An Equipping The Saints Weekend: Inside!
So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
As we gathered together for our first session His truth began to pour over as a mighty source of comfort as the women shared their hearts. It was His Word giving the women answers to their painful experiences. Christ was being shown as the way. His Holy Spirit was providing wisdom for victory over every situation in life. He revealed His power to be able to give comfort and strength. He showed them how to rest and not react. They learned how God is divine in their lives so they don’t have to fight, flee or defend but be still. They were able to see how they can be still as He would fight for them (Exodus 14:14.) They learned how a man of many words is not to be trusted. “He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.”… But untrustworthy men are not like this.”For there is no faithfulness in their mouth…” Units in facilities can easily become full of turmoil. They are filled with uncertainty as women operating in the flesh are easily angered. God spoke truth to the women. They saw how they are able to trust Him at His word. When He shows us who He is in the Word this is still who He is today.
In our second session they listened intently to the testimony of how God’s transformation worked in the life of a sister who once was incarcerated. She was once living a full life within the church. She was serving in the church but boiling just under her service was anger and pride. She hid it all from everyone but God. She trusted her own efforts more than she really laid all her struggles at His feet. As she began to grow in her pride and anger she had to control all the situations in her life. Fear wasn’t there as much as anger and pride. She was easily angered and refused to be accountable for any of her outbursts. She was always right. She never apologized. Since she was never wrong she didn’t ever have to apologize she told the ladies. She thought she could do her crime and keep hiding behind all her wonderful church service. Her heart was becoming very hard. Her lies to herself began to grow as did her anger and pride. Eventually this all caught up with her and she found herself locked up in a jail cell awaiting trial. Than God had her attention and spoke to her. All her self-righteous distractions and worldly efforts were gone. She saw first hand how God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. She was being disciplined and knew He truly disciplines those He loves. She knew she needed to surrender to His discipline. She wept as the words from a song, “Take my Life”, echoed up through the vents in the jail cell. She finally, after years of living in pride, surrendered to Him and her hardened and broken heart cried out, “Please, take from me my life, when I don’t have the strength, to give it away to you, Jesus.” He answered.
As her journey inside began she started seeking His face. He dealt with her big issues and the tiny ones nobody else could see. He provided her with odd facility jobs, challenging facilty moves, various roommates, and an abundance of Biblical studies that looked so different from what she thought she needed. They, however, were just what she needed and they changed her from the inside out. She now could view situations that looked impossible, or so very different from her plans, as part of His good, acceptable, and perfect will. She now did not seek the approval of man or have a need to defend herself any longer. She rested in His truth. She soaked in it. She read it. She breathed it. She studied His word day and night. She hungered and thirsted for His righteousness and she was filled. She had examined her faith, found herself approved, and now was fully assured of her salvation. This was not because of what she was doing but because of what He had done. His blood and grace had her covered. She had the right desires now as she delighted in Him.
As she was released the trials did not cease. Trial upon trial came into her life. She endured many hardships and the death of a fiancé she loved dearly. Her testing produced in her a steadfastness, peace, and incredible patience. Her responses were now full of grace, His grace. He was changing her to be slow to speak and slow to become angry as is taught in James. She listened to and followed His guiding and leadings. She was truly being transformed and sanctified. This is what real faith looks like. She is a new creation. The old has passed away and the new has come.
The final session the ladies learned about being equipped as soldiers and what wearing the armor of God, using the armor of God, and living in the armor of God really looks like. It isn’t about fighting every woman in the unit with poor behavior. It is about being covered and obedient to His Word and no longer making excuses. They saw how trusting Him was not a sign of weakness, as many of the women in their units think, but how His Strength is in our weakness. Courage is letting Him discipline us and defend us His way. It is ok if their testimonies look different from their neighbors. Their crimes may be different, their struggles may be different, but their God and Savior are the same. It is not about what they have done, are doing, or can do. It is all about Jesus Christ. It is about His dying, His resurrection, and His living again inside of them. It is about His blood. They do not need to hang their heads in shame but shout in victory. He conquers and overcomes. As we read in Colossians, Christ is our all in all. When they cease to depend on their strength and flesh they are able to walk in His strength, courage, comfort, peace, and patience. Good actions begin to flow from those who are filled with His Spirit. These are not performances but persevering actions as they learn to daily put off flesh and put on, rely in, Christ. This is their testimony. This is the proof there is nothing they cannot do and they can do all things through Christ who gives them strength. How? Because they are held in His hand, hid under His wings, and armored with His truth.
To God Be the Glory. May He alone be glorified. God is good…ALL THE TIME!