Watch your mouth

Weapons… words are powerful weapons for good or for bad. God’s word in your mouth is a VERY powerful weapon against the enemy of our souls.

Esther's Petition

WatchYourMouth“Na-na na-na Na-Na!” one of us siblings sing-songed to the other, laughing, skipping, sticking out his tongue.

Get the message? I won and you didn’t! Or, I got it and you didn’t! Or, I’m better than you are!

If my mama heard that, “Watch your mouth!” would be coming next. She didn’t put up with that kind of rude, disrespectful noise out of our mouths.

“Now say you’re sorry,” she would insist.

“Sorry” would be mumbled, head down, eyes looking up. Really sorry? No, not really, just sorry we got caught.

What difference did it make, we’d be thinking, if what we said was rude or ugly? Hurt his feelings? Made him feel bad? So what, he’d get over it. Wouldn’t he?

“We were just having fun,” we’d excuse ourselves. “Didn’t mean anything.”

“I don’t care,” Mama would emphasize, “don’t let me hear that kind of stuff come out of…

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Live-fire training

Esther's Petition

James 1:2 tells us to “count it all joy” when we experience various trials. Trials meaning what, exactly?

Think of it like this… live-fire training. The primary mission of the U. S. Army, according to the Army themselves, is “to fight and win our Nation’s wars…” Victory over our enemy.

Trials =  training. Tests are part of the training. The soldier’s appropriate response to a test is not to take the attacks lying down, but to make use of the arduous training he’s received to achieve success on the battlefield.

Live-fire training proved essential when United States troops came under heavy attack on Pacific island battlefields during WWII. As did hand-to-hand combat training, and weapons training, and physical fitness training. The enemy was determined to kill every US soldier, and yes, many died.

They died fighting for their fellow soldiers and for their country.

When they faced live fire, they…

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Armored, front and back

x-default“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”
— Joseph Heller, Catch-22

I’ve been thinking about armor lately. The apostle Paul told the Ephesians, “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.” (Eph. 6:13)

You don’t wear armor to play tennis. Or golf. Or lay around on the beach. Or just to work in an office, or push a vacuum, or cook dinner.

Ordinary people doing ordinary jobs don’t even own armor. A hunting rifle, maybe, a utility knife, maybe. But surely not armor.

It got me to thinking. Who does wear armor? Who even owns armor? Hmm. Soldiers. People who are trained to fight, who know what armor is for and how to use it. People who know there’s going to be a fight – not just a scuffle, but a serious fight. Up close and personal, with somebody out to hurt you. To kill you.

If you read through Paul’s epistles, you’ll see that he didn’t write the same things to everybody. He wrote to the Ephesians things that he didn’t tell anyone else. So, then, they don’t apply to anyone else, right?

Well, that would be nice, if it wasn’t for the fact that the devil doesn’t hate Ephesians only. In this fight, we all need this particular armor, whether on the tennis court, the golf course, in the office and in the kitchen. Every place can be and often is a battlefield in the spirit.

  • John 10:10 – Jesus: the thief comes to kill, steal and destroy; Jesus comes to give abundant life
  • I Cor. 10:4 – Paul: we have powerful weapons and a war to fight; they are spiritual, not physical
  • Eph. 4:27 – Paul: give no place to the devil
  • I Pet. 5:8 – Peter: the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone
  • James 4:7 – James: submit first to God, then resist the devil and he will flee

Here’s that whole passage from Ephesians:

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.

RomanBattleArmorStand 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.

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. (Eph. 6:10-18 NIV)

Paul, a Roman citizen, is describing a Roman soldier’s armor – notice, every piece is worn in a place where Jesus shed his blood, from head to hand to foot. Some sandals even had metal spikes in the soles.

RomanArmorBreastplateBackParticularly notice, the back of the breastplate was also armored.

Some people claim the armor is only on your front, so you’re supposed to only advance. That’s not true. Isaiah 58:8 says that the glory of the Lord will be our rear guard (rereward, rear-ward in KJV).

If sometimes it seems like the enemy comes at you from all sides, the Lord has provided protection from all sides.

An offensive weapon, a sword presupposes offensive actions by a soldier trained in wielding it. The fully equipped Roman soldier had two swords, a short one and a long one. The short sword was used for hand-to-hand fighting – this is the word used in most of the New Testament. A long sword or javelin was worn over the soldier’s right shoulder – this is the word used for Jesus’s two-edged sword in Revelation.

“Having done all to stand, stand…” it says in the King James Version. Done all… all what?

Having acknowledged the need for this armor, having acquired it, clothed yourself with it and trained in its use, stand up strong in it. That sounds like we’re defending something, doesn’t it? And we are.

