Over the long weekend, I took the opportunity to watch one my newest favorite movies – Wonder Woman. Isn’t it so great?!?! I know I’m not the only one who watches it and fantasizes about having those skills!
As I was watching it this time, something jumped out at me that was an important reminder for my soul. When Diana is a young teenager her aunt (Antiope) is training her for battle. Over and over again Diana is knocked down and overpowered by her highly skilled aunt. But Antiope knows that Diana has more strength in her than she believes, so after many times of being knocked down her aunt calls her out saying “You are stronger than you know, you have greater powers than you believe.” As I watched that scene this time, I felt God speaking to my spirit “You are stronger than you know. You have greater powers than you believe.”
The strength & power that Diana possesses doesn’t come from her own knowledge nor her own physical strength, it comes from deep inside her. In the same way, I was reminded that my strength and my power doesn’t come from my own ability either; it comes only by the Holy Spirit inside me. The Holy Spirit was promised to each of us in John 14:16 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” And guess what happens when we acknowledge and activate that spirit inside us? Acts 1:8, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” So how do we activate this power?
Every story of great strength and power in the Bible was preceded by the hero/heroine on their knees asking God to give them strength. Samson in Judges 16:28: “Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.”
Esther preparing to go before the King in Esther 4:16: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” Indeed she did not perish and won freedom for God’s people.
In Daniel 6:10 when he heard the decree that no man was allowed to pray to anyone but the king: “he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” Shortly thereafter he was thrown into the den of lions and the Lord sent an angel to close the lion’s mouths.
How quickly I forget that I have access to the greatest power in both Heaven and Earth. When Diana finally recognized and stepped into the power residing inside her, she changed the course of her life and her world. While I know this story is fictional, it causes me to think about what we could change in our lives and in the world around us if we would simply recognize and step into the strength and power we have been so graciously gifted.
This week I’ve really been praying for God to reveal His plans to me for certain areas of my life. I know I have been living obedient to Him and walking in the things He’s called me to. While I don’t know every step of where He’s taking me, I’ve felt fairly certain of the outcome. Recently though, God has been moving us in ways I wasn’t expecting. Don’t you hate that? When you’re feeling so good about where you are and happy about the things you’re certain you’ll accomplish for Christ and then He shakes it all up? I shouldn’t be surprised. Life with Christ has always been an adventure for me, with Him taking me through life in ways I never expected to go. But still, when it happens, I get a little anxious and want to question the change in direction.
As I was praying about this today, God brought me to 1 Chronicles 28. It’s a surprising twist in the story of King David (although I feel like there are many unexpected turns to his story!). If you’ll remember, David was a shepherd boy who was good at music when his story started taking unexpected God-sized turns. After some seriously crazy circumstances, David became King. As King, he made plans to build a temple that would house the ark of the covenant. Surely carrying out this plan was something God had put into place when He chose to make David king those many years prior. Here’s what we read in 1 Chron. 28:
“King David rose to his feet and said: “Listen to me, my fellow Israelites, my people. I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, for the footstool of our God, and I made plans to build it. But God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood.’”
Ok, let’s pause here for a second. Do you think that when God told him this, he was at least a little bit surprised? I would have been! He had been making detailed plans and plotting out this temple for a long time. In fact verse 12 of this passage tells us that the holy spirit had put in his mind detailed plans for the courts, the temple, the buildings, the store rooms, the upper and inner rooms and the treasuries. He also gave him instructions for the various servants in the temple and what each of their roles should entail. Furthermore He even designated the weight of gold & silver for all the things that were to be used in service for the temple. If it were me, I would certainly be thinking “why in the world would God give me these extremely specific instructions if He didn’t intend for me to carry them out?” I’m certain I would have questioned it and maybe have even been a little upset with God. But isn’t that the enemy’s way? He wants us to question the things we hear from God; he’s been doing it since the day he asked Eve “did God really say?” I don’t know about you, but I am guilty of allowing this question to penetrate my thoughts.
So, if it wasn’t King David’s role to build out this detailed temple, what was he supposed to do? Let’s pick up in verse 4:
“Yet the Lord, the God of Israel, chose me from my whole family to be king over Israel forever. He chose Judah as leader, and from the tribe of Judah he chose my family, and from my father’s sons he was pleased to make me king over all Israel. Of all my sons—and the Lord has given me many—he has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. He said to me: ‘Solomon your son is the one who will build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. I will establish his kingdom forever if he is unswerving in carrying out my commands and laws, as is being done at this time.’”
