BEFORE You Dress For Battle

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“I’m ready to go, mommy!” My eight-year-old son, Chad announced.

He stood on the landing of the stairs wearing his biggest smile along with his new dress shirt and pants. I squinted my eyes as I approached him because I could see the red shirt he had on earlier, underneath the new, crisp white one he had just put on. I drew even closer, noticing his dirt-streaked face, and chubby fingers with mud caked under his nails.

“Chad, when I told you to get ready, I meant to wash up and take off your old, dirty clothes before putting on the new ones.”

When it comes to spiritual warfare, many times we are much  like my son, attempting to whitewash godliness over the top of our dirty sinful habits. Then we proceed to walk onto the battlefield half-cocked with a target on our backs.

You see,  even though the Bible tells us that the moment we become Christians, we are born again (John 3:7 ) and have become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), we still have the same sinful nature alive in us along with the Holy Spirit. The two are at war according Galatians 5:17.

“The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.”

With two forces at work, only one will win.

“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” Romans 8:5-6

Which one is controlling you—the sinful nature or the Holy Spirit?

The enemy is well aware of our sinful nature, ugly habits and hang-ups. He loves to exploits our own deficiencies in whatever ways he can. Let me explain.

Ephesians 6:10-18 directs us to put on the armor of God to fight against the enemy and his schemes. One of the pieces of armor listed is the breastplate of righteousness. If I put on an appearance of righteousness over the top of my unrighteous daily lifestyle that is dominated by sin, I’m not really protecting my heart because it’s already hard, sinful and dead.

The only way is to do something about my hard, sinful heart beforehand. But how?

“Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” Ephesians 4:22-24

The Bible teaches us to “put off” the things that hold us back, then “put on” the new nature that has the power to makes us more and more like Christ. Christians often fail to experience lasting change because they try to change solely by breaking bad habits.

However change that lasts can only be experienced by exchanging a bad habit for a godly one (Ephesians 4:22-24 above).

We learn through His Word that God intends Christians to put on biblical alternatives to whatever they are trying to put off. Our sinful tendencies and habits are learned behaviors that must be unlearned by replacing them. If we don’t, we leave ourselves open to discouragement and to the devil’s schemes.God provides for us powerful heavenly weapons for each believer to “put on.”

“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Ephesians 6:13-18

Before we can experience the victory that God intends us to have by putting on this spiritual armor, we must put off anything that may neutralize its effectiveness. Below are some examples of the Putting On/Putting Off process.

Put off: Is Jesus really the only way to heaven?

Put On: The Belt of Truth. “Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6

Put off : My sins aren’t as bad as other’s sins.

Put on: The Body Armor of Righteousness: A heart surrendered to God.

Put off: Worry, shame, and guilt.

Put On: The Shoes of Peace:Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Put off: Wavering faith. Does God really love me?

Put On: The Shield of faith: “You are good and do good.” Psalm 119:68

Put off: Maybe I’m not really saved.

Put On: Helmet of Salvation: “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

Put off: Some of the Bible doesn’t apply nowadays.

Put On: The Sword of the Spirit: “Your word is truth.” John 17:17

Put off: God doesn’t hear my prayers

Put on: Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.”
Ephesians 6:18

SPIRITUAL WARFARE PLAN OF ACTION

Step One: WAKE UP AND STAY ALERT

Step Two: PRAY

Step Three: KNOW THE TRUTH OF GOD’S WORD

Step Four: UNDERSTAND SATAN’S TACTICS AND HOW HE USES OUR WEAKNESSES

Step Five: ROOT OUT STRONGHOLDS

Step Six: DAILY “PUT OFF” SINFUL NATURE AND “PUT ON”GOD’S HOLY ARMOR

Dear reader, we are in battle whether we want to be or not. The only real question is whether we fight well, poorly, or not at all. God has provided us with the best weapons, yet they will bring victory only to those who use them as He has directed in our guidebook, the Bible.

Let’s  make a commitment to start 2016 on the right track. Let’s get in the daily practice of “putting off” our old sinful ways and exchanging them for God’s ways by “putting on” our new nature created by God.

Are you with me? Please comment below:

CHRISTMAS MEANS LOVE

 

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I have celebrated the birth of Jesus at Christmas my entire life. I’ve read the Christmas story in the Bible and heard it preached countless times. I sing Christmas carols joyfully each holiday season. I bake lots of goodies and give them out to family, friends and neighbors. I decorate my house inside and out. I have parties and celebrations with family and friends. But the real meaning of all the celebrations has never grown old to me.

God loves.
He is
love.
He loves relationships.
He demonstrated this to us by sending His Son to come and dwell among us and teach us what real love is.

Do you want to know—really know—what real love its?

