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Our Protector

The backyard patio table had been inviting on such a fabulous spring day. As I bit into my sandwich, my eye lock shifted away from that of my lunch guest to the movement behind her. Slithering beneath the rocked wall in our near distance was a four foot long snake with shiny black scales and bright white bands. Its markings clearly defined it as a California Kingsnake. 

Fascinated by wild life, I quickly approached our visitor for a closer look and, of course, a photo opportunity. But, as I narrowed in on it, I received an unexpected hostile reaction from it. To my shock and dismay, it pulled back into a sort of coil and shook its tail like that of a Rattlesnake! 

This behavior is referred to as Batesian mimicry, which is when a harmless species evolves to imitate the warning signals of a harmful species, directed towards a predator. When Kingsnakes are threatened, they emit an unpleasant musk and shake their tails. Had there been leaf litter beneath its tail, it would have produced a buzzing sound that resembles that of a shaking Rattlesnakes tail.

The Kingsnake is immune to Rattlesnake venom and has the ability to overpower and eat snakes that are larger than themselves. This is highly unusual, as 90% of the time, predators are bigger than what they eat. Kingsnakes defy this with their unique way of hunting Rattlesnakes by first biting them behind their head and then rapidly coiling around their bodies one to three times. Because Kingsnakes kill Rattlesnakes, they are good snakes to have around. Kingsnakes know how to fight against predators that are big and deadly and win because they know how to defeat their enemy. What about us? How do we defeat the enemy of our soul?

In Ephesians 1:3, the apostle Paul gives an exhortation on the spiritual blessings and truths we have in Christ. He says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” It is important that we remember these truths, stand on them in faith, and apply them to our lives. They are:

Chosen Before the Foundation of the World (v.4)

Holy and blameless (v.4)  

In His Love (v4)

Predestined to Adoption (v.5)

Accepted in the Beloved (v.6)

Redeemed through His blood (v.7)

Forgiven of Sin. (v.7)

The Riches of His Grace Abound (v.7-8) 

Made Known the Mystery of His will. (v.9)

Obtained an Eternal Inheritance (v.11)

Heard the Word of Truth (v.13)

Sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise (v.13)

The Hope of His Calling (v.18)

The Riches of His Inheritance (v.18)

The Exceeding Greatness of His Power (v.19-20)

In addition to believing and standing in faith on the truth of these promises and blessings, in Ephesians 6:10-17 we are introduced to the armor of God. This is how a Christ follower is to protect themselves in spiritual battle.

“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.” 

The following is a list of God’s Armor and what it means. In my research I found different variations and interpretations. I decided to use the following commentary taken directly from Pastor Chuck Smith’s writings. These are his words and examples, not mine. 

Belt of Truth– Because the enemy is always coming with his lies. Jesus said that the devil is the father of all lies. And he tries to lie to you about God, about the nature of God, about the character of God, about the attitude of God towards you. He tries to lie to you about God’s attitude towards sin. “Oh, it really doesn’t matter. You can get by with it. God will judge you. God will forgive,” and so forth, and he presses the point of causing you to use the grace of God as a cloak for lasciviousness, deceiving yourself. The truth-it’s important that I be armed with the truth.

Breastplate of Righteousness– That commitment in my heart to do that which is right before God. I have got to have that as a commitment of my life. I want to do the right thing. Not to observe the situation and then determine which way I will balance. But just have that determination that I am going to live a right kind of life. Righteousness actually constitutes the right actions towards those around me. And unrighteousness is not doing the right thing toward my neighbor. Godliness is doing the right thing towards God, the right relationship with God. Ungodliness is the wrong relationship with God. There is ungodliness, my relationship with God, and unrighteousness, my relationship with man. Now he is talking here about righteousness. I have got to have that as a basic foundation, the breastplate of righteousness. I am going to do as best as God enables me the right thing. I want to live right.

