Thoroughly Equipped: More Than Conquerors

Today’s reading includes Isaiah 1:1-2:22, 2 Corinthians 10:1-18, Psalm 52:1-9, Proverbs 22:26-27.  I am so excited about moving into the book of Isaiah.  It is one of my most favorite of the whole Bible.  There are many prophesies found in the book of Isaiah regarding the coming Messiah, and all of them were fulfilled in Jesus.  But before we dive into the book of the prophet Isaiah, let’s look back at the very first prophesy of the coming Messiah.  Remember, it is found all the way back in the book of Genesis.

 

So the Lord God said to the serpent [Satan, who had tricked Eve], ‘Because you have done this, ‘Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals!  You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.  [Here comes the first prophesy!]  And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he [Eve’s future offspring, Jesus!] will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.’”                                            

                                                                      (Genesis 3: 14; author emphasis added)

You see, Jesus would use His anointed feet to spiritually stomp Satan’s headship, forever giving victory to all who believe!

 

Yesterday we talked about the “little foxes” that Satan sends into our spiritual vineyard to destroy our spiritual fruit.  I didn’t want to leave you hanging with the spiritual truth of the schemes of the devil, without equipping you with the spiritual truth of your authority in Christ over the schemes of the devil.  We are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us.  (Romans 8:37)  And scripture is filled with weapons of warfare at our beck and call.  Consider the following truths as you trust in Christ to stomp the head of the enemy of your soul.

We must know our enemy to defeat our enemy.  What do we learn in scripture about Satan?

  1. Once was an angel of light, but now the prince of darkness.

Therefore, he knows the language and the make-up of the life of a believer.  I know the language of being a teacher, even though I am no longer a classroom teacher.  Satan knows and he will use that knowledge against us.

 

14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”

                                                            2 Corinthians 11:14

 

How you have fallen from heaven,
    morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
    you who once laid low the nations!
13 You said in your heart,
    “I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
    above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
    on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.[b]
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
    I will make myself like the Most High.”
15 But you are brought down to the realm of the dead,
    to the depths of the pit.

Isaiah 14:12-15

 

  1. He believes in Jesus (and trembles). He may even recognize Jesus more readily than we do.  James 2:19 says,

“You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.”

  1. One day Satan WILL BOW to the name of Jesus. In fact, he must bow now, only we don’t usually understand that, and therefore don’t walk in the power we have.

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:9-11

  1. He hates the blood of Jesus and the word of our testimony.

11 They triumphed over him
    by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
    as to shrink from death.

Revelation 12:11

  1. We have authority because Jesus lives in us. All authority.

Mark 3:14-16 says,

14 He appointed twelve[a] that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 

  1. He knows scripture and will try to use it against us—only distortedly.

I use to love to watch Little House on the Prairie.  Do you remember that episode where Ma cut her leg and it got infected?  She was all alone, burning up with fever, reading her Bible.  She read the verse “if your right hand offends you cut it off…”  And so, in the episode, she took a sharp knife, determined to cut her leg.  Thankfully, they cut to a commercial instead!  Even as a child I knew that was scripture being distorted.  I wanted to scream at the television, “Don’t do it, Ma!  That’s not what it means!”  Satan will try to distort scripture.  That is why it is important to read the whole Bible, not just a few selected verses.  Satan even tried this trick on Jesus.

Matthew 4: 1-11 says,

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[b]

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[d]

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[e]

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

  1. We have been given tools to combat Satan. And we need to use them.

This may be the most important point.  And with it being the 7th, the number of completion, I will leave you with these final truths.  What are these tools?

  • Repentance
  • Praise
  • Surrender
  • Name of Jesus
  • Pleading the blood of Jesus
  • Word of our testimony
  • Speaking out/praying/ laying claim to God’s Word, the Sword of the Spirit
  • The armor of God
  • Believing in Him, who is He, and what He has done. Believing what He will do.

Blessings to you, my friends!  May we all be the conquerors that God designed us to be.


