Armor Up!

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Ephesians 6:

10Finally, my brethren, be strong in the LORD, and in the power of his might.

11Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

18Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

As I was reading these verses in Ephesians about the armor of God last night, they triggered a lot of thoughts for me. I love the imagery of the Armor of God. I designed the felt set above in 2013 after I was in charge of girls’ camp for the youth in our church. We decided to go with the theme Stand Wearing the Armor of God. It was such an incredible experience to study and prepare with the youth leaders who were helping me. Each part of this armor can do so much to protect us in our spiritual battles. And each piece must be intentionally added.

I want to share with you some of the analogies I have thought of as I have studied these verses. There may be other interpretations, this is just one what I have come up with.

Helmet of Salvation: God can help protect us from the enemy as we choose to particular about what information and images we choose to allow into our minds.  When we watch, read and listen to only uplifting things, we are putting on the helmet of salvation.

The Breastplate of Righteousness: This piece of armor protects our hearts. As we follow God’s commandments and stay strong to the standards He has helped us create for ourselves, we have the ability to determine what we will allow to control our hearts. We can choose to steer clear of distractions and temptations that would destroy our peace and happiness, when we put on the breastplate of righteousness.

Shoes of the Gospel of Peace: We put on these shoes as we study about the life of Christ and truly learn about our Savior, who He is, what He stands for, and how deeply He loves us. As this knowledge becomes a part of us, we will have a desire to follow in His path. We will be able to make better choices for our lives that bring us peace and joy. And we will have a desire to share these truths with others.

The Belt of Truth: In this day and age where morality is questioned at every turn, it is even more important for us to make a stand with God on what is right and what is wrong. He has given us the sacred power of procreation, the power to create life and many people in the world do not value this as the gift that it is, they use and abuse it for their own pleasure with no thought of the consequences and hurt they are causing. As we girt our loins with the belt of truth we are showing that we truly value virtue and will protect it at all costs.

Shield of Faith: We take up this sword as we search, ponder, and study the word of God. The more immersed we become in the Gospel and the teachings of Christ the more faith we develop in the knowledge that God lives and that He loves us. We will understand better the sacrifice made by our Savior Jesus Christ, that He truly loves us and chose to die for us, that we might live again – both physically and spiritually. As we intentionally seek to grow in faith, we fill find special ways unique to us that will give more power to our shield at the times when we need it most.

Sword of the Spirit (the word of God): God speaks to us in many ways through songs, scriptures, and whispers to our hearts. Learning to hear and act upon this takes practice. As the only defensive piece of armor, it is especially important that we take up and use this sword. We become more adept at using it as we seek to understand how the Spirit speaks to us personally. As we practice by following promptings and inspirations as they come, we will get better and better and hearing and receiving from the Spirit.

The armor is not always convenient or comfortable, it is not meant to be… it is created for our protection. A soldier during the time of Paul would not have gone even one day leaving his armor behind, because he knew that one day without it could be his last. And anytime we choose to go about without putting it on, we are in danger of spiritual harm. I have learned in my own life how important it is to daily, intentionally put on each piece of this armor. And then… pray. This final and pivotal act is vital to our spiritual strength and protection. I love a line in a book by Francine Rivers… the elderly woman in the book is advising her husband to pray because “you can’t face the enemy in your spiritual underwear.” As much as getting dressed is a daily habit for us, so should be taking the time to arm ourselves with the protective gear the Lord has provided for us. Armor up!!

Soul Searching Question: What have you done to armor up today?

Song: Spiritual Warfare – The Battle Belongs to the Lord

Armor

Joy Journey Day 7: Seek God

Psalms 16

11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Know God, Know Peace. No God, No Peace.

The verse from Psalms posted above teaches us that the same thing applies to joy as to peace. If we want to have a fulness of joy we can experience that as we spend time in the presence of God. The more we seek Him, the more we will know Him. The more we know Him, the more we will love Him and trust Him. The more we love Him and trust Him, the more we will have peace and joy in our lives. The more peace and joy we have, the more we will be able to share that peace and love with those around us. So, you can see why it is so important that we take the time to seek Him. How can you get to know someone you have not spent time with?

