The Weapons of Our Warfare Pt. 3 – The Armor We Live In

In parts 1 & 2 I talked about the enemy’s domain and his activities. Now it’s time to talk about why I did this teaching in the first place. Honestly, I wanted to show that our victory in the battles the enemy engages us in is tied to the depth and intimacy of our relationship with God.

In pretty much any talk about spiritual warfare, there is a particular passage that comes up that most of us can quote, or at least paraphrase.

Ephesians 6:10-18

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. 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. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

First, let me say this — there are a plethora of commentaries written about this passage, and I’m not trying to raise my voice louder than theirs. I just want to sit around this small table with you and give my thoughts, and hopefully hear yours. If I get long-winded (and I will), take a break, eat a piece of cheesecake for stamina, and then come back.

Secondly, we cannot detach this portion of scripture from those that come before it. Doing so will make it appear as though Paul had a touch of ADD. The chapter begins with children – obey your parents; then parents – don’t exasperate your children. This is followed by slaves – obey your master, and masters – treat your slaves well. And then Paul says, “Finally…”. So I believe that Ephesians 6:10-18 is less about what we know theologically, and way more about what we do with what we know. In other words, this passage is not about what we know, but how we live. Let’s dig in.

If I had to put a title to what I’ve learned in the past 31 years of following Jesus, that title would be…

No Other

…so I’m going to approach this passage from that perspective.

The very first thing we’re told is to be strong in the power of His might. Other versions say strengthened by the Lord and His vast strength. Your own strength will not be enough. Not by a long shot.

We try to draw strength from so many wells, but there is no other strength that will sustain us through this life, but Jesus. Through dark nights of the soul, or in the valley under the shadow of death. Even just the everyday work of fighting depression, fighting anxiety, fighting fear, fighting pain, fighting to stay above the water. Oh, we can suck it up and hold on and push through, to a point. But, by divine design, our weakness and limitations and our utter lack of strength will eventually become evident, and where we go for strength will determine whether or not we taste victory over what is trying to do us in.

Jesus taught me that there is no other place to find what I need. He’s it. The fellowship with Him that comes from time spent in the secret place has strengthened me for the journey, strengthened me for suffering, for trials, and even for the green pastures and still waters (because sometimes, it takes the strength and power of God to get us to just lie down, be still, and drink deep of Him).

Be strengthened by the Lord…and no other. It is His strength, not our own that is a weapon against the enemy who seeks to wear us down.

truth like a belt

It’s an interesting word, Truth. Most of us would think it means we are to gird ourselves with the truth of God’s word, but it actually carries a little different meaning, so I do not have the standard take on this word that many have.

The root word it comes from means “loving the truth, speaking the truth, truthful.” See what I mean? Interesting. The actual word truth in this passage means “sincerity of mind and integrity of character, or a mode of life in harmony with divine truth“.

It’s not about being able to quote scripture passages, and it’s a whole lot more than not lying on your tax returns. Girding yourself with the truth means living true. Living without pretense, without shadows, without hypocrisy. It is a life that is in harmony with the Truth, not at odds with Him.

When you are clothed in the belt of truth, try as he may, the enemy will not get you to compromise or to live in a way that creates disharmony with God’s truth. You won’t be caught in a lie, found out, or exposed as pretending to be something you are not, because that is not the life you are living.

No other way of living provides this kind of spiritual defense.

the breastplate of righteousness

that word righteousness means “integrity, virtue, purity of life, uprightness, correctness in thinking, feeling, and acting“.

The breastplate is “consisting of two parts and protecting the body on both sides from the neck to the middle“.

Isn’t it interesting that the meaning of righteousness as used in this passage includes correctness in thinking, feeling, and acting? And isn’t it also so interesting that these things protect us against the schemes and attacks of the enemy?

Note: In the armor, the breastplate is attached to the belt. So the breastplate of righteousness for the Christian, is attached to the belt of truth. Here’s what I think – if we aren’t living lives of truth, we will not be able to live a life of righteousness.

This can all sound like a “do it yourself” Christianity. Living righteously out of our own strength. Oh, believe me, it is not. We know that our righteousness comes from Christ alone. Our own ability to be right and live right with God is a big fat zero. And the good news is that we receive the righteousness of Christ upon our confession of faith. Boom. Done. We have been made right with God. But…

If the way we live our lives does not reflect the righteousness of Christ that is in us and on us, then we are unprotected from the attacks of the enemy. This is what I’m saying…this armor isn’t about our salvation, it is about how we live it out. Without the lifestyle that reflects what Christ has done, we are deer in an open field against an enemy with a stellar aim.

