Friday, April 11, 2014

The Armor of God

My quiet time in prayer and Bible study this morning led me to the book of Ephesians. Since feeling a bit discouraged today due to an increase in my dizziness symptoms, I found a lot of encouragement in reading through this book. (Funny how I asked the Lord to encourage me this morning since He commands me in Joshua 1:9 not to be discouraged or afraid, and He did just that)! 

There are many nuggets of wisdom in this book but what I enjoyed the most was reading through the armor of God. What caught my attention today, though I've read through Ephesians hundreds of times, was God's formula for standing firm against the devil's schemes. Since I felt that the enemy was trying to discourage me this morning, I thought I would take a more in depth look at the armor we put on to stand firm against him.

"Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil". (Ephesians 6:11 NASB)

The Bible warns us to be alert, that we have an adversary, the devil, who prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8), and that our struggles are not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, powers, world forces of darkness and the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph 6:12). You will note that this verse from Ephesians immediately follows the verse above on how to stand firm against the devil.  He is our enemy and will stop at nothing to try and steal, kill and destroy us (John 10:10). Although, thanks to the sovereignty of God, the devil can not touch us without first getting God's permission (ever read the book of Job)?  God is good!

The Armor of God (Eph 6:13-17)
  • Gird your loins with truth
What is truth?
Jesus is truth: "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 16:6)

Jesus is the word of God: "In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.... and the word became flesh" (John 1:1, 14)

All truth is wrapped up in Jesus. Therefore, to gird your loins with truth, you must know the word of God. Spend time every day reading the Bible and getting to know your Lord and savior. According to Kay Arthur's study on Ephesians, a Roman soldier could have several belts; however, the belt that he tucked his short tunic into served as part of his armor, not only holding the breastplate in place, but also holding the scabbard for his short two-edged sword. The truth holds everything together.  Without the truth, we have no basis to stand on.
  • Put on the breast plate of righteousness
"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cornthians 5:21)

"..and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness and truth" (Eph 4:24)

"I put on righteousness, and it clothed me" (Job 29:14)

A breastplate protects a soldier's vital organs from mortal wounds, especially the heart. Through our faith in Jesus Christ and His death, burial & resurrection on our behalf, we are covered with His righteousness. This is the righteousness we put on in battle, it is not our own. Since it is His righteousness we put on, we can stand confidently in battle against the enemy knowing that the righteousness of Jesus covers our hearts and that we are forgiven. 
  • Shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace
What is the gospel?  It is "the message of truth.... our salvation" (Eph 1:13)  It is the good news that Jesus Christ came to earth in the flesh, lived a sinless life yet died on the cross as God's perfect sacrifice for our sins.  By why?  So we can have peace with God. 

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ..." (Ro 5:1)

Stand firm in battle in the knowledge that you are at peace with God, and share the good news with others!
  • Take up the shield of faith
"Take up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one" (Eph 6:16)

The flaming arrows of the evil one are his lies and accusations (more lies).  Our shield is our first line of defense. We have to shield the truth with faith in Christ's shed blood for us; without faith everything else is meaningless. You extinguish the lies of the enemy with the truth, believing God's word. You can spend all the time you want in the Bible (truth) but you have to believe it (faith). What is the truth? That we are standing righteous before God and at at peace with Him through our Lord Jesus Christ. 
  • Take the helmet of salvation
The helmet protects our heads and minds (our thoughts!)  Be careful what you let into your mind, paying close attention to constantly feed your mind with the truth, the word of God. 

"... we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine..." (Eph 4:14)

Don't believe everything you hear but test the spirits (1 John 4:1)!  Believe only the word of God.

Now, you may be wondering why it's called the helmet of salvation?

"But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on.... as a helmet, the hope of salvation" (1 Thess 5:8)

Salvation belongs to every believer, that is the truth.  This is something the enemy can never take away from us. Stand firm in battle believing that truth.

  • Take the sword of the spirit
The sword of the Spirit is the word of God (Eph 6:17). The sword is an offensive weapon. It's what Jesus used against the devil in the wilderness and it's what we use in battle too.  When the enemy comes against you with his lies, defeat him with God's word, the truth. 