JESUS

Jesus is our blueprint to what love is about. Relationships are His top priority and they should be ours too.

I realize that relationships are difficult, messy, and infuriating at times. The ones that can be the worst are FAMILY.
When dealing with them we must remember our blueprint: JESUS.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Below is a poem about relationships that brought a smile to my face:


 

Family

Familiar faces, from aged to birth they come

Memories and moments life is made up of…

These are those, who turn our hearts, to laughter, tears and precious years

The circle of life goes on…

Our family and friends not to tolerate…

But to love and cherish and celebrate…

Oh, they make us crazy with drama, of who, did this and that

But we cannot live without them…even, if, we want to squeeze their neck

Some are lazy and some never shut up…

Some are obsessive, compulsive, irritating and abrupt…

Some make you scream, ‘til you just want to throw up…

Some are short, and some are tall…

But family is family, gotta love ’em all…

No one better dis them, or the Fam will be called…

Challenged they will fight, to the death if they must,

Family is family and in God, we do trust…

Familiar and steady, strong and true…we are comrades and rascals;

People through and through;

Some even adopted, we accept them too…

No matter what others, may think of us…

Strange, peculiar, and weird and wise…

We see the world through each other’s eyes…

Yes, we are family, tested and tried,

But God help us, we will survive!

 

Marla Shaw O’Neill December 21, 2015©

Posted by Marla Shaw O’Neill at 6:45 AM  http://heartminute911.blogspot.com/2015/12/family.html?spref=fb

SATAN’S ONE-TWO PUNCH: Unforgiveness and Division

 

Satan's One-Two Punch

Satan’s One-Two Punch

According to Dr. Steven Standiford, chief of surgery at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, unforgiveness makes people sick and keeps them that way. As a matter of fact:

UNFORGIVENESS IS CLASSIFIED AS A DISEASE IN MEDICAL BOOKS.

In other words, unforgiveness is killing us.

And do you know who is behind all unforgiveness? Satan! Don’t believe me? Remember, the Bible tells us in John 10:10, that the thief’s (Satan’s) purpose is to steal and kill and destroy us.

I vividly recall a memory from several years ago when I asked God this question, “What’s getting in the way of having the deep relationship that I desire with you, Lord?”
The words no sooner left my lips when I saw in my mind’s eye, a quick vision of myself…and I was angry. Really angry.
I shook my head saying aloud, “Anger. You’re telling me that anger is getting in the way of my relationship to you?”

And then I knew— deep within my spirit—anger had lead to unforgiveness. Unforgiveness to bitterness. And bitterness was keeping me divided.

  Divided within.

         Divided from God.

                Divided from others.

That day, my journey to forgiveness began. I call it a journey because it’s been a process. I first had to acknowledge that unforgiveness was there.

Could unforgiveness be an issue in your life right now?

Then I realized that it was poisoning and dividing my life. God also made it clear to me that because of my unforgiveness, I had allowed Satan a foothold.

And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry,  for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26-27(emphasis mine)

The enemy is constantly looking for any sinful activity that a believer is not submitting to the Holy Spirit, and then exploiting it. Anger that leads to unforgiveness is one of his favorites.

A foothold that is not recognized and dealt with quickly becomes a stronghold.

Stronghold is a military term. It simply means, a well-fortified place; fortress. Like a beachhead in military strategy becomes a base for further invasion of enemy territory.

This is what Satan looks for—places of weakness to enter (foothold) to make his beachhead (stronghold). He usually finds a way in through sin and then sets up camp. I would like to note that not all anger is sin. Anger that leads to bitterness is the sin.

Satan’s goal is to keep a Christian in bondage to his/her strongholds, thereby disabling the Christian from being a light that leads others to Christ.

Is there any area in your life that may be a foothold or even a stronghold allowing the devil to keep you stuck and divided?

Strongholds inevitably lead to division. One cannot be taken captive by a stronghold and effectively serve Christ. A division takes place.

One of Jesus’ final prayers for us was for unity—to be one. He prayed this at the Last Supper just before he went to suffer and die for us:

“I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one.  I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.” John 17:22-23 (emphasis mine)

Notice in the scripture above that when we are ‘unified with the Spirit’, the world will know Christ’s love through us. Satan doesn’t want us to have unity which is an expression of God’s love. He goes to great lengths to keep us divided by whatever means he can.

Satan wants to divide:
Marriages
Churches
Families
Friendships

Satan wants to divide us within our minds with:
Sinful thoughts
Doubts
Fears
Hang-ups

So what’s a Christian to do about strongholds that lead to division—specifically unforgiveness?

WHY DO WE NEED TO FORGIVE?

Jesus asked us to forgive those who have hurt us, not just for their sake, but for ours.

