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The Shied of Faith

Ephesians 6:16

In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Verses 14-17 of this chapter describe the full armor of God we are to wear in battling spiritual warfare. Know for certain that if you are a Christian, at some point the Devil will attack you to try to steal your joy and your peace. He may even try to convince you that you are not a Christian. He will hurl insults, negative and terrifying thoughts, fears, and anything he finds damaging against you. Should you find yourself in this place, you have threatened his territory in some manner. While he may attack, you have weapons of warfare against him. Dress well, and carry on.

Faith is a shield, which is used for protection. Faith must have an object, which is Jesus Christ. Even when you can’t trust your own works or actions, you can always have faith in the finished work of the cross. Jesus’s work for you is complete, and His love for you is everlasting. Nothing can separate us from His love, and you can always have faith that He will act for you and never against you. Regardless of what the Devil may say, God placed your punishment on the cross. Jesus died so you could have life and have it more abundantly. 

I recently read a quote by M. Scott Peck from People of the Lie. In reference to people who are influenced by evil, he said, “God does not punish. We punish ourselves.” If you are a Christian, your sin has already been punished on the cross. I’m not talking about discipline. God disciplines those He loves through conviction and by steering them in the right direction. Punishment has to do with condemnation and judgment. God loves you, and your faith in Him is a protection against the assault of the enemy, who will try to convince you God has rejected you.

We must take this shield of faith with us wherever we go. We can’t just put it on a shelf and head out into the world, where we are sure to encounter evil. Our faith is not just something to use on special occasions, like fine china when company comes to dinner. Your faith should be a staple part of your wardrobe, just like your pants or your handbag. You don’t need to leave home without it! In every situation, take your shield of faith against the enemy.

When fearful thoughts tell you things will not end well and you are doomed, hold up your shield of faith and believe that God will work all things together for your good! When you look at the task before you and feel you will never overcome, take up your shield of faith and remember that God is always with you. He is strong where you are weak, and He is for you. Faith requires you to look beyond yourself and depend upon another for help. God is our ever present help in times of trouble, and He has our back. Hold up your shield, and continue the fight.  The attack itself means there is something awaiting you that is worth the fight!

Have a blessed day!

Break Every Chain

Psalm 107:16

For He has broken down the bronze gates and cut through the iron bars.

Bronze is a symbol of judgment in Scripture, and iron often denotes strength. In this verse, the metals describe a prison cell, where one has been confined by the rebellion of his own sin. Indeed, our sin leads us straight into captivity as a snare of the enemy. Once there, we are enslaved, ineffective, and often subject to hard labor and torment.

The beauty of the gospel, however, is that we serve a loving, gracious, and compassionate God who sent His only Son to free the captives that sin takes into its domain. All we have to do is cry out to God and turn from our wicked ways in repentance, and He breaks the bronze gates of judgment against us and cuts straight through the iron bars of imprisonment to set us free to live for Christ. Hallelujah!

We don’t have to live in bondage. Jesus took our guilt upon Himself to set us free. We are no longer slaves to sin. As the worship song says, “There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain.”

If you feel as if you are bound by anything today, simply cry out to Jesus. He died to set you free. Nothing is impossible for Him! You may have to change your thinking and change your behavior in repentance, but the change is worth the freedom. Rely upon His power to free you, and be set free!

Have a blessed day!

Learn from Me

Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

The Jews were suffering under a load of religious responsibilities imposed upon them by the priests, rabbis, scribes, and Pharisees. In order for the Jews to be in right standing with the church, they had to perform appropriately. Their faith was very works oriented. Jesus gave them rest – relief from that burden. His command was simple: “Take up My yoke and learn from me…”

What Jesus wants most from us right now is to simply learn from Him. Any command He gives us is light and well-suited for us. Martha was concerned about her service to Jesus and wanted Mary helping her accomplish her tasks. Jesus, however, honored Mary’s desire to simply sit at His feet and learn from Him. His ministry is more about our receiving, rather than our doing. When we learn from Him and receive the grace He has for us, any act of service we do comes from a heart of love and gratitude that wants to bless Him. This is the service He desires.

Jesus wants to meet your need today. He will not require from you what you don’t have to give. We can become very burdened with the cares of this world and with trying to do something for God that God has not required. God doesn’t want to burden you; He wants to heal you and make you whole. He wants to transform you into the image of Christ, where you are lacking nothing and fully equipped to do the works to which He has called you. We must learn to distinguish what is good and what is God because the two are not necessarily the same. When we become like Mary and sit at His feet, we will become whole and able to serve Him appropriately.

Have a blessed day!

Walking in High Places

2 Samuel 22:34

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer and sets me securely on the heights.

