Stand Firm

We are in a war and it is real. The enemy is relentless. The battle does not get easier with time and it can be exhausting. Yet in the Bible we learn that the battle is not uncertain, the turf is not individual, the enemy’s schemes are not unknown, nor is our strategy a mystery.

It is natural when under attack to fight or flee, yet what we discover is that we cannot hide from the attack and we are often too weak to fight on our own. There is another option—a better option. God’s primary battle strategy for trials, suffering, doubt, discouragement, and spiritual warfare is to “stand firm.” There are more than a dozen situations in Scripture where God or his messengers told those in difficult circumstances to stand firm. Within each of these real life stories we learn about the multifaceted battle and God’s strategy of standing firm.

Moses and the Red Sea

After the tenth and final plague, Pharaoh had lost his firstborn son. Egypt was swimming in a sea of sorrow. Moses didn’t have to beg Pharaoh to leave; Pharaoh asked Moses and the Israelites to leave in a hurry (Exodus 12:29-33).

When the Israelites arrived at the shore of the Red Sea they were stuck. Pharaoh knew this and he had a change of heart. He recruited a revenge army and chased after the Israelites.

In their rearview mirror, the Israelites saw the dust clouds from chariots and the glistening swords from Pharaoh’s army barreling towards them. They feared greatly and they cried out to the Lord. Moses responded,

“Fear not, stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:13)

It sounds like odd advice. The Israelites had no weapons. They were slaves. They had no place to run. They were pinned between the army and the sea. However, God had a plan. God asked Moses to put his staff into the sea, the sea split and the Israelites passed through on dry ground. When Pharaoh and his chariots tried to pass, the sea closed and drown them. That day the Egyptians saw who was the Lord and the Israelites learned to trust the Lord. The Lord won the day.

Jehoshaphat’s Prayer and Interruption

In a similar situation to Moses and Pharaoh’s army, king Jehoshaphat was being hotly pursued by a vicious horde. He was afraid. He knew his army was powerless. So he sought the Lord and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah to seek help from the Lord.

Jehoshaphat stood before the men, women and children, not knowing what to do other than call upon the Lord. He said,

“O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.” (2 Chronicles 20:6)

The king knew who God was. He heard stories told by his father’s how God fought for his people. He recalled from Abraham to the present day how God had driven out their enemies and they built altars to praise God. With a fierce army at their doorstep, he said no matter what they would stand before the house of God and before God (v.9).

As Jehoshaphat was speaking, the Spirit of the Lord came upon a man in the assembly named Jahaziel. He interrupted the king by saying,

“Listen everyone, including you King Jehoshaphat, Thus says the Lord, “Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s…You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.” (vs. 15-17)

After Jehoshaphat heard this he bowed to worship God knowing only God could save them. The next day the king went out before the people and charged them to believe that they heard. They sang a song to the Lord before the army, “Give thanks to the Lord for his steadfast love endures forever.” (v.21) At that exact time God set an ambush upon the enemy armies. Again, God won the battle that day.

Job’s Friend Gives Good Bad Advice

Job lost everything: his family, his home, his herds, and his health. Job’s friends came to him to offer their advice and were quick to point to his sin as the result for his calamity. In other words, you must have done something bad to have all this bad happen to you. They didn’t have great theology nor did they know God was allowing Satan to sift Job. Even though Job’s friends didn’t understand and missed the diagnosis they did give some good advice,

“Yet if you devote your heart to [God]
and stretch out your hands to him,
if you put away the sin that is in your hand
and allow no evil to dwell in your tent,
then, free of fault, you will lift up your face;
you will stand firm and without fear.
You will surely forget your trouble,
recalling it only as waters gone by.” (Job 11:13-16)

In the right place with the right proof, it would have been good advice. Job may have lost everything, but truly he had everything. He stood firm in what he knew about God,

“Then Job answered the Lord and said:
“I know that You can do all things,
and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”” (Job 42:1-3)

Indeed, God was with Job, even in the middle of such great loss and evil. His story is written for our example, “Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” (James 5:11)

Ethan the Ezrahite’s Song

In Psalm 89, there is a beautiful song about the steadfast love of God. The song was written by a wiseman named Ethan who lived sometime after King David. There isn’t a lot we know about Ethan, but his song captures God’s forever faithfulness from creation through to the generations of David. A time when God crushed many enemies for his people. Speaking for God and his promises to his people, Ethan writes,

“My steadfast love I will keep for him forever,
and my covenant will stand firm for him.” (v.28)

Here God is the One who stands firm (cf. Psalm 33:11; 93:5). He is a covenant keeping God who always keeps his end of the deal. He is unchanging, immoveable, and steadfast. He is compared to as a Rock, a fortress, and a strong tower.

David also wrote a song similar to Ethan,

“I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.” (Psalm 40:1-3)

David who was in many sticky situations surround by armies and headhunters knew the steadfastness and faithfulness of God. He saw firsthand how God fought for him and kept his promises. Like David, Ethan believed God was a covenant keeping God even in catastrophic circumstance. He trusted that a Promised One would rule and reign from David’s lineage.

Solomon’s Wisdom

Solomon picked up where his father David left off. When God offered Solomon anything he wanted (cf. 1 Kings 3) all he wanted was wisdom. This pleased God and God made Solomon the wisest man ever to live. In his book of wisdom, Solomon says, “When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.” (Proverbs 10:25)

In other words, tempests of trials will come. The wind will gust, the rain will pour, the lightning will crack, and the floods will rage. The wicked will be swept away because they have unsure and untested footing, but those who are firm in God will endure forever.

Notice the proverb doesn’t shirk from the reality that life has storms or the consequences of not standing firm God. This small proverb offers hope and assurance as an anchor for the soul during the storms life brings.

Isaiah and the Sign of Immanuel

In the reign of king Ahaz, when he was marching to fight against Jerusalem to no avail, the Sovereign Lord gave a promise, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” (Isaiah 7:9) So the Lord gave a sign to Ahaz whether he asked for it of not.

By his messenger, Isaiah, God spoke and he said, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (v.14) What might have sounded like brief word then, was chalked full of meaning. Isaiah foretold a time when a Messianic hope would come and make all that’s wrong in the world right.

For king Ahaz and Israel the call was to stand firm in the faith that God who would deliver his people. Whether that was to happen immediate or not in their lifetime was unsure, but what was sure was God’s promise.

Isaiah and the Idols of Babylon

What Isaiah saw was horrific. He saw Israel ransacked and taken into captivity. Although he prophesied and warned Israel to turn back to the Lord, they ignored him and sadly what said came to pass. The people of Israel were shackled as slaves and ushered to Babylon. God was using a wicked nation to punish the apple of his eye. Yet in the midst of the chaos and confusion, God bring a clarifying promise,

“Remember this and stand firm,
recall it to mind, you transgressors,
remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me,
declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all My purpose” (Isaiah 46:8-10)

God promised to accomplish his purpose, which was to purify his people. A remnant would remain that would not bow to foreign gods, but would trust in the Most High God as in the days of old. As the people were walking from the rubble and destruction of Jerusalem to an unknown land Isaiah was calling the people to remember God, his unchanging character, his wise counsel, and stand firm because,

“I bring near my righteousness; it is not far off,
and my salvation will not delay;
I will put salvation in Zion,
for Israel my glory.” (v.13)

Ezekiel’s Warning

Ezekiel the prophet had just as difficult a job trying to convince the people of Israel to listen to God. He was alone standing against the flow of humanity. The other prophets of God had scattered and become scavengers in the land. They, like the people, turned from trusting in the Spirit of God. Worse yet, they led the people astray and into captivity. The Lord didn’t have good words for them,

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! Your prophets, Israel, are like jackals among ruins. You have not gone up to the breaches in the wall to repair it for the people of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the Lord.” (Ezekiel 13:3-5)

When the prophets should have unified to help the people fortify their faith and prepared the people to stand firm they acting as the enemy. In reality, they were playing into the hand of the enemy. It was a hard lesson for the people of God. In the end, God would win the day, “I will save my people from your hands. And then you will know that I am the Lord.” (v.23)

Jesus Prepares His Disciples for Persecution

Jesus ministry on earth was short. He came as the Messiah, but not to fulfill that role completely. He came to prepare his followers by saying the last days will be difficult. Nations will be at each others throats. Wars will be commonplace. Creation will be in upheaval. Persecution will be escalated. Families will be torn apart. Believers and followers of Jesus will be hated as they hated Jesus. It will not be a pretty picture.

Yet in the midst of the doom and gloom Jesus promises that not one hair will be missing from the heads of his followers. He says, “Stand firm, and you will win life.” (Luke 21:19; cf. Matthew 10:17-22; 24; Mark 13) And continues, “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” (v.36)

Paul Encourages the Young Churches

Paul knew that following Jesus was difficult. He experienced firsthand the physical, emotional, and spiritual battle from the front lines. He also knew the joy of walking with Jesus in the most wretched of circumstances.

Paul was pastoral and cared deeply for the young church. Paul would encourage these first generation Christians was by writing letters as he traveled. The letters were sent throughout the Roman Empire from modern-day Turkey to Greece to Rome. The beauty is that we still have these letters today and can be encouraged by them generations later.

Writing as one who had been-there-and-done-that, Paul frequently encouraged the church to stand firm. As Pastor Paul shepherds struggling souls of the young church allow him to shepherd your soul.

On the resurrection:

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:56-58)

On rapid-fire commands and last words:

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13)

On a change of plans:

“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come… Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.” (2 Corinthians 1:21-24)

On the freedom we have in Christ:

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

On the armor of God:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

On a life worthy of the gospel:

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him,” (Philippians 1:27-29)

On straining towards the goal:

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.” (Philippians 3:20-4:1)

On one’s identity in Christ:

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation — if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.” (Colossians 1:21-23)

On encouraging gospel partners:

“Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” (Colossians 4:12)

On the responsibility of the community of faith:

“But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17)

After reading through these snit bits from Paul’s letters, we find our faith being bolstered too. If Paul encourages the early church this way, how much more should we be encouraging one another to stand firm?

Peter Encourages the Persecuted Church

Peter’s early life was a rollercoaster. He was impulsive, his mouth and temper often got him into messes and he blew it bad. As difficult as it is to read Peter’s life we can easily relate.

It is beautiful to watch Peter’s relationship with Jesus. Through it all, Jesus never give up on Peter. He loved Peter. He worked with Peter where he was at.

Later in the book of Acts, we see a new Peter. A Peter who has repented, redeemed from past shame and is restored with God. Peter grows bold in his faith, shares it unashamedly, and becomes a conduit of grace. Peter went on to write two letters still in the Bible. It is clear from his words he became a counselor and pastor who deeply loved people (aka: sheep). From a pastoral heart he writes,

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Pt. 5:6-11)

The audience to whom Peter wrote were experiencing persecution from outside the church, inside the church and within their very souls. Peter doesn’t encourage the hard-pressed to fight or flee, but to simply crawl under the mighty hand of God who promises to crush their foe at the proper time. God is the safest haven in times of suffering.

James Eyes the Lord’s Coming

James was the younger half-brother of Jesus. According to James, growing up next to Jesus was a little over-the-top, but as he grew older he realized that Jesus was who he claimed to be. His brother, Jesus, became his Savior too. Just read how he writes about him,

“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” (James 5:7-11)

James’ tells his brothers and sisters in the faith to stand firm. If Jesus said he will return surely he will keep is word. Jesus has kept all his words and promises and hasn’t gone back on any of them. Just as he waited for the right time to reveal God’s plan, he endured the cross despising the shame and the result was the salvation of our souls. Perseverance through pain, trials and suffering promises great results.

It is waiting that is often the hardest, especially if in the waiting one faces hardships. One can question, “When will it end? When are you coming?” Or like the Psalmist, “How long, oh Lord?”

Application: How to Stand Firm

Surely you can find yourself somewhere in the stories above where God’s people are encouraged to stand firm in difficult situations. The scenarios and the enemy is universal. These stories are a goldmine for the soul. They are bricks for fortifying the faith. Yet applying the charge to stand firm can be easier said than done. How do you stand firm?

Standing firm is active.

Standing firm is an act of readiness. Think of a soldier who has a shield and sword in hand, even when asleep his weapons are at his side. When awake his feet are firmly planted in the soil. The weapons of warfare in Ephesians 6, all but one (the sword), are weapons of readiness. The weapons ultimately focus on Christ and what you have in him, not what you have within yourself.

Standing firm is an act of endurance. Standing firm is not the same thing as standing still. To stand firm means you embrace faith while you wait out the storm of trials and suffering or while you await the coming of the Lord. In your relationship with God, he is the strongman. He does the fighting for you. He gives and grows the faith. When you stand firm you get a front row seat to see how God acts on your behalf.

Standing firm is directly attached to belief in the character and promises of God.

Standing firm is founded on what you know about God and his Word. God’s character is sure. His promises are kept. The two are not to be separated. For example, if we believe in the promise that God will deliver we must also believe that God is good, merciful, and loving while we wait to be delivered.

Standing firm is the opposite of fearing. When we are not standing firm we are freaking out. We have the same response as Israel when they saw Pharaoh’s army or Jehoshaphat in hot pursuit. When the odds seem stacked against us and defeat seems inevitable we are tempted to fear by fighting or fleeing. Both responses show our eyes are on what we can do and not on God with us.

Standing firm is never done alone.

Standing firm is only possible by the power of Christ. On our own we are weak, but with the Spirit of Christ we have the power to stand. Jesus knows the full weight of temptation, suffering and hardships. He endured through the power given to him by his Father. That same power is available to us who are in Christ. If we stand alone we will will falter, but with Christ we will have victory.

Standing firm is best done with other believers. An army of one does not mean one soldier, but an army of one is a massive global community of soldiers standing firm together under the banner of Christ. The life of Christ is meant to be lived in community with other followers of Christ. Standing together is better than standing alone. It is so encouraging to know that there are others who are enduring with you. Timothy calls this life the “good fight” (1 Timothy 1:18; 6:12) One day the enemy will face his certain demise, but until then standing firm against the enemy is necessary.

Standing firm adamantly resists the wiles of the world.

The enemy is cunning, crafty, and relentless. Yet God is sovereign, powerful, and wise. God has Satan on a leash. God has his purposes for Satan in the world. This does not mean Satan is not powerful and good at what he does. He is, therefore we must be adamant about resisting the enemy (1 Peter 5:9; James 4:7), refusing to give him an opportunity (Ephesians 4:27), and standing firm against his schemes (Ephesians 6:11).

“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you!” (James 4:7). It is interesting that as we stand firm by resisting it is the devil who flees not us. Again, the power to resist is not our willpower, but the power is in the blood. Look at Revelation 12:11, “They have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” Victory is possible in Christ by his blood. The blood of Jesus conquered the grave and wiles of Satan. It is by the blood of Jesus that we have power to resist too.

As this world keeps on spinning and Satan keeps raging, Jesus calls us to wartime prayer, “Watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36). Also, Peter encourages a similar end-time prayer, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers” (1 Peter 4:7).

Jesus himself battled against the devil on our behalf with the weapon of prayer. He said to his friend Peter in Luke 22:31–32, “Satan has asked to have you that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” Isn’t it powerful to know that Jesus intercedes this prayer on our behalf?

Summary

The call to “stand firm” appears throughout the entire Bible from cover to cover, especially in critical moments of battle, temptation, persecution, or societal decay. It is a powerful and encouraging little phrase.

We are in a war and the war is real. The question is not whether you want to be in the war. You are in it. Everyone is in it. Either you are living defeated fighting in your own strength and fleeing in fear or you are standing firm.

Standing firm in faith has good results. Paul, a man who knew a lot about suffering for the sake of Christ, encouraged his younger colleague, “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3), and “wage the good warfare” (1 Timothy 1:18). Did you notice he called the warfare ‘good’? Why would he use that adjective? You might think of a million others words other than ‘good’. Yet Paul is on to something true. As Paul looks back, he sees how God used all the hardship, discouragement, endurance, suffering for good, particularly the good of his faith.

Jesus was the champion of Paul’s faith. He is also the champion of our faith. Jesus is no less a warrior today than in the days of Paul, Moses, Peter, Job or Jehoshaphat. So I call you as God and his messengers did: Stand firm in your faith as willing soldiers fixing your eyes on Jesus the Prince of Peace and the King of kings.

Advertisements

Encouragements for Christians When their Faith is Under Fire

God never promised that this life will be easy, but he promises to be with you in the fire.

The consequences of saying that you love and worship Jesus can be real and hurtful. Those who are close to you may even turn their back on you.  For many around the world there is pain and suffering.  There is ridicule and rejection.

Peter knew what it was like to experience persecution, hardships, and suffering for Jesus Christ. This gave him a raw, yet real palate for encouraging other Christians who are walking through the same fire.

1 Peter is an excellent book to read to be encouraged.  Here are a sampling of encouragements for Christians when their faith is under fire:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1:6-7)

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. (2:2-3)

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” (2:7a-8)

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (2:9)

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. (2:13-15)

For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. (2:20-21)

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, (3:13-18)

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (4:8)

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. (4:12-16)

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (4:19)

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (5:5-7)

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (5:10)

thumb licks [12.3.11]

Beholding the beauty of Christ in Wal-Mart

What Tim Tebow can’t do? Some want to make him super man, but he’s not.

The Devil’s playbook. And how he aims to defeat you.

Lessons for the church from Joe Paterno. Listen up young and old.

How to be better prepared for your next major presentation.

Are you mature? Mature believers possess these 5 indicators.

Man enough to love a real woman. Great post for daters or want-to-be daters.

God with us. Such a great promise from God.

thumb lick thursday [5.19.11]

hospitality and small children

I’ve been thinking about the joys and challenges of being hospitable with small children at home. Having toddlers afoot amid home and meal preparations, while expecting a large or small gathering of people, can be a challenge. So much so that many people just don’t do it much at all. But it can also be a great joy and delight.

Transforming Neighborhoods by Transforming Public Schools

Despite our history of antagonism toward public schools, especially as a cultural darkness seems to have settled on them, it’s intriguing to wonder: what if Christians flooded public schools with practical help? What if Christians became more willing to enroll their children in public schools? And what if the lines between public and private educations began to blur?

Where the Twelve Apostles Died

Geographic Travels has put together a map of locations identifying where, according to tradition, the 12 Apostles of Christ died. Blue markers represent commonly accepted death locations while yellow markers represent disputed locations.

On Being Better Bereans

So how can we be better Bereans? Most Christians are eager to receive the word, especially when we get new insights and background information, but how many go the extra step and examine the Scripture to see if the new nugget is actually true (Acts 17:11)? Here are a few things to keep in mind when we hear an exciting new teaching or connection…

Warfare Causes Suffering

“Warfare causes suffering, spiritual warfare being no exception. Those who take up the mission of God’s people by simply living, working and witnessing in the public square so dominated by the gods of this world, who choose to live by the distrinctive ethical standards that flow from their biblical worldview, who confess Jesus as Lord, and not Caesar or Mammon – such people will suffer in one way or another” – Christopher Wright in The Mission of God’s People

Spring Rains

“This song that I wrote is a reflection of what happened in the Garden of Eden. It is an expression of longing and aching for what was lost and looking for what is to come. In his book, Dr. Kapic talks about the moment that Adam and Eve “first began to doubt God’s generosity.” I was overwhelmed with this idea that Dr. Kapic presents in his book, that God, in response to our sin, gives more to us and pours out himself for us. God delights in giving to me and that is just one way in which he shows his love.”  – Esther Ellis

Matters of the Heart: what God says about the core of man

The Bible is says followers of Jesus Christ are to live in a way that reflects Him. A Christian is a “little Christ.” This can be a difficult role to fulfill especially when other people, even Christians are not acting, speaking or living for Christ. How do I live in a dirty rotten world? How Can I shine the light in a dark world? What is God’s view of self, success, & stuff? Does it matter what I do with my free time? So how do I live in the world, but not become like the world? What is the matter with my heart?

the heart of the matter

What is the heart? The heart is not just a muscle that pumps blood, the shape of a card you receive on Valentines Day, nor where romantic feelings come from. It is said that you cannot understand a human until you understand the heart. The Bible describes the heart as your inner man [spirit, soul, mind, emotions, passions, will, etc.]. The heart is the real you, where your beliefs affect your behavior. It is the control center of a your life. [Read More]

key to understanding your heart

Have you ever had a set of keys that you just did not know what they unlocked? I use to have a small box of mysterious keys I no longer knew what they unlocked. I still keep many of them around just in case I have a door or padlock that I cannot open. Hopefully you are not missing a key to something important that I’ve borrowed and forgot to give back to you? It is frustrating not having a key to unlock something valuable to you [i.e. home, car, safe, etc.]. Sometimes it might feel like your heart is locked and you do not have the right key to understand. [Read More]

Heart Distracters & Hardeners

God, you really didn’t mean to say that?

What does it really mean not to love the world? What does it mean for me? Does it mean I have to give up listening to unchristian music, R-rated movies, MTV, video games, making lots of money, gossip magazines, or my short shorts? If you were really honest you don’t want the answers, especially from a 2000-year-old book that may seem out of touch with today’s culture and trends. [Read More]

i love the world

John says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world.” [1 John 2:15] But then in another place John says, “For God so loved the world…” [John 3:16] and Jesus says, “As [God] sent Me into the world, so I have sent [believers] into the world.” [John 17:18] So on one hand, I am not supposed to love the world, but God loves the world. And on the other hand, I am not supposed to love things in the world, but Jesus sends His followers to live in the world. Okay, let’s decipher and answer: What is the world? Should or shouldn’t I love the world? How can I love the world? [Read More]

the colossal compromise

Compromise is a part of life. Everyday you are faced with decisions where you have to give up something good for another good. Do I study or do I play soccer? Do I visit this family member or do I visit this old friend? Do I go out to eat for pizza or a hamburger? Do we go on vacation to the beach or the mountains? Compromise is simply changing the question to fit the answer. Sometimes you cannot have both and you must compromise. Sometimes compromising is not this simple. Sometimes compromises can have a great affect on you and others depending on which option you choose. Sometimes people compromise deep-rooted beliefs or sacrifice morals to get what they want. [Read More]

lead me not into temptation

Temptation is something every human faces. Temptation in and of itself is not sin, but it is the first stage towards sinning. Temptation comes at you like blazing arrows at from Satan, the world, and your wicked heart. Your only vaccination to combat the constant nagging attacks of temptation is using the Word of God and loving Jesus Christ. Jesus was tempted, but did not sin [Hebrews 4:15-16]. Therefore, He knows the full weight of temptation because He did not give into it. [Read More]

hypocrisy

In the early days of acting a hypocrite was considered a good term. It described an actor who could put on many different faces or masks. Actors in the Greek theatre wore masks depicting an emotion. The masks were large, often twice the size of an actor’s face, so they could be easily seen. The Jews used the word hypocrite to describe a liar, deceiver, two-faced, or one who hid his true nature behind a mask. [Read More]

the spiritual war and your enemy

From the beginning to the end of Jesus’ ministry he warned, overturned, taught, and fought against spiritual foes. Much of Jesus’ ministry portrayed power encounters, exorcisms, and exposes a real supernatural warfare in this world. Since, spiritual warfare is real, how do we deal with it? [Read More]

the spiritual war and your enemy

The past few weeks we have been discussing matters of the heart. Your heart is the control center of your being. Your heart defines who you are and what you do. We have already discussed two specific factors that can distract your heart from what God desires to define you heart. First, the world, an external factor that seeks to distract your heart. Second, worldliness [i.e. flesh], an internal factor that seeks to distract your heart. Today, we will look at final factor, supernatural forces of evil [Devil & demons] a spiritual factor that seeks to distract your heart from following after Christ wholeheartedly.

Spiritual warfare is the real deal [Ephesians 6:10-20]

From the beginning to the end of Jesus’ ministry he warned, overturned, taught, and fought against spiritual foes. Much of Jesus’ ministry portrayed power encounters, exorcisms, and exposes a real supernatural warfare in this world.[1] Since, spiritual warfare is real, how do we deal with it?

Paul wraps up his letter to Ephesians with a battle cry similar to that Joshua, “be strong in the Lord and the power of His might.” Right out of the box, preparation for this battle against spiritual warfare is exclaimed, “put on the whole armor of God.” There is an air of readiness for believers to put on the whole armor of God because spiritual warfare is eminent. Here are 5 truths about spiritual warfare from Ephesians 6:10-20:

#1 You are at war [6:10-11]. Believe it or not, and most do not realize it or try to ignore it, you are at war. From the moment you are born to the moment you die you are in the midst of a heated battle. It is the clash of the kingdom’s—the kingdom of light versus the kingdom of darkness. This world is not a playground; it’s a battlefield. This world and your heart is the battle zone. Are you ready for this spiritual warfare?

#2 You are at war with evil supernatural powers [6:11-12]. “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Paul would agree that your flesh and blood is evil, but we see in this text that the conflict is also fought against supernatural, demonic forces.

#3 You are charged to stand [6:11-14]. Three times in this passage Paul tells believers to stand so you do not fall [vs.11, 13-14]. These powerful forces cannot be faced in the power of your own might. If you stand alone, you will fail.

#4 You are able to stand by the provisions made by God [6:14-17]. “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” It is nothing about what strength you have, but everything about the strength of your God [cf. victory in Christ, 1:20-23]. The provision of God is the armor. The armor must be “put on,” for the spiritual armor is an external counterpart to Paul’s emphasis on inward growth and the edification of the church [cf. 4:12, 16].

#5 You are charged to be prayerful and watchful [6:18-20]. Prayer is not a weapon of warfare, but a sounding horn to God for continual preparation in the battle and communion with Him through the battle.

This text is clear, spiritual warfare is real and ferocious. Paul gives a clarifying call to believers in the church to stand firm against the supernatural powers seeking to destroy their unity and reputation in Christ as ambassadors of the gospel of Christ. Spiritual warfare is the real deal, but what about the enemy?

Know your enemy

Throughout history, military strategists have noted the effectiveness in winning battles is to know your enemy. As Victor Hugo said, “A good general must penetrate the brain of his enemy.” As followers of Christ, you have an enemy that is well document. You have dirt on how you can win the war against him. He is not invisible and impenetrable.

First, Satan is limited. He cannot do anything he wants anytime he wants. God limits Satan because he created Satan [Genesis 3:1]. God has Satan on a short leash [Revelation 12:12]. He cannot do anything without God permitting him. Satan knows humans are limited too. God limited Satan’s ability to touch Job when tempting him [1:12]. His limitation is a tactic he uses to deceive your hearts too. He knows your limited, “You can’t win. You can’t fight. Give up!” That is a lie from the pit of hell.

Second, Satan is not like God. Satan cannot know your thoughts. He does not have the power to force you to do anything. He cannot even be everywhere at once. He gets far more credit that he deserves. He has lots of help from his fallen minions, the fallen world, and your wickedly deceived heart. He is not capable in power, wisdom and presence like God. He can’t do what God can do. Only God can do what God can do. No one is like God.

Third, Satan is the defeated enemy. Have you read the end of the Book—the Bible? God will deal with Satan [Revelation 20]. God will throw him into the lake of fire for all eternity. Satan does not win. He ultimately loses. The cross of Christ crushed Satan’s hope for victory [Colossians 2:15]. Jesus defeats the devil through His death and resurrection. Although he is defeated he is not going out quietly. He is on a rampage to inflict as much chaos and catastrophe in the world and your life as possible before his end.

Your enemy’s strategy is to destroy you

During America’s Civil war General Ulysses S. Grant’s men were impressed—even scared of—southern commander, General Robert E. Lee’s brilliant war strategies. One northern sergeant said, “You never quite know how he is going to move. Wish we had ‘im on our side.” Now Robert E. Lee is not the devil [you can still get shot is some places for making a statement like that], but my point is, the strategies of the enemy often inflict fear in those on the defense.

Don’t underestimate Satan’s power [1 Corinthians 10:12]. He is strong, sly, and stealthy. He has ruined many lives. In Jesus’ words, he tries “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” [John 10:10; cf. 1 Peter 5:8] Satan’s sole purpose is to bring you down, to take you out, and inflict you with so much fear that you have no other hope than to escape this life.

Have you ever known someone paralyzed by fear? They tell you how powerful and cleaver the devil is [Ephesians 2:2], and how scared to death they are of his strategies. They give up to his tactics in defeat. They give glory to his strength, rather than giving it to God who is infinitely mightier and more powerful.

What your enemy doesn’t want you to know [1 John 4:1-6]

Do not be intimidated by the devil. Do not give him any ground [Ephesians 4:27]. Keep short accounts with sin. You have resources in Christ to effectively counter his attacks. Believe it or not, Satan believes Jesus [Matthew 4:3]. He fears Jesus [James 2:19] because he knows Jesus will judge him. The devil does not want you to know he is out matched by the power of Christ. He does not want you to know he has been conquered and constrained through the death and resurrection of Christ [1 John 3:8]. In Christ, you have victory, authority, protection, power, and position.

Any voice, word, or idea that violates Scripture or is constantly demeaning to you [i.e. you’re fat, you’re stupid, you can’t change, God can’t help you, you should take you life, etc.], it is not of the Holy Spirit and must be ignored. Test the spirits with the Word of God [1 John 4:1]. Call on the power of God with offensive prayer. Let God fight for you. He will protect because He is the Savior and Sovereign King. He sends His heavenly angels to guard His people [Psalm 34:7; Hebrews 1:13-14]. He gives strength in Christ to stand against and resist the devil [Ephesians 6:10; James 4:7-10; 1 Peter 5:6-9]. You are safe with Christ. Stay close to Him, “The Lord is faithful. He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”

Recommended Resources on Spiritual Warfare:


[1] Matthew 4:1-12, 22-23; Luke 8:26-29; 10:17-20; 13:10-17; Acts 5:1-5; 19:13-20; Romans 8:31-39; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, 11:1-4, 13-15; Ephesians 2:6; 6:10-17; James 4:7-10; 1 Peter 5:6-9; Jude 8-9; Revelation 12:10-11

7 important truths about temptation

1. God is not subjected to temptation and is not the source of temptation [James 1:13].

2. Temptation comes from lusts [James 1:14], covetousness [Proverbs 28:20; 1 Timothy 6:9,10], the devil—the author of temptation [1 Chronicles 21:1; Matthew 4:1; John 13:2; 1 Thessalonians 3:5], and evil associates—the instruments of temptation [Proverbs 1:10; 7:6; 16:29].

3. Often temptations come from poverty [Proverbs 30:9; Matthew 4:2,3], prosperity [Proverbs 30:9; Matthew 4:8], seeking worldly glory [Numbers 22:17; Daniel 4:30; 5:2; Matthew 4:8], distrusting God’s providence [Matthew 4:3], presumptions [Matthew 4:6], worshiping the god of this world [Matthew 4:9] and often strengthened by the perversion of God’s word [Matthew 4:6].

4. God permits temptation as a trial of faith [1 Peter 1:7; James 1:2,3], disinterestedness [Job 1:9-12] continual conformity to the nature of man [1 Corinthians 10:13], and often ends in sin [1Timothy 6:9; James 1:15].

5. Christ endured temptation from the devil [Mark 1:13], endured temptation from the wicked [Matthew 16:1; 22:18; Luke 10:25], resisted temptation by the Word of God [Matthew 4:4, 7,10], overcame temptation [Matthew 4:11], sympathizes with those under temptation [Hebrews 4:15], is able to help those under temptation [Hebrews 2:18], and intercedes for his people under temptation [Luke 22:31,32; John 17:15]. Christ keeps faithful believers from the hour of temptation [Revelation 3:10].

6. God will not subject believers to temptation beyond what their powers can bear and will make a way for believers to escape out of temptation [1 Corinthians 10:13]. God enables the believers to bear temptation. God knows how to deliver believers out of temptation [2 Peter 2:9].

7. Believers should resist temptation in faith [Ephesians 6:16; 1 Peter 5:9], keep watch against temptation [Matthew 26:41; 1 Peter 5:8], pray to be kept from temptation [Matthew 6:13; 26:41], not to tempt others [Romans 14:13], restore those overcome by temptation [Galatians 6:1], avoid the way of temptation all together [Proverbs 4:14,15], have strength through the weakness of the flesh [Matthew 26:41], may be in heaviness through temptation [1 Peter 1:6], and are rewarded for overcome temptation [James 1:2-4,12]. Professors of Christ fall away in time of temptation because they never really possessed Christ [Luke 8:13].

Biblical examples temptation: Eve [Genesis 3-5], Joseph [Genesis 39], Balaam [Numbers 22:17], Achan [Joshua 7:21], David [2 Samuel 11], Jeroboam [1 Kings 15:30], Peter [Mark 14:67-71], and Paul [2 Corinthians 12:1-10; Galatians 4:14].

thumb lick thursday [3.10.11]

What is Spiritual Warfare?

Spiritual warfare is not about naming territorial spirits, claiming the ground or binding demons. It is all about the gospel. It is to live a gospel life, to preserve gospel unity and to proclaim gospel truth. It is to do this in the face of a hostile world, a deceptive enemy and our own sinful natures. And it is to pray to a sovereign God for gospel opportunities. Advance comes through godliness, unity, proclamation and prayer. – Timothy Chester, The Message of Prayer. IVP, Downers Grove, IL. 2003. 231.

Westminster Confession Revisited

Have you ever read the Westminster Shorter Catechism? Really read it, closely? Matt Kirkland just started, and man – it’s beautiful. This project is both a study aid, as well as a small way for an creative artist to interact with the text.

The Prodigal God

In Timothy Keller’s sermon on the Prodigal God, he share from Luke 15 how both the rebellious younger brother and religious older brother are both lost, and the father’s character is exceptional abnormal,

“The hearts of the two brothers were the same. Both sons resented their father’s authority and sought ways of getting out from under it. They each wanted to get into a position in which they could tell the father what to do. Each one, in other words, rebelled–but one did so by being very bad and the other by being extremely good. Both were alienated from the father’s heart; both were lost sons. Do you realize, then, what Jesus is teaching? Neither sons loved the father for himself.” – Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God. Dutton, New York, NY. 2008. 36

Religion operates on the principle of “I obey–therefore I am accepted by God.” The basic operating principle of the gospel is “I am accepted by God through the work of Jesus Christ–therefore I obey.” [114]

Volkswagen Commercial: The Force
The spot features a pint-sized Darth Vader who uses the Force when he discovers the all-new 2012 Passat in the driveway. It leverages humor and the unforgettable Star Wars™ score to create an emotional commercial.

are you ready for warfare?

Do you go out with your armor on? There are many careers that wear armor, but none more common than the armed forces. It is not uncommon to see a soldier dressed in battle gear on the news. In Jesus day it was not uncommon to see a Roman soldier or centurion. Paul uses this as an illustration to teach followers of Christ a valuable spiritual truth.[1]

You are at War [Ephesians 6:10-12]

Paul makes it clear. Christians are living in a war zone. Here is how your spiritual war is described: First, the war is intensely ferocious [v.12]. It is intensely ferocious because your enemy has one purpose in mind—to destroy your heart and distract you from following God. Your enemy might seem like a friendly foe that offers opulent peace treaties and enticing bribes. He is no friend; he is a ferocious foe in camouflage seeking to ransack your heart with baits and traps.

The spiritual war in which you are engaged is against the “principalities, powers and rulers of darkness.” [v.12] These evil rulers are lead by sergeant Satan the sly strategist and his band of menacing minions. Satan is so sly that he uses your strengths against you. Just as he tempted Jesus in the wilderness he can even distort the Word of God to get his way with you [cf. John 4]. Evil is a Weapon of Mass Destruction and the enemy is as nasty as an Al-Qaeda terrorist. The spiritual war is staged on the battlefield of “heavenly places.” It is waged in a spiritual realm in your midst, but unseen to your naked eye.

This is not the kind of war where you lob grenades, shoot semi-automatic guns, send computer-guided missiles, or have sea and air arsenals. This battle is fought as a wrestling match [i.e. hand-to-hand combat or guerrilla warfare]. Wave after wave of evil savages struggle against you in a continual onslaught seeking to sidetrack and devastate you spiritually. They do not take prisoners of war; instead they look to execute their captives.

Second, the enemy is scheming to take you down hard and fast [v.11]. Satan is not the red-horned, tail-wagging, pitchfork-carrying goofball you commonly see depicted in modern cartoons. He is dark, but is referred to as the Angel of Light. He is incredibly beautiful and intelligent, but is known for being a deceiver and father of lies. He is cunning, tricky, deceptive, and like a predator waiting to devour you like a juicy prey.

What kind of schemes does Satan slyly strategize against you? [cf. 4:22-29] Satan’s weapons of trade are taking little things and making them look big and taking big things and making them look little. He gets you to carry tomorrow and yesterday around today. He makes sin look fun, refreshing, and freeing, but in reality it is guilt-ridden, old as dirt, and bondage. Most importantly he gets you to live contrary to the Word of God and the cause of Christ.

Third, the only way you can win this war is with God’s power [v.10]. “Be strong in the Lord,” is like a war charge towards the troops. This phrase did not originate here, but in the OT.[2] God used this charge towards His nation and its commanders reminding them He will fight right along side them even go before them [cf. 5:8, 11]. Often God fights for His people who are against insurmountable odds. God is a warrior and spiritual warfare champion, which is a source of courage and comfort in the heat of an intensely ferocious war.

Arm Yourself for Battle [Ephesians 6:13-17]

Soldiers of Christ are charged to stand. [vs.11-14] Three times in this passage Paul tells you to stand so you do not fall [vs.11, 13-14]. The enemy—Satan and his cronies—are powerful forces that cannot be faced alone in the power of your own might. Armor might seem clunky, bulky and difficult to wear. However, if you were in danger you would not think twice about putting on thick armor. God has supplied you with a complete storage shed of weapons to wield for this war:

Weapon Physical Purpose Spiritual Purpose
Belt of Truth Keeps your armor up. Keeps arms and feet useful for action. Be prepared. Protection against hypocrisy and false gospels (1:13; 4:15, 21, 24, 25; 5:9; cf. Luke 12:35-37)
Breast of Righteousness Protects your heart and vital organs Protection against condemnation (4:24; 5:9)
 

Shoes of Readiness

Helps you to run well and stand strong. Durable for long distances. Firm footing. Protection against fear. Bearing the message of the gospel of peace (1:2; esp. 2:14–18; 4:3; cf. 6:23; Romans 3:21-26).
 

Shield of Faith

Protects you from a variety of attacks. Dodging and distinguish fiery arrows. (Genesis 15:1; Psalm 5:12; 18:2, 30, 35; 28:7; Proverbs 30:5; 1 Peter 5:8-9) Protection against dangerous temptation: doubt, disobedience, discouragement, and despair (1:1, 13, 15, 19; 2:8; 3:12, 17; 4:5, 13; Romans 10:15)
Helmet of Salvation Protects your head and your precious noggin Promise of ultimate victory (1:13; 2:5, 8; 5:23)
Sword of the Spirit

[Only offensive weapon mentioned]

Offensive weapon to wound and kill enemy. (Revelation 19:15) Battle is won with the Word of God. Truth defeats deception (1:13; 5:26; cf. Hebrews 4:12-13).

The Bible describes you as a soldier and you are called to wear special armor. You are in a spiritual battle. It is a fight for your life. Armor is not an option it is required to even have a chance to face your foe. Why must I take my armor seriously? You are able to withstand the intense battle and stand firm under immense pressure because you have God’s armor. Only He is able to keep you from falling, therefore, stand tall [cf. 1:20-23]. Each of the pieces of armor is a call to arms that deal with the character of God within you. The armor must be “put on.” Therefore, spiritual warfare is an external counterpart to Paul’s emphasis on inward growth and the edification of the church [cf. 4:12, 16].

Don’t Forget to Watch and Pray [Ephesians 6:18]

Be on guard. One of your greatest weapons is prayer. In the midst of the battle you can call on your commander-in-chief without using the red-phone. God is a unique commander. He is not oblivious to your warfare, He is right there with you. Therefore, when you pray to God you are not surprising God with your needs or trying to change God’s mind; rather you are acknowledging His presence and asking how He wants to change you through the battle.

How should you pray? Be committed to a lifestyle of persistent prayer in the Spirit. This brings your prayers in line with God’s will; making prayer about God’s agendas not yours. If you want to know how to pray look at Jesus [cf. Matthew 6:9-13] who praises God’s greatness and glory [v.9], agrees with His will [v.1], and acknowledges dependence upon God for daily survival [vs.11-13]. Prayer is powerful weapon because it is direct communication with the battles Conqueror and King.

Ground Yourself in the Gospel [Ephesians 6:19-20]

Why is the gospel such a big deal? Why can’t you win the spiritual war without being grounded in the gospel? The gospel is where you choose sides. The gospel chooses the winning side of the battle. In the gospel, Christ defeats death, sin, and the powers of evil, partnering you with the power of Christ to be able to fight against your foes.[3]

How can I ground myself in the gospel? First, pray for opportunities for the gospel [v.19a]. Second, proclaim the gospel [v.19b].[4] Rather than proclaiming your personalities, talents, influence, and spiritual affluence, proclaim Christ. Don’t get hung up on side issues like: politics, culture, end times, or Christian patriotism. Each of these issues is not wrong to discuss, but they can be distractions derailing you from getting to the Gospel. Stick with the gospel; it’s the power of God unto salvation.

Third, proclaim the gospel with boldness and without excuse [vs.19c-20]. You are an ambassador of the King of kings and Commander-in-chief of the armies of heaven. Speak as His representative with boldness, eagerness and unashamed passion making known the mystery of the gospel [Romans 1:16]. Remember the cross of Christ is foolishness to those who do not know the gospel. Be prepared to offend people with the gospel. Sometimes the gospel brings on more foes and persecution.

In conclusion, Christian, you are at war with a ferocious enemy in a hostile world. Have a wartime mentality. This war is a difficult fight with evil foes. Ephesians 6:10-20 is a clarion call to arm yourself for battle with the weapons God makes readily available to you. Don’t forget to pray agreeing with God concerning your need of His presence, power, and utter dependence upon Him for victory. Finally, ground yourself in the glorious refuge of the gospel. In the gospel, you will find rest and safety in the secure arms of your Savior and Warrior King Jesus Christ who has fought the battle in your stead, defeated the foe, and claimed eternal victory. The battle truly belongs to the Lord. Have you put your armor on today?


[1] Throughout Ephesians 6:10-20on spiritual warfare Paul’s sustained imagery is drawn from the prophecy of Isaiah, which describes the armor of Yahweh and his Messiah (11:4–5; 59:17; cf. 49:2; 52:7).

[2] Cf. Joshua 1:6-9; Deuteronomy 31:6-7, 23; Zechariah 10:12

[3] Paul often asks for prayer for himself and his colleagues, particularly in relation to their ministry of the gospel (Rom. 15:30–32; 2 Cor. 1:11; Col. 4:3, 4; 1 Thess. 5:25; 2 Thess. 3:1, 2; cf. Phil. 1:19).

[4] Great passages to proclaim the gospel of Christ: John 1:12; 3:16; Romans 3:23; 5:8; 6:23; 10:13; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; Hebrews 9:27.

this is not a playground, it’s a battlefield

2650723496_528dc53145_b

My brother Colin and I use to pretend to play war. We would play for hours on the land by the lake in the summers. We would set up army men and throw rocks at each other. I would usually win because I was 10 years older than him, but he would get mad, throw a hit and kick all mine over. Yeah, I would let him win.

Now these battles were just for fun. Life at times can be a battle too. When the warfare hits home it is not so fun.

1. Our battle is against the ENEMY OF GOD. Eph.6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Our enemy is slick, stealth, sly and so powerful. This is why the Bible often calls life a battle, fight, or a war.

2. In this battle we have the STRENGTH OF GOD. Eph.6:10 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Like God would often say to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous…the battle belongs to the LORD” The power that created the universe is the power He gives you to fight against sin, temptation and the world.

3. In this battle we wear the ARMOR OF GOD. Eph.6:13 “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” God has issued you the armor when you enlisted in the Lord’s army. It is your responsibility to wield the God-given weapons of warfare.

4. In this battle we boast in the GLORY OF GOD Gal.6:14 “May it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We do not fight alone. Our champion is Christ. He is our Divine Warrior!! Armies would often have chants for their champions, not a “hip-hip-hooray!” or “I don’t know what you been told, but our champion is really bold.” But more like, “He will rock you, sock you, and knock you out!!” [or something like that!?]. When we cheer on our champion we boast in His glory. Jesus always wins.

ARE YOU READY TO TAKE THE ON HEAT? ARE YOU READY TO FUEL YOUR FLAME FOR GOD? ARE YOU READY TO FOLLOW GOD “INSIDE THE FIRE”?