Ready your feet

Ephesians 6:15 – and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

I have thought about this verse and what to write. So I commit this to the Lord and hope that it is His words written so that He is exalted. As I think about this verse, it comes on a day when I have no strength and am extremely tired. A long week with another busy week ahead. But what I am reminded of in this section of Scripture is that I can be tired all I want. I can have no energy and no strength, but the attacks and the battle does not stop. In fact, it seems the battle gets worse. As we have talked before, the hardest days for me are when I am being led by things that shouldn’t lead me, like hunger, illness or tiredness. Without God, I am nothing.

I get stuck on my dependence on self that I forget to do what I need to do and am supposed to do by depending on the Spirit. The only way that I can please God and do His Will is by the Spirit, His Spirit. So once again, God has to poke me to get me back on track and keep seeking Him. I need to keep wearing the armor He has given us and never start trying to do it on my own. The way that God will be exalted in my life is by relying on Him that way He gets the glory. If I try on my own to please and exalt Him, I will fail. I will fail miserably. But if I depend on Him to do His will and be ready for whatever His will calls for me, then He gets the glory. He gets the honor because it was all Him.

As we look at this verse, I want to share the KJV with you since it offers a different word:

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace (italics mine)

Preparation. The act of making ready or being made ready for use. As I think about that, I really like that translation. It makes me think that we always need to be ready. We always need to be ready for whatever God has next. Whatever He wills for us, we need to be ready or prepared for. That may be something pleasant or…not pleasant at all. It may be the birth of a child. Or the loss of a child. It may be the sweet joy of beautiful new relationship. Or the hurt and deep pain of a broken heart. Whether it is joy or sadness, God is not waiting for the right time when we say we are ready. There will never be a perfect time or a favorable period in our life. We need to be ready now.

David and Moses both ask God to teach them to number their days since it is like a fleeting breath. We don’t know when the last one we take will be. At the same time, we don’t know what God has in store for us next. We don’t know the battles and struggles that lie ahead. So as we take this moment, are you ready? Am I ready?

I have found that all too often in my life I am not. Through the struggles come some of the most intimate and amazing times of growth with God in my life, but they have so much pain and hurt sprinkled in. Loss of loved ones, broken hearts, illness and pain that seemed like it was never going to end, yet God uses these times to refine us and purify us. He makes us ready and prepared. Sometimes we go with Him. Other times we refuse to let Him teach us. We don’t want to be taught. We want to stay in our pit of depression.

God may well have some type of loss ahead of you or a move to a new place. There may be trials and struggles. There may be some amazing happiness. What is He preparing you for? What do you need to be ready for? Do not be afraid to ask. Ask Him to lead you, to prepare you for service. For the future. For whatever he has next. Are you ready? I know I could use some work. Are you ready for what the enemy will throw at you next? God will help us. He will prepare us if we let Him. And if we seek after Him. We need to be ready. We need to be ready for the battle. In Jeremiah 29, it is written, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Seek after God.

And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace. (The Amplified Bible)

But this verse doesn’t leave us with just preparation, but with a great reminder. And a beautifully vivid imagery of a great battle going on around us yet we have an inward peace. Chaos on the outside, yet tranquility inside. While the battle wages on, God gives us the beautiful opportunity to find rest and stability on His solid Rock. God promises us to give us our daily bread and He does. Without even asking, He gives us what we need every day to succeed. In the times of trial and great struggle, there is a way to find peace and hope. One way is turn to what God has told us in Scripture. To look upon His promises and see the hope that we have in Him. As we read, we find people who have gone through our struggles. We see how God works all things out for the good of those that love Him. God has a great and mighty plan. Do not fret. Do not be anxious but come to God. Come to Him in prayer and seek after Him in His beautiful Word. Listen to what He is telling you. Listen to the promise that even though you may feel desperate and alone, you are valuable to Him. So valuable in fact He sacrificed His Son and you who believe now are a child of God.

While the storms come, the Gospel stands firm. Hide it in your heart that in times of trial, in times of persecution, in times of temptation, in times of great blessings you will know Who is in charge and those words will come to life in you.


Truth and Righteousness

Ephesians 6:14 – Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place

Stand firm in the truth that if you believe in the Almighty Father that sent His only Son to be the sacrifice for us, you have life and hope. Stand firm in the truth that Jesus took the full brunt of God’s wrath. Stand firm in truth that because of Christ, you are now a child of God if you believe in Him. Stand firm in the truth that you have been pardoned from the guilt of sin. Stand firm in the truth that when you accepted Christ as your Savior, He has made you righteous.

