Standing is Victory

As believers in Christ, we face spiritual battles daily—attacks from the same enemy who enticed and deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). Some refer to him as the devil, others call him by name—Satan.

Satan is a formidable enemy and comes at us in a multitude of ways, sometimes as a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8) and other times masquerading as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). And he is not alone. He leads an army of evil forces (Ephesians 6:12).

Scripture tells us we need to put on the full armor of God to do battle against this enemy of our souls (Ephesians 6:11, 13). With the armor of God firmly in place and with God’s help, we can withstand Satan’s onslaught and gain victory over him and his spiritual forces of evil.

Sometimes we may not feel like we’re gaining victory, but I love what author Sarah Young has to say in her devotional Jesus Always:

“When you’re in the thick of [spiritual] battle, declare your trust in Me—your confidence that I am with you, helping you. You may feel as if you’re losing the battle, but don’t give up! Hold tightly to my hand, and just keep standing. This is victory.”

Sometimes victory is simply standing. As weak as we may feel when we pull ourselves to our feet one more time, we are indeed victorious as we stand and refuse to let Satan keep us down.

Are you struggling to get to your feet spiritually today? Take hold of God’s hand. He will help you stand.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. . . 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.” Ephesians 6:10, 13 NIV

*What have you found helps you the most when you’re in the midst of a spiritual battle?

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*Flickr photo by pic fix, Creative Commons License

Unprotected

My husband takes his chances when it comes to sunburns, but not me. I don’t like them. Sunscreen is my friend and never more so than when I’m in higher elevations. In fact, I bought a new tube of sunscreen just before our trip to the Tetons and Yellowstone a few years ago. And believe it or not, I even remembered to take it with me and use it before each outing.

One day, though, I somehow missed applying my trusty protector to one particular area—my left wrist and hand, just below my watch. I didn’t notice the effects of my negligence until the next morning. I could feel the burn and my hand resembled a bright red paw. Good grief. Just the look I wanted for vacation, huh?

You wouldn’t think my hands would be in the line of direct sunlight, would you? However, we’d been in Yellowstone the day before visiting Old Faithful and other points of interest, and I had been a picture-taking fool.

While manning the camera, I’d held my hands in an upraised position much of the day—especially at Old Faithful, where I waited poised and ready for any action. Unfortunately, I was also poised for the sunburn I didn’t see coming. You can bet I didn’t neglect protecting my hands after that.

Sometimes we fail to protect ourselves spiritually. The enemy of our souls is on the prowl, just looking for chinks in our armor. He watches for areas where we’ve neglected to cover ourselves with the Word of God and prayer.

We may think we’re not at risk in a certain area or get too busy or distracted to turn to God’s Word or call on him for wisdom, help, and protection. We may submit most areas of our lives to his leading but hold onto a few for ourselves. Or maybe we’re rather half-hearted and take a hit and miss approach to time spent with God. Worse yet, we might neglect him completely, taking our chances and assuming we’ll be able to deal with whatever comes down the pike.

We may not notice the effects of our negligence immediately, but if we continue on in our own way, we’ll soon be dealing with the consequences of a spiritual burn. And by that time, it may be visible to others as well.

Let’s be alert to the dangers that threaten our spiritual lives. Let’s be diligent to apply the protection God offers us. Let’s cover ourselves with the Word of God and prayer.

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

*What area of your life do you sometimes forget to protect?

*Hope this slightly updated encore post from Aug. 2012 blessed you today!

The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out earlier this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*Flickr photo by *~Dawn~*, Creative Commons License

Casting a Shadow

Shadows. They can be scary, can’t they? They hold the unknown. They sometimes even hold danger.

In life, we encounter shadows of a figurative kind. The menacing ones seem gigantic. Things like cancer, terrorism, financial problems, loss of loved ones, and divorce. Shadows like that can nearly suffocate us.

But not all shadows in life are negative. This time of year—in the heat of summer—shadows provide shade and welcome relief. We don’t run away from them. Instead we run to them. Some we welcome with open arms.

Loved ones cast a comforting shadow when we’re hurting. Mentors provide the shade of experience and encouragement as we try to grow. Friends offer the shelter of companionship when we’re lonely or needing some fun. And the Word of God stands ever-ready to give us whatever kind of refuge we need. No, not all shadows are negative.

The question we need to consider is what kind of shadow are we casting today in the lives of those who know us? What would they say about our influence or our impact on them if given the opportunity?

Do we bring others (or maybe just certain people) down by our negative or critical attitudes and words? Do we add a dark cloud of worry wherever we go? Or instead, do we lift people’s spirits with our happy dispositions and words of encouragement? Do we cast a ray of sunshine instead of an unwelcome shadow?

If you’re like me, it may be a mixture of both. Sometimes our families get an up-close and personal taste of the negative side of our personalities. Hopefully, those are balanced out by all the positive influences we bring into their lives.