I have no way of knowing whether or not King David questioned God’s decision, wrestled with rather or not to obey, or even if he felt disappointment. But I love that he took this moment in the passage to acknowledge the incredible thing God had done – made him King of Israel. That in and of itself was an incredible miracle and a powerful calling regardless of the current command that he was not to carry out the plans he had so carefully laid in place at God’s instruction.
What if he had not listened to God and decided he had put in too much work at this point to give the project to someone else? It was a holy spirit inspired project after all, certainly God would have been pleased even if he did choose to build it? Thankfully we don’t know what would have happened if he had been disobedient to this unexpected change of plans by God. But we do know what happened because he obeyed. In 1 Chron. 29:27 we read that David ruled over Israel for 80 years having enjoyed a long life, wealth and honor. And in 1 Chon. 29:25 we read “The Lord highly exalted Solomon in the sight of all Israel and bestowed on him royal splendor such as no king over Israel ever had before.”
It certainly is tough when God chooses to throw plot-twists into our lives, and especially surprising when we’re currently walking in obedience to him. But throughout His word and in my own life up to this point, I have seen and experienced the faithfulness and overwhelming blessings that come with listening, trusting, and obeying every direction of the Lord, even when it seems like He must have something wrong. I am reminded in these passages of scripture that God saw and sees a future so far beyond us that we should never hesitate to trust that He is unfolding a path that will not only bless us, but will effect generations to come.
1 Chron. 28:8 “So now I charge you in the sight of all Israel and of the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God: Be careful to follow all the commands of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land and pass it on as an inheritance to your descendants forever.”
My husband and I haven’t lived what most people would deem an “ordinary” life. We’ve lived in many different cities, in many different countries. We’ve held a myriad of jobs, which had a myriad of schedules. We’ve chosen not to have kids, and we love to volunteer. This life we’ve chosen would seem scary and chaotic to many people we know, and that’s ok. I praise God every day that He gave me a husband as adventurous and as un-ordinary as me. We love our life.
I have been asked on more than one occasion how I can be comfortable selling everything we have and moving to a place we’ve never been; or how I can be ok with jumping into a new job I have no experience in, or how I can take big risks without knowing the outcome.
The answer is, it’s because I know my Creator well. I believe the verses that say “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139:8-10)
There is no where I can go that I won’t be able to hear His voice. There is nothing I can do that will be unreachable to Him. There is no plan, no path, no course that will supersede the ones He has put in place. His hand will always hold me fast.
I’ve had those verses in the Psalms underlined in my Bible for several years now, but as I prayed this morning about what to share, trolling through my Bible for the words God would have me write, these verses jumped out at me again. They are an important reminder to me at this time, but I sense that there are probably others of you reading this who need to be reminded that His hand will hold you fast. Whether you’re in a “scary” place in your life or you’re needing to take a step into something unknown, His promise to you is the same.
I think about Jonah sitting in the belly of that big fish for three days. Cold, alone, and in total darkness, but even there he knew that he was still reachable by God…and he was. God was holding him fast even in that impossible place. Daniel in a deep lion pit, Esther in the court of a king, Deborah on a battlefield, Moses in a desert – all held fast by the hand of the Lord.
I’m guessing you don’t find yourself sitting in the belly of a fish or the pit of a lion, or the court of a king; but it may feel like it, or it may feel as if you’re walking into one of those. But hear me today as I share God’s promise with you: EVEN if you are His hand will guide you, and His hand will hold you fast. You have nothing to fear beloved child of the King. You are not alone and you NEVER will be.
In general I would say I’m a lover, not a fighter. However, if you challenge me on something I’m passionate about I will no doubt battle my heart out!
I’m currently studying the Armor of God with an awesome group of women at my church. We are daily diving in to Priscilla Shirer’s deep insight surrounding Ephesians 6:10-19. God has been speaking to me in a myriad of ways on this topic, so I thought I’d share a couple things that have really stood out to me.
As I’m sure many of you did, I learned about putting on the armor of God as a kid in Sunday school. The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit were all prominently displayed in plastic on whichever child had raised their hand first. We were told that we must “put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (vs 11). I was cool with that. I had salvation, I knew the Holy Spirit lived in me, so I just had to be truthful, live right, make peace and not neglect my faith. Seemed like being a Christian meant wearing the armor; I couldn’t really separate the two. It also seemed like a lot to live up to.