There is no other righteousness but the righteousness of Christ that can make us right with God. And there is no quicker way to oppression than for a person who has been made right with God by the blood of Christ, to live a life that is not right with God.

feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace...

I’ll be honest, this one has been one of those things that for years I could not figure out, so I just nodded and quoted and more or less went along with everyone else’s explanation. But that thing in me that needs to know God, and know what He’s actually saying to me, wouldn’t let go of this verse. Once I realized that this whole passage is talking about how we live, then I began to dig and this is what I found that satisfies me, at least for now.

“it also has the meaning of firm footing (foundation);… if that is the meaning in [this passage], the Gospel itself is to be the firm footing of the believer, his walk being worthy of it, and therefore a testimony in regard to it.” (Vines Expository Dictionary) From other sources (which I will list at the end), I found snippets of explanation that helped me form a coherent and less abstract view of this verse:

Be ready to quickly and cheerfully go where you are sent, never allowing your feet to move off the firm foundation that is the gospel of Christ. It is a gospel of peace, so walk worthy of that gospel. You have peace with God, so do not live as though you do not. Let your life be a testimony of the good news, where ever your feet take you.

There is no other gospel worthy of the giving of our lives than the gospel of Christ. No other place for our feet to stand, and move upon, than that firm foundation. All other ground is sinking sand. May our lives speak of this gospel day in and day out, as we move upon the earth.

take up the shield of faith

The word faith is our faith in God, authored by Jesus. It is far more than the belief that God exists, it is the trust we have in Him. Satan is not trying to get us to not believe in the existence of God (even demons believes He exists), but what he’s after is our trust in God. That said, this verse is telling us to take up our shield of faith (trust) so that the flaming darts of the enemy will be extinguished. In ancient times, the shield was made of leather, and they would soak it with water before battle because there would be fiery arrows coming at them. That shield is as big as a door, able to protect everything behind it.

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus is called the living water, and the author and perfecter of our faith? So when we raise a faith that has been soaked in Jesus, there is no flaming arrow that will not be extinguished!

No other faith, no other trust that we put into a person or a thing, will protect us against what the enemy is firing at us. It is only our faith (trust) in God that will fully shield us, and extinguish satan’s fiery weapons.

Take the helmet of salvation

The helmet is “the protection of soul which consists in (the hope of) salvation”. (Blue Letter Bible Lexicon).

Our soul is our mind, our will, and our emotions. It is to our soul that the enemy will attempt to bring despair, discouragement, hopelessness, fear (of death), and get us to live our lives in response to those emotions and thoughts. The hope (assurance) of salvation, that future life that awaits us with God, is a guard for our soul. But here’s the catch…that hope of salvation has to trump our desire, or hope, for a good, pleasant, comfortable, unbothered life on this earth. When our hope of salvation is simply a “given” that we don’t think much about as the years go on, then our hopes for a “better” life here will uncover our mind to all sorts of thoughts, emotions, and eventually belief systems that can cripple our soul.

No other hope can protect our soul except the hope of our salvation. We have been promised life with God for all eternity, but we were never promised a life on this earth without trouble, sorrow, trials, or pain. This is life in a fallen world. But we have been given a hope to see us through it all with a depth of joy and peace that cannot be touched.

{“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”} (Psalm 51:12)

the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Here is what we know for sure — Satan is a liar, and God’s Word is true. There is no other way to tear down a lie than with truth. I will preach this until I die – get yourself into the Word of God and keep yourself there. There is no substitute. The best sermon is not a sword. That podcast you listen to is not a sword. Your daily devotional is not a sword. All of those things are good, and they serve to help us grow, but if you try to bring one against the enemy, you’ve brought a butter knife to a sword fight.

It doesn’t matter that you don’t like to read. It doesn’t matter if you find it boring or hard to understand. The fact remains that it is the only sword you have, so by golly you should learn to weild it well. Otherwise, you are susceptible to any and every lie that the liar wants to whisper to you.

There is no other sword. But no other sword is needed. Pick it up. Learn to use it. Start coming against the lies that you’ve been believing.

Prayer is a weapon we will discuss next time, so I won’t go into it here.