Say those words, “I am righteous.” Not bashfully, but unapologetically. Boast in the Lord for what He has done. We can say that we are righteous because that is exactly what Christ did. It seems weird to say that when we know how sinful we are. When all we can see is our sin and problems, it is so difficult to even think that. Yet, God has allowed us to say that. By the grace of God in the gift of Jesus to bring glory to His name, we have been made righteous. How can I say that, because of what God did and what God told us in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (italics mine).

So many times in our lives, as we face attacks and various struggles, the devil shoots all sorts of arrows at us. It causes us to question things we wouldn’t normally. He starts to twist words and our thoughts. The struggles ramp up. The pain increases. Our eyes and heart are taken off of Christ and fixed on the problem. We start fighting the battle around us. We dwell on the battle. The weight of the guilt increases. The burden becomes too heavy and we start listening to the lies. The lies have a hold of us.

“How can God love someone like you?” “How can God use someone who has done the things you have?” “If God loved you, why would He let this happen?” The attacks come on our faith. They come against our bodies. They come as we pray. They come as we read Scripture. We start forgetting the foundations of truth that our lives with God are built upon. But God does love us and still calls us His children even when we do fail. There is never anyone too far out of His reach.

There are times when these attacks really take a toll on me. I feel so awful for even battling them, but what amazes me is during these times of struggle, doubt and pain; God uses this to remind me of truth. He uses these awful attacks from Satan to remind me who He is. What He has done. It gives me a chance to be reminded of the very basic truths that Christ died for me and has given me life. He is my satisfaction and what I long for. While my body fails, He never will. Even though I may stumble, He will still love me and help me get back on track. While the guilt gets to me, He wipes it away. It isn’t fun and is actually quite frustrating to face these battles and thoughts. I can’t stand it, but by God’s grace He still teaches. He still uses it.

But that is why we need to stand firm with the belt of truth. We need to remember the foundations of our lives with God. The attacks will come and keep coming. But God will help us if we let Him. The attacks will be too much, but His truths are greater. Most of all, the Truth has set us free from our guilt, from sin and from our old lives. The Truth has given us life in a brand new exciting world.

God has set you and me apart as His very own. We have been righteous by Christ. We are His children. So the next time the attacks come, which may be in the next minute, remember who you are. You will be challenged to focus on the pain and wrong thoughts. Test those thoughts about what is in Scripture. Test those thoughts with what God has already taught you and shown you. Remember you are a child of God. Remember what He did for you in His Son. Stand firm in the confidence that the God of all creation, the only God, is for you. He is here for you. He is with you. He will not leave you. You may turn to this world to fill those longings and desires, but only He will satisfy. Keep your eyes on heaven. It won’t be easy. The struggle won’t go away quickly. It will be painful. But God will give you victory. There is only victory with God.

Here are some truths that come from a Bible study in the YouVersion app from “15 days with John Piper”

1. In Christ Jesus you were given grace before the world was created. 2 Tim. 1:9

2. In Christ Jesus you were chosen by God before creation. Eph. 1:4

3. In Christ Jesus you are loved by God with an inseparable love. Rom. 8:38-39

4. In Christ Jesus you were redeemed and forgiven for all your sins. Eph 1:7

5. In Christ Jesus you are justified before God and the righteousness of God in Christ is imparted to you. 2 Cor 5:21

6. In Christ Jesus you have become a new creation and a son of God. 2 Cor. 5:17

7. In Christ Jesus you have been seated in the heavenly places even while he lived on earth. Eph. 2:6

8. In Christ Jesus all the promises of God are Yes for you. 2 Cor. 1:20

9. In Christ Jesus you are being sanctified and made holy. 1 Cor. 1:2

10. In Christ Jesus everything you really need will be supplied. Phil. 4:19

11. In Christ Jesus the peace of God will guard your heart and mind. Phil. 4:17

12. In Christ Jesus you have eternal life. Rom. 6:23

13. In Christ Jesus you will be raised from the dead at the coming of the Lord. 1 Cor. 15:22

This is a wonderful truth. Union with Christ is the ground of everlasting joy, and it is free.