I hope this post on the armor of God encouraged you as it did me. It's been a while since I studied these passages and digging deeper into them once again was time well spent this morning.  So, stand firm my brothers and sisters in Christ, in the full armor of God! 

Feel free to share any thoughts or comments, I love to hear from you. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

God's gift of Grace

I just started an online Bible study with Proverbs 31 Ministries called "Living So That".  It explores many of the "so that" verses in scripture.  One of my own personal favorites (which may or may not be included in the study) is when Jesus says: 

"These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33)

Yes, thank you Lord Jesus!  Because He has overcome the world, I am an overcomer too! 

The author of Living So That reminds us that we don't do anything to earn God's grace, but rather it's His free gift to us. It doesn't depend on what we have done or do, but what God has done for us by sending His son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross as payment for our sins. 

Today's blog post from the P31 Online Bible studies was regarding this word grace.  One of the women posted a short video where she shared what God spoke to her heart regarding this grace and the message was just plain awesome! It gave me chills. She said she was texting her friend the word grace and accidentally typed grave. This is when God spoke to her heart the message that Jesus has taken us from the grave to grace. The "C" (Christ) covers the "v" in grave (just as we are covered by the blood of Jesus!) and turns the word to grace. Since I feel I can't do the story justice, I'm posting the link to the video below and I hope you'll take 2 minutes to watch it. For those who are visual learners like me, you'll like this.

From the Grave to Grace

I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did!  What a message to carry through the day. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Labyrinthitis and Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy

So, I finally got my diagnosis as to why I've been so dizzy on a daily basis for almost 2 months now.  My ENT sent me for a test called an ENG which revealed a 28% unilateral vestibular weakness in my right ear. He's not exactly sure what caused it but thinks it was most likely a virus that attacked my inner ear. He encouraged me to continue with vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) and I'm in my third week of that therapy now.  

Update: I got a second opinion a while back and was diagnosed with uncompensated labyrinthitis (a form of unilateral vestibular weakness).  Truth be told though, she didn't really know for sure what I have. Apparently, I don't meet all the criteria for any vestibular disorder, so this was her best guess as its the category I most closely fall into to.  It's been over 2 months since this post and I continue to struggle with the dizziness, although it's getting better with my vestibular therapy!  I have days where I feel 80-90% better and days where I'm back in bed.  I'm plugging along though, patiently waiting for my healing from the Lord!  "For the vision [of my healing] is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, [I will] wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry." (Habakkuk 2:3)

Update #2: I now believe I may suffer from Migraine Associated Vertigo. I don't know for sure, but it certainly sounds possible and given the fact that my doctor isn't sure what's causing my problem, I'm going to try the MAV diet as recommended in "Heal your Headache" by David Buchholz, MD.  For the fully story, I posted about this here

For those not familiar with vestibular rehabilitation (I certainly wasn't before having such issues!), it's like physical therapy for the balance system. It's a series of exercises that actually provoke my dizziness so the brain can compensate for the inner ear damage. I do a lot of exercises with my therapist that include balancing on one leg with my eyes closed (on both solid ground as well as balance foam), standing heel to toe with arms crossed and eyes closed, turning my head quickly from side to side and up and down while focusing on a letter on the wall, etc. It may not sound challenging but it is HARD! Because of my inner ear imbalance, my system relies heavily on my eye sight right now so any time I have to close my eyes I'm pretty much a fall waiting to happen. 

My homework includes walking up and down my hallway looking up/down, right/left, diagonal up/diagonal down, and even adding half turns into my walks.  Those are the worst!  I've avoided turning around as much as possible so having to force myself to do it has been difficult.  Now that I'm almost done with my third week of therapy, I do find that it's starting to help.  I no longer react as strongly to the exercises, meaning the dizziness doesn't get provoked as bad. The one move I still struggle with is those turns but I look forward to mastering those too. 

Now that I know the exact illness the Lord is going to heal me of (see His promise to me here), I will continue to walk by faith through my therapy exercises and in life, and wait on His perfect timing!

Has anyone else walked through vestibular therapy or suffered from vestibular dysfunction? I'd love to hear from you so we can encourage one another in the Lord!

For more information on Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy, see the link below: