Sunday, January 24, 2021

The good armor (8)

In this last post about the armor of God, I would like to take a look at all scripture verses we discussed and well in full context, that is as in Ephesians 6:10-18.

I will do so step by step for clarity sake (the words in italics are Bible verses):

  • Finally, build up your strength in union with the Lord and by means of his mighty power. ๐Ÿ‘‰The power is the Lord's, we should not event try to rely on our own strength!
  • Put on all the armor that God gives you, so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil's evil tricks. ๐Ÿ‘‰What is the purpose of this armor? It will enable us to stand up gainst evil, even if all others and everything else is falling down.
  • For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age. ๐Ÿ‘‰Never forget this, the fight is NEVER aginst people, it is against the powers of darkness.
  • So put on God's armor now! Then when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist the enemy's attacks; and after fighting to the end, you will still hold your ground. ๐Ÿ‘‰Again: let's make sure we keep standing. Do not bow down to Satan.
  • So stand ready, with truth as a belt tight around your waist, with righteousness as your breastplate, and as your shoes the readiness to announce the Good News of peace. ๐Ÿ‘‰Stand ready, be alert, don't be sidetracked, keep attention!
  • At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out all the burning arrows shot by the Evil One. And accept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you. ๐Ÿ‘‰At all times, don't wait for better times, stand ready now!
And so we have come to verse 18. It looks like a new sentence, even a new paragraph, but we should not seperate it from the prevous verses, If we do so, it will lose value and we will miss a very essential part of the armor.

Do all this in prayer, asking for God's help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God's people.

We can arm ourselves from head to toe ... but if we don't do so in prayer, we can't take the fight. Always pray, pray persistently. Is that possible? Yes, otherwise it wouldn't say so. Praying is talking with God, which is possible anytime, anywhere ... we don't necessarily have to sit at the table with our hands folded. Be alert. Is that possible? Yes, I believe so. It does mean that we have to put aside all things that distract us.

With good armor, we fight a good fight (2 Timothy 4: 7).

Monday, January 18, 2021

The good armor (7)

Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation... we looked at it briefly in the previous blogs. They are the God-given weapons we need to fight with and to protect ourselves with in a hostile world.

When we read verse 17 in the sixth chapter of the letter to Ephesians in its entirety, it says:

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

The sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. So, what is this sword? The Spirit of God or the Word of God, or maybe both? Surely, we are not supposed to stab people with Bible verses, as if we were in a sword fight ...

No, that would not be wise. However, this verse does show us that the Word of God is sharp, and no doubt powerful. The Bible is not just a book full of letters, it is a book full of life. Jesus said to His disciples, The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life (John 6:63).

Such an awesome statement. The words of Jesus are spiritual and full of life, which is why they are still speaking to people today (two thousand years later)! His words are not theory or theology, but spiritual truths. In Hebrews 4:12 the Word is described like this:

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

The sword, we cannot and should not live without it. Reading (and then doing) the living word is essential everyday food!

Monday, January 11, 2021

The good armor (6)

In my previous blog I described briefly how we can use our faith as a shield to ward off the attacks of the enemy, actually to ricochet them.

Let's read on in Ephesians 6, verse 17a.

And you will need the helmet of salvation ... Most translations say: 'Take the helmet of salvation'.

๐Ÿ‘‰A helmet offers protection against head injuries. So actually this is not a weapon, but none the less part of the armor. Kind of like a musician who cannot properly play without his sheet music. Although not an instrument, sheet music is essential for performance.

The helmet of salvation, how should we see it? The Bible speaks of being saved from eternal death that was the result of sin. But God's mercy is so abundant, and his love for us is so great, that while we were spiritually dead in our disobedience he brought us to life with Christ. It is by God's grace that you have been saved (Ephesians 2: 4-5).

God's love and grace exceed our shortcomings. He offers us eternal life in His presence if we are to believe in His Son Jesus Christ. Being 100% sure that He has rescued us from darkness and brought us into light protects us from every other thought ... Thoughts that we are not worth it, that we are lost, that it is not for us, that we did awful things ...

In that same chapter of the letter to the Ephesians, it says in verse 8: For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it.

Receive that gift and let it guide your thinking, it can save you a lot of headaches!

Sunday, January 03, 2021

The good armor (5)

Truth, righteousness, and the willingness to be a messenger of peace, I mentioned these weapons in the previous blog posts about the spiritual armor.

Let's read a little further in Ephesians 6 until we arrive at verse 16: In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. The TLB translation says: In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan.

Flaming, fiery arrows of the enemy? Faith as a shield? So, how exactly does this work in our daily lives? Faith is the assurance of things we hope for and the evidence of things we cannot see (Heb. 11: 1). Faith basically means that we do not doubt the existence of God, that we accept the Bible as His Word, and that we know He keeps His promises. If we can see that kind of faith (assurance) as a shield, we will understand that it will ricochet everything that brings doubt or goes against God's Word.

Everything yes, because flaming arrows are fired at us on a daily basis; thoughts that suddenly enter our heads or our hearts ... Is it all true? Does God Really Love Me? Have I been forgiven? Is the Bible actually true? etc. etc. We can extinguish those fiery arrows (meant to set our thoughts and feelings on fire) with faith.

The kind of faith that makes us say aloud: Jesus is the truth, God loves me with an everlasting love, Jesus has completely forgiven me of all sin, and His Word endures forever. I dare you to raise that shield when all kinds of lies and doubts about God and His Word are coming your way. Go right against it, proclaim the truth. This is how we fight the spiritual battle.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

This time of darkness will not go on forever

The other day I was praying for a word of encouragement to share with the members of the Christian Nonfiction Lovers Book club on Goodreads. Just something more than a regular Christmas greeting...

The Lord reminded me of a scripture I had read just days before. So, I shared it on Goodreads and it triggered a lot of positive responses. Then I shared the word on Facebook as well and last, but certainly not least,  I want to share it with my blogging friends! Take it to heart, it might be exactly what you need to hear today!

"I was reading Isaiah 9 in my NLT Inspire Bible and verse 1 says: Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. I took that as a rhema word for today and it is my hope that sharing it with you will bring joy to your heart and encouragement to your soul.

God has designed the times and seasons. According to Genesis 8:22 there will always be seasons as long as the earth exists. Seasons in nature, seasons in life. A new spring is coming. Amidst this ever circulating cycle of life, God remains faithful and His love endures forever. He knows the past, present, and future… and yet, He is concerned with every detail of your life.

It is this amazing God who inspires us today and tomorrow and in the year to come. May His love guide you, His grace compel you, and His peace surround you."


Tuesday, December 08, 2020

The good armor (4)

"We use God's mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments,"
writes the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:4.

He understood spiritual warfare like no other. And you know what, God's weapons are just as much for us today. In my previous blogs, I wrote about truth and righteousness.

Let's continue to read about the armor in Ephesians 6:15, where it says that we should wear as our shoes the readiness to announce the good news of peace. Other translations speak about sandals of willingness, shoes of preparation.

๐Ÿ‘‰We put on shoes when we are about to go out of the house. On a shelf they have little value. Knowing we can bring peace in a situation is not the same as actually doing it! The willingness to be a messenger of peace is much more than a good intention, it is something that must be put into practice.

Let's make it practical. Part of our armor is to be peacemakers in difficult situations, to offer God's peace when someone is troubled, to settle arguments that have been going on far too long, and to share the good news about the Prince of Peace... Jesus.  Easy? No. Possible? Yes!

Jesus had a good reason for saying: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5: 9).

I want to be blessed. What about you?

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

The good armor (3)

Being encircled (girded) by truth, what a nice thought from my previous blog. We can survive in a world full of lies when we are protected by the truth!

Let's continue to read about the spiritual armor as described in Ephesians 6. Verse 14 speaks about a breastplate of  RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Now, in general, most of us don't walk around in medieval clothing items anymore, but I think the idea of our righteousness being able to take a beating (attack) is quite clear.

The Bible says that no one is righteous by nature, not one! (Romans 3:10). Only God is righteous. Jesus is also called the Righteous One. Why? ๐Ÿ‘‰Because He came to earth to present His righteousness in exchange for our failures and mistakes, for our sins.

Righteous means as much as: good, virtuous, upright, worthy, ethical, principled, moral, high-minded, just, honest, innocent, faultless, sinless, uncorrupted, pure, noble... well, you get the idea, it ain't about us! Within Christianity, as well as in all major world religions, we can see people trying to achieve some form of righteousness by working hard and following all kinds of rules. But then again, the more people try, the more they feel like failing.

This is exactly why Jesus' offer is so crucial. Our sins in exchange for His righteousness. What a deal! He offers forgiveness for our iniquities and thereby declares us righteous. ๐Ÿ’“That righteousness (knowing that we are forgiven!) is our armor; it protects our whole being. In Romans 3:221-2 it says:  But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. 

Not because of good deeds, but because of faith we are declared righteous before God. This eliminates guilt, shame, failure, fear, and judgment. Knowing that we are forgiven... we should wear it like impenetrable armor. If you have made the choice for Jesus, don't let anyone tell you that things are not right between you and God. This is an area where many spiritual battles take place.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Saturday, November 21, 2020

The good armor (2)

Thank you for joining me in this new blog series. Spiritual warfare, oh my goodness, such an important topic.

There are different ways to arm oneself in the battle between good and evil. Some people opt for aggression, others for cynicism, and still others for campaigning. Defense, attack, or run away, it is all possible.

The Bible also speaks of armor that we can reach for. His weapons are of a completely different order, a spiritual order.

You can find the basic text for this series in Ephesians 6:10-13. It will help you to read it regularly, as a reminder that 1) there is a spiritual battle, 2) God gives us weapons, 3) we do not fight against people and 4) we can stand firm (yeah!).

If we continue reading in Ephesians 6, we come to verse 14, which is a strong appeal: Stand ready, the Good News translation says. In other translations: Stand firm! Be prepared! The message is clear: get off the couch!

The first weapon God gives us is TRUTH, to wear as a belt. We must gird ourselves with truth. To gird means to encircle or bind with a belt or band, to surround; enclose; hem in, frame, encircle, encompass.

We live in a world where the opposite will happen if we are not careful, we are surrounded (girded) by lies. I hear it almost daily in conversations ... who speaks the truth? How do I know if this is true? Why do people lie under oath? etc. etc. In order to have a somewhat clear understanding of the thousand things that come our way each day, it is crucial that we are enclosed by the truth, that we have embraced truth.

When we are encircled (girded) by truth, we look to the outside as through a filter. A truth filter. And you know what, Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. Apart from Him, apart from the truth, we cannot stand in battle. If you believe in Him, He will give you the Spirit of Truth, who comes to live in you and will be with you always. ๐Ÿ‘‰ He gives truth counsel.

PS: In my book Spirit of Truth I go deeper into the root cause of deception, which is twisted truth. I believe it is a must-read for such a time as this. Kindle and paperback are available on Amazon.

Monday, November 16, 2020

The good armor (1)

That we are engaged in a spiritual battle on a global scale is quite clear. Rulers, authorities, and powers of darkness are fighting for dominion. We sure can feel that on a personal level as well.

How are we supposed to fight against all the disturbing and contradictory messages, news items, and opinions we are bombarded with each day? How do we stand firm and keep on standing? As a Christian, how do we stay positive and hopeful within our realm of influence?

We all struggle with this, to some degree. I have decided to write a series of short blogs about the spiritual armor as described in the Bible. Yes, we are called to be peacemakers, but that does not mean we can neglect to arm ourselves for this spiritual battle.

No one wants a battle, no one wants opposition, no one wants war. But hiding our heads in the sand is not the right answer. ๐Ÿ‘‰ The Bible prepares us so we can stand firm in a time like this. Ephesians 6 is all about that. You may have read that chapter a hundred times, maybe never. Either way, I hope you will receive encouragement, insight, and revelation from the upcoming blog posts. The basic text for this series is Ephesians 6:10-13, I broke it down into pieces:

  • Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.
  • Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.
  • For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
  • Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.
  • Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

I hope you will join me in this series. Feel free to share the posts!

Sunday, November 08, 2020

Eerie feeling?

I don't like it when it happens, but from time to time I have that eerie feeling come over me, that feeling that we can't be sure of anything anymore. 

Anyone with me? Or is it just my imagination?

What was wrong yesterday, is right tomorrow. What used to be normal is now regarded as weird and what was logical is now unexplainable. Talking about confusion...

I was pondering about that this morning and the thought came to me that God is not a God of confusion, He is a God of order, of peace, and of love. I really felt He wanted me to write a blog about the 'surelies' as we can find them in the Bible. You know, where someone, or even God Himself, starts a sentence with SURELY....

'Remind the people about My surelies...' So, okay, here we go. I hope this post will be an encouragement to you.

  • Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 23:6)
  • Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me (Psalm 54:4)
  • There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off (Proverbs 23:18)
  • Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2)
  • Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear (Isaiah 59:1)
  • ๐Ÿ‘‰And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”(Matthew 28:20)

Well, if that does not get you excited, I don't know what will. God's Word is our treasure, true riches at hand. And the most beautiful thing is that everything may change around us, but the Word of the Lord remains forever.

It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” (Romans 14:11).

Saturday, October 31, 2020

A call to resistance

One of Jesus' most famous sayings deals with the battle between darkness and light, between evil and good, between Satan and God. He keeps it simple:

The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come to give life, life in all its fullness  (John 10:10).

If He keeps it that simple, we should not complicate matters. How do we know if the enemy is at work? When we experience theft, killing, and destruction. How do we know if God is at work? When life in all its fullness becomes visible.

The work of the enemy is visible on a worldwide scale. Quite a few things are being stolen from us at the moment: freedom, joy, rights, and privileges, etc. All kinds of diseases are killing people and among things being destroyed are relationships, culture, economy, entrepreneurship, common sense, morals, values, friendships etc.

The Bible warns us ... Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith (1 Peter 5: 8). Folks, it's a spiritual battle we're in. We don't have to blame politicians, world leaders, or health experts for being where we are. They are just doing their best to keep things under control...

๐Ÿ‘‰But we are not called to control the work of the devil, we are called to resist him (if you are a Christian, that is)!

I am amazed that I hardly ever hear a word from within the Christian world about how this whole crisis is the work of the enemy. Yes, I read beautiful, well-meaning, soothing messages about how to cope with the current circumstances, about how to keep our faith, and how to reposition the chairs in our churches at a safe distance. While we walk around in our churches with a measuring stick, the devil goes around devouring people.

I think the message is very simple (read it in James 4: 7):

  • Humble yourselves (submit) before God,
  • resist the devil,
  • and he will flee from you.

The fight is never against people, no matter what position they are in. A believer's fight is against the powers and forces of darkness. Dear friends, if we are not willing to submit to Jesus Christ (who gives life), then we submit to the enemy (who takes life). There is no middle ground!

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 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. (Ephesians 6: 12-13).

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Is your love growing cold?

That we live in 'turbulent times' is probably an understatement, although I believe each generation has its share of ups and downs, blessing and drama, prosperity and pain. There is no such thing as a constant in life...

You may think whatever you like about everything we are experiencing in our world today. The opinions, thoughts, and interpretations of the current state of affairs are endless and quite diverse. I strongly believe each human being is entitled to voice his or her thoughts on any topic, as long as we listen to each other and respect the fact that not everyone thinks the same ๐Ÿ˜

As Christians, we are warned (more than two thousand years ago) for times like this. Jesus clearly spoke about the future (which is now) and the things to expect such as wars, earthquakes, and pestilences. ๐Ÿ‘‰Read Matthew 24 for yourself and see how accurate His predictions are.

I want to focus on verse 12 in that chapter, where Jesus says: Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. To me, that is the scariest thing of everything He had to say that day. Our love growing cold, a very troubling thought... and yet we see it happening every day, right in front of our eyes.

People divided and hating each other over politics, over mouth masks, over conspiracies, over religion, over about everything. And if that isn't enough, 'social distancing' is being preached as the new norm which is somehow accepted by many, many people as something to get used to. Really? Synonyms for distancing are dissociation, separation, isolation, segregation (!), alienation, disengagement etc. etc. Think about that, please!