And just because we have found Him before does not mean that we are always as close to Him. Sometimes we find that distance has grown between us either because of a trial we are going through, because we are too busy, or even because life is going so well that we don’t feel a yearning to turn to Him.

I once heard a joke that I love to relate to this exact concept. There was an elderly couple riding in their truck one day when they came to a stoplight. They looked over and noticed a younger couple in the cab of the truck next to them. The couple was snuggled up on the seat looking very in love. The elderly woman looked at her husband and commented how sweet they looked and then asked, “Why don’t we ever do that anymore? Her husband looked at the couple and then back at his wife and said, “Well, I haven’t moved.” This is exactly the case with our relationship with God. If there is distance between us it is because we have moved, not because He has.

What would happen to us physically if we only ate a meal once a week? We would starve, of course. Our spirits have the same need for nourishment that our bodies do and going to church to be fed once a week is certainly not enough to keep us healthy, nurtured and growing. I am afraid many of us are actually spiritually starving to death.

What are some of the signs that we are spiritually starving?

*Weakness: When we become spiritually weak we start to lack self-control and commitment. We have an inability to separate needs from wants and to prioritize properly.

*Confusion: Over time our thinking becomes murky or distorted. We start to rationalize or justify the things that we are doing wrong, or time not being used wisely.

*Irritability: We begin to find ourselves being easily offended and more annoyed by the people around us, especially our family members.

*Immune Deficiency: We become less able to fight off temptations that lead to sin, sin being the disease. We are more tolerant of things that at one time we would have shunned and we are less resistant to things that we normally wouldn’t even give a second glance.

*Internal Shutdown: We find ourselves behaving out of character, saying things we wouldn’t normally say or responding in ways we normally wouldn’t respond. We find that we are lacking in compassion or patience with those we should be most loving and compassionate towards.

*Comatose: We have complete apathy. We have detached from anything spiritual and don’t feel drawn to do good or to connect with God.

If you are feeling any of these symptoms, your spirit may be dying. It may be crying out for nourishment and connection. It may be time to assess your daily habits and commit to centering your day around seeking God.

God loves us so much, whether or not we are worthy of it. Because of His love for us He has a plan to make sure we always have a way back and a way to connect with Him. His trust is earned by our actions and there are blessings contingent on our level of obedience and commitment to Him, but His love is never earned. He has offered His Son as a sacrifice for us so that we can always repent when we have strayed and return to Him. And He has made Himself constantly accessible to us through prayer. Please use these gifts! Your spiritual health depends on it!

When we regularly seek God and connect with Him, He is there to help with every aspect of our lives. He can strengthen us, comfort us, direct us and inspire us. He can teach us and answer our questions and concerns. He can help us manage our stress and give us refuge in the eye of the storm. He can increase our clarity, energy, ability to both forgive and to let go of things. He can fill our cup and give us an added measure of peace, gratitude, love and joy. He can do all these things when we open up the conduit between ourselves and Him. He stands at the door and knocks, but we must open it and let Him in.

I’m not going to tell you that it is easy to connect with Him regularly. It is simple, but it is not easy. It requires sacrifice and commitment. We must be willing to sacrifice the time and some of the activities we are filling that time with. We must be willing to commit to scheduling that time and following through. We may need to set an alarm to remind us of the most important meeting of our day. But if we will do this, we will find that what we receive from our sacrifice is paid back in full and then some. Overall, our days will go smoother, our problems will be more manageable, our minds more clear, and our abilities magnified. It is not a cure-all, we will still have bad days, but it will be better.

