Nov 282013
 

praying_in_the_spirit1[1]We have finished listing through the various items and different parts of “the armour of God” and I hope you have found it useful. Before we move on, however, there is a very important aspect of the warfare we engage in when our armour is on, mentioned in verse 18 of Ephesians 6:

“…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.”

The act of praying is the action that keeps us moving forward. It is the energy that drives us forward into the battle. You see, if we are not moving forward, “putting on” the armour may be seen as a defensive exercise. We are constantly batting away the attacks from the devil, perfectly defended by our God-given armour, yes. But without moving forward we will not be taking very much ground.

Prayer keeps us in touch with our commanding officer. When we take the time to ask Him what His plans are, we know where and how we should be fighting.

I believe that prayer energises all the other pieces of equipment, especially the sword. We use scripture when we pray it back to God and remind Him of His promises and what He has said.

The fighting we engage in is not a ‘one- off’ fight, but rather something we need to be prepared for every day. We need to always be on our guard and in a permanent state of readiness. Look at some of the language in the following passages:

“…But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)

“…But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word”. (Acts 6:4)

“…Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving”. (Colossians 4:2)

“…..do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

“…..pray without ceasing”. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

“…..I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day”. (2 Timothy 1:3)

Prayer should not just be reserved for prayer meetings. It should be an attitude we take with us every day. Prayer is communicating with our Father, thanking Him, making requests, interceding for others, praising Him etc. It’s not always easy. When life doesn’t go smoothly we can ask Him “Why did that happen?” So many things happen to us that we don’t understand, it can feel like God has forgotten us or even that He doesn’t care. At times like these we must push through in prayer and trust Him that He knows what He is doing.

My final thoughts on this subject are that whatever happens to us, we know we are on the winning side and we have a great captain who is leading His troops into victory. If the battle seems harsh at the moment, take heart that the victory is won and that you have been equipped to stand your ground, and that….

“….no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 54:17)

 November 28, 2013  Posted by at 10:00 pm Armour of God, Prayer No Responses »
Nov 212013
 

The sword of the spiritAt last a weapon! I’ve enjoyed writing about ‘the armour of God’ and we are now on the sixth blog in this series. Everything so far has been about defence, armour that we put on to protect ourselves, and rightly so. It is very important that we are protected, but we must keep a good balance so we don’t become overly protective. (We can imagine cowering under the onslaught of the enemy’s schemes, just surviving.)

This week we are going to look at our offensive weapon, the sword.

I used to absolutely love sword fighting when I was a child. If I didn’t have a sword, a branch from a tree would do. I was inspired by films such as Robin Hood or The Three Musketeers, imagining myself as the hero (though not rescuing the maiden – I didn’t like girls very much then!).

The sword we are referring to in the context of this blog is, of course, the Bible, the word of God. It has tremendous power for defeating the enemy:

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16)

Just as my heroes from the movies were expert swordsmen, my ultimate hero of all time- Jesus Christ, was expert at wielding the sword of the spirit. One of His many names is “The Word of God” as written in John 1: 1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

I love the swordplay that Jesus uses when He is tempted by the devil in Matthew 4:1-11. The devil attempts to quote scripture at Jesus to tempt Him but Jesus expertly parries every thrust and comes back with a verse each time. Jesus is our example of how to handle the word of God. He regularly meditated on scripture and memorised it, so when the attacks came, He always had an answer.

As soldiers of Jesus we need to know our weapons, we need to be familiar with them and know how to use them. I have written previous blogs on memorising scripture here which you may find useful. Also if you click on the tag to the right called ‘Bible’ you will see other blogs I have written about this very important subject.

As I have said before, the battle we are in is not physical. Wielding the sword of the spirit will damage the enemy in different ways, such as when we bring comfort to others through scripture and use it to build one another up. Let me encourage you again to pick up your sword daily. You never know when you might need it.

 November 21, 2013  Posted by at 11:39 am Armour of God, Bible 2 Responses »
Nov 142013
 

helmet of salvationThis week in my series on the armour of God we will focus on the ‘helmet of salvation’, a very important piece of the soldiers’ attire.

