Tam - posted on 09/08/2009 ( 14 moms have responded )
Ladies, this is a long one and I apologize in advance for any typos. This lesson has been a trial of sorts, so I know it's important enough to put up now, typos and all. I'll try to clarify or edit later, but for now, here it is in raw form.
A sound of battle in the land, and of great destruction. How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken! how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations! - Jeremiah 50:22
Have you heard the battle cry in your heart?
Have you seen the destruction that was and is to come?
Have you felt your world being pulled apart and broken?
Even for us (women who follow Christ), it can almost seem like too much at times. We struggle with so much and the fear comes at us, trying to buckle us, and bring us to our knees--both literally and figuratively.
But our wonderful Savior gave us this promise...Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27).
I want you to hang onto that promise. We are going to need it greatly in the days to come. We need to truly believe that even in midst of the chaos He is our peace. We need to remember that He is our everything.
In a post introducing this study series, I mentioned that there is a spiritual battle manifesting itself in the physical world. Satan and his demonic spirits are desperate. As more and more of us wake up and realize our God truly reigns and that He is the only Way, the only Truth and the only Life, they fight. They are fighting good, Godly people with deception, slander and fear and with sickness and with financial problems and anything they believe will work to crush our spirits and get us to turn away from the only Truth we need.
If you don't believe me, talk to that friend who just lost their job and has plunged into depression. Or that young mother who should be taking all joy in her precious babies is instead feeling overwhelmed or that she is not contributing to "society". Or what about the nightmares, the bad thoughts, the fatigue? What about the "one thing after another" storms that are hitting your life lately? Even though not connected, they could very well be.
As I mentioned, the enemy knows best what works against our hearts and minds and he is looking for that weakness, that part of you not covered in the Armor of God completely. And being the serpent that he is, he doesn't need more than the smallest crack. A snake can squeeze itself into a hole so small, yet get his whole body inside. The enemy can be that way too.
"But I'm not a warrior, why is this happening to me? My husband is the head of the family, shouldn't he be protecting me?"
The fact of the matter is that is a lie that you have bought into.
YOU ARE CHRIST'S WARRIOR!
I will not apologize if that offends anyone because there is a difference between offending someone out of maliciousness and someone being offended by the truth--even if it's hard to face. I'll be the first to admit that I've struggled with the fact that I had been deceived into thinking I could lay back and let others battle. It took a long time to come to grips with the fact that the more of my life that I gave to God and walked in His boldness and authority, the more the enemy despised me and was determined to destroy me.
But the fact remains, we are all in the Lord's army.
You may have been on leave, but guess what, you've been called back to active duty and the enemy knows it. God is moving and I believe He's getting ready to do something within His people. The time of rest is over. The time for complacency is over. No more games. Your faith is being tried, your walk is being stretched to the limits. If the things you've been facing haven't convinced you of this, then you might as well stop reading and go reread the Fruit of the Spirit study or a Proverbs study. I care too much about each of you to soft-shoe it or sugar-coat it.
Yet, I pray that you stay with me. It's a matter of spiritual survival.
Will you truly stand for Christ?
God is raising up a generation who follow Christ, who will make that stand no matter what. Those men and women who will pray for our country until they are weak with it. Those people who teach their children the Truth and not some watered down version that is all goodness and light. Don't get me wrong, every good and perfect gift comes from the Father (James 1:17), so they are important, but that is only a portion of the Truth. It is only a portion of our Savior. We need more than ever to be sharing the whole truth, as unpleasant as it might be to our flesh and their flesh. We need to stand strong in Him. We need to cover ourselves in the precious blood He shed so we can be covered in His armor.
"But how? I've tried to do it and still this comes at me, still I struggle."
Any general will tell you, the first things you need to do are train and prepare, know your enemy and his terrain, and to create a battle plan. Part of that plan is arming yourself with armor and weapons. But we must know what we are doing with those things before they can be effective. You could put a gun in the hands of someone who has never used one and they might be somewhat proficient, but would you want them to be the only thing between you and a vicious enemy? No. You would want someone who has trained and knows combat and who is bold enough in their training to implement whatever it takes to get you to safety.
And we are not there. We have the list of what we need, we have the basic knowledge but have become lax in training our minds and hearts to do spiritual battle.
