Following the Holy Spirit, Behind the Story of “More Than This” 6/10/2022

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by Staci Stallings

Sometimes I can watch my life and totally know what God is doing. I can see Him setting things up and how and why He gets things to work. Other times, He takes me totally off-guard.

That would be exactly what He did with “More Than This”—my new release on Kindle.More Than This

For those who don’t know, I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer about 90% of the time. That means I may make notes along the way or get pieces of the story before I write them in the story, but I don’t plot the story out before I start writing it.  Most of the time, I get an idea (usually in the form of a dream), and I start somewhere and go with it.

Now, thankfully, the Holy Spirit knows what we’re doing because most of the time, I have no clue!  I write what He says to write, and we go where He wants to go. That’s not always as easy as it sounds because most of the time what it means for me (a recovering control-freak) is that I’m writing with no idea where this is going or how we’re ever going to get there.  Talk about walking on water!

And so it was with “More Than This.”  When I started, all I really remember is there was this guy who was sitting in the back corner of a coffee shop with his laptop, typing. He was in a black coat and all hunched over.  Yes. That’s how much I had to go on when I started.  I didn’t even know the guy’s name. (If you’re wondering how this works…. Yeah, so am I.)

Enter Liz, the cute but very shy waitress who is supposed to bring this guy coffee.  And thus began the story of “More Than This.”

I began writing this book right around the time that there was a major upheaval in my life in the form of my son’s extreme difficulty in first grade.  What ended up taking about 3 years to unravel showed up in my life about the same time I started “More Than This,” and although at the time I didn’t see it, I know the Holy Spirit was carefully putting in the pieces to make it all come together.

About 50 pages in to the story, I suddenly realized something strange.  When Jake (Yay! He now had a name!) was writing, I was never looking through his eyes.  I was literally “in his head.”  Okay, by now you know I’m weird, so here we go…

When I write, in my head, I “become” the character. I see the world as the character sees it. I navigate the world the way they navigate it—except this time I wasn’t quite doing that. Oh, I was in his head enough to know what he was writing, but I wasn’t seeing his computer screen.  That was quite odd.  After this strange way of “being in the story” became clear to me, I began to ask, “Why?” Why wasn’t he letting me see that computer screen?

And that’s when God did something really cool.  I started to ask, “What would make Jake not want me to see that screen? Why doesn’t he WANT me to see it?” (Because when I first tried, it was very clear he wasn’t about to let me see it.)  The answer that came blew me away.

Something's Not RightYou see, my son Andrew had been struggling and struggling with reading, spelling, and writing in school. As a former English teacher, I thought I could teach anyone to read—it was just a matter of practice.  Until I started trying to help Andrew, and “frustration” doesn’t even begin to cover it!

So, God, being the brilliant God He is, had my life on this parallel track I didn’t even realize I was on.  In real life, I was trying to find the solutions for dyslexia that my son desperately needed, and in my fiction, I was writing about a guy who was every bit the creative genius my son was, but who had never gotten any help for his dyslexia.  I could see in Jake the painful path we would travel if we didn’t work to find something to help Andrew.  I could feel the knives of “I’m not good enough” and “I’ve given up on myself” every time I got into Jake’s head and heart. What a hopeless, helpless, horrible feeling. That gave me even more determination to help Andrew.

Around the time we found actual answers for Andrew’s dyslexia, I started writing another book, “Something’s Not Right” about our journey through this confusing maze of something not being right with Andrew and his reading ability. I had thought about putting that book out several times since it was finished, but for some reason (God’s), I never did.  Then a month ago, “More Than This” burst back onto my life’s scene.  I edited it and then realized that “Something’s Not Right” needed to go out at the same time.

In two weeks, they were both done—with covers.

Sometimes God is truly amazing, and other times, He literally blows my mind.  How the Holy Spirit worked the dual journeys of “More Than This” and “Something’s Not Right” from writing to publication and already into the hands of countless readers has definitely blown my mind!

I sincerely hope you are watching for how the Holy Spirit works in your life. It will ground you and inspire you in ways you never could have imagined!

About the Author:

Staci StallingsA stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading. Although she lives in Amarillo, Texas and her main career right now is her family, Staci touches the lives of people across the globe with her various Internet and writing endeavors.

