Advent Week 1: Protecter

You know what’s weird? I’m not as excited for Christmas this year as I usually am. I actually felt a strange heaviness come over me in the last few weeks as I thought about how much Christmas has turned into consumerism and gift giving, and continues to drift so far away from the true meaning. Don’t get me wrong, the family time and buying meaningful gifts and spending time fellowshipping with friends I might not see as often throughout the year is wonderful!! But God placed this desire in me for a deeper leaning into Him this Christmas.

I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking that Satan LOVES to twist and taint the season of Christmas. He loves to fill our days and nights with things that distract us and pull us further away from Jesus. He loves to draw our minds to gifts- away from the ultimate gift that God offers us. I really don’t want that to happen to me this year. I want to dive deeper into this gift of Jesus.

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These four weeks in December I’d love to go through four topics together with you. These are topics that God has been laying on my heart as I’ve turned to Him for a deeper, more meaningful Christmas season. My hope and prayer is that you also get to experience a more purposeful Christmas season than ever before as you reflect on these attributes of Jesus together with me! We’ll look at how Jesus is our Protector, Comforter, Grace, and Object of Adoration.

This week we’ll look at Jesus as Protecter.

If Jesus hadn’t been born to this world and died on the cross, fulfilling the salvation plan, we wouldn’t be able to claim that death has been overcome. We wouldn’t be able to victoriously say, “Death, where is your sting? Where is your victory? You have no power over me!” Isn’t that a sobering thought?

So the other day I had a very tangible reminder that the spiritual battle we fight is a very real reality. I woke up first thing in the morning, and from the minute my eyes opened my heart was already racing and I felt anxiety just overtake me. I felt panic. I didn’t want to get out of bed and I just felt a weird dread and hopelessness fill me. I turned to God in that moment, and He really did bring me peace. But in those moments afterwards I thought back to a year ago when these types of situations were a regular reality for me. I thought back to the nights of sleep paralysis and feeling scary darkness try to overtake me. I thought back to the mornings where focusing on spending time with God when I woke up were a struggle. I think even now of my constant battle with the demon of discouragement.

Do you ever think about the battle happening in the spiritual realm? The battle between good and evil? Angels and Demons? I used to not take it seriously enough. I took for granted the fact that we can find protection and refuge in Christ.

In the last year I’ve looked much more deeply into the Spiritual Armour of God, and I’d love to share that with you today! Have you ever read that passage in Ephesians 6 and thought, “well that’s nice, but I don’t exactly know what that’s supposed to look like…” Honestly, me too. But then I realized that it’s crazy not to claim these gifts of defence and protection that God gives us!! Let’s figure it out together- I’ll be sharing thoughts on how to pray over each piece of armour, and also some other practical application.

Helmet of Salvation. “Lord, let the helmet of salvation serve as a tangible reminder that I am Yours. Let it protect my mind. May it also protect and guide my thoughts. Don’t let me believe the lies of the enemy, but instead protect my mind by filling it with Your truth and wisdom.”

I don’t know about you, but Satan sure LOVES to attack my thoughts. My mind is constantly filled with attacks of discouragement, doubt and fear. I’ve noticed recently that it hasn’t been nearly as much of a stumbling block for me as it used to be. At first I thought that’s just because Satan isn’t attacking me the same way, but that’s actually not the case! I realized that it’s really because of three things:

  1. My mind is filled with truth. As I spend more and more time with God, in His word and in prayer/quality time, He is able to fill my mind with truth. He causes my default thoughts to go to His promises, comfort, and encouragement in scripture. I’ll add that I’m terrible at memorizing scripture, but the more time I spend in God’s word the more often I find myself remembering parts of scripture that are being implanted in my mind over time.
  2. I don’t allow Satan a foothold. I’ve learned in the last year that one of the biggest ways I give Satan a foothold is in my thoughts. When I allow myself to dwell or linger on thoughts that he’s placing within me, this gives him a foothold (or opportunity) to act in me and take over. One example is when he causes me to become anxious in social settings or start dwelling fearfully on the future. But these footholds can also look like thoughts of envy or jealousy, bitterness, hate, lust, discontentment…I could go on about this topic for so much longer but I’d actually just love to encourage you to reflect on this personally: What’s a foothold you’re allowing Satan to have in your life? 
  3. I’ve learned a healthy pattern of taking every thought captive. This one is totally related to my second point. In order to prevent Satan from having a foothold in my thought-life, I needed to learn how to take every thought captive in obedience to Christ, as we’re commanded to do in 2 Corinthians 10. Until I figured out what this looked like as a regular thought pattern, I literally needed to write the words take every thought captive on my hand every single day. It prompted me to remember to surrender my thoughts to Christ, especially before they had time to grow.

Breastplate of Righteousness. “Father, protect my heart from reacting on emotions rather than responding in Your truth and love. I desire for my emotions, attitude, and actions to reflect YOUR heart.”

Okay, so I’m sure many (if not all!) of us can relate to this one. It’s pretty easy to let our emotions take the lead. I can think of countless times where I’ve blamed my attitude or reactions on being hungry, tired, having a bad day, or just feeling plain entitled to be upset about something. But when I look at scripture, I’m pretty confident this doesn’t reflect the heart of God. Yikes. How many times have you heard someone give advice to “follow your heart” or “do what your gut tell you”?

