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Strong children

Deuteronomy 31:6 – “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

It has been a long school year. But at the same time, it has flown. It has been a process of encouraging my children to succeed and guiding them through trying times. 

Yet through all of it, it has been the goal of our family to grow strong children. And I think we are. They face so many situations at school and in their “recreational” time that sometimes life seems overwhelming. 

My son is the strong, silent type. You know what a first child typically looks like? Flip it around, shake it up and cover it with a cloak and you have my son. My husband and I laugh that he is an enigma. But he is courageous. He always has been. His speech was delayed as a child and that made him shy. So overcoming is almost second nature to him. 

Now my daughter, on the other hand, well…there are very few words to accurately describe her. She is definitely strong. She is courageous – she rarely lets things keep her from speaking her mind. (Not sure where she gets that from!)   But she is joyful. She is fun. She is determined. She is mighty and fierce. 

They both are such strong and amazing children. I hear of other people worrying about their children and their future. Not me, I know God has placed these two on this planet for amazing things. I’m excited to see what it is!

But we need to encourage all of our children, whether we have them given birth to them or not, to thrive. Be successful. Be brave. Be courageous. They have a Mighty God who will NEVER leave them and He has something in store for them that we can’t imagine. 

Monday night, I heard a speaker challenge a group of students in this way – What was the promise that God made to the world when He brought you into it? Live every day with that in mind and see what God will do. 

Get off the porch!

Exodus 32:1 – “And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.”

I read a quote yesterday. “If I only trust what I can see with my eyes, I commit idolatry.” Simple, yet profound.

The children of Israel had just finished committing themselves to God. They had agreed to follow His instruction and guidance. They had committed themselves to Him. Moses goes up on the mount to chat some more with God. While he is gone, the people give up. They don’t know what has happened to Moses and they aren’t waiting around to find out. So they go over, grab Aaron by the arm and say, “hey, make us a graven image. We know what God said about idols but this guy, Moses, is gone and we need something to worship. Something we can see. I can’t believe in this God without Moses around.” (Melissa paraphrase, of course)

What about you? Is your faith in God tied to someone or something? Do you follow Him only when you can SEE Him working in your life? Does it need to be a minute by minute conformation? Can you only have faith because your grandparent is around? What happens when they are gone? Do you only believe in the power of God only when the pastor is around? If you were blind, would you still believe – even though you can’t see the works of God around you?

If you only trust when you can see, do you really trust? If you only believe when the one that teaches you is around, do you really believe? If your not at church, do you think God can speak to you?

As followers of Christ, we want to believe that we have this idol thing under control. “We don’t have idols set up at church or in our home. We know that worshipping something made with our hands is wrong.” But what if our faith is tied to someone or something?

We are approaching perilous times. We need to affirm our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. There are people around the globe, right now, that are being killed for their profession of faith in Jesus. There are people being persecuted by their neighbors because they refuse to deny Christ. If someone came in today and took away your Bible and took away your right to go to church, would you still believe? Would you still pray? Would you still have to courage to share Him with others? What if your family was threatened?

My point today, princess, is that we need to make sure that our faith in Jesus does not hinge upon someone or something – that our faith lies solely in Jesus. If everything was taken away – our Bible, our church, our family – and we were put in a cell with only the walls to keep us company, would we praise God for giving us life that day? Or does our trust and our faith rely upon our eyes?

This is a hard subject. But it is time to step off the porch and run with the big dogs. We need to stop with the warm, squishy feelings and hit home. God doesn’t want robots that go to church and routinely worship and serve Him. He wants people to be tough, be ready and be willing to show others a faith that is solely in Him and not dependent upon anyone or anything else.

My strength

Exodus 15:2a – “The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation”

I read a saying the other day, “Jesus doesn’t give you strength; He IS your strength.”
That got me to thinking. I know that Jesus is my strength. But isn’t the strength that I have from Jesus?

So I looked up all these verses. What I found is that in each of the Old Testament references, some type of trouble had been going on and the person in that trouble was recognizing that the only way they got through was because of the strength that God had provided to them. He was their only way out. He was the strength in their choices and in their muscle.

One of my favorite verses is Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” For so long, I have looked at that verse as I have strength and God gives me more. But when I really stop and look at it and remember how I truly am (weak and easily swayed), I realize that any strength I have comes from my Savior.

These last few days, I have neglected to read and study my Bible. I had a hundred and one reasons why I didn’t have time. And then I was wondering why I didn’t feel like I had any momentum. I had strength to do my everyday activities, strength to get up and work out, but spiritually, I was drained.

Physical strength is different than spiritually strength. I learned that the last few days. And I know that somewhere inside I have always known that but sometimes it takes a walk in the forest to appreciate the sunlight.

So this week, princess, let me encourage you to remember who and what you are on your own. You may get through your day and do all that you need to do, but are you complete? Do you feel like something is missing? Well, maybe, just maybe, that something is your time with your Savior. Don’t neglect it. Make time for it. Choose to tap into your unlimited strength source today.

A good look in the mirror

1 Corinthians 6:19,20 – “know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 1:2
Last week, we started a workout program. We saw it and thought, “Twenty five minutes. I can do 25 minutes.” Little did we know that some guy on the tv would be trying to kill us for 25 minutes. None of us have died, yet. But we have definitely done a lot of sweating!
Why? Why are we putting ourselves through this torture? Do we want to look good? For what? For whom? Why do any of us start a fitness program at some stage in our life?
Most of the time the answer is for health reasons. We want to be healthier. But let’s look deep. Deep, deep down, the answer is probably vanity. We don’t want to look like a fat slob. We are tired of shopping in the big girl section. The old lady clothes are starting to look appealing. Yuck! So we decide to get it off the couch and start moving.

There is nothing wrong with this train of thought, to a point. When you start desiring to look good for anyone other than your spouse, you have problems.

You need to examine your motives behind exercise. Me, I want to look good for my husband and feel better about myself. I would also like for my clothes to fit a little better. I’m fairly healthy, but everyone could use some improvement in this area.

But let’s look at all this from a spiritual standpoint. Now, I know what you are thinking, “What does exercise have to do with my spiritual life?” When you look in the mirror, do you know what you are looking at? That, dear princess, would be the “temple of the Holy Ghost”! Yowza! How’s that temple doing? Is it in disrepair? Does it function properly? Can it do everything that its Creator is asking it to do?

Today, I just want to encourage you to look at your body. See if there is room for improvement. Ask God to show you where and how you need to change things. Maybe you need to lay off the sugar or wheat for a while. Maybe you need to start walking around the block every night after dinner. Maybe you need to join a gym. Or maybe all things are a go. Then, dear princess, get out there and do it! It doesn’t matter if you are 9 or 99, God has a purpose and reason that you are breathing today. It is your responsibility to go out there, figure it out and do it.

A bit of enourgement

1 Peter 5:10 – “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (NIV)

Note: I have been using KJV lately but always read NIV along with it. When I did the research on this verse, I noticed that the NIV was closer to the original language of the verse than KJV. This is not always the case. I encourage all readers to look up all the verses. Never take anything anyone says about Scripture without confirming it yourself through prayer.

Now, onto the verse.

When I read this verse the other day, the first thing that caught my eye was the last four items. Items of encouragement after a dismal reminder that we would suffer. No body wants to suffer. No one wants to face hard times. Unfortunately, that is just the way that things are. No one’s life is a bed of roses (which, why do we say that when roses have thorns?).

Let’s get onto the encouraging stuff:
Restore you – In the KJV, the word used is “perfect”. Both words are correct. The original word means “to complete thoroughly, i.e. to repair or adjust, mend, (make) perfect, prepare, restore”. So what does that tell us? Suffering can break you. Duh? How many bodies have we seen broken by suffering? How many lives torn apart? Need I go on? But Christ is in the restoration business. He is ready and willing to put us back together. Makes me think of the movie “Toy Story” when Woody is repaired after Andy broke him. God does the same thing for us.
Make you strong – In the KJV, the word used is “stablish”. In the original language, the word used is “confirm”. They are all right. The original word means “to set fast, i.e. to turn resolutely in a certain direction, or to confirm, fix, (e-) stablish, steadfastly set, strengthen”. When we falter or sin, Jesus provides us with the opportunity to turn around away from our sin by confessing them to Him. He gives us the strength to walk away from that sin and keep us away from that sin. Sometimes in our life, our suffering comes from unconfessed sin, not always, but sometimes. Jesus has the desire to pick us up and turn us around steadfastly in the other direction. We just have to ask for His help.
(Make you) Firm – In the KJV, “strengthen”. The original word means “to strengthen, i.e. confirm (in spiritual knowledge and power)”. Jesus will use this opportunity of suffering to build up or strengthen your spiritual knowledge and power. He will use this opportunity to make your choice in Him more firm. Either way, princess, suffering is a time for growth. We just don’t see it at the time.
(Make you) Steadfast – In the KJV, “settle you”. The original word was translated “establish you”. The original word means “to lay a basis for, i.e. erect or consolidate, (lay the) foundation, ground, settle”. Jesus will use this opportunity of suffering to expand and further your knowledge base. This firming of your foundation will calm you down and give you greater assurance that He is in control. You will have greater security.