I know this was long and if you hung in there with me, you should get the last piece of cheesecake. And, thank you!

But I can’t end it without going back to my first point. The whole reason I began looking at teaching about spiritual warfare in the first place, was to show that it is directly tied to the depth and intimacy of our relationship with Jesus.

Looking back over every weapon, over the life lived in the armor of God, it comes out of time spent with Him. It comes from that place of seeking His face, seeking His ways, and desiring to know Him more. The hours that become days that become years spent in the secret place, in His word, in recurring surrender and repentance and worship, is what fits us for the armor.

After 31 years, the most humbling realization I’ve had is that I have not yet arrived. Like all of us, I have good days and bad days. Victory and defeat. Falling down and getting back up. Learning and forgetting and relearning it all. And yet, His goodness and His faithful love have followed me all of these days and years, and I am forever grateful.

Sources: Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance; Vines Expository Dictionary; + various NT commentaries.

The Weapons of Warfare – Pt. 2 – The Enemy’s Activity

In my last post I talked about the enemy’s domain. This time, we’re going to look at a short list of what he does in that domain. Again, I’m simply going to lay out scriptures, giving a few thoughts along the way, but my hope is that you will read the scriptures and ask God for His thoughts.

1 Chronicles 21:1 – “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.”

This was a census of David’s military. The thinking at this time was that a man could only count what belonged to him. But Israel belonged to God, so this census was very foolish, and God brought punishment for it to David. The enemy was coming against all of Israel, by inciting their leader to sin. So, bear with me for a moment, as I follow this trail.

How do you come against a nation? You go after it’s leader.

How do you come against a church? You go after the leadership.

How do you come against a family? You go after the parents. Why do we think the divorce rate is so high?

Anyone else see a pattern? Anyone else see a reason to pray for anyone in your life who is in a leadership position?

Zechariah 3:1 – “Then he showed me the high priest Joshua standing before the angel of the Lord, with Satan standing at his right side to resist him.”

Part of the meaning of the word resist, is to “accuse”. It also means to oppose, to be an adversary. Bottom line for me? My enemy never takes a day off. He is my adversary at all times, opposing me, accusing me, resisting me. Let me ask you a question:

Have you ever come into church on a Sunday morning and as you try to enter into worship, you begin to think about everything you did wrong that week? Has a sense of shame accompanied you into church? Or, are you suddenly reminded of the last fight you had with your spouse (maybe that morning!), and you can’t get it out of your head? That is your adversary at work. Accusing. Opposing. Resisting.

Or how about when you determine to spend time in prayer. Ever find your thoughts wandering into territories that are absolutely not conducive to fervent, effectual prayer? Your adversary is at work.

Matthew 13:19:  “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.

Mark 1:13 – “He was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan.”

Acts 5:3:  “But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?”

What do you think he actually used to fill their hearts? Perhaps it was fear of having nothing for themselves. Or maybe it was the need to control, to ensure they would have enough provision. Maybe it was just outright greed. We don’t know, but experience tells us that when our hearts begin to fill up with thoughts of “what about me?”, sin is not far from us.

2 Corinthians 2:11 – “so that we may not be taken advantage of by Satan. For we are not ignorant of his schemes.”

Oh, but I think many times we are very ignorant of his schemes. Did you even know that he schemes against you? Looks for ways and opportunities to hinder you, make you stumble, make you doubt, make you stop. It reminds me of fur trappers. They don’t just stand around with their fingers crossed, hoping a rabbit hops by. They set snares in areas where they know rabbits would be found. They scheme up ways to make their traps more efficient and more effective.

Our adversary is not passive, but I’m afraid that all too often, we are.

2 Corinthians 4:4 – “In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

2 Corinthians 11:14 – “And no wonder! For Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”

1 Thessalonians 2:18 – “So we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us.”

1 Peter 5:8 – ““Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Revelation 12:9 – “So the great dragon was thrown out—the ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the one who deceives the whole world.”

Ok, let’s summarize.

Our enemy…

Provokes us · Accuses us · Tempts us · Can fill our hearts to sin · Blinds the minds of unbelievers · Snatches seed that is sown · Hinders us · Schemes against us · Disguises himself · Deceives the whole world

Again, this is just a sampling. We know that practically, his activities play out in many different ways and take many different shapes in our lives, in our homes, our churches, our communities, and in the world.

But we can take heart!

