesus!