Are We Forgetting Something this Christmas?
It was a sweltering day, a hurried arrival at the hotel, and a quick change of clothes before our host driver would pick up my daughter and me to take us to Pam Kanaly’s Arise Conference. I would be presenting Kidz Time Devotional for moms to use to teach their children God’s Word. Lauren and I rushed as we changed out of our travel clothes. Slipping on a long tunic and my shoes, I announced, “Okay, let’s go!” Lauren looked at me and in an unusual tone of voice asked, “Are we forgetting something?” Seated, I looked up into her questioning eyes and replied no. “Mom,” she countered, glancing at my legs. “Your pants?” Now before you judge me too harshly, I have to say in my defense that the top I was wearing was almost down to my knees. Did I mention we were rushing to get out the door?
When It’s Not a Good Laugh
Lauren and I had a good laugh as I slid on my legging pants. I still chuckle when I think about it. But, there is something God tells us to put on that is no laughing matter and it’s important that we remember it this Christmas season. What is it and why is it important?
What Must We Remember?
During the Christmas season it’s easy to get caught up in the rush of shopping, baking, and decorating. Anxiety levels can rise with additions to our already full to do list. That’s why it is good to remember that Jesus came to rescue us from the domain of darkness (Colossians 1:13) and that Satan fought Jesus every step of the way even before he was born. Christmas is about Christ’s birth, but it’s about more – the reason for His birth – to win the victory over sin, death, and Satan in order to secure our eternal salvation.
This Christmas season it’s important for us to remember that the enemy Christ was born to defeat still roams the earth. (1 Peter 5:8) We are in an ongoing battle against what Ephesians 6:12 describes as world forces of darkness and spiritual forces of wickedness.
Is the Battle Real?
The Bible records Satan tempting Jesus, influencing Peter’s thoughts and words, and entering into Judas, who betrayed Jesus. Yes, the battle between God and Satan is real. We see Satan’s hand in murders, mutilations, horrendous abuse, self-destructive cutting, addictions, lying, gross immorality, degrading behaviors. The good news is that Satan can’t enter into a believer. However, he can tempt and influence believers. That is why this Christmas season we must be diligent to put on the armor God has provided for us. Just as it’s our responsibility to put on our physical clothing and we wouldn’t dare walk about naked, it is our responsibility to put on God’s armor so we’re not naked targets for Satan.
Let’s Get Dressed (Ephesians 6:10-18)
First, we need to reach for the belt of truth. Why? It is central to everything. How can we stand against Satan’s schemes if we don’t know the truth from a lie? We can shop for truths to put on by reading our Bible every day.
Second, we need to cover our chest because our heart is vulnerable to sin. Mindfully contemplate the gift of Christ’s righteousness as you cover your heart with His breastplate.
If you’ve ever run out the door without shoes, you know the pain of sharp rocks and stickers. Hopping around on one foot is no fun plus it is debilitating. Take a moment every morning to strap on Christ’s gospel of peace. Walk in peace this Christmas, sure footed against Satan’s schemes, sharing God’s grace with others.
Something we don’t wear, but need to have in our hand, like a fireman needs a fire extinguisher, is the shield of faith so we can extinguish what the Bible describes as “flaming arrows of the evil one.” Yes, the evil one aims arrows lit from hell at us. Don’t believe it? Look at loved ones and friends burning in anger, lit with depression, fuming with bitterness. This is real, friends. The same Bible that says Jesus was born of a virgin to die for our sins is the same Bible that says we need to put on the full armor of God to resist the devil.
Two last items: the helmet of salvation. Every morning it is important to mindfully remember that Jesus was born and “saved us not on the basis of deeds we have done, but according to His mercy, …, “ Titus 3:5. This can’t help but put a smile on our face. Lastly, take the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, in your hand. A Bible wielding Spirit filled Christian is a tougher target than a Christian with no sword. Plus, you will be a blessing to others this Christmas instead of a stressed out Christian.
Have We Forgotten Something this Christmas
It’s easy in the midst of the Christmas season to forget that a spiritual battle ensues. Let’s cautiously, wisely armor up every day. It’s no laughing matter.
Heavenly Father, thank You for showing us what You see in the spiritual realm that our eyes can’t see. Thank You for telling us what we need to do to stand against evil and for providing us with Your spiritual armor. Please help us get in the habit of daily “armoring up” so we represent You well not only this Christmas season, but every day.
When: Wednesday, January 8, 2020, 11 -12 noon
Where: Trinity Baptist Church Chapel
Register: Call Trinity Baptist Church at 830.895.0100 or register online at https://www.tbck.org/events/. Childcare for infants to kindergarten must be registered.
Email email@example.com for more information.
$7.50 includes Prayers of My Heart journal and refreshments. Scholarships available.
Hell on Earth
“Hell on earth” is a phrase people sometimes use to emphasize a horrible place or time they’re going through. They feel captive and in torment. It goes on and on and appears to them that they’ll never escape their misery. Certainly the Jews felt that way in Nazi concentration camps. So can a spouse in a destructive marriage. Or an employee who has a relentless job. So can a Christian when principalities of evil and world forces of darkness are pitted against them. That happens? Yes. Ephesians 6:12 plainly says that Christians “struggle against rulers, powers, world forces of darkness, spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Too often, though, we don’t see it. We go to church. Memorize verses. Try to live a good Christian life. Then, bam! Something horrible happens or perhaps is ongoing. All we see is what’s visible. We are deceived into thinking our problem is with a person, job, child, parent, or ourself. Paul tells us to open our eyes. Satan hates you if you’re a believer and will do everything on earth to take you down, destroy your witness, and make you miserable during your short years on earth. Why? Because he knows he can’t have you or keep you. Revelation 1:17-18 records Jesus’s words to John when he was exiled on the island of Patmos. “‘Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I HAVE THE KEYS of death and of Hades.” Your hell on earth, whatever it is, is not going to last. Jesus has made sure of that. Satan will be bound. You’ll be free. Jesus has the keys and is locking Satan away. In the meantime, remember, Jesus also has the keys to joy and fullness of life. If you know Christ and you know the Bible but are miserable, isn’t it time to start deeply MEDITATING on Scripture for yourself? Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and your heart to understand God’s kingdom inspired Word. Study Ephesians 6 and arm yourself against Satan. Stand firm against what appears to be your “hell” knowing it is stoked by the invisible enemy. Or, you can keep being miserable and deceived by the enemy. But, what a pity.
Lord Jesus Christ, You were bombarded by Satan over and again. Demons nipped at your holy feet. World forces of darkness blinded the religious leaders to who You were. But you showed us and taught us the way to release. You have given us kingdom keys. May we not be blind and ignore Your holy teachings, but rather pray without ceasing and walk by Your Spirit.
TIP: If you need help growing in your faith or prayer life, visit my website where you’ll find resources to help you. Begin with Pray with Purpose, Live with Passion, If God is In Control, Why Am I a Basket Case, the P.R.A.Y. with Passion Conference available on DVD or CD, or Listen UP: 31 Points about the Holy Spirit every Christian should know. Take advantage of the many free website resources – slideshows and videos, or podcasts on a variety of topics you can listen to on the way to work or while you go about your day. Browse around. Find what you need. Begin today. Also, I’m updating my 4 week Bible study on 2 Peter: How to Live by the Divine Nature. This is a critically important book of the Bible. If you’re interested in joining me for this study (we’ll do it by email once a week for 4 weeks with me providing short teaching videos/podcasts), let me know. firstname.lastname@example.org
Are We Placing God Where People Can See Him
Have you been battling something and you’re tired? You have a heavy heart? Heavy hands? If so, we do well to remember that as believers, we don’t stand alone. We have each other as we battle our flesh, the world, and Satan. Exodus 17:8-15 records a great visual of how we can come alongside each other, and under the banner of the Lord, defeat the enemy. “Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand. So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. Moses built an altar and named it The Lord is My Banner; and he said, ‘The Lord has sworn; the Lord will have war against Amalek from generation to generation.” In this passage we see that the Israelites won the battle as long as they could see Moses’s staff, the banner that represented God and His power. What can we learn from this account? We must station ourselves with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. We must lift one another in prayer. We must keep our eyes on Christ, the Victor. God is our Banner. Lift Him high before the eyes of others. How? Share “365 Days of Praise” with family and friends each day. Each devotional focuses on a different aspect of God’s divinity, power, and sufficiency. Or, take 30 seconds and click the FB or Twitter share link at the end of each post. Will you join me in daily holding up God’s name and power? Who in your family and which of your friends could use the daily reminder that God is in the battle with them?
Heavenly Father, we often feel there’s little we can do to make a difference in our crazy mixed up world. But there is something we can do. We can lift high Your name so others are reminded of Your presence and power. Thank You, Jehovah-Nissi, our banner.
Keep Your Foot on the Pedal
Do you often fall for temptation? I seem to be a glutton for it. Temptation reminds me of a sign I saw one day when approaching a small town that boasted it was the “playground of the area.” As I drove into the city, however, I didn’t see that anything that matched the alluring sign’s description. Satan is a lot like that sign. He places temptation before us and boasts it will give us pleasure. But if we’re wise, we’ll act on 1 Corinthians 10:13 that tells us “no temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” In other words, we’re to keep our foot on the pedal and take God’s escape.
Heavenly Father, forgive us when we keeping walking into temptation instead of stopping, turning, and taking your way of escape. Help us be more mindful of what we’re doing and walk more closely by Your Spirit.
Praise to JEHOVAH-NISSI
Nations and schools have them. Businesses and clubs. Flags. Banners. We hold them high. Our banner means we’re staying and not leaving. We’re laying claim to what is ours. And, so, Moses raised the banner of the Lord. Here’s how it happened:
Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua,
Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.
So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. Moses built an altar and named it The Lord is My Banner;…
Have you been battling something and you’re tired? You have a heavy heart? Heavy hands? Maybe you’re not in the actual battle, but you’re standing with someone who is and needs encouragement? We’re in this together, just like Moses, Aaron, Hur, and Joshua were. Although Christ has won the eternal victory, we continue to battle our flesh and the enemy. Evil is going to win or we are . Our flesh is going to take ground or we are. We’ll daily look more like Christ or look like the world. The pressure to give into the enemy, the world, and our flesh is real. We need cheerleaders; someone to come to our side and hold high the banner of the Lord; reminding us who our Great God is and that we can win by His power.
The Israelites won the battle as long as they could see God’s staff, the banner that represented Him and His great power.
We can lift high God’s banner, His name and power to our friends and family. How? Share “365 Days of Praise.” Moses, Aaron, and Hur held up God’s banner all day. It takes 30 seconds for us to click on the FB, Twitter, or share link. Will you join me in daily holding up God’s name and power by sharing these posts? Who in your family and which of your friends could use the daily reminder that God is in the battle with them?
Heavenly Father, we often feel there’s little we can do to make a difference in our crazy mixed up world. But, one thing we can do is lift high Your name so others are reminded of Your great power. Thank You, Jehovah-Nissi, our banner.
Move Away from the Fire
Driving to Kerrville from San Antonio,
I reflected on God’s goodness at the P.R.A.Y. with Passion Conference at The Fellowship of San Antonio.
Wave the White Flag in the Storm
Hurricane Harvey, the Category 4 hurricane that struck the Texas Gulf Coast on August 25, caused far reaching loss of life and damage.
Weather forecasters had warned of the danger. Hurricanes had hit before, but they explained the danger of Harvey hovering. They warned