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When we show God that we want to connect with Him, He will even help us come up with solutions and find pockets of time to do so. No matter how busy we are, there are always pockets! You can get up a little earlier and meet with Him in the calm before the storm. You can spend time with Him as you drive in your car or as you wait in a line. You can listen to His word or music as you do your chores. You can create a schedule in your home with a required quiet time. When my kids were little we called this half hour window in our day “rest and reading.” They were required to be in their room resting (often they fell asleep) or reading. But it was my “me” time and it was desperately needed. You can also include your family in your connecting time if that works for you. You can even find a reprieve in the bathroom or shower. I am pretty sure this is considered praying in our closets! 🙂

What are some things you do to feel connected? The more we connect, the more we are aware of what things we are doing that make that connection feel the strongest. I will share some of my favorites to start you thinking, but keep in mind that we are all different and what works best for you may be something completely different.

*Read His Word: Immersing myself in the word of God is one of the best ways I have found to listen to and connect with Him. I treasure my scriptures as love letters from God. I have found so many answers to my questions, comfort for my concerns, verses that lift me up and give me strength, direction for my life, and validation that I am His beloved daughter within those pages. Not only have I found verses tailored just for me, but I have found that when I open my scriptures I am also opening a conduit to heaven. It is a direct link to God and that action of opening them tells Him that I am receptive. Sometimes the answers I seek come from the pages and sometimes by other mean during the day or the week (music, an uplifting sermon, or in conversation with a friend). I fully believe that they come because I have invited them through my act of opening the door of my heart through the scriptures. And I recognize those answers because I am intentionally listening.

*Prayer: What a gift we have been given with this tool. There are no stipulations imposed with it. We don’t have a slot of time each day God is willing to listen to us. We don’t have to abide by a certain dress code. We are never put on hold or ignored until we are behaving better. We don’t have to be in a certain place or certain position. We don’t even have to be worthy, and let’s be honest, we rarely are. But every time we pray with sincerity, He is there and He is listening. I love to connect with God through prayer!

*Music: Over the last 5 years this has become one of my favorite tools to connect with God. I love listening to Christian music and recognizing that the message of the song is meant especially for me. I love how close to the Lord it makes me feel and how very loved. I love sharing these songs with others and how it can effect them in the very same way. This music is such a personal gift.

*Listen to His Word: I love listening to talks, speeches and sermons I can find on YouTube that help me feel uplifted and inspired. So often as I listen to these talks I am touched by exactly the way God wants me to apply the message in my life. Or sometimes I am inspired by ideas that have almost nothing to do with the message, but are nevertheless a prompting meant especially for me.

*Sacred Spaces: I have certain places where I can feel the Spirit more powerfully than others. These places can be a church or other religious buildings, they can be in nature, one of mine is even a chair. I have spent hundreds of hours studying God’s word and communing with Him in my recliner. That has become a sacred space for me.

*Questions: If I want to feel God’s Spirit more profoundly I go to Him with questions. I love how tethered to Him I feel when I receive an answer to one of my questions and know it is given specifically to me from Him.

*Witnessing: I revel in the opportunity to share my love for and witness of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on our behalf. I feel the bond between God and me particularly strong when I get to do this. Not only am I giving the Spirit an opportunity to witness truth to the soul I am talking to, but it witnesses the truth of my words to me as well. That feeling is so amazing! Pure joy!

*Journaling: Writing is another way I am able to process my feelings about and experiences with God. A prayer journal is one way to organize our thoughts and focus our desires. Another journal that changed my life is my revelation journal. In 2015 I had a strong desire to better understand how God talked to me. I wanted to know how often He talked to me and if I was missing any of those communications. My discovery was profound! As I went through my day and jotted down notes in my phone when I felt promptings, inspirations, or guidance. I made an effort to create a space and time of silence in each day, to turn all the background noise off and listen. Then at night I would sit down and move those notes into my journal. I would pray and ask if there was more information to go with any of the things I had felt. I could not believe how specific the messages were. I could not believe how often God was trying to communicate with me. I had been missing so much because I was filling my life with noise and because I had not taken the time to learn how to listen. The more time we spend practicing a skill the better we get at it. It is no different for learning to hear/feel the whisperings of the still small voice.

*Worry: Now that might sound a little bit weird. But I have spent a lot of time over the last 5 years trying to be consciously aware of my worrying. When I notice that I am worrying over something I cannot control I use it as an alarm and I intentionally turn that worry into a prayer and choose to let it go. I may do that a hundred times a day when a problem is particularly heavy, but the process does help me feel an almost tangible connection between me and my God.

