Having Done All, Stand

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Take the whole armor of God.  It is important that we know each piece is securely in place in our lives if we are to take s stand for God.  If we try to stand without each piece in place, we could fall, because we will be left vulnerable.  Notice that Paul says having done all, to stand.  As we go through each piece, ask your self how securely they are in place in your life.  Have you put them all in place?  Have you done all you can?

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

Stand with your loins gird with truth.  The loins are the area between your lowest rib and your hipbones, where a lot of vital organs are stored in the body, including the sexual organs.  When we speak of girding these with truth, we are of honestly assessing our diets and our sexual lives.  Are we walking in truth here so that you will not be swept away by the enemy when it comes to this vital part of your body?  Is truth covering these areas of your life?  Are you avoiding those things can cause harm to them?  For example, too much alcohol can destroy your liver.  Our sexual habits can cause us, and other people much harm.  They have in my life!  Truth must be maintained here – it is essential.

The breastplate, of course, covers the heart and lungs.  Our heart is so sensitive to the truth, and when trust is destroyed, t can take years to rebuild. When I destroyed the trust my wife had in me, it was a very long battle to get that trust back.  A wound in the heart is one of the most damaging, not only physically, but emotionally as well.  T=Righteousness must reign in our hearts at all times f we are going to stand against the enemy.  And our lungs bring in the breath of life.  We must bring in every breath with righteousness in mind, and do right to all with every breath we have.

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

At all times, we should be ready too share the gospel.  Wherever our feet may take us.  Be instant in season and out (2 Tim 4:2)  and be prepared give an answer for the hope that is within you (I Peter 3:15).  In he market place, on he street, in your workplace – no matter where you are – do you know your testimony well enough to give  it at an instant.  I am a big one on practicing what you will say if confronted with an opportunity.  I know God will give me the words, but here he tells us to be prepared.  I think it takes both to be ann effective witness.  Don’t get caught un[re[ared when the opportunity comes.

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

I used to fire darts at people all the time with my mouth.  I was good at it.  Sharp witted, II took every opportunity at put downs and funny, disparaging remarks.  I am so glad God took that out of my life when I got saved.  I think of that when I read this verse.  Our enemy just wants to hit us with a small dart so he can inflict a little pain, a little nudge in his direction.  But with faith on our side, we can deflect these darts.  They don’t have to affect us.  The shield of faith will take fiery darts and, as they stick into the shield, will put  out the fire so they cannot harm us.  This is a vital part of our defense, especially grouped with the other two items above.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

The mind must be  protected at all times.  Our salvation is the key to this.  Remembering the price Christ paid on the cross for us is critical in keeping our mind focused on the battle.  It has already been won!  And if we feel like he enemy is getting the upper hand, the battle belongs to the Lord.  It is so essential that we never =forget the suffering servant, bruised, beaten and crucified for us.  he paid the price so that we could walk in victory.  Keep that always in your mind.

And the sword of the spirit, our only offensive weapon, the word of God.  How well do you know the word?  Do you read daily?  Do you study His word?D o you ask God to reveal truth to you when you read?  we need this offensive weapon, not only to defeat the enemies of our mind, but to keep ourselves walking with all the other elements of the armor.  The word must be instilled in us, and be constantly refreshed.  Be sure you are in he word regularly.

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Never, ever think you can stand against the enemy without prayer.  This is the last item listed, but I believe it is the most important.  Paul said having done all to stand – prayer is part of having done all!  {raring always – always.  Always keep the communication with God open.  Keep your requests for others (supplication) coming to God all the time.  It is so essential that we are in prayer.  And this is not the prayer to help ourselves, but to help others.  The other part of this is that we  pray n good times and bad.  A lot of us have a  tenancy  to  pray only when things are going wrong in our own lives.  Let’s change that habit by praying for those around us when things are going right in our lives.

So put it all on, and stand strong in  the face of anything  that may come against you.  Always remember that you are in a spiritual battle, not of this world, and that the enemy is already defeated.  Hallelujah!

 

Be Strong In The Lord

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

The only place we should be strong is in the Lord.  Yet we try so hard to be strong in ourselves.  Many look to their physical bodies for strength.  They work hard to get toned and muscular so they have the strength of an ox.  The find it fulfilling to see those muscles bulge as they workout.  There is noting at all wrong with keeping our physical bodies in shape, but that is not where our true strength comes from.

Then there are those who exercise their minds.  They read and send hours researching and pondering various truths and ideas.  The become bastions of knowledge, able to comment and carry on a conversation about anything someone might ask them about.  People see them as experts, maybe trivia buffs, very intelligent.  But that is not the kind  of strength that will get you through the toughest battles.