Gospel of Peace– It is God’s desire that we live in peace with each other, and with Him. We live in a world that is filled with strife. We talk about marriage relationships, but how many homes are so filled with strife. The atmosphere is continually tense as we are failing to obey the scriptures in submitting one to another in love. But we are trying to dominate over each other; we are trying to rule over each other, and there is no love involved. We get to arguing over the most ridiculous things and we won’t give in. We won’t yield the point, we will press our point, get the last word in, leave a sour taste. And yet, as the scripture says, “That yielding will pacify great offenses.” How many times in a tense situation where there is just the drawn sword and the clash taking place can the whole issue be diffused by just one person saying, “I think you are right. It is stupid to go on arguing like that. You are probably right.” It just diffuses the whole thing. Suddenly the strife is gone. Why do we find that so hard to do? To admit to being wrong, or to admit to the other person possibly being right. Even when we know they are wrong. Help us, Lord

Shield of Faith– That faith and confidence in God is what is being talked about here. ”Wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” (Ephesians 6:16) Satan is constantly attacking us. My faith in God, God’s ability, God’s power, God’s working in me. I can stand against these attacks of the enemy.

Helmet of Salvation-Thank God I have been saved through Jesus Christ from that tyranny of a life mastered by the flesh. I have been saved in order that I might walk in fellowship with God through the Spirit.

Sword of the Spirit– The Word of God. God’s Word is a tremendous defense against sin. John said, “I write unto you young men, because you are strong, because you have overcome the wicked one, because His Word abides in you.” The power of God’s Word within my heart against sin, it is the greatest defense that I can have in this spiritual battle that I am in, having God’s Word hidden in my heart.

Thank you, Pastor Chuck, for that commentary. I am grateful we have the truth found in God’s Word, knowing we have promises to stand upon and a way to fight the enemy of our soul. We are abundantly blessed to have the knowledge of the armor of God.

The day that King snake found its way into my yard, I felt a bit vulnerable and threatened. My daughter often plays in that yard, and here was this huge snake right in her play area. But, as I prayed about the situation I was actually comforted and relieved, realizing the snake is a protector to us. It is a good one to have around! The fact that it hunts and kills deadly Rattlesnakes gave me a whole new peace and perspective on its presence.

We, too, can have a new perspective in our own lives. Knowing and understanding who we are in Christ makes all the difference. Realizing that our battles are spiritual in nature, standing on the promises of the Lord in faith, and using the full armor of God will protect the enemy of our soul from devouring us. All power is found in the King of Kings, our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one who saves us from our enemies. Through Christ we have the victory!

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God’s Got IT

Jumping and pulling and playfully barking, the pup pulled on the leash. She was excited and wanted to go play with the dog who was running freely across the green ball field. As I reigned her in, I thought about how we, too, often want to just run off, in pursuit of our own plans and ideas in spite of what is actually best for us.  

It came down to a battle of wills, as this pup was not being obedient. Bottom line, she saw what she wanted and sought to be in control of her circumstance. How often do we pull and tug and press-in for what we want? The will of a dog can be broken. But, what about us? God does not want us to have a broken spirit. Instead, He gives us freedom to make choices in life, be they good or bad for us. He gives us free will, unlike a master and his dog.

Holding back from what we desire is a challenge! Our flesh is really good at demanding what it wants, right… NOW. The power of our flesh can so overcome us that we are incapable of determining the consequence of a choice we are making in the moment. This is why it is so important that we bring everything before the Lord before making a decision. There are many choices to be made in life that demand our attention. We are to walk in obedience with the Lord by first bringing everything before Him. Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

I recently watched a survival reality TV show where the guy got so hungry he decided to kill the little critter that he had befriended. The squirrel had become his only source of companionship on the lonely and isolated tundra island. He had gained its trust, so it would hang out with him and keep him company. He would talk to it as if it were his friend. However, when his hunger overcame him one episode, he killed it and ate it to satisfy his ravenous appetite. The result was him falling to pieces, an emotional wreck. He was so overcome with guilt and misery for eating his only little buddy that he resigned. He quit the game in a puddle of remorse and tears, and went home utterly defeated. 

Psalm 56:8 tells of Christ’s empathy, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Sometimes I have to chuckle, thinking about my tower of bottles in heaven! But, it also makes me realize how much Jesus cares about my troubles, sorrow, and pain. He never misses a single tear I shed. He is always aware and always there. Nothing is hidden from the Lord. Psalm 32:8 tells us, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” He has purpose in our hurts and disappointments. Nothing happens to us that is a surprise to the Lord. Anything that happens in a believers life is approved and done with the watchful eye of our Heavenly Father. He never gives us more than we can handle. He only permits what will ultimately be best for us and also bring Him glory. 

