Life is Busy

Amid all the college work, barn chores, and just general life I haven’t had much time to think let alone write! As much as I disliked doing it, I ended up diminishing the amount of livestock in the barnyard just so that I could keep up everything.

The busyness is a blessing in several ways: I’m learning a lot and I don’t have time to stew over things. Most single people around Valentines Day are in the dumps. I’m way too busy for that! I barely have time to do any hobbies, let alone be in a relationship!

But I have also found that the busier I get, the more I push God to the side. Bible study gets rushed through and prayer is skipped so that I can “get to school on time” or because “I just can’t seem to focus”. As I look at it though, I’m finding that my problem isn’t time management or focus. I can get to places on time and still get all the stuff I WANT to get done, done. My problem isn’t that I can’t focus. I can make myself focus on school when it needs to get done.

The bigger issue is that I have prioritized everything else above quiet time. As life got busier, I started cutting out and diminishing things I felt wasn’t important (like the ton of livestock I had in the barn). Unfortunately, I also cut into God’s time. And it took a while for me to realize it. I’ve missed out on so much wisdom, much more than I can ever learn on my own or through my teachers!

So as life gets busy, make sure to stop every once in a while and double check your priorities. Don’t be dismayed if you have slacked off like me. Even Jim Elliot struggled with “consistent thoughtlessness and careless neglect of prayer and Bible study” (The Journals of Jim Elliot, Feb 9, 1948). He was able to overcome and grow with Christ’s help and so can we! We just have to start with a quiet room and God’s listening ears. Life, in the mist of our busyness, can still be used by God. All we have to do is ask for another chance.

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Aughts Against Any

“Verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” Matthew 18:18.

For a long time I was puzzled..about what ‘loosing’ and ‘binding’ meant. Then I found out: it means that by hanging onto my judgement of another I can bind him to the very conditions I’d like to see changed. By our unforgiveness, we stand between the other person and the Holy Spirit’s work in convicting him and then helping him…Forgiveness means that I’m no longer binding a certain person on earth. It means withholding judgement…
A couple of years ago I was going through one of those prayers-no-getting-beyond-the-ceiling periods and I prayed ‘Lord, I don’t have enough faith. Give me the gift of faith.’
‘It isn’t your faith,’ the reply came ‘I can see faith even if it is as small as a mustard seed. No, It’s something else. When you stand praying – forgive if you have aught against any. That’s your trouble. That’s why your prayers aren’t answered. You go about with a lot of aughts against a lot of anys.’

–David DuPlessis
Quoted in the book Something More by Cathrine Marshall.

Faith in James

James is known as the book about faith. It is also my favorite New Testament book. A couple of days ago, while reading various verses, I decided to find each time the word ‘faith’ was used.

Tested faith produces cheerful endurance. James 1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

Wisdom is given when asked for with non-doubting faith. James 1:5-6a  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and unbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. Notice that these verses are placed right in the middle of a discussion about trials. We must have God’s wisdom to get through the valleys of this world.

We should not show favoritism in people while having faith in Jesus Christ. James 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. The following verses give the example of favoritism biased on the way a person is dress or how much money they have. There is an old saying that goes something like this: “You only love Jesus as much as the person you love the least.” If we do show favoritisim, we are not loving our neighbor as our self (James 2:8), but we “commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors” (James 2:9).

Just because a person says he believes (has faith) that God is there does not mean he is saved.James 2:14, 19 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?…Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. Remember Matthew 7:21-27? Jesus is talking about the true way into the kingdom and He tells the parable of the two builders. Look it up; especially verses 21-23.

Faith without works is dead. James 2:17,20,26 Even so faith, if it hath not works is dead, being alone…But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works in dead?…For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Faith is proven by her works. James 2:18,24 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without they works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works…Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. We know Abraham had faith because of what he did. James 2:22 Seest thou how faith wroght with [Abraham’s] works, and by works was faith made perfect? “For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh” (Matt 12:34b).

Faith filled prayer can heals and protects; with the prayer of faith, our sins our forgiven. James 5:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sin, they shall be forgiven.