The toughest battles you will face can only be doe with the strength of the Lord inside of you.  When I was diagnosed wit Cancer last March, I had a peace about it.  I was not afraid, I was not upset, I was not worried.  How can this be, you might ask.  Because I had the strength of the Lord o my side, and I knew it would be OK.  he was in charge, and I could rely on His wisdom to see me through.  I knew I could not do it alone, and I also knew that with all the friends and support I got, it still would not be enough without the strength of the Lord and the power of His might on my side.  I’ll never understand how someone could go through this without Him by their side.

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

You don’t have to put on armor unless you’re going to go through a battle.  So what Paul is saying here is that we are going into battle regularly against the wily old devil.  he will be constantly attacking you at various points of your life where he sees that you are vulnerable.  That is why we need the whole armor of God, which we will be talking about soon.  We do not want to leave any part exposed so the devil can sneak in and do us harm.  And believe me, he knows where you are vulnerable.

Let’s take a simple thing.  A diet.  Isn’t it funny how when you are on a diet, you crave the very foods you are not supposed to eat?  That is not coincidence, my friend.  The enemy lurks in mysterious places.  If he cam get you to trip up in one place, and put guilt on you, then he can come in and get you there.  He is very wily.  So prepare yourself accordingly with the whole armor of God, not just parts of it.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

And here’s the reason we need the armor of God in the first place. we cannot fight the battles that will come our way and win without God on our side.  These battles are not of this world – so they cannot be won by using the tactics of this world.  Right now in our country, there is literally a war going on in government.  Our president is doing things and people are reacting with outrage.  It is obvious he is not doing things the way they have always been done, and he is a little sloppy on somethings, but all of these things need doing.

The enemy comes against us, our city, our  country all the time. there is only one weapon that will defeat him, and that is prayer.  we need to suit up with the armor, and start to pray for our country, more now than ever.  The intolerance, disobedience, dissatisfaction, disharmony and dismay everyone is feeling is not going to go away until the Christians fall on their knees before an almighty God and really start to exercise 2 Cr 7:14.  If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.  

Even with the whole armor of God on, without this key element, it won’t be enough. The church needs to take these steps to bring this nation, which was founded based on a reliance on God.  It’s really up to us – putting on the armor individually and fulfilling the call of 2 Chr 7:14 corporately.  We have a lot of work to do!

Don’t Worry, Be Praying

Philippians 4:6

Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving

let your requests be made known unto God.:

 

You might remember song from decades ago that told us “Don’t worry, be happy”. It was quite a hit back then and it was a lot of fun to sing. The beauty of that song is there’s a lot of truth to it. Philippians 4 6 it’s a reminder to us that God has things in control.

The first thing Paul says is to be careful for nothing.  That word careful can literally mean full of care. It can also mean don’t worry. I want to take you back to Matthew chapter 6 during The Sermon on the Mount. Jesus tells his disciples to consider the lilies of the field.  They don’t work but they’re clothed. Or consider the birds flying in the air. They don’t work but they’re fed. Our heavenly Father loves us a lot more than He loves them. And what does Jesus tell us to do?  Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you (Matt 6:33).

Then he goes on to say we should take no thought for tomorrow. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.  Again, Jesus is telling us not to worry about what’s coming tomorrow. Now that doesn’t mean we should hide our head in the sand and not plan for a future. All of us have schedules to keep, and God expects us to be faithful to those things we are committed to, like work, kids events, church, etc.  We have to plan our days accordingly.  What Jesus means is that we need to concentrate on today and serving God today and fulfilling the Great Commission today. We’re not sure whether we’ll even be alive tomorrow.

One of my favorite authors is a man named Fenelon. One of my all-time favorite quotes of his is “Don’t insult today by looking for a better tomorrow”. Fenelon rights over and over again about the fact that we have only been given enough grace for today, for this very moment. We cannot possibly know what situations we will get into tomorrow, but when we do God will give us the grace to make it through. There is absolutely no reason to worry my friends.

After all that he tells us that we should take everything to the Lord in prayer. If we’re in a position where we might worry that’s a great time to pray.  Not just pray “Lord save me from this situation” but pray and give thanks that God is going to deliver you. We see this over and over again in the Psalms. David is talking to the Lord about his enemies being close at hand or overcoming him and then in the very next sentence he’s giving the Lord thanks and praise for delivering his for him from his enemies. This is the attitude we need to have every day.

David also says we should take everything to the Lord in Prayer by supplications. Supplication is a stronger word than prayer. It’s almost like begging but it’s in a humble fashion. A person who gives supplications feels unworthy to do so but they need an answer.  So they continue asking until the answer comes. They are not so high and mighty that they think they deserve one, they just know that the person they are asking is faithful.

The umbrella of Thanksgiving over all of our requests is huge. Not only giving thanks for the answer but giving thanks for the to the one who provides the answer. We should be in a continual attitude of praise to our Heavenly Father as we go before Him with our requests. Never take his Mercy for granted.

Putting Myself Aside

Philippians 2:8

” And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself,

and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

 

After He left the glory of His place in heaven, after He took on human characteristics instead of His Godly previous life, after he took on the form of a servant, he humbled himself further.  He was a man in body, feeling all the emotions, fears, worries and doubts that any of us would feel if we were faced with what was coming for Him.  He knew the cross awaited.  He knew he beating would come, the ridicule, the crown of thorns, the pierced side.  He knew all of it was ahead.  The Garden of Gethsemane was the one chance He had to change His mind.  No one would pray with Him.  Left alone with the Father, He humbled himself completely to the Fathers will, submitting His body to the worst form of torture.

I cringe at the thought of a little pain.  Maybe I have to get a shot at the doctor’s office.  I hate the thought of that needle going in.  Right now, during recovery from my cancer treatments, I have a little pain and discomfort no matter what I do.  Sometimes I don’t want to get up out of my chair because I know it will cause me discomfort.  But I have to get up – I have to get that shot.  Sometimes pain is necessary to make me feel better.

But Jesus was not doing this for himself.  He had nothing to gain from this self-sacrifice.  He could not possibly be granted a higher position than He already had!  He did this for you and I!  He shed His blood for my sin.  He took the stripes for my healing.  He died for my salvation.  It was the most unselfish act in all of history.

So what should me response be?  First, I realize that he paid that price, and I accept Him as my Savior.  Second, I spend the rest of my life thanking Him for the price He paid for me, for all He did for me on that cross, and for the fact that He is always with me.  It doesn’t matter if I am at the lowest point in my life – He still deserves my praise.  Third, and most important, I should give all that I am to Him.  Everything.  Everyday.

That means I have to humble myself.  Put aside my selfish ego and my desire to be someone important in this world.  All that really matters is what I do for Him.  All that will last forever is what I do for Him.  To be His disciple is the highest calling I can attain.

 

I want to be a better witness for you, Lord.  I fear people though.  I am afraid of rejection, ridicule and even persecution.  But you went through all that for me, and didn’t blink an eye.  You gave your all for me -I want to give my all for you.  Give me boldness Lord, but more than that, give me the humility to put myself aside and walk only in your Spirit.

Philippians 1:8b

“How greatly I long after you all…”

I remember when I first met my wife and the months after that.  I had come to Iowa to visit a friend, and met her while I was out here.  When I left, I know that God wanted us together, and made plans to leave my job and move to Iowa in 2 months.  It was an exciting time.

We spoke on the phone often late at night, and wrote letters at least once a week, sometimes even more.  We longed for each other.  Thoughts of here dominated me daily.  Thoughts of being with her, of holding her close, of listening to her and sharing our lives.  It was a time of great expectation and hope.

I imaging that is how Paul felt about these people in Philippi.  He had come there to establish the church, and was there for a long time just getting the church established.  I imaging he got to know the people well, and wished he could be back with them, just like I wanted to be with my future wife.  It was a longing from deep within the heart.

How do I feel about those that are in my local church?  Granted, we are only apart for a week at a time, sometimes longer if a vacation comes up or something.  But does my heart reach out to them daily to pray for them, wish them well, and hope that all is going good for them?  Am I eagerly anticipating hearing their voices once again, getting together with them and sharing what God has done since we last spoke?  Do I long after them?

Our hearts should be full of those we are close to – at all times.  The challenge is to keep that heartfelt love burning in our souls for those who touch our hearts, whether we see them daily, weekly, monthly or only once a year.  It is that deep longing that will keep them in our prayers and thoughts, and will build the church.

Too often I just go through the day without giving thought to those that are close to me.  I don’t take the time to pray, or call, or text, or email.  I go about my day as if there is no one else.  Lord, help me to take the time to pray for those who are close to me, pray for those in my church, pray for those who are afar off and have touched my life.  Help me have a longing for them that transcends my thought life, and causes me to interceded on their b

Philippians 1:4b

“making my requests with joy,”

Prayer should be a time of celebration!  It is the most special time we have with God, and it should not be entered into with anything but joy.  Yet often it becomes a task that, not only do we not look forward to, but that we don’t even make time for.  Prayer is the high calling of God to every believer.  We all have the ability to fulfill that calling – do we?

Think about it.  Prayer is our direct communication with the Son.  Jesus told us if we pray in His name, we should have whatever we ask of Him.  He is out intercessor, sitting at the right hand of God ready to whisper our requests into His Father’s ear.  Can we ask for anything more?  This should give us great joy – to know He cares so much for us that He would take the time out of His busy schedule to not only hear our prayers, but grant our requests!

Yet we look at prayer as a task that is burdensome.  Do I really have to take time out of my busy schedule to pray for that one who is struggling?  Do I have to pray for that one who is sick?  Do I have to pray for the lost, for my kids to know Jesus, for my neighbor to hear the gospel?     I am very busy – I don’t have time to sit and pray for every need that pops up, I’d be at it all day!

You know what?  That is exactly what He wants us to do!  “Pray without ceasing” Is the command.  How do I do that?  When someone comes into your mind, pray for them.  Use your heavenly language if you don’t know what to pray, but pray!  And pray with joy, knowing that you are doing the hardest work a Christian has to do – intercessory prayer.  It is your calling!

I have such a hard time blocking off that prayer time each day, Lord.  Help me to be instant, in season and out.  Help me to pray as you bring people and situations to my mind.  Help me to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and pray without ceasing.  And help me do so with joy!

Philippians 1:4a

“Always in every prayer of mine for you all making my requests.….”

t is my obligation as a Christian to be involved in intercessory prayer.  This is not an option!  Every day, many times a day, the Holy Spirit will bring a name or a person to my mind, and in that moment I need to pray for that person.  Not later, not when I get around to it, but at that very moment.  How do I know what kind of trial they may be facing at that very moment that they need prayer for?  Perhaps they don’t have time to call you and ask for your prayer.  But God knows.

Remember, God is omniscient and omnipresent.  He knows every detail of your life, what you are going through now, and what you will be going through 10 minutes or 10 hours, or even 10 days from now.  And He knows who can effectively pray for you, if that person will listen to the Spirit.  That still small voice will whisper a name in my ear, and that means it’s time to pray.

I have heard countless stories about missionaries overseas who came back to the states and had stories to tell.  They were facing a crisis, and needed God to intervene in a mighty way.  They cried out to God, but were all alone in their cry.  But then someone came up to them, and asked when this happened, and it runs out that God had put a burden on their heart at that very moment, and they ahd started to pray.  And that prayer had brought deliverance to a country far away.

Are you ready, willing and able to pray when called upon?  Are you listening to the Spirits call to prayer?  Do you take them to the Lord at that very moment?  Be instant in season and out, ready to pray at any given moment, you will see miracles in your life if you are.

I desire to hear you more closely, Lord.  Help me to be ever sensitive to your voice.  Help me to stop for a moment in my busy day when you bring someone to my mind.  It is never a coincidence when someone’s name pops into my head – that always means it’s time to pray.  Help me to remember that.

Philippians 1:3

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you”

 

 

Am I continually thankful for the people God has brought into my life?  Even before I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior, there were countless people who sowed seeds of faith into my life.  Sunday school teachers when I was young at the First Congregational Church;  the choir directors and pastors who instilled a sense of God and His presence in me;  all those

grown-ups who showed by their example what it was to be a Christian.  As I think back, there were countless people throughout my youth who planted seeds in my life.

Then there was my good friend David.  We got to be friends at 5 or 6 years old, and stayed good friends through most of high school until our interests parted us in the last two years.  He went off to Vietnam, I stayed home.  But when he returned, he started to minister Christ into my life.  He planted seed after seed.  He watered the seed with his love.  And it finally got through to my heart.  I became a follower of Christ.

Since that time, there have been almost a dozen pastors, countless evangelists, wonderful Sunday School teachers, deacons and elders, and precious saints of God who have ministered into my life.  And then there are those whom I have ministered to in some form or fashion, either through preaching, or teaching, or leading worship – or just sitting down and sharing.

I am so thankful for all the wonderful people God has brought into my life through the years.  Both the edifying ones and the ones who brought me trials.  All of these things shaped who I am in Christ.  They all contributed to my growth in spiritual things.  So when one of them comes to my mind, I take a moment to pray for them.  You never know when that prayer will produce a harvest of its own.

Lord, keep me thankful for all those who have sown into my life.  Help me to pause and pray for them whenever you bring them across my mind.  Help me to continually sow into other people’s lives as well, that I may help others grow.