Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. – Ephesians 6:10-11
Lord, you call us to mighty works
Sharing your Word
Helping others find you
Healing the sick
Caring for the poor, the orphan, the stranger
Speaking truth to power
Praying without ceasing
Building your kingdom on earth
Lord, you have said that in this world we will have trouble,
but take courage, I have overcome the world
We try to do things in our own strength
Our financial security
Our stiff upper lip and bootstraps and big girl pants
We head into battle wearing our own armor
Or trying to borrow someone else’s
We fall victim to human ways
And the ways of our Enemy
Forgive us and renew a right spirit within us
Clothe us in your armor
Your armor alone
Clothe us in your truth
Clothe us in your righteousness
Clothe us in your Gospel of Peace
Your powerful Presence
That we may stand
That we may stand and withstand
That we may stand and withstand and stand firm
Strong in you and the strength of your power
For your power is made perfect in our weakness
In our vulnerability
In us claiming our need of you
For the victory and glory are yours,
Nothing can separate us from you
Imagine walking through the grocery store. You and others are picking out their food as usual. Now imagine every person you encounter is wearing a sign revealing the truth of their life
New baby, no sleep for three nights straight
Caregiving for a sick spouse
Just lost my job
Grieving the death of my mother
Desperately lonely, how do I make friends?
All of a sudden, that trip to the grocery store is very different. You are seeing what is often difficult to see.
What would be on your sticker?
The truth is we must always be kind, we must always be compassionate because we never know what someone else is going through.
The trust is that when we face trouble there’s far more to it than what we can see on the outside.
Think about a time when you were going through something deep and dark, something scary. something you have never faced before, or something that’s raising it’s ugly head again. There’s the stuff that you can see, but there’s the stuff you can’t see
weariness down to your bones
Then there’s your soul. What is going on with your soul?
Our soul is like an inner stream of water that gives strength, direction, and harmony to every other area of life.– John Ortberg, Soul Keeping
In the midst of this trouble, is this stream of living water getting stopped, dammed up? Is it changing the direction? Is it going deeper than you could ever have imagined? Is it drying up, like a desert, like a wilderness?
The song I cling to in the midst of trouble: Precious Lord take my hand. Lead me on. Let me stand. I am tired. I am weak. I am worn. Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light. Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.
What gets the water flowing in my life is singing. And sometimes I can’t even get the words out and so I just let my soul sing.
What gets the water flowing again for you? Because when we face trouble its far than what we can see.
Sometimes we can see the source of the trouble
We’ve brought it on ourselves. The trouble is the consequence of a choice we made.
Sometimes its someone else’s choice. They want what they want and we’re an obstacle (through us) or a means to an end (use us). Or we just get caught it the backwash of someone else’s sin, the ripple effect and we’re collateral damage.
Or it’s the reality of living this side of heaven, the reality of living in a broken world. The Fall due to Original Sin is a universal condition. Every relationship is broken -with God, with others, with our true self, with the earth. It’s a reality on an individual level, group level, and systemic level.
There are times we can see the source of the trouble and there are times we cannot see it. It’s far deeper. It’s plain old evil and an Evil One. It’s a cosmic organized struggle against God and the kingdom of God.
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power.
We try to be strong on our own. This is not a battle we can win on our own and it’s not a battle we have to win on our own. That’s the grace of it. That’s the Good News of it.
Yes we play a part, we make choices, work, and strive but it is also about allowing ourselves to be strengthened by Almighty God. We can refuse or choose the strengthening. (Cooperating and collaborating with God)
Ephesians 6:10 Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God
Sometimes life feels like a battle. God wants to strengthen you and protect you.
We try to be strong on our own and we try to protect ourselves
Put on our own armor – financial security, connections, achievement, expertise, stiff upper lip, my big girl pants
It’s like David going out to fight Goliath, the giant. (That’s how our troubles can feel. King Saul wants David to wear his royal armor, his human armor. It doesn’t fit, doesn’t work, weighs him down. David refuses and faces Goliath in God’s armor.
So much of what we are facing is beyond us, something we just can’t fix in our human strength.
Ephesians 6:10 Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God
The Whole Armor of God – Verses14-17
belt of truth
God helps us to know what is real and not real
God helps us hold on to perspective in the midst of pain
breastplate of righteousness
covers our heart so we stay in right relationship and have a heart of peace
shoes for your feet, make you ready to proclaim the Gospel of peace
The Gospel of Peace is the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Prince of peace
who Jesus is, his sacrifice, his salvation, his hope and healing, power, and promises
Jesus is the foundation, the strong rock on which we stand
Stand on the power of story = Jesus’s story intersects our story, thanksgiving and testimony to God’s goodness in the past and in the present
shield of faith to quench the flaming arrows of the evil one
Evil One takes sniper shots after us, feels like we’re taking hit after hit after hit
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1)
helmet of salvation
Who I am in Christ- I am a child of God, I am beloved and blessed of God, I am made in the image of God and nothing can separate me from the love of God and my salvation in Jesus Christ
Know God’s voice and hear God’s voice. If I can’t hear it my brother or sister in Christ will speak it to me.
