Blessed is the man who does not walk in the council of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers. (Psalm 1:1)
Who do you listen to? Not on Sunday, but on Monday, Tuesday, and the rest.
I like to listen to talk radio. I enjoy the news analysis and commentary, but I have to keep one thing in mind—these are not Christian shows. The hosts are not coming from a Christian perspective. Even though we may agree on many issues, we are fundamentally at odds.
Again I ask: who do you listen to? Are you following the teaching of the Word, or of the world? Are you seeking to imitate Jesus, or celebrities? Are you fellowshipping with Godly believers, or the lost?
The people who surround you, the communion you immerse yourself in, will have a profound impact upon your thought life. So step back today and take a look at who that is. If you need to make some changes, do so.
…and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17b)
You know the power of words. You’ve felt it. Words can bruise, they can cut, they can crush, they can soothe, they can comfort, they can heal.
And those are just human words.
The word of God is infinitely more powerful. It goes far beyond emotional impact; it reaches deep into the spiritual realms. So it shouldn’t be surprising that the Word is our primary weapon against the enemy. After all, what did Jesus use to defend himself from Satan’s temptations? Did he blast Satan to powder? No.
But wouldn’t that have been cool?
Jesus used Scripture to defeat his enemy. Why? Perhaps because that is a weapon we can use as well. You probably can’t command the powers of Heaven and Earth the way the Son of God can—in fact, I’m pretty sure of it—but you can use Scripture. Maybe you don’t have the advantage of having written it, but you can still read it, and learn it, and memorize it, and use it to back your enemy off when he attacks.
How good is your sword arm? How much drill have you put in this week?
When I was a kid, you didn’t have to wear a helmet. Bicycle, motorcycle, pogo stick—you were free to ride with the wind in your hair and the bugs in your teeth. It was wild and free and deadly.
To ride without a helmet is to ask for brain damage.
Paul speaks of the helmet of salvation. He’s talking about the knowledge of who you are in Christ, and the price that has been paid for you. That knowledge can protect you in the heat of battle. You see, that enemy of yours likes to mess with your head. He likes to get into your thought life and plant false ideas about who you are and what your value is. He’ll tell you that you’re not good enough, not strong enough, not worthy of a life in Christ.
All of which is true.
The helmet doesn’t block those ideas, but it filters them through the knowledge of your salvation. You can answer, “You aren’t worthy,” with, “Of course not…but Jesus is.” You can answer, “Look at all you owe,” with, “Look at what He paid.”
To walk this world without the helmet is to ask for soul damage.
Strap it on, cinch it tight, and go face your Thursday.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:16)
I don’t want to be struck with a flaming arrow.
No, not even one.
So I will trust in the Lord, placing my faith completely in him. I will lean not on my own understanding, but will do as he asks to the best of my abilities—even when what he asks doesn’t make sense to my little brain. I will soak the shield of my faith in the water of his word, and I will listen to the thunk and sizzle of the arrows that he stops for me.
…and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:15c).
You know how you get when you’re on your feet all day. Tired, sore, cranky—if you don’t have decent shoes, it’s even worse.
Huh, this sounds more like a commercial than a devotion.
A soldier’s gear was designed to protect him while he was on his feet. If he fell, that soldier became vulnerable and ineffective. On the battlefield, a sharp stone, a tangle of debris, even a random arrow could spell disaster.
God wants you in the battle today. He doesn’t want the stones, the debris, the random shots of life to take you down and make you ineffective. God’s truth—the peace in your heart bought by Christ—protects your foundation. It is not only the firm ground upon which you stand, it is the protection you need to keep you standing.
…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?
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.