In the next post we will begin to talk about the weapons of our warfare. All that we have been given to walk in victory, take back ground, advance the Kingdom of God. Watch for it!

The Weapons of Warfare – pt. 1 – The Enemy’s Domain

One of my goals in my Lifegroup is to try to create an atmosphere that leads the women to desire and seek deeper intimacy with God. Last week’s teaching was on spiritual warfare, which may seem like an odd avenue to a closer relationship with God, but it actually isn’t odd at all. Hopefully, this series of posts will bear that out.

I thought I would lay out a sampling of what the scriptures say, and then I will offer my thoughts – but that’s all they are. My thoughts. I’m asking you to look at the scriptures and seek God for what He is saying in them.

Knowing our Enemy: His Domain

Ephesians 2:2:  “…in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—

1 John 5:19:  “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

2 Corinthians 4:4:  “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel…”

Revelation 12:9:  “the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”

John 14:30:  “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me…”

Ephesians 6:12:  “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.” [the lower heavens, or the heaven of the clouds]

Job 1:7:  “The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”

Colossians 1:13:  “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,…”

Matthew 4:8-9: “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. And he said to him, “I will give you all these things if you will fall down and worship me.”

From the looks of it, the whole earth is satan’s domain, including the atmosphere. The conundrum is what do we do with the scriptures that tell us that the earth is God’s and everything in it, or that Jesus is Lord over all? The best illustration I could come up with is the Roman Empire in biblical times. It may not be a great illustration, given my weak grasp on history, but it’s all that came to mind. The Roman Empire was vast. Really, really huge. And throughout it, there were many Governors, or rulers. They each had power and authority over their particular ‘domain’, however, there was only one who was sovereign over the whole empire. Caesar.

So my thought is this: Satan has power in his domain, but he does not have sovereignty, and that is important for us to know.

Let’s also consider this: Satan was in the Garden of Eden, the place where God walked with Adam and Eve. The place He had created for them. He was also present at the last supper, when Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. He was in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was being arrested.

I think, based on my own experience, that many of us live unaware of the presence of the enemy. When we are fighting with our spouse, experiencing road rage in traffic, thinking of ways to get our next fix (drugs, alcohol, sex, food…whatever our fix may be), when we feel overwhelmed by life to the point of withdrawing from others. We blame our spouse, blame the ding-dong drivers, blame our job, blame our kids, blame ourselves, blame life. And so we fight the wrong enemy, engage in the wrong battle, and wonder why we feel defeated.

We have to acknowledge the war that is taking place all around us. Not just out there, but in our homes, in our churches, in our own hearts. Ignoring it will be of no benefit to us.

The enemy’s domain is the whole earth, including the atmosphere.

He is called the ruler of this world, the god of this world, and the deceiver of the whole world.

He has power, but he is not sovereign!

We will neither glorify him nor underestimate him. We will educate ourselves on his domain, his activities, and the weapons we have at our disposal, and we will walk in the victory that is available to us.

Questions to ponder ~

Where have you most seen the enemy at work in your life? (Marriage/relationships, your job, your emotional / mental state, your ministry or calling, etc.)

How quickly have you been able to recognize that he is at work?

How does the fact that his domain, where he is working and exercising his power, is the whole earth, change how you view world events, if at all?

Next time: The Weapons of our Warfare – Pt. 2 – His Activity

It’s us or the stones

It’s the first song in my I-can’t-sleep worship playlist. Something about it brings me to my feet, which is probably why I can’t sleep.
https://youtu.be/y6WnMuoZYOg

This song got me out of my sickbed if even for a few minutes, to stand and praise Him. It is a reminder that praise is hard in hard places, but He is still worthy of our praise.

There will always be something or someone trying to take our song. Keep us focused on our hard place or our hard life, hard marriage, hard job, hard everything. We need a reminder that we don’t praise our life, we praise God. We don’t sing because our life is good, we sing because Jesus is good and He is forever worthy of our song. Our circumstances do not change that.

I know we don’t feel like singing. We don’t want to have to shift our focus. Seems like a lot of effort. Sometimes, let’s be honest, we would rather just lick our wounds than raise our hands to heaven. But there is something that happens when we choose to get up and begin to praise God. The darkness and oppression that hang around in the hard places begin to lift when we begin to release our praise.