My mind stayed on the goodness of God no matter the circumstance. Nothing changes the goodness of God.
sword of the Spirit which is the word of God
Why we must read the word of God regularly
Ephesians 6:18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. It is always scripture and prayer. Always and forever.
Call to action- Prayer Care
Pray with you after every service: Sundays after the 9:00 am and 10:30 am services, Wednesdays at 8:00 am, 10:00 am, 7:00 pm
Become a prayer keeper
Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
Withstand = take the hit, persevering, enduring, resilience
Stand Firm = push back against evil
The Evil One is our real and primary enemy – not other people, not ourselves, not God, not the system.
The Evil One devours and destroys and steals
The Evil One is a deceiver and liar
The Evil One twists situations into something they were never meant to be
That’s why we need truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the word of God and pray, pray, pray. When we face trouble there’s far more to it than what we can see.
You are not alone. You are never alone. You do not have to face it in your own strength. Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God.
I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.
This piece was created using PicMonkey, a free, online picture editor. It’s super easy to use and has lots of great fonts, filters and other editing goodies. Someone with limited artistic abilities (like me) can feel very accomplished very quickly. – Lisa <><
ps- If you know the artist of the photograph please let me know so I may give proper credit.
Friday’s Flowers by Charlotte Packer as featured on her blog Charlotte’s Plot
A week ago, on the school run, I spotted these violas growing on the pavement. It would be hard to think of a more inhospitable place for a plant to put down roots: solid concrete with a light sprinkling of grit, heavy shade from parked cars one minute and baking sun the next, not to mention the ever-present threat of dog pee or a heavy foot. I felt sure they wouldn’t last long. But I was wrong, they are still there today, a sweet surprise for anyone who happens to spot them. – Charlotte Packer reflecting on her photo Friday’s Flowers
Resilience is the process of facing adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or extreme stress and “bouncing back” successfully without becoming too negatively affected by the experience. The concept has received growing attention because of the usefulness of possessing a reasonable amount of resilience in the face of life’s difficulties. After all, who among us doesn’t face major stressors, in one form or another? The question is, “How can we have the resilience to deal with what happens and not be destroyed emotionally in the process?” – Introduction to a study entitled Resilience, adventist.org
Romans 8:28 NRSV
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose.
If ever there was a great biblical examplar of resilience, it is the apostle Paul. According to his own testimony he experienced imprisonments, countless floggings, being near death, whippings…, beatings…, being stoned, shipwrecks, being adrift at sea, danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from his own people … toil and hardship, many a sleepless night, hunger and thirst, being often without food, cold and naked. … “Resilience” is the ability to respond creatively to stressful, pressure-packed, anxiety producing situations such as Paul’s. A resilient person, rather than being deformed, diminished, or even destroyed by such traumatic, tension-filled circumstances, is able to engage those conditions in healthy, redemptive ways that bring some degree of wholeness. – Robert Mullholland, Weavings, Feb/March/April 2013
One’s doing well if age improves even slightly one’s capacity to hold on to that vital truism: “This too shall pass.” – Alain de Botton
Psalm 46:1–3 NIV
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
Psalm 44:6-8 NIV
I do not trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory; but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame. In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever.
Trust is the essential key in resilience, trusting that when the curve heads south, God is still at work in the midst of the shifts and changes. Don’t jump off and crash, but pay attention; trust and learn some practices to hold you until the new emerges. – Larry Peacock, The Resilience Spiral
The powers of darkness gather about the soul and shut Jesus from our sight, and at times we can only wait in sorrow and amazement until the cloud passes over. These seasons are sometimes terrible. Hope seems to fail, and despair seizes upon us. In these dreadful hours we must learn to trust, to depend solely upon the merits of the atonement, and in all our helpless unworthiness cast ourselves upon the merits of the crucified and risen Saviour. We shall never perish while we do this—never! When light shines on our pathway, it is no great thing to be strong in the strength of grace. But to wait patiently in hope when clouds envelop us and all is dark requires faith and submission which causes our will to be swallowed up in the will of God. We are too quickly discouraged, and earnestly cry for the trial to be removed from us, when we should plead for patience to endure and grace to overcome.
– Ellen G. White, God’s Amazing Grace
Philippians 4:6-7 NRSV
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Lord, we pray
not for tranquillity
nor that our tribulations may cease
for thy Spirit
and thy love
that thou grant us
strength and grace
to overcome adversity
through Jesus Christ.
Amen. –Girolamo Savanarola
Be sure to check out the fabulous writing and photography of Charlotte Packer on her blog, Charlotte’s Plot
For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.