Tuesday, March 30, 2010


What if someone told you that there is a world around us, that is active, deceptive, engaged in, and infiltrating our lives.  This is not a physical world, but a spiritual one.  But don't let that decieve you.  It has more impact on your physical world than anything else.  It drives our physical world into caos.  It infiltrates our very minds, manipulating our cultures, not from a distance, but among us.  They are here. They are real.   Would you fight?  Would you stand up for what is true? What you stand up for what is right?  Would you develop a tactic to overcome your adversary? Would you unite with other people who believed in this invisible world?  Would you fight together with those that saw it for what it was?  This sounds like science fiction, like something written in the pages of a script for television.  But unlike what we see on television or read in books, this is actually REAL.......

Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood (the physical world), but against the rulers (those attempting to control), against the authorities (those who define the rules) against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (in the spiritual world - right among us, but unseen)."

This struggle as Paul defines it, is real.  It's not science fiction.  It is not outside my town.  I cannot operate within the confines of what I know, what I am comfortable with and escape that battle.  No, it is amoung our towns.  It is not outside our church.  In fact, our churches may be the center of the battlefields (if they are not, there may be something wrong with the church you attend).  It is not outside our circle of friends. No, the evil schemes are moving among those we love, among those we dislike, among us.  It is not outside our window.  The battle moves among our families, among our children, among our workplace.  It sits in the car with us. It lays down to sleep with us.  The battle is real.  It is constant. It is severe.  It is life and death.

Are you awake? Are you thinking of scrounging around for a defense? In this battle between the evil forces and those serving God, how do we defend ourselves?  How do we overcome something that we cannot see?  How do we begin to see or recognize the operations, motives, tactics, movements of our enemy so that we may position ourselves to withstand an attack? 

Ephesians 6:13-15
"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."

Today I want to examine part one, the belt of truth:

The Belt of Truth.  What truth?   The truth of who we are in this world?  The truth of who God is?  The truth of who our adversary, Satan is?  Truth as explained by the term "Wisdom" or "Knowledge"?  Truth as explained by the term "Reality"?  Truth as defined by "right" or "wrong"?  The short answer to these questions is "yes".  Truth as defined in scripture is "that which is opposed to falsehood".  It wraps the reality of Christ, the reality of our being, the reality of the struggle with sin and good and evil in this world, all into one.  The belt of truth opposes falsehood.  It opposes falsehood in our minds - deceptive thoughts, deceptive information, deceptive philosophies.  It opposes falsehood in our world - deceptive behavior, deceptive cultures, deceptive claims such as what will being you happiness, peace, or success.  It opposes falsehood in the spiritual realm -Christ said "I am the truth".  Christians can oppose falsehoods from satan just through thier faith in Christ!  We pick up the belt of truth when we wake up in the morning, and choose to follow Christ.  We wrap it around our midsection when we read the truth of scripture, the Holy Bible.  We buckle the clasps on the belt when we let these words of scripture infiltrate our hearts and minds, transforming who were were when we were a part of the world, and who we are in Christ.  We stand firm in our faith when we remember that this belt of truth only has power when it comes from God, and not of ourselves.  To build our defense, we carry the belt of truth to others when we share the gospel with them.  Our army is built out of those who recognize this battle and prepare thier hearts and minds for warfare. We stand firm knowing the enemy's tactics, and deflecting deception when it is fired upon us.

Lord, may I stand firm today in Truth.  May I recognize this battle and fight for the souls of others.  May I develop an urgency to spare someone a single day of torment by sharing the gospel.  Lord prepare me for battle.  Give me wisdom and understanding to oppose falsehood among me.  The falsehood of our world that tells me that what I do is never good enough.  The falsehood of our world that tells me not to try.  The falsehood of our world which tries to distract me from this urgent, powerful war waging among us.  May I focus on what truly matters today Lord, and find my strength on the battlefield within your arms.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Colossians 1:21-23

"And you were at one time strangers and enemies in your minds as expressed through your evil deeds, but now he has reconciled you by his physical body through death to present you holy, without blemish, and blameless before him - if indeed you remain in the faith, established and firm, without shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard."

