22 March 2013

What Does the Cross Mean to Me?

This past Sunday, our Sunday School teacher asked us to prepare a paragraph about what the cross means to us.

I've put some thought into this! Why? Doesn't it mean I'm free from sin? Well ... yeah ... but it's more.
_________
 
 
When I stop to think about the cross and what it means to me, when I really survey what took place, I realize how shallow my thoughts have been. A long time ago, Satan tricked a woman into believing God was holding out on her. For a time, Satan tricked this woman too!  He told me all kinds of things!! "If it feels good to do, then it must bee good to do!" "If it taste good, then you should enjoy the foods and drinks that bring you pleasure."  "God of love? Really? If He's so loving, why would He allow this or that to take place? Why would He deny you good things?"  Back in the Garden, after Eve was tricked and Adam disobeyed, God ordered them out. He placed an angel with a flaming sword to guard the Tree of Life.  Banished from the Garden. Banished from God's presence. The Tree of Life off limits! Then came Jesus!! He stepped down from His throne in Heaven. He gave up Power to be a helpless babe. He gave up glory to be the son of two poor folk.  He came to bridge the gap between me and God.  When the Jewish leaders tried Him and handed Him over to the Romans and then the Romans nailed Him to the cross, the angel guarding the Tree of Life was relieved from duty! The cross is the Tree of Life! The cross is the place of decision! The cross is the place where Satan's words are revealed for what they are: LIES! God's love is revealed and eternal life offered!! The cross is the battle ground for my soul! The cross is where God paid for my life and won the rights to me! It where I'm allowed to choose between God's love or Satan's lies.  That is humbling!

17 March 2013

Knowing The Tools God Has Given Us Part 1

It's difficult to recognize the lies we've been told or been believing about ourselves, the people around us, and/or God.  In Sharon Jaynes' book "I'm Not Good Enough" and Other Lies Women Tell Themselves, she points out a few tools God has given us.

Truth-o-Meters or, as I like to call them, Lie Catchers.

1. Philippians 4:8-9 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

When we focus on "whatever is true" instead of the lies the enemy is telling us, we'll be safe. What is true? The truth is from the beginning of the Bible in Genesis all the way to the end in Revelation. However, the heart of the truth is John 3:16. For God so loved the world He gave his only son, that whosoever believes in him [the son] will not perish but have everlasting life.  Take that and change it! Make it personal!! For God so loved _____ that He gave to me His only Son, Jesus Christ. That if I just believe in Jesus, I will not perish but live with God throughout eternity. That is the truth that you can roll around in your head instead of the lies the enemy whispers.

2. Attaching "in Jesus' Name". Sharon has a great idea with this!! When you are having a thought but do not know if that thought is from God, the devil, the world, or even yourself; add at the end of the thought "in Jesus' Name".  Here's an example: "I'm so stupid, in Jesus' Name".  "I hate that man's guts in Jesus' Name".  Sort of changes things doesn't it?  Now, "I'm a child of God in Jesus' Name", "I'll pray for the person who hurt me in Jesus' Name". See how the whole perspective changes a bit?

As I was waiting for GiG to begin last night, I thought about the Native American dream catchers. The thought behind the dream catcher is the weaving will catch the nightmares and bad dreams but allow the good dreams to pass through. That is what what comes to mind for these two "truth-o-meters". Instead of dream catchers, these are lie catchers. Practicing focusing on what is true instead of what is not along with testing the thought with "in Jesus' Name", will catch the lies and allow the truth to go through. It's a daily practice! For many of us, it is a practice every 1/2 hour!! (ME)

3.  The Armor of God.  Sharon focuses heavily on the shield of faith. However, each piece of armor is about protection from lies. Paul started with the belt of truth, ends with the sword of the Spirit.

Ephesians 6:13-17 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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.


We are now going to look at each piece as how to combat the lies of the enemy!
  • The Belt of Truth. This NOT a fashion accessory!  In today's military, the rank of a soldier is wore on his/her collar or shoulder boards with the name tag on the right side of the chest. In the Ancient Roman military, a soldier's identity was his belt! The belt was wore with and without the armor. The first function of the belt was to identify the soldier. The lower the rank the less adorned. The higher the rank the more decoration it had. It was his rank. It was his name tag. The second function of the belt was to hold the armor secure. The tighter the belt the better; to prevent chafing. Loose armor hurts!! The third function of the belt is to hold the shoulder strap in place. The shoulder strap is what carries the sword and scabbard. It fastens under the belt. The belt holds the strap in place to keep it from flapping every where and to keep the sword in place ready for immediate use.  How does this apply to us gals?  When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we become daughters of God. Your identity is "I'm a child of God".  Jesus wants to wrapped around us so tight that we know we are secure in Him. We are His!  Buckle His truth around you so the enemy knows who you are ... a daughter of God!
 
