Tag Archives: the armor of God

…so that He will not hear. (Isaiah 59-63)

Once again I read God’s Words and see life in 2020 America. Read chapter 59 and see if you don’t agree. Hands are stained with blood, no one pleads his case with integrity, acts of violence are in our hands, they rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood, truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.

Isaiah could be a reporter for a cable news network today and say the same thing.

But like always, God has a way of making His Word personal. And He never lets me off the hook. I first read these chapters with our society in mind. But I got finished and realized God rarely talks to me about “them.” So I asked Him to speak to me about my walk with Him today, and started to read the chapters again.

God slapped me with 59:2. It’s MY iniquity that has separated me from God, MY sins that hide His face from me so that He will not hear my cries for help. Where do I get off thinking I can live my life to suit myself, AND expect God to jump when I call? How much nerve does it take to ignore God until I need Him, then blame Him when things go south?

Maybe you should ask yourself the same thing.

I know you can’t expect a non-Christian to act like a Christian. But I think it’s time we Christians started acting like true Jesus-followers. It starts with confessing our own sin every time God brings a sin to our attention. It involves loving our neighbors, doing good to those who harm us.

But it also means putting on the armor of God and standing on the Truth of Scripture. No compromise. No picking a verse here and there to support our own agenda. No “living and let live.” Being a true Jesus-follower means going to war. It means holding each other accountable, telling people about their sin problem, and introducing them to their Savior.

God doesn’t hear us while we hold on to sin. God doesn’t hear the Church, and God doesn’t hear me unless and until I deal with my sin problem by repenting and asking Him to forgive me.

Do I want God to heal our land, erase the virus, stop the riots in the streets and the insanity in our government? Do I want Him to hear me?

Then I had better deal with my own iniquity, my own sin. I can pray all day and all night long, but if I am living with sin He will not hear.

The Beautiful City Of God (Isaiah 33)

As I read God’s word today, a hymn I have not sung in many years began running through my head. Isaac Watts wrote this hymn, “We’re Marching To Zion,” in the 1600’s!

Come, we that love the Lord, And let our joys be known;
Join in a song with sweet accord, Join in a song with sweet accord,
And thus surround the throne, And thus surround the throne.

Let those refuse to sing who never knew our God;
But children of the heavenly King, But children of the heavenly King,
May speak their joys abroad, May speak their joys abroad.

The hill of Zion yields a thousand sacred sweets,
Before we reach the heavenly fields, Before we reach the heavenly fields,
Or walk the golden streets, Or walk the golden streets.

Then let our songs abound and every tear be dry;
We’re marching through Emmanuel’s ground, We’re marching through Emmanuel’s ground,
To fairer worlds on high, To fairer worlds on high.

CHORUS:
We’re marching to Zion, Beautiful, beautiful Zion
We’re marching upward to Zion, the beautiful city of God.

Isaiah talked about this beautiful city, my future home:

The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; He will fill Zion with justice and righteousness. He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure. (33:5-6)

I’m thinking about Zion this morning. That peaceful abode, a tent that will not be moved…

There the Lord will be our Mighty One. It will be like a place of broad rivers and streams. (33:21a)

Isaiah told us in verse 6 that the key to this treasure is in fearing God. Fearing Him. Scripture often tells us that fearing God involves respecting Him, taking Him seriously, obeying Him, longing for Him, seeking Him, humbling ourselves before Him.

Are you marching to Zion? Not just drifting, not just wandering blindly. Are you marching with purpose, clothed in Jesus’ righteousness and donned with the armor of God?

Left. Right. Left. Right. Keep marching toward that beautiful city of God where we will spend eternity in the Presence of our Creator, our Savior!

 

A Season For War (2 Samuel 11-12; I Chronicles 20)

There is a phrase in both 2 Samuel and I Chronicles that caught my attention this morning: “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war…”

Why spring? It sounds like the start of baseball season or something. I did some research and this is what I found:

Spring was the ideal time for going to war because, first, the rains were over which meant the soldiers could march on solid and dry ground. There was grass in the fields, fruit on trees, and ripe corn, food for both soldiers and horses. There was wisdom in the timing.

Now, soldiers could suit up at any time of the year. Not all battles were fought in the best circumstances. But if a king could wait until spring before going into battle, he had a better chance of success because his soldiers didn’t have to fight the enemy AND the elements.

