Devotional

“Put on God’s Protective Equipment”

When Storm Clouds Gather Series, Devotional # 4

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.  (Ephesians 6: 10-11 NIV)

Of the storms we face, one I fear most is the fire storm, having evacuated in two fires in 2003 and 2007. It’s currently the peak of fire storm season and fires rage throughout California. The air hangs heavy with smoke in San Diego County from fires.

A firefighter wears a special firefighter uniform, often known as bunker gear. The jacket and trousers are fire proof. The rubber boots include steel toe coverings and a steel shank to protect the feet from sharp objects. Fire resistant gloves protect hands from broken glass and other objects. A self-contained breathing apparatus allows the firefighter to breath fresh air instead of toxic gases and smoke. The helmet is made of a hard plastic to protect the head from falling debris. This personal protective gear allows the firefighter to stand against the flames and fight the fires.

A firefighter wouldn’t think of going into a fire storm without protective gear. We need to put on the full armor of God to stand against the devil’s flaming arrows.

The Apostle Paul warned Christ’s followers to put on protective gear so we can stand against the devil’s schemes and the enemy’s flaming arrows. That difficult ex-spouse or co-worker or may seem like the enemy, and our child who has forsaken our values and beliefs certainly causes us pain, but behind all of our struggles there is a far more sinister force. 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. The devil would like nothing better than for us to fight against one another. (Ephesians 6:10-20)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.  How can we do that? Put on the full armor of God. To put on something is a conscious decision and an action.

Paul likened the full armor of God to the Roman guard’s armor. Put on the belt of truth. Put on the breastplate of righteousness. Have your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

The helmet of salvation is another vital piece of armor. Without a helmet, warriors and firefighters alike can have a fatal blow to the head. It is fatal if we do not have salvation. I pray you do have that saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18 NIV)

How can we know we have salvation? Romans 10:9-10 tells us,

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

Paul tells us to take the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Doubt, fear, anger, and bitterness have all been part of the enemy’s arsenal against me. Like flaming arrows, they don’t just injure, but burn long after they hit. You can probably think of arrows that have hit you. Oh, that we would be faster to counter them with the shield of faith!

Two offensive weapons are part of the protective equipment we need: the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and prayer on all occasions for all of the Lord’s people.

Let’s put on the full armor of God.

Dear Lord Jesus, Thank you for dying on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin. Thank you for the victory over sin and death through Your resurrection. I pray for each of us, that we may have that saving relationship with You. Please help me to put on my spiritual armor, and to stand against the enemy in Your mighty power and not on our own. Amen.

Devotional

“Prepare for Storms: Eliminate Leaks”

When Storm Clouds Gather  series devotional #3

By Kathryn Hughes

…clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for “God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.      (I Peter 5:5-7 NASB)

Leaks in our spiritual life are dangerous. Just as a leak in a boat can cause it to sink, leaks in our spiritual life will cause us damage. A leak may be sin in our life. It can be pride, or anything else that keeps us from following God wholeheartedly. One of my struggles is handling things on my own instead of giving them to God. I’ll make plans without even consulting Him, and then try to make my plans succeed. For instance, I realized part way in my planning of this devotional series that I was planning out what to say before asking the Lord what He wanted me to share. After I stopped to ask Him what to write, He sent me back to my Bible and computer-+.  Me, handle something better than God? That’s my foolish pride.

The Apostle Peter learned his lesson about pride. Jesus told His disciples on the night He was betrayed that they would all be made to stumble because of Him, but Peter was adamant that even if all the others stumbled, he would not. Even after Jesus told Peter he would deny Jesus three times, Peter said, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” (Mark 14:27-31 NKJV) Peter was relying on himself. To his great sorrow, he learned that his pride and confidence were not enough.

Sometimes the leak in our boat may be fear, or a lack of faith. Matthew 14:22-33 describes Jesus walking across the water through the wave-tossed sea. The disciples saw Him from the boat and were afraid, but Jesus told them, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” At that, Peter said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” Jesus told him to come, and Peter did. He walked on the water. What faith!

But Peter’s faith sprung a leak; seeing the wind, he became frightened and began to sink. Peter cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus cared for Peter. He caught him by the hand and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

I can almost hear Jesus say the same thing to me. Can you? Why do we doubt? Why do we have little faith, when we have such a faithful God? Why do we allow sin to get in the way of our relationship with Him?

May we learn the lessons that Peter learned and shares with us. Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.  

Let’s plug our leaks before we sink. Let’s humble ourselves and really look at who we are and Who God is. May we carefully examine our motives, thoughts, and pride, and then confess our sin to the Lord. What fears and leaks in our faith need to be brought before Jesus? Let’s cast them on Jesus, for He cares for us.

Dear Lord Jesus, I confess my sin of pride. Please forgive me for doing things my way. Help me trust You and to hold on to faith when the waves are high. In Jesus’ powerful name, I pray. Amen.

Lighthouse in the storm image by mollyroselee from Pixabay https://pixabay.com/users/mollyroselee-9214707/

Boat in storm Photo by Myriam Zilles on Pixabay https://pixabay.com/users/myriams-fotos-1627417/

Devotional

“Don’t Worry – The Gift of Peace”

When Storm Clouds Gather devotional series #2

By Kathryn Hughes

“Therefore, do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?”…For your Heavenly Father knows that you need these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:31, 32b, 33 NKJV)

“In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, what circumstances will I face when school resumes on campus?” That’s a question I’ve asked myself a lot lately. I love teaching gardening and library, and as a teacher’s aide I’m also on the playground. However, the concern of bringing home illness stifles my usual excitement for a new school year.

