Grab a cup of coffee, it's going to be a while... 

You see, there is a battle going on that we cannot see.  It's a battle for your JOY.  It's a battle for your sanity...  A battle for your time...  

It's a battle for your life...  For the life God wants for YOU.  

Ephesians 6:12 "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic power over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places."

I touched on this a bit last post, but it's something I've been thinking about for a while now and the Lord has been showing me things I never thought about before!

How hard is it to see people we love, people we are praying for (and let's not forget to put ourselves in this category too) make the wrong choices and go down the wrong path?  Aren't we always so quick to get upset with them, get ticked off at them, or "write off" those people? Or if it's our own battles, we get so down on ourselves we wallow in self pity or shame?  

But I wonder... is it more of a battle in the spiritual realm that is taking place?

1 Peter 5:8 "Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your advisory the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."

We know the enemy wants to attack and destroy those that love the Lord and are called according to His purposes.  And we know the devil will use ANY means to get us off the path the Lord wants us on.  So isn't it true that when our minds are on our sinful nature,  we are hostile to God and it leads to the wrong path or opens us up to the wrong things?  I know that's not what we want for us, or the people we care about!  But we may think we/they want the things of the world, the things of the flesh... for a time.   "It's just the way the world is these days.  It's not that big of a deal, I'll be fine..." 

What are we to do?  How are we supposed to fight this battle?  How are we supposed to show love... to show grace? When all we want to do is be angry and STOP praying.  Or stop thinking it's worth it.  Or doubt we heard from the Lord and give up on those dreams or plans... 

Ephesians 6:13 "Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm."

I love the book of Ephesians.  Boy I tell you lately, I have been learning so much from Ephesians and each devotional or book  I am currently reading has brought me back to some verse in that book.  Speaking of which, the current books of the day for me are "Fervent" by Priscilla Shirer and "Praying Circles around the Lives of Your Children" by Mark Batterson.  Those two books (with the Word of God) are like my armor right now.  And what I have learned through all this is powerful stuff.  I pray the Lord uses me to share what He is teaching me step, by baby step...

Here's an excerpt from Fervent:

"If I were your enemy, I'd disguise myself and manipulate your perspective so that you'd focus on the wrong culprit - your husband, your friend, your hurt, your ... ANYTHING or ANYONE except me.  Because when you zero in on the most convenient, obvious places to strike back against your problems, you get the impression you're fighting for something.  Even though all you're really doing is just... fighting.  For nothing."

Because guess what...   the people you're fighting with, the "flesh and blood", those aren't the places where your real struggles lie. The identity of your REAL enemy is clear...  But he sure doesn't want you to realize that!  The devil is sneaky.  

So the KEY?  It's FOCUS.  

James 4:7 "Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

In order to be victorious in this battle we have to open our eyes and FOCUS!  To focus on the REAL battle, to be aware of who is truly behind the stuff you are blaming on your circumstances, your husband, your boyfriend, your bad luck or even yourself.  I am not saying here that every time we stub a toe or something bad happens to us, it's the enemy trying to attack us.  But we must be AWARE.  We need to have a STRATEGY.

And we need to SUBMIT ourselves to God.  

I get it people... this isn't easy!  Yes, we all  "want what we want, what we want..."  It's not easy to give up what WE WANT!  What we wish for, dream about, desire, etc. etc... It's a daily struggle for most everyone, including me.  Especially me!  My girls know... I'll hear about their day or they'll tell me about something and I'll give them "advise" and be all ready to go to battle for them... (in the flesh mind you) and then an hour later I'll be convicted and come back and say "well, pray about it and give it to the Lord...." hahaha!   Why is it so hard to just START OUT submitting to the Lords will?  Probably because we don't have the armor of God in our hearts and minds, at all times... 

So what is our battle "armor" ?

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 " For though we walk in the flesh, we are not wagging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ."

There it is... The Whole Armor of God. 

Ephesians 6: 10-18.  "10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 13 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.14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.  17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere."

Let's break it down:

Truth -  It HAS to start here.  It's God's standard.  If this is an area you struggle with, get right with the Lord.  I know sometimes it's easier to tell a lie than to be truthful.  I get how easy it is to go down this slippery slope.  But truth NEEDS to be what we hold ourselves to, every day.

Righteousness -  This is right living.  By the Holy Spirit in our lives, we can live our lives pleasing to the Lord.

Peace - It's a characteristic of a believer who has a relationship with Jesus.  It's how we can live in harmony with others.  

Faith - Putting our beliefs to our life.  Where the rubber meets the road.

Salvation -  Our eternal security.  

The Word of God - It is relevant for today.  It is alive and working and God is still speaking to us through an old book that NEVER will get old!

Prayer - It's what ties it ALL together! As Priscilla says in Fervent... "It's the one weapon that ties this whole ensemble together, the one that activates and infuses our armor with the power of GOD HIMSELF."


Disclaimer:  I've never blogged to feel good about myself or to get followers... I've blogged my heart and I pray each time that the Lord would speak through me.  I know I don't have a blog most people even know about, or care that much about.  I'm not writing to make people feel good about themselves or to post cute photos.  Why I DO share on this blog is to tell you my truths, in my life, in as honest a way as possible. Hopefully, Lord willing, it will resonate with someone the Lord is bringing here to read this.  So here are my truths...  

I made that page above for a friend of Rebecca's a while ago.  It's what I feel the Lord's "life verse" is for this young man.  I'm still praying that prayer for him and will continue to pray that prayer for him, even when I may not want to... Because like I said in the beginning of this post, there is a battle going on.  We may not like it, we may not want it, we may not want to acknowledge it.  But, if we are a part of the body of Christ and we are called to show love and grace... we keep praying.  

So... one morning last week this was the bible verse I woke up to when I really didn't want to pray for him anymore...