I am reminded of Paul’s second letter to Timothy when he told the young preacher to “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season…

We, like the Old Testament soldiers can suit up at any time. In fact, we are told to put on the armor of God every day. We are instructed to always be prepared to give an answer for the hope we have in Jesus. Our battles, and our opportunities to share the Gospel, don’t just come at prime time. We are told to be prepared to preach the Word at all times.

But I am challenged today to plan my battle strategy, to look for the signs that tell me the time is right to go to that person God has laid on my heart to confront their sin in order to lead them to their Savior. Sometimes we might be tempted to barge in when it’s convenient for us, only to be met with the challenge of fighting the elements of distractions or resistance or misunderstandings while we are trying to fight the battle against sin.

I want to wait for God’s timing, because He is preparing the ground for battle. I want to recognize His season for war against Satan, and be prepared to fight the fight He is leading. Not my season. But His.

May I be prepared every day by putting on the whole armor of God, by being ready to give an answer, to share the Gospel whenever the opportunity presents itself. May I be sensitive to God’s timing. And may I be a faithful and obedient soldier so that when God says, “Charge!” I’m the first to go.

Wearing Truth (Deuteronomy 11)

What a privilege we have to hold God’s own Words in our hands, to read it, study it, memorize it, any time of the day or night. I trust you aren’t squandering this incredible gift.

Moses told the Israelites that God said to “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road…” (Deuteronomy 11:18ff) Simply reading the Bible isn’t enough.

Moses goes on to tell the Jews what God promises to those who have His Word in their hearts. They would possess the land. Their enemies would be defeated. No one would be able to stand against them.

In Good News Club the past few weeks we have been talking to the children about the armor of God. The first piece of the armor is the Belt of Truth. In this day and age of many so-called truths, how can we know what is really truth, or is there such a thing?

The ancient soldiers wore a thick leather belt in battle. It wasn’t decorative, or meant to hold up their trousers. It was an important, life-saving, piece of armor. For one, it held a soldier’s weapons at the ready. There was a leather flap attached to the belt which covered the soldier’s manhood. If the belt was not worn properly, or if it was twisted even slightly, the soldier couldn’t access his weapons efficiently, and was exposed to an enemy’s fatal blow.

The people in the Ephesian church to whom Paul wrote his letter, knew exactly how important that belt was in battle. So when Paul told them to put on the Belt of Truth, I’m pretty sure they understood the analogy. The Truth is that vital.

So how can we know what is true? Moses shared God’s instructions. The truth is in God’s Word. This Bible that we have in our homes is that first and necessary piece of armor in this battle against the enemy. We have got to put on that Truth for protection, for readying us to use the weapons of war that are God’s righteousness, the Gospel, faith, salvation, and the Spirit. All of those things must be secured by the truth of God’s Word.

There are those who would twist what the Bible says, or replace it with man’s wisdom. But, folks, we are in a battle with eternal implications. Why would we want to fight it without state-of-the-art battle gear? Why replace the Belt of Truth with a Belt of Opinion? That would be like taking a Nerf gun into a nuclear war.

Read your Bible. Fix God’s word on your hearts and minds. Never be ashamed of what is there, never try to hide it or twist it or replace it. Talk about it to your children who are being fed a lot of lies about Truth. (actually, now that most of us are quarantined because of the virus hype, it would be a great time to have those conversations with your children stuck in your homes. What Satan intends for evil, God can bring about something really good! Don’t miss this opportunity.)

God promises to bless those who wear His Truth. Be blessed today.

 

December 13; Are You Dressed?

Ephesians 4-6

I had a rare day yesterday where I had no responsibilities, no plans, no reason to leave my house. All day. I will confess I stayed in bed much longer than I normally do, didn’t make breakfast until 11:00, and thought: “I could stay in my pajamas all day.”

Well, I didn’t do that last one. I did put clothes on eventually, if you can call leggings and a sloppy shirt clothes. But let’s just say I would have been totally unprepared for company.

Not so today. I’m up, showered, and dressed, ready to tackle my day. Or am I?

Sure I have the jeans, shirt, shoes and socks I’ll wear to clean a storage closet out at church. I’ll stop at the grocery later, pick up some things I need for Good News Club, drop off something at the elementary school, then come home to get cleaned up and ready to go to a friend’s house for game night. But am I really prepared for the day?

Paul tells us we need to be prepared for war every day. We need to put on the full armor of God so we can stand against our enemy, Satan. We need to put on the belt of Truth, the breastplates of righteousness, the Gospel army boots, the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit.

If I read Paul right, those things don’t magically appear any more than street clothes would have automatically replaced my pajamas yesterday if someone had come to my door. Getting ready for my day requires intentionality.

So let me ask you (and me), are you dressed? Have you spent time in God’s Word, spoken to your Commander? Have you intentionally asked God to prepare you for battle today? Because, friend, there will be battles today. Are you dressed for the occasion?

 

March 19; It’s a Battle

Deuteronomy 19-21

When you go to war against your enemy, Satan, and see the media, government officials, and special interest groups that seem stronger than you, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who rescued you from being slaves to sin, will be with you. When you are about to go into battle, our High Priest Jesus Christ Himself, shall come forward and address the army. He shall say, “Hear, O Christian, today you are going into battle against your enemy Satan and his army. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” (from 20:1-4)

I think we sometimes forget we are at war. We’re still pretty comfortable here in the US and many of us have been lulled into a false sense of security and peace. But make no mistake about it. We are at war.

I have also heard some soldiers in our army say, “It’s too much. The country is too far gone. The end is near.” Are we really ready to raise the white flag in surrender? I don’t see that battle plan in Scripture at all.

Are you willing to say Satan is too powerful for God? Or are you going to quit with the excuses, put on the whole armor of God, and join an army of Christians ready to stand up  and be counted? Whether it’s a battle for your soul, or the battle for our country and the world, we are at war. And sitting back and doing nothing is doing something.

I pray you will ask the Lord what you can do as a soldier in His army. Remember who the enemy is. It’s Satan. Our enemies are not flesh and blood. Not homosexuals, newscasters, politicians, abortion doctors, or the annoying neighbor next door. But the lies they believe, fueled by evil, are the things I believe God would have us fight against.

Light always overcomes darkness. That is, if someone is shining the Light. It’s a battle God delights in winning. Are you in?

 

Ezekiel 26-30; Take That, Satan

Ezekiel shares that God likened the king of Tyre to Satan. A model of perfection, adorned with beauty, guardian of cherubs, blameless until the day he chose wickedness. His heart became proud, corrupt, and dishonest, so God threw him out of His Presence. And Satan landed on earth.

Who of us has not been prideful, corrupt, or dishonest ourselves at one time or another? A flash from my past came to mind as I sat here thinking about this. Forty-some years ago, when ATM’s first came on the scene, I pulled up to the ATM of a bank near the grocery where I was heading. I put my card in, punched in $40.00 from checking, then took the money from the machine. It was like magic!

I immediately realized it had given me one too many $20’s. I remember sitting there for a second, before driving away.

I stole that $20.

I even remember rationalizing my sin by telling myself God must have wanted me to have it, seeing that I was living paycheck to paycheck with a few unpaid bills sitting on my desk at home.

Wow. Hadn’t thought about that in years. But I realize how much Satan’s influence is here on earth. He whispered the same lie in my ear that he whispered in Eve’s. “You deserve this.” And I fell for it just like Eve did.

I’m not the same person I was in my twenties, thankfully. Not too long ago I was putting groceries in my car when I realized a jar of onion powder was not in a bag. I checked the receipt and realized the cashier had not charged me for it. I found myself beginning to rationalize not paying for the onion powered. “It wasn’t my fault she didn’t see it.” “I want to get home to put the frozen stuff in the freezer,” “I don’t want to walk all that way back into the store for a measly buck and a half.” But I shut out those thoughts, and I took the jar back into the store to pay for it.

Now, I’m not saying that so you’ll think I’m some kind of saint. I’m not. But I share that to make the point that, even though Satan’s influence is as strong today, God is still stronger.  God gives His children every weapon we need to resist the devil. And God wins every time we allow Him to fight the battle.

Satan won’t stop shooting arrows, but we can put on the armor of God and not allow those arrows to penetrate. When Jesus places His righteousness on us when we repent of sin, His righteousness lives in and through us. We  begin to think, and act, like Jesus. And Satan has no power against Jesus! That’s great news!

