Monday, March 22, 2010

Putting On The Armor

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." Ephesians 6:10-18

These verses are so important to be reading. I think that sometimes when we are living a Godly life and trying to just be a "good Christian" we forget that there is a very real and very evil enemy out there trying to do us harm. That's a fact. He's always looking for opportunities to reach in and muck up our lives and cause disaster. The devil hates us. Hates us with a fervent passion, and while he knows he's doomed to spend all eternity in the pit- what he wants most is to take as many of us with him as he can. That's it. That's his M.O. He's trying to take as many people as possible to spend eternity with him- and if he can cause disaster on our lives and maybe get us to renounce our God and our Savior, he will bring it on and give it a try.

The armor of God will help us get through the rough times were the darkness comes a-calling, trying to steal our souls from the light. The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit all work together when we have them at the ready- ready at a moments notice. You know, I mentioned last week about difficult people. I talked about how sometimes we just come across difficult people, and it's up to us to purpose to love them- even when it IS difficult. But sometimes, the things that make these people difficult people isn't in actuality real. Think about this. Think of those times where maybe you were thinking that someone didn't like you very much. You have this perception that another person has an issue with you- maybe simply because they didn't bother to say hi to you last week at church.

Where do you suppose that idea that this person doesn't like you comes from? From the devil of course. He notices that you've noticed that Jane didn't say hi to you at church, so he makes a sport of it, and drops this notion into your head that Jane is actually angry with you, or doesn't like you very much. So then you're walking around wondering what you did wrong, so you talk to a few people about it to get their perspective. Then those people can't figure it out either, so now there is a whole group of people wandering around wondering why Jane is not a good person- why doesn't Jane like you? This could end up going in so many directions- and really, there wasn't even an issue in the first place. Jane had to hurry off after church because she needed to pick someone up at the airport. She didn't have time to say hi to anyone, but still got stopped by a few people on the way out the door. That glance she gave you? Was one that read "oh my gosh, I'm going to be late, why doesn't he stop talking so I can go?" It wasn't a "how dare you look at me when I'm angry with you" look.

Oh, that devil. He's a master at manipulation, and a master at dropping random thoughts into people's heads. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a while to realize where those thoughts are coming from. But once we do- we do have a plan of action. First, we need to call those negative and random thoughts as what they are- lies and deception. And then we need to pray. We pray for the peace of God to come upon us- to take the lies and the deception out of us, and to fill us with truth and righteousness. And then we need to head to our Bible- to gird our loins with strength, because the devil is persistent, and he will try again. So we turn to our Bible to read scripture and take it in. So that the next time, the next time we're ready, and we aren't fooled so easily. We can use the very words that Jesus used.

"Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." Matthew 16:23

Jesus was not calling out Peter for his inaccurate speech. In fact, Jesus recognized exactly what was happening here and called the devil out. Jesus saw that Satan dropped the thoughts into Peter's mind- which Peter then voiced aloud. Jesus called it right though, and rebuked the actions of the devil immediately. When we use scripture in our fight against the darkness, we cannot fail! We will succeed every single time.

Do you ever wonder where a thought comes from? I'm sure we all do, but for some of us, perhaps, we get a random thought, and we wonder where it came from- wondering if it could be from God? But what if it's from the devil? How are we to know the difference? How are we to discern whether this random thought is from God and should be acted upon in a good way, or from the devil, needing to be rebuked? Well, we follow the directions in Ephesians 6:18. We pray in the Spirit.

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints" Ephesians 6:18

When we pray in the Spirit, the thoughts of the devil cannot stay. When we pray in the Spirit- using our prayer language, our minds become clear and we activate the gift of discernment. A thought that comes from God will appear radiant, and a good choice, where a thought from the devil will be revealed for the lies and the darkness they truly are. As followers of Christ, we never need to worry that we will be defeated by the darkness. God always gives us the tools we need to succeed. Sometimes though, we maybe forget that we have the tools in the first place. And that is just another reason why we need to stay grounded by reading His Word each and every day.

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