Lessons of a Long, HOT Summer

Today is Labor Day, September 4th. Summer heat still clings to the days, but fall's cooling promise is growing. While our days are still over 90 degrees here in South Carolina, the nights are cooling off, falling into the low 70s and high 60s.

It has been a tough summer. Ferocious wildfires have ravaged Canada, Hawaii, and California; smaller, less publicized fires have hit other states. Floods have devastated several states. Excessive heat has caused deaths in the South and West. And, even as summer is ending, a hurricane has devastated "the Bend" in Florida.

This summer has also been challenging for me personally. Several friends are dealing with life-threatening illnesses. One of these friends is now celebrating her homecoming in heaven. My own battle for good health seems to be at a stalemate.

Through it all, a sense of God's peace has prevailed. The struggle has been challenging. However, three revelations have made this journey easier.


  1.  It's all about Jesus—not me. Seems obvious, doesn't it? If we accept Jesus, we declare that        

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me [Galatians 2:20].

Saying that "Jesus is Lord" is easy. But head knowledge is not heart knowledge. I have discovered that it is another thing entirely to realize the depth of my own selfishness and allow God to empty me of my self-centered thinking so that I can become Christ's servant. To serve Him freely means to abandon my personal rights, ambitions, and expectations and ask Him to fill me with His expectations for my life. It also means the ability to perceive true victory involves gaining an eternal perspective. What may seem like a defeat on earth [failing to earn a promotion, being misunderstood by friends, even having a friend die] may be a victory from an eternal perspective.


  1.  God has a plan for my life but has given me only a partial revelation. Nevertheless, He has given me the gifts and abilities necessary to empower me to walk in that plan.

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you," says Yahweh, "thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope and a future. 12 You shall call on me, and you shall go and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You shall seek me, and find me, when you search for me with all your heart [Jeremiah 29:11-14, WEB].

However, I have had to realize that my personal expectations for my life flow out of a perception warped by selfishness. I know that God's plan to bring love, peace, satisfaction, fulfillment, and fullness into my life is the best plan. To enter the fullness of His plan for me, however, I must relinquish control of my life to Him.

I know, O Lord, that a man's way is not in himself, Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps [Jeremiah 10:23].


  1.  I can trust God. Now, we say this [or something similar] all the time. But do we believe this enough to stand on this truth? In Ephesians 6, Paul writes:

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world's rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14Stand, therefore,…

 Notice that Paul does not say, "quit". He says to "stand". The Greek word for "stand" here means to   make a stand,

  •  take up a position,
  •  place ourselves [or brace ourselves] in place,
  •  stand ready,
  •  stand firm, or
  •  be steadfast. 

How do we take this stand? Paul tells us how in Ephesians 6:10-17. First, we must rely on God. Second, we must prepare ourselves for battle and put on our armor. Putting on God's armor means that in every trial and temptation by faith, you appropriate Christ's strength in place of your weakness. By faith, you cry out to Him for deliverance and strength to persevere. You rely on His promises by faith, even as Jesus defeated Satan by quoting Scripture (Luke 4:1-13).

 1.  We must first put on the armor of God [Ephesians 6:13-17].

We put on truth by choosing God's word over circumstances [having the utility belt of truth buckled around your waist]. Having a rotten day of mistakes does not mean I am rotten.

 We put on righteousness [put on the breastplate of righteousness]. My acceptance is not based on my actions; God loves me because He chooses to love me, not because I am successful or beautiful in society's eyes. God has chosen to cloth me with Jesus' righteousness: I can't earn it.

We put on peace [having fitted your feet with the preparation of the Good News of peace]. Peace grows as I walk with the Lord and trust Him in every circumstance. I let God be my Protector and Defender.

 We put on salvation [And take the helmet of salvation] by

“Taking every thought captive" so that we will not "be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God" [Romans 12:2].

  1. We then take up the weapons God gives us. 

We deploy our faith [above all, taking up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one]. We choose to believe God and act on that choice.

We take up the word. We devote ourselves to the Word of God. 

We read.

We memorize and think about portions of the Word.

We search the Word of God to understand the meaning of passages and how one passage relates to other portions of Scripture.

Peace grows, and we all can stand firm against the enemy as we mature in our Biblical understanding and learn how to use our spiritual armor. Remember: Weapons are only helpful if we know how to use them. [I personally can use a bow and arrow and shoot a pistol, but I don't know how to fire a bazooka or fly a fighter jet!] 

  • We apply our knowledge and understanding of God's word to life's situations. We come to intellectually and emotionally understand God's complete provision and recognize Satan's lies and slanderous attacks more quickly. 
  • We do not live in fear. We understand Satan's schemes and can separate His attacks from natural consequences [i.e., if I put my hand on a hot stove, I will burn my hand]. Paul wrote, "So that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes" [2 Corinthians 2:11]. We are prepared mentally and spiritually by the Lord to face each day. 
  • We "take up our faith". In other words, I put into practice what I believe. No more excuses or depending on the faith of others to get me through a difficult period. I do not run to the phone unless I pray to God first. I can "test" my armor and skill by taking a stand to gain victories in real-life situations. 

One way to begin is by resisting a small temptation [like a third cookie] before moving to a bigger one [watching a popular but unsuitable movie].           

We avoid known Satanic traps. Turn off the TV, avoid a club, and don't talk to a known gossip. We return to the store to pay for the item that was accidentally left in our grocery cart, etc. 

Get out of your comfort zone and do something where you have to trust God to get you through. As Hebrews 5:14 states, "But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil." Or, as James 1:22 puts it, "Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers, who delude themselves." 

And pray constantly! [with all prayer and requests, praying at all times in the Spirit, and being watchful to this end in all perseverance and requests for all the saints: [Ephesians 6:18]. Think of the Lord as being with you always—as He is. Set aside formal prayer, Bible study, and worship times, but cultivate a mindset of discussing everyday events with Jesus. Ask Him about your daily plans, request help with the grocery budget, tell me about every question that comes up, and thank Him for the good things that happen every day to cultivate an awareness of His presence, for He is always with us. And take time to let Him answer!


  1.  Trust God to do what we cannot and wait on His timing

            In 2nd Samuel 23, there is a brief description of one of David's "mighty men." 

After him was Shammah the son of Agee, a Hararite. The Philistines had gathered together into a troop, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils; and the people fled from the Philistines. 12 But he stood in the middle of the plot and defended it, and killed the Philistines; and Yahweh worked a great victory [2 Samuel 23:11-12]. 

Nothing else is known about Shammah. Yet we know from the Bible that this man achieved greatness because he prepared himself for battle and trusted God. Thus, in a critical moment when those around him fled in fear, he was able to achieve a great victory.

Every day I struggle to be less self-absorbed. I seek to be more like Jesus. Often when I think I have a full understanding or revelation of some area of my life, I discover there is a deeper understanding, a greater calling the Holy Spirit prompts me to embrace. Yet this is the victory we all seek: To be so full of Jesus that His nature--His nature of love, power, grace, mercy, and authority flows through us whatever the situation we find ourselves in.


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