And there’s more! Ezekiel reminds us that Satan is already defeated. God speaks outside of time, telling us:

… So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more. (28:18b-19)

Take that, Satan. You are already toast. God wins. You lose. And those of us on God’s side win with Him.

Who’s side are you on?

 

Nehemiah 4-6; Fighting the Good Fight

The Jews worked fervently to get the wall built. But they never took their eyes off the enemy, and were always armed for battle. They recognized the enemy’s cunning attempts to thwart God’s work. But the wall was built in 52 days, in spite of the enemy’s best effort to stop it.

I think Christians working in churches are doing a pretty good job of getting things done. Outreach programs, inviting atmospheres, Bible studies, and child-care. I’m not so sure we’re doing a great job at arming ourselves against the enemy.

Read these chapters in Nehemiah and you will see Satan’s tactics; the offer of friendship, deception, fear, lies, etc. The enemy even “got in” to the inner circle by marrying the daughter of a prominent Jew. The Jew’s enemy was relentless.

And so is ours. God seems to be asking me to check my own battle stance. Am I busy doing things for the Lord, with one eye on my enemy? Or am I assuming that the enemy can’t touch me as long as I’m working for God? Have I put on the armor of God, do I wield the Sword of the Spirit? Am I studying God’s Word so that I understand Satan’s battle plan, can recognize his tactics, and fight when his arrows are pointed at me?

I must remember that Satan’s goal is to destroy the Church one soul at a time. May I fight the good fight as I do the things God asks of me. May you do the same.

March 8 – But I Like It Here

Numbers 31-32

What is our responsibility to each other as members of God’s family? The sons of Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh were comfortable living east of the Jordan River. They knew the land God had promised Abraham was to the west. But they liked it where they were.

Moses agreed to letting them stay there on one condition: Help your brothers take the Promised Land.

Just because they weren’t going to make their home there, it didn’t give them a free pass out of the battle.

So the question is, what is your responsibility in the welfare of your church fellowship and in the global Church? You may be comfortable in your relationship with the Savior, secure in your place in heaven. But does that mean you can put your feet up and let others fight the battles?

There is more ground to gain, more souls needing salvation, more sins to defeat. Moses told the two and a half tribes if they didn’t help win the war, “you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out.”

Dear one, not putting on the armor of God and engaging in the war against Satan is sin. Not telling your neighbor about Christ is sin. Not inviting people to church, supporting missions, or praying for the lost, are sins.

What is our responsibility? To join forces with other Christians and get the job done. We need to be supporting, encouraging, praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ as we all do our part to further God’s Kingdom one soul at a time.

Feb 23 – Protecting The Presence

Number 1&2

It took a great amount of organization to navigate the Israelites through the desert. Clearly a million or so people weren’t going to get to the Promised Land if they were going at it a million ways. As it happens, God is a good organizer.

God broke it all down in manageable bits. His plan, if followed, would make the journey more enjoyable, and guaranteed its success.

You’ll notice in these chapters that everyone camped with their own family, and they set out with their own family. Reuben’s ancestors stayed together, as did Judah’s and Gad’s, as did each of the rest of the twelve tribes.

The Levites, who were in charge of caring for and transporting the temple, and who had no warriors among them, were always surrounded by the other tribes for protection.

You do know I think this is more than just nice little history lesson, right? The temple was where God abided on earth at that time. Today He abides in the hearts of those of us who are saved by His grace, through the blood of His Son.

So as I look at how God instructed the Jews to surround the temple, to protect it from all sides, I wonder what I am doing to protect God’s Presence in my own life.

Reading the Bible and praying, going to church, listening to Christian music are all good and useful. Resisting sin, being selective about the TV I watch or the books I read, standing up for the Truth of Scripture, sharing Christ with the lost, surrounding myself with Godly friends, serving, giving, are other ways of protecting Christ in me. The Bible tells us to put on the whole armor of God. (Ephesians 6)

I am reminded there is an enemy in Satan who would destroy the Presence in me. I believe God is encouraging me today to be organized in my defense, to make purposeful choices to protect this place where He lives. If I do, it will make my journey through this life more enjoyable, and guarantee its success.

After all, Christ in me, the hope of glory! That’s worth protecting!