This last week has been an incredible journey for me! I have been amazed and humbled as I have seen how much God is threaded through the different methods of finding joy that we have talked about. When we want to be more joyful and we choose to look to Him for help, He is there. When we choose to let go of things we cannot control and we give them to Him, He happily accepts those burdens. When we want to find a deeper purpose to our lives and we ask for His help in doing so, He loves to partner with us. When we set goals and create priorities in our lives and one of those priorities is time with Him, He rejoices. When we choose to slow down and be more intentional in our day, He enlarges our capabilities to all that is required by us for good. When we serve others and have a desire to be a window to God in their lives, He is the love that we share. And God desires nothing more than to be a part of our lives, to be in the details. The first step for us to receive a fulness of joy is for us to seek Him and spend time in His presence.


Song: The More I Seek You by Kari Jobe

Face to face with the author:

Joy Journey Day 4: Set Goals

Luke 14

28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?

Proverbs 15

22 Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.

Proverbs 16

9 A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.

Are you living a life of intention or just going through the motions.  Those who live with the most joy are those who take accountability for their lives by making a plan, charting a course and setting goals.  If you don’t have a plan for where you are going you are much more likely to end up in places you don’t really want to be.

I am a list maker and that has been one consistency in my life… my notebooks with the lists of what I want to get done each day.  I love the satisfaction of crossing off the things I have accomplished.  I also ponder at the beginning of the year on what one word I would like to focus on to improve my life for that year. For my business I am constantly setting and working on goals to offer new stories and downloads to help families teach their children the scriptures.  As a writer and speaker I create goals and challenges that help me reach out to the world in my attempt to help individuals find ways to better anchor in Christ and His teachings.  Goals are a very important part of my life.

I know personally how important it is to have a plan and to be setting goals.  There was one point in my life where I found myself in a very miserable place.  I had made some really poor choices that almost devastated my family and caused myself a huge setback in life.  It took a lot of time, introspection and work to get back to a place where I was truly happy again.  Part of my introspection revealed to me that it was the first time in my life I had not been using my lists or setting and assessing goals for myself.  Goal setting became a big part of my return to happiness.  I will never again have a time in my life where I am not charting a course and setting goals for myself.

Why is it important to set goals?  I completely agree with Mark Twain when he said, “Without dreams and goals there is no living, only merely existing, and that is not why we are here.”  We were sent to this earth for a purpose.  We are supposed to be working on becoming our very best self, striving to achieve the potential God sees inside of us.  We cannot possibly reach this potential if we are not living with intention, if we are just going through the motions.  Goals give us direction and clarity for what is most important in life. They help us determine where we want to end up and what we must do to get there.  They help focus our efforts and give us motivation to move towards self improvement.  They help us acquire knowledge and develop new skills and talents.  Goals help us manage our time and use it most effectively.  They help us live with real intent and achieve a higher quality of life.  When we have defined our own personal purpose, goals have an even more powerful affect on our lives and on the lives of those around us.

What does an effective goal look like?  There are four different categories of my life that I like to focus my goals in.  I feel like most goals that help us reach our full potential can be sorted into these four categories… Physical, Mental, Social and Spiritual.  I am inserting a chart you can save to your computer and print if it will help for you to see your goals more visually.

Growth Chart

For a goal to be its most effective it needs to be a S.M.A.R.T. goal. 

Specific:  If a goal is vague it is not motivating, achievable or measurable.  You must be very specific about the goal you want to set.  If for instance, I wanted to learn how to play the piano rather than just say, “I want to be more musical.” I would say instead, “I am going to learn to play the piano.” That is more specific and more attainable.

Measurable:  A goal needs to have the ability to be measured so I know if I am making progress.  I could even make this goal more measurable by picking a specific song I am going to work on. I should be able to tell week by week through my practice efforts if I am getting closer to achieving my goal.