Isn’t that beautiful? Isn’t that restoring? Doesn’t that give you such hope and peace? Doesn’t it settle your heart in difficult times of trials to know that you can have peace in Christ.

Be prepared to stand

Ephesians 6:13 – Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Therefore put on the full armor of God. Every piece. Don’t forget a single piece. Put on the truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation and the word of God. I can almost picture my mom asking me, “Did you get your peace? What about your faith?” in much the same way she would ask if I got my coat or gloves. I know it sounds strange but that is what I need to remember in the morning when I start my day and also throughout the day. As evil comes and attacks throughout the day, we need to be prepared. I need to remember what I can stand on. It won’t be on my own two feet or my own strength or wisdom or power. It will be on the firm foundation only found in God. It will be on the Rock of salvation.

In much the same way that I put on my clothes to go to work, I think we all need to remember to put on the armor of God. Maybe if I were to envision myself putting on the “readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (v.15) as I put on my socks and shoes that it would be a helpful reminder to me. I don’t know about you, but for me I don’t think about putting on the armor of God before I leave. I am in a rush most of the time, that I kind of forget the very simple task of putting on the armor. But, that is what we need to do. As we have our quiet time in the morning, as we set aside time for God to lift our prayers up to Him, maybe we should make a conscious effort to talk through these verses to “put on the full armor of God”. I don’t want this to be a box to check off so I can move on to the next thing. In a way, I believe it is to meditate on those words and behold what God has done. Behold what He has given. Behold who He is.

This is where I fall into the sin of hurriedness and busyness. I fall into a trap of trying to get things done that I forget to slow down and enjoy God. I forget to enjoy the simple yet profound pleasures of God. I get in such a rush that I don’t slow down to just be still and quiet before the Almighty. What a hard thing to do for people in these times. Just to slow down and be still before God. But what an amazing privilege and sight that we have been given. How awesome and amazing it is that we have this privilege, this God-given privilege bought by the precious blood of Christ to come before the Creator. A person who holds no worth in this world can come before the One who finds extreme value in His adopted children.

Every day evil attacks us. It attacks us in ways we may not be ready for on that day. But don’t fret, God has given you everything we need to succeed. He was given us so many weapons to stand up to sin and evil.

Quick tangent, for some reason as I wrote that last sentence, I got a picture of Neo from the movie The Matrix when at the end he had all these bullets fired at him and he held up his hand and looked at them in dramatic fashion and uttered the word, “No”. In classis Keanu style too!

That is what I wish I would do more of. God has given you and me everything we need to stand up to sin. Every. Thing. He has held nothing back. He didn’t even hold back His only Son. He gave us Jesus, who has done immeasurably more for us than we can even begin to fathom.

Even going back to the movie, before Neo could stand up to those bullets and tell them “No”, he had to believe. If you saw the movie and remember, Neo “died”. As he lay there, Trinity spoke to him and told him to believe. Believe he was “the one”. Believe the power he had. Of course, he comes back to life and stands up to the bad guys. The good guys win.

The thing is he had to believe. Just like we need to believe that God is with us. We have to believe that God has empowered us with His weapons to stand against evil. But on our own, we will fail. The burden of failure will become too much. The defeats will wear on us. That is why God gave us His Spirit. The Helper. He has given us the power of the Spirit to rely and depend on. If we believe in God, believe in what He says, believe that He is good and true then we can stand. He will strengthen us to take our stand against evil and our old selves. With Him, we can and will overcome. Only with Him.

I really like how The Message puts verse 13:

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet.

Be prepared. You don’t know what will happen this day. Before you leave for work, or do a presentation, or go to school, or go for a job interview; God tells us to be prepared. Connect with Him. Put on His truths so that whatever comes your way, you will be ready for.

As with verse 12, we are up against more than we can handle. We will try to do this on our own. We will try and keep trying, but the sweet reminder in the midst of battle is that when we surrender our battle, whether it is cancer, divorce, spiritual attacks, loss of job, depression, addiction or any number of other things, when we surrender and admit we need a Savior, God will help us. The only way we can stand our ground when the evil comes is by surrendering fully to God. Surrender all of our lives and whatever the situation is. In that surrender and submission, there will be an amazing gift that will come. A gift that is priceless. It will be a gift of peace. A gift of rest. The problem will keep coming back to weigh on our minds but that is where we keep giving God our anxieties and fears, and “…the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

I pray you just let this verse speak to you as I need it to speak to me. Meditate on the promises. Take all the help you can get because God has given you a plethora of weapons to fight this battle of life. And when it is all over, you will be able to stand. You will be able to rise out of the ashes and stand up. In the full armor with everything God has given you and by belief, you will stand in victory. Sweet, sweet victory. Bought by Jesus, we are blessed benefactors of His divine gift. Against evil you will be able to stand. You will get knocked down, but by the grace of God and for His glory, He will let you stand tall overcoming evil. How sweet is that!