What something or someone is trying to take your song right now? I’m not just talking about singing along in church or with a video. I’m talking about your song. Your praise. Your acknowledgment that no matter what, you will believe in and trust His goodness. Your hallelujah.

He will be praised. Let’s keep the stones quiet.

Covid, Revival, and the gaze of the church

It was Wednesday morning, August 19th, and I woke up with a headache and feeling like I had a chest cold. By the next day, it felt like full-on flu, but unlike any flu I had ever had. On Friday I got tested and on Sunday that test came back positive for Covid-19.

The next week was the sickest I’ve ever been. It was the flu on steroids. My joints felt like they were full of broken glass. I had horrible night sweats, a constant headache, a cough that would not quit, and less than zero energy. I couldn’t even think straight. I had more than one serious thought that I might die from this virus.

On day 10 the turn around came. Not a huge turn, more like a slight curve, but enough to give me hope. My joints stopped aching so bad, and I was able to come out of my room for a bit and walk through the house. One walk-through and then I had to go back to bed, but it was something. With each passing day it has gotten better, and today, my only symptoms are some shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, and a narly brain fog that sometimes makes it hard to focus, hard to communicate well, and hard to remember things. The cough is rare, if ever, now. No body pain. Some occasional congestion. I’ve read that it could be months yet before I feel back to normal. That’s ok. I honestly feel lucky to have survived it at all. I am very fortunate to have a husband who took such good care of me, even though he too tested positive. His symptoms lasted a day and then were gone and he was back to normal, except for the fatigue.

I also have a lifegroup of women who cared for us both for the first two weeks, by dropping off a meal every day. I usually find it very difficult to accept help like that, but there were days that I don’t think we would have eaten if not for that meal. I could barely stand up for more than a couple of minutes, and both of us were too fatigued to move much at all at times. I am so grateful for a community of women who jumped in to do what they could, dropping off food at our doorstep every day. Oh, another symptom that is still with me – I cannot taste or smell things. Actually, the taste seems to be improving. If something is tart, tangy, or salty, I can taste that. Otherwise, I’m just eating because I need to eat. I also struggle with bouts of nausea and stomach pain. This thing is a circus full of fun.

But, I had (have) a lot of people praying for me, including my family, and I believe with all my heart that those prayers moved heaven on my behalf. So thankful.

Ok, that’s my Covid ordeal. I survived and I am recovering. But lemme tell you the good stuff.

Before day 10, I couldn’t do much more than mutter “Jesus, help me” numerous times a day. But once symptoms began to subside, the tide turned. Covid often made it hard for me to sleep at night, so I began having lots of late-night worship sessions. Those sessions turned into prayer times, as I climbed back up on the wall to take my post as an intercessor, albeit a weakened, sometimes nauseous one. And then, my appetite returned with a ferocity I hadn’t seen in a while. Not an appetite for food, but for the Word of God, as I began a renewed search for the heart of my Father. I found my gaze had turned from being consumed with Covid, off of what’s been happening in the political arena and in the streets of our nation, and back to Jesus.

All of this had actually begun before Covid threw me against the rocks. Now, it’s rising up like flames that just hit the kitchen curtains. Spreading, growing. Because God used Covid to fan into life an ember that had only begun to burn. While my body was surviving, my soul began to thrive and that means God had His way and the enemy did not. Any way you turn it, it’s good.

I did not start the flame. I did not will myself to want more of Jesus or to seek more of His heart or to re-engage in intercession. It was not by my own strength or persistence that I came out of the worst part of Covid with a revival going on in my soul.

God is on the move.

And oh my gosh haven’t we all just been waiting for it? As chaos increases and lawlessness is more brazen than ever. As the deception grows thick and rage is running the streets, we’ve waited for God to pull back the curtain and reveal the truth and put everything right. But what if we’ve been looking in the wrong place for the move of God? What if He wants to do it in us, instead of out there? Perhaps the shaking starts with us, those who are called holy and righteous and belonging to Him. What if we’re the ones with the curtain and the need for truth in our innermost parts?

What if Jesus is turning the gaze of the Church away from what’s happening in the darkness and fixing it on Him who dwells in unapproachable light?

There is not one thing going on in the world right now that is outside of the sovereignty of God. Not one thing is thwarting His plans or altering His purposes in the earth. He is who He says He is. He will do what He said He will do. He has built His Church on the truth of the Gospel, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Nothing is hidden from His sight. He will neither slumber nor sleep. He is making ready His Bride, to present her to His Father.

