A friend of ours recently received a promotion at work but before he could begin his new job, he needed to train his replacement. When you start something new, you need help to know what to do. We want to make sure you know what to do and how to activate God’s Word and your faith as an overcoming believer. So often believers think that they’ve got to fight for their spiritual position to defeat the enemy. The good news is that Jesus already defeated the enemy. Your fight is from faith, from your position of victory in Jesus.
This is where Ephesians 6:11-17 comes into play. As you read these verses, see yourself as a beloved child of God dressed in the armor that Jesus has already given you. Because you’re in Him, you have His truth covering you, and you are righteous in Him. Because His love is in you, your feet are prepared to share the good news of the Gospel of Grace, and you are covered with the helmet of salvation and your sword is the powerful Word of God.
Begin to see yourself more as a mighty warrior complete in the full armor of God, strong in the power of the Lord.
What do you do when things get tough? What actions do you take when you are standing in a storm? Many just melt under the stress and collapse into depression. I hope that isn’t you because no matter what happens, you do have hope. “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer” (Romans 12:12). Three things you can do when things don’t go as planned. With God there is always hope. I think of those who each day decide to end their lives. They couldn’t see any hope. As long as there is Jesus, there is hope.
“By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). By grace through faith, hope is constantly by your side because it is in your heart. In the darkest situations, with God there is always hope. With hope comes patience. Rest in the finished work of Jesus. It will be okay. Keep the prayer channel open. Be instant in prayer. No need to beg, because God desires to answer you more than you know. Present you request, and then rejoice in hope. Keep rejoicing through it all.
This world offers no relieve from stress or pressure, but I’m sure you’ve already recognized that. The world itself is under the stress and pressure of sin. Especially as we near the end of this year, it’s vital that you understand you’re not meant to live under stress and pressure. Stress is the cause for most illnesses in our bodies. Man was meant to live full of peace and stress-free. So, how do you keep yourself from stressing? Instead of giving into the stress, bring the Lord into every situation of stress you encounter. If you don’t and it accumulates, it will ultimately affect your health.
Before you encounter stress and pressure, the best anecdote is to let Jesus saturate your heart and mind with His peace. Isaiah 26:3 (ESV) declares, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You.” Your focus shifts from the problem to the solution: Jesus and His peace. It’s changing your pattern of thinking and action. It’s immersing your mind in His peace. It is establishing your heart in His goodness, love, and grace for you. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, ESV).
Have you been hard at work, serving the Lord, and just getting tired? I once knew a person who was on fire for the Lord, knocking on doors, evangelizing wherever he could and chalking up salvation statistics. Sounds great—at first glance. However, I could tell it was out of duty and not under the power of the Spirit. It was less than a year, he got tired of it, and was a spiritual dropout, no longer going to church and doing nothing for the Lord. Therefore, when you read this verse, think about what Paul means by zeal and fervor.
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11 NIV2011). You will burn out if you read this verse and say I have to serve the Lord so I’m going out and walk the streets preaching the gospel. A worthy endeavor, but make sure you establish your zeal in God’s love. If you are in relationship with Jesus, love is never a burden. The joy of the Lord will strengthen you, and you will keep the flames steadily burning. You will look forward to each day and the ministry God has given you. Love to serve.
What about distractions in life? This is another of the enemy’s tricks to keep us from operating as a victorious child of God. He wants you to be defeated and worthless. He wants you to go around depressed, unhappy, and then blame God because your life sucks. He will use anything to distract you from staying IN the Word, really digging into it, and from operating from your New Covenant rights. And recognize he gets downright personal. He’ll use your husband/wife or family to stir up strife and put the thought in your mind that you’re unhappy because nobody understands you.
Don’t you recall the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10? When Jesus came to their house, Mary sat at the feet of Jesus taking in all that He had to share while her sister, Martha was in the kitchen. Martha became distracted with what people expected of her and with all the food she had to prepare. She was so distracted that she told Jesus that her sister didn’t even care to help her so she had to do it all herself. (Does that sounds like us sometimes?) What did Jesus tell Martha? “Only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part” (Luke 10:42).
The more you spend time with Jesus in His Word, the less you’ll be distracted. He’s concerned about what concerns you, and He will show you how to handle each distractions you face.
Grace people don’t talk much about behavior and performance. There’s a good reason for that. In too many church circles they relate behavior and performance to pleasing God, obeying the Word, and trying to get God to perform on their behalf by their good works. God isn’t going to love you more than He already does, regardless of your performance. You are in Christ. God sees you through Christ. He already has given you all things. When we look at imperatives and other characteristics of the believer, it’s not out of duty or obedience that we do anything, but solely out of love.
Therefore, when Paul lists things we should do or be, He is saying that these are the characteristics of a New Covenant believer, and not in any way another commandment. “Be devoted to each other like a loving family. Excel in showing respect for each other. (Romans 12:10 GW). It’s about love as usual. Jesus displayed His devotion to His disciples and His followers. Since we are in a family, we should treat one another as if we all were relatives, giving each other the respect due them.
Make sure love is your heart motivation. We are all in the family of God.
Gravity is a field of influence, but the strength of a gravitational force reduces quickly with distance. To put this into spiritual terms, let’s define spiritual gravity as God’s field of influence in our lives. His field of influence is all that He is—is safety, protection, love, and provision—everything we need. Yet we are often lured away from Him and His stability in our lives because of the cares of the world.
The strength of God’s gravitational force (His love) lessens whenever we pull back and attempt to work out our problems and struggles on our own, not depending on Him. The original sin problem is I can save myself. I don’t need you God. When you follow that pattern, you experience continual upheaval. Everything won’t go your own and you’ll continue struggling just to maintain your sanity. But the best place is in within the gravitational force of God’s love and grace. It is a place of rest, a place of calm in the midst of the storms of life. It’s a place of inner peace where you know everything will be fine because you’re secure in the love of Jesus, and He’s got your back.
Make sure you don’t pull away and start thinking you can handle life on your own, that you don’t need God’s help. Don’t step away from His influence, His strength, His power, His love and grace.
Are you pondering what I’m pondering? That’s the famous Pinky and the Brain line. Brain: “Are you pondering what I’m pondering?” Pinky: I think so, Brain, but pants with horizontal stripes make me look chubby.” If you need something to ponder, then look at this verse in Proverbs. “Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established” (Proverbs 4:26 NKJV). To ponder is to weigh the options as on a balance scale.
Charlene and I have done quite a bit of hiking in the Smokey Mountains. We occasionally came to a fork in the road, and we had to make a decision on which way to go. I normally study out the trail before we go and we usually make the right decisions as we ponder the direction we need to go. We have gotten off the trail at times and had to retrace our steps. The same thing is true in life. There are twists, turns, and forks in the roads, so ponder your path. Ask for God’s wisdom in every situation. Hike the tried and true paths and you won’t go wrong.
The Word is your map to life. Open it and ponder the way you should go. Establish the right from the wrong and seek guidance from the Holy Spirit. You are pondering what I’m pondering.