My Heavenly Father knows my anxieties. Even better, He knows what I need (Matthew 6:25-34). He knows my future down to the smallest detail.

So why do I allow myself to fret? I can’t change my circumstances. But I can change my focus from my situation to focus on God, His salvation, His character, His love for me, and His promises. I must choose to do so, for fear is all too consuming of my energy and peace.

Worry is also disobedience, for Jesus Christ said, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life…” (Matthew 6:25 emphasis mine) Worry is not trusting God; it is in effect saying we know better than God, or that we don’t believe He can handle our problems. He doesn’t want us stressed or anxious. He wants to give us peace. Jesus tells us, I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. (John 14:27 NLT)

Photo by Ralph W. lambrecht on Pexels.com

It’s time I replaced my apprehensions with something better. Maybe you need to get out of the anxious whirlwind, too. Jesus gives us the antidote. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

Let’s seek God in prayer. Let’s confess our sins, and give that worry list to Jesus. One method is to write down those areas where we have been disobedient to God’s instructions or we are sinking in those negative attitudes. Then, after bringing them to God for forgiveness, cross them out by writing “paid in full” repeatedly until the offense is no longer visible.

We can replace negative thoughts and attitudes with peaceful ones. We can write down verses that address what makes us fearful, or what we are struggling with that keeps us from resting in His peace. A concordance helps in finding verses that relate to a specific topic or word or phrase.  Find a verse that encourages your heart to focus more on God and then place that card in a prominent spot where you will see it.  Read it, over and over, until His truth starts to replace the worry, behavior, attitude, or fear with His calm, resting peace

Shall we worry? No. Our Heavenly Father cares for us.

Dear Heavenly Father, Please forgive me. I have piled the cares of this world onto my back instead of trusting You to care for me. I confess this is sin. Your Son, Jesus, died to save me, so You certainly will not turn Your back on me. Please help me to seek You first, to look for Your kingdom and righteousness. Thank You for Your deep love for me. Amen.

Lighthouse in the storm image by mollyroselee from Pixabay

Devotional

When Storm Clouds Gather

By Kathryn Hughes

Being prepared for a storm can make the difference in surviving it. This includes non-weather related tempests that occur such as health storms, sinking financial losses, relationship squalls, and being spiritually adrift.

In stormy weather, authorities warn us to be alert, to have a safe place to evacuate, to let people know where we are, and to have an emergency box with things such as food, water, protective clothing, and flashlights. Hurricane preparation includes boarding up windows and bringing loose items indoors. In wildfire prone areas like California, clearing a fire safe zone is necessary. Many of these instructions can also be applied in dealing with the whirling winds of the storms of life.

Over the next few months I’ll share how we can get through life’s downpours with help from our Lord God.

Be Alert

 Be of sober [spirit,] be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in [your] faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. (I Peter 5:8,9 NASB)

Storms can come suddenly. Like a tsunami, life as we know it can be suddenly changed by a pandemic, a surprising disease diagnosis, or a relationship that ends. Other times we may have a warning. When a company files for bankruptcy and eventually terminates employment, it comes like an approaching hurricane.  The upcoming storm is known, but still brings damage. It helps us weather the storms when we are alert to what is going on, and we stay focused on Christ in the midst of a trial.

The Apostle Peter warned us to stay alert. Being aware helps us to see the devil’s traps. The devil would like nothing better than for us to get depressed and to turn away from our faith in God. If he can submerge us under a flood of despair and anger, it’s harder to stay focused on the blessings we have.

Resist him, firm in your faith. How can we do that? Regularly read God’s Word and commit Scripture to memory. Pray without ceasing. Ask God for help preparing for the storm.

Let’s gather our “emergency boxes” for life’s gales.

  • Write out Scripture and place it where it will be of encouragement. Let’s honestly evaluate areas of weakness that the enemy is prone to attack, and find verses that encourage us to be strong in that area. Use the verses to counter the enemy’s attacks like Jesus did when Satan attacked Him.
  • Tell trusted friends our prayer requests.
  •   Do whatever is helpful and needed to get through the situation. For example, go to appointments as needed. Keep connected with others, even if it is by phone.
  • Need a job? Get the resume ready. Network with others.
  • Gather information needed for that move, life style change, training, or other issues.

We are not alone in life’s storms. God Himself said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 NKJV)

Dear Heavenly Father,

 I’m grateful that when problems toss me around in a storm, that I don’t have to go through it alone. Thank You for Your promise to never leave me. Please help me to follow You and trust You when I can’t see where I’m going. Please help me to resist the devil and the temptation to fear. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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Devotional

Coming Soon!

When Storm Clouds Gather

This has certainly been an unusual and difficult year. I found myself struggling with the social unrest, and with all of the changes caused by COVOID-19 restrictions. Like many of you, I felt like my life at work and at home was swirling about in a storm. I found I need to cast my anchor in faith in my Sovereign God. Out of that was born my upcoming series, When Storm Clouds Gather.

When Storm Clouds Gather is a devotional series aimed at helping us survive the storms of life. On a biweekly basis there will either be a devotional or a short thought or Scripture. The first devotional, Be Alert, will post this Thursday, August 6th. I hope it will help you as it has helped me.

Please leave your comments. How has God helped you? Is there a verse that is meaningful to you? I’d love to hear from you!