Ephesians 6: 18 "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."  

Ok Lord... I get it.  Keep praying.  (Dang that bible verse app... lol ;)-

So I keep praying...about everything.

If you would have talked to me a few years ago, I would have told you I love the Lord with all my heart, soul and mind.  You talked to me 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 40 years ago... and I would have said the same thing.  I was blessed to grow up in the church, in a home with two parents who loved and adored the Lord and loved us.  I probably accepted Jesus into my heart when I was 2 or 3 years old.  But I wouldn't have known even 3 years ago... or 40 years ago, the level of LOVE that is possible for the Word of God or the level of DEPTH in my PRAYER LIFE that the Lord really wants us to go... until THIS YEAR!  

Fervent Prayer.  Praying Circles around God's promises... Having TRUE JOY.

It's been an AMAZING YEAR.  An awakening year!  I am beyond amazed at what the Lord is doing in and through my life.  But, (Yes, there is always a but...) I'm going to tell you something.  It's the "WHY" this subject has been so heavy on my heart lately...

Because WHEN we draw closer to the Lord,  WHEN we are at odds with the world, WHEN we honor God with our lives... THAT is WHEN the enemy gets mad!

Satan likes our "lukewarmness"

That is where he wants us... and that is where he had me for a long time.

Romans 8:5-8 "Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. 8 That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

It's the honest truth.  So do we want anxiety and strife and a life apart from the plan God wants for us?  Or do we want life and peace and a JOY that goes beyond our circumstances?

Last night at bible study the pastor had a quote that has stuck with me:

"I would rather bleed with acts of love, than to live without any scars."

That's a good one.  My daughter is one of the most selfless people I know.  She bleeds for others. Me... not so much.  But I know that's where the Lord is going to use her and is calling her...  And it's also where the enemy wants to attack her.  

I did this bible journaling page for her a while back.  Thank you LORD for these truths!  I changed the "He" to "She" in this bible journaling page, but it's obviously for everyone who holds fast to the Lord.  Thank you Jesus!

Psalm 91:14-16 "Because he/she holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.  When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.  With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation."

Here's an excerpt from Praying Circles around your children, which I highly recommend reading:

"The Bible wasn't meant to be read; it was meant to be PRAYED.  Reading is how you get through the Bible, but PRAYING is how you get the Bible THROUGH YOU."

That's powerful!  I never got that before, but now that makes so much sense to me! I've read the bible all my life.  But until the last few years did I fully understand this, and that's WHEN the bible became so FULL OF LIFE to me!  Until actually I started Bible Journaling and PRAYING over the Word of God and the pages I created in my Bible did I see this come to life for me.

So people, please get this:  the battle needs to be on our knees, in prayer! Because it's NOT OUR BATTLE.  It's the Lords... and HE WINS!!  AMEN TO THAT! 

2 Chronicles 20:15  "He said, “Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.

So this long blog post is all to say this:

Our Power is in PRAYER.  

It's pretty simple... In fact it's so simple that I think you may not take it seriously... Please do.

Here is a prayer strategy from the Fervent book:

P -  Praise.  We need to come to prayer with thanksgiving.  We have MUCH to be thankful for!

R - Repentance.  God wants our hearts.  We need to come to Him with a clean heart, a repentant heart, and trust His plan for our lives.  

A - Ask.  Make your requests known to Him.  Be specific.  He wants you to ask.  

Y - Yes.  He has the victory!  All the things we may not understand in our lives, He DOES work them out for good.  We CAN have JOY, even in the battle.  Because our JOY is in the Lord, (not in our circumstances)  Thank Him in advance.

We need to be on our knees and in the Word.  This is a way to communicate in prayer.  With each of these parts (P.R.A.Y.) in prayer, we have a strategy!   

With prayer and the Word of God we are equipped to stand against these attacks!  

To have victory, to have joy, to live the life the Lord wants us to live!  To help us with the enemy's attacks on us, we MUST make sure our minds are set on the Holy Spirit and the things of the Lord.  If we are praying in open communication with the Lord, we will be able to recognize a spiritual attack and ask God to remove us from the situation!

And we can be TRANSFORMED!

Romans 12: 1-2 "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

We can rejoice in the Lord, regardless of what may come our way.  Because in His presence is the fullness of Joy! In His fellowship is dancing and leaping it says.  I love that!  Who doesn't love to dance and move and have JOY?  It's a characteristic of the Holy Spirit in us.  Think about Paul in prison, writing Philippians and what JOY he was talking about... while in a terrible situation in PRISON! How could he do that? I doubt I'd be feeling so good in prison... But God is our source of JOY.  The more we are with Him, the more JOY we will have.  Did you get that?  The more we FOCUS on the Lord, the more we will have true joy.  The pastor talked about this "Fruit of the Spirit"  last night since we are going through each one, and I want to do a bible journaling page about this soon.  So I will share that when I do.  As most of you know I talked about the Fruits of the Spirit at my last Art & Faith retreat.  I think about this a lot...

Are our lives bearing fruit?  

Do other's see our joy?  

Does it show on our face?  

 

As our pastor asked us these questions last night, so I will ask you...

Think about these things and ask yourself these questions.  I encourage you to fight the battle.  It's SO worth the JOY you have when you are in a relationship with our Father!  Because His JOY will triumph and He will have the VICTORY! 

Luke 1:37 "For nothing is impossible with God."

And...

Ezekiel 36:26 says:

"And I will give you a new heart—I will give you new and right desires—and put a new spirit within you. I will take out your stony hearts of sin and give you new hearts of love."

 

Amen and Amen!

Hey... Don't forget my GIVEAWAY ends tomorrow!  So leave a comment on the blog post below to be entered... I will pick THREE WINNERS tomorrow!

Hugs to all,

Laura

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