One of my favorite things about deep Bible study is learning the background or history of scripture. So much of the New Testament is Jesus fulfilling the prophecies and lessons of the Old Testament. But if you haven’t taken the time to research, you wouldn’t know. Priscilla points out that Paul calls Christians to put on this armor because God himself did. Isaiah 59:16-17 records God putting on these very pieces of armor to battle for His people who had fallen to the evil one. Suddenly, I understood this armor in a different light. It’s not just an arbitrary armor of God, it is THE armor OF God! Do you see the difference?
Imagine yourself as a young person during the middle ages, countries always at war for new territories. Surely you would hear stories about battle heroes and perhaps you would dream of someday being like that hero yourself. When the time came for you to go to battle, you would be given armor that would hopefully protect you in the same way it protected that hero. But imagine if that hero came to you and gave you HIS armor. The armor that had seen many battle fields, stood the test of time and won many victories. That armor would be something special! And that is exactly what God has done for us. He’s not calling us just to put on any old armor, He is handing us HIS armor, the very armor He wore into battle for us over and over before Christ came to earth. What a glorious honor! And how overwhelming is His love for us that He doesn’t want us to battle with anything less than His victory-proven armor! It changes my view from something I “need” to do as a good Christian to something I am honored and humbled to do as His daughter. Wearing HIS armor I am ever protected, ever at peace, and can so clearly see truth. These are things I want in my life, not things I feel burdened to have to put on.
Verse 13 says “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” If I had been writing this verse, I would have written, ‘take up the full armor of God so you can go out there and show them who’s boss!’ But he doesn’t say that. He says “stand firm.” Here you are all gussied up in this incredible victorious armor but all He wants you to do it stand?? That’s right. Because all those pieces of armor you put on are protecting you from every enemy that comes at you. You just need to stand firm in the confidence that that armor will protect you! You stand confidently and you pray (vs 18). You will get battle weary if you’re flailing around, swinging at anything that looks like it may hurt you; and without God’s armor, that’s exactly what you’ll feel like you need to do. But your Father loves you too much for that.
So, tomorrow morning, kneel before your Father in Heaven and allow Him to do you the great honor of bestowing His armor to you, then get up and put it on! You are wearing your Father’s armor now, you can stand in peace.
Eph 6:10 – “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of HIS might.”
During my time in college I had the privilege of interning for the first woman Mayor of San Diego. I worked in the PR department and we were in charge of putting together press releases that reflected the voice, character and heart of the Mayor. So, to prepare for this role, I spent hours reading articles about her, learning about her positions on the issues facing our city at the time, and studying her character in the leadership decisions she had made up to that point. Part of my job was putting together talking points for her interviews so it was crucial that my “voice” reflected hers.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to reflect God. What it takes to ensure that my thoughts, my character, and my stance on issues are reflective of God’s voice.
2 Corinthians 3:18 says “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”
The only way we are transformed is through God’s spirit. Thankfully those of us who have given our lives to Christ we have his spirit living inside us. But it’s not enough that He’s just there. We have to speak to him, read about him, learn where he stands on the “issues” and study the character of his leadership if we are to accurately reflect His voice.
Spending time studying the Word of God, gives us a good understanding of his character. Don’t just read the same stories over and over, dig into the scriptures, be curious and seek for answers. The more time you spend digging into the word, the more you understand who God is. The book of Luke is a treasure trove of lessons on God’s character as Jesus reflected them here on earth. Watch how He interacted with people and what He taught them. There is a lot we can learn about reflecting God’s character through scripture.
Secondly, we need to hear God’s voice in our own lives. That means we must spend time in prayer; time with the one whose voice we are seeking. Proverbs 2:1-5 says “My daughter, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” I don’t know about you, but I definitely want to find the knowledge of God! His knowledge will give me the wisdom I need to reflect him in my decisions.
And lastly, once we’ve heard His voice, we must take action when He calls us to. The more we obey, the easier it becomes to act with confidence, knowing that our actions are reflective of God. The beautiful part is, every time we obey, our faith increases, making it easier to obey the next time around.
If we want to reflect the character, the heart, and the voice of God, we have to spend time digging into the Word, talking and listening to Him through prayer, and acting on the things He calls us to.
1 Corinthians 15:49–“Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”
Let’s not just be people who TELL others we know God, let’s REFLECT him in all areas of our lives!
Hi! I'm Dezerai, a woman passionate about living in my purpose, about creating a life on purpose and about challenging you to do the same. I speak, I write, and I hang out with my husky and my handsome husband in the beautiful Napa Valley.