Woman to Woman: Jan 22, 2021; What’s on Your Feet?

by Paulette Stamper 

Based on Ephesians 6, our struggle is not against flesh and blood. Scripture tells us that our battle is against powers and spiritual forces of evil. We have been given battle armor that protects us from our head to our feet. There’s one piece of armor in particular that keeps coming to the forefront of my mind recently – “…your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15 NIV).

Like many of you, I’m watching as our nation seems to be unraveling at the seams. Our current climate can be described as anything but peaceful. What a great opportunity for those of us who have fitted our feet with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace! The world around us may be going crazy, but we don’t have to go crazy with it. In fact, we have been entrusted with the transforming power of the gospel of peace, and we are charged to take it to a world desperate for it.

We have two choices.

We can either slip into the despair, panic, and unrest of the world, OR we can march boldly into it by fearlessly declaring the gospel. Allow me to point out the obvious – we can’t take the gospel of peace to others if we don’t have it ourselves. If we are in Christ Jesus, peace is a gift to us no matter our life circumstances. We need to claim our promised peace! We need to fix our eyes on Jesus! Now is the time to repent of the sin in our lives and return to God with our whole hearts! Now is not the time to shrink back in fear but rather, to march boldly into the darkness carrying with us the only light that has the power to save – the gospel of peace!

What’s on your feet?

Woman to Woman: Jan 15, 2021

When the exiles returned to Jerusalem after seventy years in exile, they rebuilt the temple the Babylonians had destroyed. During the rebuilding process, those in opposition approached them and offered their help, posing as God-worshippers themselves. However, the leaders recognized their scheme and would not allow it. Their enemies then showed their true colors and responded by turning up the heat. 

Then the peoples around them set out to discouragethe people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. They bribed officials to work against them and frustrate their plans…  Ezra 4:4-5

When you and I set out to do what the Lord has called us to do, we can be sure that the enemy will do his best to discourage us, make us afraid, work against us, and frustrate us at every turn. If we keep this in mind, we won’t be surprised when we see the enemy’s fiery arrows start flying. If we keep this in mind, we will armor up before we step one foot in the direction of obedience. If we keep this in mind, we will be prepared. And if we keep this in mind, we will be faithful to complete what the Lord has entrusted and called us to do. 

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  1 Peter 4:12 

Woman to Woman: Dec 18, 2020

by Paulette Stamper

It’s no secret that followers of Jesus face battles of many kinds. It’s been said that a Christian is always in one of three places: coming out of a battle, enduring a battle, or heading into a battle. I might argue that we could be in all three places simultaneously because sometimes we are fighting more than one battle at a time! We know that James admonishes us to consider it “pure joy” when we face trials of many kinds. How exactly do we do that? Because we don’t extract joy from the battle itself, so, where does a sense of joy come from when we are in the heat of a battle? I believe our joy comes from what our faith produces in the battle. 

Consider Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, mentioned by the author of Hebrews in chapter 11. We are told that through faith, “they…

Conquered kingdoms
Administered justice
Gained what was promised
Shut the mouths of lions
Quenched raging fire
Escaped the edge of the sword
Gained strength in weakness
BECAME MIGHTY IN BATTLE (this is my favorite!) and
Put foreign armies to flight.”

That’s one pretty awesome list – and it all occurred in battle. 

We don’t consider the battle itself as “pure joy,” but rather, what we gain in the battle. Who doesn’t want to be a part of the army that conquers kingdoms, administers justice, and shuts the mouths of lions? If we believe this is what we will gain, then we will undoubtedly experience joy – in the battle.

Woman to Woman: Dec 11, 2020

by Paulette Stamper 

“How long will you be paralyzed by indecision? If the LORD is the true God, then follow him, but if Baal is, follow him!” 1 Kings 18:21

God uniquely blessed Israel to make his name known throughout the earth. God promised the land to Abraham’s descendants, brought them out of bondage in Egypt, and poured out his blessings on both the people and the land. However, God’s chosen people quickly forgot about their God, turning their affections and attention to the pagan gods of the nations surrounding them. In quite the dramatic showdown, the prophet Elijah boldly confronted them, declaring the time for choosing sides had arrived. No longer could they claim to follow the God of Israel while practicing pagan worship. Either they had to declare allegiance to the one true God or drop the pretense and make a public declaration that Baal was their god. It wasn’t exactly a “Discover Your Best Life Now” feel-good type of sermon, but man did it fuel the fire for change in Israel…literally!

Our nation is similar to Israel in many ways. We have the freedom to worship the true God, and we are abundantly blessed. However, there are many Christians who are “paralyzed by indecision.” They honor God with their lips but have hearts that are far from him (Isaiah 29:13). What we desperately need in this hour of history are men and women of God who will stand in the spirit of Elijah, boldly declaring the truth of God’s word, and admonishing those who claim the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to throw off the spirit of lukewarm Christianity and be either hot or cold. Now is not the time to sit on the sidelines and watch the moral decline of our great nation. Now is the time for the sons and daughters of the Most High God to take our positions as mighty warriors, confronting the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms with the mightiest weapon available to us – the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God!

Let’s not shrink away from the battlefield. Now more than ever, the world needs bold warriors like Elijah willing to declare the truth with courage, passion, accuracy, and zeal. Will you answer the call to take a stand like Elijah?

Woman to Woman: Dec 4, 2020

by Paulette Stamper

This morning on my prayer walk, I looked down at all the leaves I still need to rake, and I noticed some of  the exposed roots of a tree that Jake and I planted when we moved to this house about 14 years ago. When we brought it home, it was small enough to fit in my Jeep. Now it’s a giant weeping willow tree with a massive root system. I heard the Spirit whisper to me – your roots are like this tree. You were in the process of deep spiritual growth when you moved here, and you made the deliberate choice to continue to grow – now your spiritual roots are like the roots of this tree – strong, powerful, and steady. Roots like this take time and effort. Keep cultivating and tending to your roots, and your faith will be far-reaching and long-lasting, just like this tree.

A seed doesn’t grow into a fully mature tree with a vast root system overnight. Growth takes time. A lot of time. We live in a culture that has programmed us to want and expect immediate results. Don’t fall into that trap when it comes to your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Take time each day to cultivate your love for him. Take time each day to read his word. The best relationships in our lives are the ones we have taken the time and effort into cultivating. Do you want to be a strong, tall tree with a massive root system that can withstand any storm? Then commit to the growth process, every. single. day.

Blessed is the one who finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands; he meditates on his commands day and night. He is like a tree planted by flowing streams; it yields its fruit at the proper time, and its leaves never fall off. Psalm 1:2-3

Woman to Woman: Nov 20, ’20

by Paulette Stamper 

If you have ever prayed, “Lord, I don’t know what to do!” then you are in good company.

Powerful enemy armies were coming against Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat fearfully prayed, “Lord, we don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 2 Chronicles 20:12 (The whole story of God’s miraculous victory is in 2 Chronicles 20.) 

Fact – the armies coming against Israel were stronger than they were.

Fact – Israel could not stand against the enemy and win.

Followers of Jesus need to keep something in mind about facts. Facts may be true, but they aren’t always the Truth.

Think of it like this…

Fact – the law of nature says no one can walk on water. This is a true statement. However, the Truth is Jesus wrote the laws of nature and He can do whatever He wants, including walking on water!

It was true that the enemy armies that came against Israel were stronger and more powerful, but the Truth was, God heard their prayer and fought the battle for them, and won!

We indeed live in a divided nation full of hostility, hatred, confusion, deceit, and lawlessness. We look around and see the chaos and readily admit that we don’t always know what to do. The truth is the forces at work around us to sow discord and disunity are stronger than we are, and we are no match for the principalities of darkness that currently control the narrative. However, the Truth is, those same principalities are no match for our God! The Truth is, our God is all-powerful, almighty, and well-able to pierce the darkness with his light, to proclaim freedom to the captives, declare unity instead of disunity, and to penetrate even the hardest of hearts with his unfailing love. The Truth is, when our God leads the way, we can follow him with confidence into any battle knowing the victory is ours!

When we feel overwhelmed and helpless, may we bend our knees and turn our eyes toward heaven and pray, “Lord, we don’t know what to do, but our eyes on You!” Because our God never changes, we, too, will see the deliverance and victory of the Lord on our behalf.