Right now, I am very concerned with the state of our souls and those in our keeping. As Godly women we have been given a very sacred calling and duty to raise up and train our children. We are to lift up our husbands in prayer. There are lies that women have bought into that have led us to where we are today--unable to know the full Truth ourselves and so we cannot truly teach our children and be those living lights for Him. We try and we struggle (and we always will) but all too often, we spend more time feeling defeated than realizing where our strength comes from.
So, instead of dwelling on the problems we are going to renew our commitment to our Lord. We are going to create our battle plans and learn to defend our faith no matter what the enemy, the world or even our own minds can throw at us.
I'd like to take a moment and take you back through history for a moment to show you that being a Biblical woman does not make you weak. During ages past, whenever men left the homes for whatever reason (hunting, war, etc) it was often the women who were charged with protecting and defending the home. Yes, those women were the softer, nurturing nesters while their men hunted and warred, but they had wills of steel. They had spirits that could not be crushed by nature or man. Yes, they looked to their husbands as the head of the home and the head of the spiritual matters. Yes, they loved and raised their children to fear the Lord. Yes, they trusted in their God to see them through and provide. (I am not talking about the tyranical abuse of some women, but those women who endured with love of God and their families.)
Doesn't sound like the version of women that the enemy would have us believe today, does it?
No. We've bought into lies that to be a Biblical woman means we need to always be soft and never show a spine. That we must rely on our husbands to do all the spiritual battling. That is why the world thinks it's so strange to submit to our husbands. And they don't see the flip side. Being in that position means we are entrusted to defend and protect our homes while he wages war with the world outside the sheltered walls.
So, now that you see you can be bold and strong when called upon, let's begin training and making our battle plan...they are one in the same in this instance as you will call upon these constantly.
First of all, I want you to get on your knees and pray. Pray like you've never prayed before. Seek out and ask God to show you any areas of weakness that need to be fortified. You need to seal up any holes and you need to toss out anything that will not bring you closer to Him. Repent and mean it. If you are going to be strong for Him you MUST make sure that you are so broken from sin that only He can remake you. You need to lay everything--and I mean EVERYTHING--at the foot of that cross and give it to Him. If you cannot do this, then you've lost the battle already. Fear, anger, anxiety have a foothold in you. You must continually pray and seek God to crush them and wipe out that foothold.
Now, I'm not saying you will not encounter issues that you need to constantly be on alert for, but that's why you make this a habit. The more of God you have in you, the less desire for sin you have. You absolutely have to bend your will to His! You train your heart and your soul to go to God in everything, to ask for mercy and love and forgiveness of sins. You do this constantly. We are taught to pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17) and now is the time to do so if you haven't already.
I Corinthians 5:7 tells us "Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency."
The next part of your training is to get into the Word and keep at it daily. Memorize as much as you can so you can hide it in your heart so you can understand (Proverbs 2:1-5) His will. You must know what authority the Lord has given you. You need to see how He says to use the peace, the love, the Word and your witness. DO NOT RELY on hearing others preach it. Edification is good, but if that is the only meat you are getting, then it's not enough and you leave yourself open to false doctrine. You need to get in there and do it yourself and see what God shows you that He has in mind for you, what assurances and promises He gives you.
Live it. NO MATTER WHAT comes your way, you rely on HIM! He has already won the war, so these battles we face are nothing in the grand scheme of things. They are distractions to keep you from your purpose and they are there to keep your focus on yourself and the sin of self. It is more important than ever that we keep our eyes on Him. Find His glory in all things, even those which would tear us apart.
And we cannot fear physical death. There is NOTHING the enemy can do to you to truly separate you from God if you are prepared to go the distance for Christ! He has promised us that no trial, persecution or even sword can separate us from His love (Romans 8:35, 39)!
I don't want to dwell on the enemy to glorify him, but I do want to warn you that he is out for your destruction and wants to devour you (I Peter 5:8). He will use traps (I Timothy 3:7) to ensnare you into inactivity or even to get you to commit treason against God. Another favorite tool of his is condemnation, which as we've talked about before is just a symptom of the sin of self. We MUST get into the Word and apply Romans 8:1 in instances like that. He can use unforgiveness as a tool (II Corinthians 2:10-11) and he wants to hinder us from getting where we need to go for God (I Thessalonians 2:18). He is a lustful murderer and the father of lies (John 8:43-44). He likes to wear disguises (angel of light, etc.) and he likes to mimic (pervert) the things of God to raise himself up (remember Moses and Aaron who faced Pharoah's servants?). He is a serpent and a thief.
