Tools - Armor 5

Looking at the armor of God that we should put on we can see all of these items as something external.  The belt, the shield, the helmet, the breastplate are all worn on the outside.  The sword is something we wield with our hands and our feet must be fitted with something external.

If we will be effective Christians, if we will be true children of God equipped to do battle with the evil of the world we need more than just gear that we wear on the outside.  We need something on the inside to give us ability.

In today’s passage Jesus is giving some warning and advice to his disciples, preparing them for the troubles they will face.  What can they expect?  What confidence should they have?  Who will assist them?

We know from the Book of Acts and some of the letters that follow that the followers of Jesus were indeed put through some difficult times.  They were arrested and imprisoned on a number of occasions.  They were frequently brought out before a crowd to be ridiculed and questioned about their activities.

While we may not be faced with the threat and worry of arrest, we are likely to be faced with opportunities to bear witness to our faith in public.  We may have people ask us questions about our faith – not because we are on trial but because they are curious.

Like the disciples we need to face each situation and opportunity with confidence.  We do not need to fear or worry about what we might encounter.  We are equipped with the armor of God to protect us and give us ability.  And more than that the Holy Spirit will be with us to give us the words we need to share our faith story and to stand up against any criticism and doubt from others.

If we can maintain a relationship with God and invite the Holy Spirit to be part of who we are we will be given more than the armor of God.  We will have the Spirit within us to give us ability.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  What can remind you that the Holy Spirit is with you in all things?

Tools - Armor 4

After encouraging the believers to wear the armor of God Ephesians concludes with the encouragement to pray in all occasions.  We may have all the pieces of what we need to face the evils and temptations of the world, but if we do not maintain that relationship with God through prayer –a constant communication with the Almighty – we can remain ineffective.  It is prayer that spurs our faith into powerful life.

Jesus taught about the importance of prayer and the importance of a correct attitude in prayer.  Who are the characters in this parable?  What did the widow want?  What did the judge do?  Why?  What comparison is made in verses 6 and 7?

The parables Jesus used to teach are wonderfully simple in their story but incredibly deep in their meaning.  The parable of the persistent widow is no exception.

A widow wants justice against an enemy and she enlists the influence and authority of a judge.  The problem is that the judge has no faith, no belief in right and wrong, and so seems unmoved by the pleas of the widow.

Eventually the judge decides that he will be certain the widow will get the justice she seeks.  His motivation is not the knowledge of what is right.  Instead, he will act because he does not want to hear the widow beg him any more.

Naturally, the story has a deeper meaning that applies to faith.  It is a story to encourage the believer to be persistent in prayer.  We must pray on all occasions (Ephesians 6:18).  But are we to pray to simply get our way, to tire God with our begging?

No.  In verse 6 Jesus instructs us to listen to what the unjust judge says.  His motivation was simply to have some peace and quiet.

Now Jesus follows up with verse 7 – “will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones?”  The statement about God is in contrast to the judge.  The judge acted with indifference and selfish motivation.  God, on the other hand, will act out of mercy and love.  He will eagerly hear our prayer and provide for us.

We may not feel adequate even when we put on the armor of God.  Just because we have the equipment doesn’t mean we know how to use it.  But if we remain in a right relation with God, if we pray to God in every occasion God will empower us to overcome the troubles and strife of the world.  He will enable us to effectively use the armor of God.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  Does your prayer life need to improve with frequency or sincerity?

Tools - Armor 3

There are two types of equipment for soldiers and peace-keepers, such as police.  There is protective gear, those things intended to maintain their safety, and there is that gear intended to be used to have an effect.  The same is true for each of us as soldiers for Christ.

What additional piece of armor is mentioned in verse 16?  What does it help us do?  What pieces of armor are listed in verse 17?

As we gain all the equipment we need to be the Christians we are called to be, Ephesians adds three final pieces.  The first is the shield of faith.  As we step forward to live a life of holiness we will face attacks.  We will be attacked as being narrow-minded.  We will be attacked and criticized for being different from those around us.

Like the breastplate of righteousness, our faith is that concept that protects us as we confront the evils of the world.  Our faith will keep us safe from the temptations and lures of the human nature.  Our faith will guard us against the assaults and criticisms of those who do not understand.

As a helmet is designed to protect our head so that we are able to think clearly in any situation, we are encouraged to put on the helmet of salvation.  Knowing that we are saved by Christ, that we have been claimed by God and rescued from a life of hopelessness will help us to face all situations with the proper way of thinking.  No matter what doubts and concerns may be directed our way, if we will maintain the knowledge that we have been saved by Jesus we will have the right attitude to overcome our trials.

