What Your Friends Say About You

 

Do you remember the “Be Like Mike” Gatorade commercial that originally aired in the early 90’s?  While I’m not sure drinking Gatorade will win you an NBA championship, there is some truth to it.  A writer once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Growth and change is part of our lives whether we are consciously aware of it or just going with the flow.

If you live in the North-Eastern part of the United States like I do, the emergence of the 17 year cicada  left you drowning in “their noise this past spring.  It reminded me of how often the loud noise of life drowns out what is most important.  I want to slow down and hear my friend’s stories and be changed because of them.

Every Person Has a Story

In pausing to think about the five people I want to be most like, I thought about the five traits I most desire in my life.  I am blessed beyond blessed to have friends who fit into each of these categories.  I’m not going to call them out by name, but if you are that friend, I love you deeply and am eternally grateful for the influence you have in my life.

1. Humble

I admire my friend who always seems to know just what a person needs before know it themselves. Her cheerful spirit is always looking for ways to spread Jesus’ love to everything she touches.  She always has time for you and I always come away challenged to love those around me well.

2. Wise

My friend always does the hard thing – even when she don’t have to.  She does it just because she wants to prove to herself she can. She stretches her limits. She wants to be the best she can be.  I like hanging around  her because I think a little bit of that rubs off on me.  Which is good, because I tend to want to do what makes me comfortable.

3. Courageous

As someone who spent most of her life afraid of her own shadow, I admire fearlessness.  I have a friend who doesn’t let fear stop her.  She has taught me how to show up in the uncomfortable and love well.

4. Prayer

It’s a privilege to walk in the footsteps of two Godly women.  I have reaped the fruits of many faithful years of prayer by both my mom and mother-in-law.  I have seen God move mountains. As a stubborn teen and young adult, they didn’t lecture me. Instead the took their concerns to the cross, where God in His tender mercies heard their prayers and weaved his light through my life.  When I’m scared, or worried I now know I can leave it at the cross.  God never changes, he was faithful then and he is faithful now.

5. Surrendered

Watching my friend’s life turn upside down and seeing her lift her hands and say, “God is good. I trust Him.”   To know- that you know- that you know- to the depth of the core of who you are- that God is good, how awesome is that? I pray, I too would let the things of this world to grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.

 

 

The Armor of God

In The Armor of the Enemy we looked at Ephesians 6 and some poor armor with which we often equip ourselves.  Today let’s take apart  Ephesians 6:10-18 and see what appropriate armor looks like.

Questions 1:  Armor? Why do we need armor?  Isn’t this the 21st century?

Answer: It’s easy to forget about what we can’t see.  But the truth is, we are in a battle – every day. Ephesians 6 says we are not fighting against flesh and blood but against:

Devil’s schemes
Rulers
Authorities
Powers of this dark world
Spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms

I don’t know about you, but that causes my blood to run cold.  I cringe at how often I live my day as if cooking, cleaning, shopping and laundry are all that is going on.  But, it’s not.  Whether I am aware of it or not, there is a battle  all around me.  A battle for my joy, my peace – your joy, your peace.  A battle for all that is holy, right and good. And the enemy is very serious about it.  He has an army – a big army with rulers, authorities, powers and forces of evil fighting against us.  On my own, it’s hopeless.  So yes, my friend, I need armor – and so do you. 

Question 2: Is there any hope?  How can I possibly fight the forces of evil alone?

Answer: Great question! The good news is that you don’t have to fight alone. Actually, you shouldn’t even try.  No offense, but you’re not going to win alone. Ephesians 6 says our strength comes from God and his mighty power.  Did you get that?  It didn’t just say God’s power.  It says God’s mighty power.  Here’s the thing: the battle in the heavenlies isn’t against two equal forces.  God and Satan are not equal.  God created Satan.  He is a god wannabe.  Not God.  (“He is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else – not only in this world but also in the world to come.” Eph 1:21)

Question 3: So what’s my part and what’s God’s part? 

Answer: This is God’s battle – and He has already won! “…the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” 1 John 3:8. God has done it all! He is truth. He has made a way for us to live rightly, then gives us the Word of God, access to Him in prayer, power to believe the promises He has kept in the past so we know He will keep the ones in the future, and stability  as we cling to Him to fight for us. How awesome is that? God’s done it all for us!  We just need to show up and let Him work through us.

Battle Plan:

1. Put on the armor of God. 

  • The Belt of Truth – God is truth and all He does is true. We need to align our lives with what is true. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
  • Breastplate of Righteousness – We have His power to help us live rightly when we submit our will to His. “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” Phil 2:13 NLT
  • Shoes of Peace  A Confidence in God’s ability to handle whatever I’m facing. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7
  • Shield of Faith – Believing God is who He says He is, and He will do what He says He will do. “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” 2 Thess. 3:3
  • Helmet of Salvation   Jesus did it all by paying the penalty for my sin and setting me free.  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Eph. 2:8-9
  • Sword of the Spirit – We have a manual for living given to us by the Holy Spirit. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Tim 3:16-17

2. Stand. Ephesians tells us to stand four times! We aren’t charging into this battle. There is no defensive strategy. Just try and not fall down – and if you do, hurry on and get back up. That’s it.

3. Pray. Ephesians says to pray three times! Prayer is our communication line with God. Don’t try and go it alone! Go in God’s strength and might!


 

 

Heavenly Father,
I lift my eyes off what I see around me and focus on you. Thank you that the battle is already won. Thank you that you come to give us life and give it abundantly.  I ask your forgiveness for the times I’ve tried to live life the way I wanted to. I need your wisdom and strength each day. I need your power to live alert and ready for battle. I believe you are faithful and true. Thank you.  In Jesus Name. Amen.

 

 

 

Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific and Strategic Prayer

I am sitting here looking at a blank screen with no words.  How do I have no words?!  If you know me I am rarely – if ever short on words either verbally or written.  (Yes, I know there’s a verse in Proverbs about that – but that’s another post for another day.)

Here’s the thing.  Just stop reading this right now and go order  Fervent by Priscilla 41gm6psaxkL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_Shirer.  I’m serious.  So. Very. Serious.  This book isn’t really a book. That’s what makes it hard to write a book review. It’s not meant to be read cover to cover and neatly placed back on the shelve to dust every couple of weeks for the next few years until you donate it to Salvation Army. It’s a tool.  It’s meant to be written in, highlighted in, dog-eared pages, tabs sticking out everywhere and a spine that doesn’t quite close.

I’ve always known there is an enemy. 1 Peter 5:8 describes him this way, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  But, I didn’t really give it too much thought.  And I got a little uncomfortable when people would start talking about attacks of the enemy and stuff that seemed a little out there to me.

I’ve also been passionate about prayer for most of my adult life.  At least I thought so. But, all that changedimages about a month ago when I watched War Room. I don’t want to be all bossy twice in one post – but if you haven’t seen it – please, please go watch it! You can rent it from Amazon, Redbox or come over to my house and we’ll watch it together. I promise you it’s worth your time. It’s changed my life. My marriage. My children. My friends.  I don’t want to give away the movie – or the book.  But, I will say, Fervent is a book written by one of the main characters in the movie. Both the book and the movie opened my eyes to the power of prayer.

I’m just so fired up because I know – that I know – that I know – that God is real. God is good. God hears my prayers. And He answers.  I want nothing less for you, my friend.  “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13)

 

 

 

 

Book Review: PrayerPoints

prayerpointsI love praying God’s promises.  It gives me hope as I turn my eyes off my problems and focus on who God is and what He says He will do. PrayerPoints: Praying God’s Promises at Your Point of Need. By Ken Petersen is a pocket sized book that helps you do just that.  It has 250 alphabetized entries with over 170 topics. You can also find a topical index and a Scripture index in the back.  Each topic is about a page long with three Scriptures and a prayer. It’s easy to identify the promises both in Scripture and in the prayer as they are in bold.

This book is well done and a practical tool. Any time you are in the Word – you can’t go wrong. This book helps you do just that.  The beautiful leather-like feel cover and small size make it practical to throw into a purse or bag. The font is a bit small for my preference, but it is a pocket size after all. It is organized in a way that makes sense. You can flip through the book and choose a topic you’d like to focus on, you can go to the Scripture Index and find verses on a topic or you can use the Topics index.  I would recommend it to anyone needing encouragement and hope. It is also a great way to strengthen your prayer life.

You can take a look at the first chapter here.

 

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions and view are my own.

 

Jesus Prays for Us

John 17 is a prayer Jesus is praying to God the Father before he goes to the cross.  It is a beautiful prayer expressing his deep love for not only his disciples, but for all believers. Jesus, Son of God, King of kings, Messiah – that Jesus cares enough about me to pray for me.  I don’t even have words. I’m overwhelmed.

I got a text this morning sharing that a friend of a friend’s teenage son died last night in the hands of heroin.  My reaction to typing those words is the same as it was when I read the text for the first time – instant tears.  Then prayer.  My heart broke for this family where the dad is a pastor of a local church. Tragedy can happen to anyone. I realized it could be my family.  My heart went out to this family I have never met and I pleaded with God to comfort them, strengthen them and meet them in this terrible time of need.

It is a privilege to carry  anothers burdens.  When I’m facing a challenge I know I can call my husband, my mom or a close friend who will stop everything and pray with me on the phone right then.  I love that at any moment we can approach our maker and he hears us! But, the fact that Jesus prays for us? That takes it to a whole other level.  Thank you, Jesus for being that personal with us.

Jesus didn’t need to pray out loud to God the Father. But he did so we would have a model to follow.   In verse 13 he says, “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” 

Jesus prays His work on earth will glorify God

John 17 begins with Jesus praying God will receive glory in the work he did here on earth.  Ultimately that is our goal here on earth – to do the work God has for us and in that bringing him glory.

 “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” vs. 4

 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Eph. 2:10

Jesus prays for the disciples

In verses 6-19 Jesus prays for his disciples.   I pray for them… Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by  that name you gave me.  15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

Jesus prays for God to protect them. The tone of the prayer reminds me of a child leaving for college.  The mom is busy checking and double checking her lists.  All the physical possessions are carefully packed into the cars.  Her heartstrings tug as the million bits of advice threaten to spill over her lips.  Yet, she purses them closed knowing all has been said. It is time to release her child from her constant 24/7 protection.

Or maybe the tone is one of a spouse leaving on a business trip. These last words are similar to the concerns for those he loves that will be left behind. Jesus had gotten very close to the disciples and while he knew God was going to protect them, he was going to miss them.

Jesus prays for unity among believers.

In verses 20-25 Jesus is praying for unity and love among believers. It is interesting to me that in his final prayer he prays for unity. There are many things he could pray for, but he chooses unity and love.  It makes me pause and ask myself if I’m making those a priority in my life.

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 2that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

 

In Jesus final prayer he first prayed for God to be glorified in His life.  Secondly, he prayed for protection for those closest to him.  Lastly he prayed for unity and love among all believers.

Father in Heaven,  I pray you would be glorified in my life today as I strive to bring you glory in all I do.  I pray you would protect my children from the evil one. I pray your truth would work into their hearts so they would be sanctified.  Thank you for protecting them when they are away from me.  I pray I would display your love and unity to all I come into contact with today, that you would receive all honor and glory.  In Jesus name. Amen.