Achievable:  It is very important that we set goals that are difficult enough to challenge us so that there is actual improvement but not so difficult that it is impossible.  A goal that is impossible only causes us frustration and disappointment. It would be smarter in our scenario to pick a song like the birthday song rather than Fur Elise to start with.  We can always increase the difficulty of our goals as we increase our abilities.

Relevant: A goal needs to be relevant to the direction we want to be headed in.  If we want to be more musical than a goal to learn the piano, especially a particular song is a good way to move in that direction, it is relevant to the overall direction we want to be headed in.

Time Based: We must set a deadline for our goal for it to be effective.  There is a law referred to as Parkinson’s Law that states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for it’s completion.” It is for exactly this reason that almost every one of us when we were in high school  stayed up until midnight to finish a report that was due the next day.  But we did get it done! And if it had been due the week before, we would have gotten done then too.  So setting a goal with a deadline is much more likely to be achieved then one that has no finish date.

Now that we know what a good goal looks like, how does one set a goal?

*Visualize the change you want to see.  What is the end result you are looking for?

*Decide how you will word your goal.

*Write it down.  You are much more likely to follow through with a goal that you have taken the time to write down.  (And at my age, more likely to actually remember it. Ha!) Then post your goal somewhere you will see it each day.  Then read it out loud each day.  This will help you stay focused on it.

*Tell someone about your goal.  Or tell 3 someones.  The more you talk about your goal the more likely you are to stay on track with it.  It helps tremendously to have accountability to someone else who will be checking on your progress.

*Make a plan.  Break your goal down into small measurable sections.  What will you do to work on it this week?  What will you do each day to move toward the weekly accomplishment? I love this saying, “Little by little, a little bit makes a lot!”

*Set a deadline.  Once you have decided when you want to have your goal accomplished, write it in the same place your goal is.

*Pick a reward for your goal.  Our brains are very trainable.  When they associate a reward with the accomplishment of a goal they become much more helpful in our achieving it.

*Act on your goal.  Be diligent.  Read and research where you need to for optimum success.  The more you learn about what you are doing the more successful you will be.  Be disciplined in pursuing your goal.  Remember that motivation comes and goes but discipline is what keeps us moving forward.

*Take a break.  Don’t burn yourself out.  Work on your goal for 6 days and then take a day off.  Let you brain breathe.  Do something relaxing and invigorating.  This allows us to come back to the goal with fresh eyes and an ability to see where we need to make adjustments.

*Partner with God:  This is perhaps the most important step.  I believe in a God who loves me passionately and wants to see me have success in my life, not just in my spiritual pursuits but in every good and worthy cause.  Not only does He want to see me succeed but He wants to help me.  If I have a goal in mind and I make Him my partner He can give me strength beyond my own endurance, inspiration when I draw a blank, and ideas when I need adjustments.  If I can’t come up with a goal, I am well aware of how much He absolutely loves the humble question, “Where do you think I need improvement in my life?”  My best and most successful goals have started with this question.

Soul Searching Question: What goal will you set today?

Song:

The Motions by Matthew West

Face to face with the author:

The God Who Sees

God Who Sees

Genesis 16:

13 And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?

I am feeling such a strong yearning to write!  My life has been nothing less than chaotic the last month as we have packed, moved, cleaned, unpacked, picked the piecework of our home being built and dealt with other life surprises along the way.  In the midst of these life changes I have felt lost, isolated and alone at times.  A side effect of busyness for me almost always seems to be a disconnection, even if slight, from the habits that stabilize and renew me.  In this disconnection, coming from my end, I feel myself drifting a little and my heart yearns for the anchor I need so desperately.

I heard a song this week that shook me to my core.  I felt my spirit reawaken and my yearning deepen for a shift and reconnection.  It is so interesting to me how when we go through turbulent times, big changes, or even just an increase in life’s demands we tend to drift from the source that can soothe our spirits and heal our hearts.  We feel like we are in a wilderness or a desert, dry and parched and desperate for the living water that can revive us.  It is in these places that we can most appreciate the revitalization and renewal that only that spring of water can bring to our lives, if we choose to turn to it.  But we must take the time to seek and to drink. This song truly reminded me that we have a God that sees us in every circumstance of our lives and desires more than anything to not only be involved in the details, but also to comfort, lift and strengthen us.  I am so very grateful for the God who sees… me!!!