I don't know why I do the things I do.  I don't mean to, but I do them.  OK, sometimes I mean them.  But sometimes I don't.  Sometimes I want to do what is good, but keep doing what is not.  I like the first part of this scripture, which reminds up that our evil actions stem from our THOUGHTS.  That is precisely why the bible instructs us to be transformed through the renewing of our MINDS (Romans 12:2).  And how do we renew our minds? By taking captive every THOUGHT and making it obedient to Christ (1 Corinthians 10:5).  See a pattern here?  In order to accomplish God's will in our lives and to live at peace with everyone  (Romans 12:18) we must know His Word in the depths of our minds.  We must believe at the very core of our being, that this is real, that God cares for us, that Jesus pardoned us, and that the Holy Spirit works within us.  A great book on this concept is Dallas Willard's "Renovation of The Heart".  He talks about how our emotions stem from our thoughts.  Don't want to be frustrated?  THINK about something that doesn't frustrate you (perhaps the love of God even when we frustrate Him).  Have you ever had conversations with your spouses that they have never participated in?  You know the ones - you roll a situation over and over in your head, speaking for the other party.  You get more and more hurt and angry.  One day I decided to put Dallas' teaching into action.  When the situation above started to happen, I decided to think of something else.  Not only did my emotions follow my thoughts to something else, but I was shocked by the immediacy at which they followed.  The only part of me that lingered was the sin part - the part that wanted to choose to think about the situation and get angry about it.  I was shocked - you mean there is a part of me that likes to be unhappy?  What a strange realization!  Especially when I know it makes me so unhappy!  When I decided to deny that sin and change my thinking, my whole being rejoiced!  I not only spared frustration and anger for myself, but I added joy and peace to my life.  How amazing it is when the Bible proves right!  When we deny our sinful nature, the result is peace and fulfillment to our lives.  But Satan tries to convince us otherwise.  He tries to convince us that we are somehow vindicated and justified in our frustration and unhappiness, but we know the result is usually lack of fulfillment and sadness.  Oh Lord, help me to carefully choose my thoughts today.  When I am faced with difficult circumstances, let me direct those thoughts to you and your Word.  Change me from the inside, so my emotions and actions flow out of a changed mind.

The second part of this scripture deals with not only our salvation (a one-time occurance) but also our transformation (continual change).  It speaks about how Christ's death on the cross presents us:
1. Holy 
2. Without Blemish
3. Blameless before Him
But here is the amazing part - THIS IS NOT A ONE-TIME THING!  He doesn't just clean us up on the day of our salvation like a child scrubbed up for Sunday School who later plays in the mud.  He continually cleanses those who believe, those who remain in Him.  We do not have to worry about rejection over the sins we still commit.  God's love is not limited for those who believe.  BELIEVE my friend!  This is real!  This is true!

Boldly move forward today, choosing to direct your thoughts by setting your mind on things above (Colossians 3:2), and enjoy the sweet assurance of the continual cleansing you receive through your faith in Jesus Christ. ~Karen

Friday, March 19, 2010

Colossians 3:12-13

"Therefore (because of Christ we are), as the elect of God (chosen, called), holy (perfectly, honorably, spiritually pure) and dearly (precious, cherished, a high price, prized, scarce, worthy, honorable) loved (tender, passionate affection, warm personal attachment, taking great pleasure in ), clothe yourself (this is not passive - it suggests that I am actively engaged and choosing to dress myself in these things!) with a heart (the center of the personality, or emotion) of mercy (compassion, or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, and enemy, or other person in one's power, to pardon someone, an act of kindness, - I like this one - evidence of divine favor) kindness, humility (modest opinion of one's rank, lowly, meekness, submissiveness), gentleness (amiable, mild, gradual, to millify, sooth, calm, pacify) and patience (bearing annoyance, misfortune or pain without complaint or irritation; quiet, steady perserverance), bearing with one another (supporting someone as if they depended on you - crutches come to mind) and forgiving one another (granting a pardon, cancel an indebtedness), if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else (whether we agree with that complaint or not).  Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others."

Wow!  Here it is again with no comments:
"Therefore as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others."

The first thing that struck me is I AM HOLY AND DEARLY LOVED! To use some of the synonymns, I am perfectly prized and someone takes great pleasure in me.  What an awesome truth!  Even when i feel most unloveable, God loves me completely. 

The second thing that struck me was the idea that we daily choose to clothe ourselves in these things.  It is not something the Holy Spirit just grants us.  It is not like I can pray, Lord, please make me patient, and boom, I am patient.  No, I think the Lord provides opportunities to learn patience or exhibit patience.  He may also through the Holy Spirit give us a heightened ability during certain situations to display character traits we may not normally be able to acurately express, but the more common form of transformation involves our action too.  We need to step forward, courageously and dress ourselves in these things in the morning, right along with our underwear. 

The third thing that struck me is the tone of our interaction that is described by this scripture.  It is not a "go in with gusto" tone.  It is a focus on others needs and emotions.  It is compassion flowing out of true love, not duty.  It is not someone being trampled on or passively interacting with the world, but someone courageously supporting someone.  The supporters' heart wants to be unnoticed, unseen, to everyone other than who they are trying to encourage.  But thier actions shout loudly because they are so unusual in the world, so foreign to the me mentality, that it can't help but draw the other person in.  It is a picture of God at work.

Lord, today help me to remember that I am holy and dearly loved by you.  Since I embrace and believe this truth, that my true value lies in that statement, I no longer have to pacify my insecurities by looking for reassurance from others.  I can stop focusing on myself and my needs, and focus on those of others.  I can demonstrate mercy, humility, gentleness, and patience - those same taits you demonstrate to me.  Lord, help me to allow you be my teacher.  As the pupil, help me study what this looks like by reading your word, and seeing how you have demonstrated it to other Christians in the past.  As the student, help me to put into practice what I learn.

May the Holy SPirit encourage you today and everyday as we go on to fight the battle being waged around us.  Remember we are not of this world.  The weapons we fight with are not of this world.  They have the Divine power to demolish strongholds.  I feel strong knowing that God will supply my weapons, and train me how to use them.  I only need to be willing.  ~Karen