Do You Desire to Have Peace Beyond Understanding?

Do you long to experience God’s peace? I think it’s safe to say that we all desire peace in our lives… but peace beyond understanding is something entirely different. God’s peace is beyond understanding because the world can’t understand how we can be at peace in the middle of a storm. And let’s face it. Storms happen. There’s no such thing as a life without hardships and struggles. So when God promises us peace in the midst of these trials, it’s a promise that seems almost too good to be true. Continue Reading

Armor of God: Fighting in Prayer | alyssajhoward.com

Armor of God: Fighting in Prayer

In Ephesians 6, Paul gives us a list of armor that all believers are called to wear when preparing for spiritual battle. He uses traditional pieces of armor as a way to illustrate how we are to arm ourselves as Christians against the enemy. This list includes the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit.

He concludes his list with the following verse:

 

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.Ephesians 6:18 (NLT)

 

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Armor of God: The Sword of the Spirit

Every warrior knows that in order to succeed in battle, one must be prepared both offensively and defensively. Without one or the other, we are doomed to failure. At first glance, the armor of God is all about defense. We do, however, have one offensive weapon – the sword of the Spirit.

The Word of God is our sword – our only offensive weapon against the enemy.

 

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Armor of God: The Helmet of Salvation

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul presented a metaphor that would shape the way Christians view spiritual battle – the act of putting on spiritual armor. Ephesians 6:17 tells us to put on the helmet of salvation. The helmet is often the final piece of armor a soldier puts on before marching out into battle. Yet without it, the rest of the armor seems somewhat pointless. If your head is unprotected, it will only be a matter of time before the enemy takes you down.

 

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Armor of God: The Shield of Faith | alyssajhoward.com

Armor of God: The Shield of Faith

When it comes to armor, the shield is an extremely vital piece – something I definitely wouldn’t want to go into battle without. Sure, I may be wearing body armor, but it’s my shield that allows me to protect the most vulnerable parts of me. I can maneuver it to guard me from all angles. And while my body armor can prevent me from being injured in an attack, my shield can keep me from getting hit in the first place.

 

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Armor of God: Shoes of Peace

What do shoes and peace have in common? Not much on the surface. Yet Paul tells Christians in Ephesians 6 to wear “shoes of peace” as part of our spiritual armor. (Ephesian 6:15)

When it comes to armor in general, the term “peace” doesn’t usually spring to mind. After all, armor is generally worn during times of war – not times of peace. So why would Paul tell us to wear peace when facing the enemy in warfare?

 

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Armor of God: The Breastplate of Righteousness

The breastplate is an extremely important piece of armor. It protects our heart and other vital organs. So when Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 to put on the breastplate of righteousness, he was indicating the importance of righteousness in our lives.

Righteousness can’t be earned. Our own attempts to be righteous will always fail. In Christ, righteousness is granted to us as believers because of our faith.

 

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Armor of God: The Belt of Truth | alyssajhoward.com

Armor of God: The Belt of Truth

Paul tells believers in Ephesians 6 to wear the belt of truth. In our culture, however, truth is relative. Your truth and my truth can completely contradict one another. Not only is this type of thinking considered okay, it is actually encouraged. Our culture even has a polite, socially acceptable word for it – tolerance.

 

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Armor of God: An Introduction | alyssajhoward.com

Armor of God: An Introduction

Growing up in the church, I have been taught numerous times about the armor of God. In the book of Ephesians, Paul warns believers to be prepared for battle. He lays out a detailed list of armor that we as Christians should “put on” as we prepare for war. As a kid, I understood the mental image, but I never fully understood what this armor meant until I was older and faced the battle in a very real way.

 

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Victory at the Finish Line: Building Endurance in Our Faith

One of my favorite things about running is that the results are tangible. Growth can easily be measured by time and distance. Just five months ago, I competed in my first half marathon. This weekend, I will be racing in my second. I can’t begin to tell you how different it is training for this race versus my last one.

In my first half marathon, my goal was simply to finish. When beginning my training, 13.1 miles seemed like an incredible distance…one that seemed nearly impossible. I achieved my goal, but not without my fair share of physical and mental exhaustion. It was hard. Not to say that training for my second half marathon has been easy, but it has certainly proven to be less exhausting. 13.1 miles doesn’t seem quite as daunting this time around. Continue Reading

Love Defined: How to Experience True Love That Is Unshakable

I believe with all of my heart that the greatest love story ever told is the one between God and man. It amazes me that an all-knowing, perfect God would go through such great lengths to be with me. God chose to look beyond my mess to see who I could become in Him. He endured the cross, even as I was unfaithful and lost in sin. In my own human strength, I could never imagine loving someone as unconditionally as God loves me. But God’s Word tells me that I can love others because God (who is love) lives in me. Continue Reading

Love Defined: Loving Others the Way God Loves Us

Everything God does is for our own good, and the Bible says that He is quick to forgive. We live in a culture, however, that is self-absorbed, loves to argue, and is quick to burn bridges when it comes to hurt and offense. So when Jesus taught us to love others the way He loves us, He was calling us to something radical, something completely counter-cultural. Continue Reading

Love Defined: Four Things That Will Destroy Love

Paul begins his definition of true love in 1 Corinthians 13 by telling us what love is…patient and kind. He goes on to tell us, however, what love isn’t. There are four things can and will destroy love if given the chance. Allowing these “weeds” to take root in our hearts and minds may not seem like a big deal, but they can easily become major problems in our lives if we allow them to grow. Continue Reading

Love Defined: Choosing Patience When You Want to Complain | alyssajhoward.com

Love Defined: Choosing Patience When You Want to Complain

My 3-year-old broke her arm this week. I must say that she is one tough kid. Not only did she barely cry, but she went on playing as if nothing had happened. It wasn’t until the next morning that I even noticed she was favoring that arm. No swelling. No bruising. I took her in to get an x-ray and sure enough, it was broken. Continue Reading

Love Defined: It's More than a Feeling | alyssajhoward.com

Love Defined: It’s More than a Feeling

Love is such a cliché word these days. I can love God, love my family, love my life, and so on. But I can also love shopping, cooking, and being extremely organized. In all honesty, the word “love” is seriously overused in our American culture today. Continue Reading