I believe that one of the biggest and fiercest parts of this battle against evil is that sometimes evil camouflages itself as being good… I mean, on the surface it sounds pretty good and godly to imagine that God wants us to be happy and follow our hearts, right? But in reality, Satan loves to lure us away from truth by convincing us to follow our hearts leading. But God tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17) and that we should NOT lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3).

Belt of Truth. “God, I want to stay centred on your truth; Your Word. I want to walk in obedience to Your truth with a willing and yielding heart.”

You might already be noticing a theme here…but spending time with God is a HUGE part of what equips us for spiritual battle each day!!! Not spending time with God is, in my opinion, the equivalent of going into a physical battle without some sort of protection and weapon. You’d be nuts to actually do that. And yet while we’re so quick to say, “boy, that’d sure be dumb!!” we’re not quite so quick to equip ourselves each morning for the much more important spiritual battle.

Something cool that I’ve learned as I’ve studied in scripture is that God gives us weaponry for battle through His Word. You will also need to do your own digging to find these valuable nuggets, but here are a few:

  1. Resist Satan, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
  2. “But when you are tempted, God will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
  3. In the name of Jesus I command you…” Acts 19:13
  4. “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind  on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 18:18
  5. Cast down reasonings that try to exalt themselves against the knowledge of God and take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
  6. “For the weapons of our warfare are are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Resist= putting in the path and commanding retreat
Bind= to fasten, forbid, inhibit, put on temporary “spiritual handcuffs”
Loose= to unfasten/untie, dissolve, dismiss, do away with, destroy the enemies long held strongholds, remove barriers Satan is using to hinder or block God’s plan
Casting down= bringing under the rule of the cross
Pulling down= pulling apart, demolishing, destroying

Wow. Isn’t this crazy?? We are given so much power and authority through Jesus Christ!! This is a huge weapon that I know I don’t make use of enough. The name of Jesus has authority over ALL things. If you are a Child of God, you have access to this authority in the name of Jesus. My prayer is that you and I both have the courage to wield these weapons in the name of Jesus.

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I wish I had more time to go through all of this more in depth, but I strongly encourage you to do some more study on this yourself. The Word of God is powerful. 

Sandals of Peace. “Jesus, don’t allow fear or anxiety to cause me to stumble. Lead my feet on solid ground. Make my life an invitation to peace, just as YOU are the invitation to peace. Everywhere I go, I want the aroma of peace to follow me and be evident to those around me. Send my feet to be bearers of Your Good News.”

I realized that it’s pretty tough to be an invitation to peace for others if I myself am not grounded in peace. I think Christmas is a pretty prime example of the opposite of peace at times. I can get so caught up in the crazy busyness and to-do’s that I find myself more paced in chaos than in peace. But then how do I share about the hope and peace that Christ brings in a sincere way if I’m running from one thing to the next?! Oh man, it’s really a constant battle.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record I honestly come back to the point, ONCE AGAIN, that spending time with God is the key. I find that when I make sure to spend that time with God first thing in the morning (especially if I have lots going on that day- which, let’s be honest, is every day…), I go into the day feeling so much more prepared and confident because God is placing me on the solid ground of His faithfulness and steadfast peace.

Shield of Faith. “Lord, today I want to lift up the shield of faith to protect me against Satan’s fiery arrows of attack, so that I may stand firm, courageous, and victorious.” 

While the other pieces of armour so far are things you put on (essentially full body armour holding you up), the shield is something you need to actually “take up” or raise. What does this mean?

First of all, when I used to imagine this shield I honestly imagined a pretty small piece of equipment that you’re able to move around with quickly. Apparently not the case…these shields were actually huge and heavy (up to 3.5 feet high and 3 feet wide!). It was also formed in a special way to deflect all of the weight of the assault into the shield, so the weight of it isn’t felt in the person holding up the shield. Its size made it able to deflect even the most vicious blows.

This is so cool to me. I started thinking about how, just like the shield, God stands before us and accepts the blows against us, absorbing most of the impact and allowing us to remain mostly unscathed. But…it requires faith.

You don’t hope for what you already have- rather, you trust in something by faith. Faith in a Mighty God who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine. That made me ask myself: What makes me think that the same God who created the vastness of this Universe, who has unending power, and who already defeated hell on the cross- that this same God isn’t able to protect me from arrows of attack by him who has already been defeated? 

Sword of the Spirit. “Lord, Your Word has the power to cut deeply. To compel conviction and repentance, and to shed light into darkness. It holds all truth and wisdom. Teach me to meditate on it and grow my understanding of this powerful Word, so that I can use it in defence against the enemy. Through Your powerful Word I want to better learn the schemes, tactics, and weaknesses of my enemy so I can defeat him.”

Which spiritual attacks are you seeking victory over today? Bitterness or resentment? Jealousy? Discouragement? Lust? Lies that you’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not thin enough? The lie that you have no purpose? Fear and anxiety?

Satan wants to attack our marriages. He wants to attack our families and prayer life. He loves to attack the body of Christ in the form of the Church. He wants to cause apathy. He thrives off of causing us to lose love for others and self worth.

But victory is possible because there is power in the name of Jesus.

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I hope that as you’ve joined me for this topic today you’ve felt encouraged and newly empowered spiritually.

This month as we celebrate Christmas, we’re celebrating the beginning of so many incredible things for us as believers. If Jesus hadn’t come down to earth, He wouldn’t have died on the cross either. And then this protection and power in Jesus’ name wouldn’t be a reality for us as believers. I’m so overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to call Jesus my Protector, and that victory is ours in Jesus’ name!

“Have I not commanded you? Be STRONG and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

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