Stand firm in the faith, Paul says in his letters. Faith is the devil’s most valuable target. If he can’t kill you outright, he’ll steal your health. If he can’t steal your health, he’ll destroy your reputation. Whatever he can do to nullify your faith, he’ll do.

Standing firm in your own faith is not all we do, of course. Spreading faith, advancing the kingdom of God is the Christian’s primary business. But if you’re so busy fighting off attacks in the mind, emotions, health, family, job, reputation, etc., you won’t share your testimony much. You won’t advance the kingdom much.

Reading the news from around the world, I realize just how much of a war is going on. How violent, how hate-filled, how horribly cruel – how evil – the attacks on Christians are. How much we need God’s full armor! Too many believers in this country assume it will never happen here.

Jesus, Jacob’s well, and the Samaritans

I’m re-reading the Gospel of John now; today read the passage about the Woman at the Well. So much to think about – including the fact that you can actually SEE Mt. Gerizim right close by where they were talking.

Esther's Petition

SamariaMapThe region of Samaria separates Judea in the south of Israel and Galilee in the north, occupied in Bible times by people of mixed races. Because of important differences in beliefs and heritage*** most Jews avoided traveling through Samaria if at all possible, and several main roads made this avoidance possible if not exactly convenient.

One was a major north/south trade route on the eastern side of the Jordan River; another ran along the Mediterranean Sea bypassing the western edge of Samaria. Although taking either road meant traveling many miles out of the way, that was the usual thing to do for most Jewish people.

Yet when he decided to go from Jerusalem back home to Galilee, Jesus had to go through Samaria, according to the Gospel of John chapter 4. Several reasons have been proposed, most having to do with the woman at the well. He certainly did have…

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Worship; definition?

Esther's Petition

It was a mid-week church service, sometime in the early 1980’s.

Who was preaching? I don’t remember. Who was leading the singing? I have no memory of that. Who was playing the pipe organ, the piano, the drums and guitars? I can’t recall that either. Who was present? A few relatives, a few friends, myself and many others whose names I didn’t know. I was only a visitor, not knowing what to expect.

What was happening? That I will never forget.

The main floor and the balcony of the sanctuary was filled that evening. The preliminaries had taken place – greetings, announcements, offering, followed by hymns and praise songs accompanied by enthusiastic clapping. The congregation had taken their seats. But then…

A complete hush fell over the congregation. The silence was so deep you could have heard a pin drop. Literally. It was as if a thick cloud had descended…

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Miracles in my life

Esther's Petition

Testimony, part four

Miracles in my life

(1) For a time in the early 1970’s my children and I attended Parkwood Presbyterian Church on the Pamplico Highway. The church had an Easter Sunrise Service one year and the weather was beautiful. Several dozen church members assembled outside on the church grounds as the sun came up, and suddenly Jesus stood there facing us, smiling, his arms outstretched. His figure was much taller than any of the people there and translucent, not quite transparent.

After a few minutes the figure faded away and he was gone. After the brief sunrise service we went inside for breakfast before the regular Sunday School classes and Worship service. At first I thought I was the only person who had seen the figure of Jesus, but later several people cautiously asked around, “Did you see anything – unusual – during the sunrise service?” and we…

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Guess Who Wins?

We probably need a reminder.

Esther's Petition

20 September 2021

Praying before going to sleep, I asked Father God, “What’s going on in the world now, Lord?” His answer was fairly long.

Two types of supernatural warfare are going on, he said. The enemy is stepping up his attempts to destroy God’s most precious creation, mankind.

As a multitude of images rolled through my inner vision, the Holy Spirit repeated at intervals, “Guess who wins?”

So what should we be doing about all this, I asked him? Jesus is your model, your example, he said. Ask Him what he wants prayed, pray that. Use your delegated authority: Ask Him what he wants commanded, declared and decreed; command, declare and decree that. If you aren’t sure, pray the Word until you are sure. Stay alert. Listen for His voice. Pray, command / decree / declare, praise, worship, and thank Him. Repeat.

The conversation continued… One type of spiritual…

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Empowerer of me

Esther's Petition

EagleSoaringPhil413“I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)  I memorized that verse many years ago when I was going through some tough times.

A divorced woman whose married friends had suddenly become “busy” all the time, a single parent with growing teenagers to raise, sometimes no car, always too many bills and never enough money to pay them with, sometimes I had a hard time keeping a positive, Christian, faith-filled attitude.

I would stand in the middle of my bedroom floor and repeat that verse with clenched fists and teeth, refusing to give in to depression, frustration, and anger toward the Lord.

Whispers of “Why me?” ran through my mind and heart. It was tempting to demand that out loud – “Yeah, God, why me?”

Occasionally I did say it aloud, but then would determinedly follow it with that verse. I’d say, “No matter what it…

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