Our struggle against the unseen

Ephesians 6:12 – For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Our Struggle… Our…Struggle. Daily. Hour by hour. Minute by minute. There is a struggle all around us. A war is being waged against us. For every believer, there are powers that are trying to bring us down. There are forces that are trying to take us away from God. The battle of our life is at hand. The battle to change our thoughts on God and who He is.

Paul makes it clear though, that the greatest struggle we will ever face, the battle of our life, is not against the things of flesh and blood. It isn’t the visible. There is no doubt that these forces use the visible to tempt us. The things of this world are used to bring us down, but they are just pawns in this game of life. They are the results of the seeds the evil one has planted in us. Sometimes, we don’t give those seeds water. We give those seeds of doubt, trial, temptation and sin to God before they ever take root.

Other times, more times than not in my life, I try to fight them on my own. I fight a losing battle with my own strength. The next thing I know is that this tiny seed of temptation, this simple thought, has sprouted and I don’t know how I got in the middle of the battle. And oh boy, is it a battle to get out. It can be a tiring, exhausting, gut-wrenching battle. At the end, we hurt. Even our flesh seems to hurt.

I will not lie that when days like this happen, I feel so far from God. I feel so distant and the guilt of it all has weighed me down so much. As Paul reminds me in this verse, those feelings which aren’t grounded in fact are used in this struggle. Let me deviate real quick.

There are many days when I let things of the flesh, like hunger or tiredness, get to me. I don’t show nor do I actually depend on God like I should in those moments. Instead, I let what my flesh wants control this life. I become independent of God and of Him being my source. Then because of those things, I let the temptations in because I am too weak to fight. I am too weak to surrender and let God fight. I know what I am supposed to do. I try to do what I should but in the end I still feel fragile and vulnerable. I don’t feel my Father nor do I run to Him.

But at the root of these fleshly attacks are the giant icebergs of my heart. My sick, wicked, sinful heart. Picture an iceberg if you will. You can see 10% of it on top of the surface of the water. Hence, all these fleshly struggles. But beneath the surface of the water lays 90% of the iceberg. Beneath the surface of this man, beneath the superficial struggles, lies the deep rooted sins of a man so depraved and wretched. There lies the sins of self (self-protection, self-pity, selfishness, self-promotion, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, and self-admiration) and there lies the sins of the heart that tries to take us from the Presence. Tozer writes that we must not push off thoughts of the unseen world. WE must recognize the unseen. The good. And the evil. Instead of letting evil push us away from God with its temptations, I hope and pray for strength to push into God.

All around us are things trying to take us from God. All these things are deep rooted in sin. The sin of Adam. The sin that causes us to long for the Garden and the communion we once had with God as He strolled in the cool of the day through the Garden. Yet, Satan and his forces throw everything they can at us all so that we may bow at their feet. Because if we bow at their feet, we may say we know God but as Christ mentioned in Matthew 7:21-22, many claim to know God but He never knew them:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Don’t think for a second your battle is just with what you can see. The battle for your life is being waged daily. It is occurring in ways we can’t even see or recognize. This is a very dark world and the darkness that sin has over it can be too much. But remember the great joy that comes from this section of Scripture, God gives us His armor to fight and defend ourselves. He gives us a weapon to attack. Call on God and ask Him for help. Ask Him to reveal to you those icebergs in your life that go to the very root of your soul that causes us to fail. That causes us to not love, to not love God and love others. The icebergs that take us from worshipping our Heavenly Father to worshipping things of this world. We will never be satisfied in this world. It will just take us from truly worshipping God. This world and the powers of evil that use this world don’t want us to stand in awe of the only thing that is truly awe-inspiring. We trust this battle to Jesus. We trust our lives to Christ. Things happen we can’t see. Satan attacks in ways we never know and cannot see. But with the armor of God, we have a defense against wrong thinking. A defense against letting the seeds of sin sprout. A defense against our self-preservation. As God leads us to a vulnerable, intimate relationship with Him, our defenses will grow. In this world we will keep sinning, but what a great God we have. What a great God we have who gave us His Son so that we may be adopted to sonship. Life is hard. It is a battle, a struggle. But God is good. And He is here for you.

