Armor Up

Samarai armor

This past Sunday I preached the second message out of the Armor of God in Ephesians 6. The critical truth of this armor is two-fold. First, this is God’s armor, God’s strength and God’s protection for us. Secondly, knowing that it’s imperative that we have it to protect us from the Devil’s schemes, we must put it on. That’s our part. So the question arises; how do you put on the armor? Here’s a brief explanation of all six pieces of armor Paul describes in Ephesians 6:

  1. Truth
    • There’s no value in unapplied truth. Jesus said, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) Seek the truth but put on the armor of truth by applying it.
  2. Righteousness
    • Putting on this piece of armor is as much about what you don’t do. Remember, that our righteousness does not come by way of anything we can do. Only true righteousness is imputed (put on us) by God through Jesus. Paul wrote, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) How do you put on the armor of righteousness? Stop trying to be righteous on your own. (We mostly do this through religious yet un-scriptural works.) God is not impressed by us, He’s impressed when He sees the Son’s righteousness on us by faith.
  3. Gospel (Good News) of peace
    • Even in the midst of the spiritual battle that Paul warns us about, and the one that we know’s going on deep down, we can  have peace. How? Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Jesus promised that we can have peace, deep, soul-quenching peace even in the midst of the battle; in Him.
  4. Faith
    • This piece of armor deflects the “fiery darts” of the devil. How do we have it? By continually and deliberately placing the full weight of our faith in Jesus’ ability and not our own. That’s what faith is. So, continue in the process to which Jesus has called you and learn to take faith from your own ability and place it in Christ.
  5. Salvation
    1. I know what you’re thinking; how do you put on salvation? Salvation is of the Lord! That is correct, it is. You put it on, not in any way trying to save yourself, but living as though it matters. You put on salvation by remembering that there’s more to life than just this life. The Apostle John said, “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16) If you’re only tied to the stuff of this world, Satan will use that against you. Make sure you’re tied to the next life, store up your treasure there as you live fully here.
  6. The Word
    • This is how God instructs in truth. Just like the armor of truth, it must be applied. But, you will never apply it if you don’t read it. Whatever you do, don’t let everything you know, or even most of what you know about the Bible be second hand. Read it for yourself.

Make sure you put on the whole armor today and live in the protection and security of the Lord!

Below is a link the the full sermon from Sunday:

http://www.viennabaptistchurch.org/sermon_audio/Full-%20Part%2019.mp3

After the Candles Go Out

Candlelight Service
Candlelight Service

Like most churches, we have done our best to minister during the Christmas season to anyone God put in front of us as well as declare the truth of the Gospel. Having seen many new faces over the last month I guess we can deem this past Christmas season a success. Of course, nothing would make it more of a success than if all those who have come in contact with Jesus this Christmas have been changed by Him. This is not just a goal for those who do not yet believe but also very much a goal for those already a part of the church.

So, now the candles from the Christmas Eve service our blown out and, as we speak, the Christmas decorations are being taken down. It’s time for a new year.

I imagine most people are beginning the new year with thoughts of what the year will bring, some with resolutions, some with regrets looking forward to escaping the past. I guess there’s all kinds of thoughts we can have when a new year approaches. Of course, if you are a follower of Jesus, you have the opportunity to find yourself with hope; hope that the new year can be one that brings you closer in fellowship with Christ, experiencing the life-altering influence of His Spirit and the ability to hear more when your Good Shepherd speaks. I’ve been reflecting a lot on Psalm 96 as I prepare to preach a New Years message this Sunday. I love how so many of the Psalms speak of the newness we find in God, even when we’ve known Him for a long time:

Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
(Psalm 96:1)

As a pastor, I often find my personal “hope goals” are often the same as the goals I have for our church. This year, I have one goal in particular:

This year my goal is too big to be a resolution and is probably impossible to measure. As a matter of fact, this goal is something that should be on going and should be, and have always been, the most important goal of my life since meeting Jesus Christ.

This year my goal is to make decisions, act, speak and even think (thinking is probably the most difficult) as if the only thing that matters is what Jesus thinks. Is that crazy or what?!

You see, my thinking is simple. If Jesus Christ is really the creator of the universe (See John 1:1 and Col. 1:16-17) and all of this world is really about what He’s planning and what He’s doing…and…He’s calling me to follow Him, hear His voice and live the life He’s given me, then, my crazy proposal is, I should care about what He thinks.

So, that’s my New Year’s “Hope Goal.” To live, act, move and breath as though what Jesus thinks matters. What do you think? Are you crazy enough to try this with me?

I was struck by the words of Oswald Chambers this morning, as I often am, so let me conclude with an excerpt from My Utmost for His Highest:

“If we have never had the experience of taking our commonplace religious shoes off our common-place religious feet, and getting rid of all the undue familiarity with which we approach God, it is questionable whether we have ever stood in His presence. The people who are flippant and familiar are those who have never yet been introduced to Jesus Christ. After the amazing delight and liberty of realizing what Jesus Christ does, comes the impenetrable darkness of realizing Who He is.”

Now that the candles are out, it time for us to live as though Christ has come and that what He thinks really matters. Read More

Sunny Reminder

image

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Ps. 119:1)

I love how this verse just reminds me that the creation around us speaks of God and that Someone did create all that is. I was outside in the beautiful and unusually warm weather today washing and waxing my car. (It’s rare that I take the time to do that.) I was standing in my driveway and the sun was shining and felt so warm. The sky was blue and there was barely a breeze. God’s creation reminded me of a passage of Scripture which sent to a moment of Spiritual comfort.

Here’s the passage that came to mind:

Matthew recorded Jesus’ words: “For [God] makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

I was reminded of this passage by the warm sun today that I will experience sunny days and rainy ones, both good days and difficult ones. And that’s ok. Because of who God is and who I am in Him, I know, just as Paul knew that “I can call all things good” in this life. (Romans 8:28)

I have two thoughts from this:

1. I can count all things good in my life because God is good. Because He loved and pursued me, I love Him and I am called to His purpose.

2. We will decide, when it’s sunny, how we will respond to the rain. I’m reminded during the sunny day that God is just as good and still at work bringing about His purpose in my life during the rainy day.

Maybe it’s best to remember, when the sun is shining, that no matter what happens in life, because God is good and loves us, we can call it all good. It brings new meaning to the cliche; “it’s all good!”

Thank you Lord for the sunny day…..and the rainy one!

God Has Not Forgotten

I was reading through the flood narrative this morning just thinking what it must have been like for Noah as he spent all those years building the ark. God not only asked to do something unprecedented but it also took as many as 55 to 75 years for him to make it happen.[1]

Can you imagine? God giving you a task that will take so many years to fulfill? Of course for us today, since we don’t live 800+ years, 55 to 75 years is a life time. But, the days were just as long, or short as it were, in the days of Noah as they are today. A task that takes ten years, or even five years can seem like an eternity!

But, I’m reminded in the story of Noah that God is working out a pretty big plan of which He’s chosen to develop over a long period of time.

So, what kept Noah going? I’m positive the Noah was just as human as we are. I’m sure he had the same emotions, the same seasons of life (some good and some difficult) and I’m sure Noah had times when he was wondering why he was doing what he was doing. Don’t you think he ever stopped and asked himself, “Why am I building this ark,” in all the years that he labored to do so?

Through Noah’s story, however, the same phrase pops up four times between Genesis 6:22 and 7:16, “Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him.”

Noah continued in the work that he was commissioned by God to do, even in the days it was difficult to do so. Then, some of the greatest words in the Flood narrative during the most devastating time in human history, Genesis 8:1 happens, “God remembered Noah.”

If you find yourself in a difficult season with the work God has called you to do, just remember, God hasn’t forgotten you! It may be a difficult season but as you continue in faith, just as He did with Noah, God will remember you.