And he despises you.
That is the most important thing to know. He hates God and your loyalty to the King of Kings is more than the enemy can endure.
Even more importantly, we must remember that we are fighting a battle (or battles) that we cannot always see with our fleshly eyes. Romans 14:17 reminds us that this is more a spiritual battle by reminding us that the kingdom of God is not about fleshly acts of eating and drinking, but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Acts 14:22 exhorts us to "continue in the faith."
"Okay, I get that, but again, how do I fight the spirits that come against me? Do I condemn or bind my neighbor when they slander me? Do I use this to save the world? What exactly is this armor for?"
No, as mentioned above, this armor is for your personal battle and your personal protection. This armor is not to beat over the head of another, it is to keep you strong against the true enemy. It is spiritual in nature and so should be used to fight spiritual battles.
As a reminder, here is Ephesians 6:11-17:
Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
The word Paul used here was Panoplia (pan-op-lee'-ah) and it is "whole armor" as one word, not two like we read it. To me this implies that this is an all or nothing ordeal. Either you are covered completely or you are not covered. We need to be ready to put it all on, not just a portion. This is not a la' carte. You chose to follow God and you should do so with your whole heart, your whole soul and your whole mind. If you do not, then you leave yourself exposed in your weak areas. If you have not already, please, please, please take the time to get right with God on everything. Give it to Him!
Another interesting term in this passage is "wiles". Wiles is from the Greek word methodeia and it pretty much means a pathway that is traveled over. We must have the wholearmor of God to stand against the wiles of the devil. If we are covered in God's armor, then we close off those avenues of attack, we protect the vital and precious parts of ourselves.
In a study of Proverbs (sorry, don't recall offhand) we discussed shields. And in it we talked about how though we can be bruised and maybe even suffer some damage to ourselves, those shields will protect our vital organs.
Putting on the Armor of God does not mean that you will always escape pain or heartache. Those are casualties of battle (I Peter 4:12-13). What it does mean is that you can stand stronger for longer, and that you have protected the most precious things of God in your life. That the enemy can come against you and you have the authority to stand against him, to resist him. James 4:7 tells us to resist the devil and he will flee from you. It doesn't say that you will escape unscathed. He's not a toddler you tell to go their room. Our enemy is a lion seeking to devour you, he will not merrily go on his way. But with the Armor of God, you can have faith to stand strong in God.
Where does the Armor come from?
Yes, our precious Lord, the same who taught us to love knew that we would endure battles and He provided for us. He interceded so that we could go through Him to the Father.
In Isaiah 59:16-17, we get a glimpse of this... 16 And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. 17 For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.
In Romans 13 (12-14) Paul exhorts us to put on armor of light and to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Him, we have a hiding place and shelter. When the battles make us weary, we tend to focus on the problems. We need to remember who we serve and run to Him and hide in Him to rest for the next round. Jesus is our armor! His blood and covering are all we need.
To help you remember that we are victors already as long as we remain faithful in Him, I'd like to leave you with some of the most precious promises we have in Him...
Isaiah 54:17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.
John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
I Peter 5:8-11 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 10But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. 11To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen
Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.
Numbers 10:9 And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies.
Leviticus 26:3-13 If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; 4Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. 5And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. 6And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land. 7And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. 8And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. 9For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you. 10And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new. 11And I set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. 12And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people. 13I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.
There is so much more that I could talk about here, but due to space and time, I feel this is enough for you to pray on while we prepare for the next lesson.
Lord, we humble ourselves before You and ask You to show us any cracks in our armor, show us any sins that might keep us from focusing on You. Show us Your will and solution to correcting those matters. We cry out for more of You and the shelter of Your love. We cry out to be remade in Your will so we can stand boldly and strongly for You. Cleanse our hearts and purge our minds. Show us how to put our houses in order. You are almighty and we worship You. You are our desire and we know that the enemy will come against us but You have declared victory by the cross. You have given us the weapons and armor to fight the good fight and to praise You for eternity. Let us not fall by the wayside or turn away from our duty. Give us the courage needed to press on to the mark. This world may grow dark, but Lord we have no fear because You are the same, today and tomorrow. You are everything we will ever need. We praise You, in Jesus' name, Amen.