So when we are hurting, frustrated, confused, or just don’t understand why we are going through something hard, it is important that we acknowledge who we are before God. We belong to Him. We are the clay that our Potter is molding into something much more beautiful than we can ever imagine. And, that can be a painful process. But, in spite of our discomfort, we are to embrace what He is doing in our life and rejoice in the Lord. We are to be giving God glory in our joyful moments along with times of sorrow, disappointment, and pain. The Scriptures tell us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

In spite of whatever hardship we are facing we still need to acknowledge the goodness of God in our lives by thanking Him for all the abundantly good things we have and are blessed with. Anything we have is a gift from the Lord. James 1:17 tells us, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” Many think that all they have is because of the hard work they have put in during their life to obtain it. Yes, but, ultimately, God is our Provider. He is the One who makes things happen for us and shines His face upon us, making a good way in life. 

Ever feel like you have exhausted all your resources in a situation? It’s like we try this and that, using our knowledge and logic, hoping it will solve or end a certain problem. It can be difficult when we don’t understand what we are to do in a particular situation we are dealing with, even though we are obediently waiting upon Him. We have sought the Lord on it, yet, we don’t see anything happening or feel the Lord telling us what to do. Try as we may, there can seem to be no end or answer in sight! The battle actually belongs to Jesus. To allow for that, we need to get before Him and give Him our problems. We must surrender to what God is wanting to do in our lives, to the will of the Lord.

If we are bringing our issues to the Lord in prayer, seeking Him for wisdom, guidance, and answers, He will work on our behalf. We can receive His perfect peace in the midst of the trials and challenges we face. Isaiah 26:3 tells us, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” And when we can’t change things and nothing seems to be working, we must continue to press-in to the Lord and wait upon Him for how he is moving in our lives. God is Sovereign. God is Just. God never changes. GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME. We are not in control of the situations in our life. God is. There is a point where we need to understand and accept this fact in order to keep our peace. Then, we must walk in faith.

This is a hard season to be in. BUT GOD. I like to look at it as if we have put in our request and know that the Lord is working on it, even though we cannot see any changes. It gives me hope knowing that He is taking care of things and I am not the one that needs to figure things out all on my own. Instead, my focus is to be on Him each day, not the problem, and be faithful in that day for what He asks of me, all the while waiting for His leading and prompting. There is peace in knowing and trusting that the Lord is in fact working all things out for our best good. Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Our life is not a game of chess where we strategically plan our moves until one day we are in check and BAM, life is perfect and it is all that we ever wanted. We have a winner! It just doesn’t work that way. Life is completely unpredictable. Ecclesiastes 10:14 reminds us, “No man knows what is to be.” 

Having a humble heart before the Lord is key if you want to walk in obedience with the Lord. Not our will, but His. We must trust Him with our life and that of those we love, knowing He loves us and wants the very best for us. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” We are here for a purpose. We need to be open to living out the plans the Lord has intended for us. If we are seeking the Lord and walking in obedience then we can be confident in Proverbs 16:9, which tells us, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” 

So no matter how hard life seems or how overwhelming a situation may be, we are to remember that God is in control and we just are not. No matter how much we so want an answer or understanding, or something to change, it truly is not our call, but the decision of our Maker who knows what we need and when we need it. His timing is always perfect.

Bottom line is, God’s got this. YES, HE HAS ALL OF IT. Whatever you are facing, just know if you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, then you are not dealing with IT alone. We are to lay it all down at the foot of the cross in an act of surrender. Not our will, but the will of God in our life. It is a daily surrender. We have to be able to walk in peace even when we are uncomfortable in our present situation. The apostle Paul said it well in Philippians 4:11-13, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” 

Even though that green ball field looks inviting, and we can be head strong, let’s not run off and try to take care of things in our own make-sense, selfish, I’m tired of waiting, disobedient kind of way! 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 tells us to, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” God has a plan and a purpose for each of us, despite the challenges and difficulties we are facing. We are to join Him by embracing all that He is doing, even when we don’t understand and feel uncomfortable. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” And so, we must be patient in faith and trust the Lord for what He is doing. “… What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived, the things God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 The Lord is Faithful, always. Trust in Him. His ways are BEST.

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed this post, please use the share buttons at the bottom of the page instead of doing a copy and paste. All rights reserved by copyright. Thank you. Blessings to you!