A Very Personal Walk through Ephesians – 37

Embracing God’s love for me

37. Armor of God, Part III

Ephesians 6:13-18. “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. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” (NLT) 

Continuing the principles related to using the armor of God:

6. Faith – Exercise faith when attacks come. This is probably the “weapon” I need most when fighting against negative thoughts. I have been trying to avoid the figurative language used by Paul to describe how we resist the devil’s strategies, but in this case, his metaphoric description brings the meaning home to me. Paul writes that I can “stop the fiery arrows of the devil” from hitting me when I hold up the shield of faith.  When I experience a negative, untrue thought, it feels very much as if I have been struck by a fiery dart or arrow. The most effective strategy I have found to fend off those thoughts is to repeat to myself that the thought is untrue, and that God loves me and is sovereign over all things that affect me. He has my back! I choose to place my faith in Him. I have to break the thought process that would naturally lead me to continue rehearsing the negative thought, by thinking truthful thoughts about God. I have found this “shield” to be very effective in “bouncing” the thoughts away from me. 

Exercising faith when attacks come takes some practice. Having an intentional plan is helpful. Ephesians 6:11 states that Satan has a strategy to harm us; therefore, I need to have my own strategy of dependence on God and use of His armor. In addition to the strategy above, I find that a physical response can be helpful; sometimes when an unwanted thought comes, I will say “no!” out loud (if I am alone).  Just vocalizing that rejection of the thought makes it easier for me to put the thought out of my mind. And then in my mind I think “I choose to trust / believe God, not this lie.”

There are other ways I can exercise faith. When we want to exercise our physical bodies, we look for hills to climb or weights to lift. To exercise my faith, I can look for opportunities to stretch my faith in prayer, believing God will hear and answer. I would like to keep better track of answered prayers; the more times I rehearse how God has demonstrated His power and faithfulness in answered prayer, the more my confidence and faith in Him will grow. Many times, God has answered my prayers and I haven’t recognized the answer or thanked Him for it. Perhaps I need to enlist another person to hold me accountable to grow my faith in this way. 

To think about: What is the most effective way for me to strengthen my faith?

Thank You, Father, for providing a way to protect myself from attacks from the evil one. Please help me grow stronger and quicker in my responses. Help me to recognize Your answers to prayer so that I can thank You, praise You in front of others, and build up our faith. Amen.

From the personal devotional notes of Peggy McKechnie, certified life coach and follower after God’s own heart.

Dear Reader, this series on walking through Ephesians will conclude on this Friday, June 25th. I hope these posts have been a blessing to you. Could you tell me in one sentence what your most helpful take-away was? Also, would you be interested in walking with me through a series of posts on another passage or book of the Bible? You can comment on this post or write me at ohnpcoach@gmail.com. I appreciate your input. Peggy

A Very Personal Walk through Ephesians – 29

Embracing God’s love for me

29. How can I figure out what pleases the Lord? 

Ephesians 5:10. “Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.” (NLT)

“…try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” (ESV)

“…test everything to see what’s pleasing to the Lord” (CEB)

When I read this passage this morning, my primary question was “How can I ‘carefully determine what pleases the Lord’ today?” Would He be pleased as He watches me doing my chores, going to work, interacting with people, checking off each item on my to-do list? The conclusion I came to was – yes and no. I think that my Father would be pleased that I was serving and loving other people. But I think He would also be sad that I let myself get stressed by having to rush to work; that I didn’t ask for His help when I had that problem at work that I could not solve; that I filled all my “alone” commuting time entertaining myself rather than spending any of that time listening to Him. These responses would not be terrible, but they would demonstrate that I was living unintentionally. Although I periodically examine my life to see that I am heading toward goals I think God has planned for me, I too often drift through my days without specific thought about what would please God that day. 

I recognize that in this passage Paul is instructing the readers to be careful to determine what pleases God in the context of the darkness surrounding them, with immoral sexual practices and temptations present. Those are not my primary temptations, but rather the comfortable pattern of being busy doing tasks without a deliberate purpose in view. There are days when checking off items on my to-do list is my highest priority. The things I am doing are good and many are necessary, but I want to live a higher goal than that.

The verses surrounding verse 10 expand on this topic. In verse 11 the “deeds of evil and darkness” are characterized as “worthless” or “unfruitful” (ESV). They are the opposite of deeds that are purposeful and valuable. Verses 15 through 17 encourage me to “be careful how [I] live,” “make the most of every opportunity,” and act thoughtfully.  There is no room here for drifting through life. I want to live purposefully, intentionally doing what I know is pleasing to God. 

For me, that starts with actively exercising faith by trusting God in each situation, each day. What does that look like?

  • Meeting with God during my morning quiet time, not just reading a passage in order to complete that task, but taking time to listen to what the Holy Spirit may be saying to me through the Bible and prayer.
  • Making time for undistracted prayer before I leave for work, not just counting on praying while I drive to work.
  • Asking God for help with each challenge, big or small, that arises during the day.
  • (And giving myself grace when I forget each of the above. My goal is to increase in these areas. I know it will be a gradual process.)

Father, please help me to be intentional in how I follow You. Remind me during this day to be purposeful in my thoughts and actions. Show me how my experiences throughout the day fit together to help me grow and to bring glory and pleasure to You. Amen

From the personal devotional notes of Peggy McKechnie, certified life coach and follower after God’s own heart. You are invited to contact Peggy through ChurchHealthMinistries.com.