God prepares us to walk in high places. Unless he prepares us, we will stumble and fall. A deer is known for its agility, swiftness, and beauty. With hooves that can handle mountain terrain, they flourish in places where valley dwellers can’t go.

As Christians, we often fight His preparation. We’d rather sleep a little later than get up early to study and pray. We’ll pass on an opportunity to serve because we’d rather do something else. We let our emotions rule us, rather than follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. By ignoring God’s preparation, we forfeit the heights to which He wishes to take us.

At times, however, moving higher is necessary for God’s plan. If we’ve resisted His preparation, He may allow us to encounter situations where we have no choice but to let Him prepare us to move higher. He may let us stumble and fall a few times so we will submit our feet to Him and allow Him to fashion them to walk in places we’ve never before walked. When God is ready to take you higher, He will take you there. You will be better suited to walk if you have already submitted to His preparation.

Today, determine to submit your feet to God. Let Him take you where you can serve others and bring Him glory. Each time you serve with a cheerful heart, He will equip you with something else you need to climb higher. Let God prepare you to walk in high places. You’ve just survived long enough. Be willing and ready to thrive!

Have a blessed day!

The Eagle

Luke 40:29-31

He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless. Youth may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.

Eagles are fascinating creatures. They fly higher than any other bird and have very strong wings. When female eagles are ready to mate, they throw a stick to the ground, and the male eagles must fight each other to see who can gain possession of her stick. The one who is victorious and returns the stick to her is the one with whom she will mate for life. She rejects the weaker males; her mate must be as strong as she is. While there is an excellent lesson there for teenage girls and single women, I’ll re-direct that to a different audience at a later time. The female eagle, without doubt, is a very strong bird.

To wait entails confident expectation and an active hope in the Lord. Waiting is never passive resignation; waiting is being confident that God will act. Those who wait upon the Lord have their strength renewed when they see the culmination of answered prayers and open doors that only He could provide.

The eagle depicts the strength that comes from the Lord. How interesting to note that our country’s symbol is an eagle. Our strength as a nation comes from Him, and when we reject Him, we lose that strength. We can be those that wait upon God and have our strength renewed as the eagle. Now is the time to pray for the strength of our nation to be renewed and that those who belong to God will turn to Him in prayer. Like eagles, we need to soar higher in prayer and cover our city, our state, and our nation so the strength we have enjoyed is not diminished, allowing the enemy to overcome.

May you be strengthened in the Lord’s great love for you today. May you run and not grow weary. May you be renewed by answered prayer, and may you find strength to help someone else become strong, too.

Have a blessed day!

God’s Boundary Lines

Psalm 16:5

LORD, You are my portion and my cup of blessing; You hold my future. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

David recognized in verse 1 of this psalm he had no good thing outside of God. He holds our future, and whatever good we hope to experience comes directly from His hand. He has drawn boundary lines around the pleasant inheritance He has for us, and we will not experience good or abundance outside of those boundaries.

Verse 10 of this psalm states, “For You will not allow Your faithful One to see the Pit.” God will drag us away from any trap set to destroy us or allow our own plans to fail until we turn completely to Him so He can bless us with the good thing He has planned for us. As the Message Bible translates this same verse, “You canceled my ticket to hell – that’s not my destination!” At times, we seem to get on a train headed in the wrong direction, not realizing where it will take us. Through Jesus Christ, God has canceled our ticket to hell and has put us on a right path that leads to life.

Trust the boundary lines God has given you. He has a beautiful inheritance for you, and He will not allow you to perish in a pit. He will direct you to the right path so you can fully walk in the plan and purpose to which He has called you. God is great, and you belong to Him! He has made you His heir!

Have a blessed day!

By Faith

Romans 1:16-17

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.

Faith is the beginning of our salvation process, and the glory of God is the goal. When we first come to Christ by faith, God declares us righteous before Himself. He then operates through us believer by His Holy Spirit as we move in faith. The Holy Spirit transforms us into the image of Christ as we walk out our faith and frees us from the grasp of sin so we can live victoriously on the earth. Transformation is a process we encounter from faith to faith.

Faith rescues us from hell and continues to rescue us from evil’s earthly defeat. For this reason, Satan seeks to destroy our faith so he can keep us in bondage. When Jesus warned Peter of his forthcoming denial, His encouragement to Peter was that He had prayed his faith would not fail. As long as Peter had faith in Christ, he could overcome whatever failure he experienced. If his faith failed, however, he would not be able to believe and receive the gift of righteousness that God would give him. Faith fails when self-righteousness is stronger in our minds than the righteousness of Christ. Self-righteousness and its failure is exactly why Judas killed himself and could not receive forgiveness for what he had done.