Sin (everything that goes against God's moral standard for living and thriving) will be rampant everywhere (some translations say there will be an increase of wickedness) and at the same time our love for God, country, and each other will grow cold. We must be careful not to go with that flow. Do NOT let your love grow cold, guard it, exercise it, share it! 1 John 4:18 says there is no fear in love.

Let's keep fear at a distance, not each other!

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The meaning of life

'God has a plan and purpose for your life'. I don't know how many times I heard that phrase before I believed it! I struggled with the thought that there would be meaning to individual lives in a world with almost 7.8 billion inhabitants and so much suffering.

Thank God I do know better now. ๐Ÿ‘‰God has a plan and a purpose for each individual before they are even born. More on that precious womb phase in my book Breath of Life, by the way.

I am currently reading through the Psalms again in my Bible. And I noticed two scriptures that make it very clear that 1) God is the One to fulfill that purpose and that 2) God is the one to work out that plan. We need to ask Him, we must pray about it and we should go on a quest to find out what this is all about. I promise you will discover great things.

I cry out to God most high. to God who will fulfill His purpose for me (Psalm 57:2).

I find that so exciting and well for several reasons. 1) There is a purpose for my life. 2) It is His purpose, not mine. 3) He is the One to fulfill that purpose and 4) He will do so, even if I feel nothing is happening! I got so encouraged reading that passage, I must have read it twenty times in a row until the words finally took deep root in my heart. Then, I came to Psalm 138:8.

The Lord will work out His plans for my life.

Truly Lord? You will work out YOUR plans for MY life? Despite my failures, despite my mistakes, despite my fears and doubts? How awesome is that!  May I encourage you to find out more about God's purpose and plans for your life? Set time apart, turn off your tv, sit, listen, and read through the psalms. You will be richly blessed as you begin to discover why you are here on earth!

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Hope brings life

Hope brings life. That thought came to me last week. And with that another thought, a simple conclusion really: Without hope, there is no life.

We all need hope. Hope for recovery, hope for better times, hope for the future. Without hope, a person withers away. We can see that when someone is seriously ill and there is no one who dares to speak words of hope.

If you read/see most news stories today, one would almost believe that the world is hopeless. We suddenly found ourselves on this escalator of increasing madness ... an escalator that keeps moving, even when we are standing still.

But you know what? We are not supposed to be dragged away like that. A person is not meant to live without hope. We can all make the decision to either let ourselves be dragged away passively or to take steps actively.

The most important step we can take in life is to turn our backs on hopelessness and to put our trust in God and no longer in the world, its systems, leaders, and programs. The hope that God gives does apply to our earthly existence and even more so to our eternal future. ๐Ÿ‘‰Biblical hope is always focused on Jesus the Messiah, not on improving worldly conditions.

The times we are living in right now, calls for a decision: do you want to live without hope or do you want to surrender your life to the God of all hope? He will bring peace and tranquility to your heart and,  above all, He will give you hope for the future; here on earth and in the world to come!

Come to me, you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).

Sunday, September 06, 2020

Yes, you can!

They did it again! Fellow bloggers and writers Jeanette Levellie and Beth Gormong named their second joined effort 'Yes, you can!'

After their 2019 release of Hello Beautiful! they decided to get together again and write another excellent devotional. Their second collaboration comes at a crucial time in our world, when people need hope and help from above.  If you love to read short inspiring and uplifting stories, then this is the book for you.

Yes, you can! is filled with forty devotional stories. Through modern-day true accounts and biblical examples of women who overcame impossible odds, Jen and Beth show the reader how to:
  • Receive and believe God’s undying love
  • Trust in God’s willingness to answer our prayers
  • Tap into God’s power to achieve our goals
  • Walk in God’s wisdom to navigate hard circumstances
  • Find God’s strength to overcome impossibilities
And (this I absolutely love) each chapter includes a journaling prompt or coloring page to help you personalize the life-changing truths.

Blogging is often the step that precedes publishing articles or books. We all have stories to share, right? May Yes, you can! be an inspiration and encouragement to you and who knows... one day you might write your own story.

You can read more about her new book or leave a note on Jen's weblog.
You can order the paperback and e-book on Amazon.