Put on the armor

Ephesians 6:11 – Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes

I can’t really imagine what it was like to wear one of those heavy pieces of armor that warriors wore long ago. The picture that always comes to my mind is the typical metal suit of armor that a knight would wear. I can’t imagine how they could see out of the helmet. I don’t even know if I could walk around with all that weight on me, let alone wield a sword to fight against the enemy.

What amazes me is that the armor of God doesn’t weigh me down like a man-made suit does. It doesn’t make it hard to move or see. The armor of God is freeing. It strengthens us and helps us keep fighting. But, why do I feel so weighed down in the midst of a fight or struggle? Why is it so hard to walk? Why do I feel so drained after a particularly rough day of fighting evil’s attacks? I think the weight I feel comes from the guilt of sin. The pain of giving into to temptation. For me, I just feel the temptations weigh me down. I don’t want to think those thoughts or say those things or act that way, yet just even being tempted in that way starts to eat at me. It starts to drain me. By the end of the day or even part-way through the battle, I am so weak that I don’t know how I can even keep going.

Yet God reminds me to keep fighting. He tells us in James 1:4, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” As the battle wages and the attacks take their toll, God is working in us. As we talked about before, God reminds us His grace is sufficient. He also tells us that He is working in us to make us mature and complete. Our ability to fight and fight back is being strengthened. I think the hard thing for me is not letting these battles just destroy me. It is not just letting these battles bring me down and letting them happen. I don’t want them to be in vain. But in the midst of a battle rarely do I think, “What can I learn from this?”

What amazes me even more is that God has given us a great gift in His full armor, yet why do I forget it? Why is it not even in the forefront of my mind? Does this happen to you as well. As the battle wages on, the thing that God gave us to protect us I don’t use. I feel all too often I am in the middle of a battlefield without any armor or a sword because I left them in the tent back at camp. Before my day even starts, I should be putting on this armor. I should be equipping myself for battle. Yet, I leave home without it. Then it comes. And it keeps coming. The devil’s schemes. The thoughts that get twisted. The words that don’t go through the filter of grace. The defensiveness of my self is at a high and not taking things correctly. Something that normally wouldn’t bother me is now annoying me to no end.

Next thing I know, I feel as though the devil won. I feel myself going down a path I don’t want to and I can’t escape. God gives us a mighty weapon to stand against these attacks. Over the next few posts, we will go through them, but the main point of this verse for me is that God gives us the full armor. An armor that covers every part of us. There is no vulnerable spot in His armor. The only thing that is vulnerable is our sinful selves and how we are prone to wander. God has given us what we need to succeed this day. He has not left one thing out that we might need. He will always provide and gives us everything to overcome this day. But we don’t always use it or look to Him for help. We start trying to do it on our own. We may win a battle here or there, but we will not win the daily struggle.

Paul makes it clear; the only way we can survive this day is by the full armor of God. The only way we can even stand up in the midst of chaos and the battle around us is by God, by His mighty power and by equipping ourselves with Him and what He gives us. So take that righteousness, that truth, that Gospel of peace, that faith and that salvation and stand firm and confident in it. Be strong in what God has done. Be strong in what He has given you. You can leave home without your breakfast, but don’t do anything until you have the full armor of God on.

I know there are days when we won’t feel near to God. There will be days when we give into thoughts of exhaustion and unfaithfulness. But remember, as I have to during these days where the devil is scheming all around us, God is here. He is in us. God is with us. God will not leave us or forsake us. His love conquers all. He is and always will be our only God. Stand up to those schemes from the devil. Stand firm that you can speak in full confidence that God is with you. Be strong, remember who your Father is and give Him the battle. Put on the armor He has given you. Thank you God for giving us this armor. Thank you for equipping us for battle.

Be strong in The Lord

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. (Ephesians 6:10, NIV)

I have been thinking a lot recently about my physical health and how I need to be healthier. I was reminded a week or so ago about how our body is a temple and we need to take care of it so it is ready for God’s call and purpose. I keep thinking about if and when God call us to move somewhere else or do something that is more physical than sitting in an office chair for 10 hours a day, will I be ready. I can’t honestly say that if God was to move us today that my physical body would be ready. My spirit is willing, but could my physical body have the endurance, strength and energy required to do the mission work of that call? I don’t think so.