Moving away from the soldier analogy for just a moment, I have not worn any of the equipment we have mentioned so far, but I am very familiar with helmets. I wear one every day when I ride my scooter. Apart from the fact that it is illegal not to, I wouldn’t dream of riding my bike without a helmet. I have come off my bike a number of times and although I haven’t landed on my head, if I ever were to land without having a helmet on, it would be extremely messy.

When I travel to Spain in the summer holidays I am constantly amazed by the amount of people who ride their scooters and mopeds without helmets. Many of them carry them on their arm, I presume in case they see a police officer and can quickly pop them on. Of course it is hot in Spain and wearing a helmet can make the head very sweaty, but the consequences of not wearing one could be fatal.

Our heads are amazingly designed. The skull is pretty hard and for every day bumps it offers great protection, but when hit harder, serious damage can be caused to the brain which is of course a vital organ. We all know what can happen when our brains don’t function correctly. The goalkeeper of my favourite football team was knocked unconscious last week and although he appeared to make a fairly quick recovery, the damage inflicted if he had got concussion could have been serious. The subsequent news stories of people dying from double-concussion (second-impact syndrome) have been quite frightening, albeit very rare.

I am not entirely sure why the helmet in Ephesians 6 is ‘of salvation’. I can only assume it is because our thoughts and intellect are under constant bombardment. Salvation is such a precious gift and we need to live our lives in the good of it. As soon as we start to doubt our salvation (and this can often come from wrong thinking) we become susceptible to depression, doubt and fear. If we become complacent and wear our salvation helmet on our arm, whenever we fall we are very vulnerable.

There are two great ways of remembering this precious salvation that God has given us; the first is to tell it to others. When we share with others what God has done, in an amazing way it becomes even clearer in our own heads. The second way is to meditate on scripture. When was the last time you dwelt on your own salvation? Unusually I haven’t included any bible passages so far, so let me just share these few at the end for you to meditate on and get your helmet securely in place:

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” (Psalm 62:1-2)

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16)

“….that if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)

Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:27-28)

 November 14, 2013  Posted by at 10:18 pm Armour of God, Salvation No Responses »
Nov 072013
 

Stelios (MICHAEL FASSBENDER) crouches behind his shield as shrapnel tears through the air in Warner Bros. Pictures’, Legendary Pictures’ and Virtual Studios’ action drama “300,” distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.
PHOTOGRAPHS TO BE USED SOLELY FOR ADVERTISING, PROMOTION, PUBLICITY OR REVIEWS OF THIS SPECIFIC MOTION PICTURE AND TO REMAIN THE PROPERTY OF THE STUDIO. NOT FOR SALE OR REDISTRIBUTIONSo far in our series on ‘The Armour of God’ we have looked at armour that is worn; ‘the breastplate of righteousness’, ‘the belt of truth’ and ‘the shoes of peace’. This week we will look at ‘the shield of faith’. This shield is not so much something we wear, but rather something we take up. It is no use simply strapping it to our arm; we need to raise it in order to deflect the fiery darts of the enemy.

Faith is described in Hebrews 11:1 as follows: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” It is a trust in God, not only that He does exist, but also that He reveals His character and nature in the bible. Christian faith believes in a God who has made very certain promises to His children, promises that can be trusted.

The enemy’s fiery darts are designed to cause us to doubt God’s promises and not trust in His goodness. The very first dart that he threw was to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, when he said “Did God really say…?” (Genesis 3:1). He has been throwing similar darts of doubt to all mankind ever since.

Every day we find ourselves constantly bombarded by doubts about God. There is so much cynicism in this world, so we need to keep our faith shields up. It is our first line of defence. We would never go into battle without shields, simply relying on our breastplate, belt and helmet to take all the blows. Our faith is what keeps us moving forward in the battle.

It is important to see as well that we are not fighting alone. Our faith can rub off on our brothers and sisters around us. If you spend any length of time with somebody who has great faith, you will find that your faith grows as well. Faith is infectious. The protection of faith together is like the Roman soldiers who locked their shields together into a ‘tortoise’ so that their defence almost became impenetrable. It is said that in this formation a chariot could drive along the top of the shields!

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If you have only a little faith, seek out those in your church who have a lot of faith and allow them to encourage you. If your faith is relatively strong, see who you can encourage and strengthen. We are in this fight together and we can make huge inroads into the enemy’s territory when we fight as one.

 November 7, 2013  Posted by at 9:47 pm Armour of God, Faith No Responses »
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 »