June 25

            One of the old sayings that I try to live by is “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” It comes in many forms, such as “Things aren’t always what they seem,” and although it is a cliché, it’s still true. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I am afraid of thunderstorms. Specifically, what always rattled me was the thunder because of its loudness. The lightning only bothered me because I knew that the loud thunder would not be far behind it. It wasn’t until much later that I learned that thunder was merely noise, but it wouldn’t hurt you, and the silent lightning was what could harm you if you were extremely unlucky enough to be hit by it.
            There are other instances of things which appear to be beneficial yet can hurt us if we are not vigilant. For example, people who seem to be full of piety and keeping up a good appearance may be exactly that, or they may just be showing off to “show” their worth to an admiring world. It is up to us to discern the wheat from the chaff and to practice that which we have been commanded to do.
            Jesus warns us against falling into this trap in Matthew 6. When we give alms, or pray, or fast, we are told not to make a big display of these actions; Jesus tells us that those who do these things ostentatiously “…have received their reward.” We are instead told to do these things in secret, for “your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” In both cases, things are not what they seem, but only one course of action will meet with God’s approval. May we strive never to fall into the trap of doing the Lord’s work merely to bolster our egos, but always to further the advance of God’s Kingdom here on Earth.


June 12

Recently while driving to work the scripture passage about “The Armor of God” popped in my head. This is unusual for me, scripture passages don’t just “pop” in my head.  I didn’t even remember where in the Bible this passage was located nor what it was about. By the way, it is found in Ephesians 6: 10-17  and explains about the full armor of God, including a belt, breastplate, shield, helmet and sword. It is not a particular comforting passage to me, nor is it one of my “go to” passages, nor do I really get its meaning, nor can I relate to putting on armor. So this sort of made me curious and start looking up other translations of it to figure out why this just popped in my head. Of course we all know that things just don’t pop in our head, for some reason God wanted me to think about this some more. The passage talks about the armor representing truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation. The translation in “The Message” says: “God is strong and he wants you strong…be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own…truth, righteousness, peace, faith and salvation are more than just words…God’s Word is an indispensable weapon…”
This makes more sense to me, but I was still confused. Life is a battle, that is for sure. Trying to stay on the right path and imitate Jesus is a little intimidating to me and I always fall short, but I still want to try my best. 
Work is the place I struggle the most these days. I am a nurse and I work in the operating room at Shock Trauma. It is a stressful and challenging job, but I believe God has placed me there to do His work. Lately I have been struggling and feeling weary. I talked with my pastor about it and he suggested I pray over my scrubs before I change into them. I like that idea. I have begun thinking of the pink scrubs as my armor of God at work, praying over them when I put them on and again when I take them off. 
I am sure there is something you could specifically pray over in your life when you are struggling and begin to think of it as your armor of God. Prayer is a powerful weapon we have to help us in our wars and battles. In fact Ephesians 6:18 tells us to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. 
The picture above is me and one of my best friends at work. We have worked together for over 25 years. We pray for each other and help each other when we are struggling. I am blessed with a group of work friends that I can talk to who understand the struggles of our work and who will pray for me when I am in need. 
Putting on the armor of God gives us powerful weapons to fight our worldly battles.

Heavenly Father, help us to remember to turn to you when we are at war. Your strength helps make us strong to fight our battles! Amen.