  • Breastplate of Righteousness. This is a given. A breastplate protects the vital organs known as the heart and lungs. What is righteousness? We have to be careful with righteousness! For the sake of this conversation, we'll look at what it is and the good. It is simple, live as Jesus lived. Righteousness is living life to a moral code. As God's children, our moral code example was demonstrated through the life Jesus lived. We learn about His life in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  When we practice the life Jesus lived, our hearts will be protected.
  • Shoes of the Gospel. There are two things we have to know to understand these Roman "sandals". First, they weren't sandals, they were ventilated boots with spikes on the soles. Second, the word gospel means "absolute truth".  Gospel doesn't mean Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Nope! It means God's words ... PERIOD! The spikes on the soles helped the soldier to stand his ground. Accepting God's words as absolute truth, is the spikes we need to be able to stand against the enemy's lies.  Reading His Words daily, will instill in us what we need to be able to stand against the lies we hear. When all else fails, knowing the truth about who we are in Christ will keep us standing.

  • The Shield of Faith. This is Sharon's favorite! However, Paul does refer to the armor as "armor of faith" in 1 Thessalonians 5:8 (NLT) But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation. Here, in Ephesians, I think (and Sharon thinks) faith has to be an activity. What is faith? Faith is believing God; acting, believing God tells the truth.  Faith believing even when eyes, ears, and touch fails us. What were the Roman shields like? A Roman shield was big enough to protect most of the body.  They could also interlock forming walls and a "roof" so the soldiers could march on. Usually, this formation was used to storm strongholds. THIS is very important!!  When we accept Christ, His blood deals with the "BIG" sin issue. The sin that separates us from God. As we grow in Christ, the Holy Spirit reveals things to us in our lives. Sometimes, we become afraid that others, we view as "strong" Christians, will discover our weakness. The enemy loves it when we are afraid to share our weaknesses with our brothers and sisters.  The enemy (the devil) doesn't want us "locking shields" together! As long as we believe we are alone and isolated, we are trapped in our own prison (stronghold).  When we are trapped in that prison, God desires very much to free us! We have to practice faith! We have to raise that shield up and barge through with prayer. We have to confide in our sisters of faith so they can lock shields with us to break free!  Personally, when I think of a shield, I envision Star Trek's Enterprise shield. Invisible. When entering a territory that is hostile, Red Alert sounds. Then Captain Kirk says "Raise shields". Sorry ... Getting carried away! The point is we have to "raise shields".  Faith doesn't raise itself!  We have to make the choice to trust God!!  We could stay a long time right here on faith!! It is the key to blocking out the lies the enemy tells us.  Who is the enemy? Satan. The world. Ourselves. Why ourselves? Satan can't make us do a thing! He can suggest it BUT we are the ones who choose to act on it!
  • Helmet of Salvation. We all know what a helmet does! Its a given, kind of like the breastplate. We know it protects the head from damage. What is salvation? Yes, it is us being saved. Helmet and Salvation go hand in hand here! Or head in helmet! LOL Salvation is preservation or deliverance from harm, ruin, or loss. Isn't that exactly what a helmet does for the head? When we allow lies to roll around in our head, we will experience harm, ruin, and loss.  Lies like "I'm not good enough", "No one loves me", "No one wants me around", "I am what I am and I can't change a thing about it".  Put on what is true! Put on the freedom we have in Christ and think of things that are true! Be secure in your salvation! You've been delivered from harm, ruin, and loss!
  • Sword of the Spirit. I'd like to point out the belt that holds the Sword secure is put on first. The Sword is put on last. This is not a weapon of offense! It is for defense!!  The Sword of the Spirit is God's Words.  We need to bathe ourselves in His Words that are found in the Holy Bible.  We shouldn't quote scripture to hurt someone. We should quote scripture to remind ourselves of the truth that set us free! I'm one of many who has a hard time memorizing verses. I don't have to memorize the Bible to be bathed in His words. All I have to do is read the Bible! The Holy Spirit will recall the words to me when I need them most!
This is as far as we've made it! For the next Girlfriends in God meeting, we'll do a pause. Everyone is at different places in the book we are reading. This will be a good spot for us to play catch up!! Have a meeting where we discuss the 1st half together. For some, it will be a repeat. It's only fair to allow everyone a chance to discuss the 1st half of the book together before leaping into the 2nd half.

08 March 2013

Struggling

The past week and a half has proven a struggle. It's all physical too!  When a gal feels bad, she doesn't "feel" like doing much of anything else.  When the ole head is roaring and hurting, just don't "feel" like praying, reading the Bible, NOR anything else. 

That's ok to have days like that!  When the body is weak, it is more difficult to focus, complete even the task we have memorized by heart.  Just remember God will see you through! It doesn't last forever.  Some illnesses do seem like they do. 

Even though I didn't "feel" like praying, I did pray. After doing so, I felt lifted. Even though I was still sick, my spirit didn't feel sick. 

So, I'd like to encourage you to talk to the Father, Who is the Healer, even when the head is roaring, the body is weak. He will be your strength!

05 March 2013

The Real Enemy

We begin our journey with understanding who the real enemy is in our lives. During our GiG meeting on March 2nd, we discussed 2 of the 3 Sharon Jaynes writes about in her book "I'm Not Good Enough" and Other Lies Women Tell Themselves.