Finally, we are given equipment to have an effect on the world around us.  We should take up the sword of the Spirit.  This is not a weapon of destruction and pain.  Rather, it is an instrument to put to death fear and pain and sorrows.

The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God.  When we share the word of God, when we share the message and teachings of the Bible we will have a positive effect on everyone and everything around us.

We must step forward equipped with the armor of God.  We are protected by the truth and our righteousness.  We are guarded by our faith.  We are guided by the knowledge of our salvation and we are spurred to action through the gospel of peace and the teachings of God.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  Which pieces of the armor of God do you need to develop?

Tools - Armor 2

At the start of school when our children were younger we would send them off on their first day equipped with what they needed to make it through the year.  We would often go through all the things they had – pencils, paper, calculator, folders, glue, scissors, and so on.  With all the tools they needed they were aware of how to use them and aware that they could do anything asked of them at school.

Ephesians 6 brings this letter of faith preparation to a close with some powerful reminders of how to employ our faith in the struggles of life.  What are the three pieces of armor mentioned in this passage?  What do they represent?

Just as a belt buckled at our waist helps us to feel secure and works to hold everything in place, the armor of God begins with the belt of truth.  When we have wrapped ourselves in truth – the truth of who we are, what we are capable of, and what relationship we have with God – we are secure in our faith.  We know that we are surrounded by the love of God and on this truth we can hang all of the rest of our equipment.  The truth is what holds our faith in place as well as our ability to love and do the work of God.

With the belt of truth we also have the breastplate of righteousness.  “Righteousness” is often misunderstood as meaning “right, correct, not wrong.”  “Righteousness” may be more correctly defined as “having a correct and firm relationship with God.”  It is righteousness that keeps us close to God, that guides us in living out the love and mercy of the Lord.  When we cover ourselves with a correct relationship with God, protect ourselves with the holy guidance on how to live, we can face all the troubles in life.

For our feet we likely own shoes of some kind.  Shoes are not meant to be set aside and never used.  They are meant to help our feet do what needs to be done.

In faith we must put on the sandals (or shoes) of the gospel of peace.  Knowing that God desires to have all people in a loving relationship with Him allows us to move forward in our faith.  The gospel of peace helps us step out in faith and share the good news of salvation we know.

As we prepare to face the evils in the world we must be dressed in the armor of God, the truth and righteousness that gives us confidence, and the gospel of peace that drives us forward.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  What can remind you of the truth and righteousness you possess?

Tools - Armor 1

At the end of a difficult day of work and taking care of all the business of life, of keeping the house in order, fixing dinner and cleaning up afterward, it is not uncommon for me to collapse on the couch to rest and watch TV.  The struggles of what is required in life can be exhausting.

Now as we approach the end of Ephesians we hear some encouragement as to how we should face the struggles of faith.  With whom are our struggles?  What should we do to be prepared?

Although a life of faith can be fulfilling and rewarding, it is not always easy.  This passage points out the enemies we face.  We are not in conflict with other people, although it may seem that way.  We are struggling against the rulers and authorities of this world.

This does not mean we are in opposition to our government and elected officials.  We are in conflict with those ideas and prevailing concepts that have authority in our culture – the prevailing trends of selfishness, greed and carnal pleasures.  We are in conflict with the temptation to do the wrong thing because everyone else is doing it.

Some may believe all the problems and temptations in life are the direct result of Satan, the physical being that wields the power of evil.  Others may see that the temptations and trials of life are simply the accumulated weight and force of the sinful, human nature.  It is humanity’s tendency to do what humanity desires that causes problems and is our enemy.

Whichever view you choose to take, or one that may fall in between the two, the struggles are real.  There is an enemy to the faith that exists.  As believers we are called to face these enemies, these problems and challenges, these temptations and lures.  We must overcome them with our own strength in our faith.

Ephesians has taught us that we are loved by God and saved by Christ.  It has shown us that we are called to shine the light of God’s love on all the world and to allow the Holy Spirit to give us a new vision in our faith.  We have been taught to follow the direction and leading of God, to walk in step with the Lord and each other, and to live in relationships of mutual support and love.

Now we are equipped with what we need to be Christians strong in our faith.  We are encouraged to put on the armor of God, those aspects which will give us the ability to live out all these requirements of holy living.  And once we are able to overcome the trials of life we will not collapse exhausted.  Instead we will be equipped to continue standing strong in our faith.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  Can you identify the rulers, powers and authorities that exist in your life to make it difficult to live a holy life?