Oct 282013
 

Peaceful shoesI hope you are enjoying my series on ‘The Armour of God’. I am enjoying writing it and feel that God is speaking to me through it (hopefully to you too!).

If you have missed the previous posts you can find them on the left hand side of this web page.

This week we shall look at the part of the passage “….and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” (Ephesians 6:15).

I used to think this was solely about being ready to walk into situations and preach the gospel, but having thought about it a bit more I have come to the conclusion that there is more to it than that.

As I have said before, as Paul wrote this he would have probably been looking at the shoes of the soldiers he was chained to. Roman soldier’s shoes were not necessarily built for speed, but rather to be able to stand firm in the heat of battle. You will notice in the passage immediately before this, Paul mentions to ‘stand firm’ 4 times. In battle, Roman soldiers would stand side by side with their shields locked together. They would dig in and withstand every enemy onslaught and then push forward together as one unit. They would not give way.

The gospel of peace is a ‘firm foundation’ in our lives. We are called to a life of peace:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace”. (Colossians 3:15).

It’s wonderful to think that we carry the peace of God with us wherever we go. Jesus said:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27).

The world is an anxious place and is lacking much peace. There is worry, concern, anguish and anxiety everywhere we turn. As those who have received God’s peace, we should carry it everywhere we go, ministering it to others.

As we know, this whole battle we are in is not physical but spiritual. We fight with weapons of peace, weapons that bring calmness in times of turmoil. This is the total opposite of physical fighting. We vanquish the enemy by bringing the peace of God into every situation we find ourselves in.

Are you standing firm in the peace that God has given you?

Did you know that.. “since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Romans 5:1)? Let the peace of God reign in your life, as you read God’s word and spend time enjoying His presence. As you do, people will start to ask you “what is this peace that you have?” You can then share the wonderful news about the ‘Prince of peace’.

 October 28, 2013  Posted by at 8:37 pm Armour of God No Responses »
Oct 242013
 

Breastplate of righteousnessLast week we started our look at the armour of God with ‘the belt of truth’.

If you missed it you can catch up here.

This week we move on to ‘the breastplate of righteousness’.

In Roman times the breastplate was a vital piece of the soldiers’ protection.

During hand to hand combat, any thrust of a sword that got past the shield could be fatal.

We saw last week that the belt protected the vital organs around the waist. Well, the breastplate protected the vital organs within the rib-cage, including the heart.

The physical heart of course is vital but so is our spiritual heart, our deepest thoughts, emotions and feelings. It says in Proverbs 4:23:

Above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

The devil targets our hearts for special attention. He goes after our emotions, especially through condemnation. He wants to spoil our relationship with God by accusing us constantly. Knowing we stand righteous before God extinguishes every fiery dart the devil throws at us.

It is important to note that it is not our own righteousness that protects us. The bible describes our own righteousness as ‘filthy rags’ (Isaiah 64:6). It is the righteousness of Jesus that becomes ours the moment we commit our lives fully to Him through our salvation by His sacrifice on the cross. This is the righteousness which protects us.

The wonderful thing about this armour that we wear is the fact that it is God’s armour. We are protected by Gods righteousness. Even though we might not ‘feel’ righteous (especially after sinning) the bible makes it clear that we are covered by the righteousness of Christ.

Whatever has gone on in our lives, God looks at us as being ‘In Christ’. We are made pure by His righteousness, whatever we may have done.

One of my favourite verses in the whole bible sums up this exchange wonderfully:

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (1 Corinthians 5:21).

Are you wearing a breastplate of your own righteousness which allows condemnation to get through constantly? Or are you putting on Jesus’ breastplate of perfect righteousness which will extinguish every dart of condemnation that is thrown at you?

 October 24, 2013  Posted by at 8:48 pm Armour of God, Righteousness No Responses »
Oct 162013
 

Belt of truthHave you ever heard so many conflicting reports on a particular topic that you have ended up wondering what the truth is? For the majority of us it is extremely important that we know the truth. None of us like being lied to. A constant theme in the movies and on television is the search for truth, usually due to an elaborate government cover up, where one person beats the system and gets to ‘the truth’.

The truth is very important.

In His discussions with Pontius Pilate, Jesus said the following in John 18:37-38:

“…Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate.”

Pilate wanted to know, although I suspect he was worried that the truth would mean some very difficult decisions would then have to be made.

In Ephesians 6:13-14 it says: “… Therefore put on the full armour 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 then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…..”

This is the first piece of armour mentioned. The Roman belt called the cingulum or balteus not only held the soldier’s clothes together so he had free movement, it also protected the vital organs near his waist, helped support the breastplate and allowed the scabbard to be fixed so the sword could be drawn out easily. The implications are obvious!