My family history tells me otherwise as well. I come from a family full of heart problems among other big issues. But this family and my genetics is who God has blessed me with and I will not argue, but am thankful for a loving family and putting me with them.

As I think about this verse, I have decided to try to memorize verses 10 through 20 which are about the full armor of God. I talked about this last week in a post but I wanted to really commit to memory and in my heart just how important it is to equip ourselves for battle each day. It has been a great reminder of all that God has given us to succeed and to defend ourselves against attacks. It is also wonderful to know that He has given us a weapon to fight back. So, we start with a beautiful reminder of where it is from and more importantly, who it is from.

What really strikes me is how we can put so much faith in a health coach or trainer. We trust that the exercises they are putting us through are right and will help us. We follow them, almost blindly, knowing that they will help us get our bodies in shape and becoming healthier. What struck me is how often I don’t turn over my spiritual exercises to the Almighty Trainer. So, I have asked God to train me in becoming strong in Him, His Word and follow His example. I have read the Bible and listened to music and sermons to some success. God has done wonders in my life and through struggles. But as I try to learn about Him, I realize I have tried to do it the way I thought best or the way it should be done. What I really need to do is turn my spiritual exercises over to God to let Him train me, teach me, mold me, shape me, form me and transform me into this strong, muscular follower. It seems so simple, yet I don’t do that. I have started to ask God as I read Scripture what is He saying? What do You want me to learn?

In a sermon on Psalm 1 about delighting in the Lord, John Piper mentions how the Psalms have an “argument” for each one. Essentially, what is the main point of that particular Psalm? So, I have started to ask this. I can’t say I have done well as all too often I say it but I don’t meditate on Scripture or ponder it like I should.

All this to say is the way I can be strong in God, the way I can think correctly about Him is by being in the Word. Even in Romans 12:2 it says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” So if we read Scripture and are in God’s Word, focusing on Him, then our minds will be “renew”-ed by the grace and power of God. Then, when we feel led to do something, or we hear something, or any number of ways that God can lead us, we will be able to have the strong basis for knowing if this is from God or from man or from the inner selfish self. That is not to say we won’t make mistakes, but we will be stronger in God and in His ways that our discernment will grow.

One of the things I struggle with in the midst of struggles and trials is being strong in God. I so often fail to focus on heaven and who God is. Simply the beautiful, majestic, mighty, all-powerful, all-knowing, awesome, wonderful, just, merciful, gracious and loving God (just to name a few attributes). I get so lost in the attacks of the evil one. I get so full of anxiety in the chaos of the storm. Yet, that is why I need this verse. Because it tells us to be strong in God. Stand firm in WHO God is. Stand firm in what He has done and in what He can do.

The thing is for me, God has had to remind me so many times in very painful times that it is absolutely amazing what God can do. I love the fact that all things are possible with God. But, I can’t love Him or believe in Him because of what He can do. I can’t see Him as a genie to give me what I need when I need it. I love God because of who God is. I love God because of what He did through Christ. The redemption and forgiveness of my sins. The confidence I have for eternal life. But I love God because He is God. He never gave up on me. He pursued me. He chose me. He finds me valuable. But for all that He can do and has done, He is true. He is my all.

I am so thankful for the mighty miracles that God does for us every day and in His mighty acts. I am thankful for the mighty ways he proves His love for us. I pray that we will be strong in God. That we will be trained by His hand to lead us and guide us to a deeper life with Him. That we will not push away His help but push in to Him for a greater and more intimate life with Him.

Be strong. Take heart. Stand firm. Don’t give up. Keep your eyes on heaven.

You can do nothing

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5, NIV)

Our power, our nutrients all comes from the Lord. What gives us strength to face the day is from God. The only way we can get those essential nutrients is if we are connected to the ultimate Source. But, when we try to do things on our own, when we aren’t connected, Jesus makes it clear that we can do nothing.

It is a brilliant illustration that Christ uses. There are so many times in my life where I try and do things on my own or by my own power, but I struggle so much that I feel like I wither up and die like a leaf does when it is not connected to the stem. I don’t know about you, but life is so difficult for me when I try to things on my own. By my own power, wisdom, strength, independence or energy I fail so often. I struggle to accomplish the task no matter how big or small it is. Let alone am I worshipping and glorifying the Lord in what I do.