The song is on the long side, but it so powerfully  melds bible stories with music.  I promise if you take the time to listen to it, you will not be sorry!  Here are a few of the words that have infiltrated my mind and heart this week…

The God Who Sees by Kathie Lee Gifford & Nicole C. Mullen

Then He speaks in gentle whispers And He softly calls her name She feels His arms enfold her As He holds her And she’ll never be the same ‘Cause I’m the God who never changes And My promises are true And when this world deserts you This is what I’ll do

And I will be a ring of fire around you And I will be the glory in your midst And the power of My presence Will bring you to your knees Then I will lift you up again For I’m the God who sees

Sees you in your wilderness Sees you in your brokenness When you’re feeling lonely, I’m the God who sees In the desert places, in your empty spaces I’m the God who sees I’m nearer than you dare believe Here in the very air you breathe I’m the God who sees… You

Read more at: https://www.christian-songlyrics.net/2019/04/the-god-who-sees-lyrics-kathie-lee.html
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21 Day Walk with Christ Final Steps

Thank you so much for joining me on this walk with Christ as we prepared for this beautiful Easter day. I am so grateful for the many stories of Christ that we have in the Holy scriptures thanks to those who were faithful to record these experiences. I am so grateful for the power these stories add to my life as I take time to read and ponder on them. I am so grateful for the tools that we have been given to draw closer to our Savior, to build a personal relationship with Him. I am so blessed by an increased understanding of who Jesus is and of His nature, which grows each time I read the stories in the Gospels. I am most humbled by the knowledge that Jesus Christ loves me personally and yearns for a relationship with me. He has that same desire for each of us. He will gather us in His arms if we will allow it!

Song:

Come Unto Christ

Talk:

According To the Desire of our Hearts

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1996/10/according-to-the-desire-of-our-hearts?lang=eng

Soul Searching Question:

What will you do to continue your personal walk with Christ?

Note: A Special thank you to the many talented and inspired artists whose incredible works of art, music, or words added so much depth and beauty to this walk. No infringement of copyright was intended and I hope they will know how much the sharing of their gifts and talents contributed to our last 21 days.

Day 18: It is Lawful to Do Well

Matthew 12:

10 ¶ And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.
11 And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?
12 How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.
13 Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.

Mark 3:

1 And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.
2 And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.
3 And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.
4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.
5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

Luke 6:

6 And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered.
7 And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him.
8 But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth.
9 Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?
10 And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

John 7:

21 Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel.
22 Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man.
23 If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?
24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

There are stories in each of the Gospels of Jesus healing on the Sabbath.  I do not believe this is an insignificant thing. The traditions of their time were so concrete.  Christ bucked the system and this enraged the leaders of the day.  I have always told my kids that anger is a secondary emotion to a bigger underlying emotion.  I believe these men were scared.  They were scared of change.  They were scared of losing their status and their influence over the people.  They were scared to believe that the new teachings might apply to them. This fear paralyzed them.  It kept them from leaving their comfort zone. It kept them from progressing spiritually. It kept them from reaching out to others who needed them.  And clearly it kept them from feeling the Spirit witness of truth. Through His healing power and acts, our Savior was giving people back their lives!  And these men were so caught up in their rules and letter of the law that they had no compassion for the people hurting right in front of them or these miraculous changes that were happening right before their eyes.

Do we allow some of these fears to affect us?  Do we allow ourselves to get so caught up in the traditions of our culture (even within our church) to the point that we are incapable of leaving our boxes, of seeing needs that are outside those perceived lines?  Do we become so ingrained in the culture of our religion that we cannot feel the Spirit calling to us for change or redirection?  Cannot feel the promptings asking us to act in behalf of someone else?

Song:

Love Them Like Jesus

Talk:

Believe, Love, Do

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/10/believe-love-do?lang=eng

Soul searching Question: How can you demonstrate that people are more important than traditions or routines today?

Day 13: He Can Make Us Whole

Luke 17:

11 ¶ And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

Matthew 9:

22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.
Mark 10:

52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.

There are so many stories in the scriptures of Jesus healing people. The phrase “made whole” has always struck a chord with me. Especially reading the first story I shared here. When I would read about how 10 lepers were healed and only one went back to show gratitude, I always wondered why Jesus would tell him that his faith had made him whole. He had healed all 10 of them, so how was this grateful leper’s blessing any greater? For a while I thought maybe it was because he was given the knowledge of how he was healed. Then I had an experience that taught me for myself that there actually was a difference between being healed and being made whole.

In 2011 I unexplainably started losing my vision. It affected both eyes, but my right eye more dramatically. I went to many doctors and no one could ever explain why my retina suddenly started to become defective. My blood vessels were leaking and I was losing my color and central vision. The first year was incredibly hard, especially because they could not identify the cause and therefore could not tell me how it would progress or whether it would spread to other systems. It was a time of great loss and much fear for me.

In my religion we believe in the power of healing blessings through God’s power. I received many blessings of healing over this time. I struggled because I had faith that God could heal me, but for some reason felt that He did not want to. After nearly 2 years of working through things, turning to God for strength and answers, seeking the best medical help, sharing my feelings and fears with my friends and family, I got another blessing. After that blessing I had the strangest calm come over me. And in that calm I distinctly felt a lesson being taught to me. The anguish and uncertainty that had been so prevalent in my life for almost two years was gone. I felt peace. I could look back and see times of comfort, tender mercies of love, and so much I had gained… empathy for others, gratitude for the blessings in my life, an increased closeness to my family, and a better relationship with my God. I had received the miracle of one eye being healed and the other eye was being left with me the way it was, maybe as a reminder of those lessons. Maybe to keep me humble. Maybe so I would remember to testify of God’s mercy in the other things I had learned. But at that point, it didn’t matter. Even though I had not been physically healed in that eye, I had through God’s power, my faith, my positive attitude, my searching for lessons in the trial, and my patience over that time been made whole.

Through that experience I was able to understand the story of the lepers. All were healed, but only that grateful leper was healed from his mental, emotional, and spiritual scars that had stemmed from his affliction. He was made whole because he turned back to the Savior. Though we may not be healed physically in this life, we can ALL be made whole emotionally and spiritually by doing exactly as the leper in this story did, we can turn to the Lord. And as we do this, He will help us start that journey of healing.

Song:

Made New

Talk:

Wilt Thou Be Made Whole

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/10/wilt-thou-be-made-whole?lang=eng

Thought by Merrill J. Bateman:

(He was listening to a woman who had been paralyzed in a car accidentally bear witness to Good having healed her on the inside.)

“As I listened, the Spirit bore witness of the great miracles of the Atonement and the Savior’s power to mend broken hearts, to heal from within. The Savior’s parable of the ten lepers took on new meaning. Luke describes Jesus meeting ten lepers. Upon seeing the Savior, they cried, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Jesus responded: “Go shew yourselves unto the priests.” As they went their way, they were cleansed. One returned, fell on his face at the Master’s feet, and gave thanks. Jesus said, “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?” And then the Lord said to the one who returned, “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole” (see Luke 17:12–19). In becoming a whole person, the grateful leper was healed inside as well as on the outside. That day nine lepers were healed skin deep, but only one had the faith to be made whole. The tenth leper and Sister Hee were changed eternally by their faith in the Savior and the healing power of his atonement.
The Savior’s atonement in the garden and on the cross is intimate as well as infinite. Infinite in that it spans the eternities. Intimate in that the Savior felt each person’s pains, sufferings, and sicknesses. Consequently, he knows how to carry our sorrows and relieve our burdens that we might be healed from within, made whole persons, and receive everlasting joy in his kingdom. May our faith in the Father and the Son help each of us to become whole.

Soul Searching Question:

How can you show faith and allow God to make you whole in one area of your life today?