Just as the sword fitted into the scabbard, so the truth is in the word of God; they are intertwined together.

Jesus was described as ‘The Word of God’. Have you noticed one of Jesus’ most common phrases was “I tell you the truth”? In fact, He used that phrase 78 times in the gospels. Telling the truth was important to Jesus, even though it made Him unpopular and ended up causing His death. Jesus was not afraid to tell the truth to anyone, even the most powerful authorities of the day.

Do you love the truth? Will you wear it like a belt so that it protects your inner parts? The more you read God’s word the more His truth will become a part of you. Let me encourage you to continue to read and meditate on his word so that you will know the truth. John 8:31-32 says “…if you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

 October 16, 2013  Posted by at 9:40 pm Armour of God No Responses »
Oct 112013
 

Armour of GodLast week, as I concluded talking about personal holiness I mentioned the need to be determined to keep pushing through. This determination is vital in order for us to continue on our journey of personal holiness. I finished my last blog with the very famous passage on the armour of God, from Ephesians 6:10-18.

I now want to look at the armour of God in more detail, focussing on a different aspect each week and looking in more depth at what each part does.

The bible is filled with warfare and battles, especially in the Old Testament. As God moved His people into the promised land, the Israelites were very rarely at rest. As we move into the New Testament, even though there were fewer wars, the evidences of Roman occupation surrounded New Testament believers everywhere. The apostle Paul may well have been chained to a Roman soldier as he wrote his letter to the Ephesians and I wonder if while he sat there, God inspired Paul through each part of the soldier’s armour.

Who are we fighting?

It is important to start with the fact that we are not fighting other people, no matter how evil they may appear. There is a spiritual battle going on all around us and it is all too real. It says in Ephesians 6:12: “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.

Even though we cannot see our enemy, we certainly see the effects that his attacks can have. Even in recent times I have seen first hand the devastation that has happened in people’s lives as they have let their guard down and allowed the enemy to get a foothold. My old pastor used to say on a number of occasions “it’s not like a war, it is a war”. The description of the various pieces of armour may be a metaphor but the battle certainly is not. It would be obvious if we were experiencing physical attack by another person. However, the enemy is very adept at disguising his attacks, so we either blame other people or just think we are going through some tough times. We need to be aware of his schemes and putting on this armour will help us.

I don’t wish to scare you, but rather urge you to be aware. We are on the winning side and we follow the Lord of hosts who has given us this wonderful armour to protect us. We need to be confident that when we have our armour on we are a powerful adversary to our enemy. The weapons we have are strong:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds”. (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)

It goes without saying that we need to put the full armour on. We are commanded twice in the Ephesians 6 passage to do so. Our mentality should be that of soldiers, not of civilians:

Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer”. (2 Timothy 2:3-4)

Join me again next week as we start to unpack each piece of armour one by one, discovering the power and protection that our Champion has provided for us.

 October 11, 2013  Posted by at 12:00 pm Armour of God No Responses »
Oct 032013
 

Battle for personal holinessLast week we started to look at the subject of Personal Holiness. If you have ever sought to be more holy you will have realised just how much of a battle it is. We very soon see that it is not a task we can complete on our own and as I mentioned last week, we are fully reliant on the Holy Spirit’s power and help to get us through.

There are so many things that prevent us from being effective, sins such as; greed, idolatry, lust, drunkenness, gambling, anger, gossip and laziness to name just a few.

We all have our struggles with any one or more of the above weaknesses which can cause us to regularly trip up. It may start off with our thought life, for example daydreaming about a certain person you may find attractive, and before you know it you have got totally carried away with your dreaming. Or you may become angry with another driver who cuts you up in traffic, inducing “roadrage”. Or it may be that you hear a morsel of juicy gossip and find yourself dying to share it with someone. These thoughts, if left unchecked, can lead to sin.

As we saw in the Romans 12 passage last week the battle nearly always starts in our minds. In 2 Corinthians 10:5 it says: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

And in 1 Peter 1:13-16:

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at His coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy”.”

God would not have given us the command to be holy if He hadn’t equipped us for the task. Holiness is within our grasp if we are prepared to stand and fight for it.

Lastly, let’s take a look at the armour we are given to fight this battle we find ourselves in:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armour 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 armour 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 then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Some people make it a daily discipline to imagine putting on each piece of armour in turn and saying things like; “Lord I thank You that You are my righteousness, that I am not righteous on my own. I put on the breastplate of righteousness right now in Jesus name”.

That is really not a bad way to start each day – have a regular ‘armour’ check!

 October 3, 2013  Posted by at 9:50 pm Holiness 3 Responses »