April 4, 2016
Good Morning Princesses!
Before you step out the door, don’t forget your armor.
This week we are moving into Week 4 and will be studying the Shoes of Peace. This is taking me back to Session 2. Pardon me if I continually draw the connections, but there is a visible thread that links all of our conversations together. I am thankful that God has us on this journey together, to share insight, encourage each other and to pray for on another. Speaking of prayer…last week's Actionable Intel was provided for Sizing Up the Enemy (Week 1), a little later you will see the Intel for the Belt of Truth (Week 2). Have you been able to write out your prayer strategy or pray using the Intel? If not, please try to do so using the three steps: Pour Out, Pour In and Pour Forth.
Max Lucado (God Is With You Every Day)
For those of you not familiar with Max Lucado, he is a Christian, author, writer and preacher. In his study, God Is With You Every Day, Max describes God’s goal for us in a devotional that asks the reader to envision the day that we stand before Jesus and look back over our life.
“God will give to each one whatever praise is due.” (1 Corinthians 4:5 NLT)
The Promised Land and Righteousness?
Remember the story of the Israelites leaving Egypt and the length of time it took to get to the Promised Land. Here’s what we know:
The Bible says there was an estimated 1.5 million people who came out of Egypt.God delivered them from slavery and led them on the journey to their Promised Land, a place described as flowing with milk and honey.The trip should have taken just 11 days.It took them 40 years.Only 2 of the original 1.5 million made it to the Promised Land – Joshua and Caleb (Number 32:11-12).
What happened? You probably recall discussions and reading about the plight of the Israelites, but they had a strong case of getting in their own way or better yet, they suffered from backseat driver syndrome, something we all can probably relate to!
Over the course of 40 years the Israelites saw wins and losses. What was consistent, yet interesting was that anytime things got difficult, they would complain and want to go back to Egypt. Hmm, they actually wanted to go back into slavery. In fact, we discussed at our last meeting that Moses, yes, Moses himself did not get to go into the Promised Land because of disobedience (that darn rock!). While I’m sure it wasn’t that simplistic in God’s eyes, the point is that we all have stumbling blocks, rather rocks in our shoes, rocks that are barriers and cause us to stumble or go off course along our own journey. When we stumble, we too can take on the same sentiments of the Israelites- we want to go back into bondage (after all we thought the path was suppose to easy- a rose garden). However, because we are all on a journey, we are all headed to the Promised Land. Our journey is a testimony that who knows may save another person and point them to Christ.
Max Lucado brings it a little closer to home (this made me stop and think). Max states, “with God’s help, INSERT NAME, took on the enemies of her promised land and drove them out.” That’s you and I Princesses. We all have a pathway and journey to walk. Yes, we know that the ultimate Promised Land is Heaven, to be with our Lord and Savior, but dear friends did you ever stop to think that that the Promised Land is also our here and now?
As we strive to become the women the God has called us to be. His ambassadors, His princesses who walk lock and step with the Holy Spirit. The kind of woman found in Proverbs 31:10-31. The woman who is loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled. (Galatians 5:22-23).
We are representing to the world God on earth now. With God’s help (the Holy Spirit) we are demonstrating God in us, His desire for us to be free of strongholds, His desire for us to live a life of victory. (Session 2- Living Beyond)
Our Promised Land and What's At Stake What’s at stake is two-fold; our Promised Land of the future (Heaven), but also our Promised Land in the here and now, in other words, our heart. You see the children of Israel did not enter their Promised Land not because they grew weary of walking or decided to settle in another location, they didn’t enter because of their heart. Allow me to connect this to this week’s study, the Breastplate of Righteousness.
What is Righteousness?
Upright living that aligns with God’s expectations.
The breastplate for a soldier was an essential piece of armor in that it protected the vital organ (heart). Priscilla provides the Greek word for breastplate at “thorka” (designed to guard the thorax (chest or trunk). In fact, for soldiers with wealth extra, they would wear a coat of mail (a jacket covered with or composed of metal rings or plates, serving as armor) over their breastplate for extra protection. See the picture below:
As Priscilla describes, in Day 1 of our study (The Heart of the Matter), “your heart is the seat of your life. The source. And what the physical heart is to your physical life, the spiritual heart is to your spiritual life.”
Proverbs 4:23 states that we must:
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
(NLT) or as found in the English Standard Version (ESV), “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
The bottom line is that the Heart is the source of our life. Priscilla describes human beings with 3 distinct parts (body- allows us to relate to the physical world), spirit- allows us to relate to God and soul- allows us to relate to ourself- this is what makes you unique). The components of the Soul are:
Mind (our thoughts)Emotion (our feelings)Will (our ambition)Conscience (our moral compass)
The heart is the centerpiece of the soul. It’s our attitude.