Let’s make sure our shadows—whether with family or with the world in general—are the kind people run to, the kind that provide shade and welcome relief.

Let’s cast shadows that people welcome with open arms.

“O LORD, you are my God . . . You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.” Isaiah 25:1a, 4a

*Who has cast a positive shadow in your life?

*My photo

15 Ways to Plant the Word of God in Our Lives

As believers, we need the Word of God firmly planted in our lives.

Scripture teaches that God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light for our paths (Psalm 119:105) and that it is a vital part of our spiritual armor in the fight against our enemy Satan and his forces of evil (Ephesians 6:17.) The Word is God-breathed and is useful in many ways, equipping us for good works (2 Timothy 3:16.) It is living and active and judges the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12.) No doubt about it, we need to be rooted and established in the Word of God.

Weaving the Word of God into the fabric of our lives may seem like a daunting task—after all, it IS a big book—but when we take things a step at a time and use a variety of methods, it is indeed possible. And remember, God will bless our efforts as we seek to grow closer to him and honor him with our lives.

Here are 15 ways to plant God’s Word in our hearts and minds:

  1. Read a passage of scripture every day, asking God to bless the reading of his Word.
  2. Be part of a Bible study group/small group on an ongoing basis. Study the Word.
  3. As you read the Word, underline words, phrases, and entire verses that really speak to you.
  4. Memorize scripture using a systematic plan for memorizing and reviewing. Use whatever plan and method works for you in your current stage of life.
  5. Find a translation you enjoy reading that has study notes/footnotes included.
  6. Incorporate scripture into your prayers. It’s a powerful way to pray and also reinforces the scripture in your mind.
  7. Sing the Word—either songs you create as you worship or praise songs you already know.
  8. Read books, magazines, and online content that include scripture.
  9. Listen to teaching from the Word.
  10. Read passages from the Word multiple times, emphasizing different words each time.
  11. Share what you’re learning from the Word with others in ordinary conversations,  Bible study groups, and blogs. Share scripture via social media.
  12. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring the Word to mind as you need it.
  13. Use the Word to battle Satan when he attacks or whispers lies to you.
  14. Apply what you’re learning from the Word to your life. Live the principles and wisdom you’re discovering.
  15. Become a teacher of the Word yourself in a Sunday School class or Bible study or through a writing or speaking ministry.

I hope we’ve each found something helpful here today as we seek to firmly plant God’s Word in our hearts and minds. I know God will honor our efforts and use his Word powerfully in our lives. May we bring him glory, honor, and praise!

They are not just idle words for you—they are your life.” Deuteronomy 32:47 NIV

*Which of these methods is most helpful to you in planting the Word in your life? What other ways come to mind?

*Flickr photo by Lel4nd, Creative Commons License

A Prayer for Your Summer Plus My May Blogging Break

As I mentioned in my Spirit and Soul Refreshment for Busy Lives post a couple of weeks ago, May can be one of the busiest months of the year. And this year is no exception for me. Probably not for you either, huh?

To do my part in allowing a little breathing room, I’m taking a blogging break the last half of this month. So no worries if it appears I’ve abandoned my blog over the next couple of weeks. I’ll be back with regular weekly posts sometime when June is bustin’ out all over. Let’s say June 6th. June should be in full bustin’ mode by then, right?

Before I break away, though, I’d love to pray for us all as we prepare to head into summer and all that it holds. May this prayer be a blessing to you as we gear up for the upcoming summer season. Feel free to keep it handy to give needed encouragement and refreshment as the days and weeks unfolds.

Pray with me, won’t you?

Lord, you are the Maker of every season and we thank you for the gift of summer. It’s a time to break from many of our normal routines and enjoy more time outdoors in your glorious creation, more time with our families and friends, and more opportunities for travel adventures. Thanks so much for such a wonderful gift.

Guide us, Lord, as we make plans. Help us not to pack so much into the fleeting weeks of summer that we end up feeling stressed rather than refreshed. And please grant your blessing, Lord, that all logistics for special activities and travels will flow smoothly so we can have truly refreshing times instead of those marked by frustration or disappointment. We don’t take mercies like this for granted so we ask humbly and thank you in advance.

Please protect us, Lord, as we do things like hike and swim and play sports. Watch over us, please, in our travels so that we will arrive safely at every destination. Protect us as well from our enemy Satan as he continues to try to undermine our relationship with you and with others. He doesn’t take a season off. Please surround us with your protection.

And finally, Lord, please bless us with lots of sweet times with you and with loved ones this summer. Grant us memories that will make us smile for years to come and also grant us periods of rest that will refresh and re-energize us to get back to normal routines in the fall. And may we shine the light of your love everywhere we go and in all that we do. May you be glorified in our summer, O Lord! In your precious name we pray, Amen.

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us” Psalm 67:1 NIV

*Do you have any special plans or activities that you’re looking forward to this summer? I’d love to hear about it!

The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out early this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*My photo (taken in the Cleveland Botanical Garden)