Turning her gaze back to Him. Making a way in her wilderness and streams in her desert. Allowing the sifting and praying for her, that her faith will not fail. Calling her to return to her first Love, to choose the better thing, to love Him with all her heart, soul, mind and strength.

We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection. His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God!

Hebrews 12:2 – The Passion Translation
What is God doing in you right now, in the middle of what you’re going through?
How is He attempting to turn your gaze to Him?

something is changing and we need to hear about it

Sit for a minute. I want to share what God is doing in me, because I bet He’s doing something in you too and we need the stories of what He’s doing, don’t you think? Because there is stuff going down all over the place and we’ve chased that storm long enough and now it’s time. Time to fix our eyes on Jesus and see what’s shifting on the inside.

For me, it’s become late night worship sessions that leave me face down with a desire for more. For closer. For deeper and wider and just more. As much as I can get. Remembering that His presence is better than anything else and I am made for this presence.

It’s remembering the cry of my own heart for over 25 years – “Where are You going and what are You doing and can I come with You?” What happened to that cry? Where did my desire to be with Him go? I wonder if responsibility took it. Or weariness. Could have been self-sufficiency. I don’t know, but what I do know is God has been shifting things in my heart and I feel shaking happening and I think whatever took my overwhelming desire for His presence has been forced to give it back. I’m becoming consumed again and it’s so good, so painfully good.

There’s a fresh urgency to prayer. To stand on the wall and in the gap and to stay awake and pray. To declare His Word and hear His voice and sense His presence in the place of prayer for those around me. It’s the pressing of the Holy Spirit to prioritize prayer. Stop putting it at the end and put it at the start. The throne room is holy and grace and mercy are flowing from it. The One who sits on that throne has all power and all authority and He inclines His ear to hear us speak. He’s telling me to pray like that’s true again.

Things are changing and shaking and shifting and I am waking up from a sleep I didn’t know I had fallen into. Shaking off what has distracted and distressed and detained me. Laying down lesser pursuits and running back to my first love. There aren’t enough hallelujahs. Not nearly enough.

I don’t know what God has been doing in your heart lately, but I can tell you what He hasn’t been doing – He hasn’t been making it fearful. Or anxious. Or hopeless. He has not made your heart believe that evil is winning.

Unbelief is doing that.

Stop chasing the storm and just sit with Him in His perfect peace. Let Him reveal what He’s doing in you. Let Him call you back from the chaos and stoke the flame in your heart for Him again. Let Him remind you that you are not in danger, you are fiercely loved by the God of heaven and earth and you belong in the consuming fire of His presence. Let Him give you back your voice, not so you can shout at the world, but so you can declare His truth and His praises and so you can prophesy to dry bones so they will live. Let Him shake you awake.

And then tell us about it, because we need to hear it.

…It’s not meant to be a secret.

genesis 35: bethel

God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 

Bethel. “House of El” or “House of God”. It is the place where God revealed Himself to Jacob, the place where Jacob heard God’s voice.

Get up. Go to the house of God and live there. Stop coming and going. Stop visiting. Stop going around it. Make your dwelling in My presence. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” Remain in the place of revelation. Stay where you hear My voice.

“So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments.'”

Put away your sin. Return to purity. Clothe yourself in Christ. “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires…”  …“put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Change your garments, beloved. You are coming to the place of God’s presence. He is holy and His presence is holy and you have been called to be holy with Him.

“…for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.”

“So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem.”

He hid them rather than destroy them. We are not much different. It’s time to dig up what we’ve buried because hidden sin does not stay hidden. Eventually, it will surface and bring destruction with it. We are called to destroy our sin, not tuck it away somewhere, hoping no one finds it. “Therefore, put to death what belongs to your worldly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry.”  

Jacob’s stay at the physical Bethel was temporary, but our call to the spiritual “El Bethel” is not. I believe we are at a crossroads at the moment, and many of God’s people will be faced with a decision. We cannot continue to keep one foot in two different kingdoms. A line will be drawn and we must choose which side of that line we will take our stand on.

The call is to rise up and return to the presence of God. Put away carnal, idolatrous living. Deal death blows to your sin, put on Christ, and come back to the revelation and the voice of God.

Get up. Return to Bethel.

John 15:4; Ephesians 4:22; 1 Peter 1:16; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:5

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