Let’s take an Attitude Check…
Truth and Righteousness
When we walk lock step with the Holy Spirit and we are girding up with the Belt of Truth the aforementioned components are affected. As such, we will either chose to align our behavior and actions with God’s truth, whereby our breastplate of righteousness will shield and protect us or we will disregard God’s truth, allow the enemy to tamper with our experiences, refuse to align our actions and behavior with God and thus create an unrighteous invitation for the enemy to wreak havoc, controlling our souls (mind, will, emotion and conscience); our spiritual heart.
Back to the children of Israel and the wilderness. The 11-month journey took 40 years because the Israelites hearts were not protected. Thus, their attitude and behavior did not align to the behavior and actions of God. Anytime things got difficult, they would complain and want to go back to Egypt. Rather than relying on God to supply their needs, submitting to Him to lead them and direct their thoughts (aligning their behavior and actions to the will of God- right attitude) they would complain that they were better off in Egypt, they would state that they wanted to go back into slavery. Our attitude can make all the difference. It can be the fine line of spending years in our own wilderness or breaking free and living victoriously though Christ Jesus. (Living Beyond, Session 2)
It is a daily effort, right foot, left foot, right foot, left. One that requires us to put on the full armor. With God’s help, at the end of our journey, we will stand before our Lord and He will say, “ INSERT NAME took on the enemies of her promised land and drove them out. Well done, good and faithful servant.”
As found in Ephesians 4:20-28:
20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
In other words, Paul advises that as Christians we have righteousness in us. Now, we need is it on us. In order to do so, we must make a conscious effort daily to put on the breastplate of righteousness, to have an attitude and behavior that aligns with God’s actions and to allow the Holy Spirit to sanctify and guide us in righteousness. The key God says to living a life of obedience- a life that stays on His path- is the heart. You see, we can’t protect our heart (physical or spiritual), only God can.
Every day we must put on the full armor of God and pray.
Let’s go to our memory verses. The best way to continue to firm up our core is to know God’s word. The truth…
The Whole Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, Ephesians 6:10-14(ESV)
Week 3 Recap
Here’s a quick recap of last week 2… The Breastplate of Righteousness(page 66-67)
Unrighteousness is the enemy’s invitation.
Righteousness is upright living that aligns with the expectations of God.
We should affirm God’s standard and then align our behavior with His standard.
The enemy’s goal is to derail the train of your behavior off the tracks of God’s truth.
The Belt of Truth carries the weigh of our pursuit of Righteousness.
The Holy Spirit of God takes up residence in you allowing you to do what you cannot do in your own power.
The Holy Spirit’s job is to chip away at everything that doesn’t look like Jesus.
Your heart is the centerpiece of your soul.
**Your conscience is the microphone the Holy Spirit uses to allow you to hear the voice of God in your life.**
Protecting the Vital Organ- The Heart
When we “gird up” we can walk freely in God’s truth. It gives us stability, freedom and relieves us of the world’s pressure, but it frees you to walk in faith and trust in God. God’s truth, HIS opinion is all that matters. With Truth as our benchmark, the breastplate of righteousness allows us to live in alignment in accordance with the expectations and standards of God
Okay, here’s our Actionable Intel prayer strategy:
Truth is the benchmarkAssess yourself to build your coreFreedomCommitmentFact check (Just the facts ma’am!)Deflection (be careful)Don’t forget, every week, I will list the Actionable Intel from our meeting so that you can use to create your prayer strategy, the “linchpin that holds our armor together”.
Prayer “empowers and ‘charges up’ every other piece so they can be used effectively against the enemy. Without prayer…your armor, cannot, will not, be infused with the power that only God’s-Spirit can give.”
God calls us to take care of our heart…If we keep our heart, if we diligently attend to it and guard it, then all of the issues, the actions, the “on-goings and the out-goings” of life will be handled God’s way.(Beth Moore)
Know that through the Holy Spirit you can:
• do things you couldn't;
• feel things you didn't; and
• know things you wouldn't.
For your praise and worship:
My Life Is In Your Hands- K. Franklin
Moving Forward- I. Houghton & New Breed
Spread the word and invite someone to Session 3 (March 15- April 2016) as we continue our conversation and study about life in the Holy Spirit. Bring your prayer journal with youSee you on Tuesday, April 5 - Week 4 of The Armor of God, Stark County Library Main Campus, INNOVATION CENTER.
Remember, each day is an opportunity for us to... Lead, Serve, GO! Krista