Woman to Woman: Nov 13, 2020

by Paulette Stamper 

“I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt. I have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up from that land to a land that is both good and spacious…”

You probably recognize the above verses from the well-known burning bush scene in Exodus 3. God’s words to Moses revealed unchanging, fundamental truths about His character: He is the God who sees, the God who hears, the God who knows, and the God who rescues. If we have a relationship with Jesus, then we can apply these truths to our personal lives. Every day you and I can rehearse these truths:

My God sees me

My God hears me

My God knows me

My God rescues me

If we keep our feet planted firmly on these truths, then you and I can face any situation or circumstance that comes our way with absolute confidence. We can live as Spirit-filled conquerors, overcomers, and mighty warriors. We can fight any battle knowing we’ve been rescued by Almighty God and that no weapon formed against us will prosper.

You and I must choose daily to remember these foundational truths. Commit to speaking them aloud – something powerful happens when our ears hear our own voice speaking truth from God’s word. We will feel our confidence and hope in God increase with each spoken word. Go ahead, give it a try. You’ll be ready to pick up your sword and shield and take your stand against the schemes of the enemy. Nothing can stop a woman standing on the Truth!

Unnamed but not Anonymous: Manoah’s Wife

by Paulette Stamper 

What comes to mind when you hear the biblical name of Samson? Chances are you recall the stories of his long hair and supernatural strength. Or maybe you think of his less-than-ideal relationship with Delilah and his ultimate tragic demise. While these stories may be familiar to us, I wonder how many of us are familiar with his parents’ background – specifically his mother? Before you read any further, I want to encourage you to pause and read Judges 13. It will take about five minutes, and it might be the best five minutes of your day.
 
The Book of Judges recounts the ongoing saga of Israel ending up in one hot mess after another as a result of their rebellion against God. In this chapter, they were under the harsh oppression of the Philistines for forty years (and we think four or eight years of a President we may or may not like is a long time!). Circumstances were increasingly difficult for those who remained faithful to God in an increasingly anti-God culture. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
 
I would summarize the chapter like this…
 
Israel was in BIG trouble, and they needed a BIG solution, and God revealed his BIG plan to a wife who displayed BIG faith.
 
If we dig our way through Judges 13, we will discover some pretty big chunks of gold. Let’s look at a few of those gold nuggets together.
 
Gold nugget #1 
 
Dire circumstances make ideal settings to hear God speak.
 
In this instance, Manoah and his wife lived in a hostile culture, and they also faced the personal hardship of being unable to have children. Just when things looked like they couldn’t get any worse, God sent his angel to Manoah’s wife to deliver the news that not only would she have a son, he would eventually be the one to rescue Israel. Undoubtedly, this answered two prayers – one for a child, and one for Israel to be rescued from her enemies.
 
Gold nugget #2
 
God chose to reveal his plan to Manoah’s wife – even though His plan included them both.
 
Let me pause and clarify something – this isn’t a commentary on the roles of women and men in the church. Not even close. Instead, this is simply a beautiful reminder that God esteems women, and in this particular instance, He chose to reveal His plan to Manoah’s wife. Her faith in God’s Word would play a huge role in her husband’s response – which we will see in the next nugget.
 
Gold nugget #3
 
A faith-filled response can bring peace and reassurance in a fearful situation.
 
That’s a nice way of saying that sometimes we freak out and we need a calming word from our husbands, and sometimes our husbands freak out, and Lord knows, we need a strong, confident, and faith-filled response that ushers in the peace and strength required for the task at hand. That’s precisely what Manoah’s wife did. When Manoah panicked and thought they would die because they’d seen the angel of the Lord, she said, “If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and grain offering from our hands, nor shown us all these things or now told us this” (Judges 13:23, NIV).
 
We also live in an increasingly anti-God culture, but make no mistake, it can serve as an ideal setting to hear God speak. If we position ourselves to hear God by staying in His Word and communing with Him in prayer, our voice can and will carry significant weight – especially in our marriage, so let’s use it wisely.
 
Listen to God, then faithfully and confidently use your voice to encourage and strengthen your husband. Remember, God can and will do BIG things through both of you