Praise God for His faithfulness.
Praise Him for His invitation to take Him at His Word.
Praise the I AM that HE IS unfailing Love.
That is my call to arms this morning as I stand tall under the Banner of His Name preparing to march into another day. I did not begin my day with my head held high in His victory. No Girlfriend, this morning, my feet hit the floor with an attitude – a bad attitude. I didn’t look any different from the outside but on the inside – it was ugly. Worse than bedhead by a long shot. It wasn’t just my hair that was a tangled mess . . .my mind was too. And my eyes weren’t the only things fighting the light of a new day . . .that perfectly described my heart as well.
It’s taking me a while to get my feet back under me since Brett’s hospitalization this time. Things don’t seem to be falling back into any kind of routine the way they normally do and it has me feeling off. “Feeling off” is really a very pretty term for what has not been a very pretty process. The truest words I “spoke” last week were in a text to a friend . . .
“I need Jesus so much.”
And I know she prayed that I would find Him because I’ve found myself in the one place that He is most tangible to me – His Word. Specifically, the New Testament and that’s not my usual way—the New Testament I mean. I most often like to start in the Old Testament and let it lead me to the feet of Christ in the New, then let my mind wonder what the ultimate fulfillment will look like in Glory when faith becomes sight.
But this week I started with the Christ in me. . . . Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
I asked Him to fill me with the power of understanding . . .Ephesians 3:16-19
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
To bless me with a mind and a heart guarded by Him . . .Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
And to set my heart on things above . . .Colossians 3:1
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (The NLT says “set my sights on the spiritual realities” – I love that)
I went to the source of Life Powered by the Spirit – the General Electric Power Company*
– Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians—
It’s the manual for a life filled with His energy, fueled by His strength, and empowered by His Love.
And He did not disappoint me. His truth was there and it brought me much comfort and quieted my heart – but my spirit wouldn’t stay settled. It kept returning to the emotional turmoil in my mind and I kept surrendering to me instead of to the Spirit. I kept mulling things over until everything had become something. Every perceived or real hurt. Every circumstance beyond my control. Every anything that I could make something of, I did. And no matter what emotion it started out as it ended up at angry.
There’s a reason that the Psalmist says
“in your anger do not sin; when you are on your bed, search your hearts and be silent.” Psalm 4:4
When I lay down at night, I’m more apt to be looking over somebody else’s heart and thinking of all the things they ought to be discovering in their search! My mind is anything but silent and if you let that go unchecked it will take you down some bad roads that dead end at bitterness, unforgiveness, and an unmerciful, judgmental heart.
I think it’s the same warning Paul gives us in Ephesians . . .
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:26-27
The ESV and the NASB both warn against giving the devil an opportunity. If I wallow around in all of that the enemy will certainly use my choice not to immerse my mind in Christ against me. I’m certain of it. And my own flesh will jump right on that train too and help me remember every infraction that has ever pierced my heart. I have to be active in fighting that off or the devil won’t get just one opportunity – he’ll get an avalanche of opportunities. See I don’t just mull in bed at night. I mull in the shower. I mull when I’m driving. I mull and I mull and I mull. . . .if I let myself.
I’m praising God that in this instance I did not indulge myself as long as I have on past occasions. Not this time. This time I picked up my Bible, turned to the Power Manual and I dressed for combat . . .Ephesians 6:10-18
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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. 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. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
And Sister, I felt every-inch-of-me protected but I did not feel powerful, like I could pick up the Sword, the holy utterance of God, and really wield the thing. Something was missing. I flipped the pages backward in my Bible and prayed the Ephesians 1:17-19 prayer in Bunny paraphrase. . .
Lord, I’m asking that you would bless me with the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I may know you better. Up-close and personal Lord. First hand experiential knowledge Father. Please, open the eyes of my heart. Enlighten me so that I may know the hope to which you have called me and your incomparably great power for all who believe. Show me you Lord.
And I waited. There were no lightning bolts. Nothing to fill in that uneasy, “something is missing” empty spot. I read to the end of Ephesians again. Flipped through some Psalms and read a little in Isaiah with an expectant heart. All good passages, but that surge of the Spirit didn’t fall on any of them.
So I closed my Bible and went to choose a graphic to post as encouragement on the Glimpsed Glory facebook page for the day. This is the image I am absolutely certain God placed in my path:
The statement itself was powerful to me but not as powerful as what happened next. My eyes landed on the Scripture reference in the corner – 2 Chronicles 20. I opened up my Bible and I began to read. . .
The enemies of God have united to form a vast army and they are advancing toward His people. The king brings all of Judah together to seek help from the Lord and petition Him for His protection. And the Lord answers them . . . 2 Chronicles 20:15
He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.
And He tells them what their part will be . . . 2 Chronicles 20:17
Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
So what did the people of Judah do next? Did they question Him? How is this going to happen? What are you going to do? Did they ask for a battle plan? No. They believed God and they bowed with their faces to the ground and fell down in worship . . . 2 Chronicles 20:19
Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.
In a very loud voice. Not a teeth-clenched-jaw-locked “I praise you Lord in my circumstance” . . .oh no – a shout. I’m going to be so bold as to call it a battle cry. And the battle cry continued to ring out early the next morning when the king appointed men, not to wield the bow or spear– to wield the weapon of praise! . . . 2 Chronicles 20:21
After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever.”
The praise was at the head–leading the way! Not in the middle as it looked like the battle might go their way. Not at the end when they had secured a victory and seen the hand of God defeat their enemies. The praise preceded the battle! Read that again –
PRAISE PRECEDED THE BATTLE!
And as they began to sing and praise, the Lord wiped the enemy out. He gave His people so much plunder in the victory that it took three days for them to carry it all away.
There was my missing piece and my answer to the Ephesians 1:17 prayer for wisdom.
The wise know that they must seek the Lord for help, take up their positions and stand firm. The wise believe the promise of God to deliver them from every enemy . The wise trust God and they are not afraid or discouraged. The wise bow with their faces to the ground and then rise up to shout the praise of the One and Only in a very loud voice. The wise stand protected in the armor of God and give thanks that His love endures forever–even as the enemy advances. The wise shout the battle cry of PRAISE!
And the enemy of their hearts is defeated by the Lover of their souls.
Girlfriend, I will have – you will have—the power-filled life when we have the praise-filled life. One can’t exist without the other. That’s the spiritual reality we live in today—the General Electric Power Company uses the words “praise” and “thanks” over 20 times to confirm it. So raise your voice loud today Sweet Sister, hoist His banner high and proclaim that greater is He who is in you than He who is in the world. Let us take up our position in prayer, stand firm in His Love and let our praise precede our battle!
“Give thanks to the LORD,for his love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 20:21
(*Thanks for teaching me that acronym so many years ago Frannie. It’s stuck with me since those early days of faith and I’ve used it in almost every Bible study I’ve lead and every conference I’ve spoken at. Love to you Dear Friend.)