“…be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Put on the full armor of God,
so that you can take your stand against
the devil’s schemes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the authorities,
against the powers of this dark world
and against the spiritual forces of evil
in the heavenly realms.
Therefore put on the full armor of God,
so that when the day of evil comes,
you may be able to stand your ground,
and after you have done everything,
to stand. Stand firm…”
Ephesians 6:10-14a NIV
The air is crisp. Autumn seems to have slipped up on me. This morning it only took one step outside my door for me to realize that I must wear a jacket to the garden. I rummage through the back closet looking for my favorite jacket. This jacket is old but it is soft and comfortable. This finger length jacket has seven buttons! Zippers always seem to be faster but this cozy jacket is definitely worth the effort it takes to button up.
On the way to the garden I began to think about buttons. I almost start giggling as I remember growing up. I am the youngest of six children. My three brothers all seemed to delight in teasing me. I have been told that I talked more than anyone in the family ever wanted to listen. I think I may still have that problem! My brothers would often tell me to “button my lip”. How rude! And my two sisters would tell me to sew a button on my lip as they made sewing gestures by pressing their lips together and sewing with a pretend needle and thread. Again, how incredibly rude!
My son collected buttons to pin on clothing. Each button posted its own unique message. Some supported his favorite sports teams; other had catchy phrases or a simple word of exclamation. Many of these buttons carry unique messages for others to read. Buttons with messages may make you laugh. Some buttons have symbols or pictures that deliver a visual message. Other buttons may invite you jump on a bandwagon or join in supporting a specific cause or candidate. Other buttons may serve as a reminder of a favorite vacation spot or hobby.
My Mother was a seamstress. I still have a jar of buttons that belonged to her. The button jar contains buttons in different sizes, shapes, and colors. Some of the buttons are simple, while others are quite unique and elaborate. It is funny how sometimes things from our past can provide us with an amazing lesson of God’s truth in the present.
On this beautiful fall day I have found a comfortable bench in the garden. I am surrounded by yellow, gold, and bronze mums. The warm colors of autumn are delightful! What a perfect place to sit and talk to God as I begin to contemplate another type of button. These are the buttons in my life that others seem to always be pushing! These are the buttons labeled: interruption, expectation, and aggravation. There are also the buttons of lack of appreciation, false accusations, and exasperation! These are the buttons that in the heat of the moment catch me off guard and I immediately respond with quick ungodly words. I hate when I respond in this curt manner! I totally relate to the Apostle Paul when he says, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Romans 7:15 NIV As a follower of Jesus Christ, I know full well that responding to the button pushing of others is dangerous. When I respond to the button pushing of others I open up my mind and my heart to the devil’s schemes. So this morning in prayer I am asking God, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Romans 7:24 NIV It is amazing when we ask God the right question how quick he is to give us his truthful answer. “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:25a NIV
Then the Spirit prompts me to open my Bible and read “…be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm…” Ephesians 6:10-14a NIV
After reading that scripture the Spirit continued to teach me during my time of prayer. His message was simple. Your strength will come from the mighty power of the Lord. He will equip you to stand firm. Put on the FULL armor of God and don’t omit a single thing. I ask, “Why Lord do I need to do this?” He answers again, in simple truth. “You need to do this so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” The Holy Spirit whispers, “Paula, your struggle is not with the button pushers in your life. It IS with Satan and the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. This struggle is NOT from heaven but from the space outside of heaven! This world has been given over to Satan for only a time. You are living in that time so you must fight him and all of his agents. Therefore, protect yourself and allow me to dress you in my spiritual armor.”
Praying in the garden always seems to help me re-examine my priorities. I have found that for me I must spend time alone with God early in the day because Satan is out there lurking, waiting for situations, circumstances, and button pushers to set me off! If I fail to put on my protection, or at some point take off my protection I am at risk. Jesus understood this principle well. That is exactly why he went to the garden before he went to the cross. The cross was still ahead of him but now he was equipped to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one and do the will of his Father.
Prayer time is also important because it is where we get dressed for battle. Prayer time is where the Holy Spirit securely "buttons" my spiritual armor! He does this by fastening the belt of God’s truth around my waist. He then attaches the breastplate of God’s righteousness firmly in place. He holds out the shoes of readiness and preparedness that come from the gospel of God’s peace. After I am dressed and look’en good, the Spirit hands me a shield of faith so that I may extinguish the flaming arrows of Satan. Last but not least, he hands me a sword. He says, “This Sword represents my Word. Remember and rely on my words, they are the sharpest of all swords. My words are sharper than any two edged sword that Satan may have in his arsenal. It is my words that will send him packing every time. Hide my words in your heart because you never know when you will need them! My words are your strongest weapon. My words will keep you from sinning.”
After this encounter, I know full well that when I leave the garden today I will be open to all manner of interruption, expectation, and aggravation. I will experience lack of appreciation, false accusations, and exasperation! I now understand that being the object of button pushing is normal when you live in a sinful world. For that reason, I humbly unbutton my coat and drop it to the ground. Satan sends an unsuspected shiver up my spine and I am acutely conscious that my spirit is vulnerable without God’s armor. I quickly invite the Spirit to dress me in complete readiness for battle.
To my surprise the armor is not a burden, it is a protection. It does not clink and creak but rather it moves like a well oiled machine of grace. The armor is not heavy because Jesus is helping me shoulder its weight and making this burden amazingly light. The armor is not cold and chilling but instead it is lined with fleecy wool. It is the wool from the Lamb of God. Though my sins were as scarlet they became as wool, his perfect covering for my sin. I am now completely equipped to do life outside the garden. God never has nor will he ever expect me to fight the lions of sin in my own strength. Our God provides above and beyond all that any Believer will ever need.
- Do you ever have your buttons pushed?
- How do you respond?
- Do you become frustrated when you realize that you have once again succumbed to the button pushers of life?
- Do you realize that Satan is an opportunist and will use your sinful response as an opportunity to get inside your mind?
- Do you delight in the provision of God’s armor?
- Do you realize how perfectly the armor of God is designed to help you overlook and overcome button pushers and protect you from Satan’s flaming arrows?
- Are you currently wearing God’s armor or are you on your way to the garden for a much needed fitting?
Dear Father in Heaven,
Forgive me when I cave in to the frustration of button pushing. I need a double portion of forgiveness when I realize that I too am a button pusher! Indeed, I am a wretched woman. Father, I know that I will not do this life perfectly, but Father I ask you to help me to do better that I did yesterday. Forgive me when I fail to spend time alone with you in the garden. Give me an understanding that when I move away from you I lay down my sword and my shield. When my life becomes too busy I allow Satan to snip the belt of truth right off my waist and remove the breastplate of right responses off of my chest. Forgive me when I slip out of your shoes of readiness and find that I am unprepared to walk the narrow road of obedience and grace. Father, I am so thankful that no one can remove my helmet of salvation! No one can snatch me from your hands or hide me from your eyes. Father, I pray that I will stay focused because you are my source of strength and my shield of protection. At times Lord, my response to button pushing may seem like a very trivial thing. It may seem that my sin is too small to bring to your attention. But Lord, today I see that button pushing is the very thing that has often made my entire day go south! I pray that I will purpose in my heart to choose to put on, and not remove, your armor of love and protection. I thank you God for such a marvelous gift. Last but not least, I pray that I will not be found guilty of being a button pusher in the lives of others,
It is in Jesus’ name I pray. Amen