My friends, life is certainly more tragic than orderly. We all know that bad stuff happens. We all have our share of good times as well as bad times. Sometimes bad things are by accident, or an event of nature, and other times it’s because of the thoughtless or deliberate actions of another.

Whatever the reason, unforgiveness is a sin and it’s toxic.
We forgive because we have been forgiven by God.
Who are we not to forgive, if He has forgiven us?

Jesus has always known what today’s medicine is now claiming:

UNFORGIVENESS IS KILLING US
UNFORGIVENESS IS DIVIDING US

The Bible has many scriptures that teach us the consequences of unforgiveness. Take some time to read a few: Matt. 18:21-35, Mark 11:25-26, Matt. 6:12, Luke 6:37, Luke 11:4.

LEARNING TO DEAL WITH STRONGHOLDS GOD’S WAY
A key passage in learning to deal with strongholds is James 4:7

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (NIV)

From this scripture we learn the two key elements in dealing with spiritual strongholds are: Submission and resistance.

Submission to God and resistance to the devil.

STEPS TO SUBMITTING TO GOD:

Confess sin.
“People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.”  Proverbs 28:13

Renounce sin. This means we resolve to turn away from the sin.

Receive God’s forgiveness.
“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9

Forgive those who have wronged us.
Jesus is our example. When Jesus was being nailed to the cross, he said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’

Commit ourselves to God’s truth as the basis for our lives.
“Teach me your ways, O Lord,   that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart,  so that I may honor you.” Psalm 86:11

HOW DO WE RESIST THE DEVIL?

A simple answer is, we must utilize God’s strategies and weaponry from the Bible.

Next week we wrap-up our series on spiritual warfare by unpacking the key scriptures on God’s weapons that give us the power to resist the devil.  Until then, here’s step five in our Spiritual Warfare Plan of Action.

SPIRITUAL WARFARE PLAN OF ACTION

Step One: WAKE UP AND STAY ALERT

Step Two: PRAY

Step Three: KNOW THE TRUTH OF GOD’S WORD

Step Four: UNDERSTAND SATAN’S TACTICS AND HOW HE USES OUR WEAKNESSES

Step Five: ROOT OUT STRONGHOLDS

During the holiday season, many times we are faced with relationship issues that we would rather avoid. My friend, if you are feeling uneasy after reading this post on unforgiveness, it’s likely that you may be feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Conviction from the Holy Spirit is a good thing.
It’s good because it alerts us to trouble, heals us, comforts us, and teaches us God’s ways.

So if you recognize that you may have allowed Satan’s ‘one-two punch of unforgiveness and division’ to become a stronghold in your life, it’s time to do something.

Yes, right now.

I invite you to pray to forgive others, forgive yourself and if needed, forgive God. You may want to copy and paste these prayers to keep in your Bible or confide in a trusted friend, Pastor, or spouse, so they can pray with you.

PRAYER:

Forgive me:
Father God, no words can express how bad I feel that I have broken your heart because of my unforgiveness towards___________. You have forgiven me of my sins, so I realize that I have no right to hold onto this cancer of unforgiveness. But Father, I have some hard layers on my heart that need healing. I cannot do this alone. Please peel back the layers and give me a brand new heart. Those hard layers have kept me divided from You and others for too long.

Thank you for Your forgiveness. Without it, I am nothing. With Your forgiveness, I am whole again! Amen

Forgive others:
Holy God, I can’t seem to shake the hold  unforgiveness towards_______ has on me. I am wallowing in the anger I feel. I know I shouldn’t think vengeful thoughts, but I have. I realize you are calling me to a better way. A way of forgiveness. But Father, I need You to give me the strength to forgive_______. I want to forgive them completely right now, for good. I’m done with holding these grudges!

Please cast the devil’s evil ways from me. I want to look at these people and see lost souls that need You. Have Your way with me, God. I love You and thank you for Your patience with me.  Amen

Forgive God:
Oh Lord, I don’t want to be bitter. I don’t want to be resentful. But the truth is, I am! I hate these anxious feelings that have been eating at me. I’m so sick of feeling sick from my anger towards You. I vacillate between guilt over it and not caring. But the reality is, I do care. And the truth is that I feel You let me down. I want to forgive You for______________.

I now realize that I cannot live with this separation. I don’t want the enemy to keep me in this stronghold of anger any longer.  God, I know You don’t need my forgiveness. You want me to forgive You for my sake. I admit, that I need Your help to do that now. Today is the day. I don’t want to carry this burden any longer. Come in Lord Jesus and give me a brand new heart to forgive, love, and serve You again.  Amen


Dear reader, I’d love to hear from you regarding this post. You may do so in the comments below. If you’d like prayer, you may ask in the comments or send me an email at: beckielindsey16@yahoo.com