I love the vivid imagery that Jesus uses and the reward that He points to. If we stay rooted in Him, if we stay connected to Him, if we seek after Him, He will always be with us and bless these lives with a great and eternal reward of bearing fruit. He will bless these lives in a way that will do things for the Kingdom. How great and awesome is it that God will use people like you and me to accomplish His great and mighty acts for His purpose and Kingdom. That is not to say that God needs us, but He wants to use us. God needs nothing, yet we need Him for everything.

The reason we can breathe or think or talk or eat or stay warm in the cold or have a body that works or any of the gifts that He has given us is all simply by the grace of God allowing it to happen. God gave us those things. I want to talk more about the “remain in me and I in you” part in another post about something I read in a Tozer book. But for now, I just want to pray that we are consciously aware of God’s Presence. The thing our hearts long for and desire is being connected to God and being in His Presence, we are reminded that in this verse is that God is with us. But we need to stop trying to fill our hearts with worthless idols that leave us empty and will never take the place of the Almighty God in our hearts. The thing we deeply crave and need and desire is within reach, but we must push in to Him. We must stay connected. Keep seeking. Not just apply it in theory or listen to theory, but long after God and seek His Presence. God, we are thirsty people. Help us with our thirst to only thirst after you and not build broken cisterns.

There is so much of my life that I am not aware that God is with me. I do not call on Him to help me whether it is a big struggle or a small irritation, but God is right there. He is waiting on us to push in to Him and a conscious awareness that He is with us. He is in us. And we are in Him!

I was having a tough morning and I was thinking about what I needed to do and how much I was dreading it, yet this verse kept going through my mind. God kept reminding me that if I try to accomplish this task on my own, I will fail. As much as I didn’t want to do this task, I had to. I knew it meant people probably wouldn’t like it or agree with it, but it is part of my job. I simply had to keep praying “God, I can’t do this without you. Apart from you I can do nothing.” The thing is I am so weak that I need God to help me depend on Him and constantly keep trusting Him with my life and dependence.

In the simplest things, if I am not connected to God and His power, I can’t overcome the evil around me. Without God, I am not able to forgive those who wrong me and treat me poorly. I can’t love them. I can’t let things go and I let them fester and eat away at me. I don’t even know what I should do in life. What my talents, gifts and abilities can be used for. I struggle with seeking things that don’t matter and leave me so empty. I focus so much on how I need to do this or do that. I focus on rituals. Apart from the Source of all nutrients, all love, all power, all strength, all necessities I am lost. So lost.

But, when I am connected, God helps me do what I cannot. Let me tell you, it is rough and very tough on me when people are rude. When people are just mean for no reason. I struggle when life doesn’t go the way I planned or something doesn’t work out the way I wanted it to. But, God works me through those things. He gives me the love to forgive. He listens to my hurt and understands why I hurt. He understands but leads me to forgiveness and love. He leads me to accomplish the tasks I need to get done, whether it is for work or for home. All too often I don’t ask Him for help or to lead me. As we talked the other day, I don’t wait on Him to lead me, I leave Him at the temple to try and do it on my own. That is when I fail and why I fail. I need God in everything. I am hopeless without Him. I recognize and realize that without God, my life doesn’t make sense. My life is a struggle. Life is tough and I make it tougher by my independence.

Oh how I love to be in the waterfall that is God. The water of grace and strength and mercy and love and wisdom and so much of God’s goodness pour out on me and I can overcome the struggles of life the self-induced pain is defeated by God alone. Don’t be like me. Don’t be like our sinful selves want us to be. Stay connected to The Source of life, the Fountain of Living Water and take big gulps from Him. Drink in His strength. Soak up His vital nutrients and live. Apart from God, we will fail. We cannot love those close to us. We cannot accomplish our tasks. We will fail in the battle. Satan will win. The attacks will come and the words will be twisted. Our minds will become warped. We will give in to temptation. Say things we shouldn’t say. Do things we shouldn’t do. Follow a path that isn’t where we should go. God will lead us. We need to seek Him. Cry out to Him. David did this. He knew he had to lay down his pride and ask for God to help. Attacked on all sides he cried out to God, and God came. He will come for us to.