Faith requires trusting in the work of Christ on the cross. Only this finished work can give us the right standing we need before God and grant us the grace we so desperately need to live a victorious life. We all need a measure of faith and grace to succeed, but God grants them to us freely.

If you are feeling discouraged today, feed your faith. Look beyond yourself and your failure to a God who has destined you for success. Throw away any feelings of guilt and condemnation and grasp hold to the promise of hope and a good future in Christ. God is revealed in your life by faith, so rise up and put your trust in Him. As faith builds momentum in your life, you will find yourself thriving instead of surviving and defeating the work of the enemy. You were created to reflect the glory of God, and faith is just the beginning.

Have a blessed day!

The Unforced Rhythm of Grace

Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

We are to run the race with diligence as Paul instructed, but Jesus promised our burden would be light. A runner can’t perform well if he is carrying a heavy burden on his shoulder. Doubt, worry, fear, discouragement, depression, anger, and many other negative emotions weigh us down. We have to relinquish those things and move forward in the strength and grace of Jesus Christ.

I love the Message Bible’s translation of this passage: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythm of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” 

Ah! This sounds like the advertisement for a beach vacation spot! How I would love to get away and recover my life right now! This, however, is not a vacation advertisement, nor will it cost you a large financial sum to take the trip. This is a daily invitation to spend time with Jesus, learn from Him, and lay your burdens down. He gives us the opportunity to learn the unforced rhythm of grace that will empower us to finish the race we have started. I desperately need to catch this rhythm and move with it, and I know many of you do, too.

Determine today to get your rhythm going and dance to the naturally flowing tune of God’s grace. Having a true servant’s heart means giving the Master authority in our lives. He who has the authority, however, also has the responsibility. Give your burdens to Him, and trust Him with the results. He can do a better job with them than you can anyway.

Have a blessed day!

Not Your Battle

2 Chronicles 20:15b

Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.

Jehoshaphat was being attacked by several surrounding armies, including nations God had not allowed Israel to pursue. In response to their grace, these nations rose up against Judah and Jerusalem because they saw them as a threat. The target of the attack was not just Judah but Judah’s God. These enemy nations were afraid because of how they saw God had blessed Judah and Jerusalem, and they sought to destroy the work of God. The battle was not Judah’s to fight; God, Himself, would intervene.

Our attacks often have nothing to do with our past, such as our failures, mistakes, or sin. We must remember that God is faithful to forgive our sins when we confess them. He judged our sin on the cross, but Satan often tries to convince our emotions we are being punished. On the contrary, most enemy attacks wage against us because of our future and the work God is doing in us and through us. The enemy wants to stop the work of God, and he attacks us since he cannot attack God directly. Such battles are not ours to fight. God intervenes to fight them for us when we face them in His armor.

Verse 21:b gives us the key to overcoming when the battle is the LORD’s:

Give thanks to the LORD, for His faithful love endures forever.

When Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah and Jerusalem began thanking and praising God as they walked into battle, the enemy armies became confused and started destroying each other. Judah never had to fight, just as God had promised. When they reached the multitude of troops that had come against them, they were already defeated, and it took three days for Judah to gather all the plunder from their bodies! God not only gives us victory; He gives us back all the valuable things the enemy has stolen from us and multiplies it!

If you feel discouraged today, simply begin to thank God and praise Him for His faithful love, which endures forever. Psalm 138:8 assures us that God will fulfill His purpose for us and that His love is eternal. He will not abandon the work of His hands. Hallelujah! God dwells in the praises of His people, and His presence is more than enough to conquer the enemies that threaten His work in us.

Have a blessed day!

The Apple of His Eye

Zechariah 2:8

For the LORD of Hosts says this: “He has sent Me for His glory against the nations who are plundering you, for anyone who touches you touches the pupil of His eye.”

Some translations refer to the pupil of His eye as the apple of His eye. Indeed, when the enemy attacks us and tries to steal what God has given us, God feels like someone is poking Him in the eye. He will immediately begin to protect His people, who are the apple of His eye.

If something irritates your eye, you are distracted. You begin to try to brush that thing away. It has your immediate attention. The same is true for God when something attacks us. While it may seem to us as if God doesn’t care or is not interested, He is actually brushing that thing out of the way because it is offensive to Him. We always have His full attention as the apple or pupil of His eye.

If something is hurting you today, it is hurting God, too. He does care, He hears your cry, and He is working on your behalf. Nothing – absolutely nothing – is going to destroy God’s eye or His vision for you. You are protected as the apple of His eye, and He is already battling for you.

Have a blessed day!

PHOEBE Connections, Inc. is a 501(c)3 dedicated to enhancing the lives of widows by building relationships and helping them find new identity in Jesus Christ through serving others. We promote an atmosphere of fellowship, where the widow can connect with other widows to develop friendships and supportive relationships.