The first enemy is Satan. This is a BIG DUH! However, he's tricky. We don't always realize the subtle things he does or suggest.  We don't always realize the little whispers in our ear. The one thing we have to come to understand is Satan is powerless. We give him WAY to much credit. You've heard the saying "The devil made me do it", well, that's not true. Satan (aka the devil) can make a suggestion BUT he can't make you nor me do a single thing.  We always have a choice!  He can tempt us. He can make things look pleasing. He can use every thing possible to seduce us. In the end, he can't force us to do a single thing.

We looked at what the Bible calls Satan ("I'm Not Good Enough" pages 23-27):
  • ruler of demons (Luke 11:15)
  • the god of this world / age (2 Cor 4:4)
  • the prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2)
  • the accuser (Rev 12:10)
  • father of lies (John 8:44)
  • the deceiver (Gen 3:13)
  • the great dragon (Rev 12:9)
  • the devil/satan (Rev 12:9)
Let's look at that one "father of lies" and the other one "the deceiver".  These two characteristics will play a BIG part in our study and discussion over the next few months. Take a close look at what God's Word calls Satan.  Keep that close to your mind and heart!  Satan can take the truth and twist it! He did it when he tempted Jesus. (Matthew 4)

When we watched the Women of Faith's webcast Inside Chatter, Sheila Walsh said "The Son of God used the Word of God to defeat the enemy of God".  Just as Jesus used God's Words  to deflect Satan's terrible attempt to twist God's words, we are going to learn the truths that will counter the lies Satan whispers in our ears. 

The second enemy we discussed that evening is the flesh.  The flesh can mean a couple of things. First of all, flesh, bones, and blood. You know, the stuff we are made of!  The second thing is the sinful thought pattern.  There is a part of us that desires to please ourselves. I guess the best way to describe it is our selfishness.  True human nature has nothing to do with looking out for fellow man kind. True human nature is to look out for #1 ... good ole self!

The desire of flesh is:
  • what about me
  • I want
  • how come I can't have
  • where's mine
  • look at / take notice of me
  • it feels good, I must do it
Inside a person who has accepted Christ, there is a struggle! The struggle between the flesh and the spirit.  The flesh (self) wants what is pleasing to "me" verses the spirit, that part of us that desires to please God. I used the lower case "s" on purpose. In Matthew 26:41 Jesus speaks to some very sleepy disciples saying, "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (NKJV)  (NLT = Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”) 

  • Jesus didn't leave us to fight this battle alone! He sent the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit dwells inside each believer giving him/her the power to choose to do what is right! To do what is pleasing to God.  At some point we have to decide between the "I wants", "what about me's", and the "how come I can't haves" AND  "I truly want and desire to be content with what God has planned for me."  Is God enough?  It's the oldest trick in the book! Satan has convinced many people (and angels) "the grass is greener on the other side" that "God is holding out on you" over the ages.

We ended our time with 4 things that begin us on the path of realizing who the true enemy is and beging rejecting the lies:
  1. Take responsibility for our own actions (Satan can't make us do a thing!!!!)
  2. Confess our sin or mistakes (Sin is a deliberate, willful act against God / a mistake or moment of weakness can take place because we are human)
  3. Repent (Repentant, sensitive heart)
  4. Turn & go the opposite direction
This whole section reminds me of so many songs!
  • "The Struggle" by Tenth Ave North "Hallelujah
    We are free to struggle
    We're not struggling to be free
    Your blood bought and makes us children
    So children drop your chains and sing"
  • "East to West" by Casting Crowns "I start the day, the war begins
    Endless reminding of my sin
    And time and time again
    Your truth is drowned out by the storm I'm in

    Today I feel like
    I'm just one mistake away
    From You leaving me this way

    Jesus, can You show me just how far
    The east is from the west?
    'Cause I can't bear to see the man I've been
    Come rising up in me again

    In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
    'Cause You know just how far
    The east is from the west
    From one scarred hand to the other

    I know You've washed me white
    Turned my darkness into light
    I need Your peace to get me through
    To get me through this night

    I can't live by what I feel
    About the truth Your word reveals
    And I'm not holding onto You
    But You're holding onto me, You're holding onto me"
  • "Enough" by Chris Tomlin (I prefer Barlow Girl's version)  "All of You is more than enough for all of me
    For every thirst and every need
    You satisfy me with Your love
    And all I have in You is more than enough

    You are my supply
    My breath of life
    And still more awesome than I know
    You are my reward
    worth living for
    And still more awesome than I know

    All of You is more than enough for all of me
    For every thirst and every need
    You satisfy me with Your love
    And all I have in You is more than enough

    You’re my sacrifice
    Of greatest price
    And still more awesome than I know
    You’re the coming King
    You are everything
    And still more awesome than I know

    More than all I want
    More than all I need
    You are more than enough for me
    More than all I know
    More than all I can say
    You are more than enough for me
There are many others that would fit too!

The next GiG meeting will be March 16th 5:30 PM at Starbucks on Scottsville Rd.  Even if you don't have the book, you are always welcome!

God is desiring to let you and many others know just how special and valuable to Him you are!!  He wants to break down the prison strongholds of our minds and hearts. He wants to be Victor on the battlefield called our minds!!  You are free! Sin and death no longer has a hold on you and He wants you to know that!!
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