All of these things happen in one way, and one way only – through Him. You cannot receive this assistance on your own. You cannot get this help from someone around you. Your therapist cannot provide this level of comfort. This verse clearly states that He Himself will provide this comfort in your suffering. The original language is clear here. The word used is a reflective pronoun. That seals it. That settles it. It’s kind like this, you know when you get frustrated that something has not gotten done and you find yourself saying, “I, myself, will make sure that it gets done.” That means that it WILL get done, right? That is the language used here. Jesus WILL get this done. No questions asked.

Today, princess, I just wanted to share a bit of encouragement that might help you get through a rough time in your life. We all have them. I know that there is a lot of language stuff in this post, but sometimes we need to know what is going on behind the words to get the real meaning. I would encourage you to check this information out for yourself. Study this verse and apply it’s meaning to your life to grow. We all need to grow. We should never stop growing spiritually.

The Armor and the Sword

Ephesians 6:17b – “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”

Swords are really neat to look at. My husband collected swords for a while. He had long swords, short swords, practical swords, all kinds of swords. Swords come in all shapes and sizes. They have different purposes. They have special meanings. They are made of different materials. But the one thing that all swords have in common is their main purpose: to cut something, to make something come apart.

In all the verses relating to the armor of God, this is the only weapon we are told to bear. Of course, there were no guns at this time but their were daggers that could be concealed that one could carry. But no, we are told to a bear the sword of the Spirit. And Paul leaves no room for doubt as to what that sword really is – the word of God.

The word of God as a sword has been used before in Scripture.
Hebrews 4:12 – “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Yowza! That is quite the sword! Not only does the word of God have the ability to cut out sin in our life, but it also has the ability to rip through the body, even to the point of determining your very thoughts and intents of your heart. That means, the word of God has the ability to help you determine if what you are doing is being done for God’s honor and glory or your own. And this is the very same sword Paul is encouraging us to carry with us into spiritual battle. This is a serious sword. It can do some major damage.
Revelation 1:16 – “And he had in his right had seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.” Here, John is giving a description of Jesus. Read a few verses before to get the full effect. But it is powerful. Here, we see Jesus with the sword coming out of his mouth. Crazy mental image, right? But when you think about this verse linked with the verse above, that is His words. They are powerful. I don’t think that we really understand the power of Jesus and the power of His words.

The Spirit is God living in us. It is us allowing God to lead us and guide us and empower us. This power is in the sword. And the sword comes from His word. And the only way we can engage this power is to know how to use it. And the only way we can know how to use it is to faithfully read it, to learn it, to ingest it, to apply it. You can’t pick up a sword and expect to win a battle if you have never been trained on how to use it. You can’t expect to be able to stand against the wiles of the devil if you don’t know how to handle your sword. Practice, practice, practice!

Let me encourage you today, princess, to pick up your sword. Feel the weight of it in your hand. Carry it with you and learn its burden. O, the burden is light (Matthew 11:30) if you carry it with the right attitude. But bear it nonetheless. Ask the Giver of the sword to show you how to use it, when to use it and when to stand. Times are a changing, princess, and you have to be ready.

The Armor – Power of His might

Ephesians 6:10 – “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.”

I want to do a series on the armor of God. I think that as a princess, we need to know how to arm ourself and where to find our protection.

So the first thing I want to encourage you with is this – don’t get hung up on the “brethren” thing. When the Bible was written, it was customary to write it in the masculine form. That does not mean that the Bible does not apply to His princesses as well. It just means you have to put “sister” in there at times. And that doesn’t change the meaning, unless of course, in the context of the subject He is speaking to men. Just be careful and pay attention to what is being said.

Moving on.

“Be strong” – There has been a recent campaign by the sports world to “live strong”. We need strength for all kinds of things – picking up kids, bringing in cat litter, yanking out trees, etc. But the kind of strength being referred to here is identified in the next phrase.

“In the Lord” – If there is one thing to say on this subject matter, it is this – you may be able to lift a truck. But if you don’t have Jesus in your corner, that truck will crush you. Physical strength is important for health. But spiritual strength is important for life. True strength can only be found in Jesus and His power.

“In the power of his might” – Believing in Jesus for salvation is the most important step. And then, the fun begins – living your life with Him. In everything you do, in every step that you take, in every decision you are faced with, you go at it with the One who can move mountains. Just think on that for a moment. Mt. Everest is an ant hill to Him! The Rocky Mountains are nothing more than rocks stacked in a row. He can move these mighty mountains! Just think of what He can do in your life!

So as we begin this journey on checking out the armor of God, let’s begin by realizing the coolest thing – I have the power of the Mountain Mover on my side. “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” – Romans 8:31