…with the breastplate of righteousness in place, (Eph. 6:14b)
The breastplate is essential protective gear. Cops wear a Kevlar vest. Baseball catchers wear a chest protector. Even Batman has anatomically correct upper body armor. Why is it so important to protect the chest?
Because your heart is there.
In a very literal sense, you can’t live without your heart—so eat right and get plenty of exercise. In the metaphoric sense, the heart is the center of our being, the part of us that makes us…us. As you go out into a sinful, broken, fallen world, how do you protect this essential part of your being?
The righteousness of Christ. The right relationship with God that is yours through Christ, and which gives you a right understanding of who you are and how much you are loved. This, and this alone, will protect your heart from the blows of this twisted world.
Remember, I’m not talking about your own righteousness…the place with God you might think you’ve earned by your good behavior. Count on that to protect your heart, and you might as well try to stop an arrow with a wet paper towel.
How can this mighty piece of armor fit your spindly little self?
It’s a mystery…just go with it.
Yesterday, I took the kids to an event billed as, “The Largest Civil-War Reenactment West of the Mississippi.”
I haven’t done the research necessary to verify that claim, but I’m going to go ahead and believe. Continue reading
Stand firm, then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist… (Ephesians 6:14a)
If it isn’t true…
If God didn’t send his only begotten son to Earth…if Jesus didn’t die for our sins…if he didn’t rise from the grave…if he’s not seated at the right hand of the Father making intercession for you and me…
Then it’s all a fake.
My faith is a joke. My salvation is a sham. My righteousness is totally pointless. The peace I have with God is nothing but a delusion. Nothing that I do matters, because in the end I am nothing.
If it isn’t true.
But it is.
All of it.
And when I buckle that truth around me, my faith becomes a shield, my salvation a helmet, my righteousness the guardian of my heart, peace with God the shoes that help me stand.
As you head into your weekend, know this: It’s true.
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. (Ephesians 6:13)
Words that intrigue me in this verse of Scripture:
Full Half measures won’t suffice. You have to put on all the armor; if you leave a vulnerable spot, your enemy will find it and use it to hurt you. He is far more experienced at this sort of thing than you are.
When As in, “When the day of evil comes.” Don’t think in terms of “if.” If you live in Southern California, the big earthquake will happen. If you’re on the East Coast, the hurricane will happen. If you live on this planet, Evil will come for you. Don’t pretend…prepare.
Stand Not leap. Not fly. Not dance. Stand. The day of evil will leave you bloody but not broken, drained but not destroyed. When the tempest recedes, if you stand in Christ, you will stand.
If you stand in Christ,
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. (Ephesians 6:12)
Ever have that nightmare where you’re being chased by a terrible monster, and no matter how fast you run it keeps getting closer and closer, and you’re absolutely powerless to stop it?
It’s kinda like that.
Only worse, because it’s real.
Physical skills cannot suffice against spiritual evil. And that’s what you and I face each day as we go about our business.
Your only hope, my only hope, the only hope, is to let the righteous power of God guard us.
Don’t get macho about this. There’s too much at stake.
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. (Ephesians 6:11).
My kids got invited to go quadding a few weeks ago. Their uncle, who was in charge of the outing, made sure that everyone was outfitted with protective gear. Helmet, gloves, goggles, chest protector—you didn’t ride if you weren’t protected.
It was a good thing, too. One of the boys took an epic fall. All that gear that he was wearing saved his bacon, not to mention his head, chest, etc. He was knocked around and shaken up; without his armor, he could have been seriously injured.
An interesting note. It wasn’t his armor. The gear was provided for him free of charge by someone who knew what he needed, and what dangers he was facing.
The quad, the hills, the rocks—they weren’t out to get anybody. They were simply passive objects that presented a hazard. You have an enemy that is anything but passive.
Is your gear on?
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. (Ephesians 6:10)
How many pushups can you do? How fast can you run? How far can you throw some heavy thing that needs throwing?
It’s not enough.
Hey, Mr. Cross-Training, Kickboxing, Black-Belt-Ninja-Man…it’s not enough.
No matter how expert, how brilliant, how talented you are, your powers are puny. There are forces arrayed against you that are beyond your comprehension, much less your strength. You can’t stand up to them—they’ll crush you to powder. You are no match for the least of them.
So don’t try to be.
You see, there is also a God in Heaven, a God who makes all the forces of Hell itself look as weak and pathetic as…well, as you. And he offers you his strength. He offers you his power. He wants you to stand in him today, putting on his power like a suit of armor. With him, in him, through him, you are invincible.
There’s a rough week ahead. Better suit up.
I teach eighth grade.
One of the byproducts of my job is that I have become somewhat of an authority on current clothing trends amongst the middle-school set. There is a fascinating fluidity to their fashion that’s hard to keep up with, but I will share with you the basic principles, just in case you should find yourself amongst them and in need of camouflage. Continue reading
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)
Submission is the essence of relationship. When we put ourselves first, we aren’t really capable of loving anyone. Our own desires blind us to what the other person needs and wants. When we learn to submit, to see the other person’s needs and put them ahead of our own, we take the first step in learning to love. Jesus Christ provided us the perfect example of submission. Without his submission to the Father, we would be forever lost. When we follow his example, we honor him and build godly relationships at the same time.
This verse leads into Paul’s famous section on submission. Paul is going to talk about husbands and wives, parents and children, even slaves and masters. No matter what the relationship, the principal is the same. Put the other first. Don’t worry about what you need, or what you think you need. Trust your needs to God, and focus on the other person.
So, to whom do you need to submit today? Gird your loins—this oughta be fun!
Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:19-20)
Today is Halloween. A day on which this fallen world celebrates death and darkness. Oh, they wrap it in candy and pumpkins, but it is what it is.
Instead of Halloween, make today your personal Thanksgiving. Make a point of noticing the blessings in your life. Point them out to your friends and praise God together. Pick your favorite worship song and get it stuck in your head. In short, fill yourself with life, not death…with light, not darkness.
Yes, you can still eat candy.