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CrossReads Book Spotlight: Letters in the Wind 6/9/2022

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CrossReads Book Spotlight

CrossReads Book Spotlight

Letters in the Wind

by Sheila Sellinger

CrossReads Book Spotlight  Letters in the Wind  by Sheila Sellinger

This is the fictional diary of an American Christian soldier in Iraq during the year 2003 when the US invaded the country with the support of Britain, Australia, Poland, Spain, and Denmark. The invasion lasted from March 20 to May 1, but troops remained until December 2011. Follow our soldier as he travels this adventure. Take a look inside his life and thoughts.

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CrossReads Short Takes: A Time for Singing & Madness in Wonderland 6/8/2022

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CrossReads Short Takes

A Time for Singing

by Carol James

A Time for Singing

Charlee Bennett is running from her past. Once deserted by her musician ex-fiancé, she’s vowed to avoid anything that reminds her of the pain of his betrayal.

Chance Jackson is starting over. Hoping to redeem the mistakes of his earlier life, he wants to become the music and worship pastor of the largest church in Crescent Bluff.

Charlee tries to convince herself she should not be attracted to Chance. But then she discovers an old letter hidden in the secret drawer of an antique desk. The pain expressed by its author resonates deep within her.

Can the words of long ago soften Charlee’s heart and help her to discover that there is a time for singing?

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Madness in Wonderland

(Beyond Wonderland Book 1)

by Tabitha Bouldin

Madness in Wonderland

 

Wonderland is in trouble.

Under the rule of the Red Queen, Wonderland is under constant threat. In fear for her throne, children are taken into the queen’s army and only the strongest survive.

Alice is nothing but a pirate, but with the help of Hatter, they hatch a plan to sneak into the Red Queen’s palace to free Hatter’s sister. After all, Alice has always wanted to fly an airship.

Dr. Frank N. Stein has created an army of automatons to serve their queen. Of particular note: a prototype soldier. Part man. Part machine. The best of both worlds.

Doc’s monster is a threat to everything they know, but Alice sees something in the man that begs she look beyond what he’s done and search out the heart of the beast for the better of the realm.

He’s their only hope of survival, but how can a monster learn to love when all he’s known is hate?

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What God Has Prepared For Us Who Love Him 6/7/2022

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by Robin McKinley

All who know Christ as their Savior are in for a grand eternal surprise. Jesus said He was going to prepare a place for us. It seems that Bible translators don’t know if we are going to live in mansions, rooms, or suites. But then it really doesn’t matter to me. I’m just looking forward to what God has prepared for us.

“That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Most have heard the stories of people who have died and come back to life. Then reported what it was like on the other side. Some say it was quite beautiful.

Others reported how the music was written in harmonies like we have never heard before. Some stated that they talked with people there, including Jesus. Before long though, they observed themselves going back into their bodies and resuming life again.

Do I believe what these people had seen and heard? I have no reason not to believe them. Do I believe they went to heaven? Well . . , I have to say, I don’t.

I don’t know where they went or what they saw. So if our verse for today is still relevant then there’s one thing I know. – No eye has seen and no ear has heard.

Do I believe these people saw and experienced something? Absolutely! The Lord gave them a wonderful experience. According to this verse of scripture though, it is nothing compared to what God has prepared for us.

There is no doubt in my mind these folks died and experienced a taste of eternity. Which according to their testimony is gorgeous.  

John’s Vision 

The Apostle John gave us some descriptions of what he saw when he received the Revelation. He tried to explain his vision to us by writing it down. We still don’t understand exactly what he saw.

Even things we know about like a sea, but made of glass? Streets, paved with gold? And a city built in a cube, 1400 miles on each side? I can’t even imagine things like them.

John saw some wonderful things, but how much didn’t he see? According to what Paul said, no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him. 

Moses’ Experience with God 

Moses asked God if he could see his glory. God told him he couldn’t see His face and live. So the Lord made provision for Moses to see the back of Him.

As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen.  Exodus 33:22-23

We don’t know what it looked like, but Moses saw God pass by. We don’t understand what John witnessed, but it was glorious.

These people who came back from the dead have also stirred our imaginations. 

Are You Ready for what God has Prepared for Us?  

The truth of the matter is, no one has seen the finished product and come back to tell about it. The best is yet to come. So as you go through your day today, keep this promise from Jesus in your mind. 

I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. John 14:2-3 

Lord, we can’t even imagine what eternity will be like. We live each day with the promise that Jesus is preparing a place and will come for us. We look forward to experiencing eternity with you. 