Thoroughly Equipped: Authority to Tread

Today’s reading is Song of Songs 5:1-8:14, 2 Corinthians 9:1-15, Psalm 51:1-19, Proverbs 22:24-25.

One verse from yesterday’s reading cannot be overlooked for it shouts great truth that will help us in our daily lives.

“Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming.”

                                                            Song of Songs 2:15

Let’s think about this in relation to a fruitful spiritual life.  If we are abiding in and growing in our relationship with Christ, we will bear spiritual fruit.  John 15:16 says, “16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.”  God chose us to become sons of God that we may bear fruit.  What is spiritual fruit?  The answer can be found at the very beginning of the Bible.

11 Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good.

                                                     Genesis 1:11-12

From the very beginning of time, God set up the natural and spiritual order of things.  In the natural, plants bear fruit with seed in it.  The seed in the fruit is used to reproduce itself.  And so the process reoccurs over and over.  In the same way, God established spiritual fruit bearing at the beginning of time.

28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it…

                                                Genesis 1:28

Yes, this, too, is a natural process, in that human beings were to produce more human beings; but it was also spiritual reproduction, because humans were the only creation which was made in the image of God.  We are the Image bearers, and as we bear and display the image of God, we produce spiritual fruit—fruit that will last for all eternity.  But a word of caution about our fruit-bearing ability is found in John 15.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He [a]prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already [b]clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit [c]of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither canyou unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so [d]prove to be My disciples.

                                                      John 15:1-8

We cannot bear spiritual fruit about from Christ.  We must stay connected to Him to bear spiritual fruit.  And the enemy of our soul does not want this to happen—which leads us back to the assigned reading today:

“Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming.”

                                                            Song of Songs 2:15

If you have traveled far with Jesus, you will know that just as we begin to bear fruit, the enemy tries to thwart our efforts or spoil our fruit.  Satan is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, but sometimes he masquerades as a little fox.  Sometimes our spiritual fruit is eaten up and spoiled by the little foxes which need to be caught and dispelled from our spiritual vineyard.

What are the little foxes in your life?  You know, those small irritations or inconveniences which thwart our fruitfulness?  Often there is a pattern which occurs over and over.  Satan is not very smart.  He often uses the same old tricks to derail us.  And we keep falling for it over and over because we don’t recognize it a “little fox in our vineyard”.

When do the little foxes most often come?  Satan knows our weakness.  He knows our fears, our scars, our unhealed traumas.  He knows what will really stop us in our tracks.  He knows when we are tired or bitter or when we have our guard down.

Why do the little foxes come?  The enemy sends the little foxes in our life so that we will be hindered in our command to be fruitful and multiply.  He cannot do anything about our salvation, for we are the children of God, bought with the price of the blood of Jesus, and sealed by the Holy Spirit.  But he can try to prevent us from reproducing the seed of faith in other people.

One thing about the little foxes, though.  We are bigger, we are stronger, and they are really more scared of us than we are of them.  We just need to catch them.  They are sly.  They are sneaky.  But once we recognize them, we can bind them up with the authority that Christ has given us.

No weapon forged against you will prevail,
    and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
    and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.

Isaiah 54:17

17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Matthew 28:17-18

19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.

Luke 10:19

Yep, and even authority over the little foxes in the vineyard.


Thoroughly Equipped: Rose of Sharon and Lily of the Valley

Today’s reading is Song of Songs 1:1-4:16, 2 Corinthians 8:16-24, Psalm 50:1-23, Proverbs 22:22-23.

Solomon, inspired by God, wrote this passage, and though we call it a “book” of the Bible, it is actually written as a song; and therefore it is often called Song of Solomon.  But according to 1 Kings 4:32, Solomon wrote many songs.

He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005.

                                                                                    1 Kings 4:32

Other translations refer to this book of the Bible as Song of Songs.  This title comes from the very first verse in the book:

The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.

                                                            Song of Solomon 1:1

The words of the first verse set the tone for what is to come.  These words are superlative words.  Given that Solomon wrote 1,005 other songs, this verse tells us that this is the best song of all of Solomon’s songs.  I have always referred to this book of the Bible as Song of Solomon, but the translation I am reading right now refers to it as Song of Songs, and I like that.  I like that it is Solomon’s best.  Study tells us that it was written early in his reign, probably around 965 BC.  As you remember, Solomon started out strong and finished weak.  Toward the end of his reign, his heart was divided.  He did not wholeheartedly follow God because his many wives turned him toward their false gods.  But when he wrote Song of Songs, his heart was purer, more devoted to the One true God.

As we begin the book of Song of Songs, there are a couple of ways we can look at these passages.  I read Song of Songs right before I got married.  In it, there were several passages that I could relate to, given the fact that “I found him whom my soul loves” (Song of Songs 3:4)  There are many wonderful human to human relational passages from which we can relate and learn.

Yes, there are many ways we can look at this book as a human love story.  But I believe it is greater than that.  It is the love story of our Savior with us.  He is our true love.  Only His love makes our earthly loves eternal.  Without His love, there is no eternal life and love cannot exist in eternal death.  Many scholars feel that it is a close representation of the love between Christ and His Bride, the church—all of us.

So, as you are reading through Song of Songs in the next couple of days, ask the Father to show you glimpses of the truth of the eternal love given to us by God the father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Today, one verse stood out to me with a reminder of Jesus, my greatest love.  The Beloved is described in this way:

“I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.”

                                                                             Song of Songs 2:1

In old hymns we often hear Jesus referred to as the Rose of Sharon, such as in this one by Ida Guirey and Charles Gabriel.

            Jesus, Rose of Sharon, bloom within my heart;

            Beauties of Thy truth and holiness impart,

            That where’er I go my life may shed abroad

            Fragrance of the knowledge of the love of God.

Why do we refer to Jesus as the Rose of Sharon?  Because of today’s passage in Song of Soloman, “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.” Actually, commentators disagree as to whether Jesus really referred to Himself with this term, or whether the term was intended to refer to us, the Bride, the Church.  However, for those who see Jesus symbolically as the Rose of Sharon, they are referring to the beauty of His presence, the sweetest of his mercy, and the fragrance of His love. The Rose of Sharon plant that was found along the roads in the Promise land was abundant and accessible.  The rose of Sharon bloomed in the Sharon valley along the ground.  This was not a flower found only in private gardens.  It was found in abundance and was accessible to all.  And so it is with Jesus, who offers us abundant life and is accessible to all who call upon His Name.  Just as a groom may bring roses to his bride to express his love, so Jesus has brought Himself to His Bride, the Church.

For those who see symbolically that the Rose of Sharon was referring to us, should not our lives be a sweet smelling sacrifice?

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?

                                                      2 Corinthians 2:14-16

William Wilberforce was a leader in the movement to abolish slave trade.  One of his tactics was to take influential people on “tours” of the slave ships.  Once they entered the ship they experienced the “smell of death.”  And the unpleasantness of this made them want to rid themselves of slavery.  My husband Mont says that we as Christians should appeal to the senses of non-Christians.  They should see our good works, they should hear our truth spoken in kindness, they should feel our love, they should “taste and see that the Lord is good” by our friendship, and they should smell the fragrance of Him upon us.  This fragrance should be that of life, causing them to want to break free from their own forms of slavery and end their smell of death.

As we think of roses, we may also think of thorns.  We find from Genesis 3:18 and Numbers 33:55 that in the Holy Land, the ground was cursed with prickly weeds, or thorns.  Often, we become aware of thorns along our path.  These may be “thorns of the flesh” like Paul described in 2Corinthians 12:7-9:

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Do you have thorns to deal with right now?  We all will at one point or another in our spiritual journeys.  These can be a constant source of irritation or temptation or pain. And as Paul discovered, when He asked for his “thorn” to be removed, God is enough.  His power is made perfect in our weak, thorny spots.

What are we supposed to do with these thorns?  Turn to Jesus.  He took the curse of thorns on Himself when he allowed the crown of thorns on His holy head.  And when the curse is gone, the healing can begin.

We may also find that those thorns are attached to roses.  I have heard it said:  I can complain that roses have thorns, or I can rejoice that thorn bushes have roses.

The latter part of that one verse in Song of Songs says that the Beloved (Jesus) is the lily of the valley.  We don’t often remember the lilies when we are in the deep, dark valleys of life.  But He who promised to never leave us nor forsake us is surely in the valley with us—guiding, helping, sometimes carrying us.  And He will provide lilies in the valley—sweet blessings to refresh us and strengthen us.  Most of all he will give us Himself, the ultimate Rose of Sharon and Lily of the Valley.  Praise Him today for His faithful love.


Thoroughly Equipped: Hast Thou No Scar?

Today’s reading is Ecclesiastes 7:1-9:18, 2 Corinthians 7:8-16, Psalm 48:1-14, Proverbs 22:17-19.

Well, friends, I skipped commenting on the whole book of Job.  Truth is, I don’t understand it myself.  I can’t answer the hard questions that story evokes.  Why did God allow this?  Job was a good man, a faithful man.  We must not miss the fact that Satan was the one inflicting Job with trials and tragedy, nor can we deny the fact that God allowed it.

The Lord said to Satan,[a] “Where have you come from?” Satan[b] answered the Lord, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” The Lord said to Satan,[c] “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil.” Then Satan[d] answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have you not put a fence around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 The Lord said to Satan,[e] “Very well, all that he has is in your power; only do not stretch out your hand against him!” So Satan[f] went out from the presence of the Lord.

 Job 1:7

The truth is, sometimes God allows the enemy to attack us.  But we must know that any trial, temptation, or tragedy is filtered through His eternal love.  Though our hardships feel like forever when we are going through their valleys, in the scheme of eternity, they are truly a blip on the screen.  It will not last forever, and that is truth.  And though He allows these difficulties in our lives, He will also deliver us from them, in His perfect time.  A verse in today’s assigned passage is a powerful way to look at the story of Job:

Anyone who is among the living has hope.

                                       Ecclesiastes 9:4 

And for the believer, death is truly does not exist.

“Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.                   57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

 

And yet, our time of tragedy and trial will leave scars.  I am sure Job had scars on his body and scars on his heart.  But Jesus, who is very familiar with scars, can adequately heal and use the remaining scar to glorify God.  Galatians 6:17 says:

“I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.”

The marks that Jesus had were scars of sacrifice.  Do we bear His marks, too?  We are called to take up our cross and follow him.  We are called to sacrifice.  But all things of value require sacrifice.  Sometimes following Jesus requires persecution.  In our part of the world, physical persecution is rare.  But painful persecution still exists here too, often in the form of exclusion or lack of understanding.  Following Jesus will cost you– often painfully so.  Your spiritual feet may become weary, swollen, bruised.  If you have followed for a long time, you will most likely have scars, as you endure this imperfect world.  Amy Carmichael, a famous missionary to India, once wrote the following poem.  It is written as if spoken by Jesus.

Hast thou no scar?

No hidden scar on foot, or side or hand?

I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,

I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star

Hast thou no scar?



 

Hast thou no wound?

Yet I was wounded by the archers, spent,

Leaned me against a tree to die; and rent

By ravening beasts that encompassed me, I swooned;

Hast thou no wound?



 

No wound? No scar?

Yet, as the master shall the servant be

And pierced are the feet that follow Me;

But thine are whole: can he have followed far

Who has nor wound nor scar?



 

Amy Carmichael

 

If you have followed Jesus very long or far, you most likely have wounds and scars.  But the truth is, traveling down the road of life without Jesus will cause more serious wounds and scars, wounds and scars without healing and without hope.  So, if we are going to be scarred anyway, shouldn’t we have wounds and scars that count for something?  Shouldn’t we accept those wounds and scars that can be healed by the Great Physician and then used as a beautiful thing for His glory?


Thoroughly Equipped: Reading Schedule for September

Well, Friends, we have made it to September!  I hope you are pressing on and still reading your Bible.  Even if you have gotten off track, no worries!  Just pick up where you left off.  There is some good stuff coming!  Let me know what you are learning!

September 1:  Job 40:1-42:17, 2 Corinthians 5:11-21, Psalm 45:1-17, Proverbs 22:14

September 2:  Ecclesiastes 1:1-3:22, 2 Corinthians 6:1-13, Psalm 46:1-11, Proverbs 22:15

September 3:  Ecclesiastes 4:1-6:12, 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:7, Psalm 47:1-9, Proverbs 22:16

September 4:  Ecclesiastes 7:1-9:18, 2 Corinthians 7:8-16, Psalm 48:1-14, Proverbs 22:17-19

September 5:  Ecclesiastes 10:1-12:14, 2 Corinthians 8:1-15, Psalm 49:1-20, Proverbs 22:20-21

September 6:  Song of Songs 1:1-4:16, 2 Corinthians 8:16-24, Psalm 50:1-23, Proverbs 22:22-23

September 7:  Song of Songs 5:1-8:14, 2 Corinthians 9:1-15, Psalm 51:1-19, Proverbs 22:24-25

September 8:  Isaiah 1:1-2:22, 2 Corinthians 10:1-18, Psalm 52:1-9, Proverbs 22:26-27

September 9:  Isaiah 3:1-5:30, 2 Corinthians 11:1-15, Psalm 53:1-6, Proverbs 22:28-29

September 10: Isaiah 6:1-7:25, 2 Corinthians 11:16-33, Psalm 54:1-7, Proverbs 23:1-3

September 11: Isaiah 8:1-9:21, 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, Psalm 55:1-23, Proverbs 23:4-5

September 12: Isaiah 10:1-11:16, 2 Corinthians 12:11-21, Psalm 56:1-13, Proverbs 23:6-8

September 13: Isaiah 12:1-14:32, 2 Corinthians 13:1-13, Psalm 57:1-11, Proverbs 23:9-11

September 14: Isaiah 15:1-18:7, Galatians 1:1-24, Psalm 58:1-11, Proverbs 23:12

September 15: Isaiah 19:1-21:17, Galatians 2:1-16, Psalm 59:1-17, Proverbs 23:13-14

September 16: Isaiah 22:1-24:23, Galatians 2:17-3:9, Psalm 60:1-12, Proverbs 23:15-16

September 17: Isaiah 25:1-28:13, Galatians 3:10-22, Psalm 61:1-8, Proverbs 23:17-18

September 18: Isaiah 28:14-30:11, Galatians 3:23-4:31, Psalm 62:1-12, Proverbs 23:19-21

September 19: Isaiah 30:12-33:9, Galatians 5:1-12, Psalm 63:1-11, Proverbs 23:22

September 20: Isaiah 33:10-36:22, Galatians 5:13-26, Psalm 64:1-10, Proverbs 23:23

September 21: Isaiah 37:1-38:22, Galatians 6:1-18, Psalm 65:1-13, Proverbs 23:24

September 22: Isaiah 39:1-41:16, Ephesians 1:1-23, Psalm 66:1-20, Proverbs 23:25-28

September 23: Isaiah 41:17-43:13, Ephesians 2:1-22, Psalm 67:1-7, Proverbs 23:29-35

September 24: Isaiah 43:14-45:10, Ephesians 3:1-21, Psalm 68:1-18, Proverbs 24:1-2

September 25: Isaiah 45:11-48:11, Ephesians 4:1-16, Psalm 68:19-35, Proverbs 24:3-4

September 26: Isaiah 48:12-50:11, Ephesians 4:17-32, Psalm 69:1-18, Proverbs 24:5-6

September 27: Isaiah 51:1-53:12, Ephesians 5:1-33, Psalm 69:19-36, Proverbs 24:7

September 28: Isaiah 54:1-57:14, Ephesians 6:1-24, Psalm 70:1-5, Proverbs 24:8

September 29: Isaiah 57:15-59:21, Philippians 1:1-26, Psalm 71:1-24, Proverbs 24:9-10

September 30: Isaiah 60:1-62:5, Philippians 1:27-2:18, Psalm 72:1-20, Proverbs 24:11-12