Friday, 30 August 2013

Hold the line God, I'm busy

Sorry, the title was intentionally provocative! But it got your attention, right?!

My Good Morning Girls bible study notes this morning were based on Ephesians 6, the part about putting on the whole armour of God.

First off, why would a christian need armour at all? And what kind of armour is the bible talking about? Everything visible and tangible in the world has the potential to detract from the reality of God for the believer. That's not because everything is evil, but because our hearts are so easily captivated by everything but the beauty of God, and that's because there's a spiritual war going on, and the 'prince of the air' is very real and very active. (This term refers to satan and a host of evil that accompanies him.) Though he has been totally defeated at the cross, his dominion of the world continues until the day when Jesus returns. We have nothing to fear from satan (he's been defeated) but only if our trust is fully in God and we are awake to God!

Anyway, this is the background to why we're talking about armour here. It's not because we're going fencing.

The passage says:
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 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.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 firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 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, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
Ephesians is a letter written by the apostle Paul, inspired by God the Holy Spirit. Paul is pleading here with us to be awake and ready to defend ourselves by constant prayer. Not to depend on our own resources but to allow God's mighty hand to be our strength. What Paul encourages us to do echoes God's own actions described in Isaiah 59 verses 16 and 17, in a world where justice and defending the weak was absent and darkness and evil prevailed:
He saw that there was no man,
    and wondered that there was no one to intercede;
then his own arm brought him salvation,
    and his righteousness upheld him.
 He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
    and a helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,
    and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.
We must be constant in prayer in order to keep going as a christian. In order to stay laser-focused on eternity with God as King. But so often my day-to-day habits are not about constant prayer but about finding my own solutions to problems, worrying myself sick about the future, feeling despondent about the many people around me who suffer in the stench of this broken world, and I'm looking not to God but myself for the answers. Prayer is beautiful because it lifts the heart and all the heaviness within to the Lord God, who cares about everything. He is the only one who can win the war with evil and rescue us by his word. Dressing in this armour is about the daily habit of getting on belief, prayer, reading his word, allowing the Holy Spirit to move us, telling the gospel of grace to others.

I love this song and video, from a band called Phatfish. This reminds us that God has won the spiritual battle and to find our security in Christ. We get fed all sorts of nonsense about our identity in this dark world, but regularly feeding ourselves with the truth of Gods word changes who we think we are, and if we're God's dearly beloved, and we know it, then are we going to continue to ask God to hold the line?! I don't think so!

God is our strength. Let him be our defender. Put on the armour. Pray!

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