Sweet Savor

How many Christians remember that our prayers are a sweet savor to the LORD? Throughout the Old Testament, the ofers of incence were a picture of our prayers. God delights in hearing us pray! In Revelation 4:10-11, the twenty-four elders around The Throne were there to worship God. The Lamb enters in chapter 5 and is the only one worthy to open the book with seven seals (vrs 1-7). As soon as He does,  the twenty-four elders fall down before Him and worship him with harps and “golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints” (vr 8). Our prayers are so enjoyed by God that they are placed in golden bowls and used in the worship of Him! How much incence are you sending to heaven today? If prayers could be measured by weight, how much are you giving? A pound… an ounce…or nothing at all?

The Armor of God: The Shield of Faith

Unlike the circular shields we think of today, some Roman soldiers had long rectangular-shaped shields. Theses shields were large enough to hide behind when the enemy sent a shower of arrows. Sometimes, a group of soldiers would gather together and form a testudo formation. This formation would protect the soldiers from all sides, especially when the enemy sent arrows tipped with fire.

We receive faith from reading and hearing the Bible. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). James writes a whole book on faith and the writer of Hebrews devotes a chapter to it.

When Paul says to take the Shield of Faith “above all” (or “first and foremost”) there is a reason. We need to have faith because faith is what will win the battle! “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4). When we have forgiveness from Christ and fully trust in him no matter what it sounds and looks like around us, we are protected from the rapid, dangerous attacks from Satan.

 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. (Ephesians 6:16)

The Armor of God: The Shoes of Peace

Many of the terrains the Roman solider traveled were rough. It would have been very difficult for him to remain standing had it not been for the spikes in his shoes. His shoes protected his feet from the sharp sticks and traps the enemy would set out to try to keep the army from marching forward.

The Greek word for “preparation” gives the impression of readiness and eagerness. Matthew Henry wrote about this passage and said:

The preparation of the gospel of peace signifies a prepared and resolved frame of heart, to adhere to the gospel and abide by it, which will enable us to walk with a steady pace in the way of religion, notwithstanding the difficulties and dangers that may be in it. It is styled the gospel of peace because it brings all sorts of peace, peace with God, with ourselves, and with one another.”

The definitions of “peace” include “to be, become, or keep silent or quiet,” “a state of tranquility or quiet,” and “freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.”

We receive peace from Christ.

  • Isaiah was speaking of Christ in Isaiah 53:7 when he said, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”
  • “But not in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace…and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh” (Ephesians 2: 13-14, 17).
  • “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David…to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:68-67, 79).
  • “PeaceI leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let is be afraid” (John 14:27).
  • And so many times Paul speaks of “the peace of God,” the “King of peace,” and “the Lord of peace.” (Romans 1:7; Philippians 4:7; Colossians 3:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:16; Hebrews 7:2;

            The devil brings chaos, strife, and restlessness.

  • “There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked” (Isaiah 48:22).
  • “But the wicked are life the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is not peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isaiah 57:20-21).
  • Destruction cometh; and they shall seek peace, and there shall be none” (Ezekiel 7:25).
  • “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear…The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace” (Isaiah 59:2, 8). Because the wicked do not know peace, it is very important we bring them the gospel of peace.

A strong threat to Satan’s power is when we are at peace with God. God’s peace gives us the ability to not be frightened and upset when trials and tribulations come. Satan loves to make us restless. In the end of day, he will use this restlessness he has created to raise up the anti-chirst (Revelation 13:1). Do we want to let the devil use us to work against God?

…and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:15)

The Armor of God: The Breastplate of Righteousness

            After tying his belt into place, the Roman solider settled his breastplate on his chest. He took the leather strings hanging from the breastplate and used them to tie the new armor piece to his belt. The belt had to be on before the breastplate. The breastplate protected the man’s heart and lungs.

            Only after the belt of truth is put on can the Christian tie on the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate of righteousness protects our hearts. The Greek word used here for “righteousness” means “justification” which comes from another Greek word that implies innocence and holiness. I looked up what, exactly, “righteousness” meant and I found one of its definitions is “the act, process, or state of being justified by God.” We are justified by God because of what Christ has done for us.

We cannot be righteous by ourselves, only when we are standing with Christ can we be righteous. In 2 Corinthians 5: 21 Paul states, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” When we choose to walk with Christ each day, we are choosing to walk in his righteousness. We find in Ephesians 4: 24 that we should “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

The opposite of righteousness is unrighteousness. Unrighteousness is sin and when there is sin in our lives, Satan has a foothold. Just as a Roman solider is much more vulnerable for defeat without protection of his vitals organs, Christians are exposed without the protections of Christ’s innocence and holiness.

            Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness… (Ephesians 6:14)