About The Author 

Pastor RobinRobin, with his wife Cindy, became children’s evangelists early in their ministry. They ministered to children full time for 8 years. During that time they developed several children’s stories which were told with visuals and puppets.

Robin recently turned two of those stories into children’s books. One is called “The Contest,” a book about the Fruit of the Spirit, and the other is called “Twas the Night of Christmas”.  He has also authored 5 volumes of devotional books called, 3 Minutes Alone with God. Each entry is a product of his personal biblical Journaling.

These and his other writings are available on his website called Christian Perspectives at www.ramckinley.com. When you visit this site, you can sign-up for newly written devotions as they come out which will be emailed to you.

Presently Robin is the pastor of Calvary Christian Center in Pottstown, PA. He is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God. He and his wife make their home in Birdsboro, Pa. He also serves as the president of the local ministerium. He and Cindy have two married sons and four grandchildren.

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CrossReads Weekly Devotional: Kingdom Work 6/6/2022

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by Precarious Yates

Psalm 146:5-9

“Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,

        whose hope is in the LORD his God,

who made heaven and earth,

        the sea, and all that is in them,

    who keeps faith forever;

who executes justice for the oppressed,

        who gives food to the hungry.

    The LORD sets the prisoners free;

the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.

    The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;

        the LORD loves the righteous.

The LORD watches over the sojourners;

        he upholds the widow and the fatherless,

        but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.”

Things don’t seem to be getting easier. They seem to be getting more intense and difficult with each passing day. With inflation rates, many people cannot afford the gas to get to work to buy the now expensive food for their families. It’s like we’re all hard pressed on every side with the mass shootings in random locations and situations all over the US. But we’re given the promise that although we’re hard pressed, we will not be crushed (see 2 Cor. 4:9). There was One who was crushed: Jesus Christ the Righteous One: “He was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities…” (Isaiah 53:5). Because Jesus took on the punishment for sin, we can take on the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus! In Him, we can enter into the all the promises of God, including those listed in Psalm 146. Not only can we enter into those promises, we can partner with Him to bring these glorious blessings to the world. The hungry that He feeds He will feed through us. Those who are imprisoned to shame or addiction or even in physical prisons because of injustice, they can be set free by the Gospel we bring and by the truth we have to share. Just as Jesus opened the eyes of the blind, He told us we would do the same and even greater works (see John 14:12). When the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down low and when He loves on the righteous, He most often does this through other people—believers like you and me! When the Lord watches over the widow, the fatherless and the foreigner, it most often through His people. James 1:27 says:

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

What are stains from the world? John tells us in 1 John 2:16, “for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world.”

If, instead of feeding our fleshly desires we partner with the Lord to bring His Kingdom, we will discover joy that will not be shaken, not even when everything else in the whole world is shaking. 

Don’t be afraid to shine the light that God put inside you!May you be blessed and May you be a blessing to many!

Precarious Yates

About the Author:

Precarious YatesPrecarious Yates has lived in 8 different states of the Union and 3 different countries, but currently lives in Texas with her husband, her daughter and their big dogs. When she’s not writing, she enjoys music, teaching, playing on jungle gyms, praying and reading. She holds a Masters in the art of making tea and coffee and a PhD in Slinky® disentangling.

Links:

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Putting People Together 6/3/2022

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by Staci Stallings

There are very few things in this life more fulfilling than helping someone else reconnect with God.

There are also very few things that can be as frustrating.

Now picture this:

You and I are standing in a dark room that has an unplugged lamp.  YOU have the cord.  All I can do is give you instructions.  I cannot touch your cord.  I cannot plug it in for you.

“Go to the wall.”

“I can’t find the wall.”

“Okay.  Then move toward the wall…. Have you moved?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’m afraid.”

“It’s okay.  Just take a step.  One step.”

“But what if I bump into something?”

“You might, but you’re never gonna find the wall by standing there.”  Pause.  ”Okay. Have you moved?”

“No.”

And you start over again until MAYBE you get the other person to take A step.  ONE.

Then you get to start all over again.

Sometimes you actually get them to move, and then they bump into something and stop again.

Sometimes they get going and find the wrong wall.

Even when you get them TO the wall, finding the outlet can be a real challenge.

I am constantly amazed by the patience of God.  In fact, one of the most famous verses of the Bible says, “Love is patient.”  If God is love as another verse says, then it translates that “God is patient.”  To which I say THANK GOD for THAT!

You see, while I and my fellow believers are trying to help others reconnect, God is busy reconnecting ME ever-so-more tightly to Him.  I think of the Bible verse:  And the two shall become one.

That verse is meant to be about man and woman as husband and wife, but the truth is, it’s also about me and God.

God wants to connect with me so deeply that there is no me apart from Him. He wants to be my life.  Not just “in” my life or a “part of” my life.

The more that is true, the more in His image I become, the more patient with myself and others I get.  (See, how that works?!)

And it’s a good thing sometimes because I have a couple of friends who have come a LONG way in the eight or so years I’ve known the two of them, and they still have their moments!

In the book I’m currently writing the young man is in love with a young woman who has been through a monstrous amount of hurt and grief.  She is skittish of relationships, refuses to FEEL anything, and is hiding so much even from herself, he may never reach her.  In desperation, he talks with his mother about the situation.  She tells him about this love is patient quote, and she says that if he really loves this girl, he’s going to have to stand and wait for her to be ready.

I think, right there, is our calling if we are committed to reconnecting people with God.  We must be willing to stand and wait for that person and the breakthrough that IS coming.  When is it coming?  Sometimes, that’s a good question, and all I can tell you is, “In God’s time!”  While you’re waiting, get really good at practicing to be God’s image, and God’s image is love, which is first and foremost… PATIENT!

*~*~*

Here’s a great example of two people letting God put them each back together and then together from my books…

All JaMore Than Thiske wanted was a cup of coffee and a quiet place to write. What he found was her and far more than he ever imagined could be possible…

Liz Savoy has no plans to date anyone — least of all the dark handsome mystery man who sometimes inhabits the corner table at the coffee shop where she’s working to get through school. But plans change, sometimes in ways no one expected.

Jake McCoy is the next mega-millionaire author, or at least he would be if he could get the stories in his head down on the ether. With no good place to write, he resorts to dark corners in Wi-Fi hotspots, knowing no one in the world cares about him or his comings and goings one way or the other. However, there is one waitress at The Grind coffee shop with a cute smile and kind eyes who doesn’t seem to think he is as invisible as he likes to think he is. Can reality with her ever hope to match the fantasy world where his imagination has him living?

About the Author:

Staci StallingsA stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading. Although she lives in Amarillo, Texas and her main career right now is her family, Staci touches the lives of people across the globe with her various Internet and writing endeavors.

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CrossReads Book Spotlight: WOMEN OF GOD, Arise 6/2/2022

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CrossReads Book Spotlight

CrossReads Book Spotlight

WOMEN OF GOD, Arise

Conquer Daily Goliaths with Godly Power!

by Teresa Smyser

WOMEN OF GOD, Arise

Make a difference in the moral climate in your home, our nation, and the world! As our world crumbles under the onslaught of evil, we see society falling away from God’s guidelines, producing unimaginable sufferings. It’s time to return to the basics of Godly principles.Don’t be overwhelmed by trials! You can survive and emerge victorious by working through your adversities when equipped with the right weapons. This book will unlock key elements for achieving victories over daily Goliath-type battles. These principles, once implemented in your life, will strengthen your faith and help you stand firm in a world spiraling deeper into spiritual darkness. Unleash the powerful weapon that goes untouched. Find out how obedience brings blessings. Take this journey and arise as a woman equipped to make a difference in the moral climate in your home, our nation, and the world.

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CrossReads Short Takes: Something We Never Imagined & Got Your Goat 6/1/2022

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CrossReads Short Takes

Something We Never Imagined

by Douglas J. Wemple

Something We Never Imagined

Something We Never Imagined is a story about an intriguing country boy named Colton Dust who moves to Los Angeles to study journalism at USC after graduating from high school in his small hometown. A few years after graduating with a degree in journalism, he finds himself quickly rising up the ranks as a news columnist in LA when his first column at a smaller newspaper catches the eye of the Editor in Chief at the largest newspaper in LA. However, just as he is finally achieving success in his career, he happens to meet a beautiful young woman named Emma Lee Coal who begins to stir something inside of him he had not felt in a long time, but in order to open his heart, he has to encounter a painful experience still haunting him from his past. Even though Emma Lee is initially enchanted by his charming looks, she quickly finds him a bit brash and self-centered. Yet, she also finds herself intrigued to learn more about why he believes what he does, she just isn’t sure if she’ll ever see him again after their first encounter. Then after a twist of fate brings the two of them together again, she begins to help him experience the healing power of forgiveness, but as his life hits a crossroad point, he must decide if he truly has faith and trust in God in order to experience something he never could have imagined.

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Got Your Goat

(Idioms & Clichés Book 4)

by Janice Cole Hopkins

Got Your Goat

When Emily Rose Howard took in four goats, she didn’t know she was getting more than she bargained for. However, life gets even more complicated when her neighbor’s son brings his army friend home for a visit after the Civil War ends, and her former art professor shows up too. But life in the Appalachian Mountains has never been easy, and Emily Rose is determined to face her problems with faith and determination the way she always has.

It’s a long trip from Georgia to Kansas, and Robert Johnson agrees to go home with Lomax Greer and rest up before he goes on to see his sister and her family. The mountains of North Carolina are closer, and Robert is exhausted from the long years of fighting for the Union. However, he hadn’t expected the Appalachians or Lomax’s neighbor to be so lovely. He likes the small, mountain farm, even with all its complications, but he knows there’ll come a time when he must return to Kansas. What will happen then, if part of his heart will always remain in these mountains?

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UNBEATEN 5/31/2022

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by Suzanne D. Williams

We’re not meant to match, to blend in. God didn’t dress us in camouflage and say, “Assimilate.” In fact, His instructions were specific. We’re called “peculiar”. We’re told not to “conform”, but to stand out.

We’re outcasts, outsiders who believe in a world we cannot see. In forces held in the heavens by a Being others deny exists.

We’re fluorescent pink in a sea of beige. A red flower growing in a bed of yellow.

We’re the voice crying out in the wilderness of darkened minds and shaking heads. Of hatred. “Make way for the Lord.”

We hold our light high for the world to see, while they try with clawing fingers to snuff it out. They’ll fail. And fall. Because our light comes from a source that no man can reach on his own.

There’s only one way to it, one skinny path, leading through a field of thorns to the foot of a cross, bathed in the blood of a man who died as a criminal to defeat the greatest power of all – death. And unseen from the people of his day, from the priests and populace who condemned him, He did defeat it and rose triumphant.

A man like no other, who followed no one, but drew everyone and loved anyone. Including those who hung him there.

“Go and do likewise.”

Be distinct. Be definite. Leave no one guessing Whose you are, but stand in the center of an earth in conflict and dare to trust that the target on your back is, in fact, a shield powered by the greatest Source of all. Impermeable. Impenetrable. Unbeaten.

www.beckycombeeministries.com 

www.suzannedwilliams.com

Passionate Church

About The Author

Suzanne WilliamsBest-selling author, Suzanne D. Williams, is a native Floridian, wife, mother, and photographer. She is the author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She writes devotionals and instructional articles for various blogs. She also does graphic design for self-publishing authors. She is co-founder of THE EDGE.

www.feelgoodromance.com 

www.suzannedwilliams.com 

Facebook – suzannedwilliamsauthor 

Twitter – @SDWAuthor. 

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CrossReads Weekly Devotional: Verse of the Day and Devotional 5/30/2022

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Verse of the DayMay 30th, 2022

Scripture

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:10-12 NLT

Devotion

The times we live in are the times between Jesus Christ’s first and second coming. Although the power of the devil has been broken in principal through the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ to the right hand of God, the enemy still wields considerable power here on earth. Indeed, the Bible can still refer to the devil as “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30). This does not mean that he has all power over the world, for “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1), but it does mean that he is the mighty prince of a spiritual regime of “evil rulers and authorities” at work within God’s world.

The devil is not some sort of impersonal evil force. The devil is a created spiritual being with the power of reason and thought. He is a thinker. He does not confront us without thinking about it. He has strategies designed for our destruction. Although Paul tells us that “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies,” he uses flesh-and-blood enemies to effectuate his purposes in the world. We must always realize, therefore, that there is a devious spiritual strategist behind the struggles we face with other people—and even with our own selves, for we can be our own worst enemy.

In order to fight effectively against the devil and his cohorts, Paul tells us that we must be “strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” We must not, therefore, try to confront the devil in our own power. It is because he thoughtfully uses his considerable power that we must not fight him on our own. We must use the armor of God listed in this chapter: the “belt of truth,” “God’s righteousness,” the “peace that comes from the Good News,” the “shield of faith,” and the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:14-17). Each of these in its own way helps us in the fight.

Today, ask the Lord to